Jack Canady Comes to Kittredge
[Jack and Norma Canady pastored the church from November 1972 through 1978. They also were dearly loved by all and still hold a special place in many hearts. Pastor Jack wrote the following in June 2006.]
One day while Ray and Arlene Cheyney were ministering in Kittredge under Village Missions he picked up the phone and called me. “How would you and your family like to have a vacation in the beautiful Colorado mountains?”
“Sounds great to me! What do you have up your sleeve?”
“Nothing Jack,” he laughed. “Don’t you trust me? Really – we want you to come and we think you and the kids will really enjoy it. Our people won’t get in your way but they are excited about the idea and will do everything they can to make your time special. It WILL cost you something though.”
“What’s that,” I asked, starting to get excited?
“You will have to preach on Sunday because the preacher, namely me, will be away on his own vacation. We will turn our house over to your family. What do you think?”
“We will take it!”
That is how our family got to know the people of the Kittredge church. We had at least two vacations up there. Several families in the church made sure our family had a good time. We never dreamed we would one day be there serving as pastor and family. I will admit that in a half kidding way I once said to Ray, “If you ever leave there we get first dibs on taking your place.”
That offer did come. In reality it was more an urgent call from Reverend Walter Duff. Ray had accepted the important call to become a full time District Representative, (pastor to pastors), so the Cheyneys had been gone from the church for several years.
I will not go into the details of what happened but Reverend Duff, Chairman of Village Missions, was troubled. “Jack and Norma, the Kittredge church is traveling through a difficult time. God placed that church there and we want to help them through this problem. They know you folks. Would you pray about going there and doing it as soon as possible?”
The hearts of Reverend and Mrs. Duff were dedicated to keeping the churches of small town America open. The powers of darkness are dedicated to just the opposite. Norma and I had only been in Lenwood, California for three years. Village Missions had sent us there to start a ministry. It was a town of 3000 people and had never had a church. He had blessed. Exciting things were happening. Many were coming to Christ. We had no desire to leave, but, as we prayed, God’s Spirit made it clear that Reverend Duff’s phone call was God’s call, so we came.
Attendance at Kittredge had grown to an average of 129 for the year of 1972. Thirty six were in church the first Sunday I preached. Six were our family. The small group still there were broken and confused. Satan waits, lays his plan well - then strikes with hellish fury. “We DO NOT wrestle against flesh and blood, but against…the rulers of the darkness of this age,” (Ephesians 6:12). We do well to remember who our true enemy is.
The first year was VERY HARD! We will always be grateful for that small, loyal band of believers God led to stay during that dark “hour”. At the end of that time there was a meeting at the foot of the Cross. Many who had been scattered to the wind met at the church. We knelt together and prayed. Forgiveness and reconciliation happened. God brought beauty from ashes. Satan lost the war. During the years that followed, what he had hoped to destroy was healed and became stronger than ever before. In September of 1974 I was able to write to our congregation, “Two years ago 36 people were in church. Last Sunday 132 were there. God has blessed and there is a GREATER future! Let’s all get involved.”
Only God can do something like that. “I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” (Matthew 16:18). Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, builds His church. No person on earth or power in hell will stop Him.
During the six plus years God had us minister in Kittredge our children finished growing up. Our three oldest boys graduated from high school and headed for Western Bible College. We believe God put them at that school during its “hay day” spiritually. Both Paul and Mark were married during that time. They graduated from Western. Jim later graduated from Northeastern Bible College in New Jersey. He later told me, “Dad, I rushed through college in five and a half years.” Joy would finish high school in the state of New York and attend Northeastern for awhile before marrying. Jim was just as fast at getting married as he was finishing college. He was 27 when the knot was tied.
Things We Remember
We remember that as our first Christmas in Kittredge was arriving, Chuck MacLaughlin drove his pick up to our house and dumped off a huge Christmas tree. Later it was a load of wood for our fireplace. He would plow the snow off the church parking lot so we could have services. It was his practice to do it and drive off quickly so there would be no embarrassing thank you’s, He was a man rough on the outside; very tender on the inside.
Anna Gay, his wife, was excellent with children and gave her all to reach them for the Savior. She was also good with a hammer, better than I. I was helping them put on metal siding one time and bending a lot of nails. She, who had no trouble at all, was teasing me about pounding nails with my left hand. “I am just as bad with either hand,” I bragged.
