One of the things I remember most about Phil is that he was always even tempered with a selfless spirit, ready to help in whatever way had been requested of him. Whether it was carrying luggage up or down the narrow and steep stairs, shuttling people to or from the airport, or opening the Oasis at an odd hour, Phil was willing to serve.
Phil served me in a different way, though. During the fall 1990 semester, the prospects of war in Iraq were growing every day. Frequently, Saddam Hussein published threats to launch an assault on Israel. Tensions among Israelis were growing in a noticeable way, and I wasn’t terribly affected by all the threats of destruction…until one particular day when I became pretty anxious about the whole thing. On that day, Phil had opened the Oasis and I was the only customer. We struck up a conversation about the white elephant in the room, the pending war, and in a moment of vulnerability, I shared with Phil how I was feeling about it all. I don’t remember what he said, but I do remember the effects of his message: my soul was instantly calmed.
I was so moved by that moment that I wrote it up in a short story and sent it to Decision magazine, thinking it might be published. It wasn’t, but that doesn’t reduce the importance of what I learned when Phil demonstrated two Bible verses for me:
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver (Proverbs 25:11 KJV).”Phil, I’m a better person for having known you. Thanks.
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29 NASB).”
You can read Todd Bolen’s tribute to Phil here.