The first real entry in this series is a bittersweet one. One of my earliest mentors, Joe H. Shultz, died last Wednesday.
Joe was a gospel ventriloquist and illusionist who worked with young people when my Dad was a teen in Canton, Ohio. I met him when I was a teen, and he was still leading youth to Christ and discipling them--and going strong. Joe was irrepressibly funny (I learned lots of things about humor from him, including spoonerisms and other funny ways of talking), engaging to listen to, and full of Scripture. He was a definite influence on my life and ministry.
Joe took me to my first Fellowship of Christian Magicians Conference when I was only a teen. It was at FCM that I first began to feel the tug towards a proclamation ministry (initially using my juggling skills!).
Then, when I was at Moody, Joe led me through an evangelism internship in Wichita, Kansas. He lined up several opportunities for me to speak about Christ, counsel spiritual seekers, and watch him in action. It really gave me a feel for the life of an itinerant evangelist and the privileges and difficulties of gospel ministry. We also had a lot of one-on-one time during that two-week internship. Up until that time, I had not had many close mentoring relationships. Joe was a first. I still do many of the things Joe taught me and remember a lot of the wisdom that he shared with me those two weeks in Wichita.
One of my regrets in ministry has been (and now I'll have to live with it forever) is that I never had Joe out to preach in our church here in Pennsylvania. I'm sure that it would have been a rich, fun, and Christ-honoring experience.
But I'm happy for Joe that he is now in the presence of the Savior. There is no better place to be.
[This is a little of what Joe meant to me. But he meant a lot more to a lot of people. Joe H. Shultz's full obituary posted was in the Canton Repository on Saturday.]
Part of an ongoing series about major influences on my life, thought, and ministry. "Whence" is an old English word that means, "From Where?"