Saturday, August 24, 2013

Joe literally led me, step by step, to the Lord.

I'll never forget him saying, to my question about how to know if the Lord is there for me, he said: “believe and then expect Him to act in your life. Faith's seed will grow."

When Theresa Mulligan Newell was leading our group in Israel, Joe and Freda were our clergy couple. Coming back from Masada (1984), she told us that it was getting late and we would not be able to float in the Dead Sea. Following Joe's lead, about eight more of us jumped into the Dead Sea with all our clothes on. What a sight to see us encrusted in salt and walking through the lobby of the Hilton Hotel!

Diane Hutchins

John Howe brought Joe in early in his career here.

A hallmark was Joe’s gentle manner. His love of Jesus was infectious. And he could put more spin on a tennis ball than I thought possible. I don’t recall ever winning a set from him.

 Paul Julienne
The Rev. Joe Kitts in 2008.
Thank you to Roberta Klooster!

Just before the processional on his first Sunday as Truro's new rector, suddenly Martyn Minns totally panicked and didn't know what to do.

He turned to Joe, and said, “What do I do? Where am I supposed to be?" And Joe replied, “It's your church, do whatever you want!"

 Alan Bonsall

Joe was an amazing man.

Whenever I thought I had a difficult challenge I'd think of Joe as a young man, down in the coal pit, and thinking about becoming a preacher.

And I loved listening in to he and Martyn Minns when no one else was around. Their English would become northern and their expressions, verbs, and many nouns would just go right over my head and I'd ask for the American translation.

Finally, I learned much of what I know about walking in to hospital rooms and tough places from Joe. He loved The Lord and I'm sure he has heard: “Well done good and faithful servant."

Paul Frey

What a blessing he was!

Still remember his sermon on the privilege of tithing. Looking forward to seeing him at the Wedding Feast!

Tara Frodigh

Wonderful mentor and friend!

Joe married Theresa and me on Sep 1, 1990.

Bruce Newell

When the Western Fairfax Mission was ready to form one Sunday ...

...there was an altar call for those interested in being a part of this church plant (later Christ the Redeemer, Thomas Herrick, Vicar). A few weeks later, I had cold feet and was scared to death to leave my “mother church," Truro.

On Sunday morning I went up for prayer and I will never forget what Joe said. “Cheryl," he said, “you need to go and be there and the Lord will speak to you."

And he was exactly right! The first gathering of the Western Fairfax Mission, Bill and I knew that this was His will and we never looked back! That was a profound moment to hear that word from Joe, because I can look back on our life and so much of where we are and the ministry we have now is based on that decision that was made to step out of fear and into Jesus. Thank you, Joe Kitts!!! You are so dear loved!

 Cheryl McCarthy

In July 1988 my mother came to Truro with me.

Joe was being the saint in white robes saying hello to folks during the preservice time. He stopped to meet Mom. She died in her sleep a day later at my house. I returned the next week and spoke to Joe about his touching Mom's heart just before her going to be with Jesus.

 Kari Marretta Reed

During the time we were assistants at Truro ...

... Joe would talk with me about the Welsh Revival, which was often overlooked in church history, but of great interest to him, as a native of the British Isles. Since my grandfather was born in Wales, I took note of this. Joe had strong gifts in evangelism and in pastoral care.

 Jamie Jones

Always kind and willing to listen.

Always ready to pray with you.

Cynthia Campbell 

I have many memories of Joe from when I was a kid ...

... but one that stands out was when I was in the church office doing something with Good News Camp. I overturned a can of coke that I had set down on the carpet just as Joe came into the room. I jumped up to clean it up and started to profusely apologize. I was a bit clumsy as a kid and was used to getting pretty well chastised for my carelessness by whoever was around when I knocked something over. Joe wasn't at all bothered by it and said not to worry a bit about it. I was stunned. I was so happy to learn that there is no need to get upset over things like that, and I have never gotten upset over a spilled thing ever since.

 More recently, I got to pass this grace on to a student who, similarly to me, was clumsy. She dropped a valuable glass jar in her classroom while I was with her, and she was so surprised that I didn't get mad about it. It really shook her world too. I am amazed at how God's grace can shine through the seemingly littlest things.

