The jangle of an incoming text woke me from a deep sleep. “We’re in trouble,” it began. It was 5:16 a.m. California time. I was 2,000 miles from home, jet-lagged and groggy. I managed to send a reply to Michael along the lines of “Be there as soon as I can.”
Michael Galovic and Tamara Puffer met almost 25 years ago at the Open Door Community in Atlanta, when he was living there as a resident volunteer and she showed up one day to help out in the soup kitchen with the youth group from the suburban Presbyterian church where she served as associate pastor. Tamara kept coming back. Her time at the Open Door reshaped her theology and calling, and she began seeking a position where she could serve marginalized people like the homeless ones and former prisoners who were revealing Jesus to her there in transformative ways. Continue reading
Twenty years ago today, my friend Tamara Puffer and her husband Michael were driving home from an after-dinner outing for frozen yogurt. When another car slammed into theirs, their lives were profoundly and permanently altered. Tamara spent two weeks in an induced coma, followed by months of rehabilitation, relearning how to walk and speak, read and dress and eat.
Tamara had recently left her career as a professional violinist and was serving her first church as an ordained Presbyterian pastor. Her theology was deeply shaped by the homeless people she worked with as a volunteer at the Open Door Community in Atlanta. She embraced the Gospel as good news for people on the margins. After her accident, she reflected, “In one life-shattering moment I went from feeling like someone in control—with a clear career path, the privilege of choice, and a measure of power—to being an invisible person on the sidelines, merely trying to cope with each challenge as it came and get through each hour as it unfolded. I wasn’t simply feeling called to ministry among the marginalized. I was the marginalized.” Continue reading