This past Sunday I invited the church to write a letter to the person(s) who "fished" for them. Here's mine:
To my Parents and Eddie Black,
In Matthew 4 Jesus calls His first disciples with these words “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men (and women).” I gave a sermon this past Sunday about the importance of living into this call of Jesus. In the message I talked about how we were once fish and someone “fished” for us. Mom and Stan and Eddie, you are the ones who “fished” for me and for that I am literally eternally thankful.
Mom and Stan, you raised me in a home where I knew I was loved and cared for and provided for. You made it a point to take us to church and teach us about God in a several different ways. Eddie, you were the Methodist preacher I remember the most in my childhood because of your call to salvation at an evening service. I want to address each one of you.
Mom: What I remember most about you teaching me about God was through nature. You were always one to take us outside and appreciate God’s beauty through creation. His creation is truly a masterful work of art and you instilled that appreciation within me. I’m thankful for the mom you were and are and I am especially thankful for how you pointed me to God through His creation.
Stan: What I remember most about you teaching me about God was and is through generosity and hard work. It’s still amazing to me that you married my mom knowing she came with three young children. Generosity involves sacrifice, you sacrificed a life without having to provide for a large family to take us in and be a Father to us. You have also modeled generosity in your time and effort by how you (and Mom) took care of Mikayla and Bayley for us at least a full day a week for ten years. Our God is a generous God and I have seen you model that for me. Also, you have modeled hard work and the fruits of that labor. I know we are saved by grace alone, but we are called to partner with God and are created as God’s workmanship, in Christ Jesus to do good works. Thank you for modeling hard work.
Eddie: I remember sitting in my bed one night and asking Jesus to be my savior because of a sermon you gave at an evening service. Up to that point in my life I had heard about God and many of the Bible stories, but I had never intentionally entered into a saving relationship with Jesus. I thank you for your boldness that night to proclaim the gospel in a clear enough way for a ten year old to make Jesus his Lord and Savior laying in his bed that evening.
I am now a United Methodist preacher serving at an amazing church in Asheville, NC. Without the foundation each of you established for me, without you intentionally “fishing” for me, I would not be where I am today. Thank you for your part to play in who I am and what I’m doing today. I love being a pastor and take it as an honor and a privilege to share Jesus with a large group of people on a weekly basis.