 Alicia Julienne Bradford

I have many wonderful memories of Joe.

One that comes to mind quickly is a story he told about a young boy who yelled down the steps to his mother, “Is this shirt clean enough to wear?” His mother’s answer was, “If it’s doubtful, it’s dirty!” And thus any questionable situation that was doubtful might need a good wash!

I also remember playing tennis with Joe at  annual Truro Singles Beach Trip. He was a natural athlete and a much better player than any of us, yet he put up with us all! I chuckled when he called the score, “Van (pronounced “vahn”) in and Van-out instead of Ad-in and Ad-out! His Welsh dialect was a joy!

When my husband died, Joe kept in touch with me. I confessed to him that I was angry with God and he told me that God could certainly handle my anger, but that perhaps it was time to let go of it. Joe was truly a man of God and filled with the Spirit! It was a blessing to receive his ministry!

 Gayle Yates Wirschnitzer

I don't know of anybody who loved His Lord any more than Joe did.

How I would have loved to have been there when they met. Think about that. They both loved each other so much. I would have loved to see them – embracing each other – meeting in person after all the years of loving each other in their hearts.

Enjoy eternity there, Joe.  You're home!

 Amen and amen.

 Louis Malvaney

Joe, Freda, and I became close friends when he sent me back to the mountains.

I'd left the valley there when one of the locals told everyone no woman should be teaching men - or anyone else, for that matter. But that's not the story.  One day Joe was tell me about about his mounting work load so I volunteered to come to Fairfax one day per week to help with pastoral care.

Little did I know, Joe had decided he'd train me for my own good and for the care of those I might serve. I'd arrive in the morning and we'd pray. Then I'd ask for the schedule for the day. There wasn't any. Some days, we'd walk outside and Joe would say, "The Lord is saying we go in this direction. Another day, we'd wait in silence until the Lord told him who we were going to see. 

Efficient? No indeed! Incredibly accurate? Our visits were always amazingly timely!

 Jeannie Light

My favorite memory of Joe was when he would be preaching at Truro ...

... and the message and the delivery were so powerful that the congregation would burst into clapping, spontaneous and loud. Joe would smile and with his right arm upraised and his finger pointing toward God, he would praise his Lord and give Him all the credit for what had just occurred.

 He was so humble and knew Jesus in such a personal way that he let his light shine before men and drew so many to the Lord. I am blessed to have know him and will treasure his memory.

Brenda Rugless

During a time of some personal struggle and soul-searching, Joe simply exhorted me to “Follow the peace.”

His words brought much-needed hope and clarity. Joe always seemed to offer simple, Christ-filled hope to everyone he encountered! He knew how to follow Christ and to make the way known to us all. Welcome home, good brother!

 Rick Wallis

I first met Joe when we both found ourselves at a clergy selection conference ...

... in Birmingham (England) in 1957. The conference began with each of the prospective candidates having to present themselves to the group (about 30 of us altogether). Joe was one of the early ones and he made everyone's eye's open with amazement as he spoke. "My name is Joe Kitts", he began in his then broad Lancashire accent.

"I'm a coal miner from St. Helen's. I was born in 1926. I was born again in 1937......." There were many of us there who had shared Joe's conversion experience. But in a conference like that, you were usually careful in the way you expressed that kind of thing. But Joe's forthright words encouraged us all to do the same and it became almost like a testimony meeting much to the dismay of those of a more liberal or catholic tendency.

 That was Joe. We have maintained our friendship over the years. I visited him a few times in Truro and spent a week there doing a teach-in on Mission based on our work in Chile. Our friendship was renewed when he and Freda returned to the UK and Barbara and I have tried to visit Joe as regularly as possible in the home where he has spent the last couple of years.

Hope you get some great testimonies from people who have been blessed through Joe's life and ministry. He was an extraordinary man of God.

Colin Bazley

I first met Rev. Kitts when I was six years old.

My parents took me on a trip to England, and while we were there, we visited Joe and Frieda in their cottage in Wales. I remember little about it, except that the house reminded me of a cozy hobbit home, and Frieda introduced me to the joy of having a hot water bottle put at my feet in bed at night. I remember chasing a little lamb in the green fields that they called home. I never could catch it, though.

