In 2004, I was teaching a class at a ministry conference on the campus of Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond. During a break, I ran over the convenience store to buy gas and then had plans to grab some fast food. I immediately recognized the gentleman getting gas at the pump just in front of me.
Don Vinzant served in the same role that I am serving for the Granbury Church of Christ from 1982 until 1989. He moved to Edmond to teach at the university and to preach as well after leaving Granbury. He had never met me, so I decided to walk up and introduce myself. I was quite taken back by his response.
After a very brief introduction, Don insisted on taking me to lunch at that very moment. You would have thought that I was his long lost cousin. We met at a local steakhouse and enjoyed the time together immensely. He of course asked about the people in Granbury. But he also asked me all about my family. He was sincerely interested. I felt very at ease in his presence. He told me what a great place I was in to serve in ministry. And he encouraged me in countless ways. I have never forgotten his kind hospitality and his encouraging spirit. For some reason the conversation over lunch that day has stayed with me.
Don passed away this week after a very brief battle with cancer. The funeral will be in Edmond tomorrow. I feel profoundly sad. It is refreshing to meet people that are kind and hospitable. People that invest in others in spontaneous ways such as the way that Don reached out to me are surprisingly rare. I hope that I can take a chapter out of his book and reach out to young colleagues in the same manner.
But most importantly, I won't let a busy schedule hinder me from reaching out to old and new friends alike in a spontaneous way. You just nver know what kind of impact you might make. Don Vinzant modeled that principle and I plan to take it seriously. I hope I am never too busy in the future to stop and make a differnce in another person's life.