A wonderful letter arrived in Daniel’s mailbox recently, from west coast artist friend Gerrit Verstraete, who was closely connected with Rev. Warren and his ministry.
Greetings from “the coast,” and yes, we’re still on Gabriola Island…
I know, I know, it’s been a long time.
I had begun reading (again) a book of your father and came upon the website for Bezek.
When I turned 65, I took a six year sabbatical from the studio to pursue graduate studies. The journey greatly inspired me to awaken my inner voice as a writer (fiction, non-fiction, epic poetry).
I have in the meantime completed my Doctoral degree and adapted my dissertation into book form.
It is published as “The First and Last Kingdom: Rediscovering the Purpose of Our Existence.”
The book is dedicated to your father and his impact on my life is mentioned in the book as well.”
I have asked Gerrit to expand on his reasons for dedicating his new book (congratulations BTW!) to Reverend Warren. Below is what he wrote. Thank you Gerrit, and we hope you, our reader, enjoy this beautiful reflection. We have also included information on how to order Gerrit’s new book as well.
Bernard Warren, a strand in a strong cord
September 4, 2016
By Gerrit Verstraete
In my book The First and Last Kingdom: Rediscovering the Purpose of Our Existence which I dedicated to Rev. Bernard Warren as my spiritual father, I wrote about a cord of three strands. This cord of three strands is a metaphor of lived-experience concerning three people who were integral to my growth in faith. They were author Jamie Buckingham, counselor and teacher Bernard Warren, and the artist and poet Michelangelo. There were others of course, but these three men were of special significance. Of these, Bernard Warren, or “Bern” as we affectionately called him, I remember as one who gave evidence of a profoundly genuine pursuit of a disciplined ear with which to listen to the leading of the Spirit of God in order to embrace Divine governance into every aspect of life. And he did so with love and kindness and an incredible patience. For Bernard Warren, governance was a profound sense and practice of servanthood. He was willing to be governed and he was willing to listen to others in order to learn and hear what the Spirit was saying to the church. He never stepped on a smouldering candle or trampled on bruised reeds among the people he served. He did not fear failure nor was he shy about disappointment. He had a caring heart, listening ears, and an open door. Significant is that his servanthood taught me about patience with the family of God, acceptance of others, and compassion for those whom God had given me to disciple. Significant is that God’s kingdom also governed all his life. To this day, his example continues to inspire me. And who can forget his profoundly detailed teachings (at least ten points in every message he preached – seven more than the average three-point sermon), as well as his sensitive writings, and his loving way of dealing with people in need and in crisis.
He said: “Teaching can only go so far. Counseling has limited value. It is only as God reveals Himself that light comes. We cannot force a truth on people with our words. Neither should we apply ungodly persuasion in an attempt to have them make even what we think is a right decision.” He also advised my wife Alice and I “never to neglect the teaching of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.”
Bernard Warren was the embodiment of living a life of trust in submission to the governance of God’s kingdom. He was a man of integrity and trustworthiness. He gave me many opportunities to speak at Bezek’s well-known Friday Nights. He introduced me to his son Stephen, a fellow artist. Bernard taught at our ministry’s Holy Spirit Conferences. But above all, he was a good mentor who showed me the walk was more important than the talk. And I was a prolific talker. His encouragement pointed me to the way of touching people’s lives, not by words alone, but by action.
Bernard Warren stated simply and succinctly, “the Kingdom of God is life lived under God’s gracious rule.” He made no apology for his own weaknesses, yet he enjoyed a sustained ministry of tending to the needs of hurting people. He experienced miracles and joy knowing that the medicine chest of God is an abundant source of wellbeing. He was a practitioner of doing.
His footsteps were a clear affirmation of my personal journey of faith, ministry and creativity, the essence of which is an interaction of hearing, believing, inspection,and doing. The outcome of Bernard Warren’s servanthood in my life was a deeper experience of devotion, kindness, and gentleness, as additional foundation stones of a faith-filled life. Bernard Warren encouraged and equipped the teacher and mentor in me.
Gerrit Verstraete is an artist, author, and mentor. He and his wife Alice live on Gabriola Island, BC, where they pastor the Church On The Rock and manage The Hope Centre, the island’s family resource centre. Details at www.veaministries.yolasite.com