Pastor Jeff Worden
by Natasha Sanchez
(Hickory Corners, Michigan USA)
There are so many things that make Pastor Jeff special, and where to start is a difficult decision to make. I guess I will just jump right in to what I like about him, then tell you what I hear from others in his congregation.
Perhaps the most wonderful thing about him is that he never has tried to hide his humanity. You know that he is a man, he sins like the rest of us, has joys and tribulations, and feels the same emotions. Bible classes with him are a real treat, not only because he seems an endless fountain of information both biblical and otherwise, but also because he has such passion for his teachings that you cannot help but want to know everything he knows. Honestly, I was surprised when I realized his teaching/counseling calendar was not as packed with appointments as I thought it would be. I treasure every minute I spend with him, picking his brain so to speak, and figured everyone else was clamoring for his time as much as I was. Would I have to schedule time a year in advance? Make reservations? Take a number and wait in line? Thankfully, no. His schedule is as varied as his knowledge, and I now know we each have our different needs, and mine will never be the same as the next persons'.
He ministers to anyone and everyone, sick or healthy, rich or poor. Yes, come to think of it we are in a marriage of sorts, since we are the Bride of Christ, and the Body of Christ, it would only make sense that traditional wedding vows fit here. He never turns anyone away, always has a hug ready-a real hug, a bearish manly squeeze-the-breath-outta-you hug that lets you know he means it-as well as correction and discipline if needed. His skill at observation and discernment could be frightening if he weren't such a fine example of a christian man. You rarely have to tell him you're ill, or having a bad day and feeling far from God-he already knows. He watches each and every one of his congregants in order to learn them so that he may better serve them. He never pries, but always maintains an open door, open mind and ears, and open arms.
From observing his interactions with his sweet wife, Linda, I feel that he is the kind of husband exemplified in the Bible. And that is how I met him. As a widow. I heard of him through my Mom, and was most impressed at his skill and bringing her back to God and out from behind her figurative prison walls. I never ever thought I would come to need him as well, or that he would be able to reignite in me a thirst for the Word of God that is so far unquenchable. But what came first was my darkest hour, calling the pastor to pray over my sweet sweet husband David before I called an ambulance to take him to the hospital for the last time. I have only one regret there, and that is that I did not reach out to Pastor Jeff sooner, or have him at David's bedside longer. My life since then has regained meaning and richer detail than I ever would have thought possible. He guided me thru that dark tunnel of grief not just with his compassion and caring, but also with the wonderful congregation of believers he has built.
Once I was able to function outside of my grief, I began attending Bible classes. Soon, the more I learned the more I wanted to know. Whatever question I bring to him he patiently answers. Is he a saint? Absolutely not! I know when he doesn't have time for my lengthy, involved questions, and I can see when he's having a bad day too. Why is this good? Because it reminds me, and hopefully others in the congregation, not to deify him, something he also warns us against. He doesn't need fancy clothes, glittery trappings tied to a fantastical church with its own zip code and cable channel. Yet he makes each and every sermon sound as if they belong at the top of the highest mountains, shouted to the masses below. They are moving, uplifting, and humbling. Humility. Another trait he is in abundance of.
There are many other excellent examples of why Pastor Jeff Worden is an excellent servant of the Lord, and awesome teacher. If I were to tell them all to you, they would not fit on this page...