A Friend To Young Preachers


James B. Rankhorn

It was April of 1995 when I first met brother Bob Kessinger. I had just arrived in West Virginia to help start a congregation of the Lord's church in Ripley. A gospel meeting was held at Cedar Lakes to help kick off the work in Ripley, and brother Charles Pugh III was speaking. It was at that gospel meeting that I met Bob for the first time.

Those of us who knew Bob know that he loved to joke around and have fun. He had an infectious laugh, and his face would turn so red when he laughed. In 1995, he invited me to the preacher's meeting in St. Albans. There, Bob began a long running joke with me. We met for breakfast at Shoney's before the preacher's meeting and then went to the Washington Street building for the meeting. If you know me, you know I love to eat, and breakfast is my favorite meal. At that first breakfast, when I went back to the breakfast bar the second time, brother Bob asked if I needed help carrying my plate and offered to be my plate bearer. This was the running joke for the almost ten years that I was privileged to know Bob. Also, last year, during the summer, my son Kadry and I picked up Bob to go to the preacher's meeting. Bob was his normal, jovial self and was kidding and joking around with Kadry. On the way home after we had dropped Bob off, Kadry said, "I really like him; he's funny." Bob truly enjoyed life.

The one thing that impressed me, as a young preacher, about brother Bob was his love of the truth, love for the church, and love for the souls of people. He tirelessly worked to teach and preach God's Word. He never missed an opportunity to talk to someone about the Gospel. Bob truly lived Paul's admonition of 2 Timothy 4:2; "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season." He was not afraid to defend the truth at any time. He met false teachers with the "sword of the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:17), and he was a very capable soldier of the cross. I also observed in brother Bob, his deep concern for the church (2 Corinthians 11:28). Bob and I spent several hours studying and talking together about happenings in the brotherhood. It was evident that the departures from the Scriptures pained him deeply.

Paul wrote, in Titus 2:6; "Likewise exhort the young men ..." This is what brother Bob did for me. He was very encouraging to me as I preached the Gospel. He gave me my first opportunity to do radio work by asking me to fill in for him on his weekly radio program. I was privileged to do so some thirty times in ten years. He came to gospel meetings that I held and always had an encouraging word. I know this encouragement was not just for me but also brothers Michael Mayo, Jeremy Young, and countless others.

Brother Bob will be greatly missed. The Lord's church needs more men like him who will live what they preach. The Ohio Valley has suffered a great loss, but Bob has gained that for which he so diligently sought. -Rt. 1 Box 137-H, Ripley, WV 25271. (304) 372-4526 wrcofc@citynet.net


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