Brad Pistole Brad Pistole resigned as our Youth Minister Sunday. Following are some reflections that are just mine--no one else’s. They speak only for me.

Brad predated me. For a long time, West-Ark had only two ministers, one personal evangelist, and two secretaries: Brad Pistole, David Chadwell, Roy Dunavin, Debbie Belote, and Myra Flippo. We approached this work as a team. While we had our areas, in emergencies everyone did anything necessary. Areas did not matter. Brad worked long hours, and went home to continue working. (He and Yvonne lived next door.) So many stopped by his house, they regarded his home as their home.

I remember “a kid” (Brad) running across the parking lot on my first visit to West-Ark, urging me to come to West-Ark (just before he left with a group of young people). I remember knowing soon after arrival that I worked with a person who would always help me, always be concerned about my best interest, and do my work if necessary. I remember working with a person who was “everyone’s son.” If anyone had a need, the first thing they said was, “Get Brad.” I did not doubt that he—though young—was West-Ark’s most loved, appreciated person.

I remember a man so devoted to our teens and their families that he never stopped working—he just did not know how to say “no.” When young adults came back to visit, they always came to see Brad. Before we had a college program, he ministered to everyone. Because one of “his kids” graduated did not mean he stopped caring about them. There were the endless phone calls and the unpublished trips to encourage those struggling with a problem or their faith.

When Brad survived his unique kind of brain cancer, he helped others nationally who were terrified when they learned they had such cancer.

To him, the connection between healthy families and the spiritual health of children was so obvious he qualified (through a program at Oklahoma Christian) to work in family guidance. Throughout those demands, he did his work.

I watched him as his load became too heavy to carry. I watched him as he was forced to restrict his activities of helpfulness. I listened as the elders urged him to learn to say “no.”

It became obvious to him he could only devote himself to the spiritual growth of the kids. His decision left him open to misunderstanding. For the kids’ sake, he willingly did what he could do to encourage and focus them.

I do not love Brad because he is perfect. No human is. However, the person I know is ethical, moral, devoted to godliness, and loves this congregation deeply. His love for Christ should be evident in his resignation. When he thought it was best for us (West-Ark), he left. Brad, thank you! Yvonne, only you know how much he gave!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 20 September 2007

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