An Invitation to Join the Club

As the dawn sheds light on a new day, I find myself reflecting on yesterday’s celebration of Canada’s birthday.

Canada is many things, including a beautiful land of diversity, both in landscape and people. We’re far from perfect and face our own struggles, but overall, we are blessed.

However, Canada is but one country, and sparsely populated in relation to land mass.  At just over 37 million, we’re a drop in the bucket.

What about this club thing in the title, Bierman? And what’s with the handshake photo? Don’t you know it’s dangerous nowadays? I’ll get to that, soon, I promise. First, I’m going to give you a quick bio about myself, so that you have a gist about who’s extending this invitation.

Here goes: I’m a white, middle class, Christian man, with a nuclear family. I have over twenty years’ experience as a Correctional Officer. I’m the son of immigrants who arrived as children, from Holland. I am proud of who I am, my heritage, my country, and my family.

I hope you are proud of who you are too. You have every right to be.

You see, this club is not exclusive, it’s open to everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political leanings, and occupation.

There are some rules, however:

  1. You must have a pulse.
  2. You agree to behave in a respectful manner to all. Do not mock or belittle anyone because you think their ideas, religion, beliefs, interests, what have you, are foolish.
  3. You agree to disagree, refrain from assigning unfair labels to someone, simply because their opinions do not coincide with your own.
  4. You agree to inform yourself and question what you see and hear on the news. That goes for social media, too. You are intelligent and have free will. Please do your research before you make assumptions. I’m sorry, I know real issues exist, but this particular item is gasoline on an inferno. Blue Lives Murder T Shirt on Amazon . So every police officer is a murderer? I don’t think so. I’m using this one because it hits a bit close to home. I don’t know what you do for a living but think about possible stereotypes for your profession. Are they true for all who work in that field?
  5. Honest questions are encouraged and even polite debate, but do not expect a conversion to your way of thinking. Oh, by the way, might be wise to leave the thesaurus at home. Sophisticated or uncommon words that are meant to demonstrate superior “intelligence” often do the opposite. More importantly, they do not foster amicable relations.
  6. We all have trauma and scars from the past. Yes, even the rich and famous. So many things shape us into what we are today. I think it’s important to remember that we are all one footstep away from being someone else.

So, what is this club? Well, I guess I’ll call it, The Club of Humanity. The invitation has no expiry date. All that is required is to follow these simple rules and check any bitterness, anger, and prejudice at the door. If you’d like, I can leave a bin of glasses at the entrance to wear, so that members can see others through a new lens.

Thank you for reading this. I hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Interview with Musician Thomas Mastin; A Tale of Trials, Resilience, and Faith

Today I’m privileged to host, once again, nineteen-year-old singer/song writer Thomas Mastin. Some of you may recognize the name from a previous interview we did back in December of 2018. Please click on the link, if you want to read that one. Please note, that some of the links on that post are no longer available or relevant.  His current social links and some videos can be found at the end of this short interview.

Interview With Up And Coming Musician, Thomas Mastin

Thomas and I go a few years back, I remember a time when he needed two hands to swing one drumstick. Ok, maybe not that long, but it’s been a pleasure watching him grow from a young kid playing his heart out at church, into the talented musician he is today.

I’m offering you a brief glimpse into his journey. A tale of struggles, perseverance, Faith, life detours, and lessons. Thomas’s ‘can do’ spirit is an inspiration!

Me: You’re not a shiny penny to the music industry. You’re young, but you’ve already had a significant amount of experiences. Can you share some of those?

Thomas: Two summers ago, I was a drummer in a band called Arbour Season. We played a lot of venues in Florida including Busch Gardens, Splitsville in Disney Springs, and Mother’s Restaurant in Tampa. We’ve also done House Shows, which are exactly what they sound like. The band would do their gig at a residence either indoors or out.

Me: There’s been some ‘bumps in the road’ since those sunny Florida days. Can you share what’s happened and how the course of your career has changed?

Thomas: Well, as things go, we parted ways and I charted a course for a solo career, however, I’m a social guy and decided it wasn’t for me. I met Nathan Hardy, an amazing guitar player and fellow song writer. We formed Hello July. The name came to us one day, when we were in Nashville. I saw a poster for a band called Goodbye June. I jokingly mentioned Hello July. The agency that signed us, Brave Enough Agencies, supported it.

We began singing Blues, but our genre has evolved into a mixed style of rock and pop. It almost sounds a bit like Cold Play, and U2.

ThomasandNathan1

Thomas Mastin & Nathan Hardy

I’ve gone through an issue with my voice. As it turns out, I was straining my vocals, making them inflamed and they bled at times. Someone who knows more about singing than me, said to be careful, or there could be permanent damage. I’m taking some lessons and going a bit easier. I’m also learning certain diets that can help or harm your voice.

Me: I hope coffee’s okay!

