By Rick Kern
Despite wading through a fierce onslaught of social engineering, passionate common (and uncommon) sense dialogue, and enough “cultural compost” to fill a stadium — the stereotype has survived. The measure of a man has never been more mysterious and even the toughest guys can find themselves buckling beneath the weight of reality — hiding their tears in the dark. We don’t generally think of men as vulnerable, yet in a day when so much has been done to redefine the meaning of manhood, men are more unsure of what it means to be a man than ever.
Undoubtedly, the times, they are confusing — to paraphrase Bob Dylan’s generational battle cry from the 1960s. Men must navigate the minefield of fewer friends and greater demands, crippling temptations and a plague of pornography, underwhelming paychecks and overwhelming work schedules, and on it goes… Welcome to manhood in the 21st Century!
And the church is not immune. Christian men inadvertently sweat the same minefield, trying to tip-toe through it while singing praises, investing in their families, earning a living, and striving to make a difference for the Kingdom of God. Often, as life piles up on them, so does the temptation to hide their weakness, stuff their tears, and find a nice dark place to collapse and cry.
Life is no joke, it’s a battleground, not a playground, and men need a fellowship of warriors to teach one another the tricks of the trenches, and support each other’s calling in Christ. It begs the question, where can a guy go to stay in the light, stop playing defense, and start playing offense in the “game of life?” Well, a guy in the Rochester, New York region can go to a Business Men’s Fellowship gathering (BMF) and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with like-minded and like-challenged brothers in Christ.
Their hour-long meetings are held at Bridge Square in the conference room of Passero Associates located at 242 West Main Street, on the first Thursday of each month from 6:30 AM to 7:30 AM. The get-togethers are referred to as the “Oasis Gathering,” and essentially provide men with the opportunity for, among other things, fellowship, networking, and prayer. Their format generally includes a message, discussion, and fellowship with a snack slipped in for good measure. The group is curated and led by Gary Passero and John Frattare. The theme for the Oasis Gathering is also known as “The One Hour Challenge.” The idea is that life is busy, and we all have priorities so in just in one hour’s time, participants have the chance to leverage all of the above to their advantage and power-up!
“The purpose of the Rochester Regional Chapter is to unite Christian men in faith, fellowship, and prayer, in a way that encourages, inspires, and challenges men to be ambassadors for Jesus Christ, in their home, in the marketplace,
and in their churches,” explains Frattare. “When we leave that meeting, my favorite thought is, go out and be ambassadors for Jesus Christ in the marketplace — and they are going out as individuals.” He adds, “In my heart, helping those men to prepare to be ambassadors in the marketplace is what our meeting does.”
The Rochester meeting is a mixed bag that includes guys from various fellowships, ethnic cultures, and vocations. “We have men from different churches, and I think we are a melting pot, with ethnic groups, work groups, and church groups,” observes Frattare. That’s no surprise for a ministry that has been serving Rochester and Monroe County in Christian fellowship for over fifty-years.
Rochester BMF is affiliated with its national parent organization, Business Men’s Fellowship U.S.A. The Oakland, California organization emerged as an offshoot of Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship around 1995. “What national chapters provide is a not-for-profit business structure for your organization, which means donations are deductible. They also take care of all the administrative things for the fellowship,” Frattare explains. “There’s a hundred chapters in the U.S. right now,” he continues. “We have 84 chapters and there are 16 satellite chapters. A satellite chapter is a chapter that meets, and then another group from that chapter, goes out and has separate meeting —they call them ‘satellite chapters.’”
The Rochester BMF is dedicated to making the kind of difference in Christian men’s lives that draws them deeper into the heart of God and puts them on the offensive for His Kingdom and in their own lives. And they’re doing it! John seems to have an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, and hopes to continue with his winning game-plan. “I want us to grow in the month to month meetings,” says Frattare, “and to consider doing a once a year seminar, conference type meeting, and draw all the men that we can.” You can call or text them at (585) 704-3980 and e-mail them at Johnsaly@rochester.rr.com. New York State has chapters in Attica, Batavia, Binghamton, Buffalo, and Rochester, and you can visit the national organization’s website located at www.bmfusa.org for more information.