Honor to whom honor is due (Romans 13:7, NASB1995).
Pastor Rick Ives and his wife Heather are a great pastoral team. They have been missionaries in Russia and are currently serving at Fellowship Church in Springfield, Ohio.
My wife and I first came to know Rick and Heather in Russia in 1992.
We had traveled to Russia to encourage Rick and Heather, who had moved to the St. Petersburg region as missionaries in 1991. This was shortly after the fall of Communism, and Russia was a mess economically.
My wife and I traveled by plane to Sweden and then from Sweden via ferry to Finland, and then rode on a bus through Finland to Russia. This was my first trip outside the U.S.A. and my first short-term mission trip.
We arrived on our bus at a small town in Russia close to the Finnish border. My wife and I were jet-lagged, tired, hungry, dirty, and disoriented. The bus driver opened the doors of the bus, and I saw Rick and Heather standing there, waiting to greet us.
Rick’s opening words were, “Russia is a difficult place. Eat when you can, drink water when you can, sleep when you can, and take a shower when you can.”
I remember thinking that I wanted to get back on the bus and return to the U.S.A.
But Heather has a way of softening the truth-telling of Pastor Rick. She said, “Hey y’all, it will be fine, and you will have the best time of your life.”
Yes, we needed to eat, drink, sleep, and shower when we could, but we had many great experiences of God working through us. This included preaching the gospel for the first time that the gospel had been preached at a public gathering in a large Russian city.
One of the best experiences ever for my wife and I.
Fast forward ten years later . . .
I hired Pastor Rick to work at Fellowship and lead the Saturday Night Life service in 2001. The reason that I hired Rick is that he’s one of the best preachers that I know.
And Rick and Heather came as a team.
I remember a conversation the elders had during Rick’s hiring process; a reaction was, “We like Rick, but we really love Heather!”
Both Rick and Heather have been a great blessing to many during their 22-year ministry at Fellowship.
Fast forward to last Saturday night . . .
Pastor Rick announced his retirement — no, not retirement, but repositioning — as a pastor at Fellowship. His last week with be the first week of February 2024.
Pause now — as I write this Interruption — lots of emotion!
Rick and Heather have been good friends of my wife and me for over 30 years. We have traveled the world together, leading discipleship conferences. I still enjoy Rick’s preaching and his sense of humor.
I’m constantly encouraged by Heather’s always positive demeanor.
Plans are still under consideration for Rick and Heather’s future ministry. They intend to live in Springfield and still attend Fellowship.
After Rick announced his upcoming plans last Saturday, he asked me to come to the stage for a few comments. Of course, I told a few humorous stories about Rick and illustrated Heather’s soft-spoken faithfulness.
But what I didn’t say, forgot to say, and remembered that I should have said after I sat down from my comments was . . .
Rick and Heather Ives, faithful as friends and in their ministry to others, are worthy of honor.