PADUCAH, Texas (ABP) — If cleanliness is next to godliness, Gilbert Mercado wants First Baptist Church in Paducah, Texas, to be the most godly church around. He’s been the custodian there more than 40 years.
Mercado started cleaning the church facility when he was a high school student in 1970.
He also began attending the church and has missed few Sundays since then. He was baptized there in 1972 after making a profession of faith in Christ.
Pastor David Williams, who has only been at the church a few months, said Mercado has been a blessing to him.
“I don’t have to tell him how to set up for a meal. He asks how many, I tell him and it’s done. I tell him to fill the baptistery, and he asks how high,” Williams said.
When Williams moved into his office, he recalled asking Mercado where to put the empty boxes. Mercado told Williams he would handle it, but at Williams’ insistence, he finally pointed the way to the dumpster. When the time came to make the trip, however, Mercado was there to take the boxes — he wouldn’t let Williams carry them.
“I don’t have to be concerned about what he’s doing,” Williams said. “He came under Brother Bob Beck, and I think he trained him very well. Every pastor since then has been blessed by Gilbert. He wants to be a servant to the pastor. He wants to be a servant to everyone.”
Roy Donaldson has been chairman of the deacons for several stints during Mercado’s tenure.
“One of the things I will always remember about Gilbert is when we were out of a pastor, and I was chairman of the deacons. I came up here one Monday morning, and he got me over in a corner and said: ‘I guess you’re my boss now until we get another pastor. You just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.’
“What I told him is what I feel about him to this day. I told him: ‘You know more about what needs to be done and how to get it done than I ever will. So, you just be your own boss,’” he recalled.
Mercado never has asked for anything during those 40 years, including a pay raise, Donaldson noted. The church has been faithful to give Mercado what he needs to do his job, however, because the congregation knows how important it is to him.
“Most jobs of his type, you have a Sunday school teacher or somebody complain: ‘They’re not cleaning my room. There’s dust on this or that. My trash didn’t get dumped.’ In all these years, I can’t remember a single complaint. Not one from anybody,” he said.
Not only is Mercado meticulous in his cleaning, but he also is careful to live a life that demonstrates Christian character, Donaldson said.
“He practices a lot of Christian principles in the way he lives his life. … He’s instilled the word of God into the way he lives his life, and his family can see it and his church family can see it."
George Henson is a staff writer for the Baptist Standard.
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