I mentioned in my post about the Cornerstone church reunion that I wanted to write more about the Mangrums. It was so good to see them again after such a long time and be able to express to them how thankful we are to know them and benefit from their ministry. I can think of only one other pastor in the world who I respect as much as Arie (well until Aaron is a pastor anyway), and that would be my own father. In fact, I think they share similarities when it comes to the quality of shepherding they have (or continue to) extended to the people God has placed in their care. Since not all who read this will know the Mangrums personally, I hope this will serve as a reminder to be thankful for the pastors/elders God has blessed you with, and stir you to love, honor, thank, encourage, and pray for them as often as possible.
I don't think it would be overstating the truth to say that Aaron and I look to Arie and Marilyn as heroes and examples. In looking toward a possible future in church planting and being married to a pastor, I hope and pray that I can be just a little like Marilyn is. In order to bring some kind of order to all my thoughts and memories of them, I think I'll just list the qualites I so admire and thank God for in them:
1. Hospitality. I don't think we were ever in their home without experiencing the presence of God in fellowship and prayer.
2. Humility. You will never come away from a conversation with either without understanding that they see themselves as utterly dependent on God for strength and grace.
3. Thankfulness. No matter what situation they are in (and there have been some very difficult ones), they are always brimming with gratefulness to God for his infinite mercies.
4. Love. Clearly they love God and people passionately, showing what it means to obey what Jesus said were the two most important commandments.
5. Prayer, prophecy, and encouragement. They excell at all of these and I think it's impossible to encounter either Arie or Marilyn at any time without coming away encouraged in some way.
6. Honesty. I value this greatly. In a world filled with deceitfulness and fear of man, it's a joy to fellowship with people who tell you the whole story. God gets all the glory.
7. Faith. They have trusted (and continue to trust)God while not understanding his plan, truly fighting the good fight. This is the faith that endures to the end.
I could say much more. We were able to go to MD the day after the reunion and hear Arie preach. We then ate lunch with them in their home and stayed until almost 8:00 that night! The time flew by so quickly as we talked about so many things, with our faith being built up by their stories and ours--the stories we all have of God's mercies poured out on us time and time again. I'm excited to see how God continues to use them to build his kingdom in the future. May God grant that we all experience this kind of fellowship more and more until we finally arrive at the ultimate expression of unity together with Christ in heaven.