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A Day in the life…of a Pastor

A Day in the life…of a Pastor

            Usually in my Clergy Corner article I endeavor to explore and discuss what I believe is a compelling issue impacting our community and society. For example, in the past I have written about underage drinking, faith and politics, the economy and even the U.S. Automakers bailout plan. But this time around I want to try something different, maybe even a tad risqué. I am going to be vulnerable; I am going to reveal a small slice of a pastor’s heart and life. So here goes…
            Sunday, December 14 was a unique and special day in my life as a clergyman. At that time, I had served as the Senior Pastor of Evangelical Friends Church of Newport since February of 2007, about 22 months. But this day was one of only a handful of days that I am sure I will look back on years later, and smile, and thank God for. That morning we celebrated the retirement of the GRO plan, an ambitious renovation project the church adopted in December of 2006. Because we believed God wanted to do a new thing in our church body, we raised $170,000 to update and improve our facilities so we could reach and accommodate new people: people who are hurting and need encouragement, people who like God but not church “as usual,” people who are searching for the loving family they never had, or people looking to connect with God in a more meaningful way. And we are so thankful because we are in the process of accomplishing that goal as our church has grown spiritually and numerically.
             But that was not even the best part! During a few crucial moments in our campaign, the church dealt with some contentious and potentially divisive issues. Some people in our church—including leaders—held strong views on both sides. But on Dec. 14 we retired that history along with our debt. One of our former elders (who had since relocated to Dallas) flew into town for the celebration. This man, along with a few others, gave stirring public testimony to the beauty and power and unity of God’s work at our church. Afterwards, there were few dry eyes in that sanctuary because we realized we had come out on the other side stronger and more effective as a body of believers. Praise be to Jesus Christ!
             As if that was not enough excitement for one day, a few hours later that elder and I went to Newport Hospital to visit an important person. Allow me to explain. At the end of September one of my pastor friends watched as his wife collapsed during a Sunday morning worship service. She was rushed to Rhode Island Hospital where she was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm and given a small chance of survival. Myself, and other pastors traveled to Providence to lay hands on her and pray for her full restoration. Many churches and hundreds of Christ-followers on Aquidneck Island and all around the U.S. prayed for her healing every day. Slowly, over the next couple of months she started to recover. In December she was transported back to Newport Hospital and then returned home before Christmas. On this Sunday afternoon my friend and I were amazed at her memory and cognitive ability. You could hardly tell anything had ever happened to her. It is truly a miracle!
             In my line of work you witness and experience a tremendous amount of heartache and pain as you walk with people through the gritty reality of their daily lives. It can weigh on clergy, so much so that many quit because of burnout, never to return. But on December 14, 2008 I experienced an extraordinary day. A day for the ages. A day that refuels and energizes you. A day that reminds you of the critical importance of fulfilling your God-given mission and vision, because so much hangs in the balance.
            I don’t know about you, but I think we all need more days like that.

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Pastor Paul Hoffman