Making friends for a lifetimePublished 7:14pm Saturday, June 8, 2013
By Pastor Larry Stover
Last Sunday, my church and daughter Paula, threw a surprise celebration for my wife Janet and I at the Valle Grande Mexican Grill. It was quite the event.
We are celebrating a lot of milestones this summer as a couple. Those include our 60th birthdays, 40 years of marriage, 35 years of ministry, and 10 years as pastor of the congregation of Praise Park Ministries Church of the Nazarene.
More than 125 people were in attendance. A pictorial history was presented, including one of me when I had ”hair and it was brown.” Numerous gifts were given to us including a grill that does everything except speak Spanish.
As I was enjoying the meal and constant conversation, I began observing the crowd of people. It was a microcosm of Valley Grande. Mayor Labbe and members of the city council were there. Former Mayor Tom lee, and his wife Jeanette, attended. Many educators from across the area were present. Numerous business owners from Valley Grande and Selma were in attendance.
As I was taking it all in, I paused to thank God for the privilege of friends from all walks of life. Friends are one of our greatest assets in life. The tendency of many people today is to withdraw into a shell and have little contact with those around them. Janet and I have a wealth of friends from all over the world. During our decade of ministry in Selma and Valley Grande, we have met so many wonderful people.
My second observation was that of skin color. The room abounded with people or different ethnic backgrounds. Their skin colors of black, brown, and white gave little evidence of the persons inside those bodies.
One thing I learned in a class on “Human Anatomy and Physiology” has never left me. A teacher told us that the only difference between being black and white is about two tablespoons of skin pigment. Several years ago an area teacher reminded me that we really aren’t black or white; we are all shades of brown.
Prejudice abounds in Dallas County, Alabama. It is a tragedy. To determine potential friendships based on skin color is a losing proposition all around. When you see me hugging or speaking to a person of another race, think nothing of it. I don’t see color; I see people.
I am so blessed to be a part of Valley Grande. Working in the community, the schools, and with area churches, is such a rewarding experience. The people of the community are becoming friends for a lifetime. If you are not in the middle of it all, you are the loser. Life is too short to miss the best things in life. There are people all around us waiting to be a friend.
Living in Valley Grande, Alabama is “Simply Beautiful.”