At Family Movie Night on Friday my path crossed again with that of an old acquantance, bringing back memories of a day when I was discerning what the heck it was I was called to do with my life, and reminding me of the presence of God's hand on my shoulder the whole time.
Family Movie Night is a wonderful ministry with children and families at my congregation that meets on the third Friday of every month. In its second year, Family Movie Night usually invovles a pizza dinner, a Bible story, a VeggieTales movie, and a closing prayer. This year we've added "Resurrection Kids," a program for the upper elementary kids who felt they were a bit too old for VeggieTales. After the dinner and Bible story, the older kids usually split off from the younger kids. The Resurrection Kids play some fun youth group games, while the younger kids – age 2 through 2nd grade – enjoy the movie.
On Friday night my congregation welcomed Monte Lesiter to share his music ministry with our children and families at our monthly Family Movie Night. This was a bit of an experiment, as we have never deviated from the movie part of Family Movie Night. But our first Family Music with Monte Night was great, and something that we're sure to do again.
Monte and I met several years ago – in 2004 or 2005 – when he was a youth director at a Lutheran congregation in Maryland, and I was a Philadelphia-based sales representative for Augsburg Fortress, the publishing ministry of the Lutheran Church. My strategy for sales calls was not "let me show you all the curricula and catalogs I have in the trunk of my car." Rather, I usually got into conversations about ministry and congregational life, trying to learn more about the person in front of me and the work God had called them to do in that place. And though Monte and I did talk about ministry resources and curricula, we also talked about our own calls in life and ministry. He and I were both discerning new calls in our lives – he to a full-time music ministry, me to ordained ministry. Monte and I met probably only once or twice, and one day he gave me a call and told me that he had left that job. I wished him the best, but never thought that I'd run into him again.
Many years later, thanks in part to the miracle known as Facebook, we got connected again. By this point we had each followed the calls we were discerning years earlier. He was working full time in his music ministry, and I was a pastor in Arlington, VA. Monte and I traded some emails and phone calls, and eventually got some dates on the calendar. I put Monte's name forward as someone who might do well as musician for our synod's senior high youth event, and in early December he played for 200+ people in Northern Virginia. Two weeks later he came to my church, playing for a smaller and younger crowd, and getting five children sponsored through World Vision, a ministry he sponsors and invites others to support.
Monte is just one of the many wonderful and faithful people that I met while working as a sales representative for Augsburg Fortress. Yet, he is one of the few that I have had the blessing to get reconnected with in my post-Augsburg Fortress days. Truly, after so many years and different paths, I give thanks to God that our paths have crossed again. Seeing Monte again is a wonderful reminder of how God leads each of us along different paths, and that the path God sets before us might at any day change direction. When we last saw each other Monte and I weren't sure what was ahead of us, but we knew that God was up to something. It's really awesome, so many years later, to see some of what God was already stirring up in our lives on that day we first met and talked about our lives and ministries …
Grateful for paths crossed, and for the cross that rises over our paths.
If you are in the mid-Atlantic region, I encourage you to check out Monte's website and invite him to your congregation. He has a wide range of music, from active, move-around music for preschoolers and elementary kids, to great Christian rock for teens, to inspiring contemporary worship music for all ages. He has a strong testimony and a great talent for this music ministry. You and your congregation will be blessed by crossing paths and spending a little time with Monte.
Check him out on Facebook, too.