OCA’s Life Coaching ministry develops relationships with foster children who are in transition or will be transitioning into adulthood. Life coaches build relationships with young people as they navigate the next steps of their journey with the hopes of seeing them know the love and hope of Christ.
We sat down with Ed Barnes who has been involved with Life Coaching for a little over 10 months. Ed is the Manager of Business Development for eBridge Business Solutions in Louisville. Ed’s story is an example of what happens when you step into what the Lord is calling you to do and a picture of Christ’s unrelenting pursuit of us.
How did you get involved in OCA and Life Coaching?
I first got involved with OCA when I met Darren Washausen (OCA’s Executive Director) for a business meeting at Samtec where Darren happens to work. During our meeting, Darren began telling me about the ministry he was involved in outside of work. His passion & his vision caught my attention. I had been praying and asking God to use me and to direct me where He wanted me to serve. I did not want to make that choice on my own.
The Lord has blessed me so much in my life —I just wanted to give back and to be obedient to whatever assignment He had for me. As I was listening to Darren’s vision for OCA, which included a “life coaching” program, it pricked my heart spiritually. I was intrigued by the term “life coach” and agreed to learn more about the program. I attended a 4-hour life coaching training session one Saturday morning, just to explore & find out more about the program. For the record, I’m not one to be thrilled about sitting anywhere for 4 hours—let alone on a Saturday morning. I can think of a lot of things I would prefer doing on a Saturday morning but I sensed that God was leading me— and that was exciting!
You are a very busy man, what made you decide to commit to becoming a Life Coach?
Once again, it was God leading me into this area. I hadn’t thought about being a foster parent or adopting, but as I began to learn more about the foster care program and meeting some of the staff at OCA, it just felt right in my spirit & confirmed that this was a “God thing.”
It was also a good fit because it was something I’ve always done (i.e. life coaching) anyway with my 2 amazing children with the help of their awesome mother. My daughter, Kennedy, is an ICU travel nurse & my son, Jordan, is an Airforce pilot. I would just treat the youngster I was coaching like one of my own. I was already a life coach for my kids and thought why not do it with young men who needed some help & direction?
As I was sitting in the training session, the passion and authenticity of the OCA staff just confirmed for me more that this was something that I needed to continue to explore. Beth Pace who was responsible for matching me with a youngster, met with me several times to get to know me & emphasized that she was “prayerfully” trying to find a good match. She really made an impression on me because I could feel her spirit & she was actually “walking the walk” and not just “talking the talk.”
She had taken foster kids into her own home even though she had kids of her own. I could see her passion and authenticity. Yes, I am busy, but I feel compelled to do what God has asked me to do! His grace & his love me for me has been amazing and I just wanted to give back.
Tell us about your experience as a Life Coach
My first meeting was with a 15 year-old male at Boys and Girls Haven. He was a great kid, I could just tell, and I believed it to be a great first meeting. We made a connection and he seemed responsive & appreciative to have a life coach.
We had another meeting and began establishing goals we might work towards. A couple days after our 2nd meeting, he ran away from Boys and Girls Haven, was caught, but then was sent to Indianapolis and after a short stint there, has since been moved to Michigan. (He had actually run away before, but that’s another story…)
When I realized he was no longer in the state, I wasn’t sure what to do. What I did know, was that I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. I had to know what happened and needed to let him know I cared enough to follow up. Fortunately, I was able to connect with his social worker and was able to begin talking with him again when he landed in Michigan.
The conversations weren’t long, maybe 10 minutes, but he knew I cared. I felt that I was put into this young man’s life for a reason and a season. I’m not sure for what reason and have no idea how long the season is, but I plan to go as the Spirit leads me. During one of our phone conversations, he asked “Mr. Ed will you come visit me?” The way he asked, it hit me right in my heart! This kid has no one else in his life. He lost his mom at 2 years old & his dad a year later. He has a brother that he has not seen since he was 2 and has no idea where he is. I told him I would think about it, but in my heart, I knew I had to go. I just wanted to give him some HOPE. How do you live life without hope?
I talked to my wife and she offered to join me on the 5.5-hour (1-way) journey to see this young man I met in person twice. I had no game plan and I wasn’t trying to change the world, but I was praying “Lord show me how to help this one person and to make a difference in his life.” We’re still in the first chapter and I’m hoping he can return to Kentucky, where I can spend more time with him but I know this is in God’s hands. I just couldn’t give up on him. We’ll see where God takes this…
What advice would you have for someone looking to get into Life Coaching?
- Go into it with no expectations or preconceived ideas. You have to have a heart to want to help someone and then ask God to direct the next step(s). Go into it with the goal of helping 1 person.
- Take a step, go to a training, all you’re committing to is 4 hours on a Saturday, and see where the Lord leads you.
- THEN PRAY THAT GOD MATCHES YOU UP WITH THE PERSON HE WANTS YOU TO HELP. He’ll answer that prayer, I promise you.
Any closing reflections as you think about the past 8 months?
As I think about these past 8 months, the thing it has done for me is that it has brought me closer to the Lord (& that’s a good thing LOL). I am seeking his strength (& wisdom) as I walk through life and praying for Him to guide me and lead me to wherever this is going. I had never thought about being a foster parent, but this has given me a different perspective. My wife & I are still not at a place to foster, but it’s now on my radar should the Lord ask me to take another step of faith. There is a child out there that could use your love & guidance. Pray and ask God to match you up with that child. God answers prayers & it’s amazing to watch Him work!
Our hope is every child who asks for a life coach is requesting it on their behalf and not from a worker or a foster parent’s request. If you have been compelled by Ed’s story, find out more about our Life Coach program.