The Passing of a Saint

reflections on Win Couchman

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[from Whole Church]

Occasionally I go to Bob and Win’s house to have them pray for me. I feel greedy doing so, because I know that even without that request, Bob and Win pray for me every day. And I mean pray. They talk to God the Father and Jesus and the Holy Spirit; they pour out their hearts. That has to be one of the main reasons they are the compassionate, generous people they are. They look at other people, and they see, with a precise vision, their real need. And they see the grace of God all around. They are living the verse in Hebrews which says, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (12:15). Some people just have their eyes open. They’re not full of false spirituality, and it’s not that they are spinning life in a way that things come out kind of God-ish. They really do see the blessings and the protections of God, and that must be what allows them to look realistically at the wounds of everybody around them as well.

(And “see to it that no one misses the grace of God” is an excellent definition of church ministry, too. “Seeing to it” means that leaders are to be sentinels of God’s grace, sounding off and pointing in the direction of God’s grace wherever we see it. Isn’t that why people show up at a church in the first place— because they are looking for some source of hope?)

I pull into the gravel driveway of Bob and Win’s modest home in Menomonee Falls at the end of a cul-de-sac. The front door—faced with a wood hand carving that Bob did years ago—usually swings open before I have a chance to knock. I usually seem to be running late, but Bob and Win measure their time well and do not fuss when they’ve waited for someone else. I’ve never seen them try to squeeze more into a day or out of a day than what is sensible.

Just a few steps to the right on the hardwood floor brings us into the small living room, with a few select pictures on the wall and a couch, a couple of chairs, and a rocking chair. They insist that I sit in that comfortable chair, and after a few minutes of chatting we get down to business. But this prayer time is not businesslike at all. They just ask me how they can pray, I give them the four or five top things uppermost on my mind, they talk between them about which of them will pray about which topics, and they pray. This is the real stuff.

I can’t enter that room without thinking back to thirty-five years earlier when, as a college freshman, I sat on that hardwood floor at Bob and Win’s youth Bible teaching called “Forever Family.” I was then a brand-new believer, listening to Win teach about the festivals in Leviticus. Now, all these years later, I’m the senior pastor of the church they attend.

Seventy or so teenagers used to crowd into that small living room and spill into the dining area, everyone sitting on the hardwood floor because there was no other way to do it. When the first few people came on a given evening, they helped carry all the furniture from the living room out onto the front yard, because more people could get in if there was no furniture in the room. So in January, there sat the furniture on top of the crusty snow of midwinter Wisconsin. People matter more than couches.

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3 thoughts on “The Passing of a Saint

  1. Win and Bob came and visited Mary and me in Romania in the late 1990’s when they were in their 70’s. It was such an encouragement to us and was their last international trip. Win spoke significantly into the life of our daughter when she was a teenager for a season and was a great spiritual mentor for Kristina. I will forever be thankful to God for Bob and Win.

  2. I was one of those teens who spent time with other Forever Family members in the Couchman home. But I was more blessed than most because my mom, Eleanor and Win were very close friends. Mom is gone now – most likely talking books with Win in heaven. Last June I drove back to Milwaukee from my MI home (another of God’s blessings) to attend two of my grand children’s graduations from High School. My daughter from Iowa and I met briefly in the lobby of a motel, then rushed to get hot water and the making of tea into one car so we could have a tea party with Win. Win did not know Jennai and her two youngest children were also coming. While we spent a wonderful hour together, talking and praying, Win said she could feel she would be going home soon. She was right. Her influence on my life was and still is great and I thank her for it. I also thank Bob as he was right there supporting this incredible, humble, praying daughter of the King.