When he was five years old, Ken Hutcherson’s uncle took him in the backyard and tackled him over and over. The “lesson” was to teach him how hard life would be growing up black in Alabama. It concluded with the statement, “Whites can never be trusted.” Ken Hutcherson believed his uncle. He grew up hating white people. He was driven by hatred. It drove him to the football field where he could hit white people and get away with it. Ken graduated with honors when it came to hitting people on a football field. Then one day, he ran into Jesus Christ and his life would never be the same.
A hate-filled, miserable man, drowning in prejudice was transformed into the most joyful, loving man that I ever met. Hutch married a white woman of “German descent” and went on to have four “German-Chocolate kids,” and up until this past Wednesday was the Senior Pastor of Antioch Bible, a multi-cultural church (65% white) in Redmond Washington. On Wednesday, Hutch went home.
Their web page announced, “Antioch Bible Church sadly announces that shortly before noon today our Senior Pastor Dr. Ken Hutcherson was ushered in the [presence] of the Lord. Please pray for comfort and peace for the family. The family asked that you give them some privacy at this time. Please no phone calls or [visits].” His facebook page is being flooded with hundreds of grateful reminiscences.
Many will remember him as the guy who would give his Super Bowl predictions every year on the Rush Limbaugh show or possibly as the inspirational story of a Christian man with cancer recently portrayed on Glenn Beck’s, The Blaze television network. Gay activists, at least the honest ones (is that an oxymoron?) will remember Hutch as that Christian Pastor who stood like a rock in defense of Biblical marriage with a disarming smile and a firm but loving demeanor.
I will remember Hutch as one of the two most joyful people that I have ever met. Gianna Jessen, who started life being burned to death for 18 hours in her mother’s womb only to survive with a severe case of cerebral palsy, is the other. Gianna will tell you that she just must be God’s favorite girl and that she has been blessed by her cerebral palsy, and Ken has said, “Cancer is one of the greatest things that ever happened to me.”
The first time that I heard Hutch say that was at an Americans For Truth About Homosexuality conference where he was the keynote speaker. He had to be helped from his car because of his condition. Escorted through a throng of Marxist Homosexual protestors from the Gay Liberation Network that surrounded him and were “welcoming” him to town in a way that is possible to only the vilest among us, he smiled and prayed for them. Inside, he gave the keynote speech and thanked God for his “gift” of cancer. I was floored.
We live in a world that treats cancer like a foe and often personifies it as an evil enemy, even a thief; yet here was this joyful, beautiful, smiling black man telling us that it was a gift of God. It must have been what the Philippians thought of the Apostle Paul words describing his own imprisonment.
Ken’s cancer would work to further the gospel, as well. “Blessed” to have it for thirteen years, Hutch said it brought him closer to God and allowed him to “focus on Christ.” It also allowed him to minister to countless other people all the while sharing his love for Jesus Christ and the hope that lies in knowing “Him.” Ken’s book, Hope Is Contagious, is simply the most relevant book ever written on living with terminal illness. As a pastor myself, I have given out dozens of copies to those diagnosed with illness or those who minister to the dying.
Hutch was a strong man of God and he wasn’t bashful about his faith. His line to radical activists that would argue that homosexuality was a civil right comparable to being black was, “Don’t compare your sin to my skin.”
He worked tirelessly to promote adoption and foster care and to see that those who couldn’t afford to adopt would still have the opportunity. Speaking against the high price of adoptions he would say, “I thought that buying people had been banned in this country,” and he would often challenge his own assembly to get involved by announcing, “I’m looking for a few good men.”
But by far, Hutch’s favorite thing to do was to brag on our Lord Jesus Christ. In June of last year, he did just that on my radio show IN THE ARENA. Click Here to Listen. He would share his joy in Christ and in his service and go on to call the “spineless evangeli-fish, that are Christians in name only,” to soldier up!
As a lifelong, longsuffering fan of the Dallas Cowboys, I know all things about team history. Reading a biography on the legendary Tom Landry, I stumbled across a passage that described the one time in Landry’s career that he got emotional about cutting a player. That player was Ken Hutcherson. Landry wept.
Yesterday was Hutch’s best day ever. He passed through the veil and when he crossed the threshold, he didn’t need help walking but he did need help getting up because he was floored when he saw his Savior face to face. When he heard his voice call his name (Do you think the Lord called him “Hutch?”), he must have been speechless like Isaiah. When he cried, and Ken did cry in joy, a pierced hand reached up to wipe away his tears. I’m thinking Coach Landry was standing nearby.
I will miss Hutch. May his words and his testimony continue to boast in his Lord and Savior and may his dying grace be an inspiration to all the brothers and sisters that his ministry has touched. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, brother!
Hutch won’t be on Rush this year to give his Super Bowl picks, but it’s fair to say that he would have picked his Seahawks. And this year, they just might win one for “the Black Pearl.” Savvy?