Lawrence Francis, a native of Malaysia, came to the United States to pursue dual aspirations: ministry and medicine. His call to ministry was recently confirmed as he humbly accepted ordination in Kearney, Nebraska with members in attendance from all four of his congregations. Also present were fellow pastors, staff from the Union College religion department and the Kansas-Nebraska Conference, members of the local Methodist Church, and many other friends.
Edward Allen, professor of religion at Union College, delivered the ordination message. “Lawrence, Jesus has called you to be a shepherd, to do the work of a shepherd,” Allen noted. Before leading the ordination prayer, Ron Carlson, president, added: “This is not a sacrament as we define it. Nothing is being given today that he doesn’t already have. This is a recognition by the church. So the calling of this pastor was given by God. Lawrence has been responding to that for years now.”
Other participants included Don Stricker, vice president for finance, Merlin Wehling, head elder of the Kearney Church, Ron Halvorsen, lead pastor at College View Church in Lincoln and Pauline Morse, head elder of the Holdrege Church.
The ordination service was live streamed to relatives and friends in Malaysia. Francis Yebmalai, Lawrence’s father, flew over from Malaysia to participate in the service. He and Lawrence sang a special song in their native tongue.
Before coming to the U.S., Francis received a degree from Spicer Memorial College in India. He then pastored in Malaysia for eight years. After earning a master’s of divinity degree at Andrews University, Francis attended Union College to pursue the medical part of his life goals. Yet God had other plans, calling him into full time ministry.
Francis has served the churches in Beaver City, Broken Bow, Holdrege and Kearney for the past three years. Although medicine isn’t part of his immediate plans, pointing to Jesus’ ministry Francis acknowledged that his pastoral role may often involve healing. “Jesus protects us, unites us and takes us to the finish line. It’s all about Jesus. It is my humble desire that I will decrease and He will increase.” He added, “It is my lifelong passion that I will continue to be God’s extension of His love, mercy and grace. I have been touched by His message. I have been touched by His love. That compels me to share these things with others.”
Author John Treolo is communication director for the Kansas-Nebraska Conference.