Wednesday, September 25, 2013
In Communications: from Military to Ministry (Peter Black)
The Berlin Wall hadn’t yet fallen and the Cold War was still in effect, and his military role wasn’t something he could talk about. However, I know he was in communications and learned to speak Russian and that he spent some time each year at the Canadian Forces Station at Alert, in the Arctic. This is the world’s northernmost permanently inhabited place – although the population is mostly comprised of rotating military and scientific personnel.
My wife and I came to know Levi Samson Beardy, an Aboriginal Canadian, in the early 1980s during our time in Kingston, Ontario. He was newly posted at the Canadian Forces Base there. He and his family fitted right in, from the first service they attended at our church.
Eager to learn and willing to participate, it soon became evident that Levi was the ‘real deal.’ His commitment to his family, to Jesus Christ and our church fellowship proved solid, and he took on significant roles, such as teaching an adult Bible class, leading segments in worship services, serving on the church board and occasionally filling in for me in preaching.
What brought Levi and his family to mind today was that May recently came across an old photo featuring him with me and two other men from the congregation. She posted it on Facebook; Levi saw it on a mutual friend’s Facebook wall and connected with May.
Perhaps you have certain internet social networking connections that you’d rather be without, while others you appreciate and enjoy. Levi’s one we are glad to have. He has updated us on what he’s doing nowadays. Since his retirement from the armed forces he studied at Bible college and seminary.
For several years he taught at an aboriginal college, and then in 2008 he became co-founder and President of North American Aboriginal Bible College (NAABC) – a role he still fulfils. He is also a co-pastor at an Aboriginal church in Toronto.
NAABC is “an interdenominational Bible College with the mission of preparing Aboriginal (First Nations, Metis, Inuit) people and non-Aboriginal people for ministry.” Levi is an equipper – training others and helping them succeed. He understands authority, for his military training taught him how authority structures operate. He knows that in order to develop strong and equitable, honest and balanced leadership, one must be given responsibilities incrementally, with accountability.
I’m grateful to God for the small role our lay leaders and I were privileged to play in allowing this fine man’s natural and spiritual gifts for Christian leadership and teaching to grow and flourish. These abilities are still being used to elevate lives and bless North American Aboriginal communities with faith and hope and love, through the grace of our Lord Jesus.
My thanks is due those leaders who, in my youth, allowed me to share talents and spiritual gifts with others, and entrusted me with levels of responsibility, even when I felt inadequate to bear them. They took risks, and I made mistakes, but they were patient and helped me grow through them.
Levi expressed that his time in our Kingston congregation was a period of growth personally and for the church. With his military career far behind him, he continues “in communications,” teaching and investing in the lives of young leaders who will help others come to know the love and peace of God.
Peter A. Black is a freelance writer in Southwestern Ontario, and is author of “Parables from the Pond” – a children's / family book (mildly educational, inspirational in orientation, character reinforcing).(Finalist -- Word Alive Press ISBN 1897373-21-X)
His inspirational column, P-Pep! appears weekly in The Guide-Advocate. His articles have appeared in 50 Plus Contact and testimony, and several newspapers in Ontario. Peter’s current book project comprises a collection of 52 column articles. The post above has been slightly modified from a P-Pep! column article, published Sep. 19, 2013.
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