“Separation is the great human tragedy. Separation from God’s physical form, separation from people we love, separation from health when we’re sick. Heaven is going to be a beautiful place.”
Garry Eadon died Friday – if you’re stateside – from complications caused by an exotic disease contracted on a recent aid trip to Fiji. These were words he said to me the last time I saw him and said goodbye to him in person.
Garry and Ruth came to Manning in 1997. I distinctly remember their first Sunday at our church, where Garry had come to serve as youth pastor. I, along with many others, amassed countless hilarious stories since the day Garry and Ruth walked in. I could share them, but unfortunately, there just isn’t enough space to contain them all (but I wish you could have been there the day he got kicked out of the waterpark on John’s Island for going down the slide on his stomach while giggling like a child).
Among the many things that I adored about Garry Eadon, his heart for evangelism was something that came to mean the most to me as I grew up. His spirit of fun and his sense of humor, which I always loved and appreciated, became integral components of his work in sharing Jesus with others. This man was so unassuming, so easy to talk to, and so fun to be around, that naturally steering the conversation to faith was as easy as breathing.
This idea of separation, which he spoke of to me once, plays a big part in his desire to share the Gospel of Christ. He was right; separation is the great human tragedy. This is so because we are born into a state of separation. Our humanity separates us from a God who is holy, and without Him and His incomparable grace, we are without hope. Garry, who understood the urgency of closing the separation between man and God, devoted his life to this act. This is why his heart yearned to tell people of the Father’s great love for us. In this very moment, so many others and I are experiencing separation from a man we loved, and it is excruciating. The pain is almost tangible as I write these words and think on a life that I cherished. But really, this separation is nothing compared to the prospect of eternal separation from Holy God.
This is where Garry’s heart has always been. This is where it was when he served at Manning United Methodist Church. This is where it was when he served at the Clarendon Christian Learning Center. This is where it was when he served at the Macedon Grammar School in Victoria, Australia. This is where it was when he took his trip to Fiji weeks ago.
That will be the legacy I carry in my heart of this man whom I loved. I will remember him as a devoted family man, an energetic flash of light, a tremendous teacher of the Word, and a leader, mentor and friend who cared about my life. But above all, I’ll remember him as an obedient servant of the Creator. I’ll think of him when I see someone who doesn’t know what it means to have intimate knowledge of Mighty Jesus. I’ll think of him when I see someone sitting alone in a pew at church, not sure if he belongs and not sure if he even believes the stuff in the first place. I’ll think of him when I feel the familiar tug on my heart that someone close to me needs to understand the character of Christ. I’ll think of him when I get a Violet Crumble at World Market. I’ll think of him when I see a youth group in a church van. I’ll think of him when I see someone wearing sunglasses atop his head. I’ll think of him most of all when I consider the heart of Jesus because Garry’s was so similar to his.
A Manning native, Brittany Odom is a teacher at Ben Lippen Academy.