Pastor Tom Leake, A Tremendous Example of Faith Given to Christ

Pastor Tom Leake, A Tremendous Example of Faith Given to Christ

Obviously, this isn’t the next installment of Visits, but I have this unfortunate need, and this feels like the right place.

I may have said a total of 50 words to Pastor Tom Leake in person. I attended his Growing Disciples Class on The Sermon on the Mount. But I watched him the same way I watch all of my heroes. When I want to learn about writing, I watch Brandon Sanderson. When I want to learn more about how to coach the game of football, I watch Kyle Shanahan. When I want to know how to be a better Christian, I, of course, seek Christ, but I feel that Pastor Tom is as good an example to follow this side of Christ as any. It’s weird to write the word “is” because I learned March 26 that my hero died, and I’m not even sure how I feel.

I have many people I look up to. When I think about Pastor Tom, I looked up to him the same way I looked up to those who were much further off and less approachable. I’m certain we didn’t know each other as well as either of us would like, but he was so beloved by people he’s shepherded at our church for more than 22 years, and I’ve only been a member for just over two of those years.

So I wanted to dedicate this post to him and to Christ, who gave Pastor Tom a strength and conviction that is a testament to God’s power and mercy.

Somewhere around four years ago, I hated “organized religion.”

I’ve mentioned a few times that my home town had a lot of churches that were more cultish and hate based than anything else, and that led me to believe that’s what a church was. I wanted no part of it. I’d been to other churches. For me, it was downright frustrating to believe in Christ and yet feel confounded in trying to find a church that actually followed him. To be fair, I didn’t look very hard. I didn’t look much at all. I found a church in Virginia that I appreciated, but I live in Maryland now.

Then a friend offered the link to Hope Bible Church’s webcast of sermons. She told me to watch.

The first thing I noticed right away was that Pastor Tom opened a book of the Bible and just taught about that part. He was in Acts 2, and at the time of his death, he’d made it to Acts 14. It’s called expositional teaching. True, there were breaks in that to cover things like parenthood or how a church should function in society and how Christians should submit to leadership, but even those were grounded in specific passages of the Bible.

The more I watched, the more I realized Pastor Tom was this man who was grounded in faith, convicted in his belief and loving in his temperament. Some can argue I didn’t know him that well, and I didn’t, but that’s the man I saw, so that’s the man I’m speaking to you about.

Not long after my wife and I became members of the church, Pastor Tom was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. It was the second time he’d battle that condition. He was given less than a year to live, and he spent the next two years preaching, and I testify to you that he preached with as much fervor and energy as I’d ever seen. I watched for two years as a man’s clothes grew looser and looser. He moved more and more slowly. His strength and body rebelled against him. In his last sermon, he had helpers walk him to a lowered pulpit so he could sit while he taught scripture, urging others to serve the body of Christ.

I want to lie down and nap after I stub my toe, and this man preached about serving the church less than two weeks before he passed away.

That is strength, and that strength comes from Christ. This isn’t my statement; it’s his. Every day he spoke, he spoke about how Christ sustained him. Every day he preached, he talked about how it’s the purpose Christ has for him.

Now he’s gone. He’s gone, but I’ll never forget that example.

So I end this knowing what he would want. The last words I heard from him were for Christ, and if he had another second to live, I think he’d want to say, “Turn to Christ! Only he can save you.”

I am a sinner. I’m guilty of more sins than I can count and a number of sins I’d rather not discuss. There never was nor would be a thing I, as a man, could do to reconcile myself to God, the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, the God of Jacob. He is a perfect and holy God who can’t abide sin. So how do I approach him? There is no sacrifice I can offer. The blood of animals and the deeds of my life could never make up for the sins I’ve committed. There must be a death. So God, in his abundant mercy sent his only begotten son down to earth. He is Christ. Christ was born of a virgin, according to prophecy. He lived a perfect, sinless life in accordance to prophecy and by the testimony of those who served him and even the enemies who conspired to have him crucified. The crime he was killed for was speaking truth. They asked if he was the son of God, and Christ replied truthfully that he was. But they did not kill Christ. Christ, the son of God, the man who is God, gave up his mortal life. That was the propitiation for the sins of mankind, and his one sacrifice was sufficient for all of mankind. And those who turn to Christ, confess him as Lord and believe in him will be saved. More so, God raised him from the dead. And as such, death has been defeated, and we too can share in the eternal life our master Christ has if only we believe in him, pick up our cross, and follow him.

I don’t follow him or serve him anywhere nearly as well as Pastor Leake did on this earth. Pastor Leake has received his crown of glory in Heaven. I’m still struggling just to act like Christ is some small way.

