My dad turned 61 on Christmas Day. I wanted this year to be a true celebration of his life so I enlisted the help of many people whose lives have been impacted by him. I asked people to write about him in one of three ways; a favorite memory, funny story or how God has impacted their life through him. The responses ranged from his influence as a basketball coach, a shepherd, a mechanic, a raft captain, an evangelist, a father figure, a pastor and a man with a great sense of humor.
He recently told me that Kingdom work is about quality not quantity. The 40-some letters were evidence that he has influenced a great number of people but have also fulfilled the great commission in “making disciples.” I know that the book represents only a fraction of the lives he has touched simply by living life to the full, life filled with the Spirit. I entitled the book, "A Celebration of a Faithful Servant."
I continued to be amazed as the letters poured in. I simply cannot get over how many lives he has impacted. He has influenced men and women alike, family and friends and young and old. Almost all the letters echoed the same few points; he took the time to care and invest in the lives of others. If you visit him, perhaps you will have the privilege of reading part of it, hopefully to him as well. We only got through a few on his actual birthday!
Yesterday (Sunday), his old church that he planted in 1994, the Bridge, hosted "A Tribute to Pastor Jesse" for his birthday. One by one, individual people stood up and testified to God's goodness in their lives through my dad as well as many fun memories that they have shared together. I'll just share a few highlights...
Auntie Eileen Castillo shared about the 6 or 7 friends and members of her family that my dad lead to the Lord and baptized. Her husbands brother-in-law passed away from ALS in 1997. He performed the funeral. She wrapped up by saying, "though you can no longer say the words from your mouth, we can still hear the words coming from your heart" and "though your feet are weak, your faith is still strong."
David and Dan Cay shared about the many Sunday afternoons the youth group spent at the Morales house doing everything together and how Pastor Jesse always took time to invest in young people. Another highlight, was remembering the moonwalk that he did at Family Camp a few years ago when they announced the winner of "Jesse's Posse." David pointed out how he was instrumental in building a church that had very authentic family and a true feeling of belonging and fellowship.
Many others shared about how he picked them up for Bible Study or was there to walk with them through life storms. We mostly laughed, but also cried a little. I closed the time of sharing with the two verses that ring so true to me in his life.
The first is Acts 20:24, "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."
The last is such an example of how the word of God is living and active, found in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18: "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
Though these are tough times, he is continuing to fix his eyes on what is unseen and eternal. Thank you for all your prayers and also to those who contributed to the book! You have been an encouragement!