Meet Evan Welcher!!!

5:51 PM

With the recent passing of my Grandpa Peterson, I thought now would finally be a good time to put up an interview I did a while back with my friend, Evan Welcher, since it also deals with death. I met Evan on Twitter through his twin brother, Steele, who happens to be the resident life manager of the dorms at WITCC (where I recently graduated from college). Evan is the senior pastor of First Christian Church in Glenwood, Iowa. In the last five years or so, Evan's been on quite a roller coaster ride of emotions, but that hasn't stopped him from trying to make a smile on other peoples faces. He went from the extreme happiness of meeting and then marrying his lovely wife, Danielle, (whom he refers to as "My Resplendent Bride"), to the agonizing sorrow of her cancer and death. To learn more about Evan and his new journey through life, please check out his personal Twitter, Instagram, or website.

Facts About Evan
People Who Inspire You: My Resplendent Bride, Rich Mullins, John Stott.
Favorite Bible Story: The parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).
Favorite Bible Verse: John 11:25.

Favorite Musician: Rich Mullins.
Favorite Movie: Lady In The Water.
Favorite Books: Too many to list!
Favorite Color: Yellow.
Favorite Holiday: Thanksgiving.
Mac or PC: Mac.
Twitter or Facebook: Twitter.
Blackberry or iPhone: iPhone.
Chocolate or Vanilla: Chocolate.
Winter or Summer: Summer.
Pancakes or Waffles: Waffles.
Math or Science: Science Fiction.
Past, Present, or Future: Future.

Have you always wanted to become a preacher?
What made me want to be a preacher was the way God comes down into human history and saves fallen, broken, messed up people like me. When Jesus saved me I said to myself, "I have to spend the rest of my life telling people about this Jesus!" He is the only God who gives up His life for His people instead of the other way around.

I did not happen to grow up in a Church going family, but I did, in my totally biased opinion, grow up in the best family. God saved me when I was 16. At the time I wore a lot of black, and was rather unpleasant to be around. I was a committed atheist and my world view was hostile to religion in general organized or otherwise. A friend of mine had become a Christian the summer of my 16th year, and when school resumed had been annoyingly faithful at telling me all about Jesus. She invited me to Church often. I always refused invitations and for my part, faithfully mocked her. One night I had a dream in which Jesus saved me from my wretched self. I awoke the next day perplexed and annoyed. I wondered if I had eaten a bad taco the night before. Nonetheless, despite my attempts to brush off and rationalize the stayed with me. Yes, it gnawed at my pompous faith in my intellect. I began running through the practical ramifications of being wrong about the existence of God. My atheism was based upon the shaky foundation of me assuming there was no God because I had never experienced God in my short life. I wagered that if there was a God He would not take kindly to the immense ungratefulness exhibited by of one of His creations going around telling His other creations that the Creator was, in fact, a fairy tale. My friend invited me to Church again, and I went. The gospel (Good News) was explained to me and for the first time, I believed that God was real, and, that I was alienated from Him because of my own sin, and further more that all that stuff about the Cross was Jesus dying in my place so that I, even I, as under serving as I am, might be declared righteous, and forgiven. Through no goodness or wisdom of my own, I believed that night. Faith was God's gift to me on that October evening. He bids us all to come die with Him that we might live with Him. I love how just God is, because He won't turn anybody away.

When did you find out that your wife had cancer? How did you react to the diagnosis? 

My Resplendent Bride had been coughing for several months. We went to the Dr. and they thought it was anything from her asthma acting up to pneumonia. However after several weeks without improvement they did an X-Ray and saw the baseball sized mass in her anterior mediastinum. The mass was situated between her lungs right next to her heart. It was pushing against her lungs making it difficult to breath. We later learned it was lymphoma, which is a blood cancer. We were sad because we both had seen the pain: cancer caused in our parent's lives. Her father had fought against brain tumors for many years, and my mother died from lung cancer.

