My Humble Hero

I sit here writing this in New Zealand and on a couple airplanes. In mid May, I took the wonderful opportunity to fly down to Aotearoa to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of my Uncle Wayne. After living a good long life, he passed away at the age of 90, on May 14th 2013. 

I would consider Uncle Wayne one of my heroes! This honor doesn't come easy; there are a few good men of faith I aspire to emulate, and my uncle stands tall among them. Anyone who knew Uncle Wayne, knows it is impossible to think of him without also thinking of his lovely wife, my Aunty Veta; until death separated them last week, they had been inseparable for 65 years of marriage and have both always been marvelous examples to me in so many different ways....

When I consider Uncle Wayne's legacy, I can marvel at his faithful and reliable service as a navigator in World War 2, his long career as he moved up Auckland City Council and all he did for the Church he helped to found; Kaurilands Church of Christ - now Titirangi Baptist Church, but I'd rather focus on the elderly couple I have grown to deeply love and respect. These 2 are truly good people, one of the greatest couples I'll ever know. I see two wonderful human beings who never ever stopped thinking of and praying for others. 

Uncle Wayne and Aunty Veta quietly and humbly showed me the way of love, compassion and dedication! They became great examples of generosity, humility and strength! Wherever they went, wherever they lived, they embraced their surroundings by making it their own! When they entered a place, they never intended just to fade into the background. No! They were there, living out the Kingdom of God and promoting the Kingdom they had dedicated their lives too. They were there, displaying Kingdom Love, Revolutionary Love, that special kind of love we don't see in this world too often. 

Their examples were never loud or boisterous, as they never strutted into a room, crying aloud "we're here; look at us"! NO; they simply went about their business, humbly loving and showing compassion to others and generously giving all they could, to whom they could. They made people feel wanted and special. Whether it was baked goods, a cup of tea, a good conversation, watching a game of rugby or knowing you're a recipient of their wonderful prayer lives, everyone within their presence felt God's loving presence!

Even though our circumstances are vastly different from theirs, there are so many things to be gained from knowing this lovely couple. The chaotic mayhem that envelopes my family in Uptown Chicago is a stark contrast to the peaceful tranquility of the Titirangi retirement village (Pinesong) where my Uncle Wayne lived his final years, yet their lives have continually served to inspire Beth and I. Their endless displays of generosity and Kingdom Love continues to be our examples in how to live out the gospel whatever roads we take on our journeys. 

As I've already mentioned, they both worked hard and diligently all their lives and Uncle Wayne was a World War 2 veteran; and with that resumé, most people would think they'd earned the right to just blend or fade into the background. It's begs the question; they had retired and moved to Pinesong, shouldn't it be their time to just worry about themselves? But as you probably guessed, they didn't! They embraced that little village of senior citizens and made it their own! (Or should we really say, the Kingdom of God's!) They didn't believe in just "blending" or "fading away", they believed in embracing and spreading love, joy, peace and hope to everyone they came in contact with. And it wasn't a burden, they enjoyed it!

Whenever we, as a family, made the trip down to Auckland, we were always invited over to Uncle Wayne's house for meals and fellowship. Beth and I adored watching the Kingdom of God flood out of their lives, as they both shared their love! They had started choirs, church services and other projects in the village, which were all well attended, but to us, it was the grace in which they shuffled around the village, generously giving of themselves and doing random acts of kindness is what really stood out. Meals were being made and taken to various folk, the sick were being visited, clothing and other random gifts were being given, comfort was offered and given to those grieving, lonely people were being invited over for a "cuppa" and a myriad of prayers sailed up to heaven from this graceful compassionate couple. We were witnessing Jesus' parable of the "sheep and the goats" being lived out before our eyes. Whether unintentionally or intentionally, I believe they endlessly sought out the "least of these" in their circles and showed them what the Love of Jesus is all about! 

Observe this man and you'll be privileged to witness a great man! Also, take time to observe this couple and you'll see a wonderful couple. My uncle wasn't someone who went around proclaiming his deeds from the rooftops, NO, he was a humble quiet man whose love was evidenced by all. He deeply loved His Lord, his adoration and tender love for his wife is second to none and a wonderful example to us all and, of course, all his family and the people who surrounded him were recipients of his (their) love. Observe this man and you'll observe someone who tirelessly and endlessly promoted the Kingdom of God wherever his tired legs and struggling lungs would carry him. 

Uncle Wayne; thank you for being such a wonderful example of our Father's Love! Thank you for not giving up, even when you became weak.
....And until we see each other once again in glory, Rest In Peace.... 

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