Friday, November 14, 2008

God bless you, Mr. Sybouts

One of my Sunday School teachers went home last week. I mentioned him in my list of things I like about Protestants. His role was to tell us stories out of the Bible, and boy, did he. Because of him and some others like him, when I needed to find my way back to the Lord, I had the scriptures to fall back on. I'm grateful.

Most of my memories of Larry Sybouts are little details. At Goldendale First Baptist Church in the 70s, we still had an old-fashioned belfry, with a thick bell rope that hung down in the narthex. Mr. Sybouts (I'm still not old enough to think of him as "Larry") used to slip back there before and after services to ring the bell. Once in a while he'd let me do the ringing. Being just a little feller, I would pull down on the rope and it would hoist me back up in the air a few feet. That was the coolest thing in the world at the time.

Mr. Sybouts' trademark was Juicy Fruit gum. He always had a bottomless supply on his person, and every time he encountered a child, out would come the pack and he'd offer us a stick. The last time I saw him I was probably about twenty. I know I was taller than he was bu then. He never even hesitated before proffering the gum.

So Lord, if You happen to see a man in a gray flat-top haircut show up at the gate and offer You a stick of gum, would You take extra-good care of him? And You might let him ring some heavenly bells. He'd love that. Thank You.

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