0:00:00 - Rusty George
Gary Kahn. Welcome to the podcast. So glad to have you with us. Your last name is at any connection to the Wrath of Kahn from Star Trek.
0:00:11 - Gary Kahn
No, no, but I suspect that it might have some connection to like Genghis Khan.
0:00:19 - Rusty George
Ah, that's right. So for our listeners that don't know you, you're not from around here, tell us where you grew up.
0:00:26 - Gary Kahn
Well, actually I was born in the Caribbean Trinidad and Tobago. I know that's a surprise, because you're thinking he should have been born somewhere in India, somewhere, but actually my fifth generation, removed from ancestry in India, but grew up in Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean the very last island of the Caribbean chain and about 19. When I was about 19, I moved to the US. Now there's since.
0:00:59 - Rusty George
Settler, an argument a lot of people have, is it Caribbean or Caribbean?
0:01:05 - Gary Kahn
Okay, so I say Caribbean. Growing up we said Caribbean. But then even in the Caribbean there are those who say Caribbean.
0:01:15 - Rusty George
0:01:16 - Gary Kahn
I don't know. Okay, I guess it's whatever you feel like you want to say.
0:01:22 - Rusty George
Oh, that sounds like a really good cultural answer right now. So, however you want to say it, that's good. Okay, so you, you moved to the States and what's? What's your faith journey been like? Did you grow up in church, grow up a Christian that happened after you made it over here or did it fall apart after you moved over here?
0:01:40 - Gary Kahn
Well, actually I, my belt of my parents, were pastors. Okay before I was born. So I kind of grew up being I was born in church man I I have stories of my parents saying that my dad would preach with me. You know, in his arms he'd be preaching and I'd be there sitting on the pulpit with them and wow so I suppose I was born saved no, let's not go there and grew up as a PK.
I Think I was probably the typical PK. I kind of pushed back against having to. You know Everybody is looking at you and all those things. And so right around 16. I think I kind of May have just said you know what I have to explore this God thing on my own. I don't want the God of my parents, I want, I want to know God personally. So I went on this personal journey and in that period of time really felt like God was Calling me to be a pastor. The one thing I said I was never going to be was a pastor like my dad and and I ran from it for a long time. I actually had one of those Experiences where I heard an audible voice of God speaking.
Okay and remember sitting on my bed and just Got just hearing this voice, a Gary, and I literally thought it was somebody playing a trick on me. So I was Looking around to see if there was somebody else in the room, but just God, just in a notable voice saying don't run from me, I've called you into this. So it took me about three more years before I I actually kind of settled into okay, I can do that, and decided to go to Bible College and and Went to our denominations Bible College, which was located in Eugene Oregon, right next to the U of O and, and so went there for four years and During that during that time I tell people I laugh all the time that I think I may have had I walked the furthest away from God during Bible College.
It's not uncommon but then God just really met me in that place and Just been in and a great experience of walking with God.
0:04:08 - Rusty George
You mentioned you heard an audible voice I I've never have, but I know people that have. What is it that you think I mean? Why does God tend to speak Non-audible to some but then sometimes turns up the volume for others? Is it just? I mean what? You've dealt with a lot of people throughout ministry. What are the common traits you see there?
0:04:32 - Gary Kahn
I think, if I'm gonna be truthful, it's because I was hard-headed, maybe it's because you tend to say yes to God and I tend to be like I don't know that there is a, a, a factor. Honestly, I that I've noticed that that's some sort of you know, unifying factor throughout it, but Only maybe heard of one other person tell me that they've ever, you know, heard an audible voice and and honestly, even within that, I will tell you that their days I, I wondered if it was still in my head you know I.
0:05:14 - Rusty George
Sure, that'll be a good question when we get to heaven.
