More than likely, everyone reading this has heard the phrase “Kilroy Was Here!” It was a popular phrase during WWII and continued for years afterward. But have you ever asked, “Who was Kilroy”? There are a lot of myths about him, but Kilroy really was a real person. 

James J. Kilroy was hired by the Bethlehem Steel Company in 1941. His job was to inspect the rivet work of the men who were building the ships. To inspect many of these places, he had to crawl into narrow passages and hard to get to areas. For some reason, the bosses were questioning his work and would often have him go in again, sometimes to show them he had checked. Frustrated with having to go through these tight places again as well as going over his work in other areas, he began signifying that he had been in sections to check them out by writing “Kilroy was Here” on the work areas that he had inspected. This way his bosses could look in see that he had signed it and move on.

As the war progressed, it was not always possible to paint over the note so the ships were put into service with the message still visible. The sailors and soldiers took the phrase to a more meaningful height, putting the symbol everywhere they went. It became a symbol to the Americans and British that they were being watched over. Along the way, the image of the British, Mr. Chad, a little man with nose peering over the fence, was added to the phrase. Everywhere they went, the soldiers knew that Kilroy had been there and was watching over them. 

Mr chad

Mr. Chad is courtesy of free clipart.

Not long ago, one of my friend’s grandsons was in the hospital and several us went up and prayed over him. After he was out of the hospital, he and his family were in a restaurant when he noticed one of the men that had been in his room across the way and said, “That’s one of my elders” and before his parents could say anything he went over to him. 

One of the most powerful ways of showing Jesus to others is just being there and visible for people. For them to know that they are being watched over gives them a strong sense of being loved and cared for. It isn’t even necessary to speak to someone, it’s just the sign that we were there that gives comfort. Many times I have gone into a hospital room while the patient was asleep and just left a card so they would know I’d been by. Kind of like saying, “Kilroy was here,” but really simply saying, “Danny was here.” 

But even more importantly, it is saying, “Jesus was Here.” Being Jesus is what Christianity is all about, whether an elder, minister, deacon or member. The more people see Jesus, the more they are built up and the more they want to be Jesus as well. 

Years ago, we used to sing a youth song by David Slater entitled, “Have You Seen Jesus, My Lord.” One verse and chorus went like this:

Have you ever stood in the family, 
With the Lord there in your midst?
Seen the face of Christ on your brother?
Then I’d say you’ve seen Jesus, my Lord.

Have you seen Jesus, my Lord, he’s here in plain view
Take a look, open your eyes, he’ll show it to you.

When people see us, hopefully, they see Jesus, not in the physical sense, of course, but in the caring attitude of being there with them. When we as Christians leave a room having visited with people, no matter the circumstance, one of the greatest feelings we can have is to know that we have left “Jesus was Here,” written on their hearts.

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us, and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:12

Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ.


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