Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 31, 2010

My Ministry Mentors

   I will observe thirty-two years in full-time ministry in June. Each year I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have been the beneficiary of the time and energy of others who believed in me. And, I understand a little more each year why God allowed certain individuals to invest in my life and how He used each of them to prepare me for what He had prepared for me. I’m grateful for the kindness, honesty, and wisdom of my ministry mentors. There were times when I wished they had not been so honest and direct with me. But I realize now more than then how necessary it was for them to speak the truth to me in love.

   As I have strolled down my own memory lane over the past few days, I have felt increasingly compelled to write a brief note about the people God has used to chisel and shape me. These individuals all have one thing in common. They loved me, cared for me, and spent lots of time with me. As a result, they understood me and knew how to best invest in me. The best way I can repay them is to live a life pleasing to God because, ultimately, that is what they all challenged me to do.

Kindness Experienced | Joe and Nadine Tubb are my spiritual parents in the ministry. I met them before I became a Christ-follower. When I was in high school, I knocked on their door while out selling fruitcakes to raise funds for the band. The Tubbs bought a fruitcake from me. They were the kindest family I had met on my sales route. Joe served as Music Pastor of First Baptist Church in McAllen, Texas and later invited me to play in the church orchestra. When I placed my faith in Christ for salvation, the Tubbs were the first to help me grow in my faith. After I graduated from college they invited me to speak at Second Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, Texas. That invitation from them led to an invitation from the church to serve on their staff.

First Steps | Dr. Gene McCombs was the pastor of Second Baptist Church. His brother Red owned the San Antonio Spurs at the time. For years, Dr. McCombs preached three sermons on Sunday and one on Wednesday. What amazed me is that he preached three different sermons every Sunday. He taught me how to prepare a sermon manuscript instead of just an outline. He said it was the best way for me to think deeply about every word, stay focused on the central truth of the message, and consequently to speak clearly.

Compassionate Shepherd | Dr. J.H. Wright served as Associate Pastor under Dr. McCombs. He too had served as a pastor for more than forty-years. God used Dr. Wright to teach me how to baptize, how to make hospital calls, how to speak at funerals, and more. He was an exceptional shepherd. Under his leadership I made more than three-hundred hospital calls annually and officiated at dozens of funerals. He challenged me to walk slowly among people and to respond intentionally and compassionately to their needs.

Encouraging Friend | Dr. Tommy Lea served as the Dean of Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas and wrote several books on the New Testament. I never took a class under Dr. Lea, but God arranged for us to become good friends outside of class. Because of his encouragement and help, I became a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources and have written almost two-hundred lessons for LifeWay over the past fifteen years. Dr. Lea called to check up on me a few days before he died of cancer. He always thought of others before himself, even in the final days of his life. He set an example worthy of imitation.

Kingdom Ambassador | The late Dr. Rudy Hernandez was an international evangelist who also served as a denominational officer, helped to revise the Baptist Faith and Message, and preached the gospel in more than 70 countries. Dr. Rudy took me on my first two international mission trips to Ukraine to assist with his televised crusades. God used him to open my eyes to the needs of the world. One day when he and I were driving out of the parking lot at DFW airport he told me to share Christ with the lady working at the pay booth. I replied that I did not have time because there was a line of cars behind us and we would have less than thirty-seconds. When we stopped to pay, he leaned over and said, “Young lady, has anyone today told you how much God loves you?” Her eyes widened as she replied, “No sir.” Dr. Rudy said, “Then, let me be the first.” Dr. Rudy taught me that there is always time to remind others that God loves them.

