An Exemplary Life
We celebrate in this Court Report the life of a truly great man, Christopher J. Klicka. It is said that first impressions are lasting, and this certainly is true of my first impression of Chris Klicka. My wife, Elizabeth, and I met Chris in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1984 at a national homeschool conference. Chris was then a law student at Oral Roberts University and was assigned to be our host for this event. He met us at the airport and transported us all around that weekend.
HSLDAHSLDA President Mike Smith (left) and Chris Klicka discuss legal strategy in 1993.
LIVES OF THOUSANDS,
NOT ONLY HERE,
BUT ALSO AROUND
Chris didn’t have children at the time, but he already knew that his family would homeschool, and he desired with his whole heart to use his license to practice law to advance God’s kingdom through home education.
I simply could not believe that a young man could have this kind of passion to advance the freedom to homeschool—after all, he wasn’t homeschooled himself, he wasn’t married, and obviously, he didn’t have children. He truly was an impressive young man.
Fortunately for Home School Legal Defense Association, Mike Farris saw these qualities in Chris and hired Chris as the organization’s first full-time employee in June 1985.
In the 24-plus years that Chris worked at HSLDA, he significantly impacted the lives of thousands, not only here, but also around the world. Chris was not only an outstanding lawyer in defending and advancing the right to homeschool, but he was an outstanding evangelist for home education as well. Chris was legitimately interested in every person with whom he came into contact. When he became involved with a family because of a legal contact, he was a tenacious advocate, and he would not give up until he got the result he wanted for that family, which generally was to be left alone by the school district. But when that was over, he would often offer counseling and pray with that family when he sensed that there might be an area where he could help them. And God forbid that any family would say that they were going to quit homeschooling. Chris Klicka would simply not take that as an answer. He would continue his advocacy for home education until the family would surrender and agree not to quit!
If someone asked Chris Klicka if homeschooling was for everybody, he would simply say “yes,” because that is what he believed.
Several people have asked me, “What will Chris’s greatest legacy be?” Chris had many admirable character traits: he was passionate, tenacious, compassionate, personable, steadfast, patient, immovable, abounding in joy, and excellent in everything he did. He was a tremendous husband, father, and boss.
However, for me, being a member of the Gideons International and a person who believes that we ought to take the Great Commission seriously, Chris’s greatest legacy was his untiring witness of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
Early in my employment at HSLDA, I had the occasion to travel with Chris to a court case in North Dakota. Gideons are encouraged to witness wherever we go, and a tool we have to help us witness is a little New Testament with the Psalms and Proverbs in the back. We call these Personal Workers Testaments. Chris saw me hand one of these to a person sitting next to us on the plane and use it to lead the person through the plan of salvation. Chris was all excited, as he wanted to be able to hand out these little New Testaments. Well, to do that you have to be a Gideon, so Chris joined the Gideons shortly thereafter and has since put me to shame by the number of little New Testaments he has given to people around the world.
Chris loved strangers so much that he was willing to share the gospel even when he didn’t have the energy to do so.
So, in Chris’s exemplary life and now in his death, what would Chris want us to do? Knowing Chris, he would be too modest to say this, but I’ll say it for him. If we look at the character traits that we admire so much in Chris and focus on the one that we like the best or that we believe is best for us, we should then emulate that trait in our lives for as long as we live. For those of us who are tempted at times to give up doing the right thing when the right thing is hard to do, remember Chris. He never gave up, despite having to constantly fight this debilitating disease of multiple sclerosis. When Chris became discouraged, he simply trusted in God and His sovereignty to provide the grace Chris needed when he could not do it in his own strength.
If we pick the thing we admire the most about Chris and apply it to our lives every day with the same commitment that Chris had in his life, Chris’s legacy will translate through us to others, as they in turn emulate that special character trait we admire in Chris.
There will never be another Chris Klicka, but as we catch his vision and his determination, we multiply his impact thousands of times over, resulting in God being truly
glorified through Chris’s life and through ours as well.