November Gratitude: Pastoring

There is house in my hometown that sits up a little incline. I love that little house, and every time we pass by I point to it and tell my Bri, “There’s their old house.” He smiles patiently and never says, “I know, hon, you’ve told me that a thousand times.” You see, he understands. He knows how much of my heart is wrapped up in that home, or rather in the people who lived there.

There was Julie, who was like my second mom. I still remember sitting next to her in the movie theater watching Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella”. I remember watching her interact with people she met, awed by her beauty.

And there was Randy. He was our pastor, and he was like a second father to me. Often they would babysit for us when my parents went out, and my brother and I would play with their two boys, one of whom became a close friend through high school. I remember Holly Hoppy, their rabbit, sitting in the hutch out back.

When I was seven years old, they moved to Roanoke, and I cried my heart out, losing a family I loved. They remained close to my parents through the years, and after high school, through college, and into my adult years, I would occasionally see them, and it was always as if no time had passed. Randy was never afraid to ask about my heart and pastored my family and me (as well as many others) through one of the most painful periods of our lives over ten years after he had moved away. He challenged me through my college years to remain faithful to my Lord and not lose myself in the dating scene.

My cancer diagnosis brought Julie to the forefront of my life, always encouraging me, lifting me up from afar with a quote or a verse on her Facebook page or in an email that spoke to my heart. Then there was the day two Decembers ago when Randy came to my house after my thyroid surgery. He had been speaking at a nearby church and came to see us, to pray with us, to meet Brian, to encourage us.

After all these years, he was still pastoring us.

My mom pointed me to an article recently written about Randy for the Ordinary Pastors Project.

He is not a local celebrity, and most of the pastors of large churches in our area might not even recognize him. But the homeless community in our city recognize him. Often I’ve seen him greeted by name by folks who clearly spent the previous night outdoors. He’s invested himself freely in people who he knows will never be “tithing units” because he really believes in the value of the human soul. He really believes the gospel, and his authenticity is apparent. I’ve seen some of the most bitter and jaded folks who are skeptical of all things religious greet him warmly and call him “pastor.”

It’s a beautiful post about a man who exemplifies a pastor’s heart and lives the Gospel. A man I (and many others) are very grateful they call “friend”.

(You can read the whole article here.)

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