I learned more from him about Christianity than all the Bible verses and churchgoing in the world could do at the time. He showed me what personal sacrifice, dogged determination, and love for others looked like—in the flesh. He found out about me through mutual friends, and he set about the daunting task of reaching me for Christ.
I was a heavy-drinking, rabble-rousing divorcé with no interest in God whatever. Walter traveled—uninvited—forty miles each way to my home in the San Francisco Bay Area on countless occasions, only to be avoided, shunned, or turned away at my doorstep. Each time, Walter faithfully dropped off materials, tapes, and Bible verses with absolutely no assurance that they would find their way into my hands. This went on for months, until I finally moved.
However, I never forgot that man. His memory haunted me, like the hounds of heaven. Then, over the subsequent twenty years, in a series of dramatic encounters, I came to faith in Christ. I went on to enter Bible School, followed by active ministry in a number of church settings—all without knowing what ever happened to Walter.
Then, in circumstances that could only be described as providential, I met a man named Alan Bleecker through our church in Santa Barbara—still not knowing that Alan was Walter’s son. One thing led to the other and Walter moved to Santa Barbara (of all places) and, through Alan, I had a highly emotional reunion with my “heavenly hound.” I thought sure I’d have to wait until I got to heaven to thank him, and there he was on my doorstep again, only this time I let him in for good.
In the subsequent two or three years, Walter and I met for some of the most invigorating and spirited discussions of my Christian life. He earnestly challenged me to go higher, reach deeper, and achieve more in my ministry. Before his passing in October 2014, I shared my vision for this book and, in one of our last meetings together, he inspired me to move forward without delay. I took that for the divine commission that it was. We have him to thank for this humble tome.
I just hope heaven has lots for Walter to do. A man like that needs to stay really, really busy.
“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Matthew 25:21