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The Wind Beneath my Spiritual Wings

In case you haven’t heard, I regret to inform you that my former coach, groomsmen and spiritual mentor Ken Horne passed away last Wednesday. While I am certain Ken is now celebrating with Jesus in heaven, I never got the chance to say goodbye. I first met Ken as my Earth Science as a 7th grader at Hanby Junior High School. Despite earning a D, C, B and A in each of the 4 marking periods, Ken gave me an A for the year. Thinking this was a mistake, I stopped by Ken’s classroom on my way home from school. Ken’s response to my concern was, “by the end of the year, you were an A student so I gave you an A.” These words left a lasting impression on me.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever, 1 Corinthians 9:24-25.

Two years later, Ken and I ended up at the same school once again, Concord High in Wilmington, Delaware. This time Ken was my Physical Science teacher. Between 7th and 9th grade, I was lost, often feeling depressed and suicidal. Looking back, God brought Ken into my life to be the wind beneath my spiritual wings, gently leading me closer and closer to Christ. After thinking I was too cool for the Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s huddle at Concord, I finally said yes to Ken’s persistent invitations as a sophomore. The greatest quality Ken possessed was the ability to recognize and see the potential in students. Despite my flaws, imperfections and stuttering, the Holy Spirit enabled Ken see what I could be if I trusted Jesus as my Savior.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full, John 10:10.

During my final three years at Concord, Ken invited me to numerous events, retreats and revivals. Before I ever knew what I mentor was, Ken showed me how to live the abundant life by demonstrating this as my swim coach, teacher and spiritual leader outside of school. Ken asked me to share my testimony for the first time at a retreat during my junior. What impressed Ken the most was this was the first time I didn’t stutter in public. A year later, Ken entrusted me as the Program Director for FCA, asking questions and leading spiritual discussions with my peers. These experiences prepared me to become a Summer Work Camp Coordinator, Youth Director and High School Bible teacher. Like anyone who met Ken, we will all miss him. Yet, for now, all I can do I flame into flame my spiritual gift so that I might become the wind beneath someone else’s spiritual wings. Rest in peace Ken.

by Jay Mankus

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