Yesterday my childhood pastor died in a tragic motorcycle accident in Topeka, Kansas. Pastor Phil is responsible for my spiritual growth through my critical years of elementary and junior high school. I remember sitting in the adult service playing with my Matchbox Cars while listening to Phil's sermons. He is one of just a couple people, outside my family, that made a direct impact on my life which led me to becoming a pastor today. I would consider him my father in the faith.
I gave my heart to Jesus back in 1976, when I was just 7 years old, in the small Assembly of God church in Stanley, Kansas named Faith Chapel where Phil was pastor. He was very passionate in his relationship with Jesus. He would often go door to door around the church inviting people to church.
My dad served as the worship leader, and my mom served as the pianist under Pastor Phil's leadership at Faith Chapel for 5 years. It was a joy watching my parents serve as volunteers in key leadership positions in the church. Then many years later Phil's two kids, Jason and Brandon Hollis, would join me in starting Mercy Church in Kansas City, both playing critical leadership roles.
Pastor Phil would often tell me, even though I was just a little guy, that God had big plans for me and that one day he believed I would grow up to be a preacher.
The story I am going to share now is nothing short of a gift from God to me. I have been preaching a series entitled, To Infinity and Beyond at Mercy Church this month. This week the theme is Living Beyond Yourself which is about the importance of leaving a spiritual heritage. While preparing for the message I called Pastor Phil to let him know how much I appreciated his investment in me as my pastor as a kid growing up. We ended up reminiscing about those early days in my life, 1978 - 1983. I hadn't spoken to him at any length for many years previous and getting to talk just two days before his passing was a gift. Pastor Phil, thank you for those minutes on the phone, you will be missed!
Please pray for Phil's wife, Sheila and his boys Jason and Brandon Hollis and both their families!