We worship at The WHY Church. We recently closed out a lengthy message series focused on Paul’s epistle to the Romans. The beginning portion of the last chapter (Romans 16:3-15) is dotted with personal greetings from Paul to specific members of the Roman Christian community. Twenty-six people in total. Twenty-six people for whom Paul shared an affinity. People that had shared in his ministry and/or shaped his own faith journey.
Our pastor, Bjorn, suggested we take a crack at listing 26 people that we might want to greet in a similar fashion. People that played a significant role in our own faith development and journey toward and with Jesus. So I sat down one day and made such a list. Some folks from that list…
Arlyce Dipple Morrell – my 3rd grade Sunday School teacher who helped me learn stuff (i.e., Psalm 23, 100, etc.).
Cal Ryan – my pastor when I was about 10. He preached Jesus.
Dan Bailey – my patient 6th grade Sunday School teacher. He helped me learn more stuff.
Barb Reynolds – for giving me The Robe to read, which drew me to want to know Jesus more.
The religion professor that taught The Life & Teachings of Jesus Christ course at NDSU. I can picture him but haven’t a clue his name.
Dave and Donna Peterson – for introducing me to Young Life which has greatly impacted my faith and theology.
Chuck Thompson – a local Christ-follower with great wisdom.
Cordelia Veit-Carey – for pastoring me in my Young Life beginnings. She was a godsend!
Pastor Murray Jacobson – for biblical mentoring via The Navigators‘ tools.
Larry Ostrom – as I began to understand the difference between Jesus’ Gospel and the gospel of cultural Christianity.
Jack Fortin – for amazing Young Life training times in the 70s. My favorite Fortin quote: “God is as interested (or maybe more interested) in the process than the outcome.”
Chuck Jamison – for pointing me to Colossians 1:15 – Jesus is the visible expression of the invisible God.
Dick Knox – for rich, weekly conversations related to my journey to know Him…to progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly… (Philippians 3:10, AMP). I posted some of that story here.
Byron Thompson – In a phone interview, as we talked over my eight years as a volunteer Young Life leader, he asked, “Who’s in ministry because of your ministry?” – not vocationally, but those with an understanding of a missional calling regardless of vocation. It has since shaped my view of ministry leadership and the development of others.
Terry McGonigal – Through a Fuller Seminary, Old Testament Survey course introduced me to God’s covenant loyalty woven throughout scripture: I will be you God and you will be my people.
Perry Hunter – During our many breakfast conversations at the old Pannekoeken Huis, we started to process the concept of Doing right things versus doing things right.
Jack Muhlenpoh – a 3M executive that served as a great pastoral mentor for me. He helped me see the value of willingness when inviting people into ministry service.
Eli Morris – as a white guy who spent a chunk of his ministry serving urban young people, he played a major role in my ongoing journey of understanding biblical justice.
Bruce and Barb Barber – friends and encouragers in the faith for close to 35 years!
Craig Paulson – he encouraged me to pursue a doctorate in higher education, a quintessential example of Jack Fortin’s statement about the value of process outweighing outcome.
And it goes without saying that my wife, Barb, has been the greatest encourager and catalyst of my faith development over the past 46 years!
This was a great process to undergo – to reminisce about these treasures in my life and the jars of clay that embodied them.* I would recommend it to anyone and everyone. It postures us to be grateful – a quintessential Christian virtue!
* The “jars of clay” metaphor is an addendum thanks to an email response to the original post from my friend Brooke Filipovski, Young Life in North Macedonia & Albania.