Who We Are, What We Do
What began as a counseling ministry in 2008, evolved into a Christian leadership training and equipping organization. On this page, you will learn about Rick Thomas and his passion for sharing the life-changing message of the gospel with the world.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating. In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).
I was the fourth of five boys born before my mother’s twenty-third birthday. My father began drinking alcohol when he was twenty-one and never stopped until he died at forty-two. My father was a mean drunk who verbally and physically abused us. I have no idea what a reasonable father is supposed to be like to a child. My father was a mean drunk who verbally and physically abused us throughout our childhood. Our primary goals were to endure and escape. And we all did. I left home when I was fifteen years old.
Drugs and Alcohol
The words fast and hard define my upbringing, probably because I was shoplifting, drinking alcohol, and smoking weed by age twelve. Three years later, I found myself in jail, which turned into two years of probation. Going to jail was one of the major turning points of my life. Being incarcerated was a wake-up call. My two older brothers were already in prison. My time in jail was a clear warning that I was heading their way. What I didn’t know at that time was how their lives would abruptly end. Someone murdered my oldest brother in 1987; my next oldest brother was murdered ten years later in 1997.
What I did know was that I had to change my lifestyle. The jail was the reason I decided to clean up my act. Since I did not know the Lord, the best thing I could do was self-reformation (Proverbs 14:12). So I reformed. Reflectively, I would say that being locked up in jail was one of the many blessings the Lord used to put me on the road to change (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Four years later, my father died. I was nineteen years old. The following year, I married a co-worker, embarking on my dream of a different life from my childhood. Initially, this new plan was working.
A daughter and son soon followed. They were two more dreams to come true. It was a good life, but not a perfect one. I began to feel that there was something still missing. I started to sense a deep void in my soul. Though self-reformation was helpful, it was not satisfying. I sensed a deep hole in my soul. By 1984, I had worked in a machine shop where someone told me about Christ. Though I had known about God because my mother forced us to attend church as children, religion was not appealing to me. A church was just another good place to get some good weed.
Then the Lord imposed Himself into my life. He regenerated me in the fall of 1984 (John 3:7). This life-altering event was the right missing piece that seemed so elusive. The perplexing riddles of my soul were now finding resolution as the Lord’s salvation set in motion the call of God on my life, which has since defined all that I do. I quickly fell in love with the Bible (Psalm 119:16). It became my constant companion. Within a year of attending my new church, I taught Sunday school, worked with the youth, sang in the choir, and did evangelism work in my small Monroe, North Carolina community.
In early 1986 our family moved 135 miles south to Greenville, South Carolina so that I could attend a small Bible college. It seemed fitting, as I was determined to follow God by pursuing formal ministry training. I soon found out that our plans are not always God’s plans. What I didn’t perceive was yet another life-altering event that would most dramatically shape me in the ministry the Lord had already prepared for me (Jeremiah 1:5).
It was April 08, 1988—nearing the end of my sophomore year in college–when I walked through our home door and saw the missing piano. As I desperately ran through our house, what had happened became apparent. My wife had chosen a relationship with another man and took our two children with her. That was the single most horrifying experience of my life. Within fifteen hours, I lost 10 pounds; though I did not know it, that was just the beginning of my sorrows.
I lived the next nine years in an isolated and desperate funk. Alienated from my legalistic church community, I realized the shattering of my dream of a life with a healthy family experience. During this season, I was physically and emotionally a wreck, as the mighty hand of God was shaping me in the crucible of suffering. I was learning God’s plan for my life: I went to college to become educated in the Bible; He drove me into the wilderness to become educated about God. (Cf. Mark 1:12-13)
Out of the Depths
Writing about my experiences in those dark days would take me twenty-five years. During that time of unremitting darkness, I read and re-read the book of Job for four consecutive years. I knew the end of Job’s story—how the Lord blessed him in chapter forty-two (Job 42:10), and I desperately wanted to experience that from God. The problem was the forty-one chapters before the blessing.
Apart from salvation, there is no question that this season was the most painful and transformative. I resigned that it would be a season that would never end. This assumption added to the all-encompassing pain beyond anything I had ever experienced. I stood on the precipice and stared into my future; all I could see was more darkness, ad infinitum.
During those years, the Lord taught me many things, which I will eventually put in a small book, Suffering Well: How to Steward God’s Most Feared Blessing. I hope the Spirit of God will use His work in my life to comfort others in some small way (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Unmerited Suffering Brings Uncommon Grace
Although I did not immediately recognize what the LORD was doing to me, years later, I learned how my uncommon suffering and God’s unmerited favor were the perfect ingredients to do a vessel-changing work in my life (Philippians 2:12-13). All the sufferings were working together for my good, God’s glory, and the benefit of others (Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20).
The Lord did then and continues to bestow His two most profound gifts on me unrelentingly—the gift of salvation and the gift of suffering (Philippians 1:29; 1 Peter 2:21; John 12:24). My most profound and most intense desire is to serve Him by creating biblical resources for those who are hurting, struggling, confused, and wanting a more vigorous walk with Jesus.
My passion for sharing the life-changing message of the gospel was born out of a broken heart, restored by God, and redeemed for His fame. Our mission statement is to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. Please let us know if our team can serve you in any way.
Listen to Rick Share His Story
From Birth to Jail – Part One
From Jail to Jesus – Part Two
From Jesus to Death – Part Three
From Death to Life – Part Four
The Reason I Stopped Hating My Dad