My Friend Regi Died Last Night
My friend Regi died last night. Kathy told me the moment I woke up this morning. She said with such sadness in her eyes, “Regi died last night. I am so sorry.”
He is now fully immersed in the supernatural. He would experience it from time to time while here on earth. His stories and his life reflected the presence of God. Now he is with God. He is walking with Jesus, arm in arm. He is at the celebration feast Jesus talked about with his apostles. Drinking wine and eating with his King and Savior.
There is no man I ever met who was more on purpose for Jesus. No one. Not one.
Every day, Regi talked with Jesus.
Every day he would ask Jesus the tough questions, and Jesus would answer. He would describe these running dialogues to me. The answers he received were always simple to follow and filled with wisdom. And Regi always obeyed.
Regi was, like Jesus, all about relationships. He insisted on friendship. And for him, friendship was all about being present with others. He preferred face to face but also used other methods. It could be a simple text exchange. Or a half-hour phone call.
His ministry, his calling for the last twenty years, was mentoring younger Christian men. They were always in their thirties and early forties. They were married with kids, living the life of the world and out of answers.
That’s where Regi would step in. At thirty-three years old, he was once there, too. His wife of twelve years walked out and said,” I can’t do this anymore. You take the kids.”
He put the kids to bed and went into the yard of his Cobb County home. He looked to the stars and cried, “God help me.”
It was right then that he made the deal of his life. “Save me from me. Save my marriage. Lead me in this life. I am yours…all yours.”
He gave his life to Jesus.
He was born again. Regi was at that moment a new man in Christ. The old Regi was gone, and the new man was born.
His wife did return a few days later. He told her, “I’ve changed. I repented and gave my life to Jesus. I’m so sorry for what I did to you and the kids. Please give me a second chance.”
She said, “It looks like you changed, but we will see. Let’s take one day at a time.”
Miriam and Regi were married for fifty years. For forty of those years, he tried to make her a personal development project. For forty years, they fought and loved and lived full lives. One day Regi realized, Miriam lives the life she loves and enjoys. She has more of the peace of God than I do. This realization led to acceptance and a love so deep he cried whenever he talked about her.
It was hard to do anything for Regi. Ever. He was fully capable, well resourced, and hardworking. And then he got sick. First, it was recurrent skin cancers. He stayed independent. Then it was thyroid cancer. He stayed independent. Then it was a lung transplant. He lost his independence.
He needed Miriam like never before.
He had to allow her to take care of him. And boy did she jump in and do it. Regi learned she has the gift to serve. He not only saw it but experienced it first hand. This is why I think he cried every time he talked about Miriam in his later years.
He realized his dependence precluded her from using her gifts. This realization broke his heart. It made him feel guilty and grateful all at the same time. Those last years of his life were filled with love and gratitude for Miriam.
I got a call a couple of days ago from my close friend John. When I saw his name pop up on my cell phone that morning, a cold fear went through me. I said, “This is it. John is going to be the one to tell me Regi died.” For a moment, I thought, “Let it go to voicemail.” But instead, I hit the answer button.
John said, “I just left Regi. He was in and out of consciousness. But in both states, he kept saying how crazy it was that he was able to live such a full life.”
John said Regi would sometimes just lie there saying, “It’s just crazy.”
When I left the call with John, all I could do was smile. I was thinking, “It is crazy.”
Regi came from nothing.
He married a cheerleader at the University of South Carolina and had two kids, a boy and a girl. The boy first, of course. His son and daughter are brilliant, hard-working, and full of love and respect for their parents. Ross is one of the most successful doctors in Georgia. He is blessed with a beautiful and talented wife and two boys. His daughter, Erin, is an accomplished educator, wife, and mother of three girls.
Regi was a fast tracker at AT&T during the go-go years of telecommunication. He left there, not intentionally, and stepped into the role of startup company CEO. He was recognized as the Ernst and Young entrepreneur of the year. He became a millionaire through the sale of the company he built.
He wanted to build Miriam’s dream home. He found a gorgeous property on a lake in Roswell, Georgia. The problem was, the property was twenty plus acres. He took the best piece of that property, which overlooked the lake. Then he tried his hand at land development. Regi designed and built a subdivision around Miriam and him. He had the dream house on a dream lot surrounded by what turned out to be great neighbors and friends.
Then he became an angel investor.
He invested on his own and with me. We had one deal that did amazingly well. It changed both our lives. Miriam and Regi now had even more. It was during this time he also advised and helped a no-name pastor start a new church. The pastor’s name was Andy Stanley, and he started what we know now as the fastest growing church in America, North Point Church.
He became a philanthropist for Christian causes. But most of the money was invested in his ministry, Radical Mentoring. This ministry was started from his desire to mentor young men. He brought his first group together over twenty-five years ago. His desire was to share his story and what he'd learned with them. The successes and failures he'd had in life, marriage, family, and business, and how to integrate his faith. He saw such positive results that he formalized the program and encouraged men like him to join him. Radical Mentoring is now a ministry in over 330 churches with 1,280 mentors, and 11,380 mentees.
He was right, “Crazy.”
Regi was my friend. I loved him. But the first time I met him, he flat out annoyed me. I invited him into what turned out to be our best deal together. It didn’t take too many meetings for him to get so far under my skin that I wanted him out. I went home and told Kathy how much he frustrated me. She said without a moment’s hesitation, “He is good for you. Stay with him.” She had never met Regi when she said this. To this day, over twenty years later, I believe it was the voice of God through Kathy telling me to hang in there.
There was something unique about our relationship.
When I was with Regi, it was like I was with my brother. And I never had a brother. We were family and not just friends. There was a comfort and trust and love which I have had with no other man. Regi saw right through me. He knew me. He believed in me.
And that is what hurts so much as I write this. You know how hard it is to find friends like this? A man who is filled with God’s Holy Spirit. A man who was so successful and made so many right decisions, you couldn’t help but be jealous of him. A man who would set aside all he was doing to help you. A friend who would just sit with you because he knew words wouldn’t help. Regi loved me, and I loved him. There is a hole in my heart. Something is now missing in my life. And it is a big something. I lost a friend who believed in me.
I know as I go forward in life without Regi, I’ll be having some of those running conversations. You know the ones. Like he is still here and standing right next to me. We’ll talk. And I know he’ll still be giving me the dressing downs I am so in need of. The wisdom I seek. The help with the big questions around purpose and life direction. While he was alive, I would from time to time hear Regi in my head. Why would it be different now that he’s gone? This kind of friendship is precious. It is like we became one flesh. We are a part of each other into eternity.
Regi wrote a note in anticipation of his death to all those who supported Radical Mentoring. They haven’t seen it yet, but I did. He signed it. “See you later. Love, Regi.”
When I read it, I thought, “This is the only way he could have ended this letter. It summed up all he stood for in life. He was about relationships, love, and Jesus. And ‘See you later’ captures it all.
To Regi: I praise God for putting us together as friends and business partners. I can’t imagine my life without you. Thank you for your love, friendship, and guidance. Thanks for believing in me. See you later.
In my last conversation with Regi, he said he would be honored if those wanting to remember him contributed to his life’s work, Radical Mentoring. I’m a contributor because I’ve seen the changed lives, marriages, and families. Please join me by donating here.