Me, Gators, and Billy Hornsby
December 1st, 2009.
Early morning flight to Ft. Lauderdale to spend a day and a half “having fun” in the middle of a giant swamp known as the Everglades. Not my idea. 100% Casey Graham. To be honest, I wasn’t even all that excited about it and almost backed out earlier that week.
So….I got off the plane….made my way to our planned meeting point in the airport….when lo and behold…I see my friend Casey. Standing next to Casey was this big dude that looked like he had just stepped out of a Bass Pro Shop catalog. I’ll never forget it because the contrast between this man and me….well, it was pretty much the size of the Grand Canyon. He was wearing a camouflage shirt, boots, and a yes, you guessed it – a Bass Pro Shop hat. He reminded me of my uncle from Missouri who owns lots of guns and enjoys sitting in a tree waiting and looking for animals to shoot.
I knew in this moment that I was in trouble.
Who was this Bass Pro Man? Billy Hornsby.
And who is Billy Hornsby? Billy’s the President of ARC – The Association of Related Churches. One of the most successful and impacting church planting organizations in the world. And as I was about to find out, he’s also one of the nicest, most down to earth guys I’ve ever been around.
It was only a day and a half…but by the end of our “excursion” (well for me it was anyway…), I felt like I had gotten to know someone very, very special. Not only did Billy and I share a room together (the two snorers…mostly me)….but in a matter of hours, this man had initiated me in the ways of nature, animal sacrifice, and alligator wrestling. (Watch this for proof.)
A week ago, Billy spoke at his son-in-law’s church (Chris Hodges) in Birmingham, Alabama at a service honoring his life and ministry. I watched the video this past Saturday night and was completely blown away by what I heard and saw. Aside from the fact that it was really, really tough seeing Billy sick from cancer, it was truly one of the most beautiful things I think I’ve ever seen.
So I grabbed the video, cut it to Billy’s part (no offense Greg Surratt…) and wanted you to see it. It’s powerful. And I think it speaks volumes about what makes Billy the incredible leader he is today.
Watch the video. And pray for my outdoor mentor, Billy Hornsby. Also pray for his wife Charlene, his family, and loved ones.
Love you Billy. Thanks for making a difference in my life.
And one more thing… Let me again say sorry about almost shooting you and the others…