Faith

Interview: Gar Mickelson, Kaleidoscope Community Services

I walk into 2nd Street Commons, a nondescript building in downtown Coeur d’Alene (CDA), Idaho, sandwiched between a dive bar and a closed gun shop. Once inside the first thing I realize is that I have no idea how to categorize the premises, though I try: a coffee shop without a coffee bar, a living room without a TV, a pub without the liquored smell of vomit, a church without a program. There is no schema that fits, and I love it.

People are simply scattered. They look weary, but comfortable, at ease, respite. Some folks relax on the couch while others bustle up and down hallways, in and out of the kitchen.

It is here where I meet Gar Mickelson. He wears a bright smile, gives a big hug, and introduces me to everyone. “This is my friend Kevin,” he says. And everyone I meet makes me feel like family. They, too, give hugs and handshakes.

Gar gives a tour of the facility. As we walk along I continue to meet people, a mix of volunteers and visitors. Some are cooking, cleaning, painting, hauling. The volunteers are passionate and dedicated. Because I am cynical this is all odd for me. I’m waiting for the hook, the agenda, the money making scheme, something to take me out of this fairy tale of genuine coexistence.

We walk into a new room, “Excuse the camping gear,” Gar says. “We’re holding that for someone who was forced to leave his camp site.”

“For free?” I ask. “You’re holding it for free?”

“That’s what we’re all about here, Kevin. ‘Come and be for free.'”

I really want to give Gar another hug, but that would be too weird. So instead, we head into his office, and I ask him a few questions about how Kaleidoscope Community Services started, when it started, and what the heck this place even is.

What is Kaleidoscope Community Services? What is 2nd Street Commons, and how long has the CDA location been established?

Kaleidoscope Community Services is a private, faith-based non-profit corporation based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. KCS exists to bridge the gap between community needs and community resources, and we do this in a variety of ways.

KCS opened the 2nd Street Commons at the end of January, 2014. Since that time we’ve had over 100 volunteers from 10 different churches, served almost 500 gallons of coffee, served almost 1000 meals, and have gone through approximately 6 miles of toilet paper…  (more…)

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Please Support My Two Week Hawaiian Missions Trip

Dear Friends and Family,

When my Twitter ministry failed to find traction earlier this year, I realized I misheard the Lord’s voice. He does not want me to start a Twitter ministry after all. I guess, as I say it out loud, the idea of a Twitter ministry sounds ludicrous. If God were to launch a social media ministry, he would probably stick with LinkedIn. Most of those users have jobs.

Anyway, God is calling me to Hawaii.

I know what you’re thinking, “Kevin, for how long and how can I help?”

Great questions. God wants to send me to Hawaii for two weeks. It is not a very long time, which makes it incredibly convenient and easy to commit. Really, I don’t have to sacrifice much. Spiritual commitments that require only short term sacrifices, I find, are usually best.

But the time is plenty and the impact immense! Building long lasting relationships, for instance, will serve as a primary purpose in this two week period. Not only will I minister to lost locals, but I will also bring the Light to all first class flight crew as well as hotel and restaurant staff (at least, those who speak proper English).

More specifically:

The game plan

Days 1-4: Spread the Gospel exclusively to surfing instructors. No doubt, they are empty, sinful creatures. I will “act” as a normal customer. I will partake in the surfing instructions. I will even surf. Because as Paul says, “If they surf, you must become a surfer.”

Days 5-7: Continue to surf; when done, visit schools and poor villages for premium photo ops

Day 8: Hike a volcano

Days 9-10: Inevitably, hide from the sun to heal your sun burns (God doesn’t always make it easy, does He?)

Days 11-12: Leave gospel tracts for God to work his magic to sushi cooks and barkeeps in some scenic strip of town

Days 13-14: Shopping (more…)

The Mirage of Health (or, Some Body Scream)

Health care is my newest hobby. It’s pretty fun. I’m like the Six Hundred Dollar (deductible) Man. I never had health care growing up, so access is still new to me. The whole “Go to the doctor when you don’t feel right” is a little odd. But when the semester ended, I finally gave in and yelled “ALRIGHT” to my body and took it in for an oil change or three.

