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Feb. 04, 2010

The Kiss of an Old Godly Man

As a brand new Christian in 1970, I read every Christian book I could get my hands on. Several, including Born Crucified, were by L. E. Maxwell, who my friend Doug Nichols speaks so fondly of in this reflection. I asked Doug if I could use it in my blog. Some of you will remember another powerful story of Doug’s I featured in this blog, concerning Francis Schaeffer, who made a profound impact on my life.

L. E. MaxwellOne of my heroes, L. E. Maxwell, died in February 1984 at age 88.

Mr. Maxwell was President and Principal of Prairie Bible Institute (PBI), a school on the prairies of Alberta, Canada. PBI, through the grace of God, trained and sent out several thousand missionaries, pastors, Christian workers, and others throughout the world.

I graduated in 1966 from PBI and my wife, Margaret, graduated the following year. We both benefited greatly from our years at PBI and honored and loved Mr. Maxwell for his example of dedication and sacrificial service to the Lord and his love for the Word of God. He also truly loved PBI’s students. He sought to train them in a disciplined lifestyle for God’s glory with a thorough knowledge of the Word of God.

Prairie Bible InstituteMr. Maxwell suffered from Parkinson’s disease and other ailments during the last years of his life. He became bedridden and required around-the-clock care. Individuals volunteered to take turns sitting with Mr. Maxwell and caring for him during the night so his wife, Pearl, could sleep after she had cared for her husband all day long.

During one furlough from the Philippines, I spoke at a conference at PBI. I heard that a dear friend, Robert Sinclair, in his late 70’s at that time, was one of the individuals who cared for Mr. Maxwell in the late night and early morning hours. He usually took a shift from 10 p.m. until about 4 or 5 a.m.

The family granted me permission to visit Mr. Maxwell during one of Robert Sinclair’s night shifts. One evening around midnight, I sat with Mr. Maxwell for over one hour. He reclined in a large chair and was unable to speak. I moved closer to him, and with our knees touching and his strong hands in mine, I simply expressed my appreciation to him and gave an update about many former students of Prairie who were now serving with ACTION and other missions in the Philippines. As I shared story after story of how God was using them and the impact that Mr. Maxwell and Prairie had made in their lives, tears ran down his cheeks.

When Mr. Sinclair informed me that it was time to put Mr. Maxwell to bed, I asked if I could do this. He instructed me on how to bend over so Mr. Maxwell could put his arms around my neck. I then put my arms around his frail body, picked him up as though giving him a bear hug, and carried him to his bed in a small bedroom.

As I lay him down, my face was close to his. Before releasing his arms from my neck, he gave me a kiss on the cheek!

I have been with many well-known and famous people throughout the years in various venues of service and ministry, but have never been so honored as to have had the opportunity to actually carry and assist this dear saint of God.

One of the verses Mr. Maxwell used to quote quite often was Hosea 6:3: So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD... (NASB).

It is because of the example and teaching of men like Mr. Maxwell that we can press on to know the wonderful Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ! —Doug Nichols

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