Since as far back as he can remember, the Reverend Harold Lambe’s desire was to live inside the will of God.
It is what led him to get saved at 7 and devote much of his youth to sharing the gospel at open-air meetings, and ministering to people in prisons and nursing homes.
He decided to pursue a role within the ministry in his early twenties when an increasing number of people began approaching him with complex Biblical questions that he could not answer.
“I really wanted to be a witness for the Lord, but I was limited in my knowledge of the word of God at that time, so I went off to Bible school,” said Mr Lambe, pastor of Evening Light Pentecostal Church.
“While at Zion Bible College, I felt a call to enter ministry full-time. I had a strong indication that was what God wanted me to do and I embraced it because I was literally brought up in the church; my upbringing was in a Christian home and I knew God had called all of us to be witnesses to the lost. That’s why becoming a pastor wasn’t something I ever ran from.”
Mr Lambe has enjoyed more than five decades of faithful service. For 23 years he pastored at Pleasant Street Baptist Church in Worcester, Massachusetts, with his wife, Marilyn; eventually he returned home and joined Evening Light Pentecostal.
The church will celebrate his commitment to ministry — along with his 80th birthday — with a special service at 7pm on Thursday.
Events in his honour will continue with a banquet on Friday at 7pm; further tributes will be paid to him on Sunday during services at 11am and 4.30pm.
“Some churches celebrate their pastors annually, but I actually haven’t had a celebration in my honour yet, so this is a thank-you for my time spent serving the community,” Mr Lambe said.
“I’m turning 80 now, but what I’ve realised is God doesn’t have a retirement plan so, while I may not have the responsibility of pastoring full-time any more, I’m hopeful I can still help young ministers and encourage folk to continue to press on in their relationship with Christ.”
Mr Lambe attended Barrington College in the early 1960s before completing his studies at Gordon-Conwell Theology Seminary in Massachusetts.
He dived straight into evangelism work, finding great joy in helping uplift congregants at various churches.
“I was very grateful with how the Lord used me to help churches during those five years,” he said. “We found there were a lot of churches struggling, not only because they were small, but because of the lack of knowledge and commitment from the people in the congregation, so I encouraged them to get into the word of God and that made God real to many.
“It became more than just a religion and people started to live for God, build a relationship with Him and serve Him in various capacities.”
A great milestone in his career came in 1993 when he became pastor of Third Street Church of God in Kansas City.
He became involved with outreach work in the neighbouring community. As vice-chairman of City Vision Ministries, he helped build affordable housing and renovated existing homes for families in need. The goal was to help people get out of poverty with lessons on home ownership.
Creating a long-term strategy capable of benefiting them required help from the faith community, businesses, social agencies and government. According to Mr Lambe, the organisation was able to meet the spiritual and physical needs of many.
Part of his motivation for doing good work came through a lesson learnt early on in his faith walk — the best place in the world to be is in the will of God.
“Every move I made, I tried to be very conscious that I was walking according to God’s will, to be where He wanted me to be and doing what God wanted me to do,” he said.
“The Bible says the Spirit of God bears witness with our spirit. I found that God would make His will known to us and what I try to tell young preachers is that being a minister isn’t something you choose, it’s a calling. You know when you are in God’s will because you will get a witness — someone who confirms what you already believe in your spirit.
“There are a lot of preachers today who just want to have a church or be behind a pulpit, but that doesn’t mean they want to be in the will of God. So I urge them to earnestly seek God’s direction and then they will know what He wants them to do and how He wants to use them in ministry to bless the lives of others.”
Mr Lambe had his first real encounter with the Lord when he was 17 and, since then, has prayed for God to order his steps.
“When Paul was saved on the road to Damascus the first thing he asked is, ‘What do you want me to do?’ Some Christians have been saved for ten, 20 or even 60 years and have never stopped to ask the Lord what He wants them to do. Not in a casual way, but really saying to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord. What is it you want for me? Whatever it is, I will do your bidding.’
“There’s a reason people don’t ask that question — because they are scared of what it is He may ask or where He may send them. They say, ‘I will go to Africa if you want me to’ but sometimes they aren’t even doing what God has asked them to do here, where He has them now.”
Mr Lambe has worked for extended periods in four churches in Bermuda and the US — and at every one he felt the Lord had led him there.
“I’ve been back home in Bermuda now for about 15 years and I truly believe this is where the Lord wanted me,” he said. “It may sound simple, but Christians would be more happy and feel more fulfilled once they recognise they are in the will of God and have a desire to be in His will.”
He encouraged everyone — both lay people and clergy — to work at being faithful above all else.
“If you are faithful until death, God will give you a crown of light,” Mr Lambe said.
“Just being faithful and obedient, recognising the will and voice of God and being faithful to what He has called you to do — that will take you far.
“I teach that there are two types of sin — one is sin of commission, which is the wrong action in itself, and the other is of sin of omission, which means that God has told you to do something but you haven’t done it.
“That’s probably the sin that’s most prevalent because folk still haven’t done what God has asked them to do. The Bible says people will perish due to lack of knowledge and, while there is a lot of preaching in the world we live in today, there is not a lot of effective teaching, which was something I have always set out to do.”
• The Evening Light Pentecostal Church’s banquet honouring Reverend Harold Lambe starts at 7pm on Friday in the Pembroke Sunday School building. Tickets, $100, are available on 296-8899 and 704-9476