The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
As I look out of the window, I think of all those young people who made a commitment at that memorable event. What if that commitment was just the effect of the emotion of one evening?
The end of my stay on this part of the planet is brought to a close by the much-vaunted Youth Meeting. The very one that made me decide to come. A meeting bringing together young people from the whole State of Mississippi and its surroundings. As usual, I always have my guitar with me, slung over my shoulder, ready to pull out at the slightest bit of down-time. I can’t allow myself to lose my touch (I am a guitarist in a rock group made up of top-level musicians and I need to play a minimum of one hour per day in order to manage to keep up with them)...
To the right of the main entrance to the hall where the event is taking place, I have found a little, quiet corner, out of the way, but not too far, to work my guitar. I escape into my music far enough no longer to notice the looks of the people turning up who might find it odd.
The American with the springs in his shoes comes up to me (the squeaking of the springs robs him of the element of surprise)... My host is the one in charge of this meeting and the knowing smiles of the teenagers, caused by his bouncy gait, are irrelevant to him (it’s quite impressive, he is so totally ‘old school’) ... He puts his hand on my shoulder and leans towards me to enable him more easily to whisper his words in my ear:
‘Tonight, you’re the one who’s speaking.’
‘My strength is shown in your weakness.’ Timidly, I go over to the stage from where my friend Michel invites me to come up. I can’t help but have thoughts full of affection for him (ah ! this Parisian, what a great guy, for all that)... I am grateful to him, because he has done all he can for this moment to arrive.
I had prepared for this moment for such a long time. It had all begun with a simple prayer in the forest, then weekly (English) lessons, then training in telling my story without any snags in front of a few friends who love English.
I don’t feel very confident in front of this audience. My diction’s not exactly great (imagine a Swiss accent of a mountain farmer in English!), but here people are touched when someone makes an effort to communicate with them and I have their attention all the more because they have to concentrate to understand me...
At the end of my testimony, I have a very strong feeling that the Lord (whom I met that morning in the forest) is busy passing along the rows to touch the young people in this hall, now plunged into a respectful silence.
The main speaker, visibly moved, then gets up to take his turn. He confesses that when he saw me for the first time, playing the guitar, lost in my bubble, he had taken me for the village idiot and would never have dreamt that such a story was inside me. And he kept up the momentum by launching a stirring appeal to the audience to commit themselves 100% to Jesus, as this little Swiss guy has done. To make the commitment more concrete, he asks those who have decided to take this step to come towards the stage. Pretty much the whole of the audience moved forwards. In my whole life, I had never seen anything like it.
Once the meeting was over, some young people, full of enthusiasm, dash over towards me. They all want to get hold of the comic books that I have brought in my suitcase (and they don’t much care that there’s melted chocolate all over them)... In a few minutes, I am out of stock. My American host manages to calm them down, promising that he himself will distribute other books that the Swiss man will send as soon as he returns to his own country...
Like a fish in water
I am so happy to be back with my family, in my own little home with my little habits and my little ordered life... As for Michel, he set off again, right away, to another part of the world to share the warmth of this passion for the Gospel which burns in his heart. Maybe he is going to bring other ‘talents’ out of their comfortable and quite relative security to add even more colour to some unknown universes. I don't think that he ever stops... Where does he find all these resources? Maybe it's just that we all have different calls on our lives and we only feel at ease in the element for which we have been designed?...
Fortunately for me, there are forests all over the world. But to be honest, I am only at home if there is someone there with me... ; )
Whether we know it or not, the true element, in which each of us is like a fish in water, we only find in our Creator Himself. God as He is, not as we imagine Him to be (that’s just got NOTHING TO DO WITH IT!)...
He is the One from whom we have come and to whom, inevitably, we will return. The ten visions that we have concocted of Him, emanating from our fear of the light which exposes our pride, at the end of the day only lead to... divisions!!
During my walks, I sometimes come across people who love nature. I smile at the thought that they inspire in me as I wish them a pleasant walk: what they love - but often without realising it!! - is something of the unfathomable beauty that emanates from Him.
The world is getting a little better
Sending my package of comic books to the USA was one of my last contacts with that world, but the parcel full of my books got lost in the twists and turns of the international postal service... And, without further explanation, I was informed that there was no need to send another. The enthusiasm encountered in situ had apparently not withstood the distance of the journey... Unless it had been eclipsed by other activities and other preoccupations, reduced to being no more than a vague memory of an obsolete event...
However, as I look out of the window, I think of all those young people who made a commitment at that memorable event. What if that commitment was just the effect of the emotion of one evening? I like to think that it wasn’t and that they are now, like Michel, involved in different missions all over the world, to make it a better place.
OK, enough daydreaming!
I must get on with some drawing: I’ve got a book to finish...
P.S. The American couple who had the fondue sent me a gift of 1000 dollars.