A few years ago on Father’s Day weekend I ran a half-marathon in Lundington. It was a beautiful morning. The route wound thorugh woods, over a dune, across a dam and a few miles along a beautiful blue view of magnificent Lake Michigan. Kyle, Chuk, Daniel, and Wes all participated in a race that day. Kyle and I in the half-marathon, Chuk, Dan, and Wes in the 5K.
Dan Cummings, a fellow pastor, ran the race that day. He finished well ahead of me. When I reached the finish he was waiting for me. He congratulated me before heading home.
Dan trusted me to preach in his church twice. Once I sat at his desk to prepare and looked at his great library. I admired his running, his reading, and his preaching. We both preached at Camp Barakel. He spoke at the Character Inn to a few hundred students. He refused an honorarium, but we insisted on giving him enough money for a new pair of running shoes. The students loved him. A number of them made the hour-long drive to his church every week. A few times my sons and I attended a men’s meeting at his church he called Bravehearts. At Bravehearts he taught theology to a large group of his men for an hour one Monday night each month. The room was always packed with eager men.
Ten months ago he began a battle with cancer. Thursday night he went to be with the Lord. His associate was to preach at a youth retreat. I took his place. Driving to Saugatuck to get to the retreat would take about three hours. It would be a beautiful drive across the state on the winter evening driving into the setting sun toward Lake Michigan. I decided to spend some time thinking of him. Driving along it occurred to me that I had some of his messages on my iPod. I listened to my friend preach two messages and a biographical sketch of Spurgeon. One of the messages was preached after he knew he would survive only by a miracle of God; “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” was the name of the message.
I found Dan’s last words to me, sent to me in an e-mail: “Ken, you are beloved and dear brother. My eyes are wet as I remember sweet times of ministry with your students. Your kindness, example, and ministry to me are a great grace in my life. You are in my prayers at every remembrance for Christ-exalting life and ministry at Evangel. Love the church…and love them with your preaching…no greater gift to them. Grace. Dan The Younger Pilgrim On His Way To The City.”
My last words to him were: “Thanks for taking time to write. You have been a powerful encouragement, inspiration, and example to me. Bravehearts for my sons and myself has been a unique and wonderful thing. Your ministry to the Verity/Eternal Vision students was a highlight of their training for many of them. The invitations you extended to myself and my family to minister at Five Points were high privileges to us. Your encouragement and example to my sons will never be forgotten. Thank you for your friendship, Dan. I will always remember that you took the time (and it was quite some time) to wait for me to finish the Ludington Lakestride Half-Marathon so you were there when I finished. If that happens again, I will search the crowd for you and together we will rejoice that the great race has ended at the Throne and our faith has become sight and there will be no more dying… Through Christ, Our Victor – Running the Race behind you; Ken Pierpont
February 10, 2009
An archive of Dan’s sermons can be found here.