I was ten years old when we moved from the sprawling concrete jungle of San Diego to her eastern Oregon cow-town. As a matter of fact, my first memory of her is on a horse. She gave me my first pair of boots and showed me a few things about pushing cows. Her son, Drew, and I were best friends, played 3 sports together, and went to the same church, so I saw a lot of Mrs. Kris growing up. In time, she became like a second mom. And what a gift that was. Kindness, grace, and care for others formed an aura around her, and anyone who got close to her was impacted for good. Mine was the privilege of proximity.
Later, when God called me to start Vapor Ministries, Kris was there. An early adopter, constant supporter, and continual advocate, she determined to serve the poor and reach the lost in Africa and Haiti through faithfully sowing into the ministry. On several occasions, she got on a plane and flew to the poverty-stricken areas we work in to see the fruit of her investments. Watching her spread love and soak in the smiles of those being served by her generosity was a sight to behold. Her passion to share and show the love of Jesus to others marked all she did and led her to serve two terms on our board.
Less than a year ago, she called before a board meeting and let me know she was having a "set back.” “I will be ok,” she assured me, “I am going to heal up so I can get down to Haiti, but Micah, I am not well enough to travel to the upcoming board meeting.” We prayed and hung up. As I started checking in more frequently, she constantly asked about Haiti. “How are the plans for the new center? When can we break ground? What do we need to raise?” The thing she wanted to talk the least about was what I cared the most about - her.
Our call in May was different. Her voice cracked, and through the tremble, I heard her say, “I may not be making that trip to Haiti... Micah... I don’t know if I am going to win this battle.” I was stunned. The cancer was worse than I thought. That’s when it hit me. Mrs. Kris was preparing me for her death.
Over the past few months, as her wonderful husband and dear family wrapped their arms around her, she stayed true to form and constantly focused on everyone else. A few evenings ago I got the call from her family. She had a few final words and instructions for me. As my wife and I sat on the edge of the bed in tears, we listened over the speakerphone as she spoke life, love, and grace over us. And in consummate Kris form, she wanted to talk about Haiti. She asked that we not send flowers, but instead direct funds toward the new center. After we hung up my wife and I went outside and wept. Then we sat in awe. What a woman. In her finals hours, wracked with pain, she was still thinking of the poorest on earth. Mrs. Kris Barr lived life for the good of others and the glory of God. She shared and showed Jesus to all she came in contact with. She invested extensive resources toward the service of the poor and the advancement of the gospel. And her dying wish was to help fund a center that will impact thousands in dire need.
I honor her by sharing this glimpse of her with you, and by letting you know that we have decided to name the new center, once funded and built, after her. Our prayer is that her legacy on earth and parting wish would result in thousands moving from death to life.