Hero Worship

“The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them!”

Psalm 16: 3, New Living Translation


Ten thousand fools proclaim themselves into obscurity, while one wise man forgets himself into immortality.

Martin Luther King Jr.

            Liz Henziel-Nelson, Bruce Main, Tre Foster, Ernestine Winfrey, Gregory Boyle.

Who are they? You might recognize a couple of names, but likely not all. They are some of my heroes and I have a few more; and you probably wouldn’t know them either. That’s OK, because they fall into the category of “godly people in the land” referenced in Psalm 16. Liz, Bruce, Ernestine, Tre, and Gregory are faith-filled people who are serving others and God in mostly obscure corners of God’s world. These heroes of mine do not throw or catch footballs. They are not on the front pages of news websites or newspapers. They are living with passion and purpose. These heroes of mine are difference-makers and I love to be in their presence whenever possible.

            Here’s a quick bio on the fore-mentioned four heroes of mine:

            Liz Henziel-Nelson is the Director of Villages in Partnership (VIP) serving the people of Malawi, Africa. For more than a decade Liz has traveled back and forth from this small country that is numbered among the poorest in the world. VIP puts churches and villages together in an unusual mission friendship. Liz was also the architect of the dynamic and amazing youth program at Allentown Presbyterian Church in Allentown, NJ. She is married to one of my closest friend, Stephen, who is the Pastor of APC.

            Bruce Main is the Executive Director of Urban Promise International. Twenty-five years ago Bruce founded Urban Promise, a ministry to children, youth and their families in Camden, NJ. My hero is a gifted author and wonderful communicator. With God-inspired mixture of love and faith, Bruce has established several versions of Urban Promise, including the one we support in Trenton. Urban Promise impacts the lives of children from some of the poorest communities in our nation and world.

            Tre Foster grew up in Trenton and now is giving back to his hometown. The youngest on my hero list, Tre is under thirty but has the mature, strong faith of seventy-year-old Christian. Last September, Tre invited me to walk with around the campus of Mercer Community College and pray with him. As we walked the paths of that campus, we prayed together with our eyes open. Tre inspires me with his big trust in his big God.

            Ernestine Winfrey is the Director of the Good News Home in Flemington, NJ. TMPC has supported the Good News Home for twenty-year years. Ernestine is a four-time winner over cancer. At eighty, she has more energy than ten twenty-year-olds. Last week, Tom Barford and I sat in her office while she told us how God called her to leave a high-paying corporate job to work with addicted women. After our meeting, Tom and I were thinking the same thing: That lady is something else—for the glory of God.

            Gregory Boyle is a Catholic priest serving gang members in Los Angeles. I’ve never met him but I’ve read some of his books and heard him interviewed. Father Boyle loves gang members with a simple, compassionate and grace-filled love that makes me want to do the same.

            These are my heroes. They are the godly of the land and their witness to Jesus Christ makes the land better. They are forgetting themselves into immorality. True hero worship is to go and do likewise.