The timing of Rassie Harper’s passing precluded me honoring and remembering him on the Back Page. And with a medical recovery coming up for me in February, I might not be writing as his memorial service approaches. So now is the time. Rassie and Connie have been a dear part of our church family for over 20 years. And what a blessing they have both been to us.
Rassie has a fascinating life story. Briefly, he came to Christ in high school at Thousand Pines. (Yay camping ministry!) He was an athlete (they were confused with his age, so he was actually two years older than his classmates in high school), firemen and sign painter. When he retired from the fire department, he began a 17-year stint as the Art Director of the Pageant of Our Lord at Rolling Hills Covenant. Thousands and thousands were blessed over those years by Rassie’s artwork and wisdom at the Pageant.
By the time Rassie came over to Peninsula, those days were over. So were his days as a fireman. So were his days as a dad. He did introduce us to his daughter, Elaine Herr, who was starting a ministry in a small town called Bombo, Uganda. Wow, that was timely…and changed the direction of ministry around here.
But as I think about Rassie, I figure that his service will be filled with family and friends from each era of his life. They will tell stories of his impact on their lives. It’ll be great. But none of those things he did ever had an impact on me. For the last 20-plus years, what impacted me? His life. His faith. His kindness and honesty and love. Rassie impacted me, not the stuff that Rassie did.
We missed the years which have now become legend. We know…just Rassie, that witty, loveable, lover of Jesus. Rassie (and Connie) have enriched us with their lives. It has been his faith in Jesus and his faithfulness to Jesus which have influenced my life the most. It is not what he had done, but it is who he was. That is what made him so dearly loved around the church.
I’ll end with one story. One Sunday morning as class was beginning to start, Rassie walked into the classroom and was asked, “Rassie, how are you doing?” Rassie’s reply? “How soon do you need to know?”
If we could ask him that question today, he would have an immediate answer. Today he is doing better than ever because he is in the presence of his Savior. That’s our hope. We’ll all join him there some day if we know Jesus as Savior. Do you?