Last Tuesday we received a phone call telling us that our old friend Gary Schmidt had died very suddenly of a heart attack. Gary was only 57 years old and one of the last people you'd expect to have a bad heart. He was gardening when it happened. We knew Gary and his wife Diane in our old church, the La Crosse, Wisconsin, congregation of the Worldwide Church of God. We had dropped out of contact with most of the people we knew back then, and so I was especially thankful that Bob Kersten thought to contact us and let us know.
We attended the funeral Friday in New Lisbon, Wisconsin. As sad an occasion as this was, there was great joy in reuniting with dear old friends. I am so sorry for failing to maintain contact with them. Just because I'm a little embarrassed about my association with the Worldwide Church of God in the past doesn't mean I shouldn't still love the Christians I met there. This would be an extremely long blog if I were to tell you of all the kindnesses our brothers and sisters there have done for us through the years. And they did us yet another kindness at the funeral by loving us, hugging us, welcoming us back into their hearts. They are scattered, spiritually; many have no church even to this day. Some meet with one another for prayer and Bible study. In fact, Gary was supporting many of them spiritually by inviting them out to his cabin for study and fellowship, filling a great need in their hearts. (It also shows me once more how blessed we are to have been placed in a church.)
Anyway, please ask for heavenly comfort for the wife, children, brothers, sisters, and friends who are sorely missing Gary right now. Even knowing he is safe with his Savior, there is great pain in missing him. I especially hurt for the love of his life, Diane Snitker Schmidt, who is now a widow. May God bless and comfort her as He promises to comfort all widows.