Telling Our Stories Week 25
Jim Boesch, First UMC, Oviedo
I was not raised in the church. In fact, the only time I ever saw my father in any church was when he was the best man at my wedding. I married and for the next 25 years as a couple my wife and I continued our life journey separate from any semblance of organized religion or church.
I was 52 years of age when I experienced that life-cleansing moment of repentance and surrender at which time God’s generous gift of salvation was both gladly given and readily accepted. As I came through that moment of conversion, His direction to me going forward was to share with other men that it is never too late to surrender to a life and journey of discipleship as a Jesus follower.
I have found discipling change to be very difficult, and every day I pray for strength that only He can give to produce the courage to surrender to His will and plans for me as I battle with abdication of self for selflessness, pride for humility and fear for confidence in the God who saved me.
In my daily prayers, I ask Jesus, “what do I do today?” and Jesus says, “Follow Me.” I then ask, “when do I begin?” and He says, “right now.” I inquire, “where do I begin?” and Jesus says confidently, “right where you are.” And, finally I ask, “how do I begin?” and our Lord says, “die to self!”
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” Matthew 16: 24-26
When I began my faith journey 10 years ago God directed me to work on His agenda, using the talents of training, equipping and learning management that He has provided me over the years.
God first directed me to the UMC General Commission of United Methodist Men. I began to serve in their fledgling Men’s Ministry Specialist ministry of supporting the pastor and church leadership in our mission of discipling of men at the local church and community levels. In the past seven plus years, by His plans, we have helped grow this volunteer ministry-with-men effort from our original seven Men’s Ministry Specialists throughout the U.S. to a current level of almost 40 with a target of 100 by 2015. In this ministry effort, we have worked in numerous local UM churches helping many men begin and maintain faith journeys. In working with men to help them to embrace their heart change, we try to challenge them; not pressure them to become contributors; not merely donors. And, most importantly, we assure men they don’t have to take this earthly faith journey alone; they can and need to be in fellowship with other men, their spouses/significant others and their families.
In the past five years we have been helping men and their families get and stay connected in their local churches by providing them and their church leadership with two discipleship equipping programs. The programs we are using are the “Understanding Men’s Ministry” discipleship system and the Ken Blanchard “Lead Like Jesus” servant leadership development system.
As a UMC Men’s Ministry Specialist, to date I have facilitated eight of these equipping workshops in the Florida Conference, reaching over 200 laity and clergy leaders. The 12-hour “Understanding Men’s Ministry” workshop has been accepted by our Conference Lay Servant leadership team as an advanced continuing development course which I am currently scheduled to facilitate two times to date in various districts in 2013.
I believe God is equipping me each day to better serve His mission as a leadership development educator, equipper and learning manager with an influence target of men and their families in our local churches and communities.
It is in this role that I want to continue to help more men in the Florida Conference become Men’s Ministry Specialists dedicated to support pastors in discipling Jesus followers in our UM churches
Up Next Week…
Christina Ennist, Asbury - New Port Richey
The disciple describes how she lives after coming back to the church. “I see Him every day, in a child, a neighbor, a bird, a bug, everything God put here for us. I see now that continuing His journey is not a burden, it is joyous. I struggle with being dedicated to reading my bible, but I make sure I make a difference for someone every chance I get.”