-GAINS & GLEANINGS-
By J. Hogan
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” ~John 12:24 New King James Version
It was 22 years ago today that a slick-looking white Yamaha V-Star 650 swerved on a mountain road east of Phoenix and crashed. No witnesses emerged to say what caused the accident, and the rider, my dearest friend and mentor, Tim Wakefield, couldn’t tell. The back of his helmetless head had hit the asphalt, and his skull caved in.
The next day, on the 18th, his wife Kathy and his sons Nathan and Tyler were in the hospital room saying goodbye. Tim was “brain dead” and the decision was made to pull him off life support as soon as the organ donation harvesting team was ready.
Five years later, Kathy met the man whose life had been saved by Tim’s transplanted heart.
In a lot of ways, my life was saved by Tim’s heart, too. Oh, God used others along the way as well – my parents prayed like mad for their wayward son, my wife insisted we attend church as we tried to fix our damaged marriage, my old Sto-Rox friend Michelle (Revak) DeAngelo invited me to her church’s grand opening, and there were others – but none like Tim.
When Tim died it was a devastating loss to me and to five other men serving as lay pastors at our church. All of us believed we were committed to that ministry in the impoverished, many cultured immigrant and refugee community of Linda Vista in San Diego and probably would have served there for decades if Tim hadn’t died.
Instead, in the course of a couple of years, everyone but me moved on. Five years after Tim’s passing, after many difficulties and clashes, and having stayed long enough to help transition the church to their new lead pastor, Teressa and I packed up and headed off to plant Faithbridge Community Church in McKees Rocks.
My heart would have preferred Tim living. I loved him and still do. His impact on my life was so total as to remain unquantifiable. God used Tim to retrain my heart, uncover God’s vocational calling upon my life, lay out a course of education, and personally disciple me. All that and more, and he did so as my friend.
God used Tim to equip me for the labor of love that is Faithbridge. Yet, it didn’t stop with me. All of those men, slowly dispersed one by one from our common ministry in Linda Vista to places around the country, started ministries, supporting missionary work and serving communities in various capacities.
Right now there is a generation of folks who never met Tim being blessed by the fruit of his ministry in various places as they’re growing through the service and teaching of folks touched by him.
One of my great hopes, as I watch God raise up folks at Faithbridge, is that I might someday have a legacy of folks actively serving their communities, loving their neighbors and investing what God has placed in them into others long after I’ve gone on to be with the Lord.
We start our new Man of God men’s group on Tuesday, March 22 at 7 p.m.
Fellas, feel free to come check it out.
Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church, 618 Russellwood Ave.