This week Covid-19 claimed the life of a pastor, mentor, and friend of mine. I would be overcome with grief if it were not for the knowledge that Pastor Richard Trawick is rejoicing in heaven. After many faithful years of ministry on earth, he is now receiving his heavenly rewards and basking in the presence of the Lord.
Our relationship began with a knock on the door. We had finished a late supper following football practice and we were about to settle into evening chores and homework. When we opened the door, Pastor Richard greeted us with a smile and asked if he could visit for a few minutes.
The Sunday before we had visited his church in a search for healing and belonging. As a family we were broken from our previous church experience, hesitant to move forward and pondering our place in the body of Christ. Richard’s smile, open arms, and invitation to join his church family neutralized our fears and gave us hope. He promised to love us, support the call of God on our lives and help us heal. It was an offer we couldn’t refuse!
Through the years I learned many lessons from my pastor and friend. While organizing the Vacation Bible School the following summer, I met with Pastor Richard to present my ideas. I began by describing the week and my plans for a Friday night gathering of students and parents. He promptly said, “We can’t do that…Friday night is the night I take my wife on a date.” I had never seen a man put his date night with this wife ahead of ministry. In fact, I had seen wives and families suffer as men grew their ministries giving it first priority. He was a man telling me that his date night with his wife was non-negotiable and more important than anything else. Wow!
In December of 1993, Larry and I were ordained by our home church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I planned to quietly serve at Larry’s side and not really tell anyone that I had been sent out to minister the gospel and grow the body of Christ. I didn’t want the persecution that women in ministry received and I had become good at serving quietly as not to offend or ruffle any religious feathers! Pastor Richard came to me and said, “Ann, the Methodist Church has a “women in ministry Sunday” every spring and I want you to preach for me that Sunday.” “Oh no, not me” I responded. No way was I coming out of the ministry closet. He looked at me, smiled and said, “I’ll pencil you in and we will talk later.” He won. I preached my first official, “in the pulpit sermon” that Sunday in the church of a man who believed in me. That event started a ripple that has become a tsunami of ministry around the world. I will always be thankful for his nudge to overcome my fear.
Pastor Richard invested in my husband, Larry and gave him great guidance and presented opportunities to grow and serve. Larry and Richard golfed together and spent a lot of time solving the problems of the world! Larry thought it was cool that a minister could drive a four-in-the- floor white Mustang with black racing stripes. They were solid friends with a common goal… to share the gospel.
My two sons, Sam and Jamie had put together a Christian rock band. They traveled to youth events, wrote songs, and had a blast with their band “Last Flight Out”. Pastor Richard invited them to take over his church sanctuary, invite young people from the entire city and have a night of fun, fellowship and sharing the good news. There was standing room only that night and they knew an older “man of the cloth” believed in them.
When Pastor Richard was moved to a church in Homerville, GA we all cried. He invited me and Larry to come and present a marriage seminar for his church. When I opened my downtown business, he dedicated the store and prayed for God’s blessings to be upon it. There are many other stories I could share about our time with Pastor Richard but the bottom-line is this, he showed us the unconditional love of God, did not compete with us but promoted us, and he led by example not just words. He was truly a mentor to the Nunnally family.
In closing let me encourage you to find a pastor who believes in you and will mentor you concerning the things of the kingdom of God. That is God’s plan for your spiritual growth.