Men’s group promotes healthy friendships, sharing and a new way of thinking
By CLIFF WORTHING
It’s always encouraging when your idea is a success, especially if you thought it might not work.
“I didn’t think my men’s ministry idea would take off as well as it did,” said Lieutenant Keven Williams, Eastern Beaches Corps Officer and NSW/ACT Men’s Ministry Coordinator. “However, as soon as I suggested we catch up for pizza and a chat, the group came together and has kept on growing.”
Keven’s idea to create a safe place for men to talk about their struggles was prompted by his own journey of challenging circumstances.
“I understand the importance of speaking about the tough side of life, and there just aren’t enough safe spaces for men,” Keven said. “Men often don’t like talking about serious challenges, but I want to change the stigma.”
The group meets every two weeks. As well as the food, each session has a check-in time when the men can give and receive encouragement, share their thoughts and develop stronger relationships. Keven explained that sometimes they might play board games, listen to music, watch the State of Origin [rugby league] matches and joke around. Keven introduces some talking points for everyone to participate in if they wish, and the session concludes with a guided prayer and the men praying for each other.
Keven shared that some of the men are recovering from drug and alcohol abuse, dealing with separation or feeling like a failure because, for the first time in their lives, they can’t provide for their families with the rise in the cost of living.
“I really enjoy sitting back and watching the group come alive, even through the tough conversations,” Keven said. “Some of the guys are starting to talk to me regularly outside the group, at cafés or strolling along for a walk. The men of the group are starting to tell others about it.” Several men have started attending the corps’ Positive Lifestyle Program.
The men’s group is open to anybody, with a mixture of men from the corps, alcohol and other drugs services, and the local community.
“The only negative response I get is the sessions aren’t long enough,” Keven said. “People are walking away transformed by the love of Jesus.”
Keven is currently planning the ACT/NSW Divisional ARISE men’s conference set for 27-29 October at The Salvation Army’s Collaroy Centre in Sydney. During the conference, men will be invited to participate to share talk about life’s issues in a way that creates a new way of thinking about men’s health and great relationships.