Sowing in Tears, Bearing Fruit
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. - John 12:24
It's been over six and a half years since my dear friend Glenn passed away suddenly at the age of 29. Though he died so young, he lived a full life, and I am still profoundly influenced by his friendship, though hardly a day goes by that I wish we had the opportunity in the present to continue it.
I got to know his wife Stella during their courtship. As his best man, I attended the last of their premarital counseling sessions right before their wedding day, stood near them as they exchanged their vows, and then spent many moments (both jolly and serious) with them together as a couple. I did not know Stella much before all of this, but came to know and appreciate her character and her faith, both of which were sorely put to the test as a result of Glenn's sudden passing.
From her grieving came the seeds of a new ministry, Fruit of the Vine International, which partners with ministries in Africa in ways that are sustainable, honoring to God, and compassionate towards the most vulnerable. I had the honor of serving on her board during its first year in existence, and several years later, the organization continues to do good work. Their annual banquet last night was well-attended, jam packed with friends of Stella and Glenn, and full of hope and purpose and warmth.
Alas, while I got a chance to share a few words from the podium about my connection to the ministry, I had to bolt, because my son got sick and so I had to rush him home. So I did not get to spend much time with Glenn's sister and mom, or with Stella, or with any of the other attendees. But I was glad I was able to go, if even for a short time, and glad to see how far God has taken this seed of an idea from Stella, borne with such faith at such a difficult time.
Losing Glenn has been a great tragedy for us all. I am thankful, in the midst of the pain, that there are good things that have sprouted up, especially as they are the very kinds of things Glenn was about and would be happy to be associated with.