A Texas pastor and veteran who served in World War II and has inspired thousands with his perseverance is crediting Jesus for his longevity.
Author and pastor Jack Hetzel, who turns 100 on Nov. 18, has met presidents, defended America at war, formed businesses, written eight books, and preached the Gospel for decades.
Now, just months after making headlines for getting his high school diploma at age 99, he’s preparing to celebrate his centennial birthday — and he’s thanking God for all he has accomplished.
“I believe I’m going to go to 112, but I’m ready to go anytime,” Hetzel told Tyler Morning Telegraph. “God has been so good to me to live 100 years.”
He also shared his military history with the Telegraph, noting he was in the Army during World War II and participated in five notable battles.
It was during his military service when he started preaching the Gospel — something that continued well after.
Hetzel currently preaches at Big Sandy United Methodist Church in Texas, and has spent time leading other houses of worship over the years.
“After being in the military, I finally agreed with God that it was time for me to preach,” Hetzel told the Telegraph, explaining why he still keeps on shepherding decades later. “If God puts something into a person, why would you retire from it? I don’t minister; I am a minister. I don’t like to vacate. I like to do what I’m doing.”
Hetzel’s powerful spirit and determination aren’t only evidenced in his continued pastoring, as he also captured headlines earlier this year when he finally recognized his dream of achieving a high school diploma.
Most people his age would have long given up on that quest, but not Hetzel.
He had earned his GED in 1948, but always pined for a high school diploma, which he received this summer.
“It’s very exciting,” Hetzel told KETK-TV earlier this year. “You see when you have little education and then you have to come up through life and you have to front life with little education, you have to learn somehow.”
According to Hetzel’s bio on his business website, Hetzel and Hetzel Enterprises, a land management company, he had only a third-grade formal education. Yet he still accomplished so much.
“With no more than third grade education, Jack became an instructor of ‘Military Science’ at Texas A&M University,” the bio reads. “Since retiring from the military, Jack has always been involved with entrepreneurship creating many successful businesses and non-profit charities which are still in operation today. Jack is happiest, when helping people in need.”
Hetzel’s life is one well-lived — and his inspiring story leaves us all with powerful reminders and lessons to glean about faith and perseverance.
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