Feeding the flock: Different pastors, different faiths — but the same love of God and his children

Published: Saturday, Jan. 28 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

"I met a young priest there, and it impacted me, the way he helped people," Father Ontiveros said. "I was inspired by the way he treated people, the way he served people."

As he returned to school, he felt himself being drawn toward the ministry.

"It was frightening," he said. "I had never really had the church in my life, and now I was thinking about making the church my life. It seemed like such a change. But the more I thought about it, there was a kind of happiness within me. By responding to the call that I was feeling, I felt I was actually finding my way in life."

Pastor Barsuhn, on the other hand, grew up in a church-going family in Michigan, and "came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior" at an early age. He started feeling drawn to the ministry as a teenager, and enrolled at the Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music. He did an internship with a minister in Blackfoot, Idaho, and fell in love with the Intermountain West. He went back to Michigan to graduate from the Bible institute, and then returned to Utah to begin his ministry.

"I loved it here," he said. "I loved living among the people here."

The only problem, he said, was finding a wife.

"There weren't a lot of women in Tremonton interested in being a pastor's wife," he quipped.

So he went back to Michigan long enough to meet and marry his wife, Laurie.

"I told her when we were dating that I was planning to go back to Utah," he said. "That didn't scare her away."

The couple came to Utah in 1983, where he worked with two churches in Payson and Nephi in a sort of circuit ministry. For 20 years he ran the Christian radio station KEYY in Provo as a ministerial outreach associated with Biblical Ministries Worldwide, and then in his mid-50s decided it was time to get back into the pulpit.

"You reach a point in your life when you want to spend the rest of your years doing what you really love," he said. "I enjoyed the radio ministry, but I really missed the regular contact with people, to be able to consistently have a ministry to them, one-on-one."

So when the pulpit opened up in Brigham City, he took it.

"It's been exciting to see God at work in people's lives, to see people transformed by the power of God's word," he said. "I'm very grateful I have that opportunity."

As joyful as it is to watch people change and transform, Pastor Nelson said, it's not something that can be manipulated.

"I can't make that happen," he said. "I'm struggling to learn and to grow and to love and to sacrifice just like everybody else is. Nobody has the same journey. Everyone comes to God in their own way. And when they do, it's always a great story."

Pastor Nelson says on an average Sunday there are some 1,400 worshippers at K2 the Church services. "I don't really know how many people call K2 their home," he said. "We've tried to reach people who don't normally come to church. Our arms are open. We're here for you. But we're not going to track you down. Come as you want, come as you are — it's up to you."

Still, there are unfamiliar faces in the congregation every week, so a big part of Pastor Nelson's personal ministry is "equipping everyone to do the works of the ministry."

"You don't GO to church, you ARE the church," he said. "You are the body of Christ. You can only reach the full measure of the fullness of Christ when each part of the body does its work."

To that end he and his associate pastors have divided the congregation into small communities that interact with each other and watch over each other.

"There's no way I could minister to 1,400 people by myself," he said. "But if we've got smaller groups of people who love Jesus and want to serve him by serving each other, there's a lot of effective ministering that is taking place."

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