I had never heard of a town called Kane, Pennsylvania, USA until I met my friend Bob Meckley, who grew up there. Last month Grace and I drove to Kane to attend late Dave Meckley’s funeral, Bob’s son. As I drove through the beautiful Allegheny National Forest heading towards this old town it was as though I was driving through a page of United States’ magnificent landscape and heroic history. The town was built 150 years ago in 1863! It is the Black Cherry capital of the world!
It was named after its founder Thomas Kane, who wore more hats than that of Buck Tail Regiment. He was a general during the Civil war, was wounded and was also a prisoner of war. Obviously he named many of the main streets after his fellow Major Generals, like Fraeley Street, Greves, Biddle and so on. Although not a member of the Mormons, himself a Presbyterian, he supported their cause. He was a Reformer and an Abolitionist. If I am not mistaken, he had something to do with the famous Underground Railways – an extraordinary man indeed!
Lest I get carried away with the geographic or historic details of Kane, I wish to focus on my theme, Saints without Halos. There is no ordinary man or woman with God – none. They are all special. We know that it was a woman called Hadassah, later queen Esther, whom God used to avert a massacre of Jews in Persia. God used a young servant girl, possibly a slave, for the healing of General Naaman from Leprosy. More than the cleansing, Naaman got the opportunity to meet the Prophet of Jehovah, Elisha, and experience what I would call a spiritual encounter in his life.
Many have read about King David, but few knew Jesse, his father. Yes, he treated David typically as the youngest son. However, David must have watched and learned from his father the important task of shepherding. Later, David twice protected his sheep, once killing a bear and another time a lion. Scripture frequently refers to David as son of Jesse.
I wonder sometimes, while we dwell so much on Biblical characters, do we, without knowing, place them in a different slot and thereby miss the scriptural applicability for us now? I perceive why James, as leader of the Jerusalem Church writing to Jewish Christians undergoing persecution, emphasized “Elijah was as human as we are.” Our picture of Elijah is the fiery prophet, but seldom consider him having bouts of discouragement or breakdown. Driving around Kane, I started thinking about one of its heroes, the late Rev. Orbis Meckley, Bob’s Dad. He was born in 1899. Soon after high school, he enlisted in the army to be trained as an officer in WWI. After the war, he learned the basics of carpentry, got married, started a grocery store, and raised a family.
Around this time, he was influenced by his cousin to become a pastor. Bob told me that he spent a lot of time reading and studying. No surprise! I have great admiration for men and women who work hard for a living and yet recognize the call of God on their lives to preach, teach and govern. By then he extended his business to livestock and coal. Though “a man of like passion,” quoting James, and despite the heavy workload, he took ordination as a minister of the Church of God in 1934. His learning basic carpentry came handy to build his first church in 1950. He built a second church around 1953. This church is still functioning with a lively congregation in the downtown core on Fraeley Street. On one occasion, he drove all the way down to Kentucky and helped a fellow pastor build a church. He and his wife Mable brought up five God-fearing children; June, Orbis Jr, Neal, Bob, and Beatrice. He went to be with the Lord on 11 November 1985 at the age of 85.
While I am not familiar enough to write about all their children, grandchildren or great grandchildren, I do know his Son Bob Meckley and his grandson Rev. Robert Meckley of Elkhart, Indiana. I understand Rev. Rob Meckley’s son is studying for the ministry. During my visit to Kane, I met his granddaughter Sharon, husband David and their children; a truly beautiful family. As I parked near the Church on Fraely street I was singing to myself one of Ralph Hudson’s hymn: ‘Tis a glorious church without spot or wrinkle, washed in the Blood of the Lamb’.
I asked Bob what was his Dad’s legacy? Bob replied without any delay or hesitation, he was exceptionally friendly to all the immigrants at that time, the Czechs, Slovaks, Swedes and Germans. (This is music to my ears as an immigrant from India). Furthermore, Bob continued, he was a realistic man. What did he mean by that? How can I define it? I take it, as a disciplined military man, as a hard working Grocery store owner, as a loving husband, as a Dad and finally as a pastor, he looked at life and service not fancifully but realistically. It was a daily walk. There is a small but interesting verse recorded by St. Luke. The context was when Jesus was advised to leave town as Herod Antipas was plotting to kill him. Jesus said “I must walk today and tomorrow and the day following”. Is not this the hall mark of a Believer? They walk with chin up and at times with chin down, but walk they must. A Christian never gives up, however tough, as Churchill said, “Never, nevuh”!
Saints like these without Halos are all over the world working at a secular job or preaching behind a pulpit and in some instances both. The earth is crammed with them. Let us learn, nay, cultivate the habit to spot them and honour these saints. Who knows? We may be entertaining angels unaware.
God bless, Danny Paul