Each October as Pastor Appreciation month comes around, I pause a bit to reflect on the pastors who’ve influenced my walk with the Lord. I’m grateful for those who’ve not only responded to the Lord’s call on their life, but have served Him diligently, week after week, sharing His truth and love and grace.
Fresh out of college, I packed up my Dodge Intrepid and headed to Lincoln, Nebraska, for a Feedlot Management internship. To say those 1,200 miles were rough would be an understatement. Between a combination of not wanting to leave home, being pulled over for the first time in my life fifteen miles from home, a Wyoming thunderstorm that I was sure was the prelude to the rapture, and the acknowledgement partway across Nebraska that I knew no one, it was clear I was in over my head. I arrived in Lincoln, NE on a Saturday night, and on Sunday found myself in the seats of Calvary Community Church. Despite the large size of the church, I felt peace in hearing Pastor Carl Godwin’s words and seeing his smile. Throughout the next two years at Calvary, Pastor Godwin reminded me of a Grandfather that I only wish I’d had. He was at ease preaching, perched on a stool in front of the group. He had a genuine smile that lit up whenever he was able to introduce a new baby to congregation (with each baby, he would walk down from the stage, hold the baby in his arms and pray for the family and truly rejoice at the blessing). His love for his wife was evident, and he beamed with pride at watching her sing on the praise team. He frequently encouraged his congregation to read a Proverb a day, to finish the book each month, a practice I still do now.
After six weeks in Lincoln, NE, I headed West for my internship at Minatare, NE. Again, I found myself headed to a new church in a new town. Even though I knew no one, seeing the pastor in boots, jeans, and a blazer greeting parishioners at the door of Mitchell Berean Church brought a smile to my face. He preached with love, truth, and honesty as he shared personal stories of his struggles in the years while he rebelled against Christ. He was transparent, authentic, genuine, and I appreciated his personal ranching reflections. But what do I remember the most of Pastor Scott? Each week, he would end his sermon by closing his Bible and looking out into the congregation with the words, “I love you, Mitchell Berean.” It was raw and honest love that poured through Pastor Scott.
Summers during grad school found me in Hyannis, Nebraska, where Pastor Roy Monahan preached with diligence and faithfulness each week. He tended to the congregation as a shepherd to a flock, carefully guarding the Church and its people. After Pastor Roy married Kaleb and I and we began our married life near Arnold, NE, we were truly blessed with another wonderful pastor, Frank Scott. Pastor Frank alternated between the pulpit and the saddle, spending his days both ranching and sharing the Word of God. I will always remember the hot August day when it seemed every small child and baby in the church was fussing, and Pastor Scott ended the service by telling the mothers not to be frustrated by their kids, but smiled and said how grateful he was to have them in church.
For the last three years, Pastor Joe Litton has blessed us here in Cut Bank with his faithful leadership. He is a man who epitomizes humility, wisdom, and a love for the Lord. He radiates a personal relationship with Christ and is forever willing to give to others and to serve others.
I pray you may experience the blessing of gospel driven, humble men who preach the Word of God as I have. I am grateful for these men for not only responding to the call of God in their life, but for their transparency to share their struggles and their walk with the Lord. They’ve led by example in truth, love, and the study of His word. Carl, Scott, Roy, Frank, and Joe, you’ve impacted me more than you will ever know, and for that I thank you.