May 10, 2012 -
Pastor Gordon Adank would probably tell you he's a simple man…with a profound message. "He calls not the wise, so I guess he picks out the ignorant and dumb."
Hmmm, maybe that's why the pastor chose ME!
His challenge? Preach the sermon at Concordia Baptist, the church he serves near Havana, Florida.
I decided to focus on the man in one of Jesus's parables in the Bible, the prodigal son. You know, the one who blew his inheritance in wild living and finally came back to his father?
Pastor Adank was once a prodigal, too.
"He got saved in January and called to preach in June," says Sue Adank, the pastor's wife.
When I asked about a high point of his ministry, Pastor Adank brought up what most would consider a failure: his prayer for a power company worker who had a 35,000 volt line nearly sever his arms.
The man eventually lost the battle to save his arms, but somehow through the ordeal, the church found its heart.
"It was a time when the whole church grew closer to God than probably through anything else that happened there, says Adank"
The prodigal son had to lose it all before he found his father's heart. My message turned into sort of a one-act play with me as the prodigal at the point where he realizes he's lost it all.
"This good Jewish boy found himself feeding pigs for a living." That was the turning point for the starving son. He finally came to his senses, swallowed his pride and headed for home.
He dreaded his father's anger and rejection.. but to his amazement, found something else.
"Love... and joy!"
"Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you, and I'm no longer worthy to be called your son."
But his love was relentless, like a huge wave of the ocean."
My message was a one-shot deal, but what's it like for a real preacher Sunday after Sunday?
Says Adank, "a carpenter can go to work and cut and nail and put up something and at the end of the day say, 'Yeah. I've accomplished something,' but in the ministry, it's not like that."
It's tough to measure success when it comes to the soul.
Once, at another church, it got so discouraging, he decided to quit, but Sue, his biggest cheerleader, intervened. Even today she would tell him, "You can't give up. God called you to this."
Adank appreciates his wife's support, and her sense of humor.
" She's a humorous woman, and I like her laugh."
Sue says her husband's a gentle and humble man, but delivers a bold message.
" When he gets in the pulpit I see a whole different man. I see a man that's anointed to preach the word."
Dan Ard.. the man who runs the sound system, says the pastor lives what he preaches.
Says Dan, "They're the type of people you know you can trust."
Dan obviously loves the pastor and his wife like family. And just like family they kid each other.
" One Sunday Sue was in the choir and Gordon was preaching and Sue hollered out to me at the sound board and said 'there's an echo.' and I said 'take your medication.'"
The folks at Concordia seemed to enjoy my presentation, applauding at the end.
Pastor Adank won't expect it, but I'm betting that when his life is over, he'll receive heaven's applause.