Saturday, May 16, 2015

Fallen Warriors: Ron Halvorsen Sr.

Pastor Ron Halvorsen Sr. - Hairy-Chested Adventist Man
"Jesus ate fish." The simple statement by her pastor shocked the very rigid Adventist church lady of the sort Ray Stevens dubbed "Sister Bertha Better n' You" in his song "The Mississippi Squirrel Revival. Sister Bertha (not her real name) had been busily laying some harsh judgment on a fellow Adventist church member for his revelation that he had eaten some fish in his time. She turned to face Pastor Ron Halvorsen in some confusion, having expected, as such people do, to have won some vegetarian brownie points from her pastor for having schooled this obviously lapsed saint regarding his dietary duty. She had, after all, chosen a spot well within earshot of the pastor to deliver her judgments.

"Well Jesus didn't have the Spirit of Prophecy!" the lady sputtered aghast at her pastor's loosey-goosey attitude on the burning issue of dietary morality.

"JESUS IS THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY you whitewashed SEPULCHRE!" he thundered silencing the good sister and sending her scurrying for cover.

Ron Halvorsen was one of those he-man, testosterone-filled warriors for the Lord who inspired me as a young person looking desparately for a strong male role model. My own father took a powder when I was five and my relationship with my stepfather was not terribly strong. I found my role models mostly in books - King Arthur, Captain Hornblower, Captain Blood, Captain Kirk; those sorts of guys. I had a few flesh and blood men I looked up to as well. Ed Burns and Sam Miller from summer camp both taught me a lot about what a man was supposed to be like and to do.

My first encounter with Ron Halvorsen was actually in the chow line at Lone Star Camp during a ministerial conference just after he came to Texas to take over the Keene, Church. I was doling out peanut butter and asked him if he wanted some.

He grinned at me broadly and said in his thick Brooklyn accent, "Sure. I love the stuff," he stuck out his plate. "I ate so much peanut butter as a kid that if they'd stuck me with a knife I probably would have bled peanut butter. I knew this was the right pastor for my hometown church. I'd grown up in Keene. My family helped build the town. I had a feeling he was going to shake things up in the Holy City.

I was right. Within a year, Pastor Ron had two services packed with more than 3000 people coming every Sabbath. He soon had more than 900 showing up for prayer meeting. Before he came they were meeting in the Youth Chapel and there were fewer than 40 showing up each week.

Under Pastor Ron, though, we soon had a fleet of school buses fanning out through the surrounding county picking up children and old people and bringing them to church. Volunteers like me rode along and played the guitar and filled the buses with the voices of children and elderly saints singing at the top of their lungs as we rumbled across the country-side.

Pastor Morris Venden
Needless to say, the "white-washed" sepulchres in Keene hated Pastor Ron too, but to the children of Christ in that church, he was like oxygen. God rest his soul.

Some people leave a terrible hole in the fabric of space and time when they are taken from us. It has been a privilege for me to know such people. Some of them like Pastor Ron and Pastor Morris Venden loom large and you cannot help but notice their absence when they go to their rest. With others, like my friend Dave Spenser and my beloved son Micah and the many stout-hearted, hard-working, God-fearing men with whom I have shared my church, you don't realize what a hole they have left behind in our lives, until they are gone. Only later do you begin to discover what awful gaps are left behind in our world without them.

May each of us live lives that, when we are taken to our rest, the world is rendered as full of holes as a Swiss cheese for the lack of us being in it.

The quote by Sister White in the sidebar is a clarion call for men of faith to arise and take their place in the front lines. Time is growing short and as warriors like Pastor Ron and the others I have mentioned fall, I pray that ten Adventist Christian men arise to take their places. God knows that we need them.

© 2015 by Tom King

No comments:

Post a Comment