Five years ago, I was a sophomore in college, and I had the most fortunate pleasure of meeting a young gentleman. At that time, he had aspirations of being a doctor. Unfortunately, those aspirations never changed, and he is now locked away at a small medical school in Northeast Tennessee called Lincoln Memorial University. He only escapes the beautiful landscape of Cumberland Gap and Harrogate, TN (the school is actually in Harrogate), every blue moon, but when he does, you probably catch faint wisps of his legend riding upon the air. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is true. I am, in fact, friends with the one and only, Stephen Hull.
Stephen (who will now be referred to as "Bruce" for the remainder of this post) and I did in fact meet my sophomore. It was decided that he would be my little brother, and he was the only little brother I ever had. I cannot begin to relate to you of all the fun things (and not so fun things) we have done together: we took road trip to visit my mom in Northeast Georgia (fun); we both got food poisoning the same day while at a friend's house for his send off for the summer (not fun); we played hours of Dr. Mario together (fun); we rode bicycles to the end of the peninsula near his family's beach house in Pensacola (fun for him; not for me); we did a double date for the BYX Date Auction, which cumulated with a high speed chase of a deer on a John Deere Gator until we ran over an unseen ditch. Shortly thereafter, the ride ended upon hearing the phrase, "We lost Bruce!" (I will let you decide who had fun and who didn't)
Bruce has a very special place in my heart, there is no doubt about it. It was a welcome visit to get to see him once again after it being almost a year since the last time. I drove almost the entire length of Virginia the Sunday after Zach and Leigh's wedding to arrive in Cumberland Gap for dinner. Unfortunately, with all of the scheduling changes, my visit fell during a test week for him, so he had to spend the evening after dinner studying. I spent it washing my clothes from the past week!
After his test, we took a short trip down to Knoxville to chill out post-exam. We went to Best Buy, Guitar Center, and Dick's Sporting Goods, and wrapped up the trip by eating at one of the best food establishments ever: Chick-fil-A (gotta get that spicy chicken sandwich)! Upon our return, we went to his friend Glenn's house to sit by his fire pit. I met Glenn during my first visit to Cumberland Gap the year before, and it was really good to get to visit with him again. Glenn is one of the nicest, coolest, and calmest people I have ever met. That afternoon before leaving, we had stopped by his place, and I also met his brother, and honestly, just speaking to them emanated friendship and welcoming. I do not really know how to explain it, I just know it was good.
Even though the trip was short, we all were able to have some good conversation about Christ, the Gospel, and missions, hopefully encouraging to all parties. It was really great for me to see Bruce once again after being away from him for so long.
But this trip offered another great revelation for myself and others I would say. I had said earlier in the conversation with Bruce's friends that I was a missionary, but it was afterwards when only Glenn and Bruce remained that I shared this: "You know, I don't know what to tell people when they ask what I do. I really don't like calling myself a 'missionary', for it comes with labels and ideas that may not necessarily apply to me, and it might give people the idea that I can be this way or that way while they cannot. What I would rather say I'm doing is 'chasing Jesus'. Cause anyone can chase Jesus. They can chase Him here, there, in this way, or in that way." I do not do the things I do because I am a missionary; I do the things I do because Jesus loves me, and in response, I want to love Him back. Anyone can do that!
Return to Part 2: Greenville, SC!
Continue on to Part 5: Nashville, TN!