The Kenyan preacher’s words gripped me one night. “How many stars can you see? So many! And God knows the name of each one. He has a big book, too. In that book, he has the name of all who love him. Do you love the Lord Jesus? Has your name been written in that book?” At age 4 and a half, I wanted to love the Lord Jesus. That was probably my first insight into how a pastor can take the deep things of God, communicating them to young and old. Pastoral care matters in youth and children’s ministries.
I’ve been privileged to know many amazing pastors in my ministry. I consider them my mentors. From each one I learned another aspect in pastoral responsibilities. In Winnipeg, Manitoba, Dr. Thomas Schultz spent hours each week exegeting the Scriptures, whether from the Hebrew or Greek. In Vancouver, Dr. Ward Gasque excelled in hospitality; years later, I recall conversations in his home. Dr. James Houston never tired of giving himself to others. Right now, Pastor Dan Clark in Toronto makes a great inpact by helping the flock live as Christians in our society. Pastoral care engages intellectually.
In Vancouver, Cathie and were part of a loving, vibrant, growing fellowship. Watching Pastor George Baxter, I learned much about home and hospital visitation. I learned that something had been left out of my DNA structure. He had the ability to recall names of people, even years after having met that person. And Dr. Ben Gullison’s ministry with seniors was the best I’ve ever seen. Pastoral care matters to individuals.
In Brazil, I learned about church planting from Pastor Jonathan de Oliveira and Pastor Williams Balaniuc. Many aspects of evangelism, only occasionally mentioned in Canada, became daily topics. We rejoiced, for in Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, the 12 churches and 11 pastors in 1977 multiplied to 115 churches and 250 ordained pastors by 2020. Pastoral Care impacts evangelism and discipleship.
I never grow tired of learning from others. A dozen pastors gathered in Corumbá, Brazil, on the border with Bolivia, in July 1985. From that week of prayer for the impoverished of the region, grew the Pantanal Project along the Paraguay River. This led to ministries with abandoned street children. Later, in Istanbul, Turkey, we began a decade-long ministry with refugees, people fleeing 65 nations. Pastoral care engages with the poorest, the hopeless and the helpless.
This month in our LAM Newsletter, we will rejoice with the pastoral care being shown in several places and with different kinds of ministry. We will look at children’s ministries, pastors training younger pastors, taking time to listen and comfort the most neglected and hurting, and working with teens who are going to be unwed mothers. May the Lord bless you as you think of how many ways pastoral care is shown to others.
By David Phillips.