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Confessions of faith: Ken Blaine

After years of praying, a wife sees God’s perfect timing in the baptism of her husband.

Although it took over 30 years of praying, at just the right time Ken Blaine became a child of God through Baptism at age 73. His wife, Sue, sat in the pew, tears of joy coursing down her face as she praised God for his answer to years of prayers for Ken to acknowledge Jesus as Lord. Their families and a few close friends attended the private ceremony. The day held so much rejoicing on earth—and in heaven as well.

But the road was long and uneven as Ken’s path was revealed.

The long road

It all started 35 years ago in March of 1988, when God used a fatal fall during Holy Week to call Sue’s father home at the age of 55. The sunrise service that Easter was particularly tender for her whole family as his Christian funeral was just the day before. They mourned their earthly loss as they rejoiced in the assurance of heaven through the risen Savior.

Looking back, Sue marvels at the new creation God had set in motion following her dad’s death. A divorced mother of two boys, Sue had recently met a man named Ken and planned to marry him that fall. At the funeral, Ken saw Sue’s deep faith and trust in God, but he was raised without church and knew nothing about Jesus. Ken told her that attending the funeral at Good Shepherd, West Bend, Wis., was the first time he had been in church in 40 years. Since this was a second marriage for both, he felt the courthouse would do for their wedding.

Sue’s response held an entirely different perspective for their new life: “That’s where the past ended, Ken—not where we will start this marriage.” They had a church wedding at Good Shepherd. Then her praying began.

Ken and Sue’s lives were filled with much activity. They moved to a log cabin home in the country. Her boys attended grade school at Good Shepherd. Ken owned a business that kept him busy. Sue worked in the health care insurance industry. These were all good things, except for the heaviness in Sue’s heart. Ken kept resisting her invitations to join her and her family in worship.

To be fair, he did attend the kids’ Christmas Eve programs and Easter Sunday services because he loved Sue. He relates how he did not understand the Bible or the stories told at church, but he wanted to be there for Sue on Easter, to hold her hand as she remembered her dad’s loss each year. A gifted musician and singer, he never joined in as his family sang the hymns. He simply sat and listened.

However, Sue’s insistence on a WELS school for her boys did get Ken’s attention. He saw the remarkable difference a Christian school made in their lives. Years later, this led him to encourage, enroll, and fund the same for his own four grandchildren at a WELS school in Milwaukee. He wanted his grands to have the church give them a chance at life—that maybe “a better way would take hold.” He also attended all their baptisms and confirmations, but none of this Christian life was for him. He simply says, “Now I know. It was not my time yet.”

God’s timing

Thirty-one years passed. Then in 2019, God’s timing moved swiftly. Ken was diagnosed with cancer. Not 24 hours later, Sue’s mom fell and was hospitalized. The grim news? Her heart would not last another week. This double whammy became the occasion for the Holy Spirit’s work.

Ken says he finally realized he was in no-man’s-land when it came to facing mortality. “I thought to myself, I don’t have years ahead of me. I don’t know where I’ll be.” Even though Sue and her family were certain their loved ones were in heaven with Jesus, Sue grieved over her mom’s death and now was facing Ken’s diagnosis. Ken kindly encouraged her, “Maybe you should call your pastor and he can help you with how you are going to manage my cancer with your mom gone too.” Sue quickly made the call.

Robert Hein, pastor at Good Shepherd, stopped over at the house “just to talk.” A month later, they were invited to “talk” at the church. Ken fussed about “getting his ducks in a row.” Hein recorded those concerns on a whiteboard: “Sell my business of 50 years, fix the yard, get finances in order, make sure Sue is set.”

When Ken was done, Hein drew a big black vertical line. “And then what?” he asked. Hein’s words were met with silence, as a future without hope looked quite bleak. At this moment Ken believes he was convicted by the Holy Spirit. He had to know what came next. Two weeks later, with Sue by his side, he enrolled in a Bible information class.

After learning about God’s simple plan of salvation, Ken asked to be baptized. He renounced his old sinful life and was received into God’s kingdom through the washing of rebirth and renewal on July 25, 2021. Whoops of joy complemented the incredible event as the family witnessed God’s faithful response to years of fervent prayer.

baptism and amazing grace cross
Pastor Robert Hein baptized 73-year-old Ken Blaine in 2021. A cross highlighting God’s amazing grace sits on Ken and Sue’s kitchen table next to Ken’s Bible.

The new life

Since then, Ken has welcomed every opportunity to attend worship. Sometimes he sings, but mostly his tears of thankfulness are flowing. To Ken, hymns are a “vehicle of praise.” He now wants to talk to Jesus “110 percent of the time when things get out of control during the day.” He also frequently calls Sue to look heavenward and see the clouds. “Look what God did today for us!” he says.

Ken’s Bible lies open on the kitchen table. Pastor Hein’s inscription for Ken’s confirmation is inside. Next to it is a beautifully carved cross with the words “Amazing Grace.” Each morning Ken offers his usual praise: “Thank you, Jesus, for one more day.” Though his medical condition has its ups and downs, the couple’s doctor has been amazed at how his time has been longer than predicted.

When Sue is asked, “What would you say to another woman whose husband is not in the Lord?” the answer comes quickly: “Don’t quit. The Lord is with you. Pray. Pray. Pray. Trust in his timing.”

The wait was long, but now Sue understands God’s timing is much better. In Ken’s Bible, a verse is underlined: “I am the LORD; in its time I will do this swiftly” (Isaiah 60:22).

Now that he has tasted God’s goodness, Ken presses God for more time: “Lord, just give me a little more time to pay it forward.” He wants time to tell others. “Jesus is real. This is heavy-duty stuff,” he says, pounding his chest to bring home the point.

Perhaps the homeless young lady Ken recently encountered at the gas station will take his advice. “Just talk to Jesus,” he said. “Get yourself to church and ask him what to do. He will show you the way.”

Amen, Ken! You were blind about Christ, but now you see. He has opened your eyes and your heart. Praise Jesus; heaven awaits!

Author: Marilyn Sievert
Volume 110, Number 11
Issue: November 2023

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This entry is part 58 of 68 in the series confessions-of-faith

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