On Dec. 18, 2013, the church that my dad pastored for 21 years voted on an 18.5 percent decrease in salary for the entire church staff. While there were other viable options, and not a full conference, enough people voted for the pay decrease. The purpose of this letter is not to point out the budget mistakes the church made, but rather to celebrate the ministry of my dad.
My father, who has been a minister for over 30 years, has served many communities and families. He has done acts of kindness that no one other than a few people know about. I will share one story with you all as an example of his kindness.
About five years ago my dad was driving to work by NCCU when he saw a young man in a shirt and tie running after a bus. My dad noticed that he missed the bus. The man hung his head and looked dejected.
In this busy world we live where everyone is concerned solely about what they are doing, my dad did what most people would not do. He turned around and asked the man where he was headed. The young man responded that he was hoping to catch the bus to a job interview.
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My dad responded, “Get in, I’ll take you.”
The young man in awe, said, “Seriously?”
Yes, my dad responded, hop in.
In the car, the man explained to my dad that he had been in some trouble with the law and had some drug and alcohol problems in the past. He was trying to do what he could to turn his life around. My dad explained that God has a plan for everyone and to keep the course. The man opened up and told my dad that when he knew he was going to miss the bus he immediately started thinking that nothing was meant to happen right for him and that he was destined to fail.
They got to the place where the man’s interview was. My dad wished him well and handed him $20 to help however it could.
Now I have no clue if my dad saved this man from his troubles or if the man got the job, but I do know that my dad was glad to do it and would do it again in a second. There are many other stories similar to that about my dad.
People define missions and ministry in a lot of different ways. Throwing money at organizations is not really what missions is to me. Missions is personally acting and doing for others, and positively improving someone else’s outlook on life. That is how I think my dad best served the communities in which he lived.
Through watching my dad’s actions I learned to treat everyone with kindness. Here are 3 simple things I have learned from watching my dad minister over the past 28 years that I would like to pass along:
• A simple, kind act can go a long way and positively effect someone more than you will ever know.
• Act with kindness and generosity without expecting anything in return.
• Never judge. You don’t know what that person is really dealing with.
The thing that bothers me the most the most about the situation with the church is that one of the best ministers and people in Durham will step away from the pulpit with no acknowledgment or celebration of his ministry. My dad, Forest Gale, Jr. is one of the finest people you will ever meet. Here’s to you dad!
Lewis M. Gale lives in Fredericksburg, Va.