The Nehemiah Foundation

The Gathering: Fishers of Men

One of the most striking three-word phrases to me is “FISHERS OF MEN.” When Jesus called the disciples, they got to leave something they loved for something so much greater. Fish vs. People. I’m choosing people every time unless I’m really craving the right fresh swordfish, salmon or tuna.

But nine times out of 10 it’s people. 

I’m blessed to get to do that for the bulk of my livelihood. I’ve been saying in recent months to men, with whom I share a common heartbeat, “I think we have some big fish to fry together.”

Let me share about one.

About 15 months ago, I met Erik Wood for coffee at Panera. He reminded me we met once at Lowe’s when he worked there years ago, because I was trying to get a deal. At that moment, it was clear he had me. I liked his spunk in that story.

I’ve known his family for years, but not Erik. I could see where he might be a good fit for our Young Guns’ program. Young Guns meets for 10 months (invite only) and is a 10-month process of discipleship with young men in their early 20s to mid-30s.

The men we plug into Young Guns must meet three requirements:

* A strong desire to do a seasonal deep dive with the Lord.

* A willingness to engage a different set of guys (8-12 total) for an Acts 2, 4 sense of community building. These guys will DO LIFE and experience life’s high and lows (hoping these guys are in each other’s weddings and be pallbearers for one another).

* A commitment to reproduce the life of Christ in other men (soon thereafter or in coming years, living a II Timothy 2:2 and I Corinthians 11:1 lifestyle).

If that’s a go and the full commitment of digging deep together can be had, we are ALL IN.

Erik agree at the end of 2017, and we were set. His wife, Kristen, was a secretary at Shawnee soon to be expecting their firstborn, Braxton, in short order.

Braxton was born, the Woods started settling in and all bets were off. The real world stopped for a moment (or kept going) and this new world hit and hit hard.

Some of the Young Guns and I could see they were on the ropes. In four years, we’ve only had two guys not finish Young Guns. I take pride in that and I see the many extraordinary wins. 

A group of us (Scott Greene, Bryan Heck, Joey Brown and his wife, Macy) stopped in for a planned visit late last February. We wanted to love on the Woods with no strings but we wanted to keep Erik in the middle of this, no doubt. 

There was a simple, yet powerful chunk of time that took place that winter morning. Care was felt, hearts were bonded, understanding was captured. We left after some talk and prayer and I believe Erik and Kristen knew WE WERE FOR THEM.

He stayed the course. Actually they stayed the course. 

What happened because of that recommitment?

* Erik helped lead his Young Gun partner, Eric Mata, to Christ and helped baptize him.

* Erik started being mentored by Wally Martinson.

* After hearing Anne Martinson share at one of our monthly three-hour meetings, Erik went home and shared his heart with Kristen. While it was not a point of Anne’s message, Erik felt God spoke to him, and wanted Kristen to stay home from work. It was a huge moment for them and they quickly obeyed, and made the necessary adjustments.

* Erik led the way about setting up a budget that would be a trust-God budget, give them flexibility, freedom, and get a better grasp on giving.

* Erik became a deacon at First Christian Church. 

* Kristen got a mentor in a more seasoned woman and she started mentoring a teenage girl. 

* Erik is sticking around in 2019 and helping lead Young Guns 4.0 with two other men.

The list could go on and on. The point is there was many elements of FISHING FOR MEN in the process of Erik aligning his will, desires, plans and passions with God’s. Erik follows up and follows through and seemingly always picks the best over the good.

That doesn’t happen enough these days as too many men spin their wheels or live on the hamster wheel that life can so easily pull them into by choice or by others taking them there. 

Our tagline is CONNECTING MEN TO MEN AND MEN TO GOD. The Gathering doesn’t do it all for men, nor should we. Coming alongside churches, businesses, community leaders, we can do great things together. 

As we are sensitive to the men God puts in front of us and continually invite men to join us in extending easy, on-ramp opportunities for relationship with one another and God, God fills the nets. 

We look forward to finding more men like Erik, who can win at home, work, the community and church and FRY SOME FISH TOGETHER. 

Jeff Pinkleton
The Gathering (of the Miami Valley)
Facebook: The Gathering (of the Miami Valley)