Later, my father, the Rev. John Howe, invited the "man from England" to come and serve on his staff at Truro. I remember feeling very happy that he was coming, and I always found him and Frieda to be warm and kind and gentle folks. I loved listening to their accents.

 Dad often sent Joe to minister to those church members who were hospital-bound. Joe had a special kindness and gentleness that was perfectly suited for that ministry, as his spirit greatly blessed the weak and suffering. He had a beautiful bedside manner.

 I always felt safe and peaceful around Rev. Kitts. I look forward to seeing him again one day, where peace and joy will forever abound in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. And maybe, just maybe, he and I can finally catch that little lamb together.

 Kathy Howe

One Monday morning, Joe handed me a $50 bill.

For the past several years, David and I were leading the Engaged Couples Class at Truro. We held these classes three times per year and they always involved selecting mentors (married couples) to help with the class plus preparing the presentations each week. It was a lot of work but David and I really enjoyed these classes and felt that we were investing n the future of marriage.

 On that Monday morning, when Joe handed me the $50 bill, he explained that he had received it the Saturday before by a bride for the wedding Joe performed. He now wanted to share the money with David and me for the work we had done preparing that bride and her new husband for marriage. We still have that $50 bill! It sits in my jewelry box and I always think of the precious man who gave it to me when I open the box.

 Donna Blackistone

Joe Kitts was one of those rare individuals whose face literally radiated with the love of Christ ...

... this love and his practical wisdom and ability to kindly reach into the heart of any situation truly blessed all who came in contact with him. For many years after leaving Truro, he retained Christmas photos on his refrigerator and prayed for our family, not to mention usually sending a handwritten warm response to our card, sometimes with a CD of an English kids' choir singing for our daughter.

 Debbie Sulik

We praise God for the life of Joe Kitts–Evangelist at all times ...

... a Coal Miner who could relate with whomever was in front of him. How many times we turn to his loving example of how to live in Jesus! There was no friendlier, more loving brother in Christ.

 Vic and Joan Meyer

Joe blessed my daughter and son in law by officiating at their wedding ...

... in the Chapel twenty eight years ago this November. He was also a pastor and mentor to my home group which began in l965 as the first Shepherd's group and still meets today with original as well as new members. When he came back to the United States he would always join our group for an evening of renewing friendships. During Joe's last visit he gathered with us in a special "pot-trust" at my house, now so memorable and precious for all of us.

 Sandy Bittner

One day I received a call from Rev. Joe Kitts asking me to choose three or four from my Home Group list ...

... because he would like to visit them with me. Gordon and I were Home Group Leaders at Truro for people in our area. The list was about thirty or so, and some were inactive or had not responded with an interest to be contacted. I thought the best thing to do was to choose some of those I did not know. That day I saw a master at work. I called the home and asked if we could visit. They greeted us reluctantly at the door, and Joe greeted them in return like they were his dear friends. Within a very few minutes Joe had noticed an book, an album, a work of art, a clock (he loved old clocks) or something in the home and comment on the subject or the artist. I was amazed at the ease with which he brought these folks into conversation about something they enjoyed. I will never forget seeing his strong gift at engaging people he had not yet met. By the end of the visit he had always approached their “coming back” to Truro and invited them “to give us another try.”

Roberta Klooster

Early in my several years as Senior Warden and Administrator of Truro Church ...

.... Joe Kitts came to my office and asked if he might bring men who had just accepted the Lord to see me because he always told them that the first thing they should do after accepting Jesus was to tell someone.  Many times Joe would come to my door and say, “____ has something he wants to share with you” and I invited him to come in.  The man would say, often with tears running down his face, “I just accepted Jesus as my Savior.”. I would usually give him a big hug and say a very brief prayer for him to have God’s strength to walk the walk.  I count it a privilege have be a witness to the most important fruit of the ministry of the Rev. Joe Kitts.

Gordon J. Klooster

Remembering the life of Joe Kitts

We are gathering memories, thoughts, reflections about Joe Kitts who served at Truro Church in Fairfax, Virginia.  We are working on bringing those memories together, reflecting on how so many remember Joe and how Jesus touched so many lives through him.  He did indeed surrender all to Jesus.