Monday, 24 June 2019

C Columns

Man in the Mirror Ministry Connects Men with the Master

By  Gaye  Bunderson

Jim  Boetjer,  like  many  men,  got  his  first  view  of  manhood  from  his  father  and,  later,  from  his  stepfather.  The  picture  they  presented  to  the  young  boy  was  a  complicated  one.

“My  upbringing  was  anything  but  Christian,”  Jim  said.  “My  family  was  'Dysfunctional'  with  a  capital  D.”

His  parents,  both  alcoholics,  divorced  when  Jim  was  4.  His  mother  remarried  shortly  thereafter,  and  Jim's  stepfather  was  also  an  alcoholic.  Jim  said  he  did  feel  affection  for  his  stepdad,  but  also  stated,  “He had  no  idea  what  it  was  like  to  be  a  dad.  He  had  a  stereotypical  idea  of  what  manhood  was  about.”

He  was  a  veteran  of  both  World  War  II  and  the  Korean  War  and  was  a  Bronze  Star  recipient.  He  was disabled  and  suffered  from  tuberculosis.

“He  did  instill  in  me  the  idea  of  taking  care  of  women,  of  being  a  gentleman  and  a  provider,”  Jim  said.  “It's  amazing  that  at  the  core  of  him,  he  was  the  man  who  he  was.  He  had  been  beaten  down  by  life.  He  wanted  to  turn  his  life  around  but  had  no  idea  how.  Ever  since  then,  I've  been  in  search  of  the  true  meaning  of  manhood.  I  consider  myself  very  fortunate  because  I  feel  like  God  has  had  His  hand  on my  life  since  I  was  a  little  boy.”

Jim  believes  that  God  used  the  experiences  he  first  had  with  male  figures  to  lead  him  to  seek  out  what  true  manhood  really  is,  and  He  prepared  Jim  for  his  faith-based  vocation.  As  of  November  2017,  Jim  has  been  the  area  director  for  Man  in  the  Mirror  Ministries  in  the  Treasure  Valley.

Man  in  the  Mirror  is  an  international  men's  discipleship  ministry  founded  more  than  30  years  ago  by  Patrick  Morley,  the  author  of  the  best-selling  book,  “Man  in  the  Mirror.”  The  group's  mission  statement reads:  “We  help  create  an  atmosphere  where  the  Holy  Spirit  inspires  men  to  engage  in  life-on-life  discipleship.”  According  to  Jim,  this  is  accomplished  through  working  with  pastors  and  leaders  of  local churches  to  train  and  disciple  their  men  in  accordance  with  Matthew  28:19-20:  “Therefore  go  and  make  disciples  of  all  nations,  baptizing  them  in  the  name  of  the  Father  and  of  the  Son  and  of  the  Holy  Spirit,  and  teaching  them  to  obey  everything  I  have  commanded  you.”

God  used  Jim's  so-called  “dysfunctional”  childhood  to  Jim's  benefit  and  for  His  purposes.

“I  always  had  questions  about  God,  but  I  also  had  the  recognition  that  God  was  there,”  Jim  said.  Though  his  mother  and  grandmother  went  to  church  —  mostly  on  holidays  such  as  Easter  —  at  his  coreJim  believed  but  lacked  knowledge.  “I  wondered  why  Jesus  died  on  the  cross  —  no  one  could  answer  that  for  me.”

When  he  was  about  10,  some  Christian  neighbors  invited  him  to  a  Vacation  Bible  School,  where  he  finally  received  what  he  calls  “a  clear  Gospel  presentation.”  He  accepted  the  Lord  at  that  age  and  to  this  day  is  grateful  for  Vacation  Bible  Schools.  He  said  even  now  when  he  hears  about  VBS,  he  feels  excited  all  over  again.

“It  was  significant,”  he  said.  “It  answered  my  question  about  why  Jesus  died.”  

He  attended  churches  over  the  subsequent  years  but  said  there  was  never  any  opportunity  for  discipleship  about  being  a  godly  man  —  a  void  he  deeply  felt.  In  general,  he'd  go  to  church,  sing  a  few  songs,  listen  to  a  sermon,  and  then  go  home.  He  needed  more.  By  age  21,  he  was  still  a  spiritual  infant  who  hadn't  grown  as  a  Christian  at  all.

He  grew  up  in  a  tough  neighborhood  in  San  Bernardino,  Calif.  “It  was  amazing  that  I  managed  to  avoid  ending  up  in  prison,”  he  said.  On  New  Year's  Eve  in  1969,  he  went  into  the  Marine  Corps,  eventually  becoming  a  corporal.  When  he  got  out,  a  good  friend  invited  him  to  church,  where,  he  said,    “lights  went  on  —  from  that  point,  my  spiritual  maturity  began  to  take  place.”

That  was  in  the  early  1970s.  He  was  22  years  old.  In  1974,  he  married  his  wife  Pamela.  He  eventually  became  a  police  officer  with  the  San  Bernardino  Police  Department,  and  ultimately  retired  as  a  field  sergeant.

