Tag: person of the year

Person of the Year 2017

If an alien came to earth right now and settled in America it may think that all men are abusers, cheaters, demanders of personal rights and refusing to stand for the national anthem.  What happened to the greatest generation that fought for our freedom, worked hard, paid taxes and lived a life of honor?

Understand that no person yet alone generation is perfect. I’m sure women were abused in other generations. We just didn’t hear about it. I’m also sure that citizens have criticized the government and it’s leaders as well.

But…it seems like we are missing something and I picked a person this year to remind us of those long ago values.

Ray Chavez. You probably don’t know the name. He didn’t make billions of dollars with an internet invention. He didn’t get rich in real estate and become President. He isn’t an illegal immigrant or a mass murderer. He never created a protest group to fight against unjust laws. He doesn’t play football or participate in the Olympics.

Ray was born in San Bernardino and grew up in San Diego. His parents, immigrants from Mexico, both died young. Juanita Chavez died of exhaustion, her son said, while Atilano Chavez succumbed to disease.  Ray was 9 or 10 when his father passed away. In his early 20s, he married and had a daughter. Then, at 27, he joined the Navy and was assigned to the minesweeper USS Condor at Pearl Harbor base in Hawaii.

After leaving the military he became a landscaper and ran his business until he was 96 years old.  He drove his car until he was 99.  At 106 he credits his longevity to clean living, no alcohol, no smoking and little red meat. In the 1950’s his only daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter were killed in an auto accident. He and his wife adopted a 5-year-old daughter from an orphanage in 1957 to help ease their pain. His wife Margaret died in the mid-1980’s.

At age 101 his health began to decline and he lost weight. His daughter encouraged him to join a gym and get some training. He gained 20 pounds of muscle and began working out 3 times a week.

I skipped over the reason Ray caught my attention. He is the oldest surviving serviceman from the attack at Pearl Harbor. 

At 3:45 a.m. Dec. 7, 1941, Seaman First Class Chavez’s crew was sweeping the east entrance to the harbor when they spotted the periscope of a Japanese midget submarine. Another ship blew up the sub and the rest of the morning passed uneventfully. He was asleep at home in nearby Ewa Beach when the Japanese bombing raid began at 8:10 a.m.

“I will never forget it as long as I live. It goes through my mind every day like it happened yesterday,” Chavez said. “My wife ran in and said ‘we’re being attacked’ and I said ‘who’s going to attack us? Nobody.’ But when I got outside I saw the whole harbor was up in smoke.”

Chavez ran back to his ship and spent the next nine days on continuous duty. Over the next four years, he rose to the rank of chief, serving on transport ships that delivered tanks and Marines to shore in eight Pacific battles.

Last December, he and Kathleen flew to Hawaii for events marking the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.



“I have no secret except I don’t drink, I don’t smoke and I try to eat a balanced meal,” Chavez said. “I just keep on going.”
That’s a great motto from someone who can testify to it – just keep on going.

1 Samuel 25:6 Say to him: ‘Long life to you! Good healthto you and your household! And good health to all that is yours!


Person of the Year 2016

The first person that came to mind this year was the “Aleppo Boy”.


He was the young boy pulled from debris in Syria.  I decided to go bigger and considered an award to all children of war and began gathering photos.  The most iconic photo I remember is from my childhood war (Vietnam) and is called “Napalm Girl”.  Anyone over 55 in America knows who this is.  I wanted to know where she is today and what became of her.  After reading her story, I easily decided to nominate her as “My Person of the Year.”

Her name is Phan Thi Kim Phuc or just Kim Phuc.  She was born on April 2, 1963 (three years younger than me) in South Vietnam.  Kim lived in the village of Trang Bang and on June 8, 1972 at age nine she was hit by a napalm bomb.  She became famous for being photographed by Nick Ut as she was running naked.  Mr. Ut won a Pulitzer prize for the photo and it was featured in the New York Times and Life Magazine.



Kim was badly burned and tore off her burning clothes. In an interview many years later, she recalled she was yelling, Nóng quá, nóng quá (“too hot, too hot”) in the picture. She was taken to a hospital in Saigon where it was determined that her burns were so severe that she probably would not survive.  After 14 months in the hospital and 17 surgical procedures she was sent home.

Phúc was removed from her university as a young adult while studying medicine and used as a propaganda symbol by the communist government of Vietnam. In 1986, however, she was granted permission to continue her studies in Cuba.  She had converted from her family’s Cao Dai  religion to Christianity in 1982.  After arriving in Cuba she met another Vietnamese student who she began dating and later married.   On the way to their honeymoon in Moscow, they left the plane during a refueling stop in Newfoundland asked for political asylum.   The couple now lives in Ajax, Ontario near Toronto and have 2 children.   In 2015, it was reported that she was receiving laser treatment at a hospital in Miami, Florida to reduce the scarring on her left arm and back. The treatment was provided free of charge.  She has continued these treatments even though they are very painful.


