Friday, October 16, 2009

Treasures are his now

I am not sure how to start this blog. I want to honor a young man but I need to give this honoring some background first. So, here goes: Last night (actually early morning: 2:00am) I was was awoken by my daughter who has an ear infection. So, after getting her some water and ear drops, I checked my email on my phone. Amidst the few emails was an email from Action International with a list of some of those who had supported us financially this past month here in Zambia. As I scrolled down the list, I saw a name I didn't recognize and then the note below the gift said, "Memorial for Kenny Rector." I was shocked. A memorial for Kenny Rector?

Kenny was a young man whom I had a chance to get to know when I spoke at a couple Crossroads Bible Church youth camps, students in both High School and College, over a couple of summers. We had a bit of bond, as I knew his former pastor, Roy Peacock, and we had lots of time to talk about life and some of the hard times he had been through during these camps. I googled him early this morning and I found this article about him in the Seattle Times as he was about to graduate two years ago. It gives some public insight into some of the struggles and challenges of his life.

"Kenny Rector, 19, figured out early on that determination and a smile can take you a long way. Be friendly, work hard and don't give up, even when things look bleak, he says.

"I'm always determined to find a way to do things," Rector said.

Rector was born with fetal alcohol syndrome. And it left him with medical problems that still persist today. He has a faulty heart, and he uses a pacemaker. Doctors have told him he could need surgery.

When he was 5, Rector and his younger brother, were adopted. His adoptive mother home-schooled him until the eighth grade. Then in the ninth grade, he started public school at Issaquah High School. It was also the year his adoptive parents separated.

It would have been easy to give up, but Rector worked hard and discovered he was good with computers and technology. He also got involved with the school's DECA marketing class and learned how to design Web sites and do Power Point presentations.

He's graduating from Issaquah High on June 18.

"He's grown over the last couple of years," said Julia Bamba, assistant principal at Issaquah High. "He's taken academics more seriously, trying to improve and show he's capable of doing good work."

Rector plans to start school at Renton Technical College in the fall. He wants to take classes in advanced office skills and work toward getting a certificate through the school's business-technology department.

Someday, he hopes to open his own business. Maybe a "make-your-own" pizza place, he said."

I can only imagine what pizza he is able to make in Heaven now.

I found a website where some friends from school and church shared some thoughts about Kenny. Here a sample of just a few of the encouraging comments:

"You accepted me for who I was, what I was, and what I believed in, even if our beliefs were drastically different. You defended me, and stuck up for me. You were an amazing friend, a brilliant person, and dedicated to everything you set your eyes on. You're an inspiration, and a true friend. I wish we had hung out more, Kenny. Rest in peace. Things just won't be the same without you."

I miss you already. The world was so blessed with your love, laughter, and presence! I'm honored to have known you. You're in my thoughts and your family is in my prayers. Thank you for being a part of my life. ♥

Kenny, words escape me. Inside its like a cluster bomb has gone off, and believe me those hurt. but on the other hand i know that your in heavn, kickn it with YOUR Lord!

That's right Kenny you are a man of God. Thanks for being my friend and thanks for showing the world that even when life gets you down that true happiness is found in God. Kenny I am going to miss you because you were a light to those around you.
I don't even know what to say. Kenny you truly were a man of God and a light to all of those around you, and you were never afraid to share it! You surely made an impact on my life."

(I wonder if he knew how much he meant to people... Always makes me wonder why I don't say these things to people before they are gone. Seems like it would mean a lot more then..)

The last time I talked with Kenny, it was over instant messaging when he was in the hospital, maybe six months ago. He had health issues as the newspaper article referenced that seemed to put him in the hospital quite a lot this last year. I also had some emails with him about girl problems:) The last retreat we had together, a year ago, we had a great chat about his love for baseball, especially the Red Sox. We talked about how his relationship with God must come first, even more than baseball. I had sent him a link to a great sermon by C.J. Mahaney titled, "Don't waste your Sports." He listened to it and then sent me an email: "That is a really great message 1 Corinthians 10:31 is now one of my favorite verses ." The verse from 1 cor 10:31 is - So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God and it really seemed that he did that, for the little I knew him. And he emailed me awhile back, maybe a few months after that retreat to tell me how much he is enjoying God more than baseball which meant that he enjoys baseball more because he is enjoying God more.

I was looking at his facebook today and on September 4 he went into the hospital for an asthma attack. He was able to go home on September 4 and then apparently he died on September 28 of a similar asthma attack?!?! I don't have all the details, but it is what I have seemed to figure out.

