When Victor Gordon left Fort Dodge at Stanford University in 1969, months after leading the Dodgers to their first and only state baseball championship, his intentions were to study law with a view to politics, and perhaps to continue his baseball career at the college level Furthermore.
But life, to quote John Lennon "Happens to you while you are making other plans."
For Gordon, today's life does not include law, politics, or baseball. Everyone fell by the wayside when he attended a Young Life training conference at Stanford in the fall of his junior year. Young Life's mission is to introduce young people to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith. Gordon had helped start a chapter at Fort Dodge.
"I never thought of becoming a pastor, but before the weekend was over, there was nothing else I could do with my life." he said. “God made it crystal clear – there was only one thing I wanted to do. I wanted to be a pastor. I believe the Lord has called me. Since that day, I have never doubted that it would be my calling in life.
"Rev. Earl Palmer, then pastor of the First Presbyterian of Berkeley, was the speaker that weekend, which seems so long ago and yet it seems like it was yesterday. Palmer's style and model of ministry attracted me, and the Lord used it to call me to the pastorate. Shortly after that milestone weekend, I made an appointment with Palmer at his Berkeley office. I'm sure he forgot our meeting long ago, but what he said shaped me forever. After sharing my story, he confirmed God's work in my life and offered this advice: “A pastor must love two things. He has to learn to love and he has to love people. & # 39; "
After graduating from Stanford in 1973 and marrying Sue Sjurson, Gordon enrolled at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California that fall and was ordained Minister of the American Baptist Association in 1975 following his Master of Divinity. His ordination took place at First Baptist Church, Fort Dodge, under the direction of Pastor Vernon Pearson. Four years later he did his PhD in philosophy with Fuller. Gordon's 45 year pastoral career has included pastoral work on campus and professor of Bible studies and theology at the University of Sioux Falls and Wheaton College, Illinois, and pastorships at the First Baptist Church in Wichita, Beachpoint Church in Huntington Beach, California , and Kenwood Baptist Church in Cincinnati.
In 2013, Gordon returned to Wichita, where he is the founder, president, and chief theologian of the nonprofit Gospel Depth. He is a senior pastor of City Life Church, which four years ago merged with First Baptist Church, which he led from 1988-2000.
"Gospel Depth was created a few years ago to enable a Capstone Chapter in my ministry." he said, “An attempt to put all of my time, energy, and effort into being a theologian for and for the Church. My focus now is on solving the problem developed by John Stott and J.I. Packer: "The American Church is a mile wide and an inch deep." The Lord abundantly blessed the early years of this ministry. I am definitely working full time with more to do than I can accomplish. My time is filled with preaching and teaching, working with churches, pastors, leadership teams and community leaders, researching and writing important theological topics for the church today, and serving as theologian for the Church in Haiti. "
Gordon is particularly proud of his work in Haiti, which he mentions “One of the neediest places in the world. One of the most important roles that Gospel Depth plays in Haiti is working with the Christian University of North Haiti (the leading Christian college in Haiti) and the seminary there. We work hard to encourage talented young leaders in universities and churches to develop, mentor, and teach so that the Lord can use them to build up the church and make a powerful impact on Haiti with the gospel and kingdom . "
Gordon said he had made one to five trips to Haiti at a time in the past 30 years; He returned from his last trip in February.
Exercise was a big part of youth at Fort Dodge of Gordon and his younger brother Wayne, the sons of Lyle and Deleina Gordon. Her house on Avenue E, west of Fort Dodge, was across from Lutheran Hospital (now Trinity Regional Medical Center) and just up a hill from the Chicago Northwestern Railroad Yards, where her father was a clerk. Her mother was Fort Dodge's first Welcome Wagon hostess and later worked full-time for Ridgewood Lanes until she was 85. Vic graduated from FDSH in 1969 and Wayne graduated in 1971.
The Rev. Wayne Gordon is also a pastor and founder of Lawndale Community Church on the west side of Chicago after graduating from Wheaton College, where he played football every four years, and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary. He received his PhD from the Department of Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. When he got there in 1975, he played a key role in developing the community for over four decades in what was once the 15th poorest neighborhoods in the country.
Victor said: “He has a much more spectacular ministry than me. We're pretty close. "
Wayne said: "Vic is a wonderful person and I am so blessed to have him as a brother."
