Full of the Spirit
Rusty Lewis, pictured with pastor Brian Dykema, is an honorary deacon at Johnstown Reformed Church.
New leadership role created for unique individual
By Brian Dykema
“Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.” —1 Timothy 3:13, NIV
Johnstown Reformed Church has developed a unique leadership position for a passionate young man by the name of Rusty Lewis. Rusty approached me, his pastor, with his desire to become a deacon. While Rusty’s desire to serve was apparent and his value to the community undeniable, the office of deacon wasn’t quite the right fit. I sat down one morning with the vice president of consistory to pray and think about what we could do to affirm Rusty in his desire to serve others while validating his particular gifts in this church community in a way that honored Rusty’s abilities.
It was during this time of prayer and discernment that God turned on a lightbulb concerning the idea of honorary deacon.
The rest of the consistory agreed that this was a great way to include Rusty and affirm his Spirit-inspired love to serve. As the consistory shared with Rusty their plans for creating the office of honorary deacon just for him, his eyes filled with joy and confirmed for all of us that this was truly something God was doing in our midst.
On Sunday mornings, Rusty, full of the Spirit, loves to sing and give praise to God as he lifts his hands in worship. Rusty shows his servant’s heart by his dedication in taking the roll call at each men’s group meeting, by helping with the food pantry, when he assists people at the handicap entrance by holding open the door, and by passing out bulletins.
In the stories of Scripture, Jesus invited illiterate fisherman, a zealot, a tax collector, and a variety of other individuals from every walk of life to follow him and be his presence in a lost and broken world so loved by God. Johnstown Reformed Church believes strongly that God’s call includes our brothers and sisters who have disabilities.
This church has opened the door and widened the table to an individual who looks and sounds to the rest of the world like someone who shouldn’t be a church leader. And that is precisely why it is so appropriate that the Church make a way to recognize each individual as a valuable child of God. Perhaps there is someone in your congregation who has a disability and who needs to know that he or she, too, has a purpose, and God has a plan for them.
Brian Dykema is pastor of Johnstown Reformed Church in New York.