Life Lessons, is a 2019 project highlighting the life and times of Wisconsin Seventh-day Adventist Church members who are 90 years of age or older, and still actively serving and loving Jesus
Hard work on the Wisconsin farm and attendance each Sunday at the Methodist church were the framework of life for young Lawrence Hahn. His father was a share-farmer,* which Lawrence described as, “A farmer that is starving.” “I had awful good parents,” said Lawrence, now age 91, “but we were very poor people.”
Early Farm Days
Lawrence and his six brothers and sisters walked three miles round trip to attend the country grade school each day. There was no high school in the area, and the demands of farm work meant education past eighth grade for Lawrence was just not possible. This was something he “always regretted.”
When Lawrence was 14, a neighboring family became Seventh-day Adventists, and soon began studying the Bible with the Hahns. Convicted of the truth’s they were learning, Lawrence and his parents decided to join the church. Soon after, his dad moved the family to Dubuque, Iowa, where he found a more dependable income at a factory job.
Lawrence, however, decided to stay back in Wisconsin. He was 18 years old and by working on a neighboring farm, he could avoid the draft. But Lawrence became so lonely without his family, he decided to take his chances with the draft, and join his family in Dubuque. Lawrence found work in a John Deer equipment factory and “praise God the Army never called me,” said Lawrence.
I Found Mary
The local Dubuque Adventist church soon ordained the committed 18-year-old Lawrence as a church elder. He was glad to be back with his family, but being 18, began praying for a wife. Soon a new pastoral family arrived and Lawrence couldn’t take his eyes off their daughter, Mary. “Mary was just right for me,” said Lawrence. “She had been adopted into an affluent family, and that would have never fit her for me. But then she was adopted a second time into the pastor’s family who lived much more like I was used to living.”
Lawrence began building a house, and it was still unfinished when he and Mary decided to wed, but as no occupancy permits were required back then, they moved in anyway. As Mary loved woodworking and building as well, the happy couple soon finished their new home and decided to start a family.
Busyness and Time with Jesus
Lawrence kept feeling the draw of his Wisconsin roots, and after five years returned with his growing family to the Reedsburg area and began building houses. “God has always given me plenty of work,” said Lawrence. “I like work and did well. I guess that’s when we started coming out of poverty. I wanted to be able to support my family, and was glad I never drew any unemployment. I had plenty of work, almost too much.
“When I was building, I was so busy.” said Lawrence. “Now I regret that. All I knew was work. I always went to church, served as an elder and all that. But I really began to grow spiritually after I retired and started spending a lot more time with Jesus and my Bible. I’ve grown so much closer to Him. I love to read the gospels. I get a blessing from just reading even if I don’t remember it, or I’ve read them many times. You can read Jesus’ teachings over and over, and even if I read them a dozen times I’m still getting something new out of it. It’s wonderful! I wish I had done that when I was younger and not been so busy. Remember that when you are young and so very busy, because Jesus is the only hope that we’ve got! There’s nothing left in this old world that I want.”
Today Lawrence lives alone, but still drives himself to the Reedsburg church each Sabbath, and for church activities or business meetings. “It’s a funny thing,” said Lawrence. “I can feel tired and lousy during the week, but when Sabbath comes I feel great and have energy! Church is what I’m really interested in. The church has been my whole life.”
The Most Important Thing
“It’s been a long and good life,” reflected Lawrence. “I’m still plugging along and still quite healthy.” When asked to what he attributes his long life he said, “Jesus once said, ‘My time has not come yet.’ And I guess that’s true for me. There is an appropriate time for everything. I don’t know when my time will come, but it must be getting pretty close! Whenever it comes, the most important thing is that I am ready to meet Jesus.”
Juanita Edge, Communication Director
*share-farmer: a tenant farmer provided with credit for seed, tools, food, etc., who worked the land and received an agreed share of the crop values minus charges.