Mentors I Tried to Forget and Am Now Glad I Didn't - pt. II
Apr 19, 2009 by Don Payne | 0 Comments
Dr. Gary Orrino is still the pastor of Baptist Temple in Wheat Ridge, CO. Though I have not seen him in many years, I owe him much. He and my father became friends in the early 1970s while they were both church-planters. When I was fourteen, Dr. Orrino gave me a job cleaning his church facility (a rented section of a small shopping center) every Saturday. He had very specific expectations for how this unadorned building was to look. I still remember mop-waxing the painted concrete floor every week, then setting up the folding chairs in a precise pattern. When he was pleased, and told me so, and told my dad so, it vaulted my fragile fourteen year old confidence out of its basement and into the light of day . . . at a time when I REALLY needed it!
Dr. Orrino and I hold to the same historic Christian faith. He also holds to several additional convictions, for example, that the King James Version of the Bible is the only acceptable translation. On this and other points, he and I would disagree. He happily locates himself in the arena of "fundamentalists," a moniker that many evangelicals would find embarrassing.
However, I want to publicly recognize the mentoring debt I owe him. He taught me that little things are important, even if it's making sure that the bathroom is thoroughly clean and the chairs are precisely the same distance from each other. More than that, he was perhaps my first model of a truly studied approach to ministry. At that time in my life, his was the most impressive personal library I had ever seen. And he used it! Now, I'm certain that he owned and valued some books that I don't, and vice versa. Yet, he studied like no pastor I had ever known. He recommended books to me. He even gave me a few as gifts. I have no doubt that his influence helped pave the path I was later to take.
I have known many people over the course of my life, but not many as intense as Gary Orrino. His fierce, Italian personality came through when he a boxer in the Navy and in his passionate defense of the gospel. He has an incredible mind and seems to have devoted every last cell to his calling. I have been pulled along by his draft.
Thank you, Dr. Orrino. You and I would find it quite difficult (maybe impossible) to serve on the same staff or faculty, but I look forward to sitting next to you at the same table in God's Kingdom.