On May 19th The American Cancer Society held five Relay for Life events across the upstate of South Carolina. Four were rained out before they even got started. The only one that survived, was the one that Cooks for Christ attended. Perhaps God held the rains back until after our evangelism tent had served it purpose, which after midnight really seemed to become a hot spot, with as many as 10 young adults at one time.
I owe a huge thank you to all that worked so miserably hard at this Mega event. We ran across some extreme resistance, and even though it took several hours to get organized, we met the challenge and glorified God.
Our site was awesome, the food was awesome, the fellowship was awesome, the evangelism was awesome and if you were not there, well then, you have no idea what awesome really is!
Cooks for Christ has held it’s first 2006 “Reel Vacation” in Sabastian, Florida. Like all my previous “Reel Vacations” my intention was to temporally cater and spiritually minister to my guests, and provide them the best possible ocean fishing vacation experience within a Christian fellowship setting. But unlike previous events, this one started with trial, was seasoned with toil and remained tainted by tribulation. And yet it still was one of the greatest vacations I have ever had.
As Luke Roy and I prepared the boat the night before we left, I remembered I had forgotten to find a place for my dog (D-O-G) to stay, so she had to come with us even though she used to get sea sick. Strangely that never happened and she seemed to enjoy herself during the whole trip. Even during the days and the nights she spent on the boat. What a dog! But she still won’t eat fish, go figure!
However, before we left, Luke and I found that the boat trailer main frame tubes were rusted and one was cracked in half. After hours of welding I seared some flesh off my left arm on a hot metal plate. The next, night, the night we were to leave for Florida, a Van ran me and my motorcycle off the roadway and I seared some more flesh off my right arm, presumably from the muffler system, as I high-sided off my bike and into a field. But I long ago learned how to wreck a motorcycle, so, with no serious harm done, Luke and I left to drive, non-stop, all night to Sebastian.
So when we arrive in Florida, Luke and I checked out the Sebastian Inlet State Park and ended up sleeping a couple of hours while we waited for the rest of our vacation party to arrive in town. Luke is so tired, and the truck is so packed, the crazy kid ends up sleeping on top of the two refrigerators we brought along with us! Luke is hard worker and sometimes he works hard at sleeping. He, He, He, sorry Luke!
Later that day the rest of our party arrives in town and we unload all our gear into our two bedroom Resort Suite!
Amusingly the resort calls that tiny thing in the picture a full kitchen! Well at least it was after we wheeled two refrigerators and a freezer into the now full dining room!
One thing for sure, we weren’t going hungry and we weren’t eating out.
During this vacation, most of those that actually could be called my family, would all be there with me. This included my sister, my mother and father, and my biological father and his wife, and my Grandmother.
Of course, not all at once, as that would have been a little awkward for obvious reasons.
So after we arrived at the resort and unloaded 2 or 3,000 lbs of gear, my sister and I left mom and dad at the resort, and went to pick up her fishing license. We drove one block, to the local bait and tackle shop and my biological father greets us at the door. By God’s providence, he works less than 300 yards from where we are staying! Rather shocking to say the least.
So everyone gets a license and we go fishing. My sister hooks a huge one, it’s as long as she is tall, 4’11”, or 5’0” if you ask her, but it turns out not to be real, just a stuffed bass from Cabelas.
Better luck next time sis!
Over the next few days we fish during the day and sometimes at night, which is something you must experience before you die and go to Heaven, because I don’t think that River of Life actually has any fish in it.
So, one day we run into a school of croaker so thick my sister is pulling them in so fast, all I have time to do is throw them in the live well and re-bait her hook. Of course these 8”-10” croaker were not for eating, they were for live bait.
Anyway the toil continues for me as the boat continues to act up. But Luke and I keep everything running. Until finally we pull up to the boat ramp after spending the night on the boat and some evil sinner has stolen some vital bolts off my trailer! The situation is utterly outrageous, but we have no choice but to load the boat and drive to the hardware store. Many hours later everything is fixed! Again!
But this is followed by an incredible day of catching sailcat and missing several huge fish. We even followed an immense 6 or 7’ wide manta ray! After years on the ocean, I had never even seen one before, except on TV. We also saw dolphin and sea turtles and even manatees.
One morning I saw a large black cloud of fish about a quarter mile away, and a half mile off shore, so thinking it was a school of bait fish we headed right toward it. When we got close enough to see it wasn’t bait fish, it was too late, we had scattered a huge school of perhaps 100, 50+ pounds Tarpon, the very fish we went to Florida to catch. I never saw another Tarpon all week. Aaaarrrg!!
But all was not lost, on one of the nights we spent on the Indian River we were catching rather large sailcat when I hooked and landed a 35+ pound grouper, IN THE RIVER on a 9” live croaker!
I let my sister hold it because I didn’t want her to feel bad about me beating out her 10 pound sailcat, which I must admit was rather puny compared to my monster grouper! He, He, He, sorry sis!
But the next day we were fishing directly in the Sebastian Inlet, where the water flows about 10mph continuously. We dropped my huge 40 pound river anchor to hold the boat in place and went to fishing. But when we went to leave, we discovered my anchor was terribly stuck to something on the bottom. For the next four hours I tried every trick in the book, to get my expensive anchor back. I even tried defying death by diving in the fast moving water. But to no avail, it was hopelessly stuck. So even though we could see the anchor chain, we eventually had to cut the rope and go home.
So what does any of this have to do with God or Providence or anything you would be interested in reading about? It’s all about being faithful, no matter what. It’s about serving others even when your anchor has you tied down. It’s all about being Christ-like even when things are at there worst.
You see I didn’t know it, but my sister, the one who’s family I drove down to Tucson to minister to, was watching me. On one of our last days she said “This is the best vacation I ever had.” I responded “I can’t see how you can say that when we have faced trial after trial ever other day, and we have been on the verge of disaster nearly every day.” And my sister said, “No, we didn’t face trial after trial, you did, I just sat back and watched you suffer and struggle for hours to fix a trailer, keep a boat running and then go home and cook us a fabulous dinner every night. It amazed me to see how hard you worked and all the things you tried just to save a silly anchor. I came here to relax and now I am going home, after watching you work so hard, motivated to do more for God than I was. Your work was a witness to me of Jesus.”
Seems I caught the big fish, but my sister went home with something more valuable. A motivation to be more for God. I wish we all could say that.
Brother Terry Walker
Providence Baptist Church
Greer, South Carolina