One Saturday night that seems like centuries ago, a phone call came from a woman who said she was secretary to Col. Harlan Sanders. I thought it was a joke by one of my colleagues.
She went on to say the colonel was in town and wondered if he could worship with us Sunday morning. I knew from the papers he was in Hong Kong to dedicate his first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise there, so I played along.
To my surprise, Sunday morning, just before the service, who should walk into the Kowloon English Language Baptist Church? Col. Sanders, himself, with his wife, Claudia, and daughter.
The colonel looked as if he had just stepped out of one of his commercials. Dressed in his trademark white suit, he looked every part the Baptist deacon going to Sunday preaching in the Deep South.
After the service Mrs. Sanders came to me and compared me to Billy Graham, both in preaching content and appearance. This lady knew something about public relations. Tell a Baptist preacher he looks and sounds like Billy Graham, and he is putty in your hands. It made my day.
The Sanders invited my wife and our two daughters to have lunch with them. They took us to the Peninsula, Hong Kong’s most historic and finest hotel, where we feasted on Kobe beef, and no chicken.
Claudia Sanders was a wise woman. I found myself agreeing with everything she said. After all, I reminded her of the greatest living preacher on earth.
All afternoon I was on Cloud Nine. The evening service could not have gone better. I was basking in the glorious remarks of a real Kentucky colonel’s wife–the woman behind the man who created the world’s most famous chicken recipe.
Among guests that evening was a couple from Scotland. I greeted them after the service. The woman from Scotland said my manner and voice reminded her of someone. She paused, thinking. I stood there, beaming.
Some of the greatest preachers in history were from Scotland. In my mind I tossed around the idea of which “great” I most reminded her.
“You remind me of someone on television,” she said. My spiritual pride stumbled at the remark. I sure did not want to be compared to a televangelist. I had nothing to fear.
“Oh,” she said, “I know who it is! You remind me of that Festus character on ‘Gunsmoke.'”
I was back to earth in a flash.
I humbly confess the guest from Scotland was probably more honest and wise, and closer to the truth, than dear Claudia Sanders. Never was the proverb so true: pride cometh before the fall.
Britt Towery, a retired Baptist missionary, writes for the Brownwood Bulletin in Brownwood, Texas.