As Wesleyans, we have an incredible heritage — from John Wesley’s ministry in the late 1700s to the more recent 1968 merger. We have a lot to look back on with pride and a lot to thank God for.

At ALIVE Wesleyan Church in Central, South Carolina, we celebrate a local church heritage dating back to 1893. Over those years remarkable men and women have faithfully served in this community, each of them laying the groundwork for us to experience ALIVE as we know it today — a growing, outreach-oriented, scripturally-grounded Wesleyan church. Every so often, we have the chance to stop and celebrate one of those faithful men and women who have gone before us.

This year, we celebrated Rev. Fred Andrews. Pastor Fred, as we lovingly call him, has been serving in the Central, South Carolina, area since 1977 when he first came on staff as an assistant pastor of Central First Wesleyan Church. He then became the senior pastor in 1978 and has continued to serve in various staff roles for the past 43 years. In total, Pastor Fred and his wife, Sonnie, have spent 50 years in ministry. That faithfulness is commendable and an incredible example for us all as we desire for God to use us.

Pastor Fred shared about five insights he has gained in 50 years of ministry.

Personal spiritual discipline is pivotal.

A book called The Disciplined Life guided Pastor Fred early on about the lifelong path of practicing discipline in every area. This included patterns for personal quiet times, a dedicated Tuesday morning sermon preparation time, which involved carrying a typewriter home on Monday afternoons, and times devoted for family. “It’s obvious to me that ministry is performed best by self-starters,” he said.

Ministry is done primarily through relationships.

If you know Pastor Fred, you’ve seen him live by this truth. He shared how he can now look back and see a number of friends whom he has known for over 50 years. He also never stopped developing new relationships and has many significant ones from the past 10 years. “Out of these precious contacts, God has opened so many opportunities for personal ministry,” he said.

There is joy in the journey.

Instead of looking for the big, momentous events to happen, Pastor Fred learned to make the most of every opportunity and look for “God sightings” in everyday experiences. When we can start seeing how God is working in us and in our vicinity, we can enjoy the journey.

Long-term ministry opens the doors for major impact.

Looking back, Pastor Fred could see how the small, day-to-day steps laid the groundwork for the big moments. For example, several significant steps took place in and through Pastor Fred before the church was poised for the major move of God when ALIVE began in 2004.

These types of opportunities to see God prepare a church body and then move are often not possible outside of long-term ministry. “The tough truth is what happens in a month or a year is almost always dwarfed by what happens in a decade,” he said.

Scriptural truth can carry you.

Two significant Scriptures guided Pastor Fred throughout his years of ministry. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you” (Joshua 1:5) became a guiding verse as he ventured out for his first days of ministry in Sierra Leone (as a Global Partners missionary) in the 1970s. And throughout his ministry he found himself turning back to 1 Samuel 7:12: “The Lord has helped me all the way.” This was a reminder of how the work of ministry is ultimately a work of God and the Holy Spirit. As we do ministry wherever we are — in a church, at home, in school, at our workplace — the presence of God through his Holy Spirit is crucial, and his Word can continually ground us and guide us back to that truth.

“I am touched at this point in my life to realize how indebted I am to the work of God as I sought to do His work through His power. To God be the glory,” said Pastor Fred.

As Pastor Fred’s 43 years of ministry is celebrated, so is the service of countless Wesleyan pastors across the U.S. and Canada. Pastors in The Wesleyan Church may share similar ministry experiences as they faithfully serve. Or their ministry journeys may look entirely different then Pastor Fred’s. The most faithful servants are not the ones we see on a TV screen or those whose names show up on book covers or news feeds. The ones who have served faithfully often slip quietly into their retirement, to continue serving their communities without applause or praise.

This October, during Pastor Appreciation Month, let’s be quick to celebrate the service of the men and women who so faithfully and humbly lead in their ministries each day.

To those who’ve finished their service, we thank you.

And to those who continue to minister, we thank you.

May we continue to cheer you on.

Learn how you can celebrate your pastor(s) during Pastor Appreciation Month.  

Justine Tegen serves as the discipleship pastor at ALIVE Wesleyan Church in Central, South Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Matthew, and two daughters. She loves being a part of the local church and watching people take the next steps in their faith.