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Recently, we had the chance to speak with retired Air Force Major Benjamin "Ken" Vieth. The 88-year-old lives in Amarillo, Texas, with his wife of 65 years, Mabel (see picture above). Growing up, he lived in the tiny town of Lone Elm, in central Missouri. We wanted to know a little bit about his life, his career, and what made him a long-time supporter of The Lutheran Hour and Lutheran Hour Ministries. His story begins with a recollection of attending Zion Lutheran Church in Lone Elm in the 1930s, in the wintertime.

When snows blew heavy and the Vieth family couldn't get to church because of bad roads, they'd visit a relative's house to get their Sunday preaching. "I'll never forget my aunt, who lived about a mile north of us, had a Zenith radio. It was about five feet high. My dad would tell me, 'I'm going to walk up there through the field and make the tracks. Then you put your feet in the tracks I made because we're going to go listen to The Lutheran Hour.' We didn't have electricity. We would do this if the wind blew enough to charge up the batteries on my aunt's Wincharger (a windmill-like device with six-foot propellers that would charge Zenith's six-volt farm radio). We'd get up there and there was a guy on the radio that had a sermon; his name was Dr. Walter A. Maier."

From all the WAM sermons he listened to, Vieth recalled something in particular: "He said one thing that I remember very distinctly: that the love of Jesus Christ will be there forever. The only thing you have to do is receive it. He had a knack about him, very simply, 'he put it to ya.' And you know, you start to appreciate the message he put out. And that message hasn't changed and, hopefully, The Lutheran Hour will never change that message-the love of Jesus Christ for all the people in the world."

Later on, Vieth entered the United States Air Force at 17, and it was during his military service, specifically while commissioned as a Missile Launch Officer in Taranto, Italy, that he was still regularly able to tap into the life-giving message of The Lutheran Hour. "In Taranto, we were way down there in the arch of Italy's boot heel, right on the Mediterranean. We had Jupiter missiles, and one of my responsibilities was to carry the key and launch it if we ever had the proper authority. Thank God, we never did! But at any rate, while I was down there, there was something I could get on my radio, and that was The Lutheran Hour out of Germany. I appreciated that immensely."

It was in 1951 when Vieth was stationed at Amarillo Air Force Base that he met his wife-to-be, Mabel. "I was number 21 when they reopened this base. They didn't have a place for us to stay on the base so they let us stay in town. I noticed a place named Minneapolis Motel. Well, I kind of figured, maybe, it might be Lutheran-run, you know, with a name like Minneapolis. And sure enough it was, so I decided to have a little fun."

"Back then most motels had a church directory posted for their guests. Today, they don't do that. At any rate, I went over to the directory and the lady working there said, 'Are you looking for a church?' I looked at her and said, 'No, ma'am, I'm an atheist.' She looked at me and gave me a little lecture. Of course, the next morning I went to Trinity Lutheran Church in Amarillo and, lo and behold, here she comes. She looked at me sitting in the pew and sat down next to me, jabbing me in the ribs. She said, 'I must've had a big impact on you.'"

"Of course, later I told her I was lifetime Lutheran. You gotta have a little fun in life."

When asked if there was any secret to living life well through 65 years of marriage, Vieth replied, "I tell everybody the one thing that's important: put God in the center of your life, and then you won't have any problem. Don't go to bed at night mad at your spouse. If you can't forgive-you know the Lord teaches us very clearly to forgive-if you can't do that, well, you better start over again. But if you have God in the center of your life-let Him guide everything you do-you will have a very successful life. He'll be there because Jesus Christ was crucified for every one of us, and He rose from the dead. It's very simple. People need to know Jesus Christ and realize He died for every single soul on this earth. We must get the word out. The Lutheran Hour is a fantastic avenue to do that.

Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.

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