Where It Began

Paul asked the Corinthians to bear with him in a little foolishness (2 Corinthians 11:1) and so I ask you to bear with me a bit over a very special story.

In the summer of 1986 I met a young Tennessee girl who happened to be in an English literature class I was taking at Freed-Hardeman College in Henderson, Tennessee. We seemed to hit it off well and soon we were dating one another exclusively. Now Freed-Hardeman has often been called a shoe factory where people come out in pairs. Such was to be the case for my bride Bobbi and me. The rickety old swing you see here was where I officially proposed to Bobbi about a year and a half later. Six months after that we were married.

Old Swing at Hall-Roland Residence Hall...Where it All Began
Old Swing at Hall-Roland Residence Hall...Where it All Began

Bobbi lived in the dorm just behind the picture and so this was a convenient place where we could sit under the watchful eye of her dorm mother.

As you can see, the swing is broken at one end. I guess that was where I was sitting!

Almost 21 years later I think we have done well. When I look at the three boys I know we have done well. I must say that when we sat in this swing neither of us had any idea where the Lord would take us. We have simply trusted in him and will continue to trust in him for the next 21 years and beyond.

Among the important and influential people we met at Freed-Hardeman was brother Winford Claiborne who, at the time, was our favorite instructor. Among his classes was Marriage and the Family, a course that we both took under him. (Bobbi made a better grade but that’s not surprising!) Because of our love for brother Claiborne we we asked him to perform our wedding at the old Northport church of Christ building in Northport, Alabama. Through the years it has been our privilege to stay in touch with him.

Winford Claiborne and Bryant, 2009
Winford Claiborne and Bryant, 2009

Among the many blessings I have enjoyed from our association with brother Claiborne is a love of books and reading. This fine gentleman is never far from at least two our three books that he is reading simultaneously. I can say with no fear of contradiction that he is the best and widest read man in our brotherhood. In fact, he is the only man I know that has published a book on books. That little volume offers guidance to the best books on a variety of social topics which impact our culture today.

Brother Claiborne is a staunch defender of truth and has often challenged the wrong-headed thinking of many in our word today. His International Gospel Hour is heard throughout the world and has often raised the ire of many who would subvert our morals.

I think he would quickly tell you that his life was powered by the strength and grace of his bride, Miss Molly, who passed this life a few years ago. He misses her dearly but continues his efforts to defend the cross of Christ in the knowledge that he will see her again. Unfortunately, the words which he loves so dearly are not enough to express our love and honor for this great man.

So, to brother Claiborne and to the unknown craftsman who built that swing, we say “Thank You!”

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