When God is in Control

In the spring of 1975, I was eagerly finishing my course work at Walla Walla College, anticipating graduation and thinking about the next phase of my life.

One afternoon my major professor called me into her office and told me Richard Fearing, then Upper Columbia Conference president, was looking for someone to assist him. Upon her recommendation, he interviewed me, and two days after graduation I began work at the conference. I never mailed one résumé or had any other interviews. I'm convinced the Lord led me to this opportunity, and will be forever grateful Elder Fearing took a chance on a young, untried, fresh-out-of-college graduate.

Perhaps he felt church work was in my genes. The Stewart family tree has recorded a long history of service to the church. And, since 1975, I've had the privilege of carrying on that tradition in the Upper Columbia and the North Pacific Union conferences. I feel fortunate to have teamed with Christian leaders who I observed in both public and private moments to be men of prayer and conviction with a sense of humor and zest for life. Although each had unique gifts of leadership and administration, they all shared a deep passion for finishing the Lord's work and a definite vision of how it should be accomplished.

I could share a lot of experiences about each person with whom I've worked, but instead, let me tell you a few of my impressions about Max Torkelsen II, our new NPUC president. Years ago I remember telling someone I found Max to be "real," the genuine article. Forgive the cliché, but he talks the talk and walks the walk—a true Christian gentleman. And while you won't have to guess where you stand with him or where he stands on any given issue, Max has a calming presence about him, a caring heart and a love for people. You'll learn to appreciate his wisdom and discernment, seasoned with a bubbling sense of humor. His commitment to scripture is not just limited to his leadership in Bibleinfo.com over the years. If you ever receive a letter from Max, you'll find he often closes his notes with a text that just fits the topic.

I served on an administrative team with Jere Patzer, first in the UCC, and then at the NPUC, for 25 of the past 26 years. I greatly miss working with him. But Jere Patzer used to say that whenever a vacancy occurred, the Lord already had someone in mind to fill it. As our Northwest members face future challenges together, I have no question that God guided the selection of Max to follow Jere.

It will help Max to know he's not alone. If you happen to call the president's office in the days ahead, I'd love to hear you say, "We've been praying for Max." Your prayers will make all the difference.

Jere Patzer used to say that whenever a vacancy occurred, the Lord already had someone in mind to fill it.

March 01, 2009 / Editorial