The guidance Gordon showed in his years of service was seen at Fort Dodge in his early years. On the grate, he was the Dodgers quarterback under coach Roger Higgins for his sophomore and sophomore seasons before missing most of his senior season due to injury. On the baseball diamond, he was one of the first newbies to play for legendary Dodger baseball coach Ed McNeil Uni – he played first base his freshman year and then catcher for the next three seasons. He was one of the three senior starters – with Bruce Edmundson and Dave Markley – on the 1969 Dodger team that won the state championship and was named the first all-state team.
Tom Walters threw up the championship game in Ames and scored eleventh in the 8-4 win over Cedar Rapids Kennedy. Gordon led the Dodgers in their three state tournament games, beating 500 with two home runs and four RBI. “Vic basically wanted us. He was a senior, a captain, and our catcher. " said Steve Arnold, then in his sophomore year. "He was the guy and everyone knew it."
Another senior class teammate Andy Wiles said: “He was a true leader in everything he did throughout his junior high and high school years. You could say he would be successful on any career path. Working in the ministry was his calling. " (Other seniors on this team included Jim Porter, Brian Spore, Dave Tuttle, and Sam Boutchee.)
McNeil, who died in 1991, played an important role in his life, Gordon said.
"Ed – he was a great coach" he said. “I learned so much from him. Far beyond baseball. His big concern was that he wanted to train guys to become people with character – never stop, work hard, do your best, always play by the rules, no show (boating), always focus and buckle up. Strict disciplinary. A very strong Christian, he was a fellow of the Christian Athletes and was named FCA Man of the Year in Iowa. He was a tough disciplinarian. He later told me, "I've never been as tough on a player as I was on you." He yelled at me a lot. I tried sometimes to get along with what I could. I needed everything he said to me. "
At the start of the season, when the Dodgers lost badly on the road at Waterloo East, Gordon recalled: “He wasn't happy. He chewed the whole team. He thought we had potential, he just drilled us out. The seniors in the back of the bus said, "We are committed, we want to win the state championship" and said to him, "If we return to Fort Dodge after the state win, can we reduce the resistance?" Are you crazy? "Ed replied. "If you win the state championship, you can screw the resistance." The night we came home with Ames' victory, we screwed the resistance in the team bus with Ed in the front seat. "
Gordon was the first member of his family to attend college when he received a Stanford scholarship.
“I thought it was the best academic / baseball combo I could find. I played baseball there for a year, but after that I found I wasn't going to get into the big leagues, and playing baseball took too much time and energy during the season – and in the summer when you were expected to Semi-pro plays. ”
After baseball played an important role for most of his young life, Gordon left the sport with the intent of becoming a lawyer and politician until he decided that evening at a Young Life conference in Santa Cruz that he would become a minister. He was an active member of the Fort Dodge Christian athlete community and helped build the Fort Dodge Young Life program between the ages of two and two.
When he got home for Christmas in 1971 and attended a Young Life meeting, he met the woman who would become his wife – Sue Sjurson, who was two years behind him in high school. He had coached her two brothers on the summer baseball program. She was attending Iowa State University when Gordon graduated from Stanford and they were married on July 28, 1973. The day after they were married, they rented a U-Haul to drive to Pasadena, where Gordon began teaching at Fuller Seminary. (Sue later graduated from the University of Sioux Falls as a teacher; she taught elementary schools in Wichita and California.)
Today they are the parents of four children: Joshua Gordon, Wichita firefighter and sound engineer, married to Linette; Nathan Gordon, an entrepreneur who co-founded the SANS Meal Bar in the Los Angeles area; Jonathan Gordon, associate pastor at City Life Church in Wichita, married to Becca; and Joy Gordon Wilde, greater Boston school principal, married to Dan. Victor and Sue have seven grandchildren, aged 1 to 9 years. Both of Victor's parents have died, as has Sue's father, Paul Sjurson. Her mother, Marian, is 92 years old and lives in a retirement facility in Wichita.
Gordon learned to play handball at Fort Dodge YMCA and still plays today.
Seven years ago, shortly after beginning his deep gospel ministry, he suffered a severe heart attack in Wichita.
“I had a so-called widow maker – a 100 percent blockage. There were no warning signs, it just hit me. It felt like a really strong hand trying to squeeze the life out of my heart while someone else was poking it with a butcher's knife to take my heart out. I have friends who tell me I would not have lived if this guy – cardiologist Dr. Assem Farhat – would not have been on call that night. We are friends now. "
Gordon, who turns 70 in about three months, plans to continue building the depth of the gospel.
"It's in my wheelhouse. Throughout my career, I've felt that the best I could do was add depth to theology. The truth of the Christian church helps transform people."
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