Journey To The Center
The next year, Redwood Covenant had such a booth. "We were scared to death," Quintrell says. "But we had the most profound, utterly exciting, fun experience. Lines of people stood waiting for prayer—Buddhists, hippies, everybody. About halfway into it, we looked at each other and said, 'This is more fun than church.'
"Every single person—every single person—was touched by the presence of God in some way. Some were crying. Some said, 'Wow, I felt something.' We were scared Christians, thinking it was going to be bizarre. But we found out that Jesus was already there. So many of those who came had Christian roots somewhere in their past."
Christ Is The Bridge
Quintrell's church embraced her ministry vision, retooling her position to director of spiritual formation. She launched a program called the Journey Center, as per what she felt were her instructions. The center offered classes in contemplative prayer, spiritual direction, and spiritual formation. It also engaged in outreach.
Though renting booths was expensive, the Journey Center returned to the Health and Harmony Fair repeatedly. For the past four years, staff have also hosted a booth at the Santa Rosa Wednesday Night Market, Sonoma County's largest farmers market. Up to 50 people ask for prayer each week. "They are people who don't have a faith community, who don't have someone saying, 'How can I pray for you?'" says Quintrell.
Volunteers are trained "to understand that this is mission work," she says. "We're learning about culture and language, things to avoid because they give the wrong idea or accidentally offend. If we use certain words, walls go up. If we learn their words, bridges go up."
Since some of the offensive words are Jesus, church, and Christianity, their work isn't easy or comfortable. Volunteers have learned that Christ carries positive connotations, for many are into "Christ consciousness."
"They mean something different," Quintrell says, "but Christ is a bridge word. So we usually pray in the name of Christ the healer." As Quintrell has read more about alternative spiritualities, she has been amazed to find all the words that were in her original vision: journey, Christ-centered, healing, wholeness. "From the beginning," she says, "God gave us a bridge."
A stronger bridge came in human form. While researching popular alternative spiritual directors, Quintrell contacted one named Ruah Bull, who sent a brochure about her practice. She offered techniques in chakra balancing and past-life regression.
Quintrell was repelled. Bull left another message, explaining that much of her work was with people wounded in church settings who had left the faith. Her words described precisely the people Quintrell had been called to reach. She made an appointment to meet Bull at a local coffee shop.
"I was nervous," Quintrell says. "I had all my friends praying for me, and some were worried and scared." Bull, too, had adverse feelings; raised Irish Catholic and absent from the church since her teens, she wanted nothing to do with evangelicals.
Something happened the moment they met. "As we walked up to each other, it was as if we had stepped under a waterfall of love. We grabbed each other and hugged. Then we sat for the next two or three hours, sharing our stories."
Bull's included radical feminism, goddess worship, Buddhist meditation, and Native American spiritual practices. As she explained to Quintrell, Jesus kept showing up unbidden. He had appeared in a group exercise in guided meditation. When Bull visualized a door, turned the handle, and stepped into the room where she was supposed to meet her higher self, Jesus was there.