A Man’s Passion and Plans Rooted in Love
by Julie Kelly
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A young man, whose heart is on fire for Jesus, is striving to foster the creation of a society he longs to see governed by the law of love. Pastor Rob Waldo has joined the pastoral staff at Bradley Epworth Church in Peoria, Ill., and he is now fulfilling what he believes God has called him to do with his life.
The faithfulness that he demonstrates as a pastor undeniably extends to other facets of his life, as well. This devoted husband and soon to be father can also boast, although he won’t, of his recent accomplishment as a published author. With noble aspirations and the ceaseless dedication to match it, Waldo is a force to be reckoned with as he chooses to arm himself with the power of love for the spiritual battle he has been trained to fight until his Savior’s expected return.
Raised in a Christian home, his emotional connection had always been with his mother whose life was cut short by cancer when Waldo was only 15 years old. He describes her as having been a “godly woman,” but acknowledges, “I did not get a chance to know her while I was at any level of maturity.” (R. Waldo, personal communication, May 19, 2010) He admits that he was a difficult teenager for his father, but as he matured, the relationship with his father began to flourish. However, Waldo had to first undergo a transformation of his own character that he says began when he was 16 years old.
As hopelessness set in from the emotional trauma of losing his mother, the anger and bitterness deepened and he found himself in great need of something that could mend his broken life. Waldo explains that it was at a summer camp that “Jesus made himself known to me,” (R. Waldo, personal communication, May 19, 2010) and the course of his life was rerouted with a freshly paved road that lie right beneath his feet. He began walking this new path wherein blind faith and an enduring allegiance to the one who would guide him along his journey were both critical and their sustenance required of him. He was ready to face the kind of change he needed to turn his life around and fulfill the plans that God had intended for his valuable life.
With his father’s support and unwavering belief in his son’s natural abilities, Waldo began his education by earning a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from Bradley University in 2003. Although he had desired to attend ministry school, his father insisted that he pursue a formal degree. Only years later would he discover that by following his father’s advice, it had allowed him to qualify for enrollment in Asbury Theological Seminary. At the beginning of his first published book, Waldo expresses his gratitude to his father writing, “I thank you for giving me a vision of learning from those who have paved the way” (Waldo, 2010b, p. 3).
After a couple of years working various jobs, Waldo began thinking about going to seminary school. Concerned about acquiring a large debt, his grandparents offered several times to pay a majority of his educational expenses because, “they saw that I always had the most excitement and joy when I was ministering in church settings” (R. Waldo, personal communication, May 19, 2010). Waldo recalls, “… about two years it basically marinated in my soul,” until he said yes to both seminary school and the calling on his life that he felt from God (R. Waldo, personal communication, May 19, 2010). Regarding the criteria he had for selecting a seminary school, he emphasized the desire he had for a strong academic foundation because he asserts, “I want to love God with all my mind” (R. Waldo, personal communication, May 19, 2010). Waldo was also adamant that his chosen seminary give complete freedom to the movement of the Holy Spirit.
