Every year, around Thanksgiving, I write an article about men in my life who have shaped who I am, who I admire, and who I strive to emulate.
I met Dwight Ascher during a very difficult time in my life while I was in the middle of a divorce and I was struggling to follow Jesus. Pastor Ascher knew about my past, being a friend of my parents, and he never looked down at me as if I were less of a person or a second class Christian.
It was when I joined Grace Baptist Church where he was the associate pastor at that time, when I met my current wife Lauri. Dwight treated her as a sibling and cared for her when she felt all alone, away from her family, and still being single in her thirties. It was Dwight Ascher who married us, when other Pastors may have had second thoughts about marrying a couple when there was a divorce in the situation.
I’ve watched Dwight help navigate our Church family through the loss of its previous pastor and all the chaos that surrounded that situation. I’ve watched him go through good times and bad times always trying to maintain a calm and collected temperament, ensuring the confidence of his flock. I’ve seen him, and even helped him counsel difficult people in difficult situations. I’ve seen him hold back from saying things that may have been true, but weren’t helpful at that moment. I’ve seen him help admonish people through their personal differences to help restore unity in our Church family.
I remember when my ex-wife had an order of protection issued making it impossible, for a time, to attend our church, and I remember Dwight talking with me on the phone to encourage me, and for the first time I heard a pastor and a fellow man weep over the separated fellowship that we had to endure for those months.
The thing that endures me the most to Pastor Dwight Ascher, is that he is not perfect. I’ve seen the cracks in his armor, and I know some of the struggles he has as a human, and he’s never tried to gloss over these or hide them. I’ve seen him in a way that lets me know that he is not pretending to be the holy reverend, but rather he is living as a simple man who is doing his best to follow Jesus on a day to day basis. Dwight, you may never fully understand how much a simple life lived in front of your congregation has meant to those of us who haven’t given up the daily fight for holiness and to bring glory to God in everything we do.
If I were to sum up the ministry of Dwight Ascher, I would go to Paul’s letter to the Philippians where chapter 2 reads,
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
The love, unity, and humility of Dwight Ascher are characteristics that I want to strive to accomplish in my lifetime, not in perfection but in the direction towards these things because these are the marks of a real shepherd and a real man of God.
Thank you, Pastor Dwight Ascher, for being a man worthy to emulate.