Sunday, June 15, 2008


I first "met" Robert Walker in print some years before finally meeting
him face to face.

As a Communications Specialist for InterVarsity USA in the 1990s, I had
the privilege to "meet" Robert through his work as founding editor of
HIS magazine, InterVarsity's magazine launched in the early post WWII
era. Whether in a story trumpeting critical missions news, Bible
exposition or a personality profile, Robert's passion for the Church,
believers, missions and, first and foremost, Jesus Christ constituted a
clarion call to true discipleship and service to the Lord, His kingdom
and creation.

Not imagining that this stranger who was of the great generation that
included such great saints as Bill Bright, Henrietta Mears, Christy
Wilson, David Howard, Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, Billy Graham, David
Adeney and so many more, and whose voice I had only "heard" ring forth
from the printed page was still alive, I was quite shocked to have my
boss walk into my office one day shortly after InterVarsity's URBANA 93
Student Missions Convention and hand me a sheet of paper. Much to my
utter shock and pleasant surprise , I was humbled to receive and read --
and I have cherished ever since -- a completely hand written note in
very distinct, bold and flowing script from Robert extending great
praise for a personality profile I'd done on an InterVarsity student
who'd become a rookie standout for an NFL team. When I got to Robert's
distinct signature, I actually gasped. Having held him in such high
regard for so long, I was humbled to red such kind thoughts, and to
think that he had taken the time to write them long hand.

A few years later, while I was working as Regional media Director for a
Promise Keepers event in Minneapolis (as I recall), I was standing on
"Media Row" answering a question from a reporter when an elderly man
entered the booth with a man about my age and a teenage boy beside him.
The elderly man, who was as unassuming and pleasant in presence as he
was commanding, with a sort of Mosaic or Graham-esque bearing, smiled
widely and greeted me. When he spoke his name all I could do is ask
whether he was the Robert Walker who was once the editor of HIS
magazine. When he said that he was, I could hardly keep my breath. I
have never been one for idol worship of any sort -- and didn't even have
this feeling years before when I met and eventually worked for Billy
Graham (though I hold him in equally high regard, to be sure) -- but I
found myself beginning to weep, knowing that I was in the presence not
only of one of the modern giants of the Christian faith but, from what I
knew, a truly honorable man and journalist of the highest character and
integrity; as well as a man who had taken time out of his busy schedule
years before to encourage a comparatively young Christian journalist
with such a thoughtful hand written letter.

Though a professional journalist and photographer myself, as with so
many meetings like this, I relied on someone else at that Promise
Keepers conference to take a picture of me with Robert, his son (I think
it was Rob, but the son will certainly know better than I do) and his
grandson. While, sadly, it is one of those far too many out of focus
shots taken of me with one person or another from the missionary road, I
cherish it highly as a wonderful memory of the man I met so long ago via
the printed page alone -- first of HIS magazine and then an unexpected
personal note -- and finally in person.

Most of all, I cherish the memories as I look forward to meeting Robert
again in the air and, perhaps, finally with him, being among the crowds
that stand in awe and gasp at the sight of Paul and Peter, Matthew and
Mark, Luke and John, Daniel and Ezekiel, Ruth and James and all the
others, far more noteworthy and memorable, who went before us to
faithfully and effectively document the Words of God Himself and the
history of the Church, to proclaim the gospel in word and deed, and to
encourage, instruct and inspire the saints -- as Paul did to the
churches and Robert did to me (and, I bet, hundreds of others) -- then
turn and gasp in unending awe and worship at the one we all have tried
to proclaim and lift up through the printed word as we have written and
reported on and about Him and His eternal Word!

Anyone who benefits from a scholarship named after Robert Walker should
take the time to read many of his great works, which set a high bar for
excellence, integrity and inspiration, not just because they are about
matters and people of faith, but because they are unbiased journalistic
manifestations of truth about the world in which we live and the people
who live in it!

Thank you, Robert Alander Walker, "the hearts of the saints have been
refreshed through you"!*

Pastor Kris Potts
Founder, Director & Chief Chaplain
R.O.C.K. & S.H.I.E.L.D. & S.W.O.R.D.
Post Office Box 361
McFarland, WI 53558-0361 U.S.A.

* From Paul's Letter to Philemon

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