John Zechman recently retired from 28 years of service to Penn View Bible Institute. The following tributes are selected from the June 2018 edition of the God’s Missionary Standard. Please share your tributes to President Emeritus Zechman in the comments section below.

A Tribute From​ Timothy L. Cooley, Sr

The friendship of half a century gleams with an enduring glow—God’s grace reflecting in the life of President John Zechman.

He is a Man of God.  From all the way back in high school to the present, I have seen him live consistently as a man of God, deeply aware of his calling and conscientiously devoted to his Lord!  Whether as teen-age classmates, friends, ministerial colleagues, administrators, or General Board members, I have observed one passion in John Zechman—to love the Lord our God—which further means “to serve the present age, [his] calling to fulfill”!

Because he is a Man of God, he is a Man of Integrity.  He is resolutely committed to what is right, whether that seems to be convenient or not.  I have stood with him both in Penn View administrative decisions and in General Board actions and have seen the thoroughgoing commitment to integrity that permeates his life.  That integrity is the outgrowth of disciplined commitment to Jesus Christ!

He is also a Man of Grace.  John Zechman believes in entire sanctification and practices the Spirit-filled life.  When he preaches holiness, he is speaking from a heart fully dedicated to the Lord.  As a leader, he asks not for your undeviating obedience to John Zechman, but for your wholehearted following of the Lord. This means he is fully aware that you may sometimes disagree with him!  When a critic has attacked John Zechman, I have seen him meek as Moses.  When the attack was against the work of God, Bro. Zechman has displayed a rock, solid commitment to preserving and advancing the Heavenly Kingdom.  I have seen him return grace to his bitterest critics.  I have also seen him pray, wrestle, and counsel through numerous disciplinary decisions, always hoping for restoration!  Many times those persons have been restored, and today they are serving the Lord!

President Zechman is committed to living like Jesus lived, under the power of the Holy Spirit.  That is the anchor—that is the magnetic center of all his behavior and all his relationships.  We have been blessed by his consistent pattern of walking with God.

A Tribute From Daniel Durkee

He Saw Not What I Was, But Saw What I Could Be!

As Christians, we are to be Christ-like; for it is the truest meaning of the name. For 28 years, President & Mrs. John Zechman exemplified that in every way possible with their students and staff. From when I first came to Penn View in 1988, they lived out the words “they saw not what I was, but saw what I could be.”

My first significant remembrance of the Zechman family was while they were pastoring in Lewistown and they opened up their home, church and pulpit for me to share my personal testimony. What an encouragement it was for me to have their vote of confidence and to entrust their pulpit to me, a young Bible College student. 

After spending two years enrolled at Penn View, President and Mrs. John Zechman stepped into my life at a crucial time. Frankly, I had become disenchanted, disappointed, discouraged and dropped out as a student. The Zechmans, led of the Lord to leave their long-term and successful pastorate in Lewistown, came to Penn View in 1990 to assume the responsibility of the office of the President. Having gone through four cooks, three deans, and now a second President, many in my day were not sure what the future would hold. However one thing we knew right away, President John & Martha Zechman loved us. As a matter of fact, they loved ALL their students, but I knew personally that they loved ME

The summer of 1990, I answered the call to preach in a Penns Creek Camp service and immediately re-enrolled in my 5th major, the Ministerial Division. As President Zechman would sit in his office on registration day and ask me how I was doing spiritually, I was reassured that “He looked beyond the worst in me and saw not what I was, he saw what I could be.” 

Frankly, I would NOT be here today, if it were not for the Zechmans. They showed me and gave me several things, namely;  

  1. A Proper Priority – They taught me that spirituality must be number one in your life, even on an academic campus of higher learning.
  2. A Proper Vision – They taught me to see the potential in people; to give people more room to live than you give yourself; to not judge people by the single issues in their life, but to look at the direction they are going.
  3. A Proper Discipline – They taught me to pay attention to details. They really do matter. 
  4. A Proper Work Ethic – Bro. Zechman taught me to roll up my long sleeved white shirt, get to work and stay at the job until it is finished. He taught me that true leadership is demonstrated by a servant’s heart. 
  5. A Proper Marriage Counseling – When I almost missed God’s will for my life’s companion, they were there to give counsel, wisdom, and encouragement. Even when I didn’t ask for it, but desperately needed it, Brother & Sister Zechman were there. They faithfully taught me that outside of your choice to serve God, the next most important decision you will make will be in your choice of a life’s companion.
  6. A Proper Shepherd’s Heart – President Zechman taught me Pastoral Ministries in college, which is “A study in ministerial ethics, parish visitation, pastoral responsibilities for weddings and funerals, methods of conducting baptism and communion, and pulpit behavior.” He taught that a home going preacher makes a church going people and that you must love people. I attribute any measure of success in pastoring to President John Zechman.
  7. A Proper Father’s Heart – Not having a good role model of a father, President John Zechman modeled for me what a loving and consistent father’s heart should be. 