0:05:18 - Gary Kahn
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
0:05:20 - Rusty George
Okay, so you did 32 years in local ministry. Walk us through what that looked like. You get out of Bible college. Did you jump right in? What were the jobs that you did and you mentioned? You know you felt like you walked away from your faith during Bible college. Were there seasons? You felt like your faith was in peril while doing ministry, because it can be so difficult at times.
0:05:44 - Gary Kahn
Absolutely. Let me see. I'll try to answer that in some of the order you asked it. I graduated from Bible college one week, got married to my wife, who I met in Bible college, you know. That's why we called it bridal college.
There, you go, you know. So got married the following week to my wife and then the week after that I moved to Santa Clarita and started working at the church that I worked at for 32 years. Wow, so that pretty much graduated, you know went on a honeymoon, married, went on a honeymoon, started at Desert Streams Church and you know, during those years I will say that it's always been. I'm the kind of person, I'm a thinker. I discover God a lot in processing things out, and so there are a lot of times over the years I've had the questions you know. So I don't know that I necessarily walked away from God, but I had all of these questions. I'm constantly, you know, asking of God is this why? Or what's the reason for this? Or you know. So for me, those crises of faith has been in the form of processing out with God, not only spirits, some of those questions, but with a deep-seated understanding that, no matter what, I know God is real. I know that he loves me and I know that he is a planer.
0:07:23 - Rusty George
And those were the truths you kept coming back to Wow, that's really good. So 32 years of ministry. You worked in student ministry for a long time, right, and then you became the lead pastor of Desert Streams.
0:07:37 - Gary Kahn
That's right. Yes, so I went to Desert Streams to pastor as a youth pastor. I pastored there as a youth pastor for nine years and then the remainder of that 32 years it was a senior pastor.
0:07:53 - Rusty George
Wow, that's a long stretch, man. Good job, well done. Well, I want to. I want to. Well, I think there's moments you love it, moments you are discipled by it. So I want to ask you about this, because your new line of work is so interesting to me. You decided to step away from being a lead pastor to work with marketplace chaplains. Explain to our audience what that is and what it is you do.
0:08:27 - Gary Kahn
Okay, so I'm going to preface it by saying that one of the things that I, as a pastor, that I always I was very passionate about was reaching lost feet. I want people to hear and experience the love of God and the reconnection of relationship with God, and I think probably one of my biggest frustrations was always feeling like I couldn't seem to connect with people inside of the church with that. And so along comes this ministry called marketplace chaplains. Honestly, I wasn't looking to switch roles in any way, shape or form. I was enjoying what I was doing and someone calls and says hey, I got a ministry opportunity that is perfect for you. And so they began.
I just laughed and said, not interested. They started talking about it and I was like, wow, the more I heard it, the more I loved it, and the thing that really attracted me to it was the fact that we get, we are invited in to the workplaces of America to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We're literally invited in. They pay us to come and share the love of Christ with people. Now, again, not necessarily in words of hey, do you know Jesus? Can I tell you the more spiritual laws In.
not in that regard, but in the regard of simply loving people in the workplace, people who would never, ever probably, grace the doors of a church, and here we are getting the opportunity to walk in and befriend them, build relationships of trust with them and walk with them through difficult times when they're so open to hearing about Jesus.
0:10:28 - Rusty George
How does that work? You just roll in and start walking down the hall swinging the thing of incense, or I'm trying to visualize you doing this.
0:10:36 - Gary Kahn
So what does it look like? So now I oversee the chaplains who do this. But a typical chaplain would walk into the workplace. We encourage, we tell the companies when we come in and introduce ourselves that we're a lot different than the chaplain you would see at a hospital. If I'm at the hospital and the doctor says, hey, we'd love you to see the chaplain, you're like, oh crud, we're in deep, deep here. We got to see the chaplain right Because they're in a place of crisis.
You walk into a workplace. There's no felt need, there's no sense of I need a chaplain. In fact they're kind of like, hey, don't come and talk to me. So when we walk in, really we are not trying to push any kind of religion, any of those things. We simply walk in and start connecting with people on everyday things. I say build a relationship of trust. So we walk in hey, rst, how are you doing today? You know I'm in your office. I might say I love those pictures. Are those your kids? Tell me a little bit about them.
