The phone call sounded angry. We lived on the Coast at the time.
“What time is church tonight?” Gruff. Insistent. I told him the time.
“When are YOU going to be there?” I told him I would be there an hour earlier. Then I wondered if I should have said that.
“I will see you there.” Not chipper nor charming. I spent the afternoon wondering who was going to show up at the church and what they were upset about.
6:00 came and went. I scurried about doing last minute things that a professional procrastinator still has to do just moments before Bible class. No one came early, no one was unfamiliar. Then the door opened and he walked in. Biggest grin on his face you could imagine. I busted out laughing. Keith Hunt had really had me going that afternoon. He and his nephew (I think) were in town working and was going to be at church on Wednesday night, as was his habit. We all had a big laugh about that.
I really didn’t know Keith that well (didn’t recognize his voice at all!). It’s his family that I know. Through a couple of decades of service and fun at Sardis Lake Christian Camp I had grown to know and love them all. I loved to sit by Marilyn during devotional times, she has the voice of an angel. I watched Kevin, Kirt, and Ryan grow up from little boys to men. Early on they were kids in my cabin, later they served on staff with me. They were competitive and able on the sports field. Maybe that’s why little sister Tamara could whip most boys on the volleyball court or the softball field.
I remember one time visiting the Ackerman Church of Christ … out in the country of Central Mississippi. Sitting in that worship service I saw these young boys leading singing – an octave above the audience, perfectly in pitch. I think Kirt is the one who really has the itch to sing – and he’s got the voice for it too.
So my knowledge of Keith came mostly from watching his boys and girl… seeing the gentle influence of his wife … an entire family given to Christ … and living out the gospel.
I doubt anyone could have been prepared for the news that Keith died the day after Christmas. Like every family that suffers a great loss, there are a thousand unexpected things to handle … decisions to make … and tears to cry.
It has been some years since I’ve had a chance to visit with any of these precious people. I’ve seen Kevin a time or two with his pro bass boat and gig … I remember Kirt visiting in my home on the Coast … we pass a note along from time to time on Facebook. But no matter how long ago these memories were created, the impression made by this wonderful family is strong and true. Keith will be missed deeply. But the faith he passed along to his children, along with Marilyn, will continue to influence the Kingdom for many years to come.
If you have a moment today, would you say a prayer for this sweet family?