When Paul, the Apostle, wrote his friends in Philippi he sent the letter with Epaphroditus. In that same letter Paul called his messenger, "my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier." (Phil. 2:25) You can tell by the words Paul used that Epaphroditus was a close friend who shared much of his life and ministry.
We are blessed by God when he sends an Epaphroditus into our lives, and this past weekend I had the privilege of riding with and for a guy whom I consider Epaphroditus in my life.
Paul Olson is a two time cancer survivor. His wife, Karen, is a breast cancer survivor. I have known them and their children since the 1980s when Paul moved down here from NY with J C Penney. I baptized him, walked through cancer with him, and Kim and I have shared the same life group with Karen and Paul over the years.
Paul began cycling about three years ago after his last battle with cancer and has been a regular rider with Legacy Cyclists since he started riding. He had ridden the Austin LiveStrong ride two other times before this one. After hearing of his rides with Jim Craig and others, I wanted to honor him and others by riding and raising funds for the cause. (That's my back with the names of those I rode for--including my sister. Paul wears the LiveStrong jersey with names. That's Marcel, Tom and Shirley and Paul. Jim and Jason are not pictured.)
This past Sunday, I worshiped with a friend on a bike in the Hill Country of Texas. The friendship, hills, wind, pain, and beauty melted together to make it a sacred day of praying for and remembering those I know who have defeated, are battling, and have lost the battle to cancer. I rode the entire time with Paul (catching up to Marcel at rest stops) and finished with him.
I cried with him as we hugged after the finish and friends and family gathered around to congratulate him on not only finishing the 90 miles of hills but for beating cancer another day.
Paul is a man of faith and inspiration, and we who know him are motivated by his gentle spirit and resilient trust in God to never complain and to take up challenges others say you should not try.
Thank you, Paul, for inviting me to ride with you.