The other day when I walked into the library at Covenant Seminary, I noticed a sculpture I've passed probably hundreds of times. The piece appeared to have been crafted over many hours — diligently and lovingly. Two men, one older than the other, both peer at an open scroll. One grasps a lantern to light the scroll while the other holds the scroll open to its captivating contents. A small plaque on the side of this sculpture has an inscription that reads:
Paul & Timothy
By Douglas W. Merkey
Many of you know Doug and know of his truly God-given gift for carving and molding various materials and unlocking the figures that seem to lie encapsulated within them. Many leaders in the life arena and beyond have been touched by this godly man who sculpted their spiritual lives as well. Doug has touched thousands of lives through his ministry, especially through Churches for Life, which he founded.
Doug has been a Paul to many Timothys — mentoring them, encouraging them. He has faithfully spent thousands of hours developing materials, teaching workshops, coaching Life Teams, attending events, and pouring himself into others. After a major event, Team members generally received a letter from Doug, reminding them that their call was first and foremost to know and love God — not to a ministry that, hopefully, would one day outlive its usefulness, not to a position that comes with wonderful opportunities to meet incredible people. But to know and love God. This fundamental starting point is the only place that can provide true satisfaction and lasting refreshment for thirsty Christians. It is to this gospel-saturated soil that Doug has redirected many of us and has implored us to put down our roots.
I am one of the Timothys who have been molded by Doug. When I first arrived at Covenant after being involved in a typical pro-life ministry, I bore many of the marks of one destined not only for burnout but also for encouraging others to follow detrimental motives. I had a tinge of the self-righteous Elijah complex and was something of a fire-breathing, lone-wolf pro-lifer. I was motivated primarily by anger rather than by the gospel. My main means of motivating others was guilt rather than a love for Christ that was rooted in gratefulness for His having rescued me when, in my sin, I was headed toward death. The entire mantra of being a "rescued rescuer" wasn't just foreign to me; it seemed wrong. That was before I received the love and care of my brother, Doug, who saw not only my baggage but also my potential. God used Doug's friendship, coaching, and discipling to help me embrace the gospel as the highest possible motivation for life ministry.
I am excited, yet humbled, to continue the work that Doug began. I am thankful that I am not tasked with being "a replacement for Doug." So great and so varied are Doug's gifts that such a charge would overwhelm me. However, I welcome the present challenge — to labor for Churches for Life in this season, relying on God's strength in my weakness. I can say with certainty that Christ will build His church and that the gospel will prevail. I pray that God will continue to bless Churches for Life for its faithfulness in proclaiming His gospel. Soli Deo gloria.
-Josh Holler, Teaching & Communications Director - Churches For Life