Yesterday, August 1, was the 3rd anniversary of the death of a friend of almost 50 years. I first met Rick and Betty Smith in 1970 while enrolled at Florida College in Temple Terrace (Tampa), Florida. Over the following years as we both pursued our Lord Jesus and His work for our lives, we often supported each other in ministry. We even spent many hours on the golf course together, even though I didn’t even like playing golf, because I loved to be with this guy.
My family was ministering in Huntsville, Texas while his was in Cleveland, Texas. We were in Orange, Texas while they were in Artesia, New Mexico. We both returned to Florida in the early 1980s to work and worship together in the same congregation in Gainesville, Florida. There we also had the blessing of working together with Betty’s father, John, whom we all dearly loved.
In 1986 we both moved our families to Las Vegas, Nevada to begin a mission work together by starting a new church on the east side of the Las Vegas Valley. By then our children were reaching their teens, and after less than two years I moved my family on to California because of lack of financial support for our part of the work in Nevada.
That was the last time Rick and I worked together. He and his family remained in Las Vegas where he continued to preach until his death. We lost direct contact for the next 29 years, something I have long regretted. I did hear of his work from time to time through a mutual friend and brother, and was pleased.
Then in 2017 I heard through one of his daughters that he was terminally ill with cancer. I called. We both cried. And yet it was like we had scarcely been apart. He passed into the halls of Heaven the next day.
Rick was a passionate, generous, loving and kind brother. His love for God’s Word and his commitment to preaching that Word guided his life. He also deeply loved his wife and four children, then the grandchildren who also came along. And he loved me… and I have always loved him. I look forward to that day when I will see him again.
This photo was taken sometime in 1987 while we worked together in Las Vegas, Nevada. I never shaved off the beard, though it’s all white now!