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Living Legend  

He’s the first grown man I ever saw cry.  To me, he is a living legend.

Art Rorheim is 98 and has traveled to more than 50 countries, met several Presidents and continues to memorize large quantities of Scripture as he approaches the century mark.   

As a boy of nine at Camp Awana, I remember Art telling about his older brother, Roy, who was 13 and dangerously ill.  Spinal meningitis was a rare and new disease in 1928, and young Roy understood the odds.  A new Christian, he pleaded with his parents from his hospital bed on behalf of his younger brother: “Dad, you are a Christian, Mom, you are a Christian, but Art is not a Christian and we have got to win him for the Lord.”

Roy succumbed to his illness, but Art soon trusted in the finished work of Christ.  Recounting this scene, tears formed in Art's eyes.  But I've since watched him cry many times—and always over the same thing: people who don’t know Jesus, people headed for Hell.  

Art Rorheim went on to co-found Awana International, a Bible memorization ministry now active in more than 100 nations. Each week, more than 2 million children and youth, 330,000 volunteers and 260 field staff take part in Awana in 30,000 churches around the world.

Months ago, he lost his wife of more than 70 years, Winnie. Yet Art soldiers on.  He witnesses. Shares gospel tracts. And still memorizes entire books from the Bible!

Though emotion ought never to be manufactured, I’m convinced there’s something highly instructional—and incredibly right—about a heart that weeps for lost people. A heart like Art’s.  Being with him this weekend has forced an inventory of my own heart.  When was the last time I have been so concerned about another’s soul that it made me cry?  I’m ashamed to say it’s been awhile.

What about you?


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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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Jon Gauger Media 2016