Old Friends

I have been thinking about two old friends. I met Henk when I entered training at the Church Army Training Centre. He and his wife Sue would have students over to their home once a week. It was a welcome refuge from the pressures of training and felt like home for the evening. Henk was the first to expand my view of what an Evangelist could be. He worked faithfully at the Scott Mission (an inner-city outreach) and modeled a compassionate humble service to the marginalized. Before he caused me to reconsider I thought of Evangelists as primarily people of the Word. Years later I returned to the Headquarters to work. Henk befriended me. I am not at all handy and Henk helped me more often than I could count. Over the years we were posted to different areas of Canada and his sweet Sue passed away after a valiant battle with cancer. Henk continued to serve an elderly congregation in Northern Ontario until he died just recently. He is mourned by his wife Beth and children Jenny and Joe.

I learned about real evangelism and persistent humble service from this gentle giant of a man. He has left his mark on me and many others over his long years of service.

‘Big’ Dave Lajuenesse was my room mate and close friend during my training. I used to love to hear Dave spin tales of his time as a bodyguard for Katherine Kuhlman or some wrestling villain. Dave could be bombastic but also was a careful listener. I recall one year at our National Conference at Elim Lodge. Dave and I were teasing one another, just like old times. We were playing baseball and he was the first baseman. I hit the ball quite well and he tried to block my passage to the base. I threw ‘Big’ Dave over my shoulder and carried him around the bases. His 250 + pounds seemed light in those days but my back aches now with the very thought. We named our son David and Dave as his Godfather.

Recently Dave was diagnosed with ALS. There is currently no cure for this degenerative disease and over time Dave has become weaker and weaker and has had to move into a special care home apart from his wife Yvonne. I have not seen ‘Big’ Dave in this condition and still think of him in all his bodyguard glory. I grieve with him and his family and commend him to his loving Father’s care.

Things have certainly changed but these two larger than life characters have made a lasting impact on me. I hope that, in some small way, I can pass on these wonderful learnings to others through my ministry.

On another note, this has been another week of progress at Threshold House. Our National Director Jonathan Clarke has come down to lend his talents and strong back. Morris and our first resident are anxious to finally get settled. We are processing some other applications as we continue to pray for our first cohort.

Henk and Dave have both illustrated that God is faithful so we will continue to trust Him.