Although I’ve enjoyed many interesting trips over the years, my stash of treasured photos always seems to be more focused on the wonderful people I’ve encountered along the way. Photography can hardly capture the essence of either scenery or people. When I recently pulled out this photo, I was struck by all that I know and love about these three couples. Left to right are Stuart Cooper, Bill Fravel, Sallie Fravel, Laura Cooper, Pat Cannon and Pete Cannon. I took the photo at Cornerstone during one of our missions conferences when Stuart and Laura were visiting from their overseas mission assignment.
Three of these six friends are medical doctors—Stuart (Internal Medicine), Bill (Otolaryngology), and Laura (Pediatrics). One is a nurse (Pat). At different periods in my life, two of them were my employers (Bill and later, Pete). Sallie and Stuart were from the deep South, Pete and Pat were definitely Yankees. Both the Fravels and the Cannons had dramatic spiritual awakenings as adults. Bill and Pete both had serious medical crises as adults—Bill with severe Guillain Barre syndrome, and Pete with an urgent heart valve replacement. Sallie battled breast cancer for many years.
They each had unique gifts and personalities—but I think their greatest connection and power was in the way they viewed other people. They really believed that each person is created in the image of God and is unconditionally loved by God—and treated them accordingly. They loved people in all their diversity and always sought them out wherever they were in the world about them. The Cannons had a house near the University of South Carolina campus where they cooked lunches for hundreds of international students every week, held English conversation classes and helped these students acclimate to American life. Many of their friends including the Fravels and the Coopers came alongside to help in this hospitality.
To me, these are power couples because they lived out their faith by showing love to all people.