We asked 35 Christian leaders, “Who is the influencer with the biggest impact on your life and ministry?” Most of these leaders listed several influential thinkers, writers, innovators, and leaders more of us should get to know. This response is from Chuck Sackett, preaching minister with Madison Park Christian Church, Quincy, Illinois.
Slavic Prochavska was a preacher in Prague, Czech Republic, who died a few years ago. I first met Slavic on the platform at the train station in Praha (Prague). Slavic was a leader in the days when Communist leaders punished him for being a preacher by withholding his asthma medicine (TCM smuggled it to him). To further punish him, they moved him out of the city, away from his church, to a Soviet apartment building. “What they intended for harm, God intended for good.” They put him on the 10th floor above the smog. I’ll never forget his story, for he told it while we watched the lights of Prague come on.
He modeled the most humble spirit I have ever seen. He fought his asthma to take me up to the Astronomical Clock—also known as the Apostles’ Clock—in the Old Town Square in Prague, and he translated better than anyone I’ve ever worked with.
John Stott was an expositor who wrote with clarity. He brought to life the text of Scripture in seemingly all his writings. I appreciated his desire to see the church be the church. His famous line from an Urbana conference still moves me, “Our God is a global God.”
Over the years I’ve listened to dozens of his sermons and read thousands of his words. I return to his writings regularly because he still inspires me to be an expositor of Scripture who seeks accuracy, relevancy, and clarity.
Ben Merold was the minister in Fullerton, California, when my best friend’s daughter was kidnapped and murdered. Ben was their pastor and walked them through one of the most difficult periods imaginable. He did it with grace and compassion, while ministering to one of our largest churches at the time.
Later, when I had the honor of meeting Ben, I mentioned his ministry, and he was genuinely embarrassed by the praise. He sacrificially taught for us and Lincoln Christian College. He has met me for meals to discuss ministry issues, and never ceases to treat me as a friend when I see him. He reminds me that we introverts have a place in ministry, and no matter where we serve, we have immense value.
I wanted to name one or two of my teaching partners, but I wouldn’t know where to begin or end. I’ve been deeply influenced, however, by a small group of professors who met together as a small group for about a decade. We cried together, laughed together, prayed together, studied together. We have held each other in the deepest of struggles and celebrated with each other at life’s best moments. That group will know who they are, and they are, by far, too humble to be singled out from among all the wonderful colleagues who modeled commitment to scholarship, ministry, mentorship, churchmanship, discipline, accountability, service, and more. What I am today, I am because of the influence of those men and women among whom I’ve served.