Hugh Halter
Two Man Chinese Massage
by Hugh Halter on August 12th, 2013

At the beginning of my 10-weeker, I asked an old sage for one bit of advice for what I should do during a sabbatical.  Immediately he said, “get out of town and do something completely new with someone you’ve never done that with.”
Exit Denver, hello New York! 

Per Gandolf’s advice I called Caesar Kalinowski, one of my closest buddies, who just moved to the Upper Westside of Manhattan.  Caesar directs a national ministry called GCM, and is on a two-year stint in the big apple working with church planters.  They scored a sweet pad just off Broadway and 75th.  C and his lovely wife Tina are “foodies” and so I knew I would experience the best of Big Apple cuisine . . . but I never thought I’d experience a bit more.
I busted my back skiing in college so sometimes on long flights I stiffen up like a mummy in Siberia. I made it through one workout at C’s local fitness center but after that, I was toast.  I asked Tina & C where I could get a “real massage.” They both recommended a place they go together.  “Oh, together, so that should be legit, ay?” They assured me it was, so I made plans to head out for a little me time.  Just before I left, Caesar said, “Hey mate, wait for me. I’m in!”  
Now for those who are a little more wise to the ways of the world, you know that many massage joints, especially the ones that are of Asian derivatives, sometimes veer from more orthodox practices and extend the ‘reach’ of their discipline into areas that are not, shall we say, appropriate.  As Caesar and I walked closer I noticed that some of the options we’re pretty shady looking.
An older picture of good friends. Hirsh, Smay, Me, Hatmaker, Trey and Caesar 

“C, bro. Are you sure we’re in a good spot?  Like ‘no happy endings’ right?”  He sputtered.  “Yeah, mate, seriously, Tina and I love this joint. Trust me, they know what they’re doing. You’ll feel like a million bucks!” Remembering the vulnerable moment where Caesar followed me into one of my hot yoga classes and almost lost his life (fodder for a blog yet untold), I thought I should trust him on this one.

We entered and I was glad to meet two older, shorter, and much sturdier looking grandmotherly types. They escorted us past a line of humans in what looked like a World War II triage center.  Single massage beds, side by side, with just a short wall divider in between. It made me feel safer knowing my buddy would be right beside me.  But then I thought, Yo, Halter, you shouldn’t be afraid of someone seducing you, you should be afraid of these woman swinging from a zip line and driving their knees into your L4 at 30 mph.  And that’s exactly what happened.  My therapist must have won a silver medal in the 1976 Olympics for floor exercise because she was able to simultaneously dig her two boney knees deep into each glute while using her elbows as jackhammers around my hip cage.  Each time I tried to cry out for help to C, she’d reef a little harder making it impossible to squeak out a call for help.  Eventually the torture was over and both Caesar and I made our escape back into the safer streets of New York.  The evening ended with a nice piece of cheesecake and some fun memories of what won’t ever happen again, at least in my world.

So what is my sabbatical thought? Well, it actually came to me while I limped down the staircase the next morning.  As I sipped my cup of Joe I was watching Caesar stumble around the kitchen looking for something to serve me for breakfast. I thought, you know, I really love this guy. Not in broke back mountain terms, but just in the man to man sense. 

I’m finding over the course of my life that I grow in respect and want to be around men and woman who fight the good fight, who lives by faith, and who have learned through hard knocks and real life how to walk as Jesus does in the world.  I’m inspired by people who keep living on the edge.

Fewer and fewer who enter the ministry world seem to know how to throw a party or how to set a table for people--especially lost people. So few have learned the balance of working a real job and wedging in every spare second for those God is hoping to reach out to.  Tina and Caesar have. Running a successful restaurant that is a refuge for native Tacoma peasants, playing a key role modeling incarnational ministry and training thousands around the country and world makes me want to stay in this Kingdom battle for years to come.  Look, I’m 47 and at times I feel like I’ve put in my time. It’s easy to use 25 years of hard labor in ministry as a justification to let others take the baton. That is until you form deep friendships with people that are older (sorry C and Tina!) but who keep leading by the way they live. 

If I could give you one sage word of advice, it would be go to places you’ve never been and do things you’ve never done, but if that is a bit far off, at least pick friends that inspire you by how they live so that you keep living as large a kingdom life as you can.  Being around faithful people is the best form of kingdom peer pressure. I needed these three days with my friends to help me look down the road a bit.

Thanks Caesar and Tina for the great wine, the banana pudding at Magnolia’s, for keeping me safe from the massage vixen, and for living a big life. 
If you want to find out more about what Caesar and Tina do, look for Caesar’s first book called Transformed. Click the book above for details.
He’s also just put out one of the best resources for small groups, called The Gospel Primer. Grab some friends and grab this artful piece of missional training. It will help you live like they live.  ​Click on the book above for more information.

Posted in not categorized    Tagged with sabbatical, missional, christian leaders, Missio, transformed, Caesar Kalinowski, New York, GCM, God is refuge, adventure


Randy - August 21st, 2013 at 4:58 PM
Man that made me laugh and encouraged me! Thanks man!
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