Young Texas megachurch pastor Matt Chandler talked about one of his church members, Lauren Scruggs, and her highly publicized airplane accident while speaking to some 8,000 pastors and church leaders at the Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, Ky., this week.
Chandler, who is fighting brain cancer, shared that pastors are in a unique position where they see the glory of God but also they are the "spiritual first-responders" to the chaos of the world. He talked about having to lead the funeral ceremonies for several children within a month's time earlier this year, and then mentioned Scruggs' story.
Scruggs, the 23-year-old fashion blogger and model who lost her left eye and left hand when she walked into a moving air plane propeller in December, is a long-time member of The Village Church in Texas, where Chandler is the lead pastor.
Chandler shared the story of "Lo" – Scruggs nickname – who was saved at a time when her parents were divorced for seven years already. It took Scruggs another seven years to reconcile her parents and they came to Christ and remarried each other, he said.
"She had done some modeling, she had started a magazine and done some really cool things and was doing well in her relationship with Jesus Christ and sharing the Gospel," he said. But then one day the girl and her friends decided to board a small plane to look at Christmas lights and she got disoriented and walked into the plane's propeller.
"Literally, I'm funeral, funeral, preach and proclaim God's glory and I go home and I'm sitting on the coach with my wife, catching up where I am emotionally and where she is emotionally," Chandler said. "I do the funeral of an 8-year-old; I have an 8-year-old at home. I do the funeral of a 3-year-old; I have a 3-year-old in my house. That does something."
In the middle of that, the Texas pastor said, there are church discipline issues and people who "hate" his preaching to also deal with.
"This is a front row seat to the fallenness and brokenness of the world. And most times, pastors, we are in right after the paramedics, and sometimes we are in first," said Chandler
"It is unbelievably important for the man of God who shepherds the people to have his hope anchored where it should be anchored," he said.
His messaged, titled "The Fulfillment of the Gospel," focuses on Revelations 21:1-8, where God lays out a picture of a world renew – a new heaven and new heart. Chandler stated that God promises He will fix "this mess."
At the beginning of his talk, the Texas pastor said he also attended the T4G conference two years ago, when the prognosis from doctors at that time was not good. They had predicted he would not live long and even him getting on stage to speak at the 2012 T4G is a miracle.
The Together for the Gospel conference is a biennial event that started in 2006 with the purpose to encourage pastors to stand together for the same Gospel, and offers them an opportunity to connect and build pastoral friendships and networks.