SIDE NOTE: This is no Obamacare message, kids; I had to have it for college. Obamacare, however, I have no real issue with despite its $300 million faulty website.

I’ve been playing catch-up. Doctors here, dentists there, dermatologists here, physical therapy there. It’s become apparent that my body is no longer the free-spirited albatross it once was. I used to pass doctor’s offices like a bicycle passes gas stations. “No thanks!” I would yell, though really, I didn’t even see them. But health is something I actually have to think about now.

And you should see me, really, selecting boxes on forms and explaining details to assistants like a novelist. “The pain in my knee visits like an ill-fated wayfarer in late winter’s morn, a bitter kiss of chillness, a choking warmth of distasted familiarity, financing terror in—”

“So it hurts here?”

“Yeah…”

(more…)

The Great Wave of Anti-Christian Sentiment (from Christians)

Concerning popular Christian culture, there is no doubt we are currently living in The Great Backlash. It is a time where the cool and hip Christians critique and complain about the pitfalls of Christian faith. We have fun new tools like blogging and Twitter to give us a voice we never had inside the church. In addition, we have also discovered millions who feel the same way we do.

And can you blame us?

The late 20th Century witnessed the rise of mega churches and pastor celebrities, Christian apparel, alternative approved entertainment industries (including best-selling worship albums) and the WWJD movement. In short, the Christian culture created a bubble just large enough to coalesce American consumerism into the teachings of Jesus, the church, and the Bible.

As we aged, we began to think for ourselves. We started asking questions. We wondered if we weren’t Christians, but were, instead, just another market segment. We started wondering about others, the non-us’ we loved to condemn and pray for.

In, “When We Were On Fire,” Addie Zierman writes, (more…)

Attitude Alignment Algorithm (or, Sour Neon Worms)

What’s worse than runner’s knee? Knunner’s ree. But that’s another story for another time.

Yesterday my wife and I were training for our half-marathon—one month away in Cleveland. It was a ten mile run. The weather was a surprising 80 degrees; other people were outside. I waved. Mile 2 my knee became stiff, and I ran through it. Mile 5 my knee seized and my body dug into the asphalt like Iron Man falling from the sky. “Ah poop,” I said.

Kneedy

The great thing about living in Rochester is that I’m constantly given opportunities to have a bad attitude a great attitude. It’s been a tough winter (as I’ve said and said and said) but we’re finally out of it! (Tomorrow a snow storm is expected). And though I’m limping like a sailor, I’m happy to say—

Okay.

I can’t do it.

Guys.

I’ve reached my max here.

This knee thing is the pits. I’m well aware that I signed up for 23 credits with a part-time job and, well, what should I have expected? But this marathon? It was going to be everything. It would represent my ascension into post-Spring semester heaven. I would be running. Those cheering on the sidelines would be yelling, “Kevin, you made the right choice moving to Rochester. Way to go!” Or, “Keep up the good work, Kevin! Never mind the opportunity costs associated with uprooting and college. You’re almost there!” And finally, as I’m given a small cup of water, with extra, because I deserve it: “You can do it! Your wife’s career is mildly suffering but it is worth it for you to study at a private school! Woo!” (more…)

Is Big Church Worth All The Hassle?

As a Christian who doesn’t attend church—at least, big church/program Sunday—every time a mega-church controversy bubbles into mainstream, three things happen in my brain: 1) I’m reminded that people still go to church 2) I remember that Christians identify themselves and their faith with a specific brand (excuse me, denomination) 3) I question if big church is worth all the hassle.

Mark Driscoll’s ongoing saga of pretentiousness is a good place to start. To catch up, read up on the Mars Hill best-selling list controversy. Then read Mars Hill’s response. The problem is not that Mars Hill/Driscoll made a mistake; every organization, Christian or not, makes mistakes. But bigger the organizations, bigger the mistakes. And when mistakes happen, time and money is lost fixing them. Instead of spreading the Gospel or serving the poor (one in the same), the administration spends all its time in damage control: phone calls, accountability meetings, media avoidance, website postings, etc. All these things distract. (more…)