Passing The Torch
John Dobbs, our beloved Big Buff Poppa and/or the BlogFather of the Churches of Christ, recently challenged his readers to consider participating in a blog series entitled (obviously) Passing The Torch, where we honor a preacher who has been like Jesus to us – taking us under their wing and encouraging us and helping us believe that there is a place in the kingdom for someone with our unique gift-set. Here are some others who are participating:
Lisa Bliss Leichner
Tim Archer – not precisely a “Passing The Torch” article, but close enough
Added on 3/2 – Tim’s official Passing The Torch contribution
Bobby Valentine – again, not precisely a “Passing The Torch” contribution, but worth the read
Added on 3/2 – Janice Garrison
Added on 3/2 – Doug Young
Added on 3/2 – Adam Faughn
Added on 3/3 – Scott McCown
Added on 3/3 – Instead of me editing this every single day (which has been fun and instructive!), here’s John Dobbs’ growing collection of Passing The Torch blogs. Enjoy!
I finally got to Frankfort, KY, in January of 2001. My wife had moved north almost two months earlier, in order to start getting our collective feet on the ground. I haven’t shared with many people the story of why I needed to leave Nashville: suffice it to say that while I wasn’t running from man’s law, I was fleeing temptation to break God’s law. Fleeing a temptation I’d already succumbed to, and which had nearly completely overpowered me. If I hadn’t made it out when I did, I doubt seriously if most of you would know me – or if I’d be anything like the man that, by the grace of God, I am today. How that grace came to me, the conduit God used, was Joel Hestand.
I first met Joel for pre-marital counseling, and I was really impressed by his compassion and wisdom and insight as he challenged Carly and I in our sessions. On October 2nd, 1999, he stood before God and our friends and families and sealed our vows. I didn’t really see him again until we moved to Frankfort, where Joel had been preaching for several years at the Myrtle Avenue congregation, after returning from mission work with the Chimala Mission in Tanzania, East Africa. His heart belonged to the Maasai people from his first opportunity to share the gospel with them; only his failing health forced him to remain stateside.
When I looked at myself, I saw a trainwreck. When Joel looked at me, he saw someone ready for the gospel of Jesus Christ to really take hold. I’d been a Christian since 1994, but had slipped (snuck?) through the tracks at two congregations in Nashville. When I got to Frankfort and started listening to Joel teach Jesus, it really was like a hungry kid set loose at a buffet! I couldn’t get enough just from his lessons, so he pushed books like The Cost of Discipleship (free this month from ChristianAudio!) and David Lipscomb’s Civil Government and What’s So Amazing About Grace? and Mere Christianity and the 5-volume complete works of Francis Schaeffer my way. He opened his library to me (dangerous, I know – but a man who has looked Communist soldiers in the face and said, “I must obey God rather than men,” wasn’t too worried about me hanging onto books for too long!). He taught me how to teach and preach. He opened his pulpit to me, and encouraged me to volunteer to preach at other local congregations when their ministers were away. He trusted me to preach in his place for almost 6 months (AM and PM) while he recovered from heart surgery. He even encouraged me to start a worship gathering at a local apartment complex for the elderly, which continued for almost two years.
But most of all, Joel opened his heart to me. He always had an encouraging word, he always had an open-ended response to my questions, and he always pushed me to go beyond the easy traditional answers to really find out what God had done and said in Scripture, what God’s people had done in the unfolding Story, and to open my eyes to see what God was still doing in His world up to this very moment. Thank you, Joel, for believing that this fumbling, confused, overbright and underwise fool of a man could grow up and serve God.
in HIS love,