When I first met Bradley it was the fall of 2005 and he was a freshman in my Introduction to Engineering class at Baylor. I liked him from the beginning. As I have told him on several occasions, he has a maturity beyond his years. Perhaps it was this "like", or perhaps it was Providence, or perhaps those two cannot be meaningfully separated. At any rate, I decided he would be a good member of a student team I was assembling to go to Kenya in May, 2006.
Brad later wrote to me, "...I have been asked frequently how I was drawn to travel to Kenya my freshman year... I look back and always immediately recall a cold December afternoon in 2005 when you chased me down as I was leaving Rogers to urge me to go to Kenya. I was so touched by that and would later come to realize that God was transforming my life through you by that simple personal invitation."
(Bradley with Rwandan gorillas, stolen from his facebook page and brazenly used without permission!)
He did go to Kenya in 2006, and then he went to Rwanda twice in 2009 and 2010. He now considers "missions... especially in Africa, to be a passion that I hope to pursue long into the future..." Each time he went he was engaged in some service project, usually for children, and usually involving giving them access to clean water, so he really is giving a cup of cold water to the least of these. In all those times, however, I never got to travel with him as his team leader. Even when we were in Kenya at the same time, he was on a different team, unfortunately for me.
Brad has the unusual gift of being an encouraging person. At least to me, he always has an uplifting word or two for my soul, and this makes me want to keep investing in the lives of students. The returns are tremendous. It makes me want to pour myself out on their behalf. His words, and others like them from different students, confirm to me that I am where God has placed me, and that feels great.