July 2000 — This past Thursday through Sunday, Sara Faye and I attended a reunion of the extended family of my maternal grandparents, Will and Delia (O’Neal) Short, who themselves went to Africa in 1921 as missionaries and served Christ there for more than 60 years. About 100 Shorts, O’Neals, Fudges, Ewings, Mansurs and decendants came from across the United States, England, Holland and (recently) Africa to the beautiful Roman Nose State Park Resort in northern Oklahoma. There we variously made new acquaintances and renewed old ones, golfed, swam, picnicked, played, rode horseback, and enjoyed rich familial ties. All six of my mother’s children were there, with several of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. (I am the oldest of five boys; our sister, Nancy, is the youngest. We came from California and Florida, and from Alabama and Texas between.)
Our ancestors included a sheriff in the Wild West, we learned, as well as pioneers who crossed the United States in covered wagons. Our larger family, like most others of its size, has seen its share of joys and sorrows, of happy homes and tragic divorces, of problems and of achievements. One joyful characteristic of this family is a multitude of preachers, missionaries and Christian workers both male and female. It is a singing family also, and we blended voices in singalongs both sacred and secular.
The final Reunion event was an improvised Sunday morning worship, led by representatives of the various families — which also come, as it happens, from across the larger Christian church, though the majority belong to Churches of Christ. Some 60-80 family members gathered in a room at the lodge for hymns, prayers, Communion, and a short sermon by octagenarian Foy Short — longtime missionary to Africa, my mother’s brother and one of the two sons of Will and Delia Short. His theme was “adorning the doctrine,” based on the admonition in Titus 2:10. He pointed out that, unless it is “adorned” by kind and courteous lives, doctrine alone is unattractive and ineffective. As we take on the “mind of Christ,” he showed, we are transformed into people whom God can use to bless others — by gracious lives attractively inviting them also to know our Savior Jesus Christ.