Chuck had a small herd of polled Herefords. At calving time, our family use to watch the cows for him while he worked as a machinist in Denver. While on his property we saw huge herds of elk. While hiking with our kids they saw their first elk calf. After seeing it we got out of there. We did not want the mama to challenge us.
I remember hunting at timberline with Ron Powell up on top of the world opening the New Testament and having devotions together. Of course we had to walk to get there, probably at least 12 miles up mountain trails. The walk was no problem for Ron but it nearly killed me. One time we borrowed a couple of packhorses from Camp Id Ra Ha Je. I was to ride Oscar back down the mountain but he went lame; limped all the way. By the time I got down I was limping. When I apologized to the Director Bob Cortheius, he laughed. “Look at him,” he said. That horse was kicking his heels and prancing all over the pasture. “He does that all the time. He just didn’t want to carry you.”
Wanda and Eric Schneider are two other people who bring back special memories. Wanda, whose passion is music, did amazing things with our choir. One evening our son Jim, whose voice had not changed, decided to make a change. The sound was terrible. I tried to stop him but he just shook his head and kept on going. Finally she asked, “What is going on back there?”
I replied, “My son THINKS he is singing tenor.”
Every so often, during the worship service, I would hear Wanda playing very loud on the organ. That was her signal that I was messing up.
Eric did not attend a lot but he was a very good friend. Our son Mark worked for him one summer. During those months he helped turn Mark into a man by challenging him to step up to the plate when others pushed him around. At the end of the summer he entered high school at Evergreen. Two boys who had gotten there the year before and had pushed him around in middle school were waiting for him.
They stood in his way as he tried to enter a classroom. “What are you trying to do Canady?” they challenged. “I am going into this classroom – either over you or through you,” was his reply. To his disappointment they parted like the Red Sea.
Eric also proved I was not the man he was when one day he offered, “Hey Preacher, I will pay the whole tab if you will go up in a plane with me and parachute out.” His grin was broad as he waited for my answer. “Nothing doing, wise guy. If I ever jump it will be because I have to.” He slapped his knees and laughed before walking away.
We are thankful to the Riefenbergs for teaching our kids to ski. We didn’t have the money. They were on the ski patrol and took them with them many times.
Early morning Bible studies with men were a special delight to me. That is how Russ VanDuyn and I got to know each other well. I remember visiting his machine shop several times and being amazed at the new technology. He and Mary are people who walk with God.
Another man I had an early morning Bible study with was Dr. John Moyer. His wife Margaret had come to know Christ. He did too after several months of meeting together.
I used to brown bag it for lunch with Paul Kurtz in his executive office at Mercy Hospital. Then God called him to work with the Billy Graham Association.
Jim Anderson was another man led out of a successful business career to be the business manager of Dallas Seminary. One summer after that he and his family visited us. Our boys were teenagers by then. Their daughters caught their eye. When they left Paul remarked, “Mom, when God made those girls He did not make one mistake.”
After leading Gayle Dixon to Christ I dug postholes with Dick in order to get close to him. Bible studies and questions came later. The wonderful day came when he too trusted Christ. Shortly after that he helped a bunch of pastors and I set up a plan for what I think we called Family Conference up at Id Ra Ha Je. It was at that conference that the beautiful girl, who became our son Paul’s wife, trusted Jesus as her Savior.
They now serve in Maryland as Village Missionaries. Their oldest daughter Jenny Lynn and her husband Chad are Village Missionaries in New York. Our second son Mark and his wife Bonnie are VMs in Oregon.
Years later God took Dick and Gayle to New Guinea. While there a whole tribe came to faith in Christ.
One time, while our family was at Kittredge, a trick I was playing on Norma backfired on me. I put ridiculous looking clothes on my back hoping to get a reaction from her. She left for VBS before she got to see it. I forgot what I had put on. A few minutes later I was proudly standing on the platform making announcements, when Norma raised her hand. When I acknowledge her she said, “I just want to let you all know that I am not responsible for what my husband is wearing this morning.”
Another time during a Christmas play practice with the young people, she threw the script in the air and went home crying because she could not get the kids to settle down. Shortly thereafter they sent a delegation to the house. “Mrs. Canady – Mrs. Norma – Mrs. Mom (Paul) – Please come back. We promise to behave. She did and they did and the play went off without a hitch.
