The two men met in Springfield at Immanuel Baptist Church where they were both members. Don was married with three daughters. He was a trucker just like Chuck’s Dad. The younger man was in college. Both had not been active in church very much before. Mr. Burchell because he had driven long haul routes. Recently he had changed to local runs. The college student had been questioning his faith and whether his parents faith was one he should embrace.
The Royal Ambassador program had died at their church. The older man had volunteered to restart the group for boys. They began working to rebuild the mission organization. Trips to other churches were taken to see how they did R.A.’s. Camping trips with the boys were organized and they enjoyed teaching the boys to pitch tents, build fires, tie knots and other types of outdoor activities. For about two years his mentor showed Chuck what a Christian father, husband and man should be like.
After graduation and marriage the two drifted apart. Don’s family added a son. Chuck’s family grew as well. He was now the father of three daughters. He continued to work with boys and young men in another Church and even with Royal Ambassadors. They ran into each other around Springfield from time to time and caught up with what the other was doing.
Don had fought cancer and survived. His daughters were grown and he and Ann became grandparents. His health problems forced an early retirement and church work became the vocation that they most enjoyed. Camps with children were another off shoot of the things he had taught the youngster many years before.
A few years ago Don and Ann visited the church where Chuck’s family had grown up. He encouraged them to join and advised his friend how he could join the Deacon Family Ministry after they were there a year. The friendship blossomed as they saw each other every week and worked on ministries together. Friendship is hard to kill.
The cancer returned and began to take its toll on Don. Their conversations seldom spoke of the disease. They remembered the great times they had shared and the families that were growing every day. It was seldom that Don did not hunt out his younger friend before the worship service. They provided security for the church one Sunday a month with the help of other men.
Don went home on Monday, September seventh. As Chuck watched the Labor Day Parade with his wife and granddaughters, Don’s wife, children and grandchildren began the preparations to say goodbye. When you’ve known someone for over forty years and renewed a friendship with one of the men that enabled you to become who you are, it is difficult to say so long. I’ll be there shortly, Don. Keep the jeep running.