Sunday, July 10, 2011

Unsung Heroes

In his sermon this morning, Pastor Terry was talking about the people that had been with Paul and supported him throughout his ministry. Paul names some of them at the end of his Letter to the Colossians. Pastor Terry mentioned some of the people that have been there to encourage and support him throughout his ministry and went on to describe the ways that the people mentioned in this chapter supported Paul.

Even before he came to the part where he asked us to reflect on the people that are our "unsung heroes" and have quietly encouraged, inspired and supported us,  I was already thinking about a few of them.  Pastor Terry didn't name anybody from our church because he knew that there wasn't time to name everybody and forgetting anybody might hurt some feelings.  I guess the same could be said for writing about people and I don't know that prefacing a post by saying that these are just a few of the many people that have given me encouragement along the way will help. It's not not that I discount the contributions of others (yours included if not mentioned here), it just that these are a some unlikely ones. There is a pretty good chance that these people have no idea that they have influenced or inspired me in my spiritual growth.

I guess I should start at the beginning. I grew up in a very Catholic home. I went to a Catholic grade school.  I  knew that my parents were very devoted to "the Church" but didn't know just how involved they were until much later in my adult life.  I guess I thought that the bishop stopped at everybody's house for an occasional dinner and didn't know that my parents were involved at a level beyond the local parish.  Today, I recognize that their devotion is not to "the Church", but to their Lord and Savior Jesus.  My son calls them the most un-catholic Catholics that he knows as they read their Bible daily, pray together daily, and look forward to the reports on God's answers to prayer so that they can offer their thanks. In spite of the fact that I missed most of what was being taught in that Catholic school or at home and pretty much quit going to church at the earliest opportunity, I came away with a foundational knowledge of God and a little bit of an understanding of the fallen nature of man.

The next spiritual guide that entered into my life was my wife, Chris.  It was Chris that insisted that we start going to church and it was Chris that did the work in looking for a church that we would both be comfortable in worshiping God.  At the time, I was working a lot of Sundays and she often went to church by herself and reported back on the churches that she visited.  Even after I surrendered to follow Jesus, there were still many Sundays when I was working and she was always faithful to attend, even when it meant getting one, and then two, little ones up and ready by herself.

I've written about my friend, Gene Rainwater, before.  Rather than telling the story again, I'll just encourage you to read my previous post. It's a little long but it is one of my favorites to reread ... except for the part about having to get up and grab a box of Kleenexes!

There have been others. Some young men that have answered God's call and made hard decisions about following him to other countries or taken risks in leaving the security of a bigger church to plant a new one. Three young men that come to mind (all friends): David Stone that has endured the harsh side of church politics but continues faithfully in his calling to pastor, plant and grow churches for the glory of God.  Brad Daily that followed God's call to Canada to work on reaching Canada with the saving Gospel of Jesus. (Brad was rewarded for his faithfulness by finding a great girl to marry and is now back in the Midwest.) And Dale Campbell that moved all the way to New Zealand and continues serving in the ministry.  Wait a minute ... Dale has also found a girl to marry.  I guess faithfully following God's call has some pretty cool rewards on earth as well in the life to come! These young men have inspired me just by being faithful to the call.

There is a young man that I met once on an airplane on a short flight from SGF to ORD.  That's not a lot of time to impact a life.  Michael Mosely was a young Marine that had been at Ft. Wood on a short assignment as was heading back to his duty station in Washington D.C.  We talked about his Christianity, some of the struggles he was facing, and his questions how God was working and wanted to work through his life and through his music. Michael has gone on to answer God's call and complete his degree work in Biblical Studies at Washington Bible College.  ...And his studies also led him to a young lady that is now his wife.

Maybe that's just the way of young men and young women. Maybe if these guys read this (and that's a BIG maybe) they'll weigh in on whether or not they feel their wives are God's blessing for their faithfulness.

There have been encouraging conversations with guys that I've worked with. One guy I only saw at shift change, but we would often talk for quite awhile and I always enjoyed those thought provoking conversations (TB).  Another  now retired controller (FK) had me invited to his church on a couple of occasions early in my ministry and was another one of those guys that God let in on His plans to call me into ministry before I recognized it.

There have been others; many of them professional ministers in some way--pastors, evangelists, denominational leaders, etc.

But I wanted to mention these because their influence has been largely unintentional.  They have inspired and encouraged me just by loving God and serving Him.

The next question that Pastor Terry asked was a lot more difficult to answer ... and I'll share it with you:

Are you on anybody's unsung hero list? Have you been a quiet encourager or an inspiration to somebody as they struggle in their Christian walk?

Something to think about, eh?

John <><

1 comment:

Fran said...

John - great post - of course I love it that you mentioned my son!!!! Years ago I always praye that God would bring people inot my children's lives to come along side them, encourage them and just show them God's love. I think you have been one of those for Brad. Also in the midst of one of those prayers - I so clearly heard God ask me what person in my circle had a mother(or father) praying the same prayer for them, and was I part of the answer of that prayer. I have always tried to look around me(sometimes more than others)and see who might need the encouragement and love.

On a side note - how come Chris never seems to get any older - but you on the other hand........Love you guys!!