(Photo courtesy of Bramblett Group)
I Watched Him Pray Today
I had the opportunity to be at my Alma Mater (Freed-Hardeman University) today. It was the “Tolling of the Bell” opening the 148th year of the University. The Freshman were all dressed in their very best as they and the other students entered the auditorium for chapel. The faculty in their regalia were sitting on the stage and there among them the four living Presidents.
E. Claude Gardner – Milton Sewell – Joe Wiley and David Shannon.
Each one serving the Lord by serving this school. I know them all well, but I wish to tell you a story about the one who set me in my direction.
E. Claude Gardner led the school in prayer today. I was touched deeply by the words he uttered to the Lord on behalf of the Faculty, Staff, Students and the Presidents that followed him. He is over 90 years of age and his words were as strong as when I was a incoming student nearly 40 years ago.
He loves God, Jesus and the church.
He loves the students – genuinely.
He loves the faculty and staff.
He loves Freed-Hardeman.
I’m sure there were tears in my eyes.
In the old days when you mailed your admissions application in, you attached a photo to it. My first day on campus, I passed Brother Gardner and he stopped me. I didn’t know who he was. He called me by my name and named my hometown. He said, “welcome to Freed-Hardeman, I’m E.Claude Gardner, if you need anything let me know.” He never told me he was the President.
I can’t tell you how many chapels I sat through and heard the number of prayers he said, the number of “Joy Bags” that were handed out to pick up trash around campus. The encouragement of speaking with me face to face when I was troubled.
He handed me my diploma, signed with his name. He prayed for us that day we graduated. I could hear his love for us that day.
Prayer is important to him. I know. It has been seen in his life.
Today after chapel, I shook his hand, he called me by my name, asked about my wife Pam, by named and wanted to know how my daughter (Danae) was doing. He called her by name.
I will hear in my heart tonight, the voice and prayer of one who believed and believes in me.
Thank you Brother Gardner, you always closed chapel with “Shall We Go”
My reply to you is, “Yes sir, I will!”