Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington
Spiritual father

The Loss of My Spiritual Father


I wonder, back in New Testament times, how Timothy felt when he heard the news of the apostle Paul’s death? Did he mourn his own loss and the loss of countless others? Or did he rejoice that his spiritual father and mentor now saw Jesus face to face?

Perhaps he did both. For that’s what I’m doing now. Mourning and rejoicing. My former pastor, the man who drew me to Christ and discipled me for almost 20 years, is now hearing the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Mt. 25:23 ESV).

Dan Mercaldo was used by God as a vessel to grow me in Christ. He spoke the truth in love, but never compromised the truth he spoke. He addressed the issues of the culture without being drawn into the muck and mire of political division.

Was he perfect? No. But he had a whole heart for God. And he wanted everyone else to have that same heart for the One who sent His Son Jesus to restore us to our heavenly Father. Dan was true to his calling to the end—his last public act was to preside over a funeral before he fell ill within a few days and died 3 weeks later.

The man who faithfully unpacked the written Word for decades is now in the presence of the Living Word. He was escorted there while his wife and daughter sang words of worship as he left this broken world and entered eternal healing and wholeness in the presence of his Savior.


Only One Life


What about you and me? Are we living in a way that makes a difference in the lives of others? Are we speaking the truth in love, or are we being drawn into the abyss of division and hostility now enveloping our nation? Is our focus on influencing others for eternity or are we obsessed with the comfort of the here and now?

I’m reminded of the lines from a poem written by British missionary C.T. Studd:

“Only one life ’twill soon be past.
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

May these lines resonate with you and me enough so that we will not only affirm them with our words, but also act on them.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, may I honor Dan Mercaldo’s legacy by being true to Christ and to the calling he awoke in me.

Who has discipled you? Who are you discipling in return?

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  1. Janice D. Green

    After reading this I too am thankful for your pastor as you also have become an amazing spokesperson for God. Isn’t it wonderful how God multiplies the words and lives of his faithful servants.

  2. Ava Pennington

    Thank you, Janice. Yes, I am grateful!

  3. Yvonne Morgan

    Thankful that he was a part of your life as he taught so many. Sorry for the loss of such a man. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Melissa Henderson

    We may never know the impact we have on the life of another person. I am thankful for the mentors and many people God has placed in my life to lead me closer to Him. Thank you for sharing about Dan.

  5. Nancy Head

    So true that we must take care to act only as Christ would have us act.

  6. Jessica Brodie

    Thank you for sharing about this. Our only important legacy pertains to Christ. It sounds like Dan left a huge legacy. I pray God continues to work through him (and you!) for many years to come.

  7. Carol Castagna

    Wonderful message, Ava! And thank you.
    I enjoyed reading.

  8. Melinda Viergever Inman

    I’m sorry for this period of absence that you and Dan’s wife and Dan’s daughter are all experiencing as Dan himself is having the most joy he’s ever experienced. These wise mentors are gifts from God, and I am glad for you that you had such a good guide and mentor! The focus on God’s goodness and his lessons are the best investment of our time and our lives. The Lord bless and comfort you, Ava

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