News travels fast. Throughout the afternoon today I've received calls and emails from people who wanted to make sure I'd heard that Brian King had been killed in the crash of his small airplane early Saturday evening. Brian, along with two other men, had flown from Birmingham, Alabama to a small airport in Sumter County, Georgia. They had just taken off to return home when their airplane plunged to the ground... exploding on impact. All three men died, probably instantly.
Brian was a sophomore in high school when I became his youth minister at what was then the Decatur Church of Christ in Atlanta. Graduating high school, Brian headed to Lipscomb University with plans to become a youth minister. In the summer of 1986, while still a Lipscomb student, Brian became the Decatur church's first youth ministry intern.
When he graduated from Lipscomb with a degree in youth ministry, Brian became the first member of Decatur's youth group to enter full-time ministry. Brian went on to serve a couple of churches as their youth minister, but then left full-time ministry to enter private business. He remained an advocate of youth ministry in each of the churches he subsequently attended.
It has been years since I've seen Brian. He had called me a couple of years ago when the church where he worshiped was looking for a youth minister. Brian was serving on the youth minister search committee, and he wanted to talk to me about one of their candidates. We'd caught-up a bit over the course of the phone call, and the conversation ended with our agreeing we should call each other more often. That was the last time I spoke to Brian... and then today, the calls and emails began to reach me in his stead.
As I type these words, my mind is full of memories of Brian... most too personal to share as a blog entry. In many ways, Brian was like a little brother to me. Suffice it to say that Susan and I... along with our dear friend Don... have laughed until tears rolled down our cheeks as we recalled "Brian moments."
How do you summarize the life of a friend tragically cut short? I can't.
I just thank our good God for the ways in which my life is richer because of my having lived a portion of my years on this earth with Brian. And I ask that you pray for Brian's family and friends who, along with me, grieve his death.