My final semester of college was coming to an end. Only one thought filled my mind, the same one on the minds of all the others students of "where do I go from here"? My goal has always been the same: Just Do the Will of God! Like Samuel in a youthful state I was not familiar enough to know the sound of His voice neither understanding the importance as a servant of watching the glaze of the masters eyes to realize what He wanted and what I should do (1 Samuel 3:3-10; Psalms 123:2 ).
I was married to a wonderful young women. She, like myself was from a broken home. She showed the wonderful character of being a woman of God. She came to God from the streets of Modesto, riding a bus to church since the age of twelve without the support of a godly mother or father. Yet her desire and belief in the importance of the spiritual resonated within her heart.
We had worked hard for me to finish Bible College. She worked full time in the day and I worked full time at night. We sacrificed time and money to make it. She loved, believed and trusted in me. That was a weight upon my heart!
I said I had a call! Was that really true? The theme of the college was: "A man's gift will make room for him" (Proverbs 18:16). That meant that if you had a "gift" or "calling" there would be a place for you! Would there be a place for me? That also was a weight on my heart!
My desire was great but my abilities were few. Great passion but little knowledge. A servants heart but limited talents. A common sparrow desiring to fly in the heaven to the highest of heights of the eagle but limited in the God given physical abilities of high flight and the lifelong training needed to accomplish my dreams. A young man struggling with inner turmoil of low esteem that was founded upon physical handicap and emotional struggle of being the product of a divorce. That was also a weight on my heart!
I felt the pain of loneliness. No father to open doors, no name recognition to fall on, I wrestled with self inflected negative thoughts of self pity. Who would want me on their staff? Would anyone give me a chance?
Someone did! Who? Kenneth Haney, a great man gave me a chance! He saw something within me that I did not see in myself. He saw potential and acted upon what he saw. His vision for me was greater than I had for myself.
For two and one half years we were together on a daily bases. He believed in me, encouraged me, and challenged me to grow. The lessons he taught me are still with me today! Often I catch myself passing them on to others. His lessons about the leading the church and working with its people are priceless. Many times I've thought of his words that he spoke to me from Proverbs 14:4 "Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: But much increase is by the strength of the ox."
He let me know that I was never to look at people as problems but as the source strength for working in the kingdom. Do not let the mess of humanity stop you from reaching for more people to come into the church.
He led me by example. Since I was the low man on the totem pole I had to open and lock up the church. Each air conditioner had to be turned on and off by hand. I had to climb to the top of the balcony and then to the baptismal area to complete the project. I had to be the last one to leave the building. Yet the majority of times I was never alone. Though the church congregation was large he always had time for people. He would be counseling after preaching letting others go home but always fulfilling his duty. We walked to the empty parking lot together our cars sitting alone.
His example of being frugal was widely known yet it was not that he was fugal for others but also for his own family and self. He taught me to be a good steward of the funds of the Lord.
He taught me to organize, to have a to do list, to allow others to strive for their dreams.
The lesson of always having a time in each service for the people to come to the altar was priceless. He told me, "You might not feel the anointing in the worship, you might not feel it when your preaching but always have an altar, it could hit you then"!
I'm sure I frustrated him often yet he was patient and kind. His kindness was evidenced by all. He always took time to greet you, never ignoring you as you walked by.
Perhaps the greatest treasure I have was that he taught me to reach for others. After being in the ministry for a few years I seen that many churches to do not reach out to their community in an organized fashion in fact it is never be mentioned. Or if they do often there is an absence of Pastoral participation. That did not happen in the world of Pastor Kenneth Haney. There was never a Saturday that we did not reach for others. He always came to the Saturday outreach service when the bus ministry would meet. It might be a handful but it was always important to him. He led the church in evangelism reaching out for other in his personal life and bringing them to God.
He was a true Christian. He lived what he preached.
As I write this today, tears are streaming down my face. I'm deeply indebted to a man who took a chance on me. What did he see in me? He told me one day. I saw you in the prayer room reaching out to God! Little did I know that when I was crying out to God in self pity at the lack of a father, my heavenly Father was directing a man to help fill that role. Fathers are teachers. Kenneth Haney has been one of my life long teachers. I love him and will miss him greatly!