Duane’s Legacy: Prayer, People, and Peace
The year was 2014. My family and I had just moved from the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan to central Texas, after accepting a Call to serve at Zion Lutheran Church and School. By August, the start of a new school year was upon us. Mrs. Wrege called me late in the afternoon that last day before school was to begin and she calmly asserted, “Tom—you need to meet me at Longhorn Steakhouse at 6 p.m. for supper. Don’t ask any questions. Just be there. I will have a table reserved.”
First, I love a good steak, Secondly, it sounded like a date night. But lo and behold when I arrived, there was Duane, my friend from Utica Michigan (my past Call) sitting there. I was stunned. Why was he in Texas? This was a man I greatly admired and often relied on to be a foundational, spiritual leader in my life. I was so happy to see him! As I greeted him warmly and sat down to get some answers, his response was quite simple: “Tom, I came to pray for you and your family and for every part of your new ministry. I will meet you at Zion at 6 a.m. tomorrow and my purpose will be clear.”
We shared a great meal and reminisced about our time together in ministry. The next morning, there was Duane—a smallish man with white hair and a white beard, and filled with resolve as always. He had his flashlight with him on this dark morning, and he was on a mission. He told me that he would see me in a bit, just before opening chapel. The job he had to do at that moment was to walk around our 25-acre campus and to encircle all within it with time in prayer to the Lord. It was an emotional moment. He flew down, got a hotel, blessed us with a delicious meal (he paid for it), and then he did the most meaningful thing anyone could have done—to bathe me and every part of my ministry in prayer and consecration to the Lord. Later that day he flew back to Detroit, and now this is just an incredibly meaningful truth and memory that I will cherish forever. His parting word was just one: Shalom!
Duane was uniquely blessed to bless others. He had a prayer meeting every week at our Utica Michigan church and school. He participated in social ministry. He counseled people throughout his day. He was sought after. He was a picture of humility. He was gentle and yet filled with passion. He got things done.
After he left us in Texas, we kept in close touch, texting often. We would specifically share Scripture passages to lift one another up as brothers in Christ. One year ago, on Christmas Eve I received this gift from Duane (always, King James Version):
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary His mother, and fell down, and worshipped Him; and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts: gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:10 KJV
Prayer, people, and peace made Duane a life-changing influencer in my life. Can you imagine receiving the gift of a caring person to have just one goal in mind and that is to pray for God’s people and to bless with peace? From the Hebrew language, shalom has the collective meaning of peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare, and tranquility. The blessing of such a greeting embraces a person with the love and peace that only God can give through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Duane recently went to heaven to be with Jesus. He now has peace that transcends all understanding. Do you have a Duane in your life? If you do, you realize how meaningful this is for your life. Duane continually gave the gift of prayer, people, and peace. Shalom!