Joe Alomia passed away in 2012 due to cancer. He lived an incredible life.
As I read in Psalm 4 and the book of Job chapter one, I was immediately reminded of my friend, and so many others’ friend, Joe Alomia. When we think of shepherding souls, loving people with gentle wisdom and endurance, here in Tuolumne County we most easily think of Joe.
I personally very frequently think of his mentoring of me, as infrequent as our interactions were more recently. Before he was an official pastor, Joe pastored me with gentleness and warmth of friendship. He checked in with me whenever we saw each other at Calvary Chapel, Sonora, where I really got to know him before heading off to college. He made a lasting impact on me. He truly shepherded me. He listened to me and drew me out about my walk with God, my desire to serve God with all my life, and my understanding of God’s worth and greatness. He used questions and his patient presence to draw me out in really meaningful ways.
Another reason why I loved Joe was his love for running and canoeing, outdoor enjoyment of people and God above all. The interesting thing is that he lost his legs and many fingers in what is called toxic shock before eventually passing away due to cancer. Joe handled these especially trying later years of his life with such incredible grace and endurance, continuing to do his family pastoring at Calvary Chapel, Sonora. This to me was the most excellent example of endurance I could have ever witnessed him demonstrate for me.
Friends, what would it look like for us to do “pastoring/shepherding” like Joe did? He was caring for people like this far before he had a title as a family pastor. What would it look like if our love was all the more enduring, if our “wisdom” was all the more gentle and consistently Godward.
Here is where I think the secret of Joe’s effective ministry lies: “Lift up the light of Your face upon us, Oh LORD!”
Everyone around us as believers is crying out: “Who will show us some good?” We are continually tempted to ask this question ourselves. If we want legacies like Joe’s, legacies of generosity and grace and contentment and God-orientation and kindness with consistency… If we want lives like Joe’s and his beautiful wife’s, we must find our delight in God Himself. He is the source of all goodness, and He produces in us lives of abandon to His glory as we find our rest in His countenance.
Look unto Jesus Christ and be lightened. Look unto HIm and find deep and lasting satisfaction. Look to Christ and be refreshed and given your truest purpose, being a God worshiper until we see our Savior in Heaven face-to-face. What does this look like here on this Earth? Following Joe’s example. Imagine local churches with several Joe Alomia’s peppered throughout. This is already a reality. Our problem? We’re too focused on our own glory to realize we have godly examples available to us. Go to the gentle and wise souls in your local church and encounter something of Christ’s countenance. Follow the example of these gentle and wise souls. Replicate their kindness and consistency in your life. Celebrate and highlight their character and enjoyment of God, their compassion on you and friendship with you.
It’s likely as we do this, we will find the example of these friends rubbing off onto us. We will warm up to those around us and show gentle honesty, gentle wisdom, the stuff of true transformation and Gospel grace. Let us look together to Jesus Christ, but may we remember that it is Him looking upon us that has the most impact. He seeks us and saves us. What a mystery! What a wonder! That lives like ours can become lives like Joe Alomia’s!
Thank you, Joe, for being an incredible example to me of a man truly seeking the heart of God. May many follow in your footsteps like the disciples of John the Baptist, and may we, as we follow your lead, encounter Jesus Christ and what truly being His disciple looks like.
Thanking God this morning for Joe’s example.