I just watched a moving video tribute to one of my friends who recently moved to heaven.
My own sense of mortality mixed with awe for a wonderful, godly man filled my heart. We met in unusual circumstances and he wasn’t exactly happy about it but the results were amazing.
Hale Kekauoha would become a pillar in our church but you might not have guessed it at the beginning. After agreeing to host a microchurch in his home he met us with a beer in hand and several in his gut. He and I watched a Lakers game while the rest of the crew hid out in the kitchen.
Around 9 PM the game and the microchurch ended but we asked Uncle Hale to play Amazing Grace so we could “end our meeting with a song.” He was a tremendous musician but the beer had taken their toll so he played an autoharp rather than his guitar. We thanked him for the music and his hospitality while informing him that we always liked to sing so we’d bring a cord sheet the following week.
Armed with purpose he was waiting for us that second week and every week after that. He’d participate in the discussions but wanted little to do with the church until the night he announced that he had invited Jesus into his heart. But even that took time as Sundays were still out of the question until he showed up on our first Mother’s Day in Hawaii, “Just to make mommy happy on her special day.” He never left.
Always the life of the party he brought homey wisdom into every gathering and each relationship. Soon the family and then the clan were part of our lives. Aunty Brenda was a saint. Their daughter Puni is a pillar of strength. Hoku and Kawehi along with their children are blessing so many with their music.
The video I watched brought back tons of memories as familiar faces of this beautiful extended Hawaiian family flashed before my eyes. And then it hit.
Hale has moved on to join Brenda with Jesus but he left a massive legacy in our church, in the Papakolea community where he lived, and in the Kekauoha ohana. We’ll all miss him dearly but more than that I once again faced the brevity of life contrasted with the length of a legacy. Life is short but what we invest in others lasts into eternity.
The apostle, James, wrote “you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” I want my mist to leave something useful behind in the hearts of those around me. I want to be like Uncle Hale when I go to meet Jesus.
However we gauge success in the churches we lead we must remember that it is only the relationships that really count—those first two commandments that Jesus gave us are the true measures of a man or woman of God.
If you knew Hale and Brenda, it would be nice to post a memory in the comments box…