Dad was a Man of Integrity
While in WW2 dad promised the Lord to go into the ministry. He kept that promise even though his childhood dream and passion was to become an artist. Psalm 15:4 & 5 says that ‘… those who…keep their promises even when it hurts… Such people will stand firm forever’.
At the tender age of 6, I experienced dad’s integrity in a much more personal way. I stole a piece of candy from a local store. When dad found out I was promptly spanked and then told I needed to restore the item and say that I was sorry to the owner. The pain of this experience taught me that dad would not tolerate this behavior and from that moment I purposed I would never steal again.
Dad married the love of his life and remained faithful to my mom until his death separated them after 68 years of marriage. His faithfulness in marriage is perhaps the greatest legacy he left for his children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren.
Dad was a man of Great Faith and Vision
My dad stood on biblical convictions. In 1969 the Lord convinced dad to make a doctrinal stance that was not popular with the church he was currently serving. Dad knew this was the right thing to do but because of the opposition he faced he decided to resign from the church rather than compromise on his beliefs. At the time I was in 5th grade so I was complete nebulous to the pressures of adult life. I now realize that dad was faced with the concerns of providing for his family, what work would he do and where would we live (the church provided housing for us)? On top of this, there were several families in this church that wanted to start a new church and they wanted dad to be their pastor. New Covenant Fellowship was born and dad was the pastor. The Lord provided a wonderful house for us with a large basement where the upstart congregation could worship. The Lord also provided a wonderful teaching job for dad at a nearby school.
As New Covenant grew we began to rent facilities that would accommodate our size. But dad wasn’t just thinking of the congregational needs; he was thinking of outreach. While we lived in Carpentersville dad also purchased a house in Elgin. After some interaction with some young men attending the local college dad was compelled to turn the house into a place of worship and ministry for the youth of Elgin. And so the Jesus is Lord House was born.
After seven years of renting facilities New Covenant had grown to the point where it needed to buy or build a church building. In 1976 dad discovered a building for sale in Elgin that could be ‘remodeled’ and that would meet our needs. The building was an old car parts store that was very dilapidate. I’m convinced (though I cannot prove it) that at this point the elders of New Covenant thought that dad had flipped his rocker. The building was so run down; there is just no way this building could be salvaged. But dad saw through the eyes of faith. I had just graduated from high school and I had no plans for college or any other commitment so I was volunteered. Kent Rathjent, Phil Carter, and I worked full time on renovating the building and many other people pitched in when they could. After over a year of hard work New Covenant was given a certificate of occupancy for the Kimball St building. This was all made possible because of dad’s faith and vision.
Dad’s interest and vision for church growth and outreach seemed to never stop. Dad’s faith and vision coupled with the many special people God brought into the church produced many fruitful ministries. Community Living, the House of Hope coffee house, the Evangelism Explosion training, Concerts, the Homeless ministry and many more.
Dad was Generosity
Dad never really talked about how much was given to missions because he was not the kind of person to bring attention to himself. In fact, dad didn’t seem to care if he ever was acknowledges for what he did. We all knew, though, that his heart was in missions and that his money went there as well. Aside from the Bible one of his favorite books was Operation World, a book describing the status of missionary work in each country of the world. His prayers where often directed to missions.
From having foster children in our home to supporting the local Crisis Pregnancy Center dad was all about giving. Giving was his spiritual gift and he exceled in it.
Dad was also generous very practical ways. While visiting me in North Carolina dad struck up a conversation with my elderly neighbor. She simply remarked that she was going paint her garage soon. Even though he was on vacation he offered to paint her garage for free. That’s just the generous kind of person that dad was. Perhaps needless to say, I had an excellent relationship with my neighbor from then on.
Dad Practiced Hospitality
On most Sundays we would have dinner guests. It was a common practice to invite first time visitors home for dinner as well as several regulars. Dad was such a father figure to some in the church that it was hard to say no to his warm welcome. Mom always cooked such a great meal but it was what happened during the meals’ preparation that often got my attention. Dad had the most amazing way of making people feel welcome; at home. It didn’t matter to dad if the person was a Brain Surgeon or a Ditch Digger he always expressed interest in them and he was a great listener.
Dad was Artistic and Creative
Dad’s paintings graced the walls of our living room. Each painting expressed a life experience whether it was a barn in central Wisconsin or beautiful 17th century architecture in Europe where he was in WW2. I remember in vacation bible school how amazed I was at his caulk talks. He had a way of masterfully weaving a story around the picture he was drawing but the story’s punch line was hidden until the final strokes on the canvas.
Dad loved to worship and particularly enjoyed the upbeat music of our choruses. It was a common practice to start breakfast by singing a chorus or two. Many evenings you could count on him playing the piano. Often there was a hymn and several choruses but there was always round or two of the ‘Beer Barrel Polka’.
The scripture admonishes us to show honor to whom honor is due. We are all here today to honor Lawrence Ahrens and this is good and pleases the Lord. However, my dad, throughout his life, sought the honor that comes from above and he is enjoying that honor now and for all eternity.