Dear brothers and sisters,
This morning I was praying and particularly praying for the future of the ARC. And my prayer landed specifically on Tom Kelby, the next president of the ARC. And I was filled with gratitude that he will in fact take the reins of leadership at our next conference in April. But I simply want to take a few moments of your time to let you know why I am so grateful for this coming reality.
Here are a few thing that I have seen in Tom’s leadership and character over the past 8 or 9 years.
- He loves the Word of God I have met very few leaders who are as devoted as Tom to this word. But perhaps even more than that is his love for The Word of God. He loves Jesus deeply and personally. Tom is so clear that he is a servant of the Savior of the world. I have never once seen him take some kind of power position to exert his authority that might start from his own human position. He has regularly expressed a humility in his position that yields constantly to this Jesus and his word. And by so doing, I have seen him win the flock to Jesus and his will.
- He loves the flock of God Tom shows great respect for the people that Jesus has redeemed for himself. He is so aware that these people belong to the Savior and he cares for them in that light. And the response is winning. Whether or not the people realize it immediately, Tom’s posture has always been to bring people to Jesus. It’s full of grace and truth and devoid of any overbearing personal attitudes.
- He does conflict resolution in a way that preserves integrity in opposing parties and makes a path of peace. The flock at Cornerstone Church in Spooner saw this occur in at least 3 major situations over the past few years. Some of the challenges have been theological, some relational and another, just a plain nasty situation. He never backed away but led the flock through some tough waters to a healthy resolution. And at least once it led to some folks leaving the church, but it ended up as an important “pruning season” that bred life into the church.
- He is better at leadership development than most of the leaders I’ve worked with in the past 16 years. And this is especially true of young leaders. They are devoted to him. And they become more devoted to Jesus and his word. He prioritizes his time and energy into this crucial commitment. And he finds a way to release them into ministry so that they can bear the fruit they were ordained to express.
- He has fully embraced his calling to write biblical material. That has resulted in a wonderful outpouring into so many churches and lives with great benefit. In fact, Tom’s writing and ministry outfit is called “Hands to the Plow” and it has about a 16 year run. Presently Tom is in the Philippines with a compatriot of HTTP named Bob McCoy and together they are impacting over 150 leaders and churches on that island nation. This is at least their 4th visit there and they have gone that many times to Bangladesh and other times to Indonesia. Tom writes the biblical material (notes on the book of Mark and Psalms among other books) and the pastors use that for their preaching focus for a year until Tom returns with the next focus. But I just love this route Tom’s on. He is deeply affecting nearly 300 leaders and churches in these 2 countries especially, so that the gospel is being clearly laid out with many helps to communicate it well. And nearly all of these churches and leaders are very close to or below a poverty level. So Tom and HTTP foot the bill for all expenses of this good ministry
- Tom is a devoted husband and father. His wife, Sarah, is an effective worship leader and lover of Jesus and has been dynamic in partnering with Tom at every level of ministry. Her support has been noteworthy. And she has carried on her own ministry to women over the years by organizing and teaching at area conferences. I’m hoping you all get to meet her next April.
- Tom has been instrumental in building church unity in the northwest part of Wisconsin via conferences (sometimes 3 in a year over the past 7 years) I’ve been to a few and I’ve seen how they contribute so well to an area unity and a common love for the truth.
- For at least 10 years Tom has come down to a prison in the Twin Cities and provided materials for the prisoners to grow on and turn their lives to Jesus. And Tom has assembled a group of 6-10 other men from various area churches to lead along with him in this good outreach.
Okay, folks, I could go on, but it’s starting to sound to good, even to me. I’m just happy and grateful that you will all get to have Tom at the helm in the not too distant future. I’m almost sure what Tom will feel or say when he reads all this. He’ll say, “Well, the Lord has been kind”. He always says that. And I think the kindness of Jesus has now extended to the ARC in bringing Tom to this place. I can’t wait to serve him in the coming days in whatever way he sees fit. It will be my privilege
And finally, Tom will be getting out to Ohio and New Jersey and other ARC destinations to simply connect with leaders and churches in a kind of introductory way. Stay tuned for the forthcoming details
With humble gratitude to our Lord