By Dan Steska
How do you say ‘thank you’ to someone who works hard all his life, finally retires, and then volunteers to spend the next two years working to help disaster survivors? You really can’t...Only God does that in His own special way. However, we can recognize Ivan Lindner’s service above and beyond the call of duty.
Ivan has quietly continued to impress, even amaze, everyone with his ongoing commitment to service to those surviving disaster. He represents everything good about volunteerism in disaster. His commitment, dedication, and humility in service are exemplary. Ivan left retirement in Kansas City, after a career in engineering, to volunteer countless hours helping in the Joplin tornado recovery. He declined a salary and freely invested his time, vehicle, gas, and meals for literally months. Finally, he was afforded a small stipend for meals and a trailer to live in a campground close to rebuilding projects.
Then, after working for months six to seven days a week, often 12 to 14 hours daily, to help in Joplin, he saw a need in the lives of flood victims in small towns in Southeast Missouri. Their world had been devastated, but the media had overlooked their needs...not so with Ivan.
He immediately demonstrated his continued love for mission and service by moving to the area and building homes there. Ivan has now led thousands of volunteers, exemplifying honor, integrity, love, patience, self-sacrifice, and compassion. In short, the heart and soul of what missional service truly is.
Without Ivan’s selfless dedication, the Missouri Conference would not have been able to reach out to hundreds of families in need. Throughout the community, and in personal lives, his work has been absolutely essential in conveying the message and image of the United Methodist Conference in Joplin and Southeast Missouri.
Thanks be to God for Ivan’s servant heart. He truly symbolizes the message of ‘Praying Hands and Dirty Fingernails’.