“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15)
My friend, Ken Fryer, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly several weeks ago. Many of you knew him, as a number of his articles grace this website. We crossed paths during the Great Louisiana College Debacle of 2014 and became quick pals.
Ken sojourned with us for several years, before amicably parting ways so far as blogging-company is concerned. Frankly, he was too good for us. And I say that without a hint of bitterness or sarcasm.
He was, in fact, too good for us.
…the world was not worthy of them (Hebrews 11:38).
Ken was a kind man. He was a good man. He was a talented man. And while Ken – like the rest of us – had feet of clay, I never knew him to err. His commitment to Christ was unquestionable. His support for the Truth was unwavering. And even in disagreement, Ken knew how to disagree amicably and with grace.
I only saw Ken in person a number of times, and most intimately at the Heritage Baptist Church in Shreveport, where he invited me to attend a conference. And that’s the memory I’ll share of him.
I walked into the Heritage Baptist Church, and it was in every way ordinary. It is an ordinary church in an ordinary place (as all the best churches are) that happened to have had an extraordinary pastor – Earl Blackburn (who, like Ken, ranks among the best of men). The church, as memory serves, smelled like every church I had ever been in…musty, used, old, occupied, and for a place I had never been before – familiar.
But what was absolutely unordinary about that event was the little orchestra at the front of the church. There was a harp, if memory serves. There was a violin. It was a small “orchestra pit” if that’s what it could be called, but it was beautiful. And for those who don’t know, Ken was a skillful and masterful leader of song and worship.
Why can a small church not have excellent music? The thought had never crossed my mind before I met Ken Fryer.
What I saw that night, and what I spoke to Ken about since, was great admiration for his giftedness to squeeze out musical talent from a small church (much like my own) like a sponge. His passion was the worship of God…and I cannot even fathom how much he is now enjoying himself in his new, eternal vocation.
Once I called Ken on the phone during a theology class at church to ask him to explain to the class via speakerphone (he did not know I was calling) the difference between hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19). He waxed eloquent off the cuff and with impromptu passion.
Due to Ken’s influence, there now rests at the front of the Fellowship Baptist Church of Sidney a cello, which is played as apart of our worship on Sunday mornings. My inspiration for starting our own classical music accompaniment was that night in Shreveport, and God gave us the resources – human and financial – to imitate what my dear brother put together in Louisiana.
I do not know Ken’s family. And I can only imagine the bittersweet sorrow and tragedy they feel in their loss. But because I know that Ken shined the light of the Gospel in his every breath, I’m sure that they know that Ken did not lose anything the day he passed away. He gained (Phillippians 3:8).
Ken’s body lay dormant. His soul does not. And most importantly, his voice carries on. And the four celestial beasts around God’s throne singing a stanza of Holy, Holy, Holy, were added to by the accompaniment of Ken Fryer and – I am sure of it – Heaven’s choir has grown by one talented voice.
And one day, Ken’s body will raise from the ground. I do not know how his glorified vocal cords will compare to what he left behind, but I suspect they will not sound much different.
Godspeed…but not to Ken, who is already Godsped. Godspeed to all of us, that we will see him soon enough. We mourn not his loss, but our own. For today, Ken Fryer is more blessed than the rest of us.