Fred Tonn (who we called “Uncle Fred”) has been a big part of my whole life. For all the really big moments in our family–and the millions of tiny moments–Uncle Fred has been there. He has sat with us, laughing, singing, telling stories and jokes, and always (always) praying for us.
I can’t find words to say how important Uncle Fred has been in my life, or in the lives of my kids and husband. But I can pinpoint the most important lesson he taught us.
Fred Tonn showed us to share Jesus by asking anyone these three questions, then listening to their answers, and then praying for them.
These are the three questions Uncle Fred asked waitresses, garbage men, kids in his Sunday school class, Thrivent families. And when people answered these questions, their stories of Jesus poured out…
- What can Jesus do for you today?
- Have you been thinking about Jesus a lot lately?
- Who told you about Jesus when you were growing up?
Here’s the surprise I learned from watching Uncle Fred ask his nurses and doctors and strangers these questions: they always had an answer. No one said, “Why would I care about Jesus?” or “That’s a personal question” or “None of your business.” Like a divine invitation from the Holy Spirit, they answered. They looked Fred in the eye and talked to them about soul matters, about sacred things they were thinking about–but no one had bothered to ask them. Then he prayed with each person, right there.
This weekend will be hard for our family. As we say goodbye to Uncle Fred here on Earth, we know he is sitting with Jesus in heaven. And even though our family is so happy that Fred is singing with Jesus now, we already miss him here.
But as we tell stories about who Fred was in each of our lives, I will hold most tightly onto those three questions.
And I’ll remember how Fred showed courage and faith to spread Jesus’ love to everyone he met.
Thank you for everything, Uncle Fred. We love you so much.