A Modern Day Moses: Pastor J.R.’s Story
Being an Orchard: Community Member means owning your impact with a deeper connection. This update is the first in a series of in depth profiles written to help you better know the people your partnership with Orchard: Africa is impacting in South Africa. It is our hope that this deeper connection will empower everyone in the Orchard: Community to further their impact with a renewed sense of teamwork.
For many kids, including J.R., a childhood upbringing included weekly attendance at church. Most children have a highlight or two of their time growing up in a local congregation. Being an altar boy and walking with the Pastors down the aisle was one of J.R.’s highlights. A close second would have been learning about all the Bible stories in Sunday School.
One of the greatest aspects of Sunday school was that you could raise your hand to answer just about every question correctly with one of three responses. Those universally right answers were, of course, “God, Jesus, and the Bible”. It didn’t matter which Bible story was the topic of that week’s teaching, those three answers covered everything from Moses’ earliest ancestors to the eventual return of the Messiah.
When interviewing Pastor J.R. it quickly became apparent that every one of the questions asked would somehow lead to God, Jesus, or the Bible being the answer. The difference in Pastor J.R.’s answers and those given by snarky Sunday Schoolers is that J.R. was answering from his heart instead of his wit. Much about a person’s heart can be revealed by, not only how they answer a question, but also how how they respond to a need. At 70 years old, when most people are getting ready to enjoy well earned rest, J.R. answered the call to serve in ministry full time.
The church he was attending in Dihatswane village was facing a leadership crisis and he chose to fill the sudden void. Dihatswane village has suffered greatly by the unfortunate, and yet, not uncommon injustices experienced in rural African communities. In accepting the call to serve this local church J.R. was choosing to not only fill the gap left by generational poverty, but also to step into a pulpit in need of renewal – as a leader, J.R. has positioned himself between a rock and hard place. This is not the kind of church or career path many pastor’s would be eager to take on. When asked what he enjoyed most about pastoring the church, he revealed his heart once again. J.R.’s answer – “The challenges that bring me nearer to God”.
Being closer to God is what all godly leaders want, not only for themselves, but also for their people. This is what one of the greatest leaders of all time wanted for his people. You may have heard of this leader (certainly J.R. had) during all those early learning opportunities in Sunday School. His name was Moses. Moses once said to his congregation, “Come near before the Lord, for He has heard your cries”.
Getting closer to God is a step-by-step journey, and sometimes that journey takes delayed retirements, desert detours, and gritty leadership. Like Moses at the age of 80, J.R. didn’t anticipate being called to serve people living in a barren landscape – especially not as he entered into his elderly years. Fortunately, also like Moses, Pastor J.R. possesses the grit and grace to help his people draw near to God.
As the time of fellowship with Pastor J.R. came to a close one final question had to be asked, “If you only had a week left to live, what would you spend your time doing?”, and like a modern day Moses as he watched his people enter the promised land, J.R. answered, “Praying for lost souls that they may find salvation and enter heaven”.
OWN YOUR IMPACT THROUGH A DEEPER CONNECTION IN PRAYER:
Pastor J.R. was asked how Orchard: Community members in the United States could pray for him and he replied, “To stay in the will of God, and to have wisdom to lead the children of God”. As part of the Orchard: Community would you please make the time to pray on behalf of your brother, teammate, and partner in ministry according to the request he shared above?
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