by John & Marti Fischer
We are taking this opportunity to acknowledge a man who has single-handedly influenced the Catch more than any other. As our first Chairman of the Board, and working closely with Marti, Peter has left his mark everywhere — on our vision, our mission/purpose, and on what it means to be the Catch Ministry, which is well beyond a daily writing. Working along with the other Board of Directors, he worked diligently to form the vision of the Catch Ministry: to introduce the Gospel of Welcome — Grace Turned Outward — to everyone, everywhere, giving us a distinctive and universal voice of grace being manifested through your and my ‘boots on the ground’ throughout the world. Peter envisioned and stayed to see the Catch Ministry as a real worldwide community of Christian people participating in God’s business by introducing the Gospel of Welcome — Grace Turned Outward — through the gifts God has given. “In the end,” Peter is noted as saying, “a local Christian community could never really reach the whole world with the Gospel’s message. But … the Catch can.”
All along he has kept our eyes on the purpose of the ministry to disciple, in the grace of God, people brought to the Catch community by our boots on the ground members.
There is no doubt Peter’s philanthropic gifts established the Catch Ministry. But, more importantly, he asked you to take the baton from him, and so that we could move forward, you took it. We haven’t stopped running together like trusted friends, where the accountability for such a relationship runs deep.
Peter is a primary example of how a Christian goes about business. Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE), the largest family-owned theme park corporation in the United States that he co-founded along with his brother, Jack, includes a number of theme parks in the Southeastern United States including Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri; Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee; and Stone Mountain in Atlanta. In all these venues, employees are treated as family, and the company cares for the whole person, giving each one respect as an individual. Story after story, including an “Undercover Boss” CBS Television episode starring then-CEO of HFE, Joe Manby, shows how the spiritually-fed values of a company apply to everyone on board from what many would consider the least to the greatest. There is no distinction.
In business, Peter and Jack are a visible expression of what they have followed throughout their lives: “Doing the right things for the right reasons,” a principal we can all incorporate as a guiding light for all that we do. As we pointed out last week, “Doing the right things for the right reasons” won’t get you into heaven (only faith in Christ will do that), but it will get you some gold, silver and costly stones to carry through the fire on your way in. These are the things that are done in faith that God honors.
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)
So it is important how we live — on what foundation we build — on Jesus Christ and the grace He gives us all, and not on our own works. It is no secret in the corporate world and in the government offices of the State of Missouri where Peter has served three terms on the Missouri State Board of Education including two terms as board President, that he has built his life and his corporate career on the foundation of Jesus Christ, and it shows. Anybody can build like this with whatever they are building, small or great. It doesn’t matter. It’s about doing everything by relying on Jesus to work through us.
Christ is the cornerstone of the church; Peter is the cornerstone of the Catch. We are building every day on what he began. Peter’s vision to participate in God’s business remains to be the foundation of our Catch community and our community is truly alive. We owe him much, and that is why we wish him a hearty birthday greeting: On behalf of the Board of Directors and its MemberPartners, Marti and I wish you a very Happy Birthday, Peter!