William Hardin has every right to use two words that have no place in his vocabulary: too hard.
In a wheelchair 14 years, a survivor of four strokes and two heart attacks, Hardin, 68, rarely misses a worship service at Southeast Christian Church’s Blankenbaker Campus Saturday and Sunday.
That’s right. Twice every weekend.
Both days, he rides a bus to get to church on time to volunteer as a greeter.
Most weekends, you’ll find him perched in his chair in the Atrium, greeting everyone who passes by. When people stop to talk, he asks about their favorite Bible verse. Sometimes children come by to recite a verse.
Retired Senior Minister Bob Russell remembers Hardin.
“I always appreciated his faithfulness in spite of adversity,” Russell said. “He always had a pleasant attitude that attracts people to him.”
Over the years, Hardin managed and owned cleaning companies.
“God didn’t make me a surgeon,” he said. “God gave me the ability to clean. I decided to clean buildings for God—to be the best cleaning person anyone ever had.”
Being confined to a wheelchair is not where Hardin saw himself 20 years ago. Then he ran a cleaning service that also functioned as a ministry by hiring men who had been incarcerated and needed a second chance.
“I wanted to help those guys,” Hardin said. “They needed direction, someone who loved God and could mentor and encourage them.”
Serious health issues closed the business as Hardin dealt with a series of heart attacks and strokes.
“In the toughest times, I gravitated toward God and studied the Bible even more,” Hardin said. “And those challenges made me even more determined to serve. I can’t take life for granted anymore. Every day I try to discover what I can do to be a light.”
Hardin’s daughter, WLKY-TV News anchor Monica Hardin Booker, watched her dad care for her mother the last 15 years of her life.
“The one thing about my dad that is steadfast is his heart to counsel, advise and serve others,” Booker said. “From the time I was little, I remember him stopping to help people stalled on the side of the road, give rides to strangers, feed the hungry and just share advice. Since mom died, it’s been wonderful to see the purpose and passion he has for greeting. He even takes my girls, Faith and Eden, with him, showing them an example of God’s love and hospitality in action.”
Mary Jo Barbour, who works in Guest Services with greeters, said Hardin is always early, always smiling, always engaging.
Janet Caudill grew up near Hardin and his late wife, who was blind.
“I had a rough childhood,” Caudill said, “He had a big impact on me growing up. I always knew he was close to the Lord. He shared that with us a lot. When my daughter was baptized at Southeast, I called him. A lot of this goes back to him.”
After open heart surgery, Hardin had to radically change his diet. No more junk food. No more fast food. He learned to cook healthy and hopes to open his own deli featuring his favorites one day.
“I’ve learned to be content whatever my situation,” Hardin said. “I’ll keep pressing on toward the mark to please God.”
For more information on serving opportunities at Southeast, visit www.southeastchristian.org/serve or call (502) 253-8127.