Kevin Ryan was about 120 in the world in the world tennis profession. He was a professional of sorts. He was the highest ranked tennis player I’d ever met. I never saw him play, but understood him to be good. He was nice looking, curly hair and a bit shorter than me. He was smaller. He picked me up at the airport on one of my trip up there. I judged him immediately because of his semi-long curly blond hair and leather jacket. He looked cool, but not Christian. He was not the prototypical Christian that I was around here in Greenville. Boy, did I have a lot to learn.
I don’t remember the details as far as my trip to NY that time. I don’t remember why he picked me up. I don’t remember where I stayed. I don’t remember why we sat in his car that first night after he picked me up and talked for hours. I immediately judged him and then as the conversation flowed I had one of those rare moments where my soul met God through a relationship with another human being. We had genuine biblical fellowship, a term I was not familiar with at that time. We bonded, we hit it off, we shared at significant levels, we understood one another, we were struggling similarly and we were learning similar things from God at the same time. I lives were running parallel to one another 800 miles apart. It was a rare moment in my life where my soul enjoyed the goodness of another human, a male no less and it was totally fulfilling. It was something that I would never forget and that God would use years later to lead me to a place where that would be a common experience.
Kevin worked about six months out of the year. He taught filthy rich people how to play tennis. He was a tennis instructor. He was low-key, cool, understated and made a lot of money from what I understood. He told me about his interest in counseling and told me about this new thing called “Nouthetic” counseling, which I had never heard of. He told me about its founder Jay Adams. I had no idea that Jay lived near me in SC and that I would come to know him years later.
There was a group of us in an apartment one evening having biblical fellowship. Kevin was there. He asked me if I had ever read “In His Steps”. I said, “yes”, but I did not finish it. He asked why. I told him that I felt as though I would have to mimic the book in some way if I finished it. I felt as though God would challenge me to do something like that and I didn’t want to do that. Kevin laughed. I asked him why he was laughing and he said he was reading the book as well and he didn’t want to finish it for the same reason. I laughed. That is how our lives ran parallel to one another. It was amazing. I’m not sure who led the conversation next, but I do remember before long we were making a pact to walk in his steps for the next 30 days, to try to mimic the book. It was sort of a surreal conversation. This was another example of the parallel relationship I had with my new friend