Did you get a chance to read Faith News' interview of Rick Osborne yet? It'll help you understand the first part of this month's blog entry a little better, which begins... now.
When I walked into the Central Community Church's downtown storefront facility to get ready to meet Rick, it was very quiet. He hadn't even arrived yet, so his wife Heather let me in and we chatted quietly.
It was like was the calm before the storm.
Not that the atmosphere would become violent, mind you. Rather because half an hour later, we were wall to wall with people coming for a meal, a place to chill, or some bike repair work (more on that next month). It was measurably louder; I had to lean over our table just so I could follow what he was saying, and hope that my recording of the interview would pick up what my ear didn't.
Then there the visits. Yeah, that's what I'll call them. People would randomly waltz over and pull up a chair, eager to join our conversation. Of course there was really no way for them to know what they were walking into-- my recording device conspicuously resembles a cell phone, since that's what it is-- so I looked like any ol' guy yakkin' away with my phone in front of me on the table. Who doesn't occasionally do that?
And for his part, Rick didn't encourage them to leave. But then, neither did I. I mean, the way I saw it, Rick was "on duty". He was on the clock at his job as the voice of reason at the R.O.C.K. Program (Reach Out with Care and Kindness) that he runs from the church, and I was grateful for the time he was giving to me. That motivated me to sit and wait for these little visits to come to an end. Besides, something told me Jesus would want this. This outreach was the kind of thing he'd be all over, and he wouldn't be working the counter either. He'd be out rubbing shoulders like Rick was. So when he apologized, I had added incentive to let it go any pick up where we left off.
Or at least, try to pick up where we let off. Rick has a million stories to tell. But that trait just seemed to go with the atmosphere, so I rolled with it. The overall easygoing vibe compelled you to forget structure. So we started the interview late. We ended even later. It was a challenge to ask questions in any kind of linear fashion. But it didn't really matter. Because structure-less ministry was happening, all around us, all afternoon.
It was one of the most unique interview experiences I've had since launching Faith News Niagara, and one of the most rewarding as well. Because it's one thing to talk with someone about the ministry they are called by the Lord to serve in; it's another to talk with them about it as they're doing it, in real time. Some of the things shared by those who were milling around us, weaving in and out of our discussion, were things that needed Rick's attention. So I was totally fine with taking a step back while he ministered. And if I wasn't... well... too bad.
My audio recording did a pretty good job of capturing the fun and frenetic environment that we were in that afternoon. I hope my words convey even a fraction of that environment. Because it was really cool to be sitting in on live ministry opportunities, seeing struggling people receive help, and watching God work through Rick to meet them where they were at. I felt privileged to be there.
Rick's story was packed with jaw-dropping moments; we need two months to tell it all! Maybe even three. But a second part is definitely scheduled for next month, as we focus on some eye-opening God moments that only the Lord could orchestrate. So make sure you don't miss next month's instalment. And share the story, and our other stories, with friends.
And speaking of sharing, I'm going to use the rest of my "blog time" to talk about something two other featured items for this month that you'll hopefully find share-worthy. First: did you know that we now have a church directory for the Niagara Region! It is by no means complete-- We have another 30 churches needing to be uploaded, on top of the approximately 30 churches already listed.
Don't assume your church is on the list, maybe it's not. Maybe it's up to you to make sure that you're represented! If it's not listed yet, or if the information is incomplete or wrong, let us know. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to have the most complete, comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date list possible. You can help us do that. Even if you're aware that there are churches other than your own not on the list, we'd appreciate the tip. And newer, smaller congregations (meeting in schools, homes, etc.) are welcome, and are encouraged, to submit their church information as well.
We really want to be a resource for the Faith Community we believe we're called to serve, and feel that this is another way to do that. And as we enter the fourth quarter of our calendar year, we have other ideas on the docket, waiting to be implemented. Stay tuned.
Second: we've met some amazing people with some amazing stories since launching last fall. We've told some fantastic tales of God doing all kinds of things to expand his kingdom, through his people, in Niagara. And we wanted to make sure that newer readers didn't miss our earlier stories. So every so often, starting this month, we'll look back a story from the recent past in a feature called Rewind. We're looking forward to introducing our newer readers to these earlier articles. And we're looking forward to any suggestions for a more original feature name as well...