One of the thrills of being in a ministry that’s over 80 years old is hearing from faithful men who have taught others to make disciples for many years. Last month, one such faithful man was given an honorary doctorate by Biblical Seminary for his faithful obedience to the Lord’s work in his life. Lester "Les" Clemens has been an active member of CBMC* since the 1950s and has served the board of Biblical Seminary, the people of Calvary Church in Souderton, Pennsylvania, and the mission of CBMC locally, nationally, and internationally.
A native of Mainland, Pennsylvania, Les had enough of a religious background to pray fervently to the Lord to spare him from German artillery in WWII, but he didn’t convert in the foxhole. His salvation came through a CBMC luncheon in the 1950s. Invited by his brother, Les remembers the speaker talking about some business principles and explained how God doesn’t want us to clean ourselves up so he can accept us. He wants us to love him and surrender our lives and businesses to him. Les did that in his bedroom that night. He begged God to forgive him of his sins and give him new life. Unlike the days following his prayers in WWII, Les began to have new desires. Something had happened.
“As Les grew in his faith,” Scott Newcomer, CBMC Mid-Atlantic area director, said, “he was known to invite salesmen to visit him at Hatfield Packing on certain days just before noon, days when his CBMC team had outreach events planned, and Les would take these men to hear a businessman speak.”
CBMC men didn’t step up to disciple others back then, like they do today, Les says in his testimony. The emphasis on lifestyle discipleship came in the 1970s with Joe Coggeshall, the original writer of Operation Timothy.
“Les was perpetually meeting with another man, doing Operation Timothy,” Paul Lantz, a long-time friend, said. “Les and Kay were very humble people. They broke through and made things personal.”
Les has reached out to countless men, calling them to faith in Christ and to disciple other men. “In CBMC,” he said, “we focus on the men, because we believe that they are the key to the family. As the man goes, so goes the family.”
“Now that his world includes more interactions with the health care system,” Scott said, “I so enjoy his stories of sharing the gospel with nurses and aids. One story that sums up his style is what I experienced when I visited him in the hospital after he had a stroke. As he sat there still in a fog, I asked him if I could read him any Scripture. He said, Yes! and that he was working on memorizing Jeremiah 9:23-24.”
“Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises loving-kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:23-24 NASB)
“From what I see, Les Clemens knows God also delights in what the Lord delights in,” Scott concluded.
Praise the Lord for this disciplemaker. He is a Paul of Pauls.
*CBMC is a trademark of CBMC, Inc.