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I met Gary back in 1991 when I was a new senior pastor in Northfield, Minnesota. Gary had been the pastor of another local congregation for a number of decades when Janet and I met him. Our fellowships were less than 2 blocks from each other. Seven years later when Abundant Life Assembly built our new facility, our churches were directly across the street from each other. We quickly became not only pastoral peers, but I saw him as a great mentor and resource for me. It wasn’t a typical mentorship where I followed him around, learning from him on a daily or weekly basis. Rather, we met at specific occasions or at specific times when I needed counsel or advice, or to share my concerns. Throughout the years, we had opportunities to preach at the other‘s church, went to special events at each other‘s fellowship, and had the opportunity to meet other ministers, missionaries, and evangelists that are still part of both of our lives. Janet and I were blessed to have Gary dedicate our youngest son, Tim, 23 years ago. 28 years have passed since we first met, and this morning it’s truly a privilege to have Gary with us. Amazingly, just as proof positive of his desire to help raise up new leaders, Gary has brought an individual with him that he is mentoring.

The power of believing in others and speaking into their lives is important, and one of the building blocks of healthy mentorship. For me, one of the most important takeaways of every Phoenix First’s Pastors and Leaders School, hosted by Pastor Tommy Barnett, is his teaching about believing in those within your congregation, and pouring your life and all of your skills and training into their lives. Some people call it “paying it forward,” investing in the future generation, seeing the potential in others, or whatever phrase or terminology you would like to use; it’s wrapped up in the scripture verse found in 2 Timothy 2:2 (which I quote often and I will quote again today). “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.”

Obviously we are currently focused on missions, and this entire weekend is geared toward raising support for 2019. Some have already submitted their pledge form, which is awesome and wonderful, and hopefully within the next few weeks most of us will offer up unto the Lord our pledge for 2019. Last year this local congregation gave almost $30,000 to missions…. phenomenal! Even as we are considering what we will specifically give this year, we are also contemplating how we can expand our Adopt a Missionary ministry. Last, but not least, if it is the Lord’s will, how can we become a bigger part of the solution in sending missionaries out into the field? Together is Better, so let’s GO!

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