And again, short conversations. We don't try to grill them, but it's just consistently, week in and week out. We show up, we find connecting points. We ask them hey, well how you do. Did you watch the game last week? What did you think? And we make these connections. Over time they start looking forward to seeing us and waving us down hey, come on over, I got to tell you something. And they start telling us about their kids. You know, my kid went to play at whatever. And at that point then chaplains can begin to say you know, this week I'll remember to pray for your son as he's heading out to college. We make some of those kind of connections. Or they'll say would you pray for me? Of course. And we begin to do those things. So it's really a long game. It is the process of befriending people, building relationships of trust so that when the doors and opportunities present themselves, open and present themselves, we can share the love of Christ with them in tangible and verbal ways.
0:12:47 - Rusty George
And they know why you're there, they know who you are. Do you wear a little name tag? It says chaplain. Are you wear a collar? Yeah, name tag.
0:12:56 - Gary Kahn
0:13:00 - Rusty George
I always wanted to wear a robe when I taught you know, because then you're not worried if you're flies down. You know, iron my clothes properly. It seemed like it'd be easier, but not in our tradition. Did you ever have that?
0:13:10 - Gary Kahn
happen to you, because I had that happen to me when preaching. Oh, yes, absolutely.
0:13:15 - Rusty George
Yeah, you don't find out till later.
0:13:16 - Gary Kahn
It's horrible yeah it's awful, so I'm just fascinated by this.
0:13:20 - Rusty George
I think this is great. I think this is so, so helpful for people to be. You know, meeting people on their terms, you know, at their pace. But I'm also strut, you know, kind of struck with the idea that this doesn't even just have to be. You know the marketplace chaplain's job, this can be anybody's role. So if you're, if you're helping the guy that comes to church and thinks, well, you're a pastor, you're supposed to know all the answers. You're supposed to do that. But I just work at this job. You know, nine to five in a cubicle, what kind of ministry do I have? You know what would you say to them as they could possibly become the chaplain of their office or their work site or their school? You know what are some ways that you would coach them up to make sure their faith becomes transferable.
0:14:12 - Gary Kahn
All right, for me this is really probably the place I am I love the most is that I think that we sometimes complicate Christianity and people make Christianity something like an addendum and so it doesn't become just this natural piece of our life. Just like you know, they'll know me, for hey, gary is funny. You know which I am. I wish I could do stand-up comedy. I'm not that funny, but we tend to make things a little bit more complicated and it becomes this this box we check off. I just think how can we be natural in our workplace?
You know and just. It flows out of my, my relationship with God, in that I love God, so therefore I love hanging out with him, and as I hang out with him I catch a little bit of his heart, and the older I get, the more I catch how much God loves people. I Remember one day sitting down and watching I hated Admit to it, but I was watching touch by an angel, touch by and in the, in the particular, in every episode they had that moment where the angel would say I'm an angel sent by God.
Yes, you know, and I Remember in this particular one when the angel said that you know later and it was this old cowboy who was certainly not a god-lover in any way. And I'm sitting on my couch, I've been pastoring for a long time and it suddenly struck me God loves people, he doesn't just love Christians. Hmm, I don't know why. I just you know God loves people he loves, though I mean, I don't know why I it just became that realization and. I think we could start with remembering God loves people. God loves people.
Right we just love them the way God loves them. Can I lead with love and care for people? Can I that to me? If I'm living out in the workplace, that's what I'm doing. I could be loving, I could be caring, I could bring. I could hear somebody saying the life has been difficult this last week and I go, you know what? I heard that I brought you a little 10 bucks to Starbucks. You can get a cup of water, you know, and, and.
