Remembering Jack Kinsella
Amen, Amen, Amen!
Friday, March 29, 2013
What can I say about Jack Kinsella that hasn't already been so eloquently expressed by others? I can only convey my feelings in my own clumsy way:
I stumbled across Jack soon after I left my New Age past. Having remembered my mother's lasting fondness for Hal Lindsey's books, I decided to Google Hal's name to see if he was still around. That exercise led me to a website called Omega Letter.
The Omega Letter had a picture of a stern-looking, mustached-man wearing a dark jacket, dark shirt, and tie. My very first thought was that he looked like some sort of enforcer, and that I wouldn't want to cross him in a dark alleyway.
First impressions aren't always on target.
I remember being quickly impressed by Jack's penetrating assessment of one scientist's mundane attempt to explain Jesus' miracle of walking on the Sea of Galilee. Jack had that analytical gift of getting right to the core of situations, and then neatly dissecting them for the reader.
I was immediately hooked.
Being a part of the Omega Letter family helped me in my walk with Christ and it helped ground my biblical understanding. To me, Jack was also a big-brother-mentor figure. I appreciated how he allowed the occasional minor squabbles to occur and then settle themselves. If ever they didn't, he had that knack of benevolent intervention.
Jack also had that rare quality of being humble and gracious when coming under fire from those who took issue with his eschatology. That's been a great example for me, even if I don't always follow it.
Anyone who has ever had the privilege of meeting Jack and his family, as I did at the 2009 Omega Letter Conference, will attest to their warmth, graciousness and normalness. The famed writer of those incisive briefings was as normal as the next guy, and yet he was much more than that. I'll never forget that day.
I'm grateful and honored for his faith in me, and the other writers, by granting us the privilege to contribute to the Omega Letter. Speaking for myself, I've had to dig deep, pray and grow into my brief. I often wrestled with a weekly column, and yet Jack was able to produce quality material on a daily basis!
I thought I was prepared when Jack went home to be with the Lord. But I wasn't really. Just when I thought I'd come to terms with it, I'd wake up from a nap as if cold water had been poured over me. I couldn't get my head around mundane chores. I can only try to guess how it affected his family. Jack had gone home!
It was a privilege attending his Funeral Service. I don't use the word "privilege" lightly.
Most secular people will agree that funerals are usually grim affairs that they feel obligated to attend, and then avoid discussing afterwards. The last one I attended - when I was living in Australia - was for an unsaved friend. It was a depressing event which haunted me for a long time.
Jack's Funeral Service was nothing like that. It was comforting to be greeted with welcoming smiles and hugs from Gayle, Kari, Mike and the others. There certainly was sadness, and I empathized with Jack's sons as they paid tribute to their father.
But what I also took away from it was Joy!
I saw the joy in Pastor Craig's face, and I sensed it in his words as he talked about Jack. One would expect that from a pastor, even if it is too often couched in vague hope and homilies. Yet there was nothing vague at that Funeral Service. We heard the precious Hope of the Gospel articulated in no uncertain terms.
Yet it wasn't just the pastor that delivered the Gospel message that day. So did Jack's family. In their great loss, they still managed to minister to the attendees.
One of Jack's sisters got up and talked about where Jack had gone. To summarize: Did we want to see him again? If we did, there was only One Way we could get there. Otherwise, we would end up in some Other Place and we would never see him again.
I wouldn't have wanted to be the person to talk after that delivery, but Jack's other sister picked it up right where her sister left off. And there was the Gospel wonderfully delivered once again! I wish I had a transcript of those speeches. They were full of Fire and Hope, and they lifted my heart. The pastor finished up with a summary and an earnest altar call.
(During the alter call, heads bowed, eyes closed, Pastor preaching the Cross... Three Amens were heard from the Pastor. Our prayer is that all 3 of those people accepted Jesus during that service for Jack.)
Wow! Think about that for a few moments.
I've no idea whether Jack had a window seat to all that, but I'm sure someone tapped him on the shoulder and told him the good news. Jack and the angels would have rejoiced (Luke 15:7, 10).
There was a threat of freezing rain on the roads heading home. Frank and Connie Spaniak prayed over me for travel mercies. Once again I felt engulfed by the warmth of the Omega Letter family. While I do admit to having a pity party as I drove back, the Joy and Hope have stayed with me.
His Funeral Service wasn't just a time to mourn; it was also a vehicle for the Glorious Hope in Jesus Christ. Even though I miss him, I know that we'll all see Jack again. He left us a wonderful legacy and I, for one, want to carry it on.
Thank you, Kinsella family.
About Alf Cengia
Last article: The X State Solution
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