Friday, October 24, 2008

Remembering Harold

It was with great sadness that I learned of Harold Ford's death while I was on vacation. Over the past 11 years, Harold was a man I greatly respected and loved and whom I will miss terribly.  I already felt his absence when he stepped down from being the mission's board chairman a few weeks before his death.  I knew the day was coming but VOMC just didn't "feel" right without him.

Harold was the first person I had any real contact with from the mission.  I remember well the first time I heard his voice.  I was sitting having a late supper after working all day as a truck driver for a local agricultural chemical company in Alberta.  The phone rang and I heard on the other end a gentle English-accented voice asking if it was possible for me to come to Ontario for an interview the following week.  To be honest, I ad completely forgotten about my application for a job at VOMC; several weeks had gone by and I assumed that they were not interested. 

I assured him that I would make it possible.  I quickly made arrangements (I think he was impressed that I booked a flight with a discount airline).  The interview went well and when he called me a few days later to inform me that the decision to invite me to become a part of VOMC was an unanimous board decision, I was delighted.  Two months later, we moved to Ontario.

Over the next several years, I learned that I could always count on Harold to give me an honest, straightforward opinion. I knew that he was committed to seeing our mission grow (which was my purpose for joining the mission initially).  We went through some rough spots as a mission from time to time, but Harold's support was unflagging.  To the very end, his concern was on what was good for the mission and its staff.  He ruffled the feathers of some with his straightforward approach. You didn't always agree with Harold, but you had to respect his passion for the work of The Voice of the Martyrs.  To try to get him to talk about himself was an effort in futility; he would inevitably yank the conversation way from his own needs to those of the mission.  This was true even near the end when we all knew that he was very sick.  He simply didn't feel the need to talk about it.

I wonder if he knew that he would not live to see the next board meeting, as he started the process of seeking his replacement and stepped down as he did?  It would be in character. 

We have lost one of our greatest supporters and friends as a mission.  May the Lord rise up others to take Harold's place.

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