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Pastors Are Heroes

Some recent health challenges among myself and friends brought to mind how many pastors I’ve known over the years and the example they were to me of godly men. Pastors are heroes. I know we talk a lot in our society about the sacrifices military people and first responders make for us. And they are heroes. But pastors are heroes too, and of the greatest kind. They do so much for the people they serve. They have entered into a role that won’t make them rich, and they often are opposed and ridiculed by the very people they shepherd in love. 

The pastors I’ve had in my life have done remarkable things for me and my family. So, let me share some of the life-changing impact these men of God have had in the lives of my family.

Roger Barrier was my first pastor. What I first learned about the Gospel I learned from him. When I lived in Mongolia, he and Julie came for a visit and taught Mongolian pastors about spiritual growth. Then, they recognized things in me and my oldest daughter that concerned them. Long story short, when my daughter was having difficulty making the transition back to the US, Roger and Julie stepped in when she was in trouble. They brought her to their own home and took care of her until she could get straightened out. They saved her life and counseled me on how best to help my daughter. A year later, it was my turn. Roger recognized that I was bipolar and needed help. He convinced my board of directors to give me some time off so I could get medical help and counseling and get my head on straight. Roger and Julie saved my ministry and even my marriage, and I’ll never forget it. Roger is my hero.

Another pastor and dear friend, Chris Bayer, contacted me regularly in Mongolia to encourage me and help me stay the course. We developed a deep friendship. When my second daughter had serious health problems, Chris took her into his home, got her the medical attention she needed, and got her on the path to wellness. He changed her life.

When my youngest daughter was having spiritual issues, she was confused and didn’t know what to do. Chris Bayer stepped in, identified what she needed, and led her to a real commitment to Christ. She’s never been the same, and I couldn’t be more thankful. 

Chris is with the Lord now. But he’s still my hero.

John Barber was never my pastor in that I wasn’t a part of his church, but the Lord gave him a heart for us when we were in Mongolia. During a particularly trying time in my ministry, John called me from Florida to encourage me. Few people from the States called me back then. But John did. And it meant a lot to me. He’s such a man of excellence. I was amazed that he even would want to talk with me. Years later, he helped make it possible for me to attend seminary to expand my ministry. He shoots straight with me, and I think he’s a great model of a man of God. John is my hero. 

Esmond Hilton was my pastor for five years in Orlando before we moved to Mongolia. We became great friends during those years, and I could see a pastor’s heart in him. He loved the people he served, but to be honest, many whom he served treated him badly. When he was confronted by a body of men in the church about his ministry, his first thought was, “Is this true? Am I doing this wrong?” He showed humility and love for the people he served, even though they often treated him badly. What a great example! Esmond joined me in a 40-day fast, seeking God together. He’s retired now, but he’s still my hero. 

Then there is Chuck Auschwitz, my current pastor and friend. He also often suffered bad treatment by the people he loved. When he heard bad stories about me from some of his parishioners, he held his judgment, knowing there was another side to the story. He accepted us as friends, and the Lord gave us a ministry of encouragement to him. He always thought of his church first and wanted to lead people to a deeper commitment to Christ. If there’s anything that marks Chuck, is that he’s a godly man who loves. He’s been a great example to me, encouraged me to teach, and gave me opportunities to expand my personal ministry. Chuck is my hero.

Pastors teach and give and give, and they are not often recognized for the loving service they bring to others. Military and first responders? They are heroes. But so is the pastor, sacrificing day by day for the kingdom of God and the love of Christ. The pastors in my life have changed my life and the lives of my family. They are my heroes. I hope yours is too.

Tom Terry is head of Global Broadcast Strategy for JESUS Film Project and serves as General Manager of The Better FM, an online radio station for Asia. Tom is also the author of several books, including Bible studies and "Like An Eagle," his biography about living in Mongolia for ten years.
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