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

Still, all three pastors spend a lot of one-on-one time with people themselves.

"Being a Latino priest, I spend a lot of time with people who are struggling with very specific needs — immigration issues," Father Ontiveros said. "I have been with families in the community that have been divided. When you see a child crying for his dad and there is nothing you can do about it — it touches your heart. Sometimes, all I can do is be present for them, and listen.

"At the end of the day," he added, "you can feel overwhelmed by those experiences."

Overwhelmed or not, none of them regrets the decision to accept the call and enter the ministry.

"It's a good life," Pastor Barsuhn said. "I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to do it all over again.

"Being a minister here in Utah, you're not going to have a mega-ministry," he continued. "But that's not what it's all about anyway. It's about being what God wants you to be, and doing what he wants you to be doing.

"I could not do it without the Lord's help," he said. "I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. I could not do it without his grace and patience. We have a great God. The emphasis is that HE is doing this work in people's lives. I'm just enjoying being along for the ride."

Pastor Nelson agrees.

"The only guarantee I give you as your pastor is that I'm going to let you down," he said. "And here's the other thing I know: If I get to know you, you're going to let me down, too. The only person we can rely on is Jesus. This is where grace comes in. We're all sinners. Jesus looks at us and says, 'Come as you are.' You are saved by grace through faith, not by works.

"So the glory in this church isn't me, it's him," Pastor Nelson concluded. "I'm the screw up. My life is one big pile of mercy. So how can I not give that to somebody else when that's all I have received?"

"I have found in this call deep meaning beyond anything I ever knew by serving the way God has called me to do," Father Ontiveros said. "By serving as a priest I found my way in life, my meaning in life. Knowing I can make a difference in other people's lives, it gives me the greatest joy I have ever known."

Which is one more thing the three men have in common.

EmaiL: jwalker@desnews.com

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