Thousands of men throughout Kansas City and beyond have gathered each week to learn, pray and hold each other accountable since TGIW (Teaching God’s Infinite Wisdom) began in 2001. The ministry that was founded in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks had to adapt quickly when another crisis, the coronavirus outbreak, hit this spring.
Now, the ministry is seemingly reaching more men, from more places, than ever before.
“When COVID-19 restrictions shut down our physical facilities, we immediately began praying for an alternative way to gather people together,” said Rod Handley, a cofounder and leader. “To not meet certainly was an option, but we knew doing so could potentially be the end of TGIW.”
TGIW began as an interdenominational men’s Bible study at the old Souper Salad restaurant in Lee’s Summit. Over the past 18-plus years, thousands of men representing hundreds of churches from more than 50 different denominations have heard Christ-centered, biblically based messages communicated every Tuesday and Wednesday mornings in Lee’s Summit and other locations all across the greater Kansas City area.
“The messages bring both hope and help for men of all ages, aiding men to navigate their multiple roles as a son, husband, father or grandfather, employee and employer,” Handley said. “We believe men are better together, so genuine fellowship and accountability are valued greatly.”
The TGIW leadership team turned a challenge into an opportunity to reach more men than they could have imagined.
“After looking at several alternatives, we discovered ZOOM was an easy and great option for us to meet,” he said. “One of our attendees, Chris Bell, had some experience through his job in using ZOOM, and he walked us through the set-up process. Through the recording features of ZOOM, all of our weekly lessons since March 25 have been uploaded to: www.youtube.com/c/rodhandley. Numerically, we grew from an initial meeting of 35 men on March 25 to having between 150 and 190 men on the weekly calls during the past six weeks.”
Technology has allowed men to participate form 20 different states, as well as Costa Rica, Peru and Nigeria. A number of high-profile speakers from across the nation have spoken to the group in recent weeks. Each of their talks, plus a Q&A time, are posted on the TGIW YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/c/rodhandley).
- Ron Brown from Lincoln, Neb., an assistant football coach at the University of Nebraska.
- Jeff Kemp from Little Rock, Ark., a longtime NFL quarterback and son of onetime vice-presidential candidate Jack Kemp.
- Eric Boles from Tacoma, Wash., a former player for the New York Jets and Green Bay Packers.
- Jon Kitna of Burleson, Texas, another longtime NFL quarterback and coach, most recently with the Dallas Cowboys.
- Mike Sweeney of San Diego, a five-time All-Star for the Kansas City Royals.
- Scotty Kessler of Omaha, Neb., a recognized leader on discipleship training
“When I approached the remote speakers about participating, they were all very eager to do so,” Handley said. “Much to my surprise and delight, every single one of the men who willingly shared their message circled back to me a few days later and thanked me for allowing them the opportunity to be part of this effort.
“From this point going forward, we will continue to offer a ZOOM option so men can participate this way from remote locations both here in the Greater Kansas City metro and beyond. Plus, having a YouTube Channel result from this crisis is something I never dreamed or imagined.”
TGIW will resume in-person meetings on June 3 at The New Stanley Event Space at 308 SE Douglas in Lee’s Summit. All CDC guidelines are met with social distancing, hand sanitizer stations and coffee and pastry distribution.
“During the month of June, we will be offering a ZOOM-only session every Tuesday and a ZOOM/live option on Wednesdays,” Handley said. “If men are comfortable meeting face-to-face, they are welcome to join us from 6:30 a.m. 7:30 a.m. on Wednesdays. For those not comfortable meeting in person, ZOOM is available both on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We will reassess this plan in July and beyond to determine our Tuesday meeting strategy. Regardless, there will always be a ZOOM alternative available for the foreseeable future.”
The hard lessons learned during a crisis are creating unimagined possibilities as the nation slowly moves toward a new normal. Handley said the most important lesson is taken from Habakkuk 1:5: “Look among the nations and watch — be utterly astounded. For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.”
“This verse reminds me of how God uses anything (even a pandemic) to create a divine interruption that ultimately is so much bigger and better than anything we could dream or imagine,” he said. “Additionally, I was reminded of how critically important it is to stay connected to one another during difficult times. Even when things appear hopeless, men find courage in this battle when they are connected to true brothers.”
Every man is welcome to participate, whether in person or online, or to find hope, encouragement and fellowship
“Men, don’t do life solo by living in isolation,” Handley said. “Adopt the mindset, `I need you. You need me. And we need one another.’ Men who live disconnected from other men are at a greater risk to do something stupid or wrong. Commit to live a life of character, integrity and accountability by identifying at least six men to do life with you.
“Why six men? Well, one day when you pass away it will take six men to carry your coffin.”
For more information, please visit characterthatcounts.org.
Former Kansas City Royals joins TGIW Zoom meeting:
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice