Pastor Rick and I in the water, a few movements before my baptism on October 13th, 2008. I was so happy and emotional that it was hard to smile, and no, I can't really explain why that is.
December 3, 2009"my Pastor Rick passed away today. In the single year I was blessed to know him, he demonstrated to me what it means to be a good leader, a good husband to his wife, and a loving man devoted to God. He was the one who baptized me, the only spiritual leader I've felt really connected to. While we say goodbye, I know that... on the other side, he's being greeted with the warmest welcome anyone could hope for."
The passing of Rick Wilder signifies the first time anyone I'm bonded with and have a deep respect for died. Pastor Rick's full-hearted, bold and unashamed preaching was the respite I needed from the big church blues (Central Christian). He kept me coming back to First Baptist Church to worship our God and hear His word. Eventually I felt comfortable enough to ask him to baptize me as a practical declaration of my faith and a step of obedience to God. I also attended his Bible College study classes when I could before work and school, mostly just to spend time around Pastor Rick and hear what he had to teach about life from the Bible and his personal experience.
So, when my dear friend Irene dropped me a line to let me know he was gone from this Earth, I did cry a bit, and just reflected on the things he had told me. The few conversations I shared with my Pastor are suddenly cast in gold and shine brilliantly, forever.
His time on Earth is gone and I think about what a difference he's made in so many people's lives by preaching the Gospel and serving the Lord. His passing makes me feel that I'm absolutely headed in the right direction by getting involved with Humanitarian work, whether through the Peace Corps or otherwise. There's no question in my mind that there is a "right" and "wrong" way to live. The right way is to dedicate our lives to God and follow His leading. The wrong way is... doing anything else.
Pastor Rick, THANK YOU.