Dad Stories – The Pastor Sensei at Bethel


One of my father’s first sermons as a head pastor of a church is so memorable, that those who attended will probably still talk about it from time to time.

From the other anecdotes on this blog, one will see that my family was still involved in martial arts as a christian ministry. Before the service, dad had hidden the self-same sword from The Broadsword Incident behind the pulpit. No one knew, yet.

One of our black belts, Jeff Stissel, agreed to be dad’s accomplice. Dressed in a black gi, black halloween hood with the black one-way mesh hiding his face, and his customary black tabi boots, Jeff entered the church grounds well into the service but before the sermon. He waited patiently beside the sanctuary doors, looking in the window for his cue.

Dad preached a sermon about being constantly on your guard against sin, for Satan looks for any opportunity to tempt. As dad reached the climax of his sermon on the importance of spiritual vigilance, Jeff burst through the double doors screaming like a banshee, bokken (a wooden practice sword) raised overhead. The congregation jumped. In the mere seconds Jeff charged down like the main aisle, everyone looked to the front left pew where we were sitting. Dad’s behind the pulpit while mom, Lauren, Rachel, and I were still seated up front. Who was this madman!?!

Dad pulled the huge sword from the pulpit with a yell and blocks the oncoming wooden blade. If I recall correctly, the bokken was broken. The mock stage battle ensues, with dad as the victor. As Jeff crawls away to symbolize the fact that the battle against temptation is never finished in life, dad calmly walks back up to the pulpit to wrap up his sermon and carry on with the service in the usual manner.

I have never seen a congregation sit more bolt upright at attention, nor with so wide of eyes.


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