Last night there was a segment on Nightline about vacations offering the opportunity to train like Navy Seals. The people who paid for these vacations were typically men who willingly paid $2000 per week to experience the grueling aspects of this elite military training operated by former Navy Seal instructors. I had just finished stating my disbelief about anyone actually paying for such a vacation when I saw a familiar face on the screen–Pastor Alyn E. Waller of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church.
Although he probably would not recognize me, I have been in contact with Pastor Waller for most of my life. He is good friends with my father-in-the ministry. At one time, he preached at my old church’s afternoon service every year for Men’s Day. However, the church eventually phased out the majority of its afternoon services and never managed to find another place for Pastor Waller in its preaching rotation. In a lot of ways, I don’t think many of us fully appreciated the magnitude of this preacher because he was so accessible to us. Besides, we knew of him before Enon grew into the megachurch that it is today.
As a minister, I have always admired the story of this man from Ohio who turned an average-sized congregation into one of the largest churches in the Philadelphia area. Pastor Waller’s story is the quintessential dream for most budding African American ministers. He is a gifted leader who preaches, sings, and plays the organ. He is also a dedicated family man. His life serves as proof of what God can accomplish through dedicated individuals. I always knew that I would see him on a national news program someday, but I didn’t expect it to be on this particular episode of Nightline. Nonetheless, he handled himself well and even explained his rationale for going on such an extreme vacation as a minister.
“I appreciate the military. I appreciate knowing how to handle myself. I don’t believe being a person of faith means you have to be a sworn pacifist,” Waller said during his Nightline interview. “At the end of the day I am a man and I like toys and running around with other fellas and learning how to fight. It’s fun.”
I am proud of Pastor Waller for showing that ministers do indeed have the right to take vacations, nurture their diverse hobbies, and have fun away from their congregations.
Here is the clip from his segment on Nightline.
What are your thoughts?