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On October 31, 2015 the spirit of Loren Matzke, 80, returned to God. He was our dear friend from Good Thunder, Minnesota (near Mankato). It was our privilege to meet him about 20 years ago when we moved to Minneapolis. He had suffered a stroke last September and was unable to attend our Tabernacles conference in Branson in early October. Here is his memorial service on video:
He died shortly after I had flown to the Philippines, and so the service was conducted by Paul Kyle (the first speaker). The pianist is Phil Hess, my childhood buddy during my grade school in the Philippines. (Phil’s son married Loren’s daughter, which is how we eventually were reunited in 2004.) The songs at the beginning were among Loren’s favorites. Phil went on to become a musician and piano teacher. I found that my study of the word took precedence over music, and so my life turned in that direction.
The memorial service was a long celebration of Loren’s life. He was small in stature but large in life, and his impact on those around him was powerful and widespread. As Paul Kyle mentioned at one point, Loren was a meek man, not a weak man. In fact, his meekness was evidence of his strength.
Furthermore, just before he passed into unconsciousness, his last word was “love.” I am reminded of the revelation that a man had years ago, that Jesus will ask those who desire entrance into their reward: “Did you learn to love while you were on earth?” Loren was one who could look directly into the eyes of Jesus and say, “Yes, I did.” And just as important, he left a legacy of many people back on earth who loved him in return for enriching their lives by his example.
I was glad that they recorded it, so that I could see why my wife was so impressed. She said it was one of the most joyous funerals she ever attended.
Dr. Ken Fritts was the first to share in the memorial service. Dr. Fritts was a professor of dentistry and has spoken at our conferences a few times. He is from Kansas City and is the father of Shelly Ricci, who later sang. He was memorialized by representatives of the Sacred Horse Society for his love of the Indian tribes. They mention that Loren often went by the name Jacob Farmer. But they called Loren by a name in the Dakota language which translates to: “He Walks With a Good Heart.”
Back in 1863 the Dakota tribes were banished from southern Minnesota to South Dakota. Since 2005 they have made the reverse trip each year in December, returning to Mankato at the park that memorialized the 38 Dakota who were hanged on December 26, 1863. Loren’s grandfather was in the militia guarding the site at the time. So two years ago Loren was led to walk this distance as an intercessor with the Indian horsemen. The weather was brutal that year, and even his water bottle froze inside his coat. That was when the Sacred Horse Society gained tremendous respect for him, as they had opportunity to observe his heart.
I should also mention that Loren’s long walk came on the heels of our prayer campaign of repentance for broken treaties that was accomplished in August and September 2013. He took that prayer campaign very seriously, especially because of his family connection to the sad time in Minnesota history. He literally walked 20 miles a day for weeks in cold weather as an act of repentance and reconciliation on behalf of the state and the nation.
The testimonies of Loren’s Indian friends eloquently recognize the impact that his life had upon the Dakota community. Their solemn tribute to Loren is powerful.
Just as powerful were the songs of rejoicing and restoration that Paul Kyle sang with his wife and son.
Shelli Ricci then brought the memorial service to a fitting climax with her stirring and heart-felt rendition of The Lord’s Prayer.
Loren was greatly loved by all who knew him on earth. His absence is felt deeply, but yet we all rejoice for him and thank God for giving him 80 years in which to bless us by his presence. We have not heard the end of his story. For that, we await the great reunion when all things are known fully.