Every story has a beginning. This is ours…
In the fall of 1997 Pastor Victor recommitted his life to the Lord. At the age of 17, he did not fully understand what a life in the service of God would look like. The challenge at that time was trying to make sense of what a seventeen-year-old young man could do in the grand scheme of God’s kingdom. This was the beginning of a journey with the Lord.
Over the next few months, Victor read the scriptures from cover to cover and sought to find an identity in and for ministry. I was not something he could explain, but he knew that his ministry and the rest of his life would be marked by what he found within the pages of Scripture.
The identity he sought he found in the ministry of the prophet Jeremiah. There are two distinct aspects of Jeremiah’s ministry that surfaced during that time. First, Jeremiah’s ministry was punctuated by a commitment to communicating the Words of God to the people of God. As a prophet, Jeremiah had a responsibility to faithfully share what God gave to him without modification, amendment, or commentary. The call of Jeremiah was very difficult. The first twenty chapters highlight many of the difficulties that Jeremiah faced in his ministry. Many have described Jeremiah’s ministry as a failure due to the fact that there was not much in the way of change in the direction or disposition of God’s people.
There was another aspect of Jeremiah’s ministry that also emerged. While not as prominent, was equally as important to the formation of Pastor Victor’s ministry identity. This second aspect was that Jeremiah’s ministry cultivated a passionate and unquenchable desire to continue in the work in spite of the difficulties that proclaiming God’s word instigated. This second reality had a transforming effect on Pastor Victor’s understanding of ministry in general and his ministry in particular.
Jeremiah’s own words became a reminder of what was at stake in the pursuit of ministry.
But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. (Jeremiahs 20:9)
Through the process of reading, studying, praying, and discerning God’s call on his life, Pastor Victor settled on the phrase Jeremiah’s Passion as the description of his ministry. He would strive to faithfully declare God’s Words accepting whatever suffering might accompany it. The double-edged meaning of the word Passion helped to drive the identity Pastor Victor sought for the ministry he was called to lead.
After nearly 17 years of embracing and visualizing his ministry from the perspective of “passion”, Pastor Victor came upon a sobering realization. In the summer of 2015, a shift began to take place in his heart and mind. The passion that he had for God’s word had not weakened. As a matter of fact, it had intensified over the years. What had changed was the man who was just as passionate about that Word of Life.
The unmistakable effects of the passage of time had marked the young man who had accepted a call to obedient service to God. The young man how now become an older, wiser version of himself. He had been working in ministry for over two dozen years and was noticing a change in how he wanted to move forward. The question that took shape within his mind was, “What does Jeremiah’s Passion look like for a man who is growing older?”
The answer came in the form of a renewed investigation of the prophet Jeremiah’s life.
After some time reading, praying, and discussing the issue Pastor Victor came to one conclusion, the vision and identity with which he would be moving forward was not changing, it was maturing, just as he had.
Jeremiah’s Vow represents that change. The prophet’s passion to fulfill his assignment was preceded and sustained by a vow, a promise to be and stay true to the task laid out before him. As Pastor Victor looked back over the course of his life and ministry he remembered the promise he too had made. A promise to preach the Gospel and staying true to the Word of God in and through it all.