But that that simple act of love is, it's what they see God in. That I believe that to me, is is is really just a natural outflow of God. The other thing I'd say is I just think that it's more that we live from that life of faith where we don't walk around panicking and thinking the world is, you know, the sky is falling, but I believe that, like I said when I was in in my crises of faith, the one thing I know is that God I got is real, that he has a plan for me. His plan is good, it's gonna end well, no matter what, it's gonna end well. So do I live as though it's gonna end well or do I live as though? Oh, my god, oh my god, what's gonna happen? What's gonna happen. I think, as people see those things, man, it's the most powerful demonstration of faith that makes them go. Hey, I want that.
0:17:32 - Rusty George
That's so good. You know. You saying this reminds me of something I just read this morning. I took a picture of it and sent it to my family. It was just so impactful, and it's it's from this book that was written in 1973, knowing God, by J I Packer.
It's kind of a yeah, it's kind of a classic, but he says this. What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it, the fact that he knows me. I'm graven on the palms of his hands. I am never out of his mind. All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me. I know him Because he knew me first and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me, and there is no moment when his eye is off of me or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters.
Isn't that powerful, that is yeah oh, my goodness and I'm hearing you say that, thinking boy, we make it so much harder than it is with. Here's what you need to do and here's how you getting God's good graces when really you're in his good graces. He loves you. He's already given you more grace than you'll ever have. It's a acknowledging.
0:18:54 - Gary Kahn
Acknowledging that If I would add one more thing I would say did. Yesterday I was having a little prayer time with the, the chaplains that I lead, and One of the chaplains read this devotional and the the particular passage of Psalm 23 that says you prepare table before me in the presence of my enemies, and, and, and they went on to explain something else. But in that moment I think it was the Holy Spirit that just really struck me with this realization that God prepares a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.
Then in every single moment. I have a choice of where am I looking. Am I looking at the enemy in the room or am I looking at the feast that I have? Because both are present at the same time. You know, I had Peter walking on the water. The storm was always present. It's when he took his eyes off Jesus and saw the storms, these saying you know it's Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow, that you're with me, mm-hmm. So there is here, is God with me? Or am I looking at the value of the shadow of death? And for me, I think the most powerful testimony of Any believer is that those two things are always present at the same time. What am I looking at determines how I act, and that act of faith, if I'm looking at Jesus, changes the way I respond and people see it, and it's a powerful declaration of faith.
0:20:29 - Rusty George
That's so good. Okay, well, I want to shift gears to your book. You've written several books, but the latest one is called that Didn't Go the Way, I Thought Boy. We've said that a lot. Usually when you decide to, you know, ride a skateboard or something, but where did this book come from and why write this book?
0:20:50 - Gary Kahn
Oh man, I would say that this particular one could probably be an autobiography, right, like you said. I mean, I used to tell the kids that when I die, I want on my tombstone I wanted to see here lies Gary Khan. He was a man after God's own heart, but after having 32 years of ministry a pastoral ministry and after the life that I've led, I really think that this is what I want on my tombstone is well, that didn't go the way I thought.
Really it's an autobiography, because I'm sure you have too. We look at so many things and I always think, well, in my mind, that was doing a turn out a whole lot different.
0:21:36 - Rusty George
0:21:37 - Gary Kahn
So that's kind of the genesis of where it started. But during COVID I had always wanted to write something and I thought during COVID, hey, let me get to work. And this was kind of where I landed.
0:21:56 - Rusty George
So tell me what's your hope for this book. I mean, I think all of us resonate with the title, but the subtitle is navigating the ups and downs of our journey of faith. So we've talked about some of your ups and downs and we've all experienced some of those. What's your hope for this book? How's it going to help people?
0:22:14 - Gary Kahn
Okay. Well, whenever I write, whenever I preach any of those things, for me the motivation behind it is I want to inspire people, I want to encourage people, I want to motivate them to be transformed in the image and likeness of Christ. My passion is to see people fulfill God's plans and purposes for them, and so everything that I write is at our speaker. It's from that basic motivation of. I mean, I want people to live in the fullness of all that God has for them.
