Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Don Finto - The Quintessential Encourager

Don Finto - The Quintessential Encourager
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On April 18, Don Finto just unfolded Chapter 75 in his walk here on earth.

Don was my first pastor of 18 years at Belmont Church in Nashville, TN. He is my mentor. Under his pastorate, I learned nothing but Jesus – no legalism, rules or religion – just a relationship full of grace and mercy. He has had the biggest impact on my life other than my biological father and we are still connected.

I have never met a man that loved God’s Word more than Don. He exuded encouragement in its purest and most concentrated form. Webster’s Dictionary would define Don as a Quintessential Encourager.

I remember with great fondness twenty five years ago (1980) an encounter with Don while attending a memorial service for a friend’s brother who passed away from Aids. Becky and I just got out of our car and were preparing to cross the street, when a Honda Accord pulls up. Don Finto rolls down his window and yells out, “Hey Kerry Woo, man of God!” At that precise moment in East Nashville, as a very young in the faith Christian, I stood silent – this wave of affirmation swept over me as my heart was touched; I knew then that my destiny was affirmed and sealed. Don always encouraged everyone through the integrity of God’s Word. Roman 8:29 states “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Don just believes in the goodness of God’s grace and mercy in everyone’s life; and he was quick to remind us of our destiny!

In March of 1996, I accepted a leadership position with a Christian men’s ministry, Promise Keepers. At that time, there was quite a movement of God in men’s hearts sweeping the country with stadiums full of men desirous of embracing Christ-centered godliness and personal holiness to subsequently impact families and communities. Pastor Don Finto’s charge to me when I was sent out, akin to a missionary (to men) in front of the congregation at Belmont Church was again from God’s Word – “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Life giving words – and accountability that served me well.

Don and his son David were guests of mine at the Promise Keepers conference at the SuperDome in New Orleans. I’m told by others that when he met Coach Bill McCartney (founder of Promise Keepers), Don proudly introduced himself as “Kerry’s Pastor!” rather than a pastor of a large and influential church in Nashville. Don always took great pride in others and deflected any praise toward himself to the Lord. That’s Don – just a humble servant.

And to this day, if you’re ever around him, Don is either praying Ephesians 3 over you – “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Or, he is encouraging you to live out the reality of this passage.

I’ve got a 100 more stories, but others can tell their own as well. I’m honored to be one of his spiritual sons. So Poppa Don, thanks for the listening ear, prayers, the way you honor your precious bride Martha, the many sermons, road trips, changing my spiritual diapers (often) and always pushing me to be a leader.

Happy 75th Birthday Poppa Don! You are esteemed and well loved by all.

To learn about Don’s Ministry – The Caleb Company and his profound book, “Your People Shall Be My People”, click here.

Don Finto - Your People Shall be My People Posted by Hello

1 comment:

Mark McPherson said...

Excellent Blog! Those of us who have have had intimate contact with this unique man will agree that it is a life-changing experience.