We all waited to see what would happen on the infamous day known as Y2K. Would the computers crash? Would the world end? Would we wish we bought a generator? When the last Friday of 1999 rolled over to the first Saturday of 2000, all the lights kept shining and the computers kept working, life stayed the same.
But life got richer, more colorful for the Schroders in London, Ohio. Just a few short months after the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scare, God added a bouncing baby boy to their family. A boy they would call Lucas—or Lukey Pookey, Lukey Duke, Grand Daddy Long Legs, Punk, Bubba, Carrot. A boy we all called Luke.
For most of his childhood, he was like most other kids. He painted walls blue with Clorox tablets, made jokes about bald guys, and inhaled Raising Cane’s. He was specially gifted to make his parents laugh at him and mad at him at the same time. But there were shining times when he made them and us so proud. Many of those times were around the hallowed Ohio campgrounds. If you were looking for Luke, you would find him in the altar amidst all the other campers, his soul soaked in the sweet presence of God, and you could see his long, lanky arms in the air and know he was reaching out to God. And God was reaching out to him.
The campground was one of Luke’s favorite places. That’s where he received the gift of the Holy Spirit, and He was filled with the Spirit on his older sister Katy’s birthday. Luke wasn’t about to let his sister get all the gifts. He was a fixture on the campground. But he was limited in what he could do. While the other guys his age ran around the softball field and up and down the basketball court, Luke’s physical challenges kept him sidelined. I never saw Luke run very far very fast at camp, but every year I did see him walk up to the altar and walk with God.
Every year, every camp, Luke got closer to God because Luke knew one day, he would not have another day. He lived each day ready for that day. That day began dawning around June 2017. Luke and his family were at home when he collapsed and hit his head. They rushed him to Nationwide Children’s Hospital to check him out, not knowing he would stay there for many months. Some of the most renowned doctors of our day could not figure out what was wrong with him. They tried one medicine, one procedure, one surgery after another hoping one of them would work. There were bright days and dark days as we all waited and wondered what would happen with our Luke.
The medical team felt confident they found the answer to our questions. They were treating him and even allowed him to leave the hospital and come to NAYC in Indianapolis. That’s where everyone in the Thursday Jump Start session got to hear his amazing story. Our faith was flying higher than a helium tank in a tornado. But a few months later, his health took another turn and landed him right back in the hospital. He was only seventeen.
He lived each day for that day, but none of us knew. None of us expected that day to come before his eighteenth birthday. But on January 25, after a seven-month battle, Luke went home to be with Jesus. We only had seventeen years with Luke, but he packed those years with laughs and life lessons. He taught us to trust God even when we don’t understand Him. He taught us to love each other. He taught us to laugh. He taught us that nothing is more valuable than what we do for God. And he taught us to live this day ready for that day.
Luke loved God, and God loved Luke. Even during his hospital stays from his hospital bed, he was raising money for SFC. In fact, he raised $1,200 for SFC. His parents were so moved by his devotion to God and His kingdom, they applied for Luke to be considered as Ohio’s 2018 Real McCoy. In his application, his mom wrote,
“Last summer, after SFC deadline, [Luke] began filling SFC cans w/change and saving money, helped with bake sales and candy making in between hospitalizations. Even when in the hospital and someone gave money, it went toward SFC. After Luke had passed, we found his can and money stash in his dresser. It was then that we as a family decided to donate toward his offering.”
On behalf of the Ohio District Youth, I want to say a hearty, heartfelt congratulations to our Luke Schroder on being named Ohio’s 2018 Real McCoy! Since 2000 when we first met our Luke until that day when we meet him again, we will endeavor to live #LukeStrong.
See you soon, bud.
L.J. Harry is Andrea’s husband, Makenna and Raylee’s daddy, and the pastor of Apostolic Church in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Since 2011, he has served as editor of InsideOut.