Think back and remember the people who taught you how to view the world. That taught you what was important, not just spiritually, but in all areas of life. How to look at issues the way Christ would look at them. Their impact might be subtle and hard to notice at first. But when you think about it, it is wide-spread in your life.
For me, I think about two men in particular who taught me worldview. One was a teacher in high school, and he was taught by the other man: Dr. Wynn Kenyon.
Dr. Kenyon served at Belhaven University for nearly 30 years. He taught philosophy, but for every freshman, he taught Christian Perspective. He taught us what it meant to look at the world through the eyes of Christ. Any issue, any belief system, could be seen for what it was through those lenses. We weren’t brainwashed into some cult like many people think happen at Christian universities. No, we were taught how to look at things, ALL things, the way our Creator God looks at them. At least, in what extent our feeble minds could do so.
As my co-worker Beth worded it, “There are 30 years of Belhaven students who learned how to think from that man.”
Outside of class, he was an icon. He had such phenomenal wit that his poor mouth couldn’t keep up with it. Conversations were always fun, because half of the time you were laughing at his comebacks and jabs at you, and the other half, you were struggling to understand the deep philosophical workings.
I knew I couldn’t handle that second part, so I always stuck with the insults.
My last conversation with DK was just like many other conversations with him. It was always good talk, then I would say something and you could see the wheels start to turn as he came up with some comeback that was always close to being very witty, but not quite. Regardless though, it was always good, always hysterical, and always made you laugh.
He loved humor like that. Anyone who knew him would be quick to bring up his iconic laugh: one loud, resonant “HA!” that would shake your soul if you didn’t expect it. His sister was my high school principal, and she thankfully warned me about it. She also warned me, though, that if you REALLY got him going, he would actually giggle like a child.
I only heard the giggle once. My roommate freshman year caused it. I’ll never forget that moment. He had, over one weekend, shaved his hair into a mohawk and died it pink. DK was so taken aback when he entered the room that all he could do was just giggle. It was amazing.
Last Wednesday, Dr. Kenyon was exercising on campus. He stopped when he started to experience chest pains and left. He was found in the hallway a few minutes later, the victim of a heart attack. He was rushed to a hospital, but never fully recovered. He passed away quietly Monday, one day after his 64th birthday.
I don’t think it’s any irony at all that Monday was a cold, gloomy, rainy day at Belhaven. God brought one of His children home, but he knew the pain it would mean for us. Offices were silent. People couldn’t focus on work. We had lost a family member. And God wanted us to know He felt the pain too.
On Thursday, the day after Dr. Kenyon’s heart attack, a faculty member went to his classroom to talk to his students. As he approached the class, he noticed that the students had already, without prompting, joined hands in the middle of the room and started praying. He didn’t have to say anything to the students. Dr. Kenyon meant enough to them already, that they already knew what they needed to do.
Belhaven’s landmarks are two 100 year old buildings that mirror each other. This past fall, one of the buildings started to fall apart due to foundation problems, and a lot of focus has been placed on what needs to be done to save the building.
It’s iconic to the school. As was Wynn Kenyon.
My friend Danny Shaw put it best: “The wing of this building next to us could collapse right now and Belhaven would still feel more like Belhaven than it is without Dr. Kenyon.”
Those of us in the Belhaven family are finding our ways to cope. We might be crying, we might be with friends, or we might just be writing and thinking back on the years and the way that we think.
The most prominent idea was that ultimately, no matter the circumstance, there is a God who is in control. He created the world, and He saves sinners. His plan, not ours, is what has the final say. Wynn Kenyon lived that example. Though his death was sudden and a shock to us all, those of us who learned from him know that we can take comfort and refuge in that fact. DK ran the race. He kept the faith. And he certainly heard “Well done, my good and faithful servant” when he got home. Well done indeed.
His impact was huge, and now he’s home, seeing all the things he taught us about. I look forward to hearing that iconic “HA!” again someday, though I’m willing to bet his giggle will be more prominent, inspired by the joy of being with his Savior.
So thanks, DK. Thanks for all that you did. Thanks for teaching us how to think. We’ll all miss you here. That’s for sure. But we’ll see you again.
“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” – 2 Corinthians 5:6-8
Welcome home, Wynn Kenyon.
The outpouring of sentiments on Twitter and Facebook was astounding. I wish I could compile them all into one post, but it would take a novel. I would, however, love to share a link to what my good friend Phillip Holmes had to say, and also the words of my best friend, Zack Owens:
“I tell you what,” I just wept deep, sorrowful, aching tears upon seeing a picture of my friend, mentor, elder, professor and his wry, knowing smile. I’ll never forget my last words to him: “I really do appreciate all that you do.” He just chuckled and walked away.
We had just gone back and forth, in typical fashion, teasing each other mercilessly. But that Sunday morning, for some inexplicable reason, I was compelled to stop the jokes for a second and make it clear that all of my jesting was a guise for the profound respect and brotherly love I felt for him. My only regret is how far short those words fell from the reality of what I was trying to say.
Wynn Kenyon – a catalyst for the forming of an entire denomination, the heart of a university for 30 years, a cornerstone in the realization of forming an impossible dream of a church plant, an endearing disorganized genius, and a mischievous prankster. But most importantly, he was a loving husband and father. He displayed the love of Jesus in word and deed to thousands. He taught us to think and modeled for us what it meant to walk faithfully. He welcomed countless numbers into his home as part of his own family. He loved selflessly, earnestly, and brilliantly – and had more fun doing it than the rest of us.
The faith he taught has become sight, and the truth for which he fought he now knows in full.
I will miss him terribly, but look forward to seeing him in glory.
“Hallelujah, He has found me, the One my soul so long has craved. Jesus satisfies all my longings. Through His blood I now am saved.”