A few thoughts on the death of a good man

Pastor Stan Wierson, the remarkable man who pointed me to Jesus more than 30 years ago when I was just 16 years old, died last Friday June 3rd, 2011.  His lengthy obituary is found in today’s (June 5, 2o11) Des Moines Register.  If you want to read it click here.  The following is a posting that I wrote for a “secret” facebook page that has nearly 500 members!

“Stan Wierson…man of God, born from above (or again) John 3:3, lived from above, and died from above.  In Philippians 1:20b-23 the apostle Paul wrote “…it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.”

Jesus was honored through the fruitful life and labors of Stan Wierson.  To God be all the glory for His kindness in causing Stan’s life to intersect with our own at some point along our earthly pilgrimage as is so clearly evident by the numerous postings on this site.

I was first introduced to Stan nearly 31 years ago when I was a 16 year old sophomore at Newton High School and Stan a 43 year old youth pastor at the other Methodist church in town.   I have been in the pastoral ministry for the past 20 years or so largely due to Stan’s early influence in my life.  So count me as one of the 200 if anyone is counting.

My first meeting with Stan was an interesting one.  I remember walking into his office and thinking that he looked much older than his then 43 years, was the furthest thing from athletic that anyone could imagine (which is ironic because his legacy largely surrounds his labors with regard to Summer Games…a camp ministry whose focus from the beginning was to reach young people for Christ through sports), and shared nothing in common with me…at least yet.

After meeting with Stan over the course of the next weeks and months I came to understand with my head and heart that God was real and that Jesus was more than just a dead man who may or may not have come back to life…I heard and saw and experienced  the love of God and the truth of the Gospel for the very first time in my life.

One November day in 1980 after meeting with Stan he asked me if I was ready to give my life to Christ…I said Yes!  I got down on my knees right there in his dinky musty smelling corner office with the pint sized piano next to me and asked Jesus to take charge of my life.  After praying that prayer I didn’t feel that anything was different…Why?  I thought that becoming a Christian would/should be a highly emotional experience.

What I have come to realize after thirty-one years of following after Christ is that it was not necessarily at that very moment I was born again….but rather this had most likely occurred at some point earlier in the process of meeting with Stan over the course of those interesting weeks.

So when Stan asked me that simple question it was akin to asking a child if they would like a candy bar.  I had already been changed by God from the inside out!  God had already performed in me the radical open heart spiritual surgery that transferred me from the domain of darkness and Satan into the Kingdom of His beloved Son.  My heart’s affections had already radically changed!

Again, Jesus said in John 3:7-8 speaking of the wind and Holy Spirit synonymously “Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again.”  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”  Indeed the wind of the Spirit blew into my life and caused me to be born again…at some point in the late summer/early fall of 1980.

From there Stan was intensely involved in my early spiritual development…giving me wake-up calls in the morning to encourage me to read my Bible, to memorize Scripture, and to pray.   And I didn’t even attend his church!

I too have fond memories of the early Summer Games camps at Wesley Woods…not including the 18 cartons of milk I drank at one meal in a contest…which did not stay down for long, …the smells, the sounds, the sights…especially on the night where we had the stations of the cross and the re-enactment of the crucifixion.   As we came around the bend in the road and saw the three young men on the cross for the first time it was breathtaking.

It was especially meaningful to have been asked to play the part of Jesus or was it one of the thieves…I don’t remember which…but to be one of the young men hanging on a cross smeared with karo syrup and red food coloring with mosquitos thinking they had found their own version of heaven as they feasted on my blood…became a powerful reminder of how much Jesus had suffered for me.

After I graduated from high school I too attended Luther College as Stan also did.  I had forgotten that part of his story!  I had a couple of conversations with Stan while I was in college as he encouraged me to become a Methodist preacher and attend a Methodist Seminary.  I think he was disappointed when I chose to go a different route by going to Bethel Theological Seminary in St. Paul, MN for four years.  I am now serving as the pastor of Crossroad Evangelical Free Church in Earlham, Iowa…and have for the past 16 years.

As I look back and think of Stan’s life and ministry I am thankful for God’s sovereignty in bringing this unique and gifted man across my path when He did.  I am thankful for God’s sovereignty in bringing Stan to Newton for those “revival and awakening” years in Newton…1980 is when God added me to the bandwagon.   And I have yet to witness again anything like I saw in Newton during those years.

