Saturday, April 09, 2011

Pastor Troyer

When I was in 6th grade my family started attending Bethel Baptist church in Merrillville, Ind.  We had floated around other places for awhile, but didn't really feel at home anywhere. The fact we moved about a 1/2 mile from Bethel and that many of my classmates attended the church made the decision to be there rather easy.  It quickly and easily became our church "home." 

The pastor at Bethel was Marv Troyer.  

I am honored to be able to say that he was and always will be my pastor.

A week ago today Pastor Troyer past away.  He was 77.  Today in Ohio is a memorial service for him, and it is killing me that I am unable to be there.  I would love to be able to add my voice to the many people I know will be sharing stories and words of appreciation for this great man of God.

Someone will mention his huge smile and laugh.  

Someone will mention his Amish stories.

Someone will mention his preaching.

Someone will mention his heart for people and his leadership.

So many stories, so many words that can be shared.  

I hung out at the church a lot with my youth pastor and did my college internship at Bethel, so I was able to interact with Pastor Troyer a lot outside of Sundays.  And I do have fond memories.

My friends and I had a reputation for TP'ing.  It was our way of expressing our love to people.  =)   One Saturday we decided to take it up a notch toward my youth pastor Mike.  We wanted to be a little more creative.  I can't remember if we actually TP'd or not, but I do know that the creative juices spilled over into us managing to get their kid's swing set up on top of the garage.  Yes - the entire swing set on the roof of their garage.  At church the next morning Pastor Troyer welcomed everyone as usual.  Toward the end of announcements he said, "And if anyone has any free time after church, Mike will need help getting their swing set off their garage roof."  And then he busted out laughing.  How many pastors, at least in our Baptist northwest Indiana region, would have scolded us from the platform?  Pastor Troyer thought it was hilarious.  Mike didn't, but Pastor Troyer did.  That was one of my favorite things about him - he was so much fun.  If you could really get him going he'd turn red and his laugh was infectious.  He loved to laugh with people and make them laugh.

I remember loving to hear Pastor Troyer preach.  He told stories and it was cool to hear him as he walked back and forth around the pulpit.  When I went away to Moody for college I'd often came home for church (and to do laundry).  Learning more and more about ministry at school, I'd find myself being critical when I sat in the pews at Bethel.  15 years later, I realize what an arrogant punk I was.  No real ministry experience and I was criticizing someone who had to lead and carry the weight of a church week in and week out.  The older I got this really bothered me, and it is one thing I never apologized to Pastor for.  It is a deep regret, for I wish I had.  In the classes that I teach at Moody I tell my students to avoid my mistake, as they go home for holidays to extend grace to their pastors.  I know that Pastor Troyer worked amazingly hard and he was a GREAT pastor.

One time in school I got in trouble.  Well, ok, I got in trouble a lot in school, but the specific time I'm thinking of I received a disciplinary letter at home for things I really shouldn't have been accused of.  My parents agreed; it was a situation that really shook me up.  It shook me up so much that we had a meeting at church to talk about it with Pastor Troyer.  Mike was also there, as well as the assistant principle of the school who also attended our church.  We shared the letter and the situation.  It was very encouraging for me to have these leaders whom I trusted empathize, agree with us and encourage me.  I specifically remember Pastor Troyer telling me - "Your family is our family, we love you and we are going to stand with you through this."  It was a powerful moment for me.  In what was an incredibly painful moment that probably would have turned me off to the church, but God used Pastor Troyer and those there that night to encourage me.  He was a Pastor who loved his people.

If you asked anyone who was privileged to be under Pastor Troyer's leadership what his favorite song/chorus was, it probably wouldn't take them long to answer.  And they would probably have a smile on their face when they told you the title.  A simple chorus, one he led us in often.  But he led us not just in singing it but also in how to live it with our lives.  It was his living testimony, and I am very thankful to have been one of the many impacted by his singing the song with his life:
He is Lord, He is Lord!
He is risen from the dead, 
and He is Lord!
Every knee shall bow,
Every tongue confess,
That Jesus Chris is Lord!

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