This is the blog that almost never was. This morning, I opened my laptop while on an airplane to email the district office with my apologies for not delivering on my promised post. But instead, I ended up writing the following. I hope it encourages you…

Less than 24 hours ago, I received the phone call that everyone with aging parents fears the most. My 71-year-old father suffered a massive heart attack while undergoing a routine examination by his cardiologist and is currently on life support at a hospital in my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. I am in transit from New York, not yet clear on whether I am traveling south to say goodbye to my hero or witness a miraculous recovery. By the time this is published, God will most likely have made clear his will for my dad’s life. My family and I are at peace, trusting God’s goodness in whatever the next few days may bring.

Raised in rural North Carolina, Allen Welborn met Jesus as a 20-year-old Navy mechanic while stationed in Southern California. Soon thereafter, he surrendered his life to the ministry and enrolled in Bible college. In the five decades since, he has faithfully served the Lord Jesus Christ as a God-called and self-identified Evangelistic Pastor. He is a soul-winner in the purest sense of the word, leading untold hundreds of people to faith in Jesus Christ through his pulpit preaching and personal witness. He has maintained an unquenchable joy and tenacious faithfulness that baffles the mind when you consider his journey.

His own father died young and Dad was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes in his early 20’s which has resulted in a myriad of health issues including a heart-attack and stroke in recent years. He married his high-school sweetheart, but she passed away not long after giving birth to their fourth child (yours truly), leaving him with a house full of kids 9 years to 9 months in age. He always answered God’s call, although most of the churches he served were struggling and unhealthy. While never being accused of immorality or impropriety, he suffered the uniquely pastoral pain of being publicly or privately pushed out the door by the very same people he had loved and served for years prior. Each time, he would grieve the loss and pain, but within a few days he was joyfully trusting the Lord to provide for the needs of his family and faithfully waiting for his next assignment. He did not always know how he would pay the bills, or where we would be living in the days ahead, but he never quit trusting that God would provide and he always did.

In the months following my birth mom’s passing, God graciously provided my dad another sweetheart to marry and a fifth child to raise. My mom, four siblings and I have enjoyed a front-row seat to the relentlessness of Allen Welborn to trust God through difficult times while maintaining his unquenchable joy and tenacious faithfulness to his Lord. He’s never pastored a megachurch, he hasn’t published a book, he’s not been asked back to his college or seminary to speak in chapel, he doesn’t have a large social media following and he has never been on the cutting edge of the latest church trends (his current church still sings out of the old Baptist hymnal). But, those things have never been that important to him. There has always been a different lifelong desire of his that has always been a very high priority. In fact, in the hundreds of times I have heard him pray or speak of it, he always gets emotional. It has nothing to do with the size of his church or the trajectory of his career. This dream is that each of his five children would grow to love Jesus for themselves. And God has graciously brought this to pass. Ashley, Paul, Erin, Sheri, and I all deeply love Jesus. It’s something we all saw first and learned from our dad!

Pastoral ministry is hard on pastors, but in some ways, it is even harder on pastors’ wives and kids who experience the heartaches, but oftentimes without experiencing a personal calling from God. I’ve talked with dozens of PK’s over the years who tell stories of absent fathers due to ministry demands, or fathers who fell morally, or fathers who left the ministry because of the toll it was taking and even some fathers who died by suicide under the pressure. There are so many stories of deep pain and unresolved hurt related to being a pastor’s kid. And, while not at all perfect, my siblings and I can testify to a pastor dad who deeply loved Jesus, loved our mom, loved us, and taught us to never quit trusting God in every circumstance.

My dad doesn’t quit. He never has and he never will. The doctors informed us that, even when he was unconscious, he was physically fighting their attempts at intubation. If the Lord allows, he will recover and continue serving Jesus with unquenchable joy and relentless faithfulness. If not, he will enjoy the kind of homecoming in heaven that he always promises to others whose souls he is endeavoring to win.

Based on my own perspective on my father’s journey, which I pray is not coming to a close anytime soon, I challenge you fellow pastors to resist the temptation to quit and to stay in the fight of faith. Fight to maintain an unquenchable joy and relentless faithfulness in the work to which God has called you. Let your family and closest friends see you trusting God despite your circumstances. Believe that God is good and that true ministry success is not measured in the size of your church or the books that you publish or the stages you preach on or even the career path you walk. Ministry success is simply being obedient to the One who called you and resisting the moments of temptation to quit on the Lord.

Press on, my friends, and don’t ever quit!

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John Welborn
Pastor John Welborn and his wife of over 17 years, Ashley, have 3 children, Gracie (13), Eli (11), and Charlie (6), as well as a Black Labradoodle named Maggie. John holds degrees from Liberty University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary while currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree in Evangelism and Church Planting. He was an itinerant evangelist before becoming Lead Pastor of Crosslink Community Church, Harrisonburg, VA where he served for 7 years. Since January of 2016, he has been serving as the Senior Pastor of Salem Church, Staten Island, New York. Pastor John loves to play golf, watch his favorite college football team, the Georgia Bulldogs, and go camping with his family.