Thinking Deeply | Jerry Perrill served as a missionary for thirty-years. He served in Laos and later taught at a seminary in Thailand. He and I met when we both served on the staff of Plymouth Park Baptist Church in Irving, Texas. Jerry challenged me to think critically about topics ranging from Bertrand Russell’s anti-Christian essays to concerns about open-theism and more. He also challenged me to think deeply about God’s Word and its practical application. I asked him to hold me accountable for my research and writing for LifeWay as well as my preparation for leadership meetings. And, he did. He helped me to be more intentional about what I read and what I wrote. I miss my daily conversations with Jerry. He is one of the best examples I know of a Proverbs 27:17 man, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

   I am thankful to each of my ministry mentors for allowing God to use them to encourage and guide me. Although I still have a long way to go in so many areas of my life, I am a better person today because of their influence. I look forward to the next thirty-two years and hope that they are as meaningful and adventurous as the years gone by.

• • • • •

PS | Please read my post on Historical Mentors.


Responses

  1. Great to hearing that, you mentioned the names of those people, who impacted in your spirituals life, and did their best to make you a mentor!!

    Now you are equipping many of us, as mentors!

    Thanks those mentors, & thank you very much.

    Mortuza
    Bangladesh

  2. I can’t believe you left me out, you would not have learned about patience without me:)

    The next chess game you are going down, my friend.

    Lee

  3. Lee…

    So sorry about the oversight. You are right, God has used you to help me to learn patience. That’s why you are going to be my starting example in my upcoming post on ministry tormentors, which are also a type of mentor 😉

    Thanks for your faithful friendship. I have enjoyed our many adventures around the globe and lots of great laughs as well.

    Blessings,
    Omar~

  4. Dear Omar, It is wonderful to hear some of your testimony and hear of those who have built into your life. I don’t know what “open thesim” is, but you are a brother whose ministry speaks to my heart. I appreciate you and pray that I will be able to serve our King with you as you walk through KBC. I’m loving the Going Beyond in Katy with the ladies on Thursday morning. Blessing for a Happy Easter and Happy 32nd Anniversary in the ministry.

  5. Sue Ann…

    Thanks for your kind words. I am glad to hear that you are enjoying the ladies study and ministry initiatives on Thursdays.

    Blessings,
    Omar~

    BTW — Open theism is a theological position about God that I personally do “not” subscribe to.

  6. Thank you Omar for living beyond yourself. I know you don’t know me well but you still inspire and lead me with your blog. I have been searching for what God wants of me and I have decided to quit watching and start living for what God needs me to do. I have so much to learn I think God is saying study my word and watch my people and learn well from the leaders and I will show you the way!

  7. Bless you, Sharon. I know that God will honor the longing of your heart to honor Him.

  8. Pastor Omar,

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us.

    I sense that you are still hurting greatly over the loss of your mother. She must have been a beautiful lady and wonderful mother. It just takes time and I don’t think we ever get over missing our parents. I will certainly continue to pray for you.

    Also, thank you for the words regarding “Kingdom Ambassadors.” What a fresh idea of a way to share the Lord:) I can’t wait to try it.

    God bless you this day.
    Marcia

  9. Thanks, Marcia. And thank you for your prayers. I still miss my Mom very much but know that I will see her again someday around God’s throne.

    I am grateful to Dr. Rudy for helping me understand how to make the most of even a few seconds in order to tell others that God loves them. Blessings to you as you implement this idea.

  10. I was trying to look up Dr. Gene McCombs to see if I could find out what happened to him over the years. My husband and I were lucky and blessed enough to have him perform our ceremony, when he was the pastor at Second Baptist Church in 1978. I couldn’t help but smile when I read how he preached 3 different sermons. I also was amazed by that and found myself attending 3 services sometimes. I attend with my husband, our son, and my grandmother, whom has gone on to Heaven along with my father. The name Omar Garcia sounds so familiar. Please let me know anything you know lately about Dr. Gene McCombs. Thank you and I enjoyed your posting of the people that have touched your life and some of those same people hold a special part in my heart. Renee

    • Hi Renee…

      Thanks for your comment. Dr. McCombs passed away a few years ago. He was a good friend and mentor to me. He also officiated at my wedding to Cheryl Crane in 1980. I came to Second Baptist in 1978 and served as Youth and Singles Pastor. I served at Second until 1985. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

      Blessings,
      Omar~


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