Over three decades ago, a young pastor – along with his wife and three small children – left the confines of a comfortable pastorate to venture into the unknown. His destination was, from most objective measures, one of the most secular and least religious cities in America. He was leaving a pretty big church, in the heart of an Adventist “mecca,” with opportunity and talent to take the easy route and climb the denominational ladder.
But he sensed God had other plans.
And so he followed.
He followed God’s leading to metropolitan Boston, where he would plant a church. And then another, and another. Along the way, he helped start a vegetarian restaurant in the heart of the city, and started a school in its outskirts.
More than likely, however, his story won’t be glamorized in a denominational publication. You probably won’t see him featured at church growth conferences. None of the churches he started have turned into “megachurches” (even by Adventist standards). For sure, he’s had plenty of opportunities to pack his bags and go pastor thousand-member churches, or teach at universities, and he can preach with the best of them (as most people who’ve heard him preach will attest to).
But he never wavered in his calling, serving in humble settings and impacting thousands of people – a number only eternity will truly reveal.
And though he probably wouldn’t want me sharing this, next month he turns 70. And yet, 31 years later, his zeal and fervor and passion for the work in Boston – a city that is still as secular and godless as when he arrived – is as strong as ever, which keeps him pushing forward in ministry despite passing most other pastors’ ministerial expiration date. He still lives in the same house, ministers to the same city, encourages many of the same people that he first introduced to Christ 30 years ago.
He, of course, is my dad – a man who has taught me the gospel, showed me Jesus, mentored me in ministry, and helped me recognize that the point of the Christian journey is not to live a comfortable life.
And he’s my hero.
And he should be yours too.