Nov 6, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Every one of us has one. That single most important person who was the biggest influence in their life. Now there are usually many different influential people but usually one who sticks out above all others.
For me and my two brothers, that was a man named Ned Landers. Graduate of the University of Oregon, he was an excellent trumpet player and a very good baseball player. I believe he could have excelled in either of these but he chose another direction. To follow God in ministry.
His first church was the small white Baptist church in Crescent. He was newly married to a beautiful woman named Marcene. Marcene complimented him so well in his profession and the town quickly embraced the young couple.
Ned was not a fiery speaker. But he always spoke truth and backed it up with his life. I often remembered his laugh and don't recall ever seeing anger in his eyes, even when I drove my car through his freshly built white picket fence in front of his house.
He was the one who led me down the path of my decision to believe and who went out back of that church camp chapel with me and knelt behind a log pile where I a made my commitment. Afterwards, I looked up and saw a heard of deer grazing just feet from us. Ned talked of the innocence of the deer and correlated it with the innocence of Christ. I felt very peaceful and happy that night.
I know both of my brothers felt the same of Ned that I did as they both talked so highly of him from time to time. I remember Marvin telling me how highly he felt of Ned and Rudy told me a story once where Ned had challenged him. He said, Ned told him if he comes to a crossroad in his life, sometimes the road that looks harder is the one to take as if will challenge your growth more.
Over the years, I have watched Ned as he led three Churches All three saw growth but all three were small churches. I believe that was Ned's calling. To take a small church and help it develop. He always took a meager salary and was taken care of by the church. I know that must have made his life harder at times but Ned never showed it. I have always looked at that as a perfect example of what Christ would want to see in a leader of His church. I don't ever recall Ned complain about anything. Comment but never complain.
Ned and Marcene always welcomed you into their home. The shared whatever they had gladly with you. I have always felt warm, welcome, and wanted in their homes.
Ned retired from his last church in Longview, WA a few years back. But a pastor never really retires. I found him this week in Yachats while Judy and I spent a couple of days on the coast. He is working with a small Baptist church there helping it get on to it's feet. We followed Ned up to his house where Marcene was busy helping out a neighbor with her laundry. We sat and reminisced about old times and what they had been doing.
I got the opportunity to share with Ned just how influential he had been in my life and I believe I saw a tear in the side of his eyes as he thanked me for the compliment. He talked of being in the church for another year or so but not being able to do much more than that as his health wont allow much more. Once more, it was not a complaint, merely a comment.
Marcene asked us to please stay and have lunch with them. I knew that they didn't have much but it meant allot to her so we agreed allowing more time for us to be together. We shared a meal with them and then left shortly afterwards with Marcene taking a picture of us with her old "film" camera.
You won't find him in a search of the net. You won't read about him in a book. But you will see his influence in just about any person that his life has ever touched. I drove away deep in thought of that couple that I truly love. My mind washed with the thought that so much of the good parts of me were molded by the influence of that one Godly man. The highest setting of the mark of being a good man. Thank you , Ned.