My Everyday Heroes 2: Pastor Tim

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Ministers and politicians take turns hogging the headlines. Most of the time the news isn’t good. One doesn’t have to look too hard to find scandal these days.

While I have come to expect politics and scandal to be almost synonymous, I never fail to grieve each time the media hones in on an erring pastor. In my grief, however, I am always reminded of all those other pastors who keep plodding on faithfully, away from the fame and headlines, and straight into God’s favor.

And I see hope. And I am very grateful. And I almost always think about the past.

See, I grew up in a church led by Pastor Tim, a man of God whose faithfulness made such a big impact on my spiritual growth and formation. And while my family and I have many good memories from those years, I mostly think of three things when I hear my former pastor’s name: he was the minister from Manila who won over his mostly Igorot congregation; he was the pastor who led our church in evangelism and outreach up the mountains and down the valleys into people’s homes; and, he is the father of a good friend who up to this day helps me see what lived-out-faith really looks like.

Here are some of my favorite memories from those years, and the lessons God taught me through our pastor’s example:

  • Earthquake memories: I remember many things from that day–the 16th of July, back in 1990. I remember the panicked screams, the haunting silence, and the smell of death. I also remember Pastor Tim’s example of service, how he managed to visit us just to make sure we were okay. Back then, I remember wondering how his wife, Ate Sida, must have felt when our good pastor told her he was leaving for a bit to check on his congregation. There were, after all, still strong aftershocks. Through the years, I’ve come to realize the sacrifices every pastor’s family has to make. And the truth dawned on me: behind every faithful pastor is an even more faithful wife.
  • Long summers, after every youth camp. I remember going home and wishing our pastor’s sermons could be funnier, less meaty. And yes, shorter. And more youth-oriented. I would compare the sermons at those camps with our pastor’s theology-laden sermons and wish for change. But now, so many years down the road, I find that those sermons, most of them I figuratively slept through, did lay the foundation for my own developing theology (yes, it still is at that stage) and steered me toward a desire to be biblical in every way possible.
  • Missional, and mission-minded. At my old church, there weren’t a lot of attempts to meet our individual needs. But there was a strong focus on the Great Commission, and setting aside our own comfort to fulfill it. Even as my fellow teenagers and I tried to sort through peer pressure, the opposite sex and acne, we found that there was work to do. {I got the impression that it was more important to be living out my faith than to be stressing over the pimple in the middle of my forehead.} We spent our weekends trudging behind the adults, up mountains and remote places. And on Wednesday evenings, it was imperative that we show up and gather together to pray for our church. Our summers were spoken for–teaching Vacation Bible school and going on month-long mission trips. And while it wasn’t just Pastor Tim working to make all these happen, it was his leadership and dedication to our God-given vision that united us and helped us figure out how to fulfill what God wanted of us individually and as a congregation.
  • Holes in socks. I remember going to this one Bible study in Bayabas, then a small community in La Trinidad. It was raining, and we had to hike up to this tin house on the side of the mountain. When we got there, Pastor Tim took off his wet shoes. I still smile as I remember how his socks had holes in them. His daughter, Shelah, was there too. We giggled together as her father taught from the open Bible on his lap.

I think about it a lot–how we don’t often get opportunities at greatness. The reality is, I am faced with routine and drudgery every day. And it does get old–having to be faithful in seemingly useless things. Most times, I’m not faced with earth-shattering choices that could land my name among Christianity’s Who’s Who.

It becomes so easy to forget that the sum total of my years will one day reveal a tapestry of either faithfulness or mediocrity. That each day I live, I weave together the threads that will determine what that tapestry will look like.

But in His wisdom, and through the years, God placed people in my life who remind me of the bigger picture. People like Pastor Tim and his family. In many ways, the best sermon he (they) preached was his (their) life (lives).

Translated into my own, this is how my days should look like: living faithfully, and knowing that in the end, I will look back and say, “Oh, that makes sense now.” And I will be grateful that I chose to trust and not doubt, and that I got up each time I fell.

A few years ago, my home church celebrated an important anniversary. Pastor Tim was the featured speaker. I wasn’t there, but my sister related how the members who knew Pastor Tim and his family rallied to welcome him back. And after the worship service, when someone noticed the presidential table was empty, he went looking and found Pastor Tim and his family sitting and eating with the church members. My sister then described the reactions of a few dear members as they saw their beloved pastor again.

It still warms my heart to think about it.

And it makes me think about what I should do today.

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2 responses »

  1. From pa-dear: “Abet’s article is so touching. Please express my heartfelt appreciation for her wonderful words.”

  2. Your letter is very touching specially to the man of God like Ptr. Tim I salute him and and he’s worthy to give double honor because he makes impact to your life, the important line their is when you say he live his preaching. God bless.

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