Back then and to this day the Kittredge church and Camp Id Ra Ha Je have always had a close relationship. Norma and I have worked there many times. We had the privilege of knowing Uncle Paul before he retired. I loved to work at Tee Pee camp. The water fights come to mind, especially when John Obrecht would drive up with the fire truck and spray all the campers. That is probably illegal today.
I remember the afternoon when I was leading worship during a Family Conference. I had just returned from preaching at our church and forgot that I was wearing the forbidden tie. Suddenly I saw John Obrecht and two cohorts walking down the aisle with huge scissors in John’s hand. That was the end of the tie, at least the bottom part of it. Norma had just bought it. It was the most expensive one I had ever had.
We had been ministering in Kittredge for more than six years. Our children had almost finished growing up there. Joy and Jim were still in high school but Paul and Mark were both attending Western Bible College. By this time Paul had married Mary Lou and was in the process of adopting her little daughter Jenny Lynn.
When Paul was a junior, a struggling church in Plum Creek, a few miles south of Littleton, Colorado, asked him for help. It was a beautiful brick church setting on five acres of land. But only about 15 people were left and it looked like they would soon close their doors. Though he could only minister on the weekends, they invited him and he said yes. As Paul and Mary Lou stepped into their new and exciting ministry something was happening with us as we served in the mountains above Denver.
Though Norma and I did not completely understand, God's Spirit seemed to indicate that what God had brought us to Kittredge to do was done. I spent almost a year in turmoil over this. Kittredge had become our home. Many of our friends there we had led to Christ. It would not be easy to leave. On top of that, my question was, "Is this really God speaking or my restless nature seeking a new challenge?"
I asked Norma for some time apart to pray about our confusing situation. At that same time Norma decided to visit the church where her son was preaching. After the service that morning Paul showed her around the area. "Mom," he said, "Look at all the homes being built here. I can't begin to reach them. I am far too busy with school and my other job. You know, if you and Dad were not in Kittredge, this would be just the field for the two of you. If it ever worked out I would be glad to step back and let you have it."
When she got back up the mountain I said, "Honey, I don't understand this and I don't know where we are going next, but God has finally made it clear to me that we are to turn Kittredge over to someone else."
"That is very interesting," Norma answered, "Let me tell you what our son just said."
So, with Reverend Duff's blessing, we packed our belongings, rented a house in Littleton and made our move. That was December of 1977. In our moves, one of the first things we get unpacked and set up, are the beds. That was Mom's suggestion long ago, so I thought I was at the head of the class.
Suddenly, in the middle of all our busyness, Norma burst into tears. "Honey," I exclaimed, "I do not have the slightest idea what is going on right now. You know I do not take hints well and I can't read your mind. You HAVE TO let me know what is wrong."
"It's two weeks before Christmas!" she cried. "And you are moving me from one house to another and I do not have a single Christmas decoration up!"
The light went on. "Before we go to bed tonight Sweetheart, your tree is going to be up and decorated - and most of the other decorations are going to be in place." Everybody headed for the Christmas boxes. Paul and Mark bought a tree. Two hours later boxes were everywhere but our house looked like Christmas and Mom was happy.
There was a lot to be done at Plum Creek. We were once again starting with a handful of discouraged people and the potential to reach hundreds for Christ.
As missionaries we were in our element. We fully expected to be there for many years.
Ten months later, October of 1978, Norma and I were packing again; this time to head for the east coast. Paul was a senior. He and Mary Lou had applied to serve under Village Missions.
We had received a surprise call from Reverend Walter Duff urging me to become the Mission's District Representative for the east coast. Again, it was not an easy decision. We spent a week praying and talking. Our plan had been to stay in Plum Creek for perhaps a decade. God's plan was for us to become District Representatives for the next 11 years, before He called me to become the leader of Village Missions.
If we were not going to stay at Plum Creek, the people wanted Paul. Though he had not yet graduated, Reverend Duff accepted him into the mission and assigned him to Plum Creek. The happy, fun, important memories of our days at Kittredge go on and on as does what God is doing right now. He is not finished there. He has just begun.
[There was a time while Pastor Jack was away and Denver Seminary student Joe Kirby came to get something out of the church. Norma didn’t have a key so Joe checked for an open window on the church. When he found one out back, he got a ladder and found his way inside. Little did Joe know at the time, that he would eventually become pastor of the church. A neighbor that lived kiddy-corner behind the church, Dick Sittner, gave Joe a hard time about breaking into the church for many years.]