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February 9, 2011

Column #1,537

Pastor LeRoy Sullivan – A Spiritual Giant

By Mike McManus

                Nearly a year ago Pastor LeRoy Sullivan, a giant of the faith, left us to be with the Lord.

                In 1989 he founded Bread of Life Outreach Ministries in Christ Church in his in Kansas City, KS basement.  The African-American church grew to be attended by 150 people weekly.

                Pastor LeRoy was a huge man, a street preacher who had a heart for the “poorest of the poor, alcoholics, loners, those who make their living on the streets, the unsaved,” as he put it, “but they fell in love with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our Savior cleaned us all up, and we would enjoy wonderful spirit-filled Bible studies.”

                “We would put our little monies together to aid anyone who needed help, paid doctor bills, house payments, car notes and fed people. We just loved and wanted to serve Him the only way we knew.”

                At one point the church moved from LeRoy’s basement to a doublewide trailer which held exactly 75 people that would “move up and down when we sang and praised the Lord Jesus Christ.”

                Pastor Sullivan took a courageous stand on cohabitation. One Sunday he preached, “We have couples in this church who are living together, but who are not married.  That is not God’s plan.  He wants you to marry or move apart.”

                  Five couples came to see him, one at a time.  “We agree that we should marry, but we have a problem,” one said.  “We have children aged 13 to 6.  What do we tell them?”

                Pastor replied, “You tell them you made a mistake in not marrying before you had children.  And ‘Sam,’ I want you to move out until the wedding.  You stay for dinner and help the kids with homework, but by 9 p.m., please leave.”

                “And go where?” he asked.

                “Go to your mother’s home or your brother’s. There should be a difference between being single and being married.  You are supposed to remain chaste until you marry.”

                “This is going to be embarrassing,” Sam replied.

                “Yes it will. But it’s a lesson your kids will never forget.  What better way to teach them God’s plan for marriage?”

                Five of seven couples did marry.  And the experience converted the men, who started coming to church. A church that had been women and children became couples and children.

                But one man, nicknamed “Peanuts,” would not move out or marry,” his girlfriend lamented to Pastor LeRoy.

                The next Friday night, Pastor LeRoy knocked on the door.  Peanuts asked, “What brings you here?”

                “Cindy tells me you won’t marry her, and you won’t move out.  I’m going to sit here until you leave.  That looks like the most comfortable chair.  Where’s the remote?”

                Peanuts replied, “Pastor, how long are you prepared to stay?”

                “Until midnight.  Then Elder Jones is coming over.  Get the picture?”

                Peanuts moved out, but he was angry.  One night Pastor LeRoy was talking to a parishioner outside his brick church, when a shot rang out.  The bullet hit a nearby STOP sign.

                Though he could not see who fired the shot, Pastor LeRoy shouted, “Peanuts, get out of here, or I’ll call the police.” 

                Pastor LeRoy was also a leader of the Prayer Movement in Kansas City, which attracted clergy from many churches.  Rev. Jeff Meyers, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in the suburbs, heard Pastor LeRoy preach one Wednesday morning and invited him out for a barbeque lunch.

                “A group of pastors in Johnson County have signed a Community Marriage Policy, in which we are pledging not to marry anyone unless they take a premarital questionnaire, and meet with a mature married couple to discuss the issues it surfaces.”

                He slid a copy of the Covenant across the table.  It used language adopted by the first Community Marriage Policy signed in Modesto, CA in 1986: “We are troubled that 75% of all marriages are performed in the Church, yet more than   50% of all marriages end in divorce.…We believe it is our responsibility to encourage couples to set aside time for marriage preparation.”

                They required a minimum of four months marriage preparation that included taking a premarital inventory, discussing its results with trained Mentor Couples and learning Biblical wisdom on marriage.  Also, married couples were encouraged to attend annual retreats.

                Pastor Sullivan commented, “When it comes to marriage, the Church has been without clothes.  This Covenant puts clothes on the church.”

                He became such a passionate advocate for the Community Marriage Policy that the city’s divorces fell from 650 in 1995 to only 196 by 2005, a 70% plunge, and Johnson County fell 50%!

                Pastor LeRoy became one of America’s great marriage savers.

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