Also, but with that in mind, I remember, just like I said, going through those moments in ministry where you know God's called you to do something. You know, because you've responded to this this clarion call from God that said hey.
I have a plan for you, and I don't know about you, rusty, but I go in sort of with rose-colored glasses. I have a delusion of what I think this thing is gonna look like. And then, all of a sudden, I'm faced with oh well, this is not turning out the way I thought, and so we begin to get discouraged, or we begin to get disillusioned, or we begin to fall into despair, or we get depressed. And for me, what other D word can I think of?
0:23:40 - Rusty George
But you have to have three.
0:23:44 - Gary Kahn
Yeah, right. And so for me, I remember in ministry just thinking I just wanna encourage people in those moments, and it's not just pastors, I mean, we're all called on God's journey and we all face those moments where we're I don't know. Did I hear God? Do I know what he's doing? Is this really the right thing? We get doubts, we're like I'm just done, I give up. So for me, the motivation behind it is to help people discover that we all go through this.
This is part of the course, and so one of the things I found and I wrote it through the perspective of Abraham, although you can look through the Bible, you'll find it the pattern that I find that God calls us. There's this moment, whether it's a audible voice or simply an impression that is confirmed through the voices of others around you, that God calls you to something, and you know that. You just know that this is something God's calling me to, and all you see, after he calls me, there's this moment of setting apart, a consecration. He sets us apart for the task at hand and then he covenants with us. He kind of works into us this understanding of covenant relationship, and so there's a couple more parts in that too, but on the whole it follows this pattern that God takes us through on this journey. So, using the life of Abraham, I kind of explore that pattern.
0:25:26 - Rusty George
That's so good. Are you a person that enjoys writing or just enjoys having written?
0:25:34 - Gary Kahn
Actually, I've discovered that I like writing.
0:25:38 - Rusty George
Okay, wow, that's awesome.
0:25:40 - Gary Kahn
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Now I have so many rewrites that I start hating it, but Ha ha ha.
0:25:49 - Rusty George
The best advice I ever got was you can either write or you can edit, but you can't do both.
0:25:55 - Gary Kahn
0:25:55 - Rusty George
So don't try to edit as you go, just write and it's awful and then edit it later and that helped me like it a little more, but still not a lot.
0:26:03 - Gary Kahn
0:26:03 - Rusty George
Gary, this is go ahead.
0:26:05 - Gary Kahn
I was just gonna say I loved it until my editor started talking to me and then I started hating it.
0:26:15 - Rusty George
Yeah, that first time you get the copy back and it's just red marks everywhere. You're like man.
0:26:19 - Gary Kahn
0:26:20 - Rusty George
It's not worth it. Well, buddy, I've always enjoyed our friendship over the years and the laughs we've had. I love this season of your life in ministry because we get to see each other more often on the weekends, because you have a very relaxing Sunday now, because your ministry times during the week not on Sunday, but yet you still help us lead worship and everything, which is awesome. But well, Gary, for our listeners that are thinking boy, I'd like to know more about this marketplace ministry and finding a chaplain. Where can they find out more about it?
0:26:51 - Gary Kahn
You can go to mchapusacom.
0:26:56 - Rusty George
0:26:57 - Gary Kahn
They can check it out there. They can always. If you want. They can call me, but the best place to start is mchapusacom mchapusacom.
0:27:10 - Rusty George
Yeah, yeah, fantastic. And then where can they find your book?
0:27:14 - Gary Kahn
0:27:16 - Rusty George
Okay, amazon, I've heard of them. They've got a little side business going on. So Amazon, for that didn't go the way I thought, and I just love the book man. Great job. So, gary, thank you. Thank you for all that you do and for the lives that you impact, and thank you for being on the show.
0:27:37 - Gary Kahn
My pleasure. Thank you for having me on Love serving at real life.
0:27:42 - Rusty George