Thank you, President and Mrs. John Zechman, for your personal investment in my life as a student, staff member, board member and now as your successor. Thank you for living out those words “they saw not what I was, but saw what I could be.” Thank you for all you have done for Penn View. We will be forever indebted to you. 

Many have asked about my vision for the school. I hope this does not disappoint because frankly, my vision for the school is not complicated and new. Over 52 years ago, our founding fathers, George I. Straub, Truman Wise, Paul Miller, and others, received a vision from God. They believed that if God’s Missionary Church was to survive and thrive, something had to done in the training of young people for the future. Rev. G.I. Straub was convinced that a Bible School was needed to produce its own preachers, missionaries, and teachers for the Conference to continue. It is that very vision that I stand upon today. May God help us to birth our own leaders and then to send forth servant leaders beyond our conference. 

I desire to build upon the foundation of our former leaders. This certainly would include the incredible 28-year foundation that God has built through the leadership of Rev. John Zechman. I believe with God’s help and your intentional and purposeful support, there will be great and exciting days for God’s Missionary Church and Penn View Bible Institute. May God bless us with all that is needed to meet the challenge of training young people and preparing Christ-like servant leaders for the work of the Kingdom. 

A Tribute From Brian Spangler

Words seem so inadequate to express what I feel today, but let me try. It is with one huge “THANK –YOU” that I begin. Thank you, Mom and Dad Zechman, for simply being who you are – kind, compassionate, giving, loving, serving, and encouraging examples of biblical, holy living. It is no accident you are who you are, for many years ago you presented yourselves as vessels to Christ to be used in His service. Allowing yourselves to be clay in the Potter’s hands, He has made you into vessels of honor. Because you gave of yourselves unselfishly, Penn View Bible Institute has been abundantly blessed these past 28 years!

Recently I was pleasantly reflecting back to my time of living in your home while you ministered and labored in Lewistown. As a team in the pastorate, you taught me many valuable unspoken lessons. (You taught me many spoken ones too!) Not being raised in a preacher’s home, I soon learned that your home was not only yours, but  also for the ones to whom you ministered.  It was an unusual privilege to watch you truly love and care for your people.  It is not the least bit surprising you carried this practice to Penn View. 
I often think back to those early morning prayers coming up from the parsonage basement. These were   your petitions to the Lord and every morning they would filter into my room. Your burdens for the church, the community, the conference, Penn View and your family, were faithfully presented to Jesus. And yet, you found time to pray for me. Thanks Mom and Dad, you had no clue in those days where God was leading, but you still carefully followed Him! I guess God knew that someday you, Bro. Zechman, would be my boss at Penn View. What a privilege to have worked for you. I still remember the day you helped me lay carpet in one of the staff houses. “Now Brian, there’s really nothing to it” you said. Then you proceeded to show me by example.

For both of you, this has been your life. When there’s a job to do, you are the first ones to push up your sleeves and get things started. (Remember when we butchered the hogs?) Yet far beyond all of that, with steady hands, pure hearts, hours of prayer and great passion, you have led Penn View in a direction that has and does honor God! From great building projects and major campus improvements to Spirit filled chapel services and an enormous passion for souls. Thanks for being who you are!

Dad Z, you have been up front in the wheelhouse, carefully and faithfully implementing The Captain’s commands. Mom, though often hidden away and out of view, yet you have served consistently and devotedly as first mate to The Captain. Thank you both for giving wholly and tirelessly of yourselves to God Almighty and to the “Ol’ Ship of Penn View”.  May God add His richest blessings to you and yours! And may Penn View Bible Institute continue in the direction toward HOME!

P.S. To my special “little” sister, thanks Marie for sharing your wonderful parents with our wonderful school!