Friday, July 18, 2014

30/30: Two Friends Who Haven't Met...Yet

Today's prompt for the 30/30 Vision Blog Challenge is one of my favorites on the entire list. I am charged with writing about two friends of mine who do not know each other, but whom I think would become fast friends should life ever throw them together. I think this prompt interests me so much because throughout my 28 years of student ministry in a number of different settings I was constantly making such judgements in my mind. I would find myself thinking that "BlaBla from Whoosawatchie sure would get along well with Whatshisname from Podunk" - or similar things. I elected to limit my thinking to those who were part of one of my youth ministries. In truth, this has already happened in my life a few times over the years. Tim Fountain, from my late 80's youth group at New Garden Friends, later served as my intern at Springfield Friends and met all of those folks. Holly Harward Yandle from Springfield spent a summer with us in Kissimmee and was hit on by many of the guys from FUMC-K. And then in April of 2103 Teresa Reep Tysinger from the Kissimmee group spent sometime with us here in Tampa and met Lisa Jewett, one of my favorites from our time at Wesley Memorial. It was so much fun for me to watch these interactions. Getting to make one up is just a bonus!

The only problem is I had so many old friends to choose from, and so many people who I think would hit it off immediately if introduced. I thought about Keri Vinson Johnston from Springfield and Nina Mock from Wesley. The pair of Ben Thompson from FUMC-K and Charles Freedle from Springfield might lead to total chaos, but it sure would be fun. Terri Johnson Harris from New Garden and Jackie Zimmer from Union Church in Hinsdale would be great partners in crime. The thought of Laura Wheeler from my Quaker Lake days getting to meet the aforementioned Teresa Tysinger might be more than I could handle- Laura knows all the old stories and Teresa the more recent stuff. But they would become fast friends, of this I have no doubt. The list could go on and on, but I have to make a decision and just pick two for the purpose of this post. And so I shall.

Although it feels like they should know each other already, Todd Willis (FUMC-K) and Todd Farlow (Springfield) never met. In my heart, it often feels like they were the same person. When I got Springfield in 1986, things with the youth program were at a low ebb. Many of the youth had bailed out before I ever arrived. Todd Farlow was a sophomore in high school and clearly one of the leaders of the group. Without his support it is hard to imagine that my years at Springfield would have turned out as well as they did. Todd not only gave me his support, he gave me his friendship and his trust, and we had some great times and amazing adventures together. His leadership was crucial in bringing renewed life to that student ministry. Even all these years later he continues to encourage me. All you need to do is change the last name and the location (and the fact that he was a junior when I first met him) and all of those very same things could be said of Todd Willis. At a time when many were giving up on the youth ministry of FUMC-K, Todd kept pushing me to do more and be my creative self. And it worked. I could have renamed either one of these guys Peter- because they were rocks upon which a couple of great student ministries were built.

They also had other things in common. Both were known to occasionally bust out in a rap. Neither had a whole lot of luck with the dating scene despite being being very popular with the ladies. Neither of them were above cheating at any number of youth group games. Both are fanatical college sports fans, Farlow with NC State and Willis with Georgia. Both love baseball. Both come from amazing families and are now married with amazing families of their own. I just can't help but think that if life were ever to make these guys neighbors, they would be the very best of friends. And that's what this prompt was all about.

One final note. Just before I turned in last night I saw on Twitter where Ashley Goad (Springfield) and Teresa had been chatting about the wonders of prayer. They have never met either, but I love them both. There are moments that make me smile in wonder at the blessings in my life. That was one of them. How ironic that it came as I was working on this post. I'm telling you, if I had one wish and lots of money, there would be a reunion of everyone who was ever in one of my youth groups so they could all meet each other. Because I know all the best people. Love you guys!

Because of Jesus,


  1. Anonymous7/18/2014

    Hey Big C,

    I have got to meet Farlow! I agree we would be fast friends. I would also like to add that there was no need to push you at FUMC-K. We were lucky to have you, the very best in the business, to take our youth group to the top. I just regret that you were not my youth minister for longer, but am thankful that you are still my friend and minister to me through this blog, prayers and encouragement.

    Love ya my friend,


    PS: I very much hope that one day we have another reunion and that I get to cheat at a youth group game.

    1. Thanks so much, Willis! :) And I agree completely- we should get another reunion in the works soon! Love you, my brother!


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