Gone So Suddenly: Art Ward (1)

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Art Ward was a man saved, developed, and used by God. As a young unmarried man with no religious upbringing, he had heard about the gospel from his future father-in-law but had no regard for it. After a motorcycle accident at Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota, he thought if there was anything to this thing of being saved, he was going to pursue it.

Honoring a Faithful Man

He was encouraged by Mrs. Steven Mick to attend the gospel meeting at Blue River, WI. This was my first recollection of Arthur. It was apparent he was deeply interested in eternal things. He was saved several days later at a factory in Boscobel, WI, on July 26, 1974. Art made great strides from the beginning of his Christian life. With marriage to Marlene, children, and an occupation, he proved a longing for a deep knowledge of God and of the Scriptures. It became apparent he had a gift to preach the gospel. Being a plumber and then self-employed in the log and lumber business, he took available time to be involved in several gospel series before he was commended to full-time work in 1989. When I heard of the tragic passing of Art on Oct. 29, 2005, the words of Nehemiah 7:2 came to mind, “He was a faithful man, and feared God above many.” He coupled faithfulness to the Lord with evident love for the Lord Jesus. His intelligent worship testified to this. He was faithful to his beloved wife Marlene and his five children and their spouses, who all profess faith in Christ.

He will be greatly missed by many believers in the United States and Canada. In a good measure, like the Apostle Paul, he had a care for the assemblies gathered to the Lord’s name. His ministry was given out of a deep burden; he wanted what was right for God’s people. His greatest love in the service for God was soul-winning. He labored with at least 28 different brethren. While he was often asked to assemblies for meetings and loved to go to them, he had a great interest in new places. His recurring question was, “Has the gospel been faithfully preached in this locality?” I count it a great privilege to have labored with Art in 25 gospel series of which 4 were in Gospel Halls. It was not below his dignity to find an old building and make preparations for meetings. As an evangelist, he always felt he had failed if he had not invited people to come and hear the gospel preached. His door-to-door work was a great source of joy and encouragement to him, especially when he could detect a favorable response by a searching soul. Ironically, rather than attending a Bible conference on the day the Lord took him home, he had planned to visit an unsaved man who didn’t have long to live. Many among those at the visitation and among the 650 who attended the funeral expressed appreciation for Art’s personal involvement in their lives.

That God saved Art out of a large family in which no one was saved is an evidence of wonderful grace. That all in that family remain unsaved today is cause for prayer. His five siblings listened with respect at the funeral, which I had the privilege of sharing with Paul Aspenson and Mark VanDerHart. Joel Portman gave a word at the grave. We bid a temporary farewell to a faithful gospel worker and true friend as we await our Lord’s return.