Mel- After my first year of AFLBS, the church you pastored called me to be their summer youth leader. I will never forget those hot summer days in central Illinois as we gathered in your office to “talk shop” about ministry, pray, and even study Greek! You showed me what it is to be hospitable as a pastor family. Thanks for handing me Kleenex as I weeped over the lost for whom we were praying. Thanks for encouraging me to “get out there” to visit youth and their families.
Jim- As the dean of AFLBS, you were influential on my life for those key years immediately following high school. You are tremendously gifted in many ways, but I will never forget how you went out of your way to see how I was doing as we bumped into each other. Thanks for the leadership you provided at AFLBS. The “prayer & pie” nights at your home were unforgettable. Thanks for the role you played as a disciple-making dean.
Phil- After my time at AFLBS, I was blessed to plug into InterVarsity at JJC. Thank you for noticing me and pulling me into the student ministry team for that year. Those friendships were very meaningful during that transition time in my life. I believe it was through this ministry that God taught me what it means to love, serve, and minister to people who are different than me. It was such a joy to watch you highlight that ministry truth and live it out.
Phil- As I came back to the AFLC Schools to enter seminary, I was excited to take your classes again. This time around I got to see your humility and extremely high quality of teaching on a different level. As you opened up God’s Word to us as you dissected the intricacies of the Greek text, my mind and heart were blown away by the pure Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was through these times that my convictions were cemented in Lutheran doctrine. Thank you!
Fran- You are the only one on my two lists who has now passed on to our heavenly home. As the dean of our seminary, you exhibited humility and dignity through your leadership and teaching. I think the thing I learned from you most was what it meant to have integrity as a pastor and spiritual leader. Your influence on many, many lives is felt so palpably in the AFLC and beyond! Blessed be your memory.
Jason- Though I could have included you on my last list, I want to mention you now. My first interaction with you came during your seminary internship during my eighth grade year. Little did I know that one day I would serve alongside you in an important ministry. I have learned a lot from you, including how to lead with respect and a genuine love for people. It was a joy to help plan a few FLY Conventions with you and others. Thank you for teaching, modeling, and promoting what it means to “win, build, and equip” young people.
Tim- Like Jason, you were brought into my life at different stages. First, I served as a summer youth worker in your church the year after I served at Mel’s church in the same role. But, my biggest memories with you come from the year I spent serving alongside you in ministry as an intern pastor. Your sense of humor and solid preaching of God’s Word impacted me in many ways. I treasure the time we spent together as “coworkers in the Gospel.” You exemplified what it means to serve as a ministry team. Thank you, friend, for your influence on my life.
Mark- Like Tim, I had the great privilege of serving in ministry with you. I always felt that we had a good “Batman and Robin” relationship as we served as a pastoral ministry team. I will never forget the lessons I learned by observing you as a pastor day-in and day-out. Your genuine love for people overflowed in so many ways. You taught me what it means to "put your hand to the plow" and work hard in ministry. I’m forever grateful for that. I miss your day-by-day friendship in the context of ministry but am so thankful for getting the opportunity to toil together for the winning and equipping of precious souls.
So, what about you? Who has God brought into your life to impact you? As I come to this point, I smile in wonder as I ponder who God will bring into my life next. I’m also wondering how God has used and is using me to impact and influence others. Please take a moment and thank these types of people in your life. I know they will be tremendously encouraged. And who doesn’t need that today?