International Ministries

A Merciful, Graceful Pastor

March 27, 2012 Journal
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As I was preaching Alexander Korsah’s ordination sermon this past Sunday, a story came to my mind.  The prior weekend Alexander and I had attended a conference as part of our participation in a Protestant program designed to build multicultural churches where immigrants and Italians are integrated into a single worshipping community.  The conference was held in Palermo, Sicily, and I had sent Alexander the directions to the building where we were staying; Alexander was arriving early in the day.   As I made my way through Palermo later that same day following the directions that I had written down, I realized that a piece was missing; I had left out one of the buses.  I realized that Alexander would have come to the end of my directions and still be far from his destination.  Luckily I was traveling with 2 African pastors who had been more careful about writing down the route.

When I arrived at the conference center, there sat Alexander.  I was not surprised to see him there.  He had found his way to Italy from Ghana 17 years ago.  He had found work, brought his wife over, built a life here, started 2 churches, and is raising 4 sons.  Finding his way through Palermo was a piece of cake for someone like him.  As I apologized profusely for my omission, he just smiled and nodded and said:  “That’s alright, no problem.”  His response to me upon my arrival was characteristic of the way he lives his life and leads his church; he is a person of mercy and grace

It was with delight that I preached his ordination sermon last Sunday.  It was with thanksgiving that I invited the elders and pastors in the service to lay hands on him.  I was honored to present to him his certificate of ordination and clerical collar.  I also gave to him some books that had been donated by a retiring Italian pastor.  All of these things are emblems of his giftedness and willingness to respond to God’s call in his life.  Above all else, pastors should be persons of mercy and grace.  Alexander will make be a wonderful pastor.  We included Alexander’s wife Gladys in the service and the laying on of hands.  She is his partner in ministry, contributing in significant ways to the ministry and preaching for Alexander when he is away.

Alexander has faithfully attended the courses that we have offered over the past 4 years and is participating in the Laboratorio interculturale di formazione e accoglienza (Intercultural Laboratory for Formation and Hospitality) offered by the Federation of Evangelical Protestant Churches in Italy, of which the Baptists are a part.  He struggles to support his family, raise his sons, and lead his 2 churches.  He is typical of the immigrant pastors with whom we serve.  They make the most of every opportunity they have to equip themselves for service in the Kingdom of God.  And they are people of mercy and grace, because they are thankful for the opportunity to serve God in this new land.

You are partners with us in this ministry.  This makes you partners with these faithful pastors as they strive to bring the best they have to the service of God in their lives.

-Pray for Alexander and Gladys, for their sons, and for their churches in Bergamo and Como.

-Give thanks that God has provided some wonderful opportunities for Luke to attend college next fall.  We’ll let you know when he chooses a school.

-Pray for John, a local preacher in a Ghanaian church close to Slovenia.  He has been out of work for 40 months and struggles to survive.

-Pray for Debbie as she coordinates the Monday through Wednesday worship services for the World Mission Conference 2012 - Hear the Call at Green Lake Conference Center May 18-25.

Sincerely,

Jim (along with Debbie, Ben, and Luke)