Do the names Marvin and Wesley Cousins or Larry Bryant mean anything to you? Unless you're from the Pratt, Kansas area and of a certain age, they probably don't ring and bells. But to me and my brother, Mike, they're three of the most wonderful names we've ever known. They gave us the best gift ever given.
Marvin and Wesley were family friends during my early teenage years. We didn't hang out a lot together, but we played little league baseball in the summer together and would sometimes go to the city pool together or spend the night at each other's house. We originally got to know them because their mom befriended our mom at work.
Image from Frank Derks on Flickr
The invitation that changed my life
In the middle of a hot, windy Kansas summer - in 1982, I think - Marvin and Wesley invited Mike and me to go to Vacation Bible School with them at their church. I can't remember ever going to church before this, but we decided to go an spend some time with our friends. About the only memory I have of the VBS was how cool the air conditioning was and that they gave us cherry Kool Aid and cookies every day - who could turn that down! But the lessons I heard and the people I met must have made a positive impression on me because when Marvin and Wesley invited us to come back to church in the weeks following, we did.
The example that showed me the way
As my family and I started attending more regularly, a Godly man named Larry Bryant took notice of the young Temaat brothers and took the time to get to know us and our situation. He saw our desperate need for a father figure in our lives and willing stepped into that role. Maybe my mom and Larry saw it that way at the time, but I've only come to realize that's why God put him in our lives in the last few years.
Larry was just beginning his own family, but he made time to lead our youth group, take us hunting, and even took us to work with him. I remember one summer when I was 14 or 15 that he let me help with the wheat harvest on hid dad's farm. I was so excited to drive a tractor and combine!
The greatest gift ever
As I think about what I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving, God brought these three to mind. Marvin, Wesley and Larry are directly responsible for bringing me to Christ, which is the greatest gift anyone has ever given me. They are my Christian heritage and I am eternally thankful for them and their willingness to be obedient to Christ.
So what's your story? Feel free to share the names (and story) of the people that led you to Christ below as a comment. Then reach out to them today to say thanks and maybe share this post with them. It would be really cool to see how we're all connected to each other through Christ and obedience.
We have nothing more valuable in our lives than Christ. We would be remiss not to remember our heritage and thank those that gave us this precious gift.