If the Lord truly works in mysterious ways, then Pastor Wade Harvey is a shining example.
Known to his skydiving buddies as the holy ghost for his characteristic white jumpsuit, the 60-year-old leader of the OK Falls Community Baptist Church can also be found — even in the dead of winter — pedalling his 36-inch unicycle on local streets with a big smile and a wave for everyone.
Admittedly unconventional, Harvey, a transplanted Nova Scotian, one year removed, makes no apologies for his unorthodox ways and even encourages others to do the same, all in the name of love.
“I’m a little different that’s for sure,” said Harvey with his ever-present smile and a quick shake of the head. “Absolutely people are surprised to see me riding my unicycle (actually he has three) but everybody smiles and I hope that I do bring joy to somebody’s life. If I make them laugh, that’s what it’s all about in my mind, to bring joy and laughter then I’ve brought God’s presence to them.
“I don’t take myself seriously and I always try to see things a little differently. I have dyslexia, a reading disability so I have to see things differently.”
He took up skydiving and as well as scuba diving back in Nova Scotia and last summer did about a dozen jumps in Vernon.
In spite of free falling to earth at nearly 53 metres a second Harvey feels “closer to God” when skydiving.
He even performed a wedding for a couple in the plane as they were reaching altitude and all three jumped together and the rings were exchanged on the ground after landing.
“It was special for them so that was important,” said Harvey.
Brenda, his wife of 38 years, admits her husband can be just a bit much at times but loves him dearly and wouldn’t change a thing, although she’s not too sure everyone else feels the same.
“Yes he’s an adrenaline junkie for sure,” said Brenda prior to Sunday’s service at the small McLean Creek Road church. “I think they (parishioners and others) think he’s out to lunch some of the time, most of the time, but he’s just lots and lots of fun.”
Harvey’s church services are also a little different than most.
“I try to keep it light, I only speak for 20 minutes because I think once their butts go to sleep their brains aren’t long in following,” he said. “I also often say that God has given us two ears and one mouth that should tell us that we should listen twice as much as we talk but it seems to be the reverse sometimes.”
Helping people is Harvey’s main directive in life whether it’s getting groceries for someone, piling firewood or just visiting a shut in or hospital patient.
All this comes without cost, either financially or spiritually.
“Some people think that if we feed the hungry we’re trying to convert them to Christianity. For me, the reality is we should all try to help each other and I guess that makes me a strange Baptist minister to some people,” he said.
On a more serious note, he sees much suffering at home and in the rest of the world and feels religion needs to shoulder some of the blame.
“The church has come down hard on different topics and we’ve ended up looking like we’re against things and the church should be more positive. We should be giving grace and not judgement and I think the church has kind of missed the boat in that sense,” he said. “I believe the idea of faith is becoming less and less important and the reality is that the more materialistic we become the less satisfied we are, the key to me is how do we get back to the basics.
“There is no simple answer, it’s personal choice. I believe we live in the best country in the world but people seem to grumble and find things to complain about. Why?”
As Sunday’s service ends, Wade and Brenda give their goodbyes to those heading out the doors.
“When they leave they should feel happier,” said Harvey. “I often say to them go out and fill the world, where there is darkness, bring light, where there’s despair bring hope.”