37 Comments

  1. Avatar Dennis Nunn on September 27, 2021 at 9:56 pm

    John, everything you have said about your dad, I have seen to be true over the 30 or so years I have known him. Thank you for this moving testimony of your father. I have been praying for him, Sandi, and all of the family.

    • John Welborn John Welborn on September 29, 2021 at 10:13 pm

      Thank you, Dennis.

  2. Avatar Henry &JoAnn Kines on September 21, 2021 at 3:36 pm

    John
    I know you don’t really know me but I remember you as a young man in college and came to Faith Baptist with Dan Connor home from college break and you was able to preach there. And I thought then you was going to be a awesome preacher some day!! Then a few times we was able to hear your dad at Faith as well and I thought wow no wonder his son was so good!! I am very sorry that you and your family is having to go through all this with your Father! I know God always has a perfect plan. It just hard when we can’t see what’s ahead of us! Me and my husband still are attending Faith been there since 1991! Know that we are praying for you and your family!! Henry&JoAnn Kines PS keep up the good work at Salam church!

  3. Avatar Michael Palmer on September 21, 2021 at 11:34 am

    Wow! This was so heart rending. Your Dad is one of the finest men I have EVER met. I am praying fir ALL of you.

  4. Avatar TommyNSnyder on September 21, 2021 at 6:37 am

    Good word my friend. Your dad has been a blessing in my life. Holding the prayer ropes

    • John Welborn John Welborn on September 21, 2021 at 2:36 pm

      Thank you! This means a great deal to us, my friend.

  5. Avatar David Bonner on September 20, 2021 at 10:40 pm

    John, I read this post and I just want to say I’m sorry. Aging parents and illness are stressful and difficult. In 2017 and 2018 I witnessed the illnesses and deaths of my parents. I spent so much time in a hospital I felt like I lived there. And it was hard. Even today its hard to go by a hospital and not have thoughts. I hope things turn out well, and know that I care about this situation. I wish you and your family well, and hope that your father improves.

    • John Welborn John Welborn on September 21, 2021 at 2:37 pm

      Thank you, David.

  6. Avatar Steve Allen on September 20, 2021 at 10:21 pm

    Well-told testament, John, to the faithfulness of the Lord lived out in the grateful life of one of His trophies of grace, your dad. What a God-honoring legacy Allen has! Praying for him and you.

    • John Welborn John Welborn on September 21, 2021 at 2:37 pm

      Thank you, Steve.

  7. Avatar Sharon Hartman on September 20, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    Pastor Welborn,
    I read your post which was shared by a friend of mine whom your father formerly pastored.( Vickie Brinkley).
    I am a Moravian currently learning an anthem with these words: None among us us lives to self. None among us dies to self .If we live, we live to the Lord. If we die we die to the Lord. Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.’
    From your words about your father, I can hear him preaching these words. I pray for your family.

    • John Welborn John Welborn on September 21, 2021 at 2:38 pm

      Thank you!

  8. Avatar Sam Bandela on September 20, 2021 at 6:22 pm

    Rev. Welborn. I am sure you reached Atlanta and must be running around attending to your dad’s health needs. By the way, this Sam Bandela, father of Elizabeth Kurian. Jaison is a US Coast Guard stationed in Staten Island, NY. They are current members of Salem Church now worshiping at Bay Campus. I am here to visit my daughter and her family especially to attend one of my grandsons, Aiden’s 15th birthday.

    Before I go any further, I want you to know that I read and reread your write up which my daughter Elizabeth forwarded to me. After reading it, I prayed for all your siblings, family members, extended family as well as attending medical professionals for God’s wisdom and guidance with your dad’s current health treatment.

    Rev. Welborn, kindly allow me to share a few words of my testimony: God saved me from utter darkness to the marvelous Light from Hindu faith through the ministry of a missionary couple. Even to this day, my family back in S. India worship 330 million gods and goddesses which they never hear or talk. They think that I went after white man religion ( sorry for the expression).

    I got saved back in India in a boarding school at the age of 16 years. After finishing up high school, college I went to seminary back in India, was a Pastor and also attended seminary here in US and since then, I have been serving the Lord wearing different hats with different Christian Organization. I first started my ministry with Home Mission Board here NY/ NJ after five years then moved on as the Lord opened new doors to serve Him.

    Rev. Welborn, my children being MKs and PKs have experienced, seen and witnessed in their growing up years here in US what you and family have gone through and that’s perhaps one of the reasons why my daughter Elizabeth forwarded and wanted me to read your article. I moved my older Anita 4 different times in high schools before she graduated from one. She finally graduated from G.Tech and working as engineer and Vice President of her company. I am grateful to God for His unconditional love, unending care/ provision and unfailing faithfulness.