I held my Danielle in my arms and we wept together: for the fight ahead, for the fears we harbored, for our unborn children. We were keenly aware of the fight ahead of us, but we also purposed in our hearts to trust in God's sovereignty. We believed that God is in control of all our lives, and that nothing merely happens by coincidence. 

A verse we clung to was Isaiah 41:10, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

My Resplendent Bride fought the cancer like the woman of grace that she was for nearly two years. During that time her lymphoma came back twice and morphed into leukemia. She went home to be with her Savior (John 14) May 3, 2014, dying from complications of a failed bone marrow transplant. 

I have never known anyone like her. She was the love of my life. She is the best person I have ever known. God gave her to me for less than 3 years, but oh, the mark she left on my soul is indelible. Danielle was a woman who had yielded herself to her Lord as much as a human can. She was a missionary to S. Sudan, a teacher, a daughter, a friend to more people than I can count, and my Resplendent Bride. It is not cliche of me to write that her love changed me in ways that I can not fully comprehend or explain. True love has a way of doing that.

Is there anything that we can be praying about for you?

Please be praying for me as I mourn the loss of my Resplendent Bride. The Bible says that two become one in the covenant of marriage (Ephesians 5:22-33). There is something mysteriously powerful about marriage that I fear may be lost on many today. When someone is widowed they have spiritually been torn in two. The beauty of Christ is that He shall put us all back together again.

Many of the people we walk past and ignore everyday are virtual walking Humpty Dumpty's marching along in a daze. The people of God are tasked with waiting with the broken while rescue comes. This is God's beautiful design for the Church.

How do you turn such negative events in your life into positive ones? 
I am thankful that it is not up to me to bring good from evil. God is always working (Romans 8), and it is enough for me to know that He is good, knows what He is doing, and has not forgotten His little lambs.

What does a normal day in your life look like now? I wake up and drink in the coffee as well as tidings of distant lands that transpired while I slumbered (the news). If people are lucky, I take a shower (people are always lucky). Then I head off to my study at the church building and work on whatsoever needs working on! I believe God does powerful things through the proclamation of His word to His saints (don't you love how the Bible calls the Christ's Bride "Saints"? That proves our righteousness comes not from ourselves but Him!) so I spend a good portion my week writing Sunday's sermon.

If you could preach about any topic or Bible story on a Sunday, what would it probably be about and why? 
My favorite thing to preach on is the forgiveness of sins, which is inseparable from the Cross of Christ. The banner we dwell under reads, "Christ Crucified For Sinners". The best thing about the Gospel is that it is not about us, it's about Him. The world has enough people who are really into themselves. The cool thing about God is that He knows our frame, that we are but dust. He knows we dustlings are fragile, broken, and rough around the edges. He also knows that we are battered, bedraggled, broken things looking for shelter. If you think you need to have all your stuff together before God will have anything to do with you: you have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

How would you describe your style of preaching? Also, why should people come to your church? 
I don't yell at people. I don't beat the sheep. 

I preach through books of the Bible, verse by verse. At First Christian Church we believe 2 Timothy 3:16, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness."

Preaching through entire books ensures that the Church gets a steady diet of God's revelation in the proportions the Holy Spirit doles out. When a guy is just doing topical series after topical series there runs the risk of the people of God only hearing the preacher man's hobby horses.

First Christian Church is an independent church trying to do things as much like the New Testament Church did as we can figure out. We admit that we are only human, and that the first century was a long time ago, but we think there are some clear hints in the New Testament about what the Church should look and feel like. At the same time we deeply value the contributions our brothers and sisters in Christ have made to the global church over the last 2,000 years. Tradition is not a dirty word.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I read, lift weights, bike, write, and try to figure out wood working!

What are five things that most people don’t know about you?
I am painfully shy.
I throw tomahawks.
I don't have all the answers, but I know the one who does.
I am a sinner/saint.
I am rooting for them. 

What’s the best part of being a pastor and why?
The best part of being a pastor is chooses to use us to accomplish His good will, and that goes for all His children.

*All photos belong to Evan Welcher.

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It may be easy to forget, but feelings matter. Life matters. You matter.

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