They Fought the Fight of Faith and Finished the Race
Two great men, who were heroes in the faith, spiritual fathers and amazingly wonderful mentors moved to heaven in February. Dr. Thomas Graham graduated to glory on February 17th. Dr. Richard Kaufmann left this earth on the next day February 18th.
The Lord has blessed me on my journey as a Christian leader with some outstanding spiritual fathers and mentors. Dr. Graham and Dr. Kaufmann were two of them. The other was Dr. William “Bill” Iverson. Bill is now the only one of the three who is still living. He celebrated his 95th birthday on February 19th.
It’s interesting to me that these three men who each helped me so much in so many ways are also linked by these consecutive dates in February.
Dr. William Iverson
Each of these men came into my life at pivotal moments. Bill Iverson when I was in my 20’s, as a young student in seminary. These were formative years for me. I was still a relatively young Christian when I first met Bill. The Lord used him to help me build a more solid foundation in my faith. He always used to talk to us students about theology with skin on, so I learned how to think and how to live while ministering with Bill. I also went on my first missions trip to Mexico with Dr. Iverson and a group of students. God used that trip to call me into missions. Bill is the boldest personal evangelist that I’ve ever met.
Dr. Thomas Graham
I met Dr. Tom Graham while I worked with Mission to the World (MTW) in Mexico City. I got to know him well when we left Mexico to live in Colorado Springs. Tom came into my life during a difficult transition in ministry and our family was going through a hard time as well. Tom was like a rock for me during those years in Colorado.
It’s so sad to say goodbye to people that we love who have had such a huge impact on our lives. Tom was one of the most important men, spiritual fathers in my life especially while I was in Colorado. He will surely be missed. We are thankful that we have the hope of heaven. The hope to see him again.
I remember before we moved to Colorado Springs while we were still in Mexico City I met with my boss at the time, Jay Kyle. Jay told me that he talked to Tom and that Tom had agreed to mentor me. Jay said, “Dave, if you had to pay Tom for working with you and mentor you, you couldn’t afford him.” Tom became much more than a mentor to me. He was like a father. During our years in Colorado apart from my dad, Tom was definitely the most important man in my life. His influence and impact lives on in my life and in many others. I give thanks for him and all that he meant to my family and me.
An interesting side note, is that Jayson Kyle, who Dawn and I worked with in Mexico had a connection with all three of these mentors. Bill Iverson introduced me to Jay when Jay was recruiting missionaries to work with him in Mexico. Then as I mentioned above Jay helped open the door for me to be able to work with Tom. The Lord also used Jay to help me to connect with Dick. When Dawn and I felt the Lord leading us on from Colorado Jay introduced me to Dick Kaufmann.
Jay was very gifted in connecting people. He was not only a boss and a friend, but the Lord used him to encourage me and I recognize I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Jay. Sadly, Jay suffered a massive stroke and moved to heaven last year on March 19th.
Dr. Richard Kaufmann
Dick Kaufmann guided me and gave me some great advice as I began ministering on the San Diego-Tijuana border. One of the things that Dick told me that I always remember. He said, “Dave, you are priestly, you have a pastoral heart. That’s good, but the problem is that you want to help everyone. You need to learn to say no.” Then he spelled out, “N-O, no.” Even though that may sound like very simple advice, it’s something that has stayed with me, and I think it’s been a good filter for me.
The Lord also used Dick to help me raise the funds for the first three or four churches that we helped Pastor Daniel Nuñez and Ministerios Transformación plant. Through that experience the Lord opened many doors for planting churches in Mexico, especially along the US/Mexico border. Dick helped me to focus on the things that God has gifted me in, and he connected me to his church planting network in San Diego, which at the time was called Harbor. I used to meet with Dick once a month for the first five years or so when we moved to the border. His time and advice were invaluable.
I give thanks for each of these men, and I realize that I’ve been blessed beyond measure to have more than one Giants of the faith that were willing to pour into my life.
Tom Graham, Dick Kaufmann and Jay Kyle will be surely missed. I give thanks for how the Lord used them so powerfully in my life and in the life of so many. I like to think about our Hannah up in heaven welcoming these friends and mentors into heaven. One day we will all be together, enjoying one another and our relationship with the Father.
Thank you Jesus for your love and care for me as demonstrated by these men.
Extend Your Hands to Help!
The influence and legacy of each of these wonderful mentors and heroes lives on. Their handprint is all over the ministry that God has called Dawn and me to. We are grateful to witness the great and mighty work that God is doing in Mexico, on the Big Island and the Dominican Republic. Your prayers and your gifts play a critical role as the gospel goes forth. Extend your hands to support our church planters, our familia today!
Thank you for joining us in prayer, and for considering making a gift to help our precious familia.
In His Grip, Dave
P.S. Help take the gospel to the Border, the Baja and Beyond