Sunday, August 03, 2008

On the road

Last night I had the distinct pleasure of staffing the Compassion table for another event. The event was the Church Basement Roadshow at Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community Church. It was a truly remarkable experience.
I have to admit, I wasn't sure what this particular event was going to be about, but that doesn't usually matter to me. As an advocate for Compassion, I trust that any event or organization that invites Compassion to be involved is well worth my time and efforts to be there. And I was not disappointed by the Roadshow.
It's a traveling theatrical show that is making it's way across the country in an RV that has been converted to use bio-diesel fuel. Which is really cool when you think about it. As much as I doubt a lot of the eco-zealot's and their notions of Global Warming and fear-mongering about depleting our natural resouces, I do still believe that conservation and recycling are good ideas - just because they are. But I also believe that, as a Christian, they're proper stewardship over the earth that God has blessed us with.
But back to the show...
The three performers present themselves as a revival troop from 1908, and also as the great grandsons of that same revival troop in 2008. They dressed in the vintage clothing of the early 1900's and performed "skits" (for lack of a better term) to set things up for the messages that they wanted to share. It was great how they drew certain comparisons between the way both cultures were/are experiencing rapid changes. Between the the "skits" one of the three would disappear briefly, only to return in his everyday clothing so he could share his message from his own heart.
The first one up was Doug. A tall man, even to me, who shared his story of not being raised in a church of any kind. He explained how he had never been exposed to Christianity through his youth, and how his concept of God was somewhat distorted because of that. Until one day when a Christian friend invited him to see the Passion Play. He went, and as he watched the story of Christ unfold he began to realize that this was something he had been searching for all of his life, but never realized it. And he fell in love with this story of God coming to earth to take up the causes of the poor and oppressed and the weak and the sick. This was a God he could really believe in. But after the play, when the players invited people back stage to hear more about this incredible story of God, he was disappointed by the way they made everything seem so stifled by a formulaic system of belief. And this continued with other well-intentioned Christian leaders that he encounted as he was growing in his faith. He began to question why it was that we can believe in a Jesus who never told two people the same thing, yet we have one-size fits all guides to living a Christian life. It lead Doug into a different direction, one that would take God out of the box that religion has placed Him in, and allow Jesus the freedom to be Himself as the Passion story tells us He is.
Next up was Tony. He had a video clip of time he spent with a trucker named Frank - or Trucker Frank as he has come to be known. And Trucker Frank tells a tale of lost faith and faith re-born, and not because of church, but because God met him where he was - in the cab of his truck, rolling across the country. Tony's own story was one of seeking God in his education. He went to college and immersed himself in theological courses. He got his Masters and is working on his Doctorate, but he also realized that what he knew was only a bunch of "isms" and "ologies", not real faith. Real faith he found while working on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation as he sat in a little coffee shop talking to anyone who came in to see him. And he has come to discover that God is wherever we need Him to be, but only if we're taking Him with us wherever we go.
After Tony spoke, they paused from their "skits" to do a presentation on Compassion. It was a video of the trip that the performers had taken to visit a Compassion project in El Salvador. It was a powerful presentation, and when it was done we (the other advocate and myself) handed out child packets to everyone there - including the photog/reporter for The Trib. There were about 40 people present, so it didn't take too long.
Finally, Mark told his tale. He spoke of what it means to be a Christian by just putting yourself out there and caring for people wherever they are. He told the story of being a part of a community of believers who wanted to make an impact in their neighborhood by cleaning up the garbage on the streets and sidewalks in their area. It was met with some thanks, and even offers of cold beer or snacks. And at times it was met with some disdain. But as the community of believers grew they tried other ways of impacting their neighborhood. One day, while riding on the bus, Mark and one of his friends met an elderly man who was obviously not completely sane, and tried to befriend him because he seemed so sad and lonely. They took some time to get to know the man a little bit. They came with him to his "home", which was an abandoned school bus that was on blocks in a vacant lot. It took months for this man to open up to Mark and his friends within the community of believers where he lived, but eventually he did open up to them. And they eventually ended up saving his life. And I suppose the story is still continuing for everyone involved. But Mark also ended his segment by doing a bit of Slam Poetry. A poem called Reimagine;


As the show ended everyone was reminded to either fill out the form to sponsor a child or return the packets to us. We ended up with 4 sponsorships last night, which is about 10 percent of the crowd - and that's pretty good. I even had the opportunity to invite a young lady to join the Advocate's network. I really hope she will, because she seemed so enthusiastic about helping these kids, even though she can only afford to sponsor one - and that's pretty much my own story.
When it was all said and done I got to talk to Doug briefly and Tony as well. I shared with them both about the way their messages were things I've been hearing and reading about in my own devotional time. It seems that God is getting all of His people on the same page these days, and I'm just glad to be a part of it all.
I also asked Tony about his involvement with the Pine Ridge Reservation, since I've always had a heart for the native american people, and how I might be able to help or get involved. He told me to send him an e-mail and he'd send me the info. So who knows what God might have in store for me in the future.
All in all, a great night for me. If these guys do this again next year - or something similar - I might recommend to P.Dave that we bring them in to Revolution.

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Blogger Jeff A said...

That sounds like a lot of fun. I really need to get out of the house more often, other than to go to work.

2:26 AM  

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