My friend and mentor of many years passed away on Friday, July 17, 2015. Paul had experienced a series of health issues recently, but I certainly hadn’t expected them to lead to his death. I was certainly praying and pressing in for some renewed strength and mobility for him. So his loss was a bit of a shock to me. What made matters worse was that I had a trip for work to Kazakhstan that I couldn’t change, and so I ended up flying out on Sunday morning, missing the visitation at the funeral home on Monday and the funeral on Tuesday.
So I’m up at midnight in Almaty, Kazakhstan, sharing my memory of him in writing, because I didn’t want to let a man like Paul Horichs pass without doing anything to recognize him for being a very important person in my life.
My first meaningful meeting with Paul came in January 1997, on a road trip with the two of us, Bruce Mock, and Will McFalls as we drove in a snowstorm from Westminster to Toronto for the 3rd annual anniversary of the Toronto blessing. We were there for around 4 glorious days, worshipping God and soaking up everything we could. I learned on that trip that Paul was after all that the Lord had for him. He taught me persistence and not giving up or giving in. I remember him going and standing in line for prayer, and then after getting prayer, he would go and get in line again, not wanting to miss anything that the Lord would want to impart to him through different vessels.
It was there that I had one of my most live-changing experiences standing next to Paul Horichs as Randy Clark prayed over every person who stepped out into the aisle for a healing touch from God. I’ll always be grateful for that, and honestly, perhaps I would not have even stepped out into the aisle, except for the fact that Paul had already stepped into the aisle.
It was during those 4 or so days, driving up, being together in Toronto, and driving back, we began to dream together of building up a church so that God would be honored and so that God would be free to move among the people, not hindered by the way church leaders had a tendency to limit God.
It was also during that trip, or perhaps soon after, that I labeled Paul, together with a handful of others, “MMOG”, or “Mighty Man of God”. And to me, this is exactly what Paul Horichs always was.
Paul and I served on the church council together either at that time or soon after, and we saw the church heading for very difficult times. He and I agreed together and labored together to try to save it. In the end, we failed, but we stuck together, and went into exile together.
At this time, Paul was very active running his own business — a pool construction business. But what really impressed me was that despite being as busy as he was, he made time to meet with me once a month over breakfast so that he could invest in me and speak into my life. I needed a lot of fatherly or brotherly advice from someone who was further down the road than I was, especially at that point when I was pastoring a church, working a job, studying at grad school, and together with my wife, raising our young kids… I will always appreciate all the time he devoted to me.
Surprisingly, Paul and I were not in church together after 1997 until 2005, when my family and I joined Harvest Church where Paul and Lana were serving as two of the four pastors. It was such a joy to be reconnected on a weekly basis with him.
One of the things he did for me at Harvest, but I’m sure didn’t realize it, is that he gave me the courage to start worshipping the Lord with flag waving — because I saw my mentor Paul doing it. So around 2010 I tried it just as an experiment to see if I could worship the Lord in some kind of alternative way that allowed greater expression of passion and love. And I have stuck with it ever since — it has blessed me, and I feel very confident that it has blessed the Lord, as well.
I will miss Paul, but I will always be grateful for Paul. I hope in some small way this little tribute to him will help stir up memories in others of things that Paul meant to them — or perhaps will just help some people who didn’t know Paul know what a Mighty Man of God he was. And writing has been good for me… it has allowed me to shed a few tears in honor of a man I love.