Sunday (March 6th) began gloriously. I was able to attend church and hear an excellent sermon on pride. How did I know it was excellent? It kicked my butt all over the auditorium. The day continued in this vein as a discovered that Liverpool beat Manchester United 3-1 in Manchester. I was able to spend a great day with my beloved over a nice lunch. Then we went home. It was there that we were informed that a very good friend of ours passed away earlier Sunday morning after preaching at another church.
I first met Tino at the first Sunday morning church service I ever attended in 1991. The Friday before, God saw fit to save me at a Nicky Cruz evangelistic event that this church had hosted. I talked to Tino, and told him my story. I also peppered him with question after question about Christianity in general, and Pentecostalism in particular. He was very patient and answered my questions not with his opinion, but with Biblical support.
Over time, TIno and I became very good friends. As sometimes friends do we bumped heads. This was do more to me and my pride, than it was anything he did. Many times we would discuss theology and doctrine, especially as began to move from Arminianism and towards Calvinism. One of Tino's favorite topics was John MacArthur's views on the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement.
Our friendship begin as a sort of mentor/pupil and evolved to peers. I never stopped respecting him as a man of God, and a man of the Scriptures. Most importantly, I do not believe I have ever met a man as humble as he. Who put up with so much junk from others, and yet never acted out in a unchristian manner.
We also worked together in creating a sort of Christianity 101 class for people new to our church. I can't begin to tell you how much joy it brought me to teach these people about God, and to sit under Tino, and learn how to make theology more practical for people.
About a year ago, my wife and I wanted to move on to another church. I spoke to Tino a number of times about this move. He gave me a number of issues to think about, but ultimately it was time for my wife and I to leave that church and establish ourselves in a new church that was more in line with our beliefs and convictions.
A couple of weeks ago I had to stop by that church. Tino greeted me with his usual greeting, "Mr. Manning, how art thou?" We chatted for about ten minutes, and I told him that I would talk to him later. Little did I know that later will be heaven some day soon.
I will miss my friend. I grieve with my former church family as they lost a pillar. I mourn for his wife and family. One thing I do know they and I have been made better people because God saw fit to place him in our lives.