Tova Fruchtman: CNJ staff writer
PORTALES — As they prayed, their hands raised, their eyes closed and their fists clinched.
The eight men — including Baptists, Pentecostals and Catholics — gathered Saturday morning at Portales Public Library for the “Men of God Arise” meeting were passionate about the mission.
Some came because they got a call from Portales resident Shawn Miller. He called every church listed in the phone book, and spoke to male church leaders and invited them to attend the meeting.
The group wants to persuade men to change their roles in their families, churches and communities. They’re concerned women are becoming the spiritual leaders and financial supporters of the family.
Miller also walked the streets of Portales almost daily for three weeks carrying a sign that read “Men of God Arise,” in English and Spanish.
Miller, a former pastor who doesn’t attend church anymore because he says churches are “boring” and “irrelevant,” said God laid a burden on his heart to reach out to men, to stop them from being passive members of their family.
“If you’re working all the time, what about your family? What about your children, your home? You are never there,” said Miller in an interview after the meeting.
But his passion led to his arrest on Jan. 17. The charge was trespassing, Portales police records show.
Miller said he was talking to a friend at the friend’s office and started telling him the changes he needed to make in his life to become a man of God. When the man asked Miller to leave, he said he couldn’t, that God asked him to stay.
The man became angry and eventually called police.
When told of Miller’s arrest, one of the eight men at the meeting, Father Tobin Hitt of St. Helen’s Church in Portales, declined comment on the specific situation, but said at an earlier time that Miller was on the right track.
“Well I tell you, he bugs you, bugs you, bugs you … but to be honest we needed him to be like that,” said Father Tobin Hitt of St. Helen’s Church in Portales, one of the eight men at Saturday’s meeting.
“If it takes a man like that to stir us up so be it — praise the Lord.”
Miller’s passion and Saturday’s meeting has encouraged some local pastors to start work on spreading a message of change.
Adam Rios of El Shaddai in Clovis also attended the meeting. Rios and Hitt have started work on a plan to present the mission of “Men of God Arise” every two weeks to area churches and on local radio and television shows. Every program will be bilingual.
“We as men have failed,” Rios said. “God wants a change.”
Rios said many of the problems in America are caused by men not living up to their responsibility to God.
He pointed to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve as proof.
“When Adam and Eve sinned … Adam fell asleep … (and) the serpent came and lied to his wife,” Rios said. “What happened? Adam blamed Eve instead of taking responsibility. So we as men of God have to take responsibility.”
Rios said the movement is in full swing.
“I’ve been around pastors all my life, and they do nothing but talk and there is no action,” Rios said. “We are going to have to give an account to the Lord if we don’t get on the ball.”
Hitt said through teaching and praying with men he hopes to convey the vision of the group, explaining that the short-term goal of the group is to promote the vision and teach men practical steps to become men of God.
The vision of making men accountable goes way beyond one church, and affects everyone in the community, Hitt said.
As for Miller, he had hoped to pass the torch to pastors.
Meanwhile, Miller said he has plans to hit the streets again — this time with a sign that reads, “We need revival.”
He hopes that message will spark interest, too.