Impact: “Having a strong effect on someone or something.” I’ve been thinking about those who’ve had an effect on my life, one in particular: Tom Heaton.

Tom and I shared a dorm room in the commuter housing of Christian Theological Seminary from 1993-1997. He became a great friend and mentor (he’s a few years older than me 😊). We’ve been friends and colleagues ever since. Tom adopted two boys—Jose and Manny—from Guatemala in 2002 and fell in love with the people and the country of Guatemala. In 2008 he was appointed by his Bishop from Indiana to do work with the poor in Guatemala and started Mission Guatemala in 2009. I visited Tom in Guatemala in 2012, just two years after his oldest son, Jose was tragically killed in Guatemala City at the age of 20. The ministry of Mission Guatemala was born out of love, was launched with deep faith and hope, has at times suffered through wrenching grief and pain, and has become a transformative ministry for thousands of people, both those who have been served by and have served with Mission Guatemala, including me. Impact! Tom has impacted my life and the lives of many in profound ways, which I’ll never be able to fully describe.
Sometimes impact hurts (Romans 12:15). Earlier this year, on April 22, at age 27, Manuel (Manny) Heaton, Tom’s youngest son was tragically killed in Evansville, IN, shot to death by an acquaintance. In the span of 13 years Tom lost both of his sons to violence. My heart is broken for my friend, for Jose and Manny, and for all who loved them. On Saturday, July 22nd of this year, while leading our mission team (including Ken Gustavson and Charlotte Bain), I was able to lead the dedication of a sacred space set aside at Mission Guatemala for a chapel in memory of Jose and Manny. At the end of the service, we drove a single piece of rebar into the ground at the center of the space. This is what I said, “Rebar (short for reinforcing bar) is steel bar used as a strengthening device to aid concrete under tension; rebar is vital in the process of building a strong foundation. Our mission team saw a lot or rebar the week we worked. Eventually it will be unseen, carefully prepared, strengthening everything and everyone who depends on it.” I am stronger because of Tom Heaton.
Impact: to have a strong (and lasting) effect on someone! Tom has made an impact on my life, and for that I give thanks.
Who has had an impact on your life? Whose life have you impacted?
Grace and peace,
Pastor Don

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