I had a chance encounter yesterday that was an amazing experience. Let me give you a backdrop.
In 1974 I was in my second year of marriage to my late wife Cynthia. We were working full time for a Christian organization that worked on college campuses throughout the country. We were asked to head-up the ministry on the University of South Florida campus in Tampa, FL. We found a house about 10 minutes from the campus and began to connect with college students interested in leading a ministry on their campus.
It was a tough campus to develop something of this nature because it was called a commuter campus where students lived off campus and drove to school daily to take classes and then back usually to their homes with their parents. It was difficult to connect with them during the day because they were in class, and at night only about 10% of the college population lived on campus. No matter what the circumstance, we began to grow and had 70+ interested in building a spiritual presence on their campus.
One such person named Tom happened to be interested in spiritual things and I began to work with him. In the fall of 1974, Tom came to the campus as a freshman from Wisconsin. He was majoring in journalism and was interested in writing. We spent much time over the next couple of years together when he expressed an interest in becoming editor of the school newspaper. He was in fact chosen to do so and with school as well as heading up the school newspaper, be began to lose touch with one another.
In the spring of 1978 my family moved to Rowley Massachusetts to begin a new journey of pursuing a masters degree in marriage and family ministries. That journey would take me into full time work in a local church (Grace Chapel) there in Lexington, MA. After living in Massachusetts for 7 years, a new path emerged as the journey to Scottsdale, AZ came into focus. Graduations, births and death have been a part of the experiences over the last 31 years.
Yesterday seemed like most other days in Arizona. I have periodically helped my wife Nadine, who has a business of auto repair, shuttle customers who leave their car for repair. As I was writing up a car to be serviced, I noticed a man looking at me as I went out to get the license number and mileage on a Ford Expedition that needed an oil change and tire rotation. As I came back to the front door, the man stopped me and asked the question, “Are you Jim Gorton?” I responded in the affirmative and to my response, he said he was Tom M. 38 years later. 38 years of silence. 38 years of experiences. 38 years of life. 10 children and 7 grandchildren later between us. Tom and I were back in contact with one another.
He and his wife live in Chicago, but also have a home in Scottsdale. He had become dissatisfied with the car repair place he was taking his car to so he had heard of Nadine’s Airpark Auto Service and came over to check it out. At the exact time I was there. Divine connection. God’s intersecting of two lives. It was a wonderful time of reminiscing about the journeys we have both been on. We exchanged phone numbers for future connection and said our goodbyes.
You never know where the interactions you have with people today will lead in the future. I’ve been given the opportunity to continue a relationship with a friend that seemingly ended 38 years ago.