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Blessed to know Bob

By Sheryl Oliver
Special to The PREVIEW

I had never been led to go to Christian seminars and women’s conferences, but when it was announced that our church was sponsoring a three-day seminar, I felt a strong leading of the Holy Spirit to sign up.

I walked into the room, found a seat and studied the four people up front getting ready for the group. They were intently hooking up the overhead projector, organizing papers, books and laminates for the class. I immediately knew who was in charge. He was quietly, but intently, giving instructions to the others and I could tell he wanted everything to be in order. He moved with energy and purpose and, finally, he spoke.

In a nasally and pinched voice, he asked us to give him our attention. I thought to myself, “Am I going to be able to understand this man? Am I going to be able to have the patience to sit here for three days and listen to him talk in this strange voice?”

He introduced himself. “Hello, everyone. My name is Bob Frary and thank you for signing up for this seminar. It is called, ‘Who Am I in Christ?’”

During this introduction, he went on to explain that he had throat cancer 10 years ago and the chemo and radiation had damaged his speaking ability and his ability to swallow, and he could not eat solid food. Bob found a way to explain all this in a matter-of-fact way, almost as if it didn’t bother him. With a twinkle in his clear blue eyes, he even gave praise and glory to God about what had happened to him. Bob was a man of great faith. When the doctor told him that he had less than a year to live, Bob said, “That’s not true. God gave me a job to do and I am going to live for a long time.”

I learned later that he used to be a salesman. I could tell from his stories that he had been a great salesman. His keen sense of humor, wit and intelligence made him a natural for that business. Now he was a salesman for God.

I could see hints that Bob had once been a good-looking man, before the cancer medicine had ravaged his body. His tall frame was now thin, hardly any hair was left on his head and his face was gaunt, but with a ready smile.

A few years later, I would take his picture at a party and be shocked at his deathly thin face and almost hollow eyes staring back at me. Shocked because the more I came to know Bob, the more beautiful he became and I didn’t see him as the photograph had portrayed him to be.

During those three days at the seminar, I hung onto every word he uttered. No longer was his voice annoying. His voice was the vehicle that conveyed Christ’s love for me. He not only explained through the scriptures about how I was unconditionally loved and accepted by God, but that my Heavenly Father saw me as holy and righteous in Christ. He told us personal stories of how God had shown His love to him. Even in the untimely death of his son, he told us with great emotion of how God miraculously reached out to comfort him. There was such a light in his eyes and joy on his face as he intently tried to convey Jesus’ love for us. He was so funny because when he would tell us about talking to God, he would grab his shirt and talk down into his chest. Then when God answered he would grab his shirt again and tilt his head toward the opening to listen. To Bob, God was not just floating around or up in the sky somewhere. Bob knew that God was in him.

I was blessed to know Bob for five more years before he passed. He was a generous man. He gave his time to any and all who would listen to him teach. He loved to teach and lived to teach. It was his reason for living. He had become an administrator of grace just like Paul. He also became my mentor and taught me so much about God’s love that I fell in love with my Heavenly Father like never before. He loved to talk about His amazing grace. One day he complained to me that he went to a party and the room was full of Christian brothers and sisters and no one talked about God the whole night. He just couldn’t understand it.

Then he got cancer again. During that time, he wrote application workbooks on Galatians, Philippians, the John letters and Ephesians. He would stay up into the wee hours of the night, writing and writing and writing. He knew his time on earth was coming to an end. He worked with supernatural energy and intensity. He had so much he wanted everyone to know and understand about who they were in Christ.

He worked on his books until five days before he died. I got his Galatians study workbook to print and brought it to him at the hospice facility where he had just been admitted the day before. I walked into his room to bring him a copy and he greeted me with a big smile. He was sitting up in bed and there was a beautiful aura of peace in the room. He joked with me about his new surroundings and his wonderful view of the lake like he was going to live there for a long time. Not to be.

He went to be with the Lord two days later. I envisioned my precious beautiful friend meeting Jesus with a big smile and hug, then later looking for Paul to compare notes about the amazing grace and love of Christ.

I know now why I was led so strongly to attend that seminar. Jesus wanted to bless my life with a wonderful, gifted, funny, loving new friend who would show me how much I am loved by my amazing Heavenly Father and who I am in Christ. He changed my life and many others who were blessed enough to know him.

This story was posted on August 14, 2014.