John Paul Marlow
by Penny Marino
Bro. John Paul Marlow
A quote from one of Shakespeare’s plays, "Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them"……is it possible for one man to have experienced all three? I say yes! and his name is John Paul Marlow. Just Plain Mud as he humbly refers to himself, which is just another example of why I love and appreciate him.
The Bradenton Gospel Tabernacle is a place that Rev. John Marlow (better known as Bro. Marlow) calls home. I am convinced that no other place but heaven would he rather be! Bro. Marlow has been the pastor of BGT going on 51 years……amazing! The longevity of his ministry is not the only attribute that sets him apart from his peers. The bible states in Ephesians chapter four ….."and he gave some, apostles; and some prophets, and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers". Bro. Marlow shows leadership and is blessed with all these gifts, thus his successful 51 years as pastor of one assembly.
Being a pastor for so many years, I am not sure that there is not anything new under the sun, but Bro. Marlow approaches each day with vim and vigor, never lacking enthusiasm. Even at the age of 77 and having met literally thousands of people, there is never a face he does not remember and seldom a name he cannot recall. Bro. Marlow along with his wife, (Sis. Marlow, of 51 years as well) are the epitome of good health, despite their continual rigorous schedules of sleepless nights and extensive traveling. God has truly smiled upon them for their years of commitment, faithfulness and diligent good works. When I grow up I want to be just like them!
Coming from a humble beginning and being a child of a broken home, Bro. Marlow rose to the challenge of "be all you can be"! However, it was not the army (although he proudly served) but "Jesus" that made the difference in his life…..and with that being said, spreading the gospel became his ambition and purpose in life. Preaching the gospel all across the United States and as far as Kenya, Africa. "A living Christ for a dying world" is his intense message, delivered with a powerful anointing from above.
Growing up my father taught me to be respectful of my elders and especially those in places of leadership - he always had the utmost respect for Bro. Marlow and to this day, I feel the same way. I met Bro. Marlow when I was only three and he has been not only my pastor but an advisor, father and friend for almost my entire life. Webster's dictionary describes a pastor as, someone who is authorized to conduct religious worship; a guardian. This definition does not come close to describing the pastor I have known for 42 years. If there is a floor to mop; he does it. Someone needs help; he's the first one there. Encouragement needed; he has a word and prayer. A dream to fulfill; he's a supporter. A soul to be saved...he's all over that one! Sharing God’s love and the good news that Jesus saves is his most favorite pastoral duty... because it’s not just his duty but his life’s story. A wise man once said, "A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument."
Through the years, Bro. Marlow has been steadfast in the face of adversity, a strength to our community, a mentor to other pastors and a shining example of God’s love and forgiveness, a man of true conviction, well read, comforting, faithful, intelligent, tender-hearted, a precise and proficient speaker, a loving husband, father and grandfather, hard worker, a compassionate man for all living beings, whether aged, young, homeless or royal, two legged or four, he loves them all (sound familiar?).
On occasions too many to number I have heard the following passage quoted by Bro. Marlow during a sermon.
He drew a circle that shut me out - Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout – But Love and I had the wit to win - We drew a circle that took him in. ~Anonymous
Confirmed with a scripture something like this, Matthew 22:37-39 "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
My wish for today is that my pastor, Bro. John Paul Marlow not only feels appreciated, but respected, honored and most of all loved! "Thank you" is not enough for all the support, love and encouragement he has given to me over the course of my life, but honoring him by using the tools he has given me, the Word and Love of God to be a soldier for Christ will be. I am confident that the fruits of his labor are more than plentiful and pleasing to the Lord which he so passionately serves. His tireless years of preaching the uncompromised gospel has not fallen on deaf ears, but resulted in thousands being led to Christ, which is his life's mission. He can never realize what a true treasure he is to all who love him.
Striving to be like Jesus, or at least like Bro. Marlow.