Friday, June 19, 2009

Widgets

My True Father in the Faith

The year was 1982 ... the place was the liberal tourist town of Santa Cruz, California. A middle-aged, Caucasian, former hippie woke up on Sunday morning and decided to take his 10-year-old, adopted African-American son to the neighborhood's conservative Orthodox Presbyterian Church. If this story sounds odd so far ... well, they had lived an odd life.

At home in his robe sat the man's older boy, a teenager. The man had decided the teenager was old enough to make his own choices, so the older boy stayed home that day. But the following week, the pastor stopped by and suggested he join his father next time. Of course, the boy blamed his dad for not waking him up in time. His dad didn't get mad ... he got even. The next Sunday the man had both boys in tow.

The little church had seemingly little to offer a teenage boy with deep emotional scars brought on by years of family turmoil and peer rejection. The church was hardly young and fun ... it was Reformed in theology, traditional in atmosphere, somewhat geriatric in population. There was no youth pastor and no youth group. What there was, however, was exactly what the boy needed. There was Pastor Allen Moran and his wife, Miriam.

What the devoted couple gave the troubled youth was priceless--they gave him themselves. He learned about Christ in church, of course, when he wasn't daydreaming out the window. He learned far more in their living room, however, where Allen discipled him while Miriam lovingly served Russian tea.

Eventually Pastor Allen decided the boy was ready to put childish things behind him. He sent him to a camp for young leaders, and he came back fired up. Together they started a youth group, with the young man (now 18) in the lead. It was bold step for a conservative church, and God rewarded the pastor's faith richly. The ministry blossomed and the little church filled with the energy of its young people.

It was but a bright season for the little church, which would face a difficult road in the years ahead. The young man, however, went on to join the military, earn a commission, and start a family. Pastor Allen had cultivated and planted, others would later water, and God made the man's faith grow. When he and his young wife had their first child, he knew the baby boy's middle name would have to be Allen.

It perhaps won't come a surprise if I tell you that Pastor Allen's young protege is the Jailer. Allen Moran is my "true father in the faith", as the Apostle Paul would say. In this way I am my own father's brother, for he too was led to Christ by Pastor Allen.

Tomorrow Allen and Miriam will be coming to visit. They have come to see me take command of the Air Force Honor Guard, and he has come just in time for Father's Day. He is a quiet and humble man, a faithful man, a godly man. He means more to me than I can express.

3 comments:

  1. I have tears rolling down my face! I'm so glad you came to church Ray...I still remember you coming and all the change. I also remember Dad's face when he found out Brad's middle name! He was so honored!!!

    Gracie

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  2. As a pastor, I can tell you that it's very easy to make bigness the focus of ministry and forget the significance of investing our lives in individuals. I, too, felt tears well up when I read this. I am grateful for the example you had and the change it made in you.

    Happy Father's Day, Jailer!

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  3. The Middle-Aged Ex-Hippie did play a part in all this: His contribution to encouraging Jailer to attend with him was something like, "Well, uh, if you'd like, uh, I'd like you to come." As an evangelistic effort, that stands so far as the M-A E-H's highlight. As for fruit, many of the young people who ended up part of that congregation were greatly enriched in Christ, and some converted. If that doesn't speak to the sovereignty of God in salvation, it would be hard to say what would!

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