F-Bombs, Brothels, Demons, and Hearts Renovated by Jesus
“Why the fuck did you make us watch that?” is what one courageous young woman of color who refused to code switch and openly showed the anger, sadness, pain and frustration usually reserved for men and women who look like her after watching “Documenting Hate: Charlottesville”. She said yes to the invitation I made at the beginning of RecWeek, our week-long Experiential Discipleship program, to bring our whole selves to Jesus and to one another. And I am deeply grateful for the gift that she gave as we engaged in lament, confession, and reconciliation among a diverse crowd that rarely if ever witnesses healing interactions after volatile exchanges about race, white supremacy and power. And that is where I find Jesus most active in the work that I am privileged to lead. That space where everyone’s eyebrows go up because someone just went there and are now wondering “what’s gonna happen now?”
This happened again as another young woman shared the rejection she experienced from her mother and father. “What do you do you if your mother and father told you all they wanted was a check?” she said.
I was confused and when she clarified, eyes all around the room began to well up with tears. She recounted an interaction where her parents told her that in exchange for raising her they just wanted a check for what she had cost them; and after she paid it, for them to assumedly go their separate ways. The pain was palpable and as another young woman began to pray for her, the Holy Spirit began to move in the room. But so did the Enemy. I asked those with children in the room to stand and pray for those who had been rejected by their parents. As we prayed blessing over them, one young woman began to cry out loudly on the floor. As we gathered around her to pray, the peace of Jesus flooded her and the demonic oppression left quickly. Deliverance in the Kingdom is not longwinded.
And yet most often what Jesus wants to do does not happen in front of everyone but in side conversations and solitude spent with him. A young man shared with me that he wrote his own Psalm 51 because he paid to rape a young woman in a brothel in Hong Kong. His grief and sadness was paralyzing but to know that David, Abraham, and other men in scripture had sinned so terribly but still could be used by God created a space for him to experience freedom. He wanted to be an instrument for reconciliation with women instead of being an agent for abuse and exploitation; and Jesus could make that possible. Another young woman lamented the pressure she felt all of her life to perform and achieve. How amazing it was to receive an invitation to BE with Jesus, not to DO for Him. Lindsay Craig, a student from Vassar College captured it well when she wrote, “How do I unconsciously add to environmental waste by investing in fast fashion industries? How does my rage toward Brett Kavanaugh and others hinder the advancement of the #MeToo movement?… I will grapple with what it means to be a mindful consumer, emotionally healthy activist and prayerful resistor for the rest of my life. But for now, I need to renovate the broken parts in me.
For the last 10 years, it has been a privilege of mine to lead RecWeek as an Area Director with InterVarsity USA. And this year with podcasts, videos, The 12 Lies That Hold America Captive, and our Emotionally Healthy Activist Course, I find myself trying to capture what happens each day and share it those who simply are not in the room. How do I explain what happens when a “white” student understands racism for the first time and begins to ask how to divest from white supremacy rather than feeling attacked, guilty and ashamed? Or, that moment when a young man realizes his complicity in toxic masculinity and asked his sisters to pray for bravery for him that he might be a redemptive force in his family, on his team, and in the world? Or when people smile with tears coming down their faces because they can finally just CRY. I can’t capture that but I’m deeply grateful that I get to be a part of it.
So, I want to say a deep thank you to everyone who prays, invests and intercedes for this work. And, a special thank you to those who come and see in person — especially to the IVED Team and IV staff & volunteers! This work is not easy, but it is holy and good. Thank you!