Craig, Brent, Shannon…and others who were fired up for God…meeting in Craig’s basement for prayer meetings as 16 year olds…teaching one another all manner of heresy, albeit innocently enough!

Stan Wierson, born from above, lived from above, died from above, and now living eternally above in heaven where there is no more crying or pain or suffering (Revelation 21:4)…and where there is no need for the sun to shine for the glory of God gives its light (Rev. 21:23).  These are just a smattering of the memories I have from my three years of rubbing shoulders with Stan Wierson.

At the end of my sermon today I concluded by sharing the story of Stan’s early influence in pointing me to Christ and then faithfully discipling me…in precise fulfillment of the Great Commission in Matthew 28-19-20 that Jesus gave his disciples following his resurrection and just prior to his ascension:  “Go…and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

I asked my congregation today if anyone had heard of the name “Stan Wierson” and not a hand went up.  And  though I had always envisioned having Stan come to our church and preach I never managed to get it done.   I have shared bits and pieces about my conversion experience throughout my years in Earlham, including Stan’s name.

No one even remembered hearing Stan’s name…but that’s a beautiful thing as well because through Stan’s faithful ministry to me 31 years ago as a snotty nosed, probably cocky sixteen year old, I have had the privilege of preaching the Gospel every Sunday for the past sixteen years and have preached the Gospel in different parts of the world…but it all began with God.

God’s plans begin, progress, and then terminate just as God has determined.  I am delighted that God’s plan was to have Stan Wierson’s life intersect with my own 31 years ago…and that Stan would impart to me the words of life that would change my life forever and hence begin the chain reaction that is part and parcel of the Great Commission.  To God alone be the glory!  Soli Deo Gloria!  I am planning to be at the funeral service this Thursday.”

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6 thoughts on “A few thoughts on the death of a good man”

  1. What a great post telling of your memories of such a remarkable person and also of your early walk with God. I especially like the way you described your profession of faith–no difference. I think we sometimes think angels will come bursting forth with trumpets and harps in hand… 🙂 Your friend and mentor will live on in you and in other people that come to know you and because of this posting. Take care!

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  2. Thank you for sharing this. I was just thinking about Stan Wierson last week! He also was very kind to me when I was a sophomore in high school. I was invited to his church by a couple of girl friends and he talked me into going to Camp Wesley Woods too. It was a great week that I’ll always remember. But, for whatever reason the Lord did not get a hold of me until I was in my early 30’s. I remember Stan being a very kind man and I did not feel judged by him, unlike many of the adults who belonged to the church I grew up in. It’s good to know he’s with the Lord Jesus. Thanks again Mike.

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  3. I have been following your blog since I was directed there by fellow homeschoolers praying for you shortly after your seizures led you to the discovery of the AVM. Your story has touched SO many lives! Being from Buffalo Center it tickles me to hear that your walk with Jesus began with Stan Wierson. I became familiar with him at the tail end of his ministry here, but I am aware of the many lives he touched here in the early to mid 1970’s. As an 8th grader I was able to attend some youth events being held at the Methodist Church here in town and I know that even though I was never saved or discipled by this man, his ministry was what stirred my heart to desire to know the Truth!

    Thanks so much for sharing this story!

    Blessings,

    Lynn

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  4. As always Mike your life stories are more then heart warming. What an awesome man to give you so much. As many have the same story of you and all you have given back in return. I was only at Newton for a litle over a year, but my personal memory of you was a kind, giving and a God giving man. You always had a smile for all and a kind word for all. Oh and yes have to add the cutest football player at Newton haha, could not leave that out. Many looked up to you Mike and I was so gald to have known you for just a short time. You inspired me in so many ways. Thank you Candy

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  5. I thought of Mr. (Rev.)Wierson this past weekend when I attended a Christian mentoring seminar. Yes, Mr. Wierson was a mentor of mine when I was in elementary school in Kanawha, Iowa. I caught his love for music and appreciated his love for the Lord. I trusted in Christ when I was 7. I was sad to see Mr. Wierson leave Kanawha; the music program was never the same. Yet God had a plan for Mr. Wierson’s life. It is great to read of how God worked through him in many ways. I’m just sad that I was unable to see him before he passed away last year. However, I look forward to seeing him again someday when I go to meet the saints.

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  6. Mark, I too look forward to seeing Stan again in glory. Wow! He made an impact on your life as a 7 year old. That is remarkable and yes God fulfilled His beautiful plans through this gifted man of God. Thanks for your comment!

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