So, why write about him in the Africa blog? I want to honor this young man because his story needs to be told and emulated by every young man and woman that loves Jesus. You see, Kenny is now enjoying his rewards in Heaven. Why do I say that? Matthew 6:19-20 says - “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal." Kenny supported our family as missionaries faithfully every month. His last donation was on September 18 for $30.33, just 10 days before he died. It was always like that. Dollars and cents, he sacrificed faithfully every month to support missions. He is an inspiration.

His example teaches us a few things:

Kenny teaches us that it is not the amount of the gift that matters, but the heart behind it. I was never sure why the cents were always added to his gift. I assumed it was a percentage of what he was making?!? The amount doesn't matter as Jesus affirmed when speaking of the widow who gave just a little but, it was all she had to live on. Kenny gave what he could, and it was such a blessing to us. As his salary was increased, he gave more.

Kenny teaches us that faithfulness is everything. How many of us have had the good intention to give, but we just never got around to it. I really don't think we are blessed in Heaven for good intentions. But, every month, around the same time, the gift was given and we were blessed and he will be, too.

Kenny teaches us that we don't have to wait until you are older to start giving. (In his case, it would have been too late.) I wish I would have had his example earlier in my life. I wasted a lot of money that I could have seen in Heaven, not to mention had the joy of helping people with what God had given me.

We have only one other young person 21 and under supporting us and it means the world to us. Think about that, 10 days before his days ended here on earth, he faithfully gave his money to help further the mission of Jesus Christ that we have here in Zambia. And you bet that $30.33 and the $33.70 and a big end of the year giving of $102.17 and the whatever else he gave over the past year will be there waiting for him, a reward that will never perish.

He lived during his short 21 years what many people never understand, which is we are supposed to store our treasures in Heaven and not on earth. I write this long honoring message because I want you, especially the young man and young woman, to emulate this man. I want you to live like Heaven is real. I want you to give money, now, to missions, to your church, to the poor. I don't want your money, but I do want your money. Not for myself, but for you. Like what Paul said in Philippians 4, I want you to give so that your gift may be credited to your account (in heaven). I want you to be like Kenny. You don't know how much time you have left, but the time you do, live in a way where your treasures last forever. Give. Give regularly. Give deliberately. Give faithfully. Give worshipfully. Give cheerfully. Give sacrificially. Spend your life giving and you will spend a life worth living. Start today. Start first by giving your tithe to the church. If you get paid weekly, give weekly. If you get paid monthly, give monthly. Give the first part of it to God. And then give more. What are you passionate about? Evangelism. Crisis Pregnancy. HIV/AIDS. Missions. Research. Pray. Give.

But, some may say, " I don't have much money to give." Neither did Kenny. $33.30 isn't much here, but it is in Heaven. I have a supporter who gives $10 a month. Another who gives $15 a month. It doesn't matter. Just start somewhere...

You decide how much you want to give, but know this, the more you give, the more God will give you, not for yourself, but so that you can give more. 2 Co 9:7-8 - Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

And check out this verse: 2 Co 9:11 - You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.

Kenny's gift produced much thanksgiving... I encourage you with all that is in me, follow his example. Start today. Start yesterday. Continue tomorrow. Be prayerful. Be strategic. Be faithful.

Kenny, thank you for your example of love. I look forward to seeing you on the other side.


Will Mari said...

Thanks for this post on my friend Kenny, Pastor Steve. I didn't know him nearly as well as I should have and wanted to, and in the mad rush to get ready to leave for grad school, I had lost contact with him. He had facebooked me earlier in the summer asking me if I wanted to go see a Mariners game with him ... I had also promised him that we'd go see the Huskies after he got out of the hospital last time, but we never did ... I feel like I've let the man down, somehow. I know that I will see him again, in Heaven, and that if they have baseball there, that I can fulfill my promise. His giving is convicting, as was his life - great will be his reward.

Owen filled me in on his trip to visit you this summer ... I keep you and your family in my prayers as often as I remember. Please keep the faith, and keep up the Good Work. I am still interested in getting you study Bibles, by the way.

God bless, and take care,

Will Mari

megan gibbs said...

steve...just thought you might like to see this. kristy ericson had written a note of facebook letting everyone now...

For those of you who weren't aware, our peer and brother in Christ, Kenny Rector, passed away early this morning. It wasn't much of a secret that he had heart problems from an early age, so it's not a surprise that this is how the Lord chose to take him home. Around 1:30 am, Kenny could tell that something was wrong with his pacemaker, and had a family member call 911. A lot was needed to sustain his heart, but despite all attempts, they lost him not long after he had reached the hospital.

Be in prayer for his family, especially his younger brother, Jeremy. Kenny was a rock for Jeremy in a way that probably not a lot of people were. This death in the family is certainly not the first of heartaches for them, so please be praying for peace and healing.

Anonymous said...

thank you