On June 26, 2011 Brandy, the kids, and I walked into the doors of NCF Church in South Africa. We had left behind our life, went through a tough transition, and were now 10,000 miles from home and completely alone. Our original plan was to serve God’s purposes among the poor, widowed and orphaned, but we suddenly found ourselves left scared, lonely, and questioning everything. Shortly after our first service as a family at NCF began, a man walked up to us in the middle of the worship service. “Hello, my name is Andy Wimble.” Andy’s son Mark was one of only a handful of people we had met in Pietermaritzburg. At the beginning of the service Mark had asked his dad to introduce himself to us. Andy now stood beside us…in the middle of an ongoing church service at that! In that moment, the only thing that mattered to Andy was my family and I. That introduction turned into an after church cup of coffee where we shared stories and cried together. That after church cup of coffee turned into a small group. And that small group turned into a life and faith-saving sanctuary to my family during our time in South Africa.
In the years that have passed since that day, Andrew Wimble has remained one of the greatest men of faith I have ever known. His example of what it means to be a man, a father, a husband, a friend, and a follower and lover of Jesus have impacted me more than a lifetime of sermons ever could. In the past three years, Andy has welcomed into his home every returning team we have ever taken to South Africa. Over a hundred people have been recipient to his hospitality and kindness, and I only wish I could share with you the encounters with God I have witnessed and how much every team member of Restoration Hope immediately fell in love with Andy just as much as our family did. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 best encompasses the mandate by which I saw Andy live his life:
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
This morning we received the news that this incredibly special part of our life left this earth and stepped into what has to be an amazing inheritance in heaven. As much as we grieve our loss, we so rejoice in knowing that Andy’s best days only just began this morning. He leaves behind an amazing family and an unquestionable legacy full of lives forever impacted by his faithful service.
Andrew Wimble, you are deeply loved…until we see you again our friend.