The past four years, the Cariboo Christian Life Fellowship (CCLF) in 108 Mile Ranch has been organizing a men’s gathering every spring, with guest speakers such as former Canadian football defensive back turned coach Mark Washington and Chris Boyko, a strength and conditioning trainer. Both work in the CFL with Washington recently hired by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Boyko with the BC Lions.
This year the event was on March 8 and 9.
“It’s really about helping guys become better men – better husbands, better brothers, better sons,” said Rick Barker, the CCLF’s lead pastor, adding that his brother came up from the coast for the day, expecting it to be more in the lines of a motivational ‘rah-rah’ kind of seminar, instead he found it raw, “because they really spoke from the pain and struggles in their life and it was very relatable for the guys. They’re very real.”
The gathering started four years ago as an inter-church thing – though anybody could come, – to help the community, such as providing free firewood for widows and single mothers, but then they decided to open it up and invite popular figures to talk.
“It’s just the power of asking. I follow some of these BC Lions on Twitter and I just asked one of them if they could ever come to a small town in the interior and do one of these things,” said Barker. “The following year Boyko came and the last two years Chris and Mark came.”
Barker launched plaudits at the duo because they have been building relationships with the community, which really helps in drawing them back to the men’s gathering year after year.
“I just really see the value of that,” said Barker, also recalling the two returning to a high school to deliver a keynote seminar. “All these players and coaches have a great platform just to speak but when they actually come back it’s hard to believe but they actually remember some of the kids’ names and it’s like – woah. That goes a long way for a student.”
The gathering has also been growing according to the church’s lead pastor. He said the first year there were about 60 people, then 100 the following year. This year’s event saw 160 people come for the two-day event.
Washington also spoke during the CCLF’s three services over the weekend.