SOS 30 Years First Guest Post

As we celebrate #sos30years we are kicking off a series of guests posts from alumni and friends of SOS. Here's our debut post from one SOS summer staff alumnus, Kayla Rupp. My boyfriend and I were thorns in David Montague’s side that summer. He could have fired us - some might argue that he should have - but he didn’t. This is our story.

The year was 2001, before the S.O.S. building existed, when headquarters was an old convent, and we staffers slept in the spare bedrooms of members of Christ United Methodist Church. It was David’s first year as director, the year we gave him the nickname “Coach.” Because he had never done anything like this before, and because S.O.S. had never had a full summer staff, Coach didn’t know (yet) how best to deal with college students. He would learn quickly.

My boyfriend’s name was Daniel. His 20-year-old muscles rippled on the hot Memphis rooftops and I swooned from my seat inside Big Whitey (the supply truck). He was a smooth-talking country boy from Arkansas, and I was somewhat exotic to him, with my strange Michigan accent, slightly bohemian clothes, and the boldness that characterizes people of the north. We fell in love immediately, which meant Coach had an immediate quandary. Love-struck college students are sometimes quite oblivious to anything but each other, and we were a prime example.

One of the first rules of the summer was this: all staffers must observe curfew. That meant all staffers, in love with each other or not, but for some reason, Daniel and I didn’t think that meant us. God had put us together, after all, and we had to spend time together. The only free time in a busy S.O.S. summer is on the weekends, and that was simply too infrequent for us. Late at night was our only option.

And so we broke curfew, over and over again. We felt perfectly guiltless about this, because we were going to be married (something we’d already talked about). People who are talking of marriage are surely capable of making their own decisions about when to go to bed at night. Besides, it’s not like we were up to no good. We were listening to Caedmon’s Call and praying about our future, for heaven’s sake.

(This is all very funny to me now; it wasn’t funny to Coach).

So the day came when a frazzled David Montague lay in bed with his wife Kelli and announced that he was going to fire Daniel Rupp on the morrow.

“Don’t fire him,” Kelli offered. “If you throw him out now, he’ll never learn what it means to lead in a dating relationship, what it means to submit to authority, or what it means to be a Godly man.”

And so Coach didn’t fire Daniel. Instead, he showed up at his worksite and called him down off the house where he was working. The two of them sat on the curb for a long time, David admonishing Daniel with all the gravity and attention of a father. Considering that Daniel didn’t have a father to speak of, this was the first he had heard of leading in a relationship, and the most he had heard about being a Godly man.

And he was hanging on David’s every word.

By the time Coach was finished with him, Daniel would have jumped off a building for David Montague. And let me tell you, we never broke curfew again. Daniel dropped me off at my host family’s house in plenty of time to get to his own bed well within the limits. There was a ring on my finger by the Fourth of July, at which point we asked for Coach’s blessing, and he gave it. David and Kelli’s daughters, May and Annie, were the flower girls in our wedding the following spring. When David stepped down from his role at S.O.S. and moved his family to East Asia, we were watching. And when they came home and said we should go, we did. That was over eight years ago. We still live in East Asia, and Daniel frequently has the opportunity to speak into the lives of fiery young men like he was; men who desperately need guidance, grace, and above all, love. The legacy of S.O.S. – of David Montague – continues.

And when we have a parenting question, or a question about finances, or about hearing from God, we call the Montagues. When we are in the States and find ourselves anywhere near Memphis, we stop and stay at their welcoming home, and feast on Kelli’s grilled pork loin and her famous salsa dip. Who would Daniel and I be today had we not spent the summer of 2001 at S.O.S.? Thank God we’ll never know.

UncategorizedJonathan King