By Fred Comella
You’ve read my thoughts on answers to the vexing quandaries of our time. And I’m sure my frustrations with human kind’s solutions to those quandaries has been fairly obvious. In spite of my cynicism though, it has truly been the work of a loving wife and patient pastor which has convinced me, that for all of the venom of politics and pundits, in the end He is on the thrown, and He will not forego His world. Nevertheless, my journey to that peace of salvation has been one for the books, and I pray my experiences and interactions along the way, and which my editor has seen fit to print on these useful pages, have led some of you to the truth of Christ’s love formula for us.
I do remain a stickler for “truth and reason first” though, backed up by a whole lotta facts to be sure. So accepting that my faith in Christ as my Savior and as final arbiter in all aspects of my life, as well as knowing the words of the Gospel will ultimately show the way is complicated for me at times, and must have its roots in an accurate explanation of my faith. For you see, when those of us, who though we’ve finally accepted the one real truth in this fallen world, there is still usually much to learn. And for that knowledge, we then turn to “Biblical truth” that will take us the rest of the way. In fact, everything we need to know is contained in the Bible, and the answers to our daily dilemmas are there for us to accept, so long as we understand and interpret them correctly. For me, Biblical ignorance was a huge stumbling block, which my pastor has done miraculous things to help me overcome. With his help, (and my wife’s), I’m learning every day to apply “the Word” in ways that calm my often contentious and earthly politics. It’s changed my life in ways I simply cannot explain fully…
When my editor assigned me my January “mission” recently, I was excited to learn it was related to the study of the Bible. I’ve been thinking and praying about making the time to read more and more of the Book, and really begin to apply it to my life and my writing. Accordingly, Pastor (Dr.) Alfred Malo and his work with “Bible Answers for Today” seemed a perfect avenue. What I didn’t know at the time, was I was going to receive motivation that for me, often comes as a result of an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.
Al Malo met his wife of 35 years in 1982, and married young “Kathleen” in 1984. They were believers to be sure, but the loss and struggle associated with a house fire brought them to 1st Pentecostal Church in Cranston, RI where they would find the comfort of our Savior. In many ways, the tragedies in our lives drive our deeper understanding of what’s really important. They are often jarring turning points which force us to consider those things beyond our control, and into the arms of a loving God who will not abandon us. As their journey began and continued though, something was making its way into Al’s heart.
A 10th grade dropout, Al Malo initially never had much use for school, in that he didn’t see its real world usefulness. He came from a school of thought which embraced hard work and reward, and it paid him dividends over the years. The now 56 year-old father x4 / grandfather x6 / great grandfather x1, recalled to me during a phone interview, that he felt his education was derived from real world experience and lessons learned along the way, and that those tangible victories and rewards that he could see and touch were sufficient. For all intents and purposes, he was correct from an earthly standpoint. But for some reason, and as he progressed in his walk with the Lord, Al began considering the benefit of a greater understanding of his faith, and how the “Words” that support all that he and Kathleen believed would serve them in their pursuit of happiness. That growing thirst for knowledge was coming from deep inside of him, and he would come to know soon enough, that it was that omnipresent Holy Spirit tugging at his heart and seeking to move him further along his way.
In July of 1984, Al would land in Bible college and ultimately garner an Associates in Ministerial Theology. He was thrilled at how much God was filling his heart and mind. However, as his family and faith were growing, Al felt as though he needed to know even more. That “tug” was making him consider things he never would have considered before. So onward and upward he went, but this time with a thirst for a deeper understanding of his beliefs. A BA in Biblical Theology is where that journey led, and that which planted the seed which his Savior had intended for him all along. You see, “Pastor Malo”, was beginning to recognize and identify the cracks and inaccuracies of Biblical education in the church, and he was becoming driven to ensure that those who, while they were accepting of “the gift”, suffered the doubts associated with a lack of knowledge, knowledge which allows the saved to enjoy the security of the Gospel. But he still wasn’t done. Pastor Malo felt that teaching required of the teacher, an identifiable wisdom that can only be achieved by way of one’s own educational efforts beyond those of the taught. So, a Masters and Doctorate would follow and set Dr. Alfred Malo about the business of educating God’s faithful and making himself available to provide the words as they were meant to be used, backed by Scripture, and ready for folks to apply them, in good times and in bad.
