Wisdom Teaches Friends to Fish
By Jimmy Allen
I wrote this article five years ago. Though Wyndham can no longer fish, he has taught many (including me) to fish—physically and spiritually as described in the scripture below. His wisdom to build lasting friendships and to train others lives on.
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. (2 Timothy 2:1-2)
This past Friday, I drove 300 miles, got a sunburn, and threw up several times. It was one of the best days of my life. I have been privileged by God in many ways. The list is too long to recount. One way is definitely in the amazing friendships which have encouraged, challenged and changed me. For the past 25+ years, two men have long stood on my closest friends’ list. They represent the past, present and future. They are spiritual generations in the flesh.
I got a phone call from my friend Gary Sciascia, saying he would be travelling from Phoenix (where he serves as lead evangelist) to Boston for a few days. Subsequently, I heard that my friend Wyndham Shaw would also be returning from Europe (where he was training elders) about the same time. Somehow and some way, the three of us planned and then got together for a half-day fishing trip I will never forget.
Prior to departure, Captain Wyndham asked me if either Gary or I had ever been sea-sick. I assured him that I had fished on the White River in Arkansas with my dad as a boy and would be fine.
Wyndham had chosen the Merrimack River in beautiful Salisbury, Massachusetts, as our departure point. It was a beautiful sunny day . . . but windy (note to reader: remember the windy part; wind causes waves and waves rock the boat). We sped over the mighty waves and began to catch several fish almost instantly at our initial destination. We snagged seven or eight mackerel, and I was feeling great and ready to return home triumphant. Then Wyndham announced that we were about ready to begin to fish. I asked what we had been doing up to that point. He replied that we now had our bait! About that time I began chumming the waters. I lost my cookies.
Gary had not journeyed from Phoenix to the East Coast just to watch a grown man be sick, so he baited up. Pretty soon into casting mackerel, the stripers began to hit. They were ferocious. And we had the time of our lives. I have caught bass in Arkansas, but these would have eaten those guys and their families in one gulp. Wyndham was yelling at Gary about how to hold the dip net. Wyndham was untangling my line from Gary’s. Wyndham was steering the boat and taking the fish off the hooks. Okay, Wyndham was pretty much doing everything. Gary was laughing and reminiscing . . . and then, I threw up again.
All in all, it was a memorable day.
For over 25 years, Wyndham has been a primary mentor and older brother to me. For over 25 years, Gary, that college guy the Lord bumped me into at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, has been the most loyal younger brother and friend a man could have. And for a day, I got to travel back in time to when the three of us had a dream to see a church grow in North Carolina and then around the world.
For me, the day was not really about the waves or the fish. This was a day about friendship and one man pouring his life into another, who then does the same. I will probably not have many special times like this again in this same threesome this side of heaven. But the generations were represented in a way that only God could have put together. One man poured his life into another, and he into another, and he into another.
Wyndham not only fishes, he teaches friends to fish.
It is more than just a plan or a program. It is the greatest adventure ever. It is hearts uniting. It is spiritual warfare of the highest order. And today I stand very inspired looking back and looking ahead while living out today with people I love. I thank Wyndham for his wisdom to build deep friendships, and then teaching them to fish (literally and figuratively).