October 15, 2021


When Patrick and Brent went to London for a semester during their college years, a Navigators missionary friend at our church in South Carolina gave them a contact name in London—Tony Gayler.

Tony also was with Navigators and had a townhouse where he offered room and board to students from various countries.  He called it a “lighthouse for lodgers” and usually had up to 10 students there at a time. He was already booked to capacity when Patrick and Brent accepted his invitation to come for Sunday service at Westminster Chapel and have lunch afterward.

He really wanted to help them out and agreed to make room for them for the four months they would be in London.  To do so, he gave up his own private room and shared a bunk bed in another room.  In the photo above, the South Carolina students and their London host are enjoying game night with mugs of tea and good conversation.

Just this week, Patrick came across a reference to Tony’s death in December, 2019.  It seems he (at age 85) had Alzheimer’s and spent his final days in a nursing home in Chesham. A Memorial Thanksgiving Service for his life was held at a Chesham church the following month. The request was that any contributions be made to continuing the work of his home in London.  An article in a Navigators publication noted that during the pandemic lockdown in London, Tony’s home was a refuge for those staying there.  

When Heather and I visited London just after Thanksgiving, we enjoyed spending an afternoon with Tony and his lodgers, plus other guests he invited home from church to join us for a home-cooked meal.  All of the lodgers had specific tasks assigned for preparing the food, setting the table and clearing up afterward.  We enjoyed a lively conversation with people from several different countries and with a wide range of fields of study.  

The menu was hearty and delicious—roast beef, roasted potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and vegetables. This photo shows the guests’ plates ready to be served!

Patrick and Brent were blessed to find Tony and his generous hospitality and also happily accepted their responsibilities to keep the household running smoothly. There was time for fun and friendship with the other guests, Bible studies and serious conversations with Tony, and the comfort of being “at home” even across the ocean from their South Carolina homes.

I hope others will carry on the good work Tony did so well in London—even in his house there after he is gone.  He understood a lot about making people feel at home.

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