“I  spent  a  career  spanning  over  20  years,  placing  men  in  handcuffs  and  watching  their  lives  essentially  disintegrate  right  before  me.  I  often  thought  what  might  have  happened  if  someone  had  taken  the  time  to  share  the  Gospel  with  these  men  and  then  effectively  discipled  them.  I  don't  think  they would  have  ended  up  in  the  back  of  my  patrol  car,”  Jim  said.

Because  of  the  bumps  in  the  road  of  his  own  spiritual  maturity,  Jim  has  always  held  a  deep  interest  in  the  spiritual  growth  of  other  men.

“I  wanted  to  take  men  on  a  track  that  leads  them  to  spiritual  maturity.  I  had  this  affinity  for  men's  discipleship,  and  it  was  God  leading  me  and  molding  me  into  what  He  wanted  me  to  do.  I  had  men  who were  very  impactful  in  my  life;  they  led  me  into  biblical  manhood,”  he  said.

He's  been  involved  in  this  work  for  over  30  years  now  and  feels  that,  “Men's  discipleship  is  so  important,  but  it's  very  difficult.”

In  California,  he  was  involved  with  men's  groups.  “They  were  the  requisite  small  groups,  but  nothing to  meet  the  core  needs  of  men,  to  help  them  face  the  unique  struggles  we  deal  with,”  he  said.

He  recalled  his  stepdad's  point  of  view  that  men  must  always  be  strong;  there's  no  crying,  no  letting  your  feelings  out,  even  among  other  men.  “Men  isolate  themselves,”  he  said.  “They're  protective  of  their  soft  underbellies.”

It's  one  of  the  primary  differences  between  men  and  women:  women  feel  more  comfortable  with  their  emotions,  and  with  expressing  them.  Jim  said  he  believes,  and  the  founder  of  Man  in  the  Mirror    believes,  that  the  ministry  would  not  exist  without  women's  prayers.

“Man  in  the  Mirror  was  born  on  the  faithful  prayers  of  ladies'  groups,”  he  said.  “God  has  been  listening  to  the  ladies.”

His  involvement  in  Man  in  the  Mirror  began  when  the  ministry  launched  an  area  director  initiative  and  sent  out  a  nationwide  call  looking  for  males  who  felt  called  to  men's  discipleship.  Jim  realized  the  Lord  wanted  him  to  be  one  of  those  men,  but  he  was  scared  —  at  least  until  the  Lord  showed  him,  “I  can  make  something  out  of  nothing,  and  I  can  use  you  to  glorify  Me.”  

Jim  answered  the  call  in  2013.  “We're  called  to  be  faithful  men  and  to  leave  the  results  to  God.  I  quickly  found  that  this  is  my  calling  for  the  rest  of  my  life.”

He  is  self-funded  and  calls  himself  “a  domestic  missionary,”  creating  disciples  at  home  rather  than  abroad.  The  ministry  stays  active  through  people  who  see  the  need  to  reach  and  disciple  and  partner  with  Jim  in  prayer  and  other  support.

He  and  his  wife  have  lived  in  Idaho  less  than  a  year,  after  working  in  the  Man  in  the  Mirror  ministry  field  for  four  years  in  Northern  California.  Jim  said  the  couple  loved  their  lives  right  where  they  were  in  the  Golden  State  but  felt  the  Lord  was  nudging  them  away  from  there.  Jim  prayed,  “Lord,  if  You  want  me  to  leave  here,  take  away  the  love  I  have  for  this  area.”

It  wasn't  long  before  he  was  off  to  Idaho.  He's  found  great  openness  in  the  Gem  State  to  Man  in  the  Mirror  Ministries.

“I'm  seeing  so  much  receptivity  here.  I  told  the  men  in  my  group  in  California  to  pray  that  I'd  hit  the  ground  running  when  I  got  to  Idaho.  The  attitude  to  men's  discipleship  here  is  so  much  different  than  other  places  —  in  a  good  way.

“Ministry  to  men  is  a  lot  of  starting  and  stopping.  There  will  be  an  event  and  everyone  is  enthusiastic,  and  then  in  between  events,  the  graph  goes  down  —  there's  no  next  step,”  he  said.

Man  in  the  Mirror  is  committed  to  better  follow-up  after  big  events,  to  being  there  on  an  everyday  basis  rather  than  just  for  the  key  occasions  that  fire  people  up  until  the  embers  go  out  soon  afterward.

“We  support  pastors.  The  hallmark  of  what  we  do  is  help  pastors  and  leaders  in  the  church  to  disciple  their  men  in  the  fashion  that  the  Lord  has  given  to  that  church,  its  DNA.  We  lay  out  a  template,a  foundation  for  them  to  use  to  disciple  their  men.  It's  a  biblical  template.  It  comes  down  to  one-on-one  discipleship  and  relationship,”  he  said.  “It  comes  down  to  the  reality  of  relationship  with  Jesus  and  one  another.  God  is  about  to  do  something  big  with  the  men  in  the  Treasure  Valley.”

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Christian Living Magazine


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