Now as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, I had the pleasure of speaking with Pastor Malo just before Christmas, and I was taken with the breath and scope of his Biblical knowledge, as well as his strong desire to help the church and its teachers bring accurate translation of the Gospels to the faithful. We talked of “Bible Study” as a means to educate by opportunity, and how there are what he describes as “errors” in some of the educational platforms of the church. It was clear during our conversation, that Pastor Malo possesses a degree of confidence that comes not only from intense schooling, but from the discipline associated with those whose hearts are for the Lord without question.
He was genuinely concerned about what he perceives as the inability of some church leaders to offer accurately, the Word of God to those who are lost in the translation, and as a result, questioning their faith. We discussed allegorical vs. literal in terms of how the Bible is taught and translated, and he explained in a somewhat frustrated tone asking, why in the world would we want to teach God’s word in metaphorical and symbolic terms, as opposed to literal terms, as is a reality that we can apply in our daily lives. I couldn’t have agreed more. As a young Catholic, I recall the symbolism which made me feel God was someone I had to make a reservation to see and hear, and the symbols and grander of the church were necessary components of my faith. A personal relationship with my Savior and a greater understanding of His words was something I finally (thankfully) found in salvation.
I explained my concerns about a fallen nation and world to Pastor Malo, and he, like my own pastor reassured me that it was Christ on the thrown that would ultimately triumph over the evils we are seeing with alarming regularity in the 21st Century. But he added that now more than ever, the church needs to be getting it right in terms of the Word, and how it may be applied to every aspect of our lives, and how Pastors and church leaders need to be emphasizing that the Bible and all contained therein, must be our go-to resource when our faith is tested.
I’ve learned over time that talking with men and women of conviction who believe (and know) deep in their hearts that theirs is a mission He has set them upon, has been the greatest and most useful turning point in my life. I also know that God made it all happen to me, as He knew me to be lost in the wilderness and in need of saving. Maybe this is you. Maybe you are lost and searching for a reality which clears away the chaos and brings sense to a changing world. Maybe you simply need to understand your life in greater context. Or maybe you’ve come to a place where you finally understand that you’re not the “be all and end all”, and that there is something greater than self. No matter the case, finding a good Bible based church and seeking the true and accurate Words of Christ is in fact your best avenue to those ends. The Holy Spirit is real my friends. Seek the truth and you shall find it. Settle for what I like to call “a lazy faith” and you will truly be missing something.
Pastor Malo and I exchanged Christmas wishes, but he left me with one more thought, and it was something that has bothered me for years. He spoke of the divisions in the Christian church and how the enemy seeks to fracture the faithful denominationally. The enemy understands that fighting amongst ourselves, we will always be weaker and more vulnerable to attack. Hence the battles we see inside the arenas of marriage and so-called equality in our time, and the inaccurate and incomplete application of God’s words in an effort to validate that which can never be validated. Pastor Malo reminded me that on matters such as these, God’s words are clear, unambiguous and there for the reading. His prayer, (and mine), is for all who walk in the way of Jesus Christ to stand as one in the face of evil. As surely, an army united in Biblical truth will possess the “weapons” necessary to be triumphant on behalf of those who will come after us, and will prevail where political leaders and so-called men and women of influence have repeatedly failed.
Look for Pastor Malo’s cable show “Bible Answers for Today” three times weekly, on Cox CH 18 Mondays from 2-3 PM, Verizon CH 25 Tuesday from 9-10 AM, and Thursdays 7-8PM. Pastor Malo has also written a book “Systematic Theology – A Study Guide to the Core Biblical Doctrines of the Christian Faith”, which I highly recommend, and which is available on Amazon for $9.99. Trust me, it will be one of the better 10 dollar bills you’ve spent this holiday season. Happy New Year my friends in Christ. Be well and be safe… And we’ll talk in 2018…
You can reach Pastor Malo at firstname.lastname@example.org.