Kim has said, “Forgiveness made me free from hatred. I still have many scars on my body and severe pain most days but my heart is cleansed. Napalm is very powerful, but faith, forgiveness, and love are much more powerful. We would not have war at all if everyone could learn how to live with true love, hope, and forgiveness. If that little girl in the picture can do it, ask yourself: Can you?”


Kim Phúc Foundation

In 1997 she established the first Kim Phúc Foundation in the U.S., with the aim of providing medical and psychological assistance to child victims of war.  

In 2004, Phúc spoke at the University of Connecticut  about her life and experience, learning how to be “strong in the face of pain” and how compassion and love helped her heal.

On December 28, 2009, NPR broadcast her spoken essay, “The Long Road to Forgiveness.”  In May 2010, Phúc was reunited by the BBC  correspondent  Christopher Wain, who helped to save her life.

There are pictures on the internet showing Kim’s burns.  I chose a happier current photograph.  I have been touched by Kim’s life since 1972 and again now reading about her courage, faith and forgiveness.  I hope this Person of the Year blesses you as well.  Please pray for ALL the children facing war around the world.


Most of this information is edited from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phan_Thi_Kim_Phuc

Person of the Year

This is my third year for presenting my “Person of the Year”.   I normally spend a lot of time praying about this and struggling through the choice.  This year was an easy decision and a very quick one.

This person of the year had lived the “good Christian life”.  By all standards she did everything right.  She went to college, met a guy, fell in love, got married, had two children and went to the mission field.  It should have been a happy and rewarded life.

The world can be cruel and life wasn’t happy, easy or rewarding.  On March 18, 2012, her husband Joel Shrum was gunned down and killed in Yemen where he was serving as a teacher.

I cannot begin to grasp the emotions behind that.  Beyond loss and fear, how does anyone justify that with God?

Fast forward several years.  This person meets a guy.  A single guy who has never married and has been frustrated in his own life for not finding a wife.  It would be easy to say, that they both got back on the “good Christian life” platform again.  But did they ever step off of it?

Happiness and “things working out” are no more a sign of living the “Christian life” than sadness and hardship being signs of NOT living the “Christian life”.  The reality is that they were both walking in God’s hands the entire time – giving Him glory.

Sounds easy doesn’t it – it’s not.  That’s why I picked Janelle (Shrum) Groff as my “Person of the Year”.  Not because everything turned out happy (which I’m glad it did!).  But because God is her redeemer and she has accepted His grace in her life!  It’s that testimony that we need to follow.

To read the beautiful story and engagement, please click to:


Congrats Janelle!  You definitely deserve the Person of the Year award!

Ruth 4:11 Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah,who together built up the family of Israel.


My Person of the Year

This is a tough challenge.  Last year I nominated 2 men who have stuck through difficult sickness with their wives.  This year, I prayed about generous people who have very little to give, women who work in schools in the slums of Kenya, and even Anna from the movie Frozen (more on that later).

My vote, however, came down to an old man.  A man who I have “known” since I can remember.  A man who has touched the lives of millions during his long life.  A man who has consulted every President since Truman.

Billy Graham just turned 96 last month.  For those of you younger than 50 you may not be aware that Mr. Graham was a staple on TV when we were children.  The song “Just As I Am” was a constant hymn while watching thousands go front for an invitation to accept Christ as their savior.  My dad, who was a preacher himself, marveled at his simple messages that attracted so many.  If you are not familiar with Billy, take a few moments to Google him and learn about his life.  Better yet, take some time to read his autobiography or other publications.  They will be worth their time in giving you inspiration.

There is so much that I could say about Mr. Graham:  How he struggled in the beginning until a non believing publisher felt lead to “push Graham”; how he met and prayed with every President; how he avoided any hint of scandal in over 60 years of ministry; how he stayed loyal to one wife; how he raised and stood by his children and watched them enter ministry; how he has touched so many.  One of those he touched is featured in a new movie coming out this month.  Louis Zamperini life will be played out in an Angelina Jolie movie.  Although I have heard that Mr. Graham is not mentioned, he was the evangelist that led Louis to Christ.   http://www.religionnews.com/2014/12/09/billy-graham-louis-zamperini-two-nights-1949-changed-lives/

Laurie and I were blessed to have an opportunity to see Mr. Graham in 1985.  At that time, we thought it may be our last chance to see him.  We were 25, he was 67 and we thought he was old and ready to retire!

Blessings Mr. Graham!  Thank you for what you have done for God’s Kingdom and what you have done for this country and many others.