It's not a word often used. In fact, I don't think I've EVER used it! I've known a couple of ladies who lived to be 100, but never a man.
But Mendel Bowers is not an ordinary man.
In October 2010, I took this photo of Mendel outside our church. At that time, at the tender age of 93 1/2, he was still the full-time custodian! And a terrific one, at that!
Mendel is not an ordinary man.
Born March 11, 1917. Graduated from high school in 1935.
Proudly served in the US military during World War II, experiencing atrocities that no young man should ever have to see and remember for the next 80 years of his life.
Mendel never talked much to me about his war experiences, but I've heard enough bits and pieces to make me cringe. Somehow, he survived when logic said otherwise. God clearly had plans for him.
When I met Mendel in 1986, he was already what I considered then an "old man" of 69. He was and had been teaching an adult Sunday School class for years, and Kim and I studied under his teaching for awhile. Mendel had visited the Holy Lands a few times, and he made the places of the Bible come to life. He even painstakingly created a model of the tabernacle, down to every tiny detail, that is still stored away in our church today. Mendel used his woodworking talents to craft many items for church use...shelves, display stands, podiums, and easels to name just a few. A man of many talents and a deep love of Jesus.
But the legacy Mendel has built is not made of wood.
Mendel's legacy is his humble servant's heart, accompanied by a constant smile and generous attitude. He went about his work uncomplainingly, quietly just doing his job behind the scenes. No drama, no whining, no criticism, no resistance to the inevitable changes that came with different pastors and a growing church.
A humble servant.
That's our beloved Mendel.
Rarely does anyone grace this earth for an entire century. But this earth is a better place because of this sweet man's presence in his little corner of it.
A dear, dear soul that one day will without a doubt receive his Heavenly reward and the well-deserved words from his Master, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
I am honored to call him my friend.
A rare man indeed, one of the godliest I've ever known, who has made a huge and lasting impact on our church and the lives of so many.
Our very own...centenarian.