I want to tell you a story of a different kind of ministry. A ministry that does not boast of visibility, importance, or piety. It does not show up on the Church Bulletin or get lauded when Church missions are showcased. For you see, it is a work of God that is done humbly in the life of a man as he carries out his life and work. God is real to this individual. He is seen in the way that this man lives, breathes, and reaches out to spread the gospel message in quiet grace and humility.
How lowly it is to discuss carpentry. Who would ever glorify a man who has made his profession that of being a carpenter? Oh, yes….he has fulfilled the Edenic mission that God set forth for all His Creation that we work on every level of society to contribute and create to His glory. But building and remodeling apartments and other commercial buildings? How is that investing in the lives of God’s beloved children and spreading the gospel message? Well, I will tell you, but first let me tell you about “scrum.”
“Scrum” is a word that was unknown to me a year ago. God gave me the word in an epiphany to encapsulate what He is doing in His Church and especially in His men. I had to look the term up. Scrum is a word used in the game of rugby and is a means whereby play is restarted. It involves 8 forwards from each team interlocking their arms in 3 rows and further interlocking their arms with the 8 forwards on the opposing team. The ball is thrown in the middle of this pile and each team works to re-gain control of it. It looks something like this:
What does this image have to do with the life and work of the man I’m describing? I’ll tell you what “Paladin” does. Paladin fills his work crews not with men who are skilled in the art of carpentry but with men who are out of work, men with addictions, men who have experienced trauma, and men who live outside his Christian beliefs. It is a terrible business model for making money. Yet, he does. Paladin hires men and then he prays for them. He sets a strict example of hard work, integrity, and ethical boundaries but demonstrates grace in every interaction he takes with his men. Every work day morning Paladin encourages his men to come in early for direction, prayer, and encouragement. There are also times of celebration and reward when a job comes in well done. Bonuses do not go into Paladin’s pockets but are generously divided amongst his crew. This business model should not work but it does because it is God’s business model.
One man on the crew is a part-time worker. He also divides his time doing rescue work. This individual is a gifted Chistian but has suffered “rescuer’s trauma” from witnessing too many mangled and hurt bodies in his line of ministry. It is debilitating to his soul and he had begun to see a Counselor to process the depression and burnout that comes from witnessing such gore. One day he decided that he didn’t need to see his therapist anymore. Why? He had encountered God’s healing power amidst this brotherhood of men, working side by side, transparently talking about God and processing their struggles. This is scrum.
Another man on the crew was a person of Hindu faith. This gentleman recently emigrated to the US and met Paladin’s acquaintance. Did this man have any carpentry skills or even speak the English language? Hardly, on either account. It surely didn’t matter to Paladin, however, who graciously gave him a job and asked his foreman to take him under his wing. Shortly thereafter, spiritual warfare erupted and it became evident that Satan was furious with the glorification of God that was taking place on the construction site and the brotherhood that was ever strengthening these men. A high-ranking boss began targeting Paladin and attempting to shut down the worksite. Not intimidated in the least, the men stopped their routine and prayed in solidarity that God would remove this Satanic influence and allow the job to continue for His glorification and the provision of the many men who worked this crew. By early the next day, word came that the obstacle had been thwarted and the job would be allowed to continue. Mightily, the men rejoiced and praiseworthy “whoops” were sent upward to heaven. The most beautiful testament of this event, however, was the Hindu worker who watched and prayed with the men and said that he would also begin worshiping and honoring this God that demonstrated the power to turn what was meant for evil to good. This is scrum.
Men aren’t easily given towards relating and transparently sharing of themselves and their struggles in the same way that women do. Instead, they dynamically build relationships by engaging in work and sharing activities together. Paladin understands this. He understands that connection and relationship with men begins side by side in work and ends side by side in prayer: Men with their faces bowed in prayer towards an Almighty God, worshiping, praising, and beseeching Him for His grace. Now, that is scrum!
Ecclesiastes 4:12 (ESV)
And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Matthew 6: 6 (ESV)
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.