A passion for people

Randy Riley - Contributing columnist

People get disappointed when their prayers are not answered. Then they worry, or question God.

If their prayers are not answered, in exactly the way they want, their fundamental faith in God may be challenged.

Basic faith is defined as having a belief or strong conviction in something for which there may be no tangible proof. Faith is possibly the most important element in religious life. In religion, we have belief and trust in things that cannot be seen or proven using human or scientific methods.

As a Christian, I’m comfortable with that.

Every week in church, we lift up the names of family members and friends who are going through sickness or personal trials. We often have them placed on “prayer chains” so many other people, even people in other churches, will also pray for them. We know our prayers sometimes are not answered as we have asked.

Our friends and family members are not always healed. They do not always recover.

Sometimes our friends, like Lee Hendee, die. That doesn’t mean our prayers were not heard.

Earlier this month, I wrote about my good friend Lee Hendee. Those words bear repeating.

“During my first year as Mayor, Lee Hendee asked me to be a regular on his radio station, WALH. We started the Monday Morning with the Mayor Show. We were never at a loss of things to talk about. I think we both looked forward to our weekly half-hour together. Every week, the 30 minutes flew by. Not only did Lee and I record the Monday Morning with the Mayor Program, we laughed, teased and enjoyed ourselves.

In December of last year, Lee asked me if I would come in every week and record a new interview show. We got imaginative and named it the Riley Program. The program has been on the air, or online, every week this year. Again, it has been great fun. My guests seem to enjoy themselves. I’m having a blast. Lee gives me a microphone and lets me talk for 30 minutes every week. Who could ask for more?”

For the past several months, Lee Hendee has been having worsening health problems. With weakness in his legs and back, he often stumbled. He fell a few times. It was getting worse.

So, just a little over a weeks ago, Lee underwent major surgery. The surgery was to replace the first four cervical vertebrae. According to Lee, the procedure went well. We spoke several times last week. He was anxious to get back into the studio.

Lee asked me to schedule guests for the nine o’clock Good Morning Wilmington Show this week. He was going to run the soundboard while I interviewed our guests.

I asked Lee not to push himself, but he insisted that he was looking forward to running the soundboard again. It was his passion.

Lee was also very excited about having his memoir published. The book celebrated his long career in broadcasting. He named it, “50 Years Later; I’m Still Talking.”

His good friend and fellow author, Mary McFarland, had just finished editing the final draft of Lee’s memoir. Lee and Mary were excited about both of them having books available for sale at the 2017 Clinton County Corn Festival.

Lee was always looking to the future, his next challenge, his next interview. He was even talking about his next book.

His excitement for the future was contagious. I was looking forward to seeing Lee next week and working with him again. He said he was feeling well. He felt that the prayers of his friends had been answered. In our last text message, I asked Lee not to push himself next week. His response was, “No problem.”

Many people had been praying for Lee Hendee as he prepared to undergo the complicated spinal surgery.

Some people will be concerned that their prayers for Lee were not answered, in another sense their prayers for Lee were heard and were answered.

Yes. We all saw Lee getting weaker and weaker. We knew he was in pain and there was nothing we could do about it. We hated to see the deterioration of our friend, so we prayed for him and his family.

Our prayers were heard. Our prayers were not answered the way we wanted, but they were heard.

Our dear friend will never again stumble and fall because of weakness in his back and in his legs.

Lee will never again feel the pain of arthritis that robbed him of his strength.

Lee will never again worry about whether he might miss an interview.

Lee will never again stumble, fall, feel pain or worry. His long journey is now over.

Lee, your passion for the people of this community will long endure. Dear friend … we will miss you, but we are assured that you will rest in everlasting peace.

God’s speed dear friend. God’s speed…

Randy Riley is President of Council of Wilmington.


Randy Riley

Contributing columnist