Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Somebody Named Kevin...
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.
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...
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.