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Keep the Faith

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. -II Timothy 4:7

In 1973, while a graduate student at the University of Iowa, I was appointed to serve three small United Methodist Churches in Iowa—Silver Creek, Spring Grove and Troy Mills.  There I met a young farmer and his wife.  Leo and Sheri Anderson quickly won our hearts and blessed us with their no nonsense faith.  They were gifted musicians and they and their family have touched many with their music over the years.  Today, we have a powerful example of that legacy in a CD featuring their daughter, Joyce.

Those were great years for those of us walking together as we tried to follow the Lord.  One the most powerful images I have carried with me over more than 35 years of ministry involves Leo.  The Troy Mills church was struggling for survival but the Andersons with others seeking to be faithful to God decided to seek renewal through the path of a Lay Witness Mission.

What a great experience for all us as we saw God move in a powerful way in our lives.  Leo was a big and powerful man (making about 2 of me) and God had gotten a hold of him in a new way.  As I walked into church, the second night of those services, Leo met me at the door, excited about Jesus.  He grabbed me in a bear hug, lifted me off my feet and shook me like a rag doll in an expression of pure joy.

Leo, put his faith to work.  He was involved in ministry.  I remember him spending week-ends at the Iowa State Penitentiary sharing God’s love.  Later both he and Sheri became lay pastors where they together have been serving four churches.

This morning I got a call from Sheri.  On Tuesday night, Leo was attending a Bible study at the workplace of his son when he was taken ill.   He finished this earthly life yesterday morning.

Leo did not always have life easy and he was not perfect.  But I remember his grace and an unmistakable love for Jesus.  He is one of a long line of those who have shown us how “to keep the faith.”

Thank you Lord for the Leos in my life.

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