MARYSVILLE – Some might call it circumstance. Others might call it fate. But for Jared Row, it’s about faith.
Roe, 35, quit his job at Boeing after nine years, sold his house, and moved with his wife Lorrie and two children into the home with his parents last March.
Two weeks later, his dad, Monte Roe, died suddenly of a heart attack at age 58.
For 18 years his dad was pastor at Allen Creek Baptist Church – the little one across the street from Walmart on the hill. Roe said before quitting his job he was dealing with depression and using pain killers and opiates. He went to rehab and realized he needed something different. He said he should have been happy, making $40 an hour as a mechanic. “But I was resisting what I was supposed to do in life,” he said.
If he didn’t quit, he said he wasn’t sure how long he would have been around.
Lorrie said he was nervous when he asked her about quitting, but she was ready to try anything. “You do whatever you can,” she said she told him.
Roe said to give him a year. He wanted to help out his dad, who suffered from neuropathy, or nerve damage.
“He would only say he wanted to help out, not that it was his calling,” Lorrie said. She said she knew, but had to wait until he realized it. “The only time he was happy was when he was filling in at the pulpit,” she said. Roe said he wished he’d done it sooner. “I should have been here,” he said. “When dad needed me I wasn’t there.”
Once Roe decided to get into the ministry, his dad said he couldn’t afford to pay him. But Roe took the leap of faith anyway.
They sold their house in three days for double what they expected, and they were going to live off that.
“That was a blessing. That’s when you know it’s meant to be,” Lorrie said.
She and Roe both said Monte seemed to have a premonition about what was going to happen. “My dad felt it,” Roe said.
He said they hadn’t really talked about dying before, but at this time he was saying how Roe would get his office space and that the church would help if something happened.
“He knew he didn’t have a whole lot of time,” Roe said.
Lorrie said Monte kept talking about when Roe takes over the church.
“They never had those death conversations before,” she said, adding she asked Roe, “Is there something you’re not telling me?” Three days before he died, Monte, who had diabetes, had extremely high blood sugar levels, but would go to a hospital.
“He was pig-headed,” Lorrie said, adding he didn’t want to be away from his church.
She added: “He was just so tired. When everything falls into place it’s meant to be – it’s God’s will.”
He’s not a saint
Roe said he didn’t go to school to be a minister, but he’s taken online courses. He learned almost everything from watching, talking and debating with his dad.
About three months after his dad died, the church hired Roe to take his place.
“For some reason they like my preaching,” he said, even though sometimes he goes on a little long, something his dad didn’t do.
Roe said he thinks the congregation likes that they can relate to him. “My dad was a saint,” he said. “I am not.”
Roe said his dad didn’t smoke or do drugs and his mom Shari was his only sweetheart.
Meanwhile, “I rebelled. I’m hoping to bring that side to it. You go to my dad, and I don’t know if he’d understand. I do. I’ve been there.”
Roe said his dad was a hard worker and inspirational. He was easy to listen to and time would go by quickly.
“I want to try to apply that to my preaching,” he said.
Sandy Stogdall has known the Roes since Jared was about 3. She was a charter member of the church. She said Monte was an excellent pastor. “He was a beloved man of God,” she said.
Stogdall said no one in the church knew how sick he was.
“We didn’t know the depth of the pastor’s illness – just how great his suffering was,” she said.
Stogdall said his death was a shocking loss.
“The church body was devastated,” she said.
Stogdall said she recalls Roe’s rebellious period.
“I’ve seen it before with our own son,” she said. “It’s so amazing to see when they finally get it.”
But Roe has made quite a transformation in the last year.
“It’s mind-boggling,” she said. “He and Lorrie have stepped up in such dramatic ways. It’s been a beautiful, eye-opening experience.”
Stogdall said Monte and Roe would debate the bible.
“He really digs for understanding,” she said. “He’s like a dog after a bone – he’s gonna get it.”
Roe has been encouraging the church to reach out to the community.
“He’s got everybody on fire for serving,” she said.
Roe does have his own ideas. On a recent Sunday the church hosted a Western Roundup. Members walked around neighborhoods prior to it and asked folks to come. They had Western-style games and free hamburgers and hot dogs. “That’s what Jesus would do – feed ‘em,” Roe said, a cowboy hat snug on his head.
They want to make it an annual event. Roe said the goal was to “reach out and plant a seed” for visitors, but he found it also was a great event to bond church members who also had to deal with the tragic death of his dad.
“It became more of an event for the church” with everyone helping out, he said of his congregation of about 90 people.
Roe said he would like to see the congregation grow in numbers, but it’s already packed most sermons as the little church only holds about 65 people. They hope to expand it to include a nursery, baptismal, another bathroom and a facility for the choir.
Roe has come full circle. He met Lorrie at a bar and told her he didn’t want to marry or have kids. He didn’t introduce her to his family until they had been together a year. She was afraid as a single mom who was not raised in the church she might not be accepted but she was welcomed with open arms.
Lorrie said she worried when Monte died, followed a week later by Roe’s grandpa; she wondered how her husband would take it. His dad was his best friend.
“He was so close to his dad. They loved to talk about the bible and different religions,” she said, adding they talked on the phone all the time.
“But he’s content,” she said of Roe.
Lorrie said Roe has turned around his life. “He’s the happiest he’s ever been. I’ve never seen him smile so much. I have my husband back.”