“A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death
than the day of one’s birth.” Ecclesiastes 7:1

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit,
“that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” Revelation 14:13

News travels fast these days. I doubt that this newsletter will be a surprise to anyone regarding the eternal promotion of both Sheri Johnson and Gary Horton. Both of them were loved and respected by many for their heroic lives.

I have delayed writing this tribute for two reasons. The first is personal, as we have all our family together for the first time in 13 years, and Nan and I have been devoting ourselves to spending precious time with them. Secondly, in commenting on a believer’s promotion into the presence of the King, I think it is worthwhile to prayerfully reflect on what is most fitting—especially as a tribute to a life well lived. I never feel quite adequate to the task.

The Lord called Sheri home on May 30th. Her marathon battle began with cancer, and then intensified from a car accident that left her as a quadriplegic. A few years ago, the cancer returned, and her suffering was multiplied. Sheri was an inspiration we will never forget. I remember our first visit to her in the hospital in Denver. While Nan and I waited for her to be brought in, I said to Nan, “What can we say to lift and encourage her?” About that time the door opened, and she was wheeled into the room. It was like the Sun had risen as she beamed her infectious smile, and then proceeded to praise God for all his grace and gave us a living lesson in trusting that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). From that day until her promotion, she and her husband Kurt were never heard to utter anything but faith and confidence in the goodness of God.

About a week later, on June 10th, Gary Horton finished his race and entered into the eternal Hall of Heroes. We first met Gary in 1979, and soon hosted him at the Arkansas Youth Camps for many years. I have travelled with Gary to schools in many states and have joined him in prison ministry in various state prisons. Once, as we were discussing ministry issues, Gary said to me, “Gene, in the Rangers we have a saying, ‘The mission has priority.’” Over the years, many of us observed that Gary lived out that saying for the cause of His Lord in the battle for the Great Commission.

Both Sheri and Gary have finished their race. The battle against fear, sin, and shame is over for them. Their true tribute will come from the One they loved and served—the Lord Jesus Christ. May those of us who remain behind take their example as a challenge to run harder and serve more faithfully. They now stand among the Great Cloud of Witnesses (Heb. 12:1), whose lives stand as a memorial to the grace of God and the power of faith.

Let us lift up their loved ones in our prayers and give thanks that we were gifted with such priceless friends and fellow soldiers.

“Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed, and in Your book they
were all written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were
none of them.” Psalm 139:16

In the greatness of His grace,
Gene and Nan