Thomas: (laughs) “Oh yeah. I couldn’t do without it. I also couldn’t do without the ton of people reaching out to me right now. I didn’t expect that. It’s incredible! People have offered free lessons, I’ll have to choose which offer to take.

Pastor Dusty (Parkway Church, Amherstview, Ontario) has also been a huge inspiration. When I was eight, he told me, “If you can’t sing for five people, you can’t sing for 5,000.”

I’ve never forgotten that saying, even put it in the notebook that I use to write music. Those words remind me to be humble and with the trials of the past year, I’ve lost an arrogance. I’m no longer that high schooler who expects everything to fall into place.

Me: I think people can relate to struggles. We all have them and there’s an appreciation for an artist who is open about their challenges. They realize they’re not alone. Listening to music is often an emotional experience for most people. It can soothe, recall distant memories, and bring joy. You’ve been given a special gift.

Thomas: Yes, and now I’m in a place where people can relate to me better. This past year has taught me who I really am and that I sing, not for fame, but for God and to inspire listeners. It’s been hard for some to wrap their heads around the fact that I’m not pursuing a Christian music career, exclusively. I understand that, really, because when you grow up in the church and you say that you’re pursuing a music career, they expect Christian only. But I want to reach those who are struggling, both Christian and non. The band, NeedToBreathe, does this. They play worship songs on Sunday mornings, but festivals throughout the week.

We are planning a tour of Canada first, before eventually heading to America. We’re hoping to start with a few local House Shows. I’m willing to travel to the Toronto to Ottawa areas, and beyond. We have one booked, a couple from our church, they want to be the first.

Thomassinging

Thomas in action!

Me: Does Hello July have any videos?

Thomas: We’ve made four. Speaking of a humbling experience, one day I was in a line-up at the grocery store and a woman behind me recognized me from a video. I asked her how she liked it, expecting a positive answer.

“It’s a good thing you’re pretty!” she said.

(laughs) I was surprised but answered, “Well, I’m glad I’m pretty, at least.”

Me: We all get those. They’re great reminders that not everyone appreciates your work. Most of the time it’s a matter of personal tastes. Personally, I don’t pay much attention unless a particular issue is mentioned by several different people.

Check out Hello July singing Coldplay’s  song, Yellow.

 

 

Hello July on YouTube

My name is Thomas Mastin, I’m a 19 year old singer song-writer from Roblin, Ontario! Here are some links to my social media and one of the videos my bandmate Nathan and I have put out.

Find out more about Thomas and Hello July 

Hello July on Facebook 

Hello July on Instagram

Thomas Mastin on Facebook

Thomas Mastin on Instagram

 

 

Heed The Wise

sharpcurve

That road ahead, the warning signs placed by those who’ve gone before,

I sense deception, they cannot be trusted, they guide to the mundane

A life of fun, adventure, my way, anything else is a bore

Ignore their words, their banal minds have grown far too lame

Steer my life away from stoicism, only frivolity satisfies my core

Nothing untoward shall happen to me, it’s all a silly game

ditchdive

Help! Your advice had merit, should have heeded, mired forever I’ll be

Shake your heads, when I open my eyes, that’s what I’ll see

No? Wait! With rope and chain you’re all coming back for me

fixedroad

You rescued me, despite my mockery, set me on a clear road

My family, friends, because of you, I will live each day, gratefully.

Rise above!

If you attempt to rise from the chalk line that many have drawn around you, there will always be those who snicker behind your back. They will fail to believe it is possible, despite all evidence to the contrary. Cast aside, any notion of changing their minds and do not waste an ounce of energy in the attempt.

Focus instead, on those who support and applaud your efforts, for their encouragement is fuel for the body and mind. They are your people, and you must remain fiercely loyal and equally supportive. In this age of a shrinking world, they could be across the table, or across the ocean. You will never find them until you step boldly outside those imaginary limits you and others have set.

Life is short. Today I challenge you to sweep away that antiquated outline made of dust and follow your dream. Do not let the fear, self-doubt, or the criticism of the pessimists’ chip away your resolve. Celebrate every accomplishment, no matter how small. Remember that cathedrals were built by many stones stacked one upon another.

 

 

 

A Call To Mission Work. An Interview With Madison Wicklam.

Today I have the privilege of hosting Madison Wicklam. A few months ago, she embarked on a journey that would take her on a worldwide mission of mercy that was made possible by an organization called YWAM (Youth With A Mission). I have included a link to YWAM at the bottom of this blog, for those interested in learning more.

The experiences this young woman had were unforgettable. While serving others, she gained valuable personal growth and close friendships.

What places have you traveled to, and served in, while involved with YWAM? Which one was most memorable?

The first place on my long journey with YWAM was Las Vegas. The actual school part of my discipleship training school was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. While in this school, we were involved in a diverse community where we all grew closer to God and served Him there. Ministry in Las Vegas involved handing out self care packages and talking to and praying for women on the most popular prostitution “track” in Vegas, working with Nevada Child Seekers to bring missing, young women and men home and simply going to the most tourist populated areas to raise awareness about human trafficking. These are just some of the many ministry aspects that YWAM Las Vegas is involved with.

