Some time ago I posted about The Bulletins 100 most influential Aussies, I think I mentioned I would do my personal top 10. I think I posted my top 10 from the Bulletin’s list but not my personal one. Obviously Mum and Dad would have to be in there as well as my wife Christine, maybe Keith Farmer my bible college principal and current formal mentor. But let me tell you about a guy who went to be with Our God earlier today.
I had had the same dream twice. I woke up with such a sense of dread I was almost in tears, maybe I was. The dream was simple, someone had brought me the news that Dennis Heglund had passed away. The dreams were about 4 months ago. I knew I had one piece of unfinished business with this great humble man of God, and I also knew that short of a miracle, the time bomb in the form of a brain tumor would soon take his life.
I took the dreams as a prompt from the Lord to do something about the unfinished business.
My relationship with Dennis began in 1994, a few weeks after returning from my 1 year honeymoon around Australia with Christine. Dennis was an elder at Whitford Church of Christ, they had invited me to consider a position there as youth pastor. This particular Sunday was a kind of relaxed interview…kind of relaxed. At the time my views on John Wimber and the Vinyard movement and all this ‘business about spiritual gifts’ were just being formed, but I was moving this way. I was told by someone that there was one elder at the Church who was ‘into all this stuff’ and he may quiz me in the interview later that night after the church service. I couldn’t wait to meet this elder who was ‘into all this Vinyard stuff’ as I was too. I had been to see John Wimber on numerous occasions and loved his stuff and just knew I hungered for what I had not yet discovered about the Holy Spirit’s power.
In the meeting I meet the elders including this man Dennis Heglund. Impressive from the start. He had a fire for the things of God, yet he was restrained, knowing the delicate situation he and others were in as not everyone felt the same way about moving into a greater freedom in the Spirit. Christine and I connected with Dennis straight away. In fact he and his wife Phyllis invited Christine and I around for dinner. We met his family, what a model for Godly parenting these guys were, so inspirational to us! His kids are to this day incredible! Truly amazing, uniquely gifted and each one reflects the light of Christ in his or her way.
As young rooky youth pastors do, I made some radical changes from time to time to our ministry, this of course directly effected Dennis as a Dad, but also as an elder. I remember sitting in his house talking one day with his wonderful wife Phyllis. After hours of discussion (this was normal at their house!!) and disagreement on much of the changes I wanted to bring in he said an amazing and empowering thing to me, “If you believe these changes are the right thing before the Lord, then I trust you and your judgment. I am not so sure about them, but I am about you. You have our blessing”
Time and time again Dennis would pull me aside and coach me, encourage me, pray for me, rebuke me, confess his sins to me, and hear my own. He was a man of GRACE. I say that a again, he knew the grace of God, his forgiveness and grace and forgiveness oozed out of him. Sure he was real, this was no perfect man, he would be the first to tell you this through tears of repentance, but he was real, real as they come.
He would have to be one of the most influential Christlike men I have met in my life and telling him this was my unfinished business with him.
A few weeks ago I stood weeping with him as we embraced outside his laundry door. I had not told him of my dreams, only that God had prompted me to share of Dennis’s great influence on my life.
I was meant to go sea kayaking with Dennis’s son in law this morning, I got a call to say it couldn’t happen as Dennis had just passed away, I felt like I knew he had before I was told, not sure how, or what I mean.
I went on to a Forge intensive at which a near stranger sat weeping over the passing of a dear friend of hers, a man called Dennis Heglund. Who was she? It doesn’t really matter, she was one of many many people on this place we call our home who had been influenced by my mentor, my elder, my Chiropractor, my advisor, my friend Dennis Heglund.
God, I don’t get the way it all works. Some get healed, some good guys die too young of stuff they should never have to go through. But I am grateful that I had the chance to meet your man Dennis. Thanks.