Passing the Torch

Passing the torchby Rindy Brooks, Heartbeats of Licking County, Newark, Ohio

Our staff retreat in late July focused around 2 Timothy 4:1 – 8 and the need to fulfill our ministry.  It is the last recorded letter of Paul as he knew his time of departure was near and he needed to share certain things with Timothy as he passed the torch of ministry. 

The study was so timely and personal for us.  We had just lost the “Paul” of our pregnancy center. A special lady named Merridy Hoover.  She is the reason I and so many are here at Heartbeats of Licking County today. She rescued the center from demise in 1989 and built a solid foundation of faith that we firmly stand on today.  Her vision and servant leadership even serves you in Heartbeat affiliates around the world every day. 

The prototype for the manual “Talking About Abortion” was written by her – she called it the “10-Point Health and Safety Check List”.  She tested it, we trained  and used it in our center and found out this “women-centered” approach worked to engage abortion-minded women on the phone to help and care for them. So she called Heartbeat's president, Peggy Hartshorn, and told her this method was working and that it needed to be published by Heartbeat International and distributed. 

It was published and still is distributed by Heartbeat.  Option Line actually uses this format 24/7 to reach women in crisis. The list of impactful projects Merridy shepherded could continue, but more insightful is to share how she lived up to the end to encourage us to carry on the torch of ministry. 

A greeting card came to the center a week after her funeral.  It was from her. 

We tearfully opened it together at the retreat and what we received from her was our charge.  A miracle to us from God, it was the perfect object lesson to illustrate these verses. Merridy “Our Paul” had retired 12 years prior but her prayers and encouragement were steadfast, especially to me, her “Timothy”.  I have ably served 12 years as Executive Director and yet for the first time, I felt strangely on my own.  And now, in her own hand, written 2 months prior to her passing she says to me, to the staff, and now to you in ministry every day: 

“To my beloved sisters and brothers in Christ, His work in you is so beautiful- keep shining with the light of His presence!  Keep shining.  I am so proud of you all.  God’s hand is on your ministry and service to Him. 

Love and Blessings, Merridy.” 

So let us remember to encourage and teach those “Timothys” in our midst.  To clearly charge them and remind them of the suffering and sacrifice in serving Jesus and yet the gladness and joy found in fulfilling our work received from the Lord.    I want to be able to pass the torch of ministry and say as in 2 Tim 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.   Until then, we must carry our torches high and keep shining.  

(Staff Retreat material part of Beth Moore’s  3-part DVD series with listening guide “Fulfill Your Ministry!” available from Living Proof Ministries)