In 2004, a friend invited Waldo to attend a meeting held by the Chi Alpha Campus Ministry at Bradley University, where he met his future wife, now Mrs. Shelli Waldo. The couple has recently celebrated their 4th wedding anniversary. “She has such a gentle spirit, sweet spirit,” he explains as he talks about the beauty that he sees in his wife. He describes the influence she has had on him by confessing that she “has made me a gentler person.” (R. Waldo, personal communication, May 19, 2010). He appears rightfully proud of the delicate nature of their marriage attesting, “I can honestly say that I have never raised my voice in four years of marriage. … because I knew early on … it would crush her. … it’d be like stepping on a beautiful flower.” (R. Waldo, personal communication, May 19, 2010)
Shelli Waldo has much to share as she describes the man she married. “He just loves me for who I am, not the accomplishments I’ve done or haven’t done,” and she tells of how he will leave sweet notes for her to happen upon, such as those he tucks into her purse for her discovery when she is away at work (S. Waldo, personal communication, May 24, 2010). As she talks about her own personal aspirations, such as studying to become a nurse or earning her license in ministry, she explains that she has chosen to make sacrifices in order to give her husband the opportunity to pursue his goals. She says that he “knows that he is where he is because I was willing to lay those things down” (S. Waldo, personal communication, May 24, 2010). As a pastor’s wife, she is coming to know both the familial benefits and sacrifices that accompany a pastoral career. “He seeks God all the time … it causes God’s presence to come into our home and in our marriage,” she explains, as she speaks of the blessings that come with being married to a pastor (S. Waldo, personal communication, May 24, 2010). She is also becoming accustomed to the unending flexibility that she must maintain due to the inopportune callings for pastoral duties that occur around the clock. She expounds on this spousal sacrifice by saying, “I share him a lot. When we plan sometimes to just be at home - a lot of times I’ll come home after work and somebody will want prayer, so either he’ll have to leave and pray or go visit somebody. … so, sometimes it’s just a sacrifice as far as the timing of when he can be the pastor conflicts with when I am free. There’s tons of last minute stuff.” (S. Waldo, personal communication, May 24, 2010)
Waldo writes of his wife in the acknowledgements of his first published book stating, “You have given me so much ‘in secret’. God has seen your tremendous sacrifice. Your reward will be great.” (Waldo, 2010b, p. 136) The selfless love that these two individuals share and lavish upon each other is a testament to a level of maturity, mutual respect, and utter beauty that is not seen often enough between spouses. When asked about marital advice for young unmarried individuals, Waldo stressed the importance of entering a marriage with realistic expectations from your spouse countering the “idealism … of what marriage is supposed to be” that reigns all too common within our society (R. Waldo, personal communication, May 19, 2010).
The man described by his wife as a leader who is diligent, disciplined, faithful, and loving with a passion to serve others has worked very hard to attain a position where he can harness his skills for teaching people. Waldo states with confidence, “I’m supposed to speak God’s Word to people and write.” (R. Waldo, personal communication, May 19, 2010) He is currently the pastor for the Saturday evening services at Bradley Epworth. In addition, he has already published two out of the three books that he has written in The Voice of the Elders Series, which he originally began as a research project in 2008. In his second book, Waldo writes, “What began as a personal journey then became a longing to inform others …” (Waldo, 2010a, p. 6) Waldo conducted research and a lengthy interviewing process with twenty hand-picked church leaders for this series. When asked about the planned third book, he states it would not likely be the next book he publishes. Although he admits that he is still praying about the subject matter of his next book, he does have a preliminary idea. “I believe at this point that the next book will be on how we learn to delight ourselves in God’s love and, as a result of that, we overcome, in particular, sexual immorality.” (R. Waldo, personal communication, May 19, 2010)
Waldo is also a musician and he often leads worship along with his wife for his Saturday services. Shelli Waldo plays the keyboard and she sings with an angelic voice. Most would agree that he has been blessed with multiple talents with which to share with the rest of the world.
Waldo’s personal introduction on Bradley Epworth’s website tells of his strongest desire for the community in which he serves and a zealous vision that he holds close to his heart. “I long to see God’s kingdom come and righteousness, peace, and joy reign in every sphere of society. I dream of a city transformed by the power of God, marriages healed, families restored, violence and oppression stopped, churches working together in love and unity, and Jesus being honored here just as he is in heaven.” When Waldo is asked to describe the portion of his ministry that elicits the most passion in his soul, he fervently reports, “I have a very strong passion to awaken the world and prepare the church for Jesus’ return. That is what motivates me. That is what I think about. That is what I pray about. That is why I do what I do” (R. Waldo, personal communication, May 19, 2010).
Waldo, R. (n.d.). Rob Waldo: Discipleship & Saturday night pastor. Bradley Epworth Church’s website. Retrieved May 17, 2010, from http://www.bradleyepworth
Waldo, R. (2010a). International leadership: The voice of the elders series (Book Two). World Hope Fellowship Publications.
Waldo, R. (2010b). On the threshold: The voice of the elders series (Book One). World Hope Fellowship Publications.
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