Here I am with Laura Raiford, helping to celebrate her Master’s In Christian Counseling degree from Gordon-Conwell Seminary here in Charlotte.
It’s actually a journey that started in 2002.
At that time she was Laura DePalma, somewhat new in her faith, and made an appointment with me to talk over some life decisions she was facing.
And in the moments just before she knocked on my office door to let me know she was here, I had the strangest premonition:
She’s coming here to tell me she’s being called in to ministry.
Forty-five minutes later, that’s exactly where our conversation landed. Within a few years, she started the degree program while holding down a full-time job in the Charlotte area.
Fast forward a decade or so, and I was able to preside when Laura married John Raiford (yes, she met him at Good Shepherd), and then a few years after that celebrated the birth Annika.
Then I mourned when they moved to Greenville, SC for John’s new job. Unknown to me, Laura continued her studies through a combination of online course work and short term intensives here in Charlotte.
So when I got the invite to her graduation celebration, how could I say no? I think God had let me in on a secret 17 years in the making.