Today’s person of significance goes out to several people in my life who have really poured into me: my pastors.
I’ve been blessed to grow up in the church, and have always had a pastor over me. Sometimes I have great relationships with these people and their families, and sometimes the relationship is simply a role of spiritual leadership. I’ve been blessed to have pastors from different nationalities and races (something most Americans truthfully can’t say!).
The first pastor that really had an impact on my life was Pastor Dave and his wife, Anora. I will never forget the many conversations that I had with Aunt Anora, the wisdom that she constantly bestowed on me (even when I didn’t want to hear it), and the faithful way she raised her kids and supported her husband while ministering to all of us kids at Sahel. Since I was just a hormonal teenager, I never realized how much Uncle Dave and Aunt Anora truly sacrificed to be those spiritual leaders to me and so many other at Sahel. Now that I am an adult, I could not be more thankful for the sacrifices they made and alllllll the time they took to pour into us. It has made a life-long impact!
After graduating from Sahel, I went to Cedarville and the pastoral waters there were uncharted! I was on my own, trying to find a church body to attend. Thankfully, my brother had already been there for two years and had found an amazing church to plug into. It was an inner-city church, rich in ministry towards “the least of these”. It wasn’t hard to get plugged in! Pastor Mann’s teaching was unlike any else I had ever experienced- he was so knowledgeable of the word, and was passionate about applying it’s principles to our lives. I learned so much under the teaching of Pastor Mann, both of my weaknesses and insecurities, and how to live the Word in season and out of season!
While at Cedarville I also had the privilege of getting involved in Discipleship Ministries. This was probably my absolute favorite thing about Cedarville, and the thing that impacted me the most. I started getting involved in this ministry my freshman year when I signed up to be in a Discipleship group. It was simply a bible study led by an upperclassman, but it was so much more than that. My leader, Jenny, was an incredible woman and she worked so hard to serve me and the others in our group by providing baked treats, sweet emails, and encouraging notes in our mailboxes. I’ll never forget how much that encouraged me as a lonely freshman! My sophomore year, I applied to be a discipleship group leader myself, and was accepted to that position. Now, I attended two groups: one that I was in, and one that I led. I would attend the leaders group and we would go over the study, then later in the week I would lead the same study for my own group of ladies. This was an incredible opportunity and I loved it! My junior year, I applied to be on Discipleship Council, and was accepted. This group was led by our campus pastor, Mark. There were 12 of us students in the group, and we each led our own group of students, who in turn led their own group of students. It was a powerful ministry and one I was SO, SO BLESSED to be a part of. Mark and his wife Meredith poured into us, listening to us, getting together with us, praying for us, and spending so much time with us. On a college campus, I found it rare to have adults who are so willing to pour into the lives of students, and this was such a gift. That year I got to spend so much time with Discipleship Council and learn from my fellow students, but also Mark and Meredith. What a privilege.
While at Cedarville, Theo and I started attending Grace Covenant Church, which was under the leadership of Pastor Rick Wilson. Pastor Rick was an incredibly dynamic man who had the ability to touch every life with Christ. He was an incredible man, an incredible preacher and such a great example of a husband, father and leader. Theo and I loved learning from him and we were thrilled to be getting involved in the church in new ways that we had never done before. Pastor Rick passed away unexpectedly on July 12, 2013. The gaping hole that he left in our church has still not been filled, as no one and nothing could fill the gap that he left. However, it has been a beautiful picture of Christ’s church to watch the leadership step up and serve the body. It has been beautiful to watch how God’s people can grieve, and the lessons I’ve learned through these past three years are incredible. Pastor Rick’s legacy continues to live on.
Our current pastors, Pastor Paul and Pastor Joel have also played a huge role in Theo and I’s life and marriage. We are blessed to serve under them at Grace Covenant, to learn from their teaching and seek their council. As with any church, there are flaws, but we are blessed with leadership that is humbly able to step back and work on things. We are blessed to know that we always have someone to go to if we need council or advice, and we are so, so privileged to be members of a church who love Christ and preach his Word, both from the pulpit and in their daily lives.
I think I often take for granted the amount of work and time that our pastors pour into our lives. So often, their work is unseen, and for every person in their congregation, they are doing multiple things. I am thankful that I have had so many pastors to teach me and admonish me in the Word. I know I would not be where I am today without that example in my life. So to my pastors, all of you: Thank You.