Dignify and Deploy 29: Fruitful Fathers
St. John Paul II rallied more men to the priesthood than any pope in modern history. Everywhere I go in the Catholic world I witness those who received God’s call to pastor at a World Youth Day or through revisiting one of Karol’s books. My current pastor—Father Justin—has an office pic of an elderly John Paul in Rome beaming at him. That fatherly bearing and gaze awakened many men to follow him and to father many.
And women. I will not forget a still exuberant female ‘student’ of Karol’s we met in Lublin (Poland) where the young priest pastored and formed many at the Catholic University there during the fifties. Abbey, Marco, and I had the privilege of speaking at the chapel where Karol preached often; after our ‘hour of power' (give us that, huh?), we were approached by this 90-year-old who still marveled at the intellectual challenge and emotional attentiveness of the philosophy prof who claimed students like her taught him.
John Wimber had the same impact on young people. He just loved us (last night when I was young…) Something of Jesus exuded from his being; when he regarded us warmly, Jesus enkindled a call. We took our places on the Kingdom team. I know of no other leader who inspired a generation of leaders to claim that John ‘mentored’ them, when in truth he did no more than have a meal with them, or make a phone call, or have an assistant invite him or her to a conference.
He simply had a bearing that sparked and fanned into flame a call to be and do more for Jesus in His Church.
Wimber and Wojtyla imparted like apostles. Jesus took their loaf and multiplied it into a feast for each ravenous disciple.
Nowhere was this more apparent than at the Fuller Seminary course that John Wimber taught from ’82-’86. He initiated ‘The Holy Spirit and Church Growth’ and broke all records of attendance and notoriety. Where else could you get a snazzy lecture then spend 90 minutes praying for the healing and deliverance of your fellow Nazarene-pastor-to-be (or Baptist, or Church of God, or Presbyterian or…)?
As a student at Fuller during this time, I can attest that Wimber exposed heady unbelief and lit fires of faith. My fellows by and large began to do the ‘greater works’ Jesus promised we could do (Jn 14:12); my focus on healing those with same-sex attraction became plausible to them for the first time. Fathers and mothers of faith left Fuller praying ‘Come Holy Spirit’ and to expect His action in the lives of hungry congregants, on the mission field, at home.
In their home, John and Carol raised four great kids, especially a daughter named Stephanie whom I adore. She and husband Danny burn bright and true; both are clean fireplaces still-getting-saved and ok with that. They’ve good kids too, one whom I am also graced to know. He is a deep, loving young man, authentically Christian.
Pastors’ kids need not be disasters. Fruitful fathers leave room for their kids to get saved. Some do and leave a Kingdom legacy that speaks louder than any course or conference or book ever could.
“Thanks for fruitful fathers like Wimber and Wojtyla. They still catch our gaze and fuel our faith. Keep us mindful of them, ever grateful. May we honor them by becoming trustworthy spiritual parents in our own right.
Come Holy Spirit, liberate what is true and beautiful from what debases us. May we not settle but aspire to the dignity of our sexual humanity. May we grow into ‘mature expressions of the gift’ by helping others do the same. Deployed to dignify, we ‘harness the John force.’”