It was August of 1980 and I was just a girl…a seventeen-year-old freshman on a field hockey scholarship to the University of the Pacific. My work study job was to punch meal tickets from 5am to 7am each morning in the dining hall where almost daily a group of very large, very intimidating football players and assistant grad coaches would eat breakfast. I had mastered the art of barely looking up from my textbook and still being able to punch their meal card as they entered the dining hall. This arrangement worked out just fine as there was precious little interaction between these “big men” on campus and the lowly freshman girl taking their meal card….except for one…who every time would stop and say “Good Morning…How are you doing today?” demanding me to actually look up and interact with general human pleasantries. I had no idea who he was but I had heard he had a reputation for being the “wild man” on campus. That was my first introduction to Donnie Moore who even before he was saved genuinely went out of his way to look you in the eye and make you feel special.
But in truth I really met Donnie months later through a godly young lady named Cindy Farris. I was blessed to have Cindy as my discipleship leader and she weekly would meet with me and several gals in my dorm room to study the word of God. She was faithful and committed even when some weeks only myself and my roommate would show up for the study. During the second semester she would ask us after the bible study if we would mind walking her across campus to visit a young man who had recently gotten saved. That young man was none other than Donnie Moore. Their relationship deepened over the following months and we girls would relish in trying to get her to open up and get all the details of their relationship…to which we would end up hearing about his passionate love for the Lord. (much to the chagrin of giggling freshman girls). By that year’s end I received an invitation to their upcoming wedding in February of 1982 and rejoiced in the union of two godly people with a heart for the Lord.
And thus began a 38-year relationship with Donnie & Cindy Moore that has touched, impacted and intertwined into every part of my life and that I fully expected would continue on for several more decades here on earth through all of life’s twists and turns and changes.
When Donnie and Cindy began Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship in the fall of 1982 I was a regular attendee and before long it became my primary community. I experienced the amazing revival that happened at UOP firsthand and watched the miracles and salvations that began to sweep the campus. It was exciting, faith building and life changing. During my junior year I needed to do a paid internship for my recreational leadership major and desperately wanted to do it at a church as my goal was to become a youth pastor. Donnie went to his small church – Lincoln Neighborhood – and asked his pastor John Butrin if they would consider having me as a youth intern for the summer. John agreed but said they had no money in the budget when Donnie proceeded to ask one of the deacons Tom Cudd to contribute the finances and he agreed on the spot (everyone who knows Donnie knows he is persuasive when he believes in something). After graduating from UOP I ended up being hired full time as the youth pastor at that same church which was the beginning of Donnie and I doing many youth events together including evangelism rallies and camps at the Springs of Living Water in Chico. I began to run his program staff in the Spring of 1985 at Easter Camp – “He’s Alive ‘85” and my entire youth group would attend camps. Those were truly some of the greatest years of ministry that still hold such special place in my heart.
If you know Donnie at all….you know he loves to play matchmaker! Forever the romantic he loves to see couples fall in love & get married. Despite being a confident independent, not fully sure I wanted to be married 22 year old…I did not get a “pass” in being set up by Donnie. He conveniently arranged to have my drive up to camps with latest greatest speaker or would have me join the power team for lunch at the Velvet Creamery whenever there was a new member (seriously I was the only girl there). He would ask my constantly if I thought this guy was cute or that guy and then tell me how they had a great call to ministry and we would be a great team. In fact, by the time I was almost 23 he was really intent at summer camp to find me a perfect match despite my protests which I loudly told him to back off. And shockingly he did! Less than 6 months later I was very suddenly and unexpectedly engaged to his glee and he spent much time proclaiming that he “knew” I would marry Dan Lambdin….and I would roll my eyes at him as Cindy stood by shaking her head. Donnie had baptized Dan the summer before at camp and he swears that he spoke it out loud that week. As we were praying about getting married in March of 1986 Donnie & Cindy were the first people we sought out for confirmation & blessing which they fully gave. Nine months later on December 20, 1986 Donnie performed our wedding vows and pronounced as husband and wife. Later at the reception he made a big production (as only Donnie can do) over unveiling a note he had written declaring we would be married. He had everyone roaring with laughter and me still rolling my eyes but with love in my eyes for the man who was like a teasing older brother to me.
And 25 years later….he and Cindy were there as we celebrated our 25th anniversary…praying a blessing over us, prophecy of great things to come and encouraging everyone there about commitment to marriages. In fact Donnie has been there for most every significant moment in my life:
He not only baptized Dan but a few years earlier had baptized me in Tm & Doris Cudds pool. (He baptized my younger brother Cliff too and married he & his wife Lynda in 1990) He was there when I became on official member of Lincoln Neighborhood Church and when Dan received his ministers license with the Assemblies of God. They emotionally and spiritually supported us as we were fired from ministry at Brookside and then encouraged us as we worked to begin Jim Elliot ultimately sending their own children to high school there.
We raised our families together…living down the street from one another during the early years of our parenting and with our two eldest girls close in age we did a lot together – birthday parties, homeschooling, going on field trips, Christmas tea parties, church Missionettes programs & choir productions or just hanging out. We have many warm & wonderful memories of them coming o our Holiday Open Houses and us going to theirs. For many years our tradition was to end our Christmas caroling night at their house where they would invite us in and we would stay up til all hours of the night drinking hot chocolate, reminiscing, listening to Donnies hilarious stories (and DJ’s even funnier side remarks) or watching old movies.
And Donnie loved my kids! (and they adored him) He prayed for them regularly both at altars at church, in our living room and at school chapels & summer camp. He encouraged them & uplifted them in their struggles. He had fun with them and even finally came through with a long promised backyard bbq that he had told my daughter Rebekah he would do years earlier (you know how times just gets by us). When we our 7th child ended up being a boy he shouted with delight and with the biggest smile on his face congratulated Dan and having a son. (in fact Cindy and DJ were the very first visitors at the hospital to meet Daniel! Donnie delighted in giving Daniel A’s gear every time he saw him and talking about sports with him. (Oh how I wish he could have seen him play baseball at least one time) He attended their graduations and their college or mission trip send offs, he coached their teams and he often managed to help them get discounted A’s tickets for their Dad for Fathers Day. And he had fun with them…making them laugh and again using his gift from God to make them feel special & valued just has he had with their mom all those years ago.
I have enough stories to write a book and memories that will last a lifetime….but I still can’t actually imagine a world without Donnie Moore in it and our lives without the intimate intertwining that surely would have continued on to the next generation and our children’s weddings, more graduations, special anniversaries, grandkids and the joy and wisdom and reduced speed of growing older….and maybe even stopping to enjoy a couple more backyard summer barbeques.
I love you Donnie….you will never be forgotten and I look forward to the eternity we all have to spend together…with all the goodness we had here and the supernatural goodness, beauty, love, grace and peace we will have where you are now….with Jesus!