Defining Moment: #OC12 – The People

Matt Norman —  May 3, 2012
In part one of this series I talked about how the 2012 Orange conference was a defining moment for me. The first thing that allowed this conference to make such an impact on me was the people I met. Here is a list of some of the people and how they impacted me.
  • Barbara Graves, Wendy Douglas, and Tonya Langdon: These ladies are part the team that I have the privilege of leading here at Kidmin1124. This is the first time that I have ever met these ladies in person, but I sincerely pray that it will not be the last. These women were each an inspiration to me already, and are even more so now that I have spent a little time with them.
  • Jim Wideman: I know, who is children’s ministry has not been inspired by Jim Wideman. Well, on Wednesday night I had an opportunity to have dinner with Jim and some of he folks who have been through his Infuse program. Jim had never met me before and I sure had never heard of me, but he was still willing to allow me to join his group for dinner. This type of generosity is not often seen these days, even in the church.
  • Tommy Campbell: Tommy was with the 410 Bridge, and Rafikimail. The 410 Bridge was one of many organizations set up at the conference to tell people about what it is they do in hopes of connecting with the attendees and with the churches they represent. However, Tommy makes this list while many other did not. You see, as a guest blogger I wanted to get to know a little but about the different organizations represented. So, I approached Tommy and asked him to fill me in. We then proceeded to have a conversation that lasted at least 20 minutes. Tommy spoke with such a passion, that I found it difficult to walk away. This conversation served to re-ignite the passion in me. I wouldn’t say that this passion had gone cold, but simply had been filed away for future use. Tommy helped me to realize that the future is now.
  • Amy Dolan: I consider Amy to be one of the superstars in the Kidmin world. Despite this, she took the time to sit and talk with me, one-on-one. In fact we talked for over an hour. Like with Tommy, my time with Amy helped to dig up some latent passion.
  • Amy Fenton Lee, Meaghan Wall, and Denise Briley: Amy is another one that I consider to the be a Kidmin super star. I am sad to say that prior to Orange, I had not heard of Meaghan or Denise. Well, I had the opportunity to have dinner with these ladies and Joe McAlpine on Friday night. While I may have never heard of these other two ladies, I can tell you that I will never forget them. Prior to this dinner I would have considered Amy to be the premier when it comes to special needs ministry. Now I would add these two ladies to the list. It is humbling to be able to sit with a group of people so passionate and knowledgeable that were still willing to pour themselves into a couple of children’s pastor desperate to do a better job of ministering to a group of people that most have forgotten.
  • Rhonda Haslett: Several weeks ago I wrote an article about regional conferences. Rhonda commented on that post and we then passed a couple of emails back and forth. You see, she run regional conferences aimed specifically at volunteers and this is something that God is giving me a passion for. Well, I didn’t even know that she was going to be there. During one of the breaks on Friday I walked out of the bloggers suite and started talking with a random person who happened to be standing there. That person was Rhonda. She and I went on to talk for the remainder of the break and part way into the next session about our shared passion for equipping those that give freely of their time to minister to children. With over 5000 people attending the conference God placed Rhonda literally in my path.
  • Joe McAlpine: At the beginning of the week Joe was just a random person that I had connected with in hopes of saving my church a little money as we split the cost of the hotel room and rental car. However, as the week progressed it was clear that God has something far bigger in mind. From the very beginning Joe and I hit it off. Of course, you would expect a couple of charismatic, young men with a shared passion for ministry to children to get along, but by the end of the week we had become friends. Then, late Friday night, hours after the conference had ended we had a chance to sit and talk. We had shared bits and pieces of our own stories throughout the week, but this conversation went so much deeper. We talked about a number of things, but there is one thing that Joe said to me that I will never forget. “You have to pursue your calling.” I don’t yet know the full impact that this is going to have on my life, but I do know this; up to this point I have not been pursuing my calling. I have been kinda waiting around for God to give it to me. I have been working very hard, but I have not been pursuing my calling. I am not sure what God has planned for my future, but I know that from this moment on I will pursue my calling for all that I am worth. Joe had only known me from a few days, but he was willing to speak into my life.

For some this may just look like a list of people. It may just look like notes about conversations that I had, but trust me it is so much more. We speak with lots of people during the course of our lives. However, it is rare that those conversations have any lasting impact on us, rare that they define who we are. Trust me when I say that these people have had a lasting impact on my life. These people are the first part of the reason that I say that this conference was a defining moment for my life. I thank God for connecting with these people, and I thank these people for the contribution they have had on my life.

Matt Norman

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Matt is married to his high school sweetheart Kim and together they have two wonderful kids. Matt is a part time children’s pastor at The Rock of Winter Haven, in the appropriately named town of Winter Haven, Florida. In his spare time Matt is an avid automotive enthusiast and a self confessed computer nerd and tech junkie.

2 responses to Defining Moment: #OC12 – The People

  1. Sounds like some great connecting took place. I think it’s so cool when you finally get to “meet” your online friends. Looking forward to doing some of that at the Gathering conference next week myself!

    Lindsey @

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