May God rest the souls and hearts of those who truly knew Pastor Leake. If I feel such loss for a man I didn’t know personally, I can only imagine the pain and loss they feel.

God bless and receive your servant Pastor Tom.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 14

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 14

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 //

Five

Oct. 17, 2025, 3:32 p.m. 

21.9 Years Ago

“I’m going out,” Paul said, already twisting the knob of his front door.

“Is your homework done?” His mother’s voice came from upstairs. 

“I’ll do it when I get back,” Paul replied.

A steady rhythm of footsteps on the stairs caused Paul to look up and see his mother coming down. Just out of the shower, she wore a white slip, and her hair was wrapped in a brown towel. “I asked you to get it done before you went out.”

“I’m just going to hang out at the arcade with Jordan.” He flung the door open and left even as his mom called to him. He didn’t understand what the big deal was. 

Since he’d stopped fighting and started paying attention in class, his grades had sky rocketed. All his teachers went from hating him to talking to him about college. He knew he’d go. He had to so he could study more about physics. He knew teleportation was possible because he’d been visited by someone several times throughout his life. Though it’d been more than a year since Nobody’s last visit, things were better.

Paul had just had the thought when he turned onto the next street and saw a man standing on his front lawn. Oh, no!  

“If it isn’t Paul,” the man said. “Have you given any consideration to what we talked about?”

“I’m not joining your cult,” Paul said flatly.

The man, Thomas Dorny, shook his head as if he were sad. Maybe he was. 

“I’m so afraid that you’re lost,” Dorny said. “You don’t have any patience to even talk about your soul.”

“Look,” Paul said. “I listened to you talk. I’ve even told you I’ve read the whole Bible, twice! I even went to your church with you, and you yelled at me just for going to the bathroom.”

It wasn’t an exaggeration. Dorny had waited until the sermon, an hour-long lecture about how God was furious at how all the other churches but theirs in the world weren’t doing what God wanted, was over, but right afterward, Dorny took Paul outside and told him he was  disrespectful and “un-redemptive” to miss any single part of a sermon.   

“I’m trying to save you,” Dorny said. He had this self-righteous, patronizing smile that made Paul want to hit him. 

“I don’t want anything to do with you,” Paul finally said. He’d had enough. “I’ve talked with … “  Paul was about to say “Nobody,” but he managed to stop himself. “ … other people about God and the Bible, and they don’t sound like you.”

“That’s because they’re false teachers who are trying to corrupt you, and I think they’re succeeding,” Dorny said. The man had an argument or justification for everything, and that was what felt so off about him. He knew there was more to it, but the thing that bothered Paul most about Dorny was how he always seemed to make this about his church or even his holiness. It felt so fake. 

“Look, I have to go.” Paul started to walk by, but Dorny shifted to stand in front of him. Paul clenched his fists.

“Are you going to hit me? Is the violence in your heart that strong?” Dorny asked.

This jerk has no idea!  

“I said I have to go.” It was an effort for Paul to keep himself from shoving the man. He hadn’t hit anyone since Jordan, who strangely had become Paul’s best friend these days. Paul went to Jordan’s church once, too. They didn’t yell at him, but after going to church with Mr. Dorny, Paul figured he wanted nothing to do with organized religion. At least Jordan never pestered him about it. 

Mr. Dorny frowned as he stepped side. “Go enjoy your flesh. Make yourself happy and see what fire it leads to.”

Paul started walking away. He’d endure some sanctimonious crap as long as it got him away from the jerk.

“I blame your mother.”

The comment stopped Paul short. He slowly pivoted around as if forcing himself to move slowly was all that kept him from leaping at Mr. Dorny. “What did you say?”

Dorny smiled like some kid who got caught lying. He shrugged. “Your mother divorced your father.” He said it like that explained everything. “She’s a sinner who’s teaching you to do the same. By abandoning her husband, she’s separated you from the discipline you so desperately needed.”

Paul had stepped right up to the man just as he finished speaking. For years, Paul felt anger. He hit people because of the shame he felt about himself. He hit people because he was angry about how they made him feel about himself. For the first time since his father nearly killed him, Paul was furious.

“If I told you how my father disciplined me, you’d change your religion.” Paul didn’t even try to hide the rage from his face. 

Then Paul imagined how his face looked. He had that face memorized from the times his father wore it right before beating them. 

No one deserves to be beaten.  

This man put that claim to the test. This man deserved it. Paul wasn’t so much smaller than Dorny. 

I won’t become my father!

“All children hate the rod, but those who avoid it spoil the child.” Dorny spoke as if that, again, explained everything. 

… to be continued …