So today we were informed that one of Ashley’s best friends growing up lost her father, Rene Daignault. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, daughter, son, son-in-law, as well as his four grand children. It is never easy under any circumstance to see someone you love go.
I remember the first time I ever met Rene & Nita. It was in August of 2001. I had just accepted a position to serve as student pastor at a small church North of Edmond called Woodcrest Baptist Church. I was a young 23 year old kid who thought he had life already figured out. I had no idea that the next three years would be some of the most challenging days I would ever experience.
I remember within my first year the church went through a tough financial patch. All five paid staff members eventually saw their salaries cut by 30% for over the course of twelve weeks. I was young, single, and still in college and wasn’t getting paid a ton already. So 30% was pretty much forcing me to live off of Ramon Noodles, spam and Moon Pies. I was dead broke.
I still remember those nights after that church business meeting. I had thoughts swirling in my head about whether I was in the right place and doing the right thing. I was on the verge of giving up and walking away. I must have typed a letter of resignation at least ten times.
That first Sunday after the cuts happened I remember running into Rene in the hall. He held out his hand as he always did and gave me a big shake. As he walked away I felt something in my palm, something he left. When I unfolded it I was stunned to see it was a fifty dollar bill.
For the next several weeks, for as long as the cuts remained, Rene would walk up and slid a new fifty dollar bill into my hand with such ease and smoothness that no one ever saw or knew. At a time when my salary was to drop 30% I actually saw my salary increase.
Rene didn’t say much. He didn’t comment on controversy and he rarely voiced his opinion unless asked. He whistled the old hymns and praise choruses instead of singing because, well, whistling them was just something he did.
I observed by watching that he was a giving man. Later, I experienced that thoughtfulness. He touched my life during that time when I had a lot of doubt, and I have never forgotten those sly handshakes on Sunday morning.
So Rene: You go quietly, but leave us trembling.
Your example was priceless… See you on the other side.