Who is Ryan Boss? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself since he first started visiting our church, and one that I was excited to answer when we got together. It’s not often that a blond haired High School aged guy walks into our church and isn’t accompanied with their parents, or an existing member. He sought us out specifically. That is the image I want people to have in their minds of Ryan, as a seeker. And no, I’m not talking about the position Harry Potter played in Quiddich. Calm down. I’m talking about a young man who started searching for answers to hard questions at a young age. Why is my family life the way it is? How do I overcome it? What is my purpose here? Wait. Am I talking about Harry Potter? Definitely not, because a huge hairy wizard didn’t come busting down the door and changing his life, but God came breaking down the wall of sin separating them both and opening Ryan’s eyes to the glories that are His love, grace, and mercy. Just as I sought to answer my question of “Who is Ryan Boss”, he too continues to seek to understand who this God is that has radically changed him.
Ryan loves music, and before you say “Oh yeah me too, who doesn’t?” first let me say ease up on the attitude. Secondly, let me say that Ryan loves music. How often, besides in your car, do you sit down and listen to music just to listen to it, and when Taylor Swift comes out with a new album doesn’t count either. I mean, when do you just sit down and turn music on and just listen? That’s what Ryan does. He continually searches for new music to sit down and just listen to. He also loves books, well specifically Tim Keller’s books. So much so, that I’ve wrestled with contacting the Keller’s and letting them know that a 19 year old blond haired guy may show up in their yard asking for an autograph. But, this is for good reason as it was one of Keller’s books, The Prodigal God, which radically shaped his understanding of the Gospel.
Besides those two things, Ryan is always searching for new opportunities and experiences, so when Jesse invited him on the river fishing trip the conversation went like this:
Ryan: “Yeah man, I would love to!”
Jesse: “Great. You ever been fishing before?”
Ryan: “Nope. Never.”
Ryan: “Also, I can’t swim.”
Well that didn’t deter Jesse and so, exemplifying everything I talked about in the last blog, he took Ryan out to get acquainted with the glorious feeling of a bass on your hook, and Ryan fell in love with it! He then went on the river trip, and from what I was told, Ryan was so filled with passion and commitment that he fished harder than any person there and only caught a really bad sunburn and one fish the entire time. For most, that would have been enough to squash any good feelings about fishing, but for Ryan it only continued igniting a new found love.
So, that’s what Ryan likes to do, but who is Ryan Boss? What’s his story?
Ryan didn’t have it easy growing up. He didn’t meet his father until he was twelve years old. He lived with a neglectful and alcoholic mother. He was surrounded by the allure of alcohol and drugs, but there was a small beacon of hope. In talking with Ryan, he says that his grandmother raised him more than his mother did. She would be the one to take him to church, and I can’t help but think of the story of Timothy and the relationship he had with his grandmother who passed down her faith to her grandson. It was through this avenue that he started getting connected in the church until he found himself at a crossroads of what it meant to live a life as his family had, or to live a life as part of God’s family. He gave his life to Christ at seventeen years old, but the struggle didn’t end there. Ryan described the church he attended and was baptized in as very legalistic. His upbringing gave him a very clear image of all the things not to do, but he struggled to connect the grace and mercy he had experienced through Christ to the legalistic mentality his church held. Eventually, a friend gave him The Prodigal God, as I mentioned before, and that started a chain of events that have shaped his life, and his understanding of the Gospel. Ryan left his old life and church, moved into a friend’s house, and began searching for a new church home. He found that home in Sovereign Hope, and asserted that under Adams teaching, he has grown more than ever, and from the members, he has never felt more loved, welcomed, and at home in his life.
Alcohol. Drugs. Abandonment. A legalistic church. They all sound like the recipe for disaster, and yet these are all the things that Ryan overcame proving that through Christ, God can pull anyone out of any situation to walk a path opposite than the one most people think they were destined to walk. We are fortunate that the path God gave Ryan to walk connected him to our church, and I think I speak for everyone when I say we are excited to continue to grow with him.