The one part of YWAM Las Vegas is that they have a mini outreach (mission trip) to Mexico halfway through their school. In Ensenada, we worked with boys and girls rehab centres, we delivered coats and prayer to women and men in the red light district of Tijuana, and we spent time at a migrant camp playing with children and encouraging the women who were in less than ideal circumstances.

On our two month outreach, we stayed in Kathmandu, Nepal for a month doing slum ministry, teaching English, dance bar ministry, cabin bar ministry, and lots of prayer/intercession over the city. For the second month, my team split up and my half of the team went to Thailand while our other half went to Uganda. In Thailand, we spent most of our time in a village where young girls are taken into the city of Bangkok to be put into slavery and being human trafficked. Our ministry consisted of loving on young kids and showing them that Jesus gives them hope. We also had the opportunity to minister to some of the young children’s parents which was very important in saving these children from being sent into turmoil. The most memorable place for me was Nepal. I fell in love with the children and all of the ministry we did with them. Their need for love was so apparent and me being a carrier of the love of the Father, I wanted to love on every single one of those precious children. Working with these children will always be my most memorable part of my outreach. They will always be in the back of my mind and I hope to go back to visit these kids who really changed my heart.

 

Any particular life-changing experience(s) you want to share?

Pretty much my entire time in Nepal was life changing. During our time there, I experienced God in so many new ways and I really had to rely on Him daily to get me through some pretty hard times there. Every morning we would go to the slums which was a small community of little shacks and tents right off of a busy highway. We took our team to a little shed and as the children saw us come in, they would join, and we would sing songs about Jesus, share a bible story, and teach English to them. In this group of kids there were about three or four girls around the age of twelve to fourteen that expressed they did not have parents. I do not know the circumstances in which caused them to have to raise their siblings, but my heart absolutely broke for these strong young women. They are also very much at risk for being taken out of this slum and put directly into a dance bar, cabin bar, or brothel where they will be sexually exploited for money.  In a situation like this it is hard to see God’s hand but He has surely protected them this far and I have so much faith that He will continue to shield them.  These girls really influenced me in how their lives were less than ideal but they found so much joy in praising God and taking care of their families. I really grew during these difficult days in Nepal as God significantly grew my faith in Him.  There were multiple times where I could have lost hope or been discouraged in a situation where He did not give me the answer I was makes all things work together for my good in HIS timing and not mine. Having Him reveal this to me, really made the rest of my outreach a lot easier and I completely leaned on Him when I felt overwhelmed or discouraged.

Why should other youth consider joining YWAM? Or become involved in the fight against human trafficking?

Other youth should consider joining YWAM for so many reasons.  The major reasons I can think of are to grow their relationship with Jesus, fight for a cause they are passionate about, learn more about the word and God’s calling on their life, travel the world, meet new people, get introduced to new cultures/ways of life, build life long friendships and set a fire in their own life to see their lives transformed. Through YWAM youth have an amazing opportunity to follow and work for a passion that they have including human trafficking. YWAM Las Vegas offers young people a chance to explore the harsh realities of human trafficking by bringing in special speakers who were once trafficked themselves, parents of trafficking victims, police officers working on the front lines and others in the community working tirelessly to prevent human trafficking. During the school, my team and I would go out into the most high risk areas for human trafficking to pray for women, hand out care packages and ask them some key questions in indicating if they are involved in human trafficking or not. This was a hard task but so rewarding when we were able to help out one of these young women.  I believe youth who have a passion for anti-human trafficking should definitely check out YWAM Las Vegas.

 Have you made lifetime friends?

I definitely have made lifelong friends. During the course of the discipleship training school I became very close with a lot of people. When living in community, being open and vulnerable with the people around you is necessary because during the course of the school, you go trough a lot personally and spiritually. It is essential to talk things through with people and the small community around you can understand what is going on and it makes it easy to confide in them. Living with the same group of people for 5 months has its ups and downs but it is definitely a life-changing experience and I believe it will better prepare me for life at post secondary and even for when I have my own family some day.

Has this experience influenced your career decision? 

This experience has influenced my career choice indefinitely. I never would have thought I would want to be the type of person to pursue missions but I can definitely see myself continuing with intercultural ministry. I am also hoping to continue in social work/human services at post secondary in attempts to eventually work with young women involved in human trafficking in a professional setting. My heart has broken for missions and helping victims of this modern day slavery so I am excited to see how God uses me in these areas. I am ready to go where He sends me and I know He has big plans for my walk with Him.

Madison Wicklam is an 18-year-old from a small town hoping to reach the nations.  She has a passion for children living in less than ideal situations and those enslaved by human trafficking. Madison has recently come back from a five-month missions trip that she describes as life changing.  She now thrives to spread the love of God that she has experienced so deeply in her own life.

Get Involved! Learn More at YWAM !