    Rev. Welborn, thanks for taking time for sharing and encouraging Pastors and others in the ministry NOT to QUIT but move on trusting in Him the One who called you. Jer.29:11. Have a great day and a wonderful week! Because of Jesus Christ – Sam Bandela

    Thanks for sh

    • John Welborn John Welborn on September 21, 2021 at 2:41 pm

      Dear Brother, thank you for sharing your experience and encouraging me through mine. Your family (Happy Birthday Aiden) is such a blessing to mine and the greater Salem Church community here on Staten Island. God bless you and your ministry!

  9. Avatar Mayra baez on September 20, 2021 at 4:08 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing very powerful message praying for you and your family.

    • John Welborn John Welborn on September 21, 2021 at 2:42 pm

      Thank you!

  10. Avatar Edith Reddick on September 20, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    Thank you from my heart to your’s. What love for your Dad and Jesus Christ. I went to school with Allen, knew your Mom and your grandparents. Johnny Welborn was a fine man. We use to go to the Ford place on Friday night when the new cars came out. Great memories. Your family is in my prayers

    • John Welborn John Welborn on September 20, 2021 at 4:48 pm

      Wow, what wonderful memories of my parents you shared. Thank you!

  11. Avatar Susan stephens on September 20, 2021 at 3:20 pm

    John…you and your family mean so much to me and my family. I am blessed to have had Bro. Allen as my pastor. Praying for all you you..God is good!
    Susan

    • John Welborn John Welborn on September 20, 2021 at 4:48 pm

      Thank you so much, Mrs Susan. The Welborn’s love you, Arden and your boys so much!

  12. Avatar Andy Royals on September 20, 2021 at 2:04 pm

    Your Dad has demonstrated the words faithful and servant for all of his years in ministry…Either way he will be a winner!

    • John Welborn John Welborn on September 20, 2021 at 4:49 pm

      Yes & amen, thank you!

  13. Avatar Tandy on September 20, 2021 at 1:50 pm

    Love this! Thank you John for sharing, we are praying for you all!

    • John Welborn John Welborn on September 20, 2021 at 4:49 pm

      Thank you.

  14. Avatar Ava COX on September 20, 2021 at 1:35 pm

    He pastored our church at Christiansburg Baptist and my husband and I loved him dearly along with Sandy.I grieved when they left and my prayers are with you and family.God bless each one of you.

    • John Welborn John Welborn on September 20, 2021 at 4:49 pm

      Thank you, God bless!

  15. Avatar Norma Roldan on September 20, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful blog on the walk of your father in the ministry. God’s richest blessings to you Pastor and your family. Will continue to pray for his complete healing.

    • John Welborn John Welborn on September 20, 2021 at 4:50 pm

      Thank you, God bless!

  16. Avatar Brandon Witmyer on September 20, 2021 at 11:32 am

    John,
    I remember meeting your dad at camp the year I worked for you. In just those few short days I remember seeing how much he loved Jesus, and how much he loved serving Jesus. Also, side note, the impact you and your family had on me when I worked at your camp you is part of why I’m a pastor now myself. I’m praying for you and your family!!
    Love you brother!
    In Christ,
    Brandon Witmyer

    • John Welborn John Welborn on September 20, 2021 at 4:51 pm

      Wow, thank you for sharing this Brandon. It’s such an encouragement to know that our family made an impact on your life. I’m proud of you, my friend! Thanks for praying for dad during this time.

  17. Avatar Jeanne Detellis on September 20, 2021 at 11:31 am

    Thank you Pastor for sharing your heart. I know that God has his loving hands around your heart to keep you trusting him for your father’s recovery. We win either way because of a secure destiny and hope in knowing Jesus and having eternal life.

    • John Welborn John Welborn on September 20, 2021 at 4:51 pm

      Yes, amen my sister!

  18. Avatar Rebel Bragg on September 20, 2021 at 10:39 am

    Pastor John you have always held a position of respect and honor in our lives. We very much loved being part of your flock at Crosslink. This blog def shows us the path that got you to where you are today.
    We sincerely hope your dad heals and you get to continue growing in that amazing relationship! We are praying for you and your family.

    • John Welborn John Welborn on September 21, 2021 at 2:43 pm

      That is very kind and I greatly appreciate it, Rebel. God bless!

  19. Avatar david walton on September 20, 2021 at 10:01 am

    John

    Thanks so much for sharing your heart . Praise God for fathers who love Jesus and model this love to their children . May we all be so faithful

    Blessing

    • Avatar Patricia Cavanaugh on September 20, 2021 at 10:48 am

      Your dad is a special man and many are not privileged be raised by a man like him! His faithfulness has been rewarded by the joy he sees in the faith of his children. If only other families could experience this joy and privilege! ❤️ Praying for you and your family always!

    • John Welborn John Welborn on September 21, 2021 at 2:43 pm

      Thank you!

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