By Jessica Brodie
LEXINGTON—Hundreds of men gathered at Mount Horeb United Methodist Church Feb. 24-25 for the conference's Men N Ministry retreat, receiving wisdom and godly friendship while learning new ways to draw close to Jesus.
Dr. Derwin L. Gray, former NFL player and now co-founder and pastor of multiethnic, multigenerational Transformation Church in Indian Land, served as the event’s keynote speaker, preaching throughout the event on what it looks like to be a true follower of Christ as a man today.
The event started Friday morning with a golf tournament held at The Spur at Northwoods, Columbia. That evening, men gathered at Mount Horeb for an oyster roast and a word from Gray.
Saturday’s rainy weather helped the men dive even deeper into the theme of the event, “Fulfilled in Christ,” and how to rely fully on the Lord in all we experience.
‘Jesus is our enough’
Kicking off the first session, Gray talked about how during his five years in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts, and before that during college and high school, the message driven home was always, “Play through the pain.”
But as he got older, and began to develop chronic back pain, he realized he was still approaching life with the same mentality—even though he hadn’t played ball in three decades.
“It sounds funny, but we men do this,” he said—think the ideal picture of a man is to push through, be tough, ride horses in the woods, battle on, soldier through.
Yet Jesus wept, Gray reminded the crowd. Jesus said, “Stay awake and pray with me.”
“We’re playing the game of life injured, and what’s so sad is we have a healer who is available—we have a father who is available to heal us,” Gray said.
It’s time to heal our father wounds, he said, by allowing Jesus to permeate the depths of our soul.
Lifting up the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32, Gray urged men to recognize the extravagant love God has for us and realize it’s for everyone, not just to hoard.
“There’s a bunch of young men walking around with gaping wounds and we give them religion instead of Jesus. But Jesus is our enough. Jesus is our value. Jesus is our significance.”
Next men headed into breakout sessions to go deeper in certain areas.
Chris Rondeau spoke to a group in revitalizing men’s ministry, while Trevor Miller spoke parenting with your child’s love language in mind.
Chad Myers taught on “The Change Agent,” exploring how to become less angry, reactive and bitter while growing into awareness, peace and joy.
And Stephen Scheid spoke on becoming the church in the community, while Sterling Eaton covered resources from the General Commission on United Methodist Men to make more effective disciples of Christ.
Not a human ‘doing’ but a human ‘being’
After lunch, men returned for Gray’s second message of the day, on discovering and living out our purpose in Christ.
Right now, Gray said, he is sandwiched between raising kids and helping his aging parents, and it’s an odd and uncomfortable stage.
At times like this, men often ask questions such as, “What is my purpose,” as though we are hardwired to “do” something.
“But we’re not a human ‘doing’—we’re a human being,” Gray reminded the men.
The bottom line is that as followers of Jesus, love is our purpose. Agape love can do all things: sustain, transform and forgive. And we can find ways to live out that purpose of love in every area of our lives, from relationships to career.
Make no mistake, Gray said: Our purpose is not our job, though we can fulfill our purpose through our job.
“Whatever God blesses us with it’s so we can be a blessing,” Gray said.
He taught from Luke 10, the parable of the good Samaritan, explaining that the Samaritan exemplified what it truly mean to love our neighbor. Instead of walking by or offering a quick fix, he stopped what he was doing to help. He spent time and attention. He spent money to help the injured man. He loved.
“Love creates a bridge,” Gray said.
Marvin Horton, president of South Carolina’s Men n Ministry, urged all gathered to take all they learned home and engage other men in their local communities.
He lifted up a number of events happening in districts, including “Revival of the Spirit,” a men’s event held March 25 at the Saluda High School gym, as well as two Methodist men’s ministry events slated for later this spring. (See below.)
Two men’s events coming up
On April 15, Aldersgate UMC, Sumter, will host No Man Left Behind, a full-day training from Man in the Mirror. Cost is $39/man. Tuition includes workbook, follow up support and lunch. Men from churches are urged to come as a team and leave with a plan. For questions: Gregg Riley at 803-421-9904 or nomanleftbehind.org.
On June 10, the Rock Hill District men’s fellowship, Strengthening Men for the Ministry, will hold an event hosted by the Western York Charge at New Zion UMC, 4077 Black Hwy., Smyrna. Sign up to bring a restored car, truck or tractor for conversation. Display setups will be held from 7-8:30 a.m.; the event starts at 9. The event is designed to empower ministry through men
For more on men’s ministry happenings, visit https://mennministrysc.org
For photos from the event and golf tournament: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjAxric