I have an earthly hero that jingled when he walked. He couldn’t leap tall buildings, but he could keep the roof fixed, the air on, the rooms and carpets clean, and the chairs arranged how you wanted them even if you changed your mind 10 minutes before you needed them set, and then again at 5 minutes before. A saying of his was “I’m only gonna change it this time, and once more.” He jingled because he held the keys to every door, room, closet and bin of my church. One of his superpowers was being able to pull the exact right key for any door on the first try. He also jingled because he had a Swiss Army Knife, with all the tools on it, along with a few coins in his pocket. He was prepared when a situation called for a little tweaking, and it usually did. The pens and pencils in his front left pocket did not rattle because they were secured with a nametag pocket protector.
He could set up for a delightful wedding, as well as a sweet celebration of life. Occasionally I overheard people get sassy with him during events because they thought that things should be set up just a fudge differently than they were, or the room was too bright/dim or cold/hot. I would complain to him about these people being ungrateful for the work he had done and he told me on more than one occasion, “These are emotional times for families. If I can take one small thing off their mind, or take a little guff when they need to release a little tension, I am happy to do so.” Such was the heart of Ken Anderson, my church dad and one of the village members that helped raise my husband. He had 4 remarkable girls of his own, and I dubbed me with the esteemed title of “Number 5.”
If you were locked out of a building or broken down in the parking lot, Ken was there. If you needed something you forgot to requisition before an event or meeting, no matter what time of day or night, even if he was home for well-deserved rest, or on vacation, it was Ken to the rescue. His time, and his money, were given freely to those who needed it. I’m sure he rued the day of pagers and cell-phones because even before them, people managed to find Ken no matter what. But then again, knowing him, he was happy for people to have an easier way to reach this man who lived to serve.
Lest you think the church and its people was Ken’s only gig, it was not. He did this as a volunteer for 12 years, then part-time for 15 years, then after he retired from his REAL job (ha-ha), he went full-time for another 15. He never quit. Retiring was not an option when it came to serving the Lord and making His name known. He didn’t want to be out front or receive any recognition AT ALL. He allowed pastors to pastor, and ministers to minister because his goal was to take as much off of others’ plates as he could. He was the strength of the church in every sense of the word.
Someone said at his Celebration of Life service: “Out of 100 people, one may read the Bible. The other 99 read Christians.” When you read the life of Ken, you hear Jesus loud and clear. He lived to serve, just like Jesus, and solely FOR Jesus. As busy as Ken was, he made every person feel important. He acted as though what you were trying to do was the only thing that needed attention at the time. When you got home to the church from a mission trip or summer camp at 9 or 10:00 at night and called him because you couldn’t find your church key, he acted like it was no problem to come let you in.
Ken also loved to laugh. I think Jesus does too. I believe that is why Jesus talks often of His making our “joy complete.” Joy is a happiness that is not reliant on circumstances because we know that Jesus wins in the end and if we claim Him as our Lord and Savior, we will join Him in heaven for a grand celebration.
Ken has gone on to that grand celebration, but he left a great legacy. He also left a challenge: strive to be like Jesus so that others can see Him. If I had to describe Ken with the Bible, it is with these words from Jesus: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15: 12-13 I can’t think of a time when Ken did for himself. He loved Jesus first, then his family, then everyone else. And I mean everyone.
If you listen really close, I’m pretty sure the heavenly band is still playing his entry fanfare with Jesus saying “Well done!” Another quote from Ken’s Celebration: “May my life bring honor to his memory.” This will be honoring Jesus in the grandest of ways.
Rest well, Mr. A!