I first met Ralph when I went to interview for the job of Associate and Worship Minister at the West University Church of Christ in Houston, TX. I immediately knew he was going to be a guy I would love.
After my wife and I went down to interview, we had one more interview and visit scheduled to a church near Oklahoma City. We were shocked when the Monday after we returned home, we had gotten an email from Ralph, offering us a job.
I told him about our other interview we had lined up. He immediately emailed me a contract, laid some things out for me to consider, and then told me this (a direct quote from the email he sent me on February 19, 2009):
“We know your family will be a great addition to our West U Family and we look forward to your coming at the earliest possible date. We would be grateful for your acceptance of our offer within the next day or two. There is no need for you to visit the ‘other church’.”
Ralph was a man of few words, but when he spoke, you listened. He had a wealth of knowledge, life experience, and taught me so very much.
One of the joys of being in ministry is that you get to work with lots of different people. I can say this without any doubt – Ralph Arnold was the best Elder of the Lord’s Church I ever worked for. He was patient, he was kind, he was encouraging, he was direct, but above all He love God and He loved the church.
Behind Ralph was one of the most supportive of all ladies. Beverly, also known as “Miss Daisy,” was always there by Ralph’s side, encouraging, loving, and supporting just like him. You’re a rock star, Miss Daisy.
Ralph fought a few battles over the past few years with illness, and he was finally granted His eternal reward the other day. Ralph Arnold, the world needs more people like you. I could always call you, email you, visit with you. You steered and guided this young minister in the way he needed to go. You taught me much. Since I was so far away from my father while I was in Houston, I considered you my “Adopted dad.”
Not sure they have a Corelli’s Italian Restaurant in Heaven, but I’m sure you’ll be visiting. Thanks for the lunches and dinners, the visits at the office, the constant encouragement and positive thoughts. Ralph – you will be missed.
(Update – from my wife, Kristen – on her favorite Ralph memory):
My favorite Ralph memory (other than our visits to eat Italian food at Corelli’s, of course) is when Lane was on a mission trip to China and while he was gone, our refrigerator broke. I was 16 hours away from any of our family and home alone with our 18 month old little girl. So, I called my “family” away from family: Ralph & Beverly. You stayed home to watch Josie for me and Ralph went with me to Home Depot to pick out and buy a new refrigerator. I know that neither of you thought much of it, but that act of kindness meant the world to me at a time when I felt alone and helpless.
He leaves behind a legacy of kindness, respect and a true example of what it means to love God and serve Him.
Praying for you and your family. I know you will miss him.