Monday, June 19, 2017

The Thoughts of a Man Leaning on a Fence...

This is an article originally published June 19, 2011, on Revolution Church's first trip to Jamaica by Pastor Kris Freeman.

Photo by Leslie Mitchell
"In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike - and they will prophesy. And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below." - Acts 2:17-19a

Far beyond me to explain how amazing my God is, I am rather going to admit I often have trouble understanding it myself. Staring at the tip of the sun, peeking over the horizon in Clarendon, Jamaica, this past Sunday night, there were so many things running through my head.

I looked at the ball of light slipping into darkness. I knew that was the same sun my wife and kids could see in White House, Tennessee. I thought of my church, which a little over nine months ago was starkly a vision and now God was changing lives of hundreds of people. I missed them; not so much the stuff, the songs, the magic of American worship experiences or the hospitality; I missed the people. I regretted that Brynn West couldn't smile at me during this moment, or I could not read Dana Bulla's connection card and see what God is going to answer for her next. It was a shame that Danielle Sanchez wasn't there to remind me how great of a volunteer she and her family are to our church, or Joe Smith to look at me with quiet eyes that tell a story he is about to turn loose for Jesus. It was the people I missed. Some of those people, I knew little about before the beginning of Revolution Church.

I leaned on the fence. I could hear the sounds of a sputtering engine across the street as two native Jamaican men worked under the hood. But my glance was caught, and as I saw him place his hands on his hips in a white tank top and reversed ball cap, I wondered what he could see in my eyes. Could he sense fear, or hurt? Could he see I had joy, or did he wonder why he wasn't important enough for me to exit the church yard and say hello to him. Forget for a moment that he might have been smoking marijuana and I was in another country. Could he see through the smoky haze to my heart and wonder, did I really know his plight; or would I simply board a plane five days later and return to normal?

I brushed an insect from the side of my face and heard the laughter of Whitney as the rest of the team gathered at the back of the church. Leslie snapped her camera, through the distance I heard it. I turned and she snapped again; the moment caught. I was caught; but the question is, what had me?

Was it a photo that distinguishes the incredible love I have for my church, or was it deeper? I was searching that horizon for a vision I found which may be bigger than my church can handle. Can I truly explain to them that we can plant a church in Jamaica for $20,000 and support them for one year - while all the time knowing that WE OURSELVES need a building and have no financial base to make such a purchase to house our own worship? Would it be too bold to cast that vision, knowing that some will shout the common cliche of "why should we send people to other countries when we have so many problems here" - and then realize I once uttered the very same statement behind my pastor's back?

Would it be possible to imagine that six days from then I would be sitting in the gym at H.B. Williams Elementary School, setting up for our church at home when misery would grip me and my spiritual eyes would see how much of American worship is superficial and selfish and I really had no desire to "produce" a service this weekend? But I will, and we did, and I placed signs in the pouring rain in hopes for Sunday to bring a new family to our church for the first time.

Goodness, that's a lot to think about in one minute. Vision not only transcends time, it also tends to stop it. In those moments, the mind races so fast it's impossible to remember everything He is sharing with you.

Church was supposed to begin in this building at 6 p.m. No one had arrived. Some on our team were beginning to ask and wonder if we were even going to stay. But God just continued to pound my spirit. I was restless, even inside the building where we posed for photos and creepily annoyed Sam Ramdial without his knowledge.

The crowd began to arrive and our team sat on different sides of the aisle on the front row. The second song started and I sat down, which is not customary in Jamaican worship. Amber turned to me and asked if I was ok. My response a bit telling of the truth. I said, "I don't know." Seconds later, I whispered, "something incredible is about to happen."

We sang, I preached. God delivered a powerful word and the worship was amazing. He may have radically changed the lives of three of our team members during the service, but it is impossible for me to share exactly what that means without their words.

What I know is, I saw it. I saw it on the horizon, under the hood of that card, bristling through the evening sky and skipping through Whitney's laughter. I saw it in Dana's prayers at home and Brynn's smile. I saw it in the sunset, and I also saw how the sun is going to rise. I saw it in a baby's face and sprinkled on the tile of a sparkling Jamaican church floor.

God changed me this moment. Perhaps the prophet Joel was speaking to me when he cast this vision of God through the scriptures. Maybe Peter was experiencing this wave when he defended the actions of his peers and disciples at Pentecost. It is likely, neither knew me or my name, but this scripture revealed itself in power to me at this moment.

I'd just like to be clear. When I step onto the stage tomorrow, it may be different than it ever has been before. God showed me a new Kris. He freed spiritual burdens and released a captive spirit I had held about missions since 1998. He showed me a new world which my eyes have never seen. He made me a new dad, a new pastor, a new friend.

An old man or young, I am blessed by the dream and vision God has placed in my heart. You may be tempted to use the word prophecy, but I'd like to remind you I am simply a man who should be speaking what God has given to me. A dreamer, a visionary, a missionary; it's just not fitting to label it when I serve a Savior who died for the sins of the whole world, and privileged me enough in his esteem to grace me with opportunity to share this news.

I attempted to write it down, my only prayer is you can see it. I pray you can see God. I pray you can see me. I pray you can see God in me.

I'm nothing but a servant and these are my thoughts.

Pardon me while I lean on the fence.

- Written June 18, 2011, by Pastor Kris Freeman of Revolution Church.

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