We lost a good friend this week. When I say we, I mean all of us, if we knew it or not. John Keen is not someone that you would consider as a great Church Statesman. As a matter of fact, he shied away from the spotlight as much as possible and was perfectly content to serve in the shadows of others. He was more comfortable in a flannel shirt and jeans, than a suit and tie. He loved nothing more than leading worship, which was the realization of his spiritual gifts. He was a big man, with a big laugh, and a huge loving heart. His contagious, fun-loving, heart for God will definitely be missed.
John was a part of the NOAH Leadership Team. We first met John in the New Life Christian Church in Waynesburg. He was serving there as an Elder and as the worship team leader. He later became a NOAH Director, a part of our preaching team, and worked in several congregations like Beechwood (Alliance), Greenwood (South Carolina), Twinsburg (Momentum), Kenmore (Compass), and Valley (Youngstown). John had a unique passion; to see people come to Christ! He would often share with me his evaluation of a sermon, which was always based on how well the plan of salvation was presented. Of course, he abbreviated it to “the POS”, but still the same, everyone that knew him, knew what he was talking about. One of his unfulfilled, heart-felt desires was to do personal evangelism with Mark, the Minister at the Beechwood Christian Church, him and me all together on the same team. Actually, that would have been awesome!
Although John thought about being ordained as a minister, he decided not to pursue that because he already had a ministry and was recognized as a minister; with or without a certificate of ordination. He was right! He could preach, sing, lead, and serve with the best of them. He was ordained as an Elder and brought genuine integrity to that office. He will also be forever known as The Great White Hunter, even though more often than not, he came home without any game. Mostly he will be remembered as a bulldozer operator, a friend, father, and a man who considered death in Christ as a definite win!
If you don’t have a personal relationship with Christ, I would love to have a conversation with you about that. We could even have an empty seat at the table for Jesus and John. It is possible to know beyond any shadow of a doubt that you are going to be with Jesus in heaven when you die. If you don’t know, if there is any doubt; we need to talk. If you do know, that is great! If you have assurance of your salvation, then go to the Circle Restaurant in Deerfield, and order one of their regular pancakes to celebrate. Tell them that Big John sent you!