Hank’s Last Goodbye

He had one more person to see before he left for Cotonou the next day. Ashley. Everyone had remarked how she would be a perfect pastor’s wife and he had been inclined to agree with them but there was only one problem–he wasn’t in love with her. And for him, marrying someone he didn’t love was completely out of the question.

He had called her yesterday and arranged to meet her that afternoon at The Dragonfly Coffee House. She was waiting when he got there about twenty minutes later. Removing his jacket, he walked over to the table. “Hello, Ashley.”

She smiled up at him. “Hello, Hank.” He was such a ruggedly handsome man. It was hard to believe that he was still single.

“What are you having?” he asked. “My treat.”

“I’m going to have their Tough & Tiny Chai tea and a slice of their Cardamom Apple Cake.”

“I’ll have a Hot Chocolate and a Pear Pumpkin Muffin.”

“So, how did your mother take the news that you’re moving to Benin?”

“She was upset. She couldn’t understand why I would want to go there but I had to explain to her that the church in Cotonou needs a pastor and I was chosen. I’ve never been to Africa before and I believe that this is too great an opportunity to pass up. Besides, it’s what God wants.”

“Are you so sure about that?”

“Yes. I’ve prayed about it and I have no doubts whatsoever that it is God’s will for me to go to Cotonou.”

“Well, as long as it is what God wants. How long will you be there for?”

“Possibly four years. That the usual amount of time a pastor serves at a church before he moves on to another. I have been pastoring at Bethel for four years and now it’s time for me to go elsewhere.”

“And what happens when the four years are over? Will you leave Cotonou and return to Portland?”

“If I’m needed here again, then, I guess I will be back in four years.”

“Would you want to stay in Cotonou after the four years are up and you’re not called back here to pastor?”

“I don’t know. By then, the Lord will let me know what He has planned for me.”

“Bethel wouldn’t be the same without you, Hank.”

“Thanks. I will miss it and the members. It has been my home church for four years.”

“I’ve always wondered if it is such a good thing for pastors to be moved around so often. I don’t think four years is a long enough time for a pastor to be at a church. Members get used to him and then, four years later, he leaves and they have to get used to another pastor.”

“I agree with you, Ashley. I think the longer a pastor serves at a church, the better. Seven years or longer would be much better than four years or less. I have heard that a pastor’s most productive time usually begins in five or six or seven years five. Too often, pastors don’t get to enjoy the fruitful years of their ministries. because they leave for different reasons such as conflict, staleness, greener pastures, boredom, burn-out and too much pressure. One of my friends, a minister of another denomination who wanted to leave his church because of its slow growth. I encouraged him to stay and stick it out, reminding him of Paul’s wise counsel which was to not allow ‘ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.‘”

“Did you talk him into staying and sticking it out?”

“Yes, I did. And, I’m happy to say that he has been with that church for fifteen years and counting.”

“That’s great. What about you. Each time you left the church you were pastoring, was it because God called you to another church?”

“Yes. There have been times when I wanted to remain at a church for longer than four years but I had to go where God was sending me.”

“Well, I hope that things change and they extend the tenure of the pastor.”

“Each pastor should prayerfully seek God’s counsel before he decides to leave the church where he’s pastoring.”

“I must tell you that your sermon yesterday on Embellished truths was very enlightening.”

“Thank you. We see examples of that in God’s Word. We have the false witnesses who embellished the truth by claiming that, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’ Jesus didn’t say that. He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” We know that He was referring not to the physical temple which took forty-six years to build but His body. He was speaking of His crucifixion and resurrection.”

“I guess they thought that He was referring to the physical temple. But even, so, it doesn’t make sense that He would claim to rebuild something in three days which took years to build.”

“Yes, and the apostle Paul also referred to the body as a temple when he said, ‘Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

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“You also mentioned how the people accused Jesus of perverting their nation, forbidding the to paying taxes to Caesar and claiming that He Himself was the Christ, a King.”

“They embellished the truth to make Jesus sound like a threat not only to the Jewish nation but also to the Roman rule. He was a rabble rouser, He was telling them not to give tribute to Caesar and was calling Himself a king which would be regarded as opposition to Caesar who himself was regarded as the king. They had to embellish the truth in order to make their accusations against Jesus stick or legitimate.”

“Jesus didn’t stir up the crowd. He encouraged them to pay their taxes. He even told Peter to pay the tax for both of them and He was the Messiah. To say that He was not would have been to deny who He was.”

“There are other examples of the truth being twisted or blown up to suit the person’s purposes and we see this in the teachings of so many churches but I won’t get into that now.”

“When do you leave for Cotonou?”

“Tomorrow morning.”

“Will you send word to the church secretary how you are doing once you’ve settled in?”

“I will and I’m sure my mother will let you know how I’m doing as well.”

“I will check up on her to make sure she’s all right.”

“Thanks. I appreciate that. And she’ll be grateful for the company.”

They chatted for a while longer and then, after wishing him a safe trip and all the best, he got up and left. She sat there for a little while longer, thinking about how much she was going to miss him.

Source: The Wesleyan Church

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