by Mark

If you met Harold Walker at first glance you might think him a bit gruff.  His salt and pepper hair was cut close in a brush cut. He had a barrel chest and powerful arms with a faded tattoo.  His voice had a bit of a growl to it.  Harold was a Navy Corpsman.  Under his skin he still carried around shrapnel from Okinawa when he landed with the Marines, the bloodiest war in the Pacific Theatre.  Harold Walker was not a man to be trifled with, he was brave enough to take on teaching a class of young boys.  Mr. Walker was my Sunday School teacher. 

It was his smile that gave it away- there was something different about Harold, he loved Jesus.  Thinking back I can’t remember when Mr. Walker came to Christ but you could see it in his life.   During my fifth grade year our class met in the church kitchen.  Sitting on folding metal chairs surrounded by big pots and aluminum foil we were fascinated by Mr. Walker’s stories of going on patrol at Okinawa.  Corpsmen were popular targets for snipers and sometimes were called up to be targets (unwilling ones) to flush out snipers.  I’m sure he saw more than he ever wanted to.  Mr.  Walker was a man of commitment, as a warrior, he went far beyond what was expected as a Sunday School teacher.  Mr. Walker was a warrior of another type, a warrior  seldom seen today  but urgently needed.  Harold was a prayer warrior.  Like my grandfather who went before him, from his knees he battled in a realm that was not seen.  He covered me in prayer. Every time I saw him his face would break into a great grin and ask me how I was doing and then let me know he was praying for me.  He continually greeted my parents at church and expressed to them that he was praying for me.  How many times he interceded on my behalf when I needed it most I do not know.  I believe one of the reasons that my family and are are in Mongolia today is because of people like Harold Walker who prayed for me and those who continue to pray. 

Mr. Walker died last week of a stroke.  In that moment when he died and went to be with Jesus Harold joined the throng- the ones who have gone before and cheer us on in finishing the race.  The picture painted in Hebrews is a beautiful one- a race that comes into the arena, the runners giving it all they can.  Across the stadium there is a roar, people standing on their toes, hands in the air cheering for the runners to give it there all.  Encouraging them to strive with all they have left to cross the finish line.  Mr. Walker finished the race, he is now among the crowd with so many others that I have loved who finished well and gone on.

  Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (Heb 12:1 ESV)

Thank you Mr. Walker, you are one of my heroes.    Thank you for loving Jesus, thank you for praying.  Keep cheering.  I will see you over the line.