Anthony Kent is the editor of Elder's Digest.

Neville’s smiling face was instantly recognizable. It has changed little over the decades. It still radiates the love of Jesus! As I looked at the picture of his friendly, smiling face on Facebook, I could feel myself smiling. Then I read the caption, and tears began pooling in my eyes. Neville hadn’t posted his own picture on Facebook—he’s not that kind of person.

Neville Leeson will long be remembered as an elder in the Lismore Seventh-day Adventist Church, Australia, where I was born and where I grew up. For more than fifty years, I have been blessed to know Mr. Leeson—as I called him as a child. For as long as I can remember, he was an elder because of his consistent Christ-like character and ministry. Through the decades, I have never detected any political maneuvering or lobbying on his part to retain his position as elder— he’s just not that kind of person.

So why was this octogenarian featured on Facebook?

Recently, there was a flood in Lismore—the biggest recorded flood since the time of Noah! While prolonged torrential rain gushed from the sky in what was described as a “rain bomb,” hundreds of people needed to be rescued by boats from their rooftops. Numerous houses were completely submerged. Too many people were swept away or drowned in their own homes.

After the murky, deadly waters subsided, while the lingering stench of the putrid mud was heavy in the air, a professional photographer, Wes Tolhurst, came to Lismore to capture and record the history.

And there was Neville, dressed in practical appropriate attire, volunteering! Serving. Giving. Loving. Sacrificing. Smiling! The tears didn’t just pool in my eyes; now they were rolling down my cheeks.

Memories came flooding back . . . Neville had been my Pathfinder director. Pathfinder really is an apt term: he really did help me find the right path in life— by modeling and showing, rather than simply telling me. As an elder, Neville preached. Before he retired, he was a lecturer of mathematics at what is now a university. I fondly remember one of his sermons from more than forty years ago, in which he described the enormity of the number one million. According to Neville, it takes more than eleven and a half days to count to a million, if you can count a number per second without taking a break!

As an elder, Neville often made visits to homes with other elders. Among so many others, he came to our home. It wasn’t just a drop-in visit or social time: it was a spiritual visit. He kindly encouraged our family in our Christian journey and prayed with and for us. When the church celebrated the Lord’s Supper, he took the emblems to the elderly and shut-ins, so they could share in the blessing.

Much more could be written about Neville, but space—even for the editor—is limited.

Thankfully, there are others like Neville—innumerable elders, deacons, and deaconesses who daily demonstrate Jesus to all they meet.

Right now, our world is in diabolical trouble. We haven’t recovered from the COVID pandemic and now terrible wars and conflicts are mounting, as well as escalating natural disasters. So many of our 7.9 billion fellow inhabitants of our planet are anxious, fearful, stumbling, and in need of a Saviour.

Now, like never before—for such a time as this— elders, deacons, and deaconesses are needed to be representatives of Jesus. With perpetual prayers for the latter rain, loving smiles, Holy Spirit-filled hearts, gospel-nurturing speech, and actions reminiscent of the Saviour, elders, deacons, and deaconesses are needed to touch lives for eternity.

“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Dan 12:1–3, ESV).