Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Three Pairs of Shoes

"If you wanna sit, you can sit or you can stand...
It's the Open Door, come and find yourself a helping hand!" ~Jim Vaughan-Evans

If someone were to ask me to describe my church in a few words, I would probably reply, “Three pairs of shoes.”

Let me explain. On a typical Sunday morning, you’ll find me hanging out with an unusual group of people in an unusual spot, doing something (you guessed it) unusual. More specifically, you’ll find me playing an instrument called a Cajon in a rented building with a group of self-proclaimed misfits. We call ourselves, “Open Door.”

So, on most Sunday mornings, I find myself seated behind the rest of the band, banging on a box, and at the same time doing what I do best: people-watching. While part of my mind is totally engaged with playing, the other part might be thinking of just about anything. And most days, my eyes travel downwards (a result of the shyness that sometimes often overwhelms me) and I find myself focusing on three pairs of shoes.

Larry Baldwin
Directly to my left is a pair of always-pristine, white running shoes belonging to worship leader Larry Baldwin. I’ll interrupt myself here with a funny fact: when I first met Larry, I was actually very intimidated by him. I could never tell when he was joking or when he was serious, and I never knew quite how to respond. But I’ll tell you, behind the seemingly-stern exterior is a down-to-earth guy with a real sense of humor, an Elvis sound-alike voice, and a true worshipper’s heart. He’s a good boss and I’m proud to call him my buddy.

Jim Vaughan-Evans
Right in front of me is a pair of scuffed work boots belonging to Jim Vaughan-Evans. Tall, curly-headed Jim is probably our band’s quietest member, next to me. He’s our resident Bob Dylan fan, and brings out Driftwood Cross’s soulful side with songs like, “I Still Can’t Find What I’m Looking For” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” He’s also a gentle, sweet-spirited person.

Bob Tetford
To my immediate right is a pair of black dress shoes. That would be Bob Tetford. Bob, or Bobby as we sometimes call him, is our “rock ’n’ roll man.” He can make a guitar do anything except talk, and I believe he can even do that in his own way. Bob wears a look of intense concentration when he plays, and his fingers literally fly. I don’t know how in the world he manages to improvise these great solos when he may have only learned a song that same morning, but he does, somehow. Bob’s specialties are old classics like “When Love Came Down,” and “Long May You Run.”

Dave Hammond
Of course, I have to mention a fourth pair of shoes that sometimes joins us.  Dave Hammond lives in a different community but joins us as often as he can, which is when we add his motorcycle boots to the mix. Dave is a bearded, “gentle giant” type of fellow, who rides a tough-looking Harley and plays a sweet saxophone. He’s also a member of the Tribe of Judah, a motorcycle ministry that focuses on reaching outlaw bikers. He’s also the man who gave me my first motorcycle ride, which you can read about here .

For me, those three (and sometimes four) pairs of shoes represent the wide diversity of people that we minister to on a regular basis. The high-heel crowd. The flip-flop folks. The Ugg wearers. The sneakered and the sandaled, the booted and barefooted. No matter who you are, you’ll always fit in at Open Door.

But I can’t stop by just talking about a few people, can I? Because Open Door is full of amazing, real-life heroes whose stories deserve to be told.

Take these two, for instance. They couldn’t be more opposite! The one on the left is Jeff. He was an addict. The one on the right is Jesse. He was a black-robed clergy. But they have two big things in common: they’re best friends, and they’re both ministers of Jesus Christ and his love.

Jeff and his wife, Tammy, run the U-Turn Addiction Drop-in Center. They see ordinary miracles every day, helping people find freedom from addictions of all sorts. Jeff is a friend and “big brother” as he puts it, to everyone he meets. He’s a tough guy with a compassionate heart the size of Newfoundland, and he genuinely accepts people for who they are. He’s always going out of his way to help someone. You’re sure to be welcomed with a handshake or a hug when Jeff’s around.

Jesse is Open Door’s pastor. You can call him Rev. Jesse, Pastor Jesse, or just Jesse. Your first impression of Jesse will probably be a soft-spoken man who exudes a sort of quiet confidence. He enjoys having fun and joking with his congregation, but he’s a good listener who tends to be a bit contemplative. If you ask him a question, he’s liable to respond with another one; and in answering his question, you find that you’ve answered your own. Pastor Jesse is also an intelligent, well-learned man, which shows in his sermons, but he also possesses the ability to make complicated concepts easy to understand. He doesn’t mind sharing openly and honestly about his struggles, either.
Sunday morning set-up

There are so many others that I could talk about: Gentle, sensitive Vic, who runs the WOW program for people in need; shy and soft-spoken Trudy, Jesse’s wife with a servant’s heart, who faithfully works in the background; spunky Tammy, Jeff’s wife, who makes everyone feel welcome at U-Turn; good-natured David, friend to all and sundry and who’s always ready to lend a hand; bouncy Sherry, David’s wife, who flits from person to person like a butterfly making sure that no one is overlooked; upbeat Scott, who’s always ready with a grin and a “How’s ya, me darlin’?”; feisty Nan, also known as “Trouble,” who’s 92 years young and has more energy than the rest of us put together; jolly Wayne B., who serves as our announcer and brunt of many good-natured jokes; and many, many more.

I could go on for hours about the great group of people we have. You can bet that I’ll elaborate much more in later blog posts, keeping you up-to-date with the latest great stories from the Open door. Because they are great stories. And they are great people. From triathlons to barbecues to concerts to sleeping out-of-doors, there’s always something going on. So if you’re looking for a church home that’s a perfect fit…
“Welcome, everybody… to the Open Door!” ~ song written by Jim Vaughan-Evans.

*NOTE: All photographs belong to the respective photographers. I have no intent of claiming them!

No comments:

Post a Comment