Father Boyle has been an inspiration to the ministry we are working on at our church and I am thrilled that somehow we have secured him to come and speak here next fall. I have no idea how that has happened! I was struck this morning by reading this article in Duke Divinity's Faith and Leadership publication. Whenever I read about Boyle I am usually struck by a few things he says, but this quote made me smile because it encapsulates the feeling I have had over and over again over the last year and a half. The feeling of "How did this happen?" "Maybe this is a good idea?!" Is this really real ministry?! and "God, I am terrified because I don't know where this is going." Here is what he said about how Homeboy Industries "happened":
"A lot of times, people ask, “How did you ever think this up?” And the truth is, nobody would have thunk this up. I certainly didn’t. But you evolve, and you walk backwards into things, and the next thing you know, “Oh my God, here we are. How did that happen? How did we get to a place like this?” It’s like what E.L. Doctorow said about writing a novel. You’re on a country road, there are no lights, it’s a moonless night, and you can only go as far as your headlights take you. And then you get there, and then you can only go as far as your headlights will take you again. And that’s kind of like the story of Homeboy."
That is how I feel all the time lately. I feel like this stuff that we are working on fell out of the sky on top of me and I can't decide whether I should run from it or go after it some days. It is nuts. Last week someone called who had been reading my posts and said that he was trying to build his own teen mentoring program around fishing Pike out of the Snake River. The government will pay to have the fish removed. The connection was obvious. Adult fishermen/women fishing with teens, doing faith and life together. I was so floored that I didn't know what to do for the next hour after our conversation.
I think this kind of sense of "accidental" discovery is at the heart of all good missionary work and at the heart of social entrepreneurship/missional entrepreneurship. You inhabit a place and people and hopefully listen well and eventually God pushes you into the places there where the gospel can be good news to God's people. I feel like I lived in a place for 6 years, started to get an inkling of what God MIGHT be telling me about how to be good news here, and then "staggered backwards" into something that I did not expect. It has brought together strands of my life and ministry that I never would have bundled on their own and it would take me 3 hours to explain the terrifying beauty of it all. It is so humbling to get to do this work. I can't wait for the chance to get to watch God bless more students through this ministry.