Last November, I went to Laity Lodge in the Texas Hill Country, southwest of San Antonio, for a staff retreat with The High Calling. We’re a staff that works almost entirely online; to have the opportunity to get together face-to-face is, well, the special thing you would expect it to be.
My roommate was Sam Van Eman. We got to talk like roommates thrown together do, we’d walk over to the programs and activities and talk some more, and we went hiking with Marcus Goodyear, the editor of The High Calling, and Jim Wood, he of Shrinking Camel fame and the Work Editor for The High Calling. After that hike, I thought of Sam as a mountain goat, with an unerring sense of keeping us going in the right direction.
Sam is the culture editor for The High Calling; I think of him as the Friday guy – he writes or edits the articles that appear on Fridays as the culture offerings. Sam is a staff specialist for CCO in Pennsylvania, a campus ministry that works with churches, colleges and other organizations “to develop men and women who live out their Christian faith in every area of life.” Once a year CCO hosts the Jubilee Conference, and in fact the most recent one concluded a week ago.
Sam was my pathway to The High Calling. I first ran across him several years ago, when he left a comment on a blog post at a site called Inside Work, which is no longer online. I followed his comment back to his blog, New Breed of Advertisers, and I was so taken with it that (Sam doesn’t know this) it was the very first blog I regularly followed.
Sam’s written a book, too: On Earth As It Is in Advertising? Moving from Commercial Hype to Gospel Hope. I reviewed it here in December of 2011.
If you seen his articles at The High Calling, you know that Sam writes stories.
Sam also tells stories.
A few weeks ago, with the help of Dan King (The High Calling’s social media guru and grand poobah of Bibledude), Sam created a site calls A Beautiful Trench It Was. I was one of the guinea pigs who got to “test hear” a story.
The site has six stories posted right now. They’re run no more than five minutes each. Sam talks about his growing-up years, and I have learned things I didn’t know. Things about Sam. And things about myself. I can’t recall a time I’ve been so moved to hear a story told. (True confession: I lost it listening to Tapes.)
Sam knows the secret of telling stories. Stories are powerful, because they connect us to each other.
That’s what Sam does.
Go listen to A Beautiful Trench It Was.
Photo of Sam Van Eman by Claire Burge. She doesn’t know that I’m using it, but I don’t think she would mind.