Meet My British Friend Jo!

In the summer of 1988 a little church in the countryside a few hours from London sponsored a revival-type conference. Despite England’s long history with the church and rich heritage of believers, the dwindling Christian population was quite concerned about the lack of church-goers and those professing faith in Jesus. In an effort to bring the gospel to the local teens and young adults, this church hosted a large group of American teen-agers to participate in the mission.

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I was on that trip (in one of these hideous choir outfits!) And this is where I met my friend Jo. During my short time there I had the privledge of sharing the gospel and spending time with her and a group of her British friends.

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(Jo is in the center next to me.)

The following summer she came to Texas to attend our church summer camp and embrace American culture. Here we are in my backyard…with Kanakomo (aka: Kanakuk) and Baylor t-shirts on!

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After this we lost touch. College, jobs, marriage, kids- Life.

Until one day a few years ago, lo and behold I had the most unexpected and exciting Facebook message: Jo had found me!

She wondered if I remembered her. Of course, how could I forget! We had several lengthy FB exchanges highlighting the last 20+ years to each other. And since then we have posted the occasional comment on each other’s wall.

Things from me like: “What’s it like over there during all the royal wedding festivities?” and “How is with the Olympics going on?”

Now fast-forward 25 years after our first meeting to last Sunday in London, which thanks to my parents’ incredible gift is where I spent a portion of Spring Break with my mom and daughter!

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We had a trip full of highlights hitting as many of the major tourist attractions as logistically possible in our few days time in both London and Paris. But one of the highlights had nothing to do with historic places, monuments, museums, shopping or food. It was simply reconnecting with Jo!

She and her daughter Harriet had taken a 3-hour train ride from their home in the country to spend the weekend in London with the specific purpose of meeting us for Sunday lunch!

DSC_0573Thanks to modern technology we found each other amongst the sea of people in front of the royal black and gold gates just east of the circle facing Buckingham Palace immediately following the Changing of the Guards.

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The excitement of that time-honored event quickly became background to a reunion I had never considered might happen. Here we are all these years later (thankfully with much better hair styles 🙂 …

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We walked to a nearby cafe with only about an hour to catch up and eat before our reservation to go on the London Eye.

Where do you start? What to say!

So, we reminisced about our past and caught up slightly on life now. The girls compared American and British teenage life, which seemed pretty similar. As did the discovery that each of our sons dream the same universal dream of being professional athletes. In fact at that moment her son was at home watching a big football (or what we Americans call soccer) match with his dad; an activity my sons spend many Sunday afternoons doing with their dad too!

IMG_2160It was too bad we didn’t have time for more depth of conversation, but just reestablishing our relationship was an incredible reminder of the ties that bind us to one another. In fact, the slogan of the conference all those years ago was “Crossroads – Where Friends Meet for Life.” A nice emotional-sounding slogan, but I wonder if anyone really considered friends would really meet for life?

I know I sure didn’t give it much thought. But God orchestrated this cross-cultural friendship between me and Jo for His glory and our good. And as a testimony to our daughters of what happens when the gospel goes forth!

I hope we will see each other again and before another 25 years go by. Or maybe even the girls will meet up again in their future journeys (after all, they are now FB friends :).) Whatever the case I’m thankful we serve a King who is bigger than me, my local church and American Christianity. He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings over all. From all time and from all places, united as One body to Him!

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10 thoughts on “Meet My British Friend Jo!

  1. Love this story!! Not at all surprised that you orchestrated this meeting. You understand so well how to put a premium on relationships. How special that reunion must’ve been. Can’t wait to hear more about your trip!

  2. Kristen it was so “awesome” to see you after all these years. I certainly never realised that Friends were meeting for life, but I am so thankful for it. I have often wondered over the years, why was I one of the lucky ones who got to come to Texas? Maybe our friendship was the reason, maybe our recent meeting was the reason….may Rebecca and Harriet are? Whatever it was I am truly grateful and honoured to be able to call you a friend xx

  3. Such an awesone story, I remember the summer well and have often wondered how to make contact with members of the group especially Stephanie Bickle who I miss dearly. We had such an amazing connection and I would love to know how she is doing. So glad you have been able to recconect, God works in the most wonderful of ways…

  4. Yes that is my prayer for this evening that someone may see this and put us back in contact. She was friends with Melany Roberts. Thank you for your awe inspiring blog truly a breath of fresh air !!

  5. Love that! Thanks for sharing! It’s so fun to see how God can orchestrate a friendship & then rekindle it years later!

  6. This is a great story indeed. After that first Crossroads event, Louie and I had the joy of taking a group of Baylor students back to Gorsley & Ross in ’89. That Crossroads event also sparked lifelong friendships. Next week I’ll be with a group of International church planters in London, along with 4 people who I met during that special time years ago. Thanks for posting this excellent story and for sharing your journey with us.
    Dudley Callison
    President – Christian Associates International

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