Monday, September 29, 2014

Mourning the Loss of a Friend and Brother In Christ

Posted by Christine Pack

I am mourning the loss of a friend and comrade in arms, Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries. Ken was the pastor of Connecticut River Baptist Church, but he was more widely known as the creator of the Apprising Ministries website, a site devoted to exposing false teachings in today's church. Apprising was one of the first websites I found that was devoted to discernment and theological issues, a site which helped me begin to make sense of what I was seeing in the church.  My husband and I were both saved as adults in a seeker sensitive church (though we didn't know it was seeker sensitive at the time), a church that began to drift into emergent theology (i.e., yoga classes and mysticism), all of which was very confusing and upsetting for me especially: as a former mystic and New Ager, I KNEW that yoga and mysticism weren't biblical, and I couldn't comprehend why Christians were doing these things.  Ken's articles helped me understand why I was seeing these changes in the church. And so his site became an oasis for me.

At one point, I gathered the courage to email Ken with a question about one of his articles. It took courage, you see, because Ken's articles could be pretty tough and hard-hitting. But when I received Ken's response, I was immediately struck by how kind he was. From that point forward, I knew he was a safe haven for me to go to and ask questions, which I began to with regularity. Even though Ken's articles were hard hitting, there was one thing that you could count on with Ken: you knew his articles would be accurate and meticulously researched. He knew his stuff. And above all, he sought to exalt God and the truth of God's word.

One thing that people don't know about Ken just from reading his articles was how kind and selfless he was. Behind the scenes, he really had a shepherd's heart. I've lost count of the Christians who, upon hearing of Ken's death, have come forward and shared how Ken personally took time to talk with them via email or phone or Skype about this or that issue they were struggling with. Teaching fellow Christians how to rightly divide God's word, and rightly apply discernment, was extremely important to Ken, and not because he viewed discernment as an end in and of itself, but because he wanted more than anything to exalt Christ, and he wanted to see other Christians maturing spiritually and becoming more steady in their walks, and not be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine.

Some of Ken's theological opponents have commented on the fact that Ken did not have a prominent media presence, other than the Apprising Ministries website. This was true. Ken did not seek prominence and media exposure for himself. The simple fact is that Ken didn't choose to make himself prominent because he wanted to make Christ prominent. Ken did make his contact information available, and for those who wanted to connect to Ken, he was freely available. All of the behind the scenes discipling he did was done "off the radar." As I said earlier, he had personally helped me, and I knew of a few others who had reached out to him for counsel. But I never knew the sheer scope of how many he had helped, until his death, and Christians began coming forward and sharing how he had helped them personally, patiently and quietly, sometimes spanning months and even years, and none of this in a way that was for public consumption. A true mark of a shepherd.

Ken helped me get my start in writing, and for that, I owe him a great debt. He pushed me to be buttoned up in my research, to document everything, and he often, as noted above, would very patiently work through complex issues with me.

Ken had a silly sense of humor. And nicknames, Ken had many nicknames! Being a former high school coach, one obvious nickname for him, and the one I addressed him by most, was “Coach.” It was a good nickname for him, because, like a good coach, he got the best out of those he was teaching. He was honest, patient, kind, committed, loyal and he also wasn't afraid to correct or rebuke if necessary, which he did with great kindness, as a good coach should. A few of Ken's other nicknames were Ninja Ken, Big K and UltraKen.  That last nickname, “UltraKen,” came about when a bunch of emergents, often the target of some of Ken's toughest articles, wrote up their own snarky article about a fictional discernment blogger named "UltraKen" that contained a grainy Japanese video of their nemesis UltraKen, a mysterious Super Hero who somehow cloned himself into an army and battled emergent and other theological foes, all while wearing silver tights and showing off some impressive dance moves. The nickname stuck. Occasionally after that, when Ken would cover an issue that he suspected might be a contentious one, he would joke that he was about to "go all Ultra" or "unleash his Ultra." I once earned from Ken the title "Ultra Sister" over an article I had written, something I considered a high honor.

Ken had been having significant health issues for several years. He always seemed to rally, and I guess I thought he always would, but this time he didn't. But at the same time, like all true believers, Ken knew that this world was not his home, and he looked forward to the day when he would see his Savior face to face. Thankfully, Ken's suffering has now ceased. And I also know that Ken was ushered into the presence of his Lord and Savior, undoubtedly with the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:23) ringing in his ears. Someday I will see Ken again, and when that day comes, there will be no more battles for truth: no more hostile attacks from without, and no more “friendly fire” from within. All will be known, and there will be perfect reconciliation and peace among all of us who are in glory together, as we worship our Savior. In the words of the old gospel hymn, “what a day of rejoicing that will be.”

Taps is usually reserved for military funerals, and even though Ken was not in the military, in my mind, he was a true warrior. He fought the good fight, and he sought to uphold the truth of God's word all the time that I knew him. He was my friend, and I will miss him greatly. See you one day in glory, Coach.
"When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?'" (1 Cor 15:54-55)
"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.'" (Rev 21:3-4)