Finding Jim Paynter Part 2

This is a bit off of “My Walk To 199”, but felt it was important to update. Last November, I wrote a blog about a man I used to work with that was very influential in my walk with Christ. His name was Jim Paynter.
I had sent feelers out all over the place to try to get in touch with him. I was a bad boy when I met him. Drinking and drugging, yet this guy never judged me but did nothing but work next to me and live his life in front of me.
I decided to google “Jim Paynter Eustis Florida”, as that’s the last place I heard of him. It brought me to a page that was an obituary of his wife, Judy, who passed away from a flu shot that went septic. It gave names and cities, but no numbers.
I called my niece Dee Dee and asked her to look around and find if the Jim Paynter listed might be him. It said he was 74, and lived in Lady Lake. She gave me the address, but had no phone number. She gave me the address of one of his sons.
I left a message, not trying to sound like a creeper, and said he was visiting grandchildren out of state. She gave me his cell. I told her I didn’t want to bother him, but she said he’d love it.
So I called him and re-introduced myself. I told him I worked with him in 1976, mentioned some co-workers we had in common, and says he remembered me. I told him what an influence he was on me and that he was semi-famous, at least in my small church. He said isn’t it funny how you can influence people without even knowing it.
He tells me he has been traveling the country to speak to his grandchildren about Christ. He states he feels the time is short and he needs to speak to them about Him. He has 40 something grandchildren and great grandchildren. Around thirty of them were there when his wife passed. He said God was glorified.
He said he’s going from Michigan to Arkansas (“Man, I didn’t realize how far that is”) before heading back to Florida for a day, then taking a youth group to camp in North Carolina.
He told me to call him anytime, as “preachers don’t have a lot of friends they can talk to”, and if I ever needed to talk, he’d listen. I told him I’d be honored to be his friend. It was like talking with Andy Taylor of Mayberry, that comforting.
Thank God I was able to reach him. It was like a trip back in time, as Billy Joel says, “when I wore a younger man’s clothes”.
Here’s to you Jim Paynter. May the Lord continue to use you.

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