With Special Thanks to the Red Baron

I have a fondness for the Red Baron.

Not the actual, World War I flying ace whom Snoopy so famously battled for years in the Peanuts comic strip.  I think he was actually a pretty rotten dude.

The Red Baron I have a fondness for has a special place in my office.  As I moved into my office at New Life, I realized how important the Red Baron was to me and ensured it had a place of honor, right above my desk, always in my line of sight, reminding me of so many things.

The Red Baron
The Red Baron

Doesn’t look like much, does it?  And yet, this little bit of wood and wire is one of my most treasured possessions.  If you look closely at the Red Baron, you’ll notice that he is actually grey.  His propeller has long-since fallen off.  And for some strange reason, he has the letters USAF written on his tail–which is strange, since the Red Baron was certainly German.

It’s a not very-well made wooden plane that never flew.  And it was one of the best Christmas presents I ever receievd. 

My grandfather, Gerald Woodhouse, made this Red Baron for me.  And that in itself says it all.  Granpda Woodhouse never made anything.  He wasn’t skilled with his hands.  He wasn’t good with building things, and what he did build usually fell apart, since construction doesn’t hold up with just good intentions.

And yet…this, of all things, has stayed intact and together for nearly 30 years.  I’m not sure why.

Until I look at it and realize how much it stands for.  I believe it’s stayed together–and deserves a place of honor in my office–because it says a lot.  My grandfather was an amazing preacher.  He served God for nearly all his life in Youth for Christ, as the pastor of churches both in San Diego and here in Seattle.  He could open God’s Word and search it for truth and share it in such a way that listeners were inspired to serve God with the same zeal and zest for life.

The plane reminds me to soar with the gifts God has given me. I believe it’s my grandfather’s way of speaking into me, to remind me that my role at New Life is not a job, it’s a call.  It’s the wind that lifts me out of just a career and into something greater.   The plane reminds me that it dosen’t take a lot of fancy gimmicks or flashy excitement to create something that will be cherished forever.  God’s amazing power and awesomeness is as amazing as His simplicity.  The Gospel is summed up with one phrase, “God so loved…” and that stands the test of time when all the methods and things we try today go away.

The Red Baron reminds me to use whatever I have to accomplish the purpose God has created me for.  The Red Baron reminds me that there is so much more than just what I’m “good” at, there’s what I can do.  The Red Baron says to me, “Keep it simple.  Find joy.  Share God’s love.”

Thanks,  Grandpa.  I’m so glad you made me that toy all those years ago.


  1. Hi there Duane!
    Greg here – formerly on the staff there at New Life (now doing weddings and funerals). Thanks for the article; I can see how important and meaningful the Red Baron is to you. Isn’t it neat to have items like these that are passed down to us?
    I am reminded of a couple of items I’ve received; the prayer card from Christmas 1949 or so that I have from my Grandparents who were missionaries to Brazil (I was given this card by family friends), a field they served for over 40 years. I am reminded of their commitment and courage, and challenged to continue in their example of faith.
    I was also gifted with a special Bible during my ealier ministry days in Jeannette, Pa. from an older pastor I used to go and visit regularly (he was dying of cancer). He told me he wanted me to have his own personal Bible; it was “passing the torch” along to the next generation. Wow, what a treasured possession.
    Keep flying high, Duane! God has amazing things for you there at New Life.
    Glad you’re on staff.

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