Mechanic. Truck driver. Carpenter. Football fan. Counselor. Singer. Husband. Father. Grandfather. Brother. Community leader. Storyteller. These, along with many others, are titles that have been attributed to Stan Howard, but the best descriptive title for Stan is that of “Pastor”. Stan is a real “home town boy”. He spent his childhood about 5 miles from Oak Hill, Ohio, which at that time was a booming town of industry with 5 brickyards within the city limits. Stan returned to his hometown just thirteen years ago and planted the Oak Hill Evangelical Church where he is still serving as Pastor today. Stan is really far more than just a pastor to the Oak Hill EC, but truly a pastor to the whole town of Oak Hill and surrounding communities. This can be shown by the fact that in 2010 Stan performed 38 funeral ceremonies for people from the community of Oak Hill. Stan has such a comforting personality. He makes you feel welcome from the moment you meet him and the people of Oak Hill EC are blessed to have him leading them through God’s vision for their congregation.
Now Stan has been involved in ministry for several decades and for much of that time has been bi-vocational. Whether serving as a tire salesman or mechanic, he has always served the people God has put before him in ministry in his community and his churches. Hearing Stan’s story reminded me of a man I met in Santa Cruz, Bolivia this past April. His name is Elias and he is also a bi-vocational pastor. He serves the people of his congregation through preaching, discipleship, and other Pastoral duties. He and his wife also serve the community of Santa Cruz as chicken farmers supplying chickens to different restaurants in the city. We ate at “Pollo Nescar (pronounced Poy-yo Ness-Car)” when we visited Bolivia in April 2010. Pollo is the Spanish word for chicken.
As I look at Stan and Elias’s stories I am reminded that ministry happens far beyond the walls of the church building. In serving the people of the communities we live in, rather than just the people that come inside our church doors, we are serving how the church was originally intended to serve.
Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness.
The Church is the body of Christ and Christ didn’t stay in one place, but rather stepped out into His community and took the great message of hope to them. We, as Christians, now take on the responsibility of being “the body of Christ”.
Be Blessed and serve God in every opportunity.