Every so often, I write a “behind the scenes” blog on a story here in Faith News (like last month, for instance). Today, I’ll do this for two stories: one from this month (“A men's ministry meeting a need for real Christian fellowship (pt. 1)”), and one from a story I haven’t even written yet. Keep reading; I’ll explain in a few minutes.
First, let me tell you about the men's ministry story. Because you'll never have the same experience reading the story, that I had covering the story.
I first met Todd Dixon while covering the Otis Landrum story. The individual that told me about Otis, recommended that I do a story about the ministry Todd was overseeing. It’s a weekly men’s gathering called Redeemed Lives. (I focus on the origins of this ministry this month, but when we return from our July break, I’ll share more about the ministry itself.) It sounded like something that would be interesting to attend, even if I had no Faith News-related reason to attend.
My first impression: the 10 to 15 guys I saw outside the door of the barn that housed the gathering, didn't look like prim-and-proper Christians in the church foyer on Sunday morning. But you probably know that not all Christian men fit that description. You probably know the importance of not judging a book by its cover. Later on that evening, I was glad that I knew this.
Not long after, the gathering got underway. The individual leading worship didn't have the most amazing voice, or the most incredible guitar playing ability. He certainly was talented at both, but that was not what stood out as he began. It was the depth of his passion as he sang that was particularly moving. It was the emotion that came from within, and the conviction with which he sung the words. What was even more amazing, however, was when the roomful of men joined in with the same amount of passion and zeal. It was a powerful moment. These men sang like they knew they were redeemed.
Another impression: these men weren't just singing a song, they were singing their testimony.
A time of sharing then began. Todd later told me that he had to limit the amount of time each man took for sharing, because some would actually begin preaching. And while many men did take the opportunity to exhort from the Word of God, others shared of their struggles from the past week. The authenticity and transparency struck me. The sense of mutual trust was strong in this barn. This was not just a case of men attending a service. These were brothers bearing their soul to brothers, and looking to the Lord— and each other— for help, to make it till next week. I think some of them felt that without that prayer and sharing time, they indeed would not make it.
I wish I could really capture what I felt that evening. I hope I’m doing an adequate job.
Bottom line for me: I can't remember ever seeing that many guys in one place, crying out to God with that amount of fervour. And it made me think of all the times I would hear someone ask the question I led off the article with: where are all Christian men?
It's easy to shrug and assume that they just aren't out there. But they are. Maybe they’re not as easy to find as one would like, but they're there. A whole bunch of them gather weekly near Welland. Similar groups gather elsewhere. And I think I’m safe in assuming that you can still find these men in local churches.
If you’ve ever found yourself asking that question from time to time, be encouraged. God has not bypassed men.
As for that other story… on Saturday, July 16th at 7:00 PM, speaker and pastor Guy Hammond will be sharing at Great Lakes Christian High School in Beamsville about homosexuality. What makes this event particularly noteworthy? Well, this was written on the blurb I received, promoting the event: “Many in the Christian community seem to be polarized between ‘all embracing of gay affirming theology’ and ‘all gays are going to hell’. Guy Hammond will help you find valuable middle ground”.
If you’re a Christian that is torn between these two responses to the homosexual debate, this might be a seminar for you. Friends of mine from a local church have asked to help spread the word. I will cover this for Faith News, so we’ll have a story in our August edition. Because it is a local event taking place in the community, and it is a current issue many Christians are talking about, I wanted to take the opportunity to mention it in the blog.
My friend sent along a link to a video, and asked if I would share it. Maybe it speaks to where you are, right now.
One last item to leave you with, before we take the Faith News version of a summer break (we republish four best-of stories in July)… some cool news: my stat guy tells me that for the month of May, Faith News Niagara received almost 36,000 hits. That’s 11,000 hits more than our average from two months ago. To our new readers: hello! We hope you’re enjoying our stories, and like what our website is all about. Tell your friends about us if you do! And to our long-term readers: thanks! It’s obvious that you’ve really grabbed hold of the idea of sharing our articles with your friends. Keep it up! Thanks to you, we’re taking huge steps toward our goal of 50,000 readers by years’ end.
And to both groups: we believe that Faith News is an excellent way to connect the Body of Christ in Niagara to each other, and to the Lord. We also believe that we are a great resource to find out what God is doing through the various ministries and churches throughout our region. If you feel the same way, let me invite you to keep doing what you’re already doing. Keep spreading the word.