Tom Leake loved to preach. His passion for the craft never wavered as he battled cancer, and that passion was with him up until the moment the Lord called him home on March 26th, 2021.
“Just twelve days before he passed away, Pastor Tom was in the pulpit, preaching part one of a two-part series on faith from Matthew 17,” Gabe Powell said. Gabe is the associate pastor of shepherding at Hope Bible Church, the congregation Tom planted and shepherded for 24 years. “He was physically weak, but so determined and passionate about the truth. He never had the opportunity to preach part two of that message.”
What Tom did have the opportunity to do over the past six years was provide a model for how pastors should lead and care for others in the thick of their own suffering.
“When I arrived at Hope Bible [in 2019], it was immediately clear that his cancer diagnosis didn’t slow him down,” Gabe said. “He had this sense that God wasn’t done with him, so he didn’t want to do less than before his diagnosis. He wanted to do more. The Lord gave him a passion to proclaim truth and he was determined to do as much as he could for the Lord as long as he could.”
Though Tom had more passion for ministry after his cancer diagnosis, he had significantly less energy. Discomfort and pain were with him constantly. Because of his physical limitations, he could not be around people as much. Conversations were tiring. This was particularly challenging for Tom, a people person who was rarely isolated. He and his wife Sue, along with their four children, Hannah, Grace, Faith, and Josiah, regularly invited people into their homes.
“His ability to relate to others, that was a unique gift of Tom’s,” Powell said. “Those closest to him always talked about how he could identify people’s gifts and potential. He had a knack for encouraging others, helping them see how they could use their gifts to serve the church.”
After more than two decades of encouraging others in ministry, Tom lived to see the fruit of his labors in the lives of other expositors. Most notably, George Lawson, a TMS alum who was raised under Tom’s ministry at Hope Bible. After his training in Los Angeles, George moved back to Maryland and was sent by Hope to plant a church, Baltimore Bible, in the heart of Baltimore. Tom’s discipleship has even reached internationally when another son of Hope Bible, Juan Moncayo—graduate of The Master’s University—planted a church in Ecuador.
Seeing godly expositors raised up—and partnering with other expositors in the mid-Atlantic region—was especially satisfying for Tom, who had been born in the region. When he moved across country in 1995 to attend TMS, there was a dearth of expositional ministries in the area. When he graduated from seminary, he was not planning to move back to the Maryland region he’d come from. But friends convinced him to come back and minister in an area that, at the time, had few expositionally focused churches. It became clear to Tom that God was calling to go back and plow where the laborers were few. A quarter-century later, the harvest is full. Today, there is a strong network of churches connected through The Master’s Fellowship, which was previously Grace Advance Mid-Atlantic.
“Tom’s faithfulness in ministry and love for the local church set the tone for gospel advancement in the mid-Atlantic,” Jade Greenfield said. Jade is the Chief Development Officer at The Master’s Seminary. “He was the model for so many guys who wanted to go to the east coast and do ministry well. He was a lighthouse for many master’s men.”
Tom’s commitment to those gospel partnerships, and his personal discipleship of men like George and Juan, will bear fruit for years to come. But those closest to him will perhaps most remember him for that singular focus—so evident in his final days on earth—on the primacy of truth, the power of preaching, and the importance of glorifying God in every moment, because the moments are fleeting.
“He loved people and he loved to teach and preach the Word of God in a way that people could understand,” said Powell. “That is how many of us will remember Tom. He leaned into the suffering and prioritized the proclamation of God’s Word.”
Those are enduring lessons from a faithful Master’s Man, who is now in the presence of The Master, hearing the words “well done, good and faithful servant.”