Six pastors and a counselor.
I am pretty much done writing about the previous 21 months and all the things that took place in my personal and ministry life. However I wanted to write about 7 men who opened their time and lives to me in significant ways. Without exception each one was directed by the Spirit to invest in me and I am so grateful for the time each gave to help me heal and grow.
- Pastor Mark Sartori. Mark has pastored the Shelton Alliance Church for the past 18 years and is a man who gives himself tirelessly to care for hurting and disenfranchised people. We met almost every week for months, talking about life and ministry, brokenness and failure, but always Mark centered what we talked about in forgiveness and restoration. He probed and questioned, gave me books to read and when we ate dinner together two nights ago it was clear to both of us we were used of God to help heal and shape the other. Thank you Mark for your consistent and faithful life as a man, husband, father, friend and pastor.
- Dr. Jeff Wagamon. Within a couple of days of my resignation, Dr. Jeff was in my life. I knew him because I had spent some time with him when Paul died and knew him to be a sensitive and proactive counselor. He made time in a full schedule to meet with both of us and then I spent an hour a week in his office for 18 months. The value of his ministry investment in me and my family cannot be calculated. Not only did he meet with Linda and me, he also met with the board of the church I had pastored trying to find some way into reconciliation and restoration. Though his efforts to bring healing with the church were rebuffed, he kept on trying to do whatever was necessary to promote healing in our lives and the life of our family. He is a quiet, caring, Godly man and I am so grateful for the hours he spent guiding and encouraging me to not give in or give up. Thanks Dr. Jeff.
- Pastor Todd Pierce. Todd pastors professional bull riders as a full time ministry but his extended ministry flows out to all kinds of people. Shortly after Christmas, 2005, Doug and Jeanee Wright took Linda and me over to Idaho to spend some time with Todd and Leslie. It was to be the beginning of a relationship that grew to include many others in Todd’s sphere of relationships. Our time in Oklahoma is a direct result of this first trip to Idaho. Todd spoke words of grace and healing over us and was greatly used to rebuild shaken confidence and faith. He is a young man but a gifted encourager and believes strongly in restoration, not as an option but as the responsibility of the Family. I know we will see Todd more as we step into this next season of our lives. May God bless you Todd and Leslie and continue to use you in a mighty way in the Kingdom.
- Pastor Burt Smith. A friend of mine who attends The Church of Living Water where Burt is pastor, got us together over breakfast. Living Water is a very large church and Burt is one of the busiest men I have ever met, yet he took time every couple of weeks to meet with me, to kick me in the rear when necessary and to support Linda in ways no one else was doing. That he would give me his cell, home and church phone numbers with the freedom to call whenever I needed him, was a huge statement of his availability to me. His concern and support of Linda was clearly of the Spirit as Linda felt so rejected by leadership she had submitted to for more then 16 years. Burt is passionate, out spoken and very direct and I benefited greatly from both his compassion and his boldness. He too, attempted with out much success, to advance the reconciliation and restoration process with our former church and we are so grateful for his ministry in that area as well as his personal ministry to both of us. Burt’s assistant Kelly was also such an encourager many times over these last months. Thank you Burt and thank you Kelly.
- Pastor Ron Marrs. Ron was a pastor at Westwood Church in Olympia for 25 years and a friend from college and seminary days. He is now a professor at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. Ron came on the scene to facilitate meetings and conversation with the former church, in an attempt to bring about some kind of relational healing. He met with all concerned individually, he led meetings, met with our kids and their families and worked tirelessly to be a peacemaker. In addition he spent several hours with Linda and me talking and sharing important things together. He was often frustrated by the lack of movement, but his patient, careful and compassionate effort ministered to all of us and came as close as anyone to accomplishing the goal of restoration. Ron, our family owes a huge debt of gratitude to you. Blessings!
- Pastor Andy Taylor. With no offense intended, we would never have gone to Oklahoma if not for Andy Taylor. I remember the first time I heard his voice, heavy with a southern kind of accent, on my cell phone. Seriously, if I could put a voice to God, it would sound like Andy’s! His call to invite us to come spend time with him and his church family turned out to be just what we needed. He was gracious, encouraging, questioning, prodding and most of all he could see things we could not see that the Father wanted to do for us and give us. We are going to Oklahoma for an extended period because we believe, as Andy does, that our full restoration to ministry will take place there. That a Northwestern couple would come to a church in a small town in Oklahoma to find healing and hope is clearly a Spirit deal. Andy, thank you for giving yourself so freely to us.
- Pastor Dennis Teague. Dennis is a missionary and pastor who I have known for 18 years but had never really had a conversation with until 8 months ago. Dennis pastors a church with services in Olympia and Shelton and is currently in China, teaching and ministering. Dennis and his wife Diane are tireless Kingdom servants who serve and serve and serve. Their personal commitment to the broken and the hurting is amazing. They are also some of the happiest people I have been around. Dennis and I met every Monday for weeks, sharing all kinds of things, but mostly I learned about the Spirit from Dennis. His patient, careful and non-defensive way of communicating allowed me to ask questions, to express my uncertainty about certain of his theological views without any fear of misunderstanding. He is not interested in convincing so much as he is in learning and growing. I will miss Dennis’s gracious view of almost everything. He is a grace-man. Thank you Dennis and Diane.
For real wholeness and restoration to take place in the life of any broken person it takes a lot of people. There are many more who could be written about, many of them have been in other posts. I write about these men because without exception they are men of God, men who listen and follow the Spirit and men who are not afraid to step into hard places to do what they are called to do. We are so blessed.
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