Grateful Tribute to Great Man – “Dr Al”
Madly cleaning my office before I head out for camp speaking again.
Suddenly realized Dr. Metsker – a pivotal figure in my life and ministry – was younger than me when he passed into glory.
His was a life well-lived.
He was instrumental in Youth For Christ, and founded and directed Kansas City Youth For Christ (which, sadly, no longer exists).
And he began “Christ Unlimited Bible Institute” in the early 1970s.
Shortly after parole I began working as a “minister of sanitation” (aka Janitor) at a church in Newhall, California.
During Easter vacation week I was tasked with washing the windows of the k-6 school the church operated. Thankfully I was assigned a couple teens to assist.
One was Billy Bob Maxim. His parents were raised in Kansas City and grew up with KCYFC. They sent Billy Bob and his brother back to KC each summer to attend the ranches (camps) YFC offered.
Billy Bob came back and started a YFC-like Bible club. No one had told him he couldn’t, so he simply did.
And during the window washing Billy Bob asked me to speak at his YFC Club.
I replied, “What’s a YFC club?”
One thing progressed to another, and I spoke at the club which met in his home.
A week or so later Jerry Johnston, one of Dr Al’s “preacher boys” (also an early favorite of Jerry Falwell) came into town. In a conversation he told me about Christ Unlimited Bible Institute – a place where students spent three hours a day in the Word, one hour a day learning methods of youth ministry…and hours of practical, on-the-job experience.
Sounded like a good fit for a guy who got saved in jail enroute to a few years in prison. With no church background I had nothing to unlearn, but much to learn.
But I was only months out of prison, and still on parole. Would the officials allow me to go even if the school accepted me?
I filled out the application, put a stamp on it, and mailed it…and waited.
A few weeks later I got word that I was accepted. California officials transferred my parole to Missouri…and off I went.
Al and Vidy (his wife) years later told me they were driving from the YFC office to their home as Vidy read my application to Al.
They wondered…do we accept a guy who is pretty much fresh out of prison? A guy who is still on parole? A guy who did a whole lot of bad stuff?
They prayed for guidance…and then decided to give me a chance.
I flew to Kansas City with a bit over twenty bucks to my name. No job, no place to stay.
The date was August 31, 1977.
As I waited for someone to pick me up at the airport, I opened the Word and decided to read Psalm 31, since that was the date.
And the last verse ministered to me as only the Word of God can:
“Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord.”
Before the sun went down August 31 I had a job and a place to stay.
As I got to know Al I knew the man had quirks – as do we all. But, oh, he had energy. He had wisdom. He had love.
And he poured his all into us.
He dropped Al-isms regularly:
“Involvement is the key to success.”
“Use them or lose them.”
“What got them there keeps them there.”
“You look good to me.”
“I hate the power company.” (long story)
“Quote or you won’t be quoted.”
And, for anyone who had the privilege of knowing Dr Al, who can forget this:
In fact I put a booklet together to hand to our graduating class, “Quotations from Chairman Al.” I need to search and see if I still have a copy.
Al and Vidy have influenced thousands upon thousands.
Many are still in vocational ministry. Three of Midland’s staff members are CUBI grads, another had parents who worked for the ministry for years.
All I know is that I’d not be equipped to do the work had it not been for Al and Vidy deciding to let me come to CUBI.
All I know is that every day I put into practice something Al taught and, more important, modeled.
In the years since his death there have been some who have trashed his name, his work, his reputation. Some of that tripe has been published in newspapers. They couldn’t attack his character or his morals; so they attacked his methods. If you don’t know of what or of whom I speak; don’t research it. Ignorance of such stuff is not a bad thing.
But, oh, it irks me.
Was Al perfect?
No. But he deserves to be praised, thanked, and honored.
And this is a small attempt on my part to so do.
Every life touched through my availability is tremendously indebted to Dr Al.
And I am one of thousands.
Who knows how many souls have been saved, how many Christians have been exhorted, edified, challenged over the years through those who were taught, loved, and sent by Dr. Al?
We know Who knows.
And I ask Him to give Al a high-five and a hug from me.
From all of us.