90 to Newborn
You’ve often heard me use the phrase that we are a local fellowship from 90 to newborn. Just to be specific we have those within our congregation who are older than 90. The statement is more about generations than a specific age. When our first attendee hits 100 I’ll have to change my tune! For right now I love our multi-generational declaration. You have to agree…it’s just a catchy phrase. Most mid-sized congregations are not as well-rounded as our multi-generational church. On Friday we celebrated the life of one of our 90-year-olds who has gone on into eternity. Don Kallberg was 91 and was living the last part of his life at Middle River. The last 2 years of his life have been difficult since he was separated from his family. It became even harder because of the COVID-19 pandemic and his failing health. Although Don was not personally affected by the coronavirus it greatly reduced the ability of his family to see him towards the end of his life.
I loved Don Kallberg and he made a great impact on me from the first Sunday Janet and I began our ministry here at Hawthorne Assembly. Don & Delores were so sweet and greeted us; when he found out that I was in the Air Force we were like best friends. And then when he found out that I was born in Germany near Rammstein Airbase that was like the cat's meow. He had been stationed at Rammstein himself and for many months going forward, he would often ask me, "Where were you stationed at that airbase in Germany?"
Don was 86 years of age when I begin my tenure in Northwest Wisconsin. The Scriptures tell us that outwardly our bodies are wasting away but inwardly we are being renewed day by day. I could see this happening in Don’s life and my heart went out to him, especially knowing my parents are in their mid-80s and dealing with the issues of growing old. I want to hang on to every last minute of healthy and wholesome conversations I can have with my loved ones. My challenge to every one of us is to embrace those who are on the 90 side of the scale in our congregation. We need to hang around them and learn from their wisdom. We should ask them to share stories about their walk with Jesus and soak in every minute we can because one day they will be gone. Don Kallberg taught me a valuable lesson and I’ll never forget it. One Sunday before service he was shaking my hand and he said to me, "Do you know why I’ve lived so long?" I responded, “Why?” He answered, "Since I was a young boy I’ve followed the fifth commandment and that is to honor your father and mother and that your days may be long on the earth." With tears in his eyes, he confidently expressed that is why he was fully alive at 86. I wonder what other stories are in our congregation right now that need to be experienced by others?