Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Somebody Named Kevin...

"Somebody should DO something!" 

People often say that.  But who is "somebody?"  Kevin always understood that he was somebody...

Sunday morning I received some of the most painful news of my adult life. A good friend, Kevin Hamann, was killed Saturday in a motocross race in Spokane. Kevin was 51 and became a grandpa for the first time in February.

I've known Kevin for over 30 years, beginning when he came to work for AAR Western Skyways located at Troutdale Airport, my place of employment for many years and the reason that Jean and I moved to Oregon in 1978. The photo of Kevin at the Stewart-Warner model 2000 balancer, taken circa 30 years ago, is from a Western Skyways Gold Seal engine sales brochure of that era.  Talk about a handsome guy! 

Kevin was a somewhat unsettled youngster barely out of high school when he came to work in the machine shop I supervised.  He had tremendous energy, a sharp mind that wanted to be challenged.  Kevin became one of the best machinist apprentices I ever had--and I had some VERY good ones.

This early experience eventually led to work at Boeing out on NE Sandy Blvd, where Kevin was most recently a supervisor in charge of complex hard metal machining of parts used on Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Between stints at Boeing, he also manufactured replacement hip and knee joints that many people walk around on today. Everything he made, he made better--including our ministry.

As a young man, Kevin had many questions about faith, life and God. On a number of occasions out in that shop at Troutdale, we would wait until the end of the day when most folks had gone home. Then, I would quietly go over to the door, lock it, and we would talk.

After I left the company in Troutdale in 1987, I didn't have much contact with Kevin until about four years ago. One Monday morning, after a particularly unsettled Sunday evening at Operation Nightwatch Worship in the old Julia West House in downtown Portland, Kevin sent me an e-mail completely out of the blue. "We need to get together," he said. Indeed.

I was about ready to pull the plug on worship unless we had someone else to help us mind the guests and the front door. I never expected Kevin to do that. But when he heard what we were doing, he said, "I want to help." For more than a year, Kevin was there most Sunday evenings supporting us in countless ways.  He helped calm things down a great deal. 

One evening after worship, a homeless guest asked if we had a belt to help him keep his baggy pants up around his waist.  Belts in our clothes closet were more scarce than hen's teeth.  "Sorry," I said.  "We have none."  Kevin overheard.  "He needs a belt?  Here, he can have mine.  I've got more."  Without hesitating, Kevin pulled off his own belt and handed it over. 

He'd have given the shirt off his back.  No.  He gave more...

For the past three years, or so, Kevin and his wife Jackie have been faithful food providers every 4-6 weeks, but they have done SO much more...  Clothing. Shoes. Blankets. Gift cards to McDonald's at Christmas time for our guests.  Hundred-dollar WinCo gift cards for us to buy food and serving supplies when Jean and I provide the meal.

One winter evening, Kevin brought an entire 3/4-ton pickup load of coats and sleeping bags collected from his church. Kevin has provided the cell phone I have in my pocket and paid the monthly bill. He gave me the digital camera that has been an invaluable tool for both my worship ministry and my aviation work.

Kevin also provided the cell phone that enabled a man named Rick to eventually contact family in Michigan and end 25 years of homelessness.

For several years, Kevin and Jackie have provided us a modest monthly stipend to help offset the cost of our non-salaried ministry. All while living under the cloud of uncertainty about staying in their their home due to the recession's effect on Kevin's motorcycle business. Still, Kevin was one of Nightwatch's most ardent supporters.  Few knew what Kevin did for us and for God's people.  But God does.

Kevin is survived by his wife Jackie, his parents, a sister and brother-in-law, a grown daughter and son, and one grandson. Please give thanks for them and pray God's peace and grace in coming days.

"Very truly, I tell you," Jesus said, "unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."  (John 12:24 NRSV)

Kevin's life bore much fruit.  And it's easy for the rest of us to say, "He's in a better place."  He is.  But for his family, there was no better place than here among them for a good, LONG while yet. 

For us at Operation Nightwatch, the blessings Kevin gave us are beyond words and description.  And surely, there would have been no better place for Kevin than here among us for a good, LONG while yet. 

I'm not here to explain God.  Or rationalize God.  Most days, not even to make sense of God.  I trust God to make sense of what I can't and to be faithful to Jesus' promises.  Jesus promised to be always with us, that he would be there when the stuff hits the fan.  It has.  Now the ball is in the court of Faithful God's Faithful Son.  That's all I need to know.

Because I've already seen what happens when God's Son is in somebody's heart.  It's why Kevin understood that he was somebody... 

Thanks be to God!  Amen.     

Kevin's memorial service will be Saturday, June 8, 2 PM, at Grace Community Church, 800 SE Hogan Road in Gresham. Jackie and the family request that memorial gifts be directed to Operation Nightwatch, P.O. Box 4005, Portland, OR 97208; www.operationnightwatch.org.  

Thank you!
Pastor Roger


Daniel Jones said...

This was very touching, thank you for writing about his life a bit. I didn't know Kevin well, in fact I was just getting know him when he passed. But he did make an impact on me, and I knew he was uncommon early on. I was glad to have such a good co-worker and to have him reach out to me and just to be around him because he had me thinking about how I lived my life, I only wish I would have told him before he left us, yet he is in a better place. And so I can only be sad for a while, and hopefully I can enjoy a cold one with him when I pass on. God Bless.

Pastor Roger: said...

Thank you, Daniel. Likewise, I know only a small portion of Kevin's life and the grace he gave to so many. Things are very different today than week ago, but I know that in God's kingdom, nothing is lost. Nothing. God's peace! R.