As a young boy, I had the very distinct blessing of growing up in a church where we had men who were intentional about using their differing talents and gifts to minister to their local church.
They each dedicated themselves to the service of the members through not only their time, but also their resources and inspiration. They blended their work together as men and offered a wonderful array of guidance with a ministry of mentorship and disciple making. I remember their strong hand on my small shoulder as they encouraged me and blessed me and prayed with me over and over again. I remember, too, wondering if I would ever be as strong and faithful as they were—these men whose prayers shook the roof and gentleness quieted my doubts.
The Empower ministers’ meetings (held earlier this month at Avondale College) had a workshop discussing the potential of influence that medical practitioners and ministers could have if they found a way to blend their ministries.
General Conference Health Ministries director Dr Peter Landless led the workshop and started to describe how he had implemented this “blended ministry” in the different churches he had been a part of. He talked about the foundational thought and methods behind this blended ministry that he and a retired pastor had used in attending to the members in one particular little South African church. I couldn’t help noticing that he never really spoke about the results. It suddenly dawned on me that he might not know the results of Jesus’ faithfulness through his efforts.
As Dr Landless came to the end of his workshop he asked if there were any comments. My hand went up and I re-introduced myself to Dr Landless. He didn’t recognise me as it had been 20 years since I had last seen him in that very same little South African church. I was then able to stand in front of the very man who not only led me as a young man to surrendering my life to God’s will, but also strongly influenced my ministry as a pastor over the past nine years. I was moved to share how God’s method of blending ministries had results that were sure.
I told him later of the other young people who were with me in that very same little South African church and how each of them had gone on to differing careers (some in medicine) but still held their passion in doing work in the churches they had since joined as their journey in life continued. The more I have thought about it since, the more I realise we had all been unknowingly ministering in the exact blended way that had been modelled to us two decades earlier.
I am a little ashamed to say that I never said thank you to Dr Landless as our lives just simply parted ways before I matured enough to recognise his influence, but how gracious of God to put me in a position so many years later in a small chapel in Australia where I could stand up and affirm the ministry of a man whom Jesus had used so definitively in my life by the very methods of his blended ministry appeals. What a privilege to be able to put my arm around him and finally thank him even if not nearly enough. May you now know that my life is the result of Jesus’ faithfulness through you, Peter.
David de Klerk is the pastor of Esperance Church in Western Australia.