Every so often I have to read someone on Facebook that seems to miss the irony as they slam social media on social media. Typically it's because they're tired of all the haters. Well, this little story is to tell you why the haters can do some good (in spite of themselves).
About this time last year I came across an acquaintance from school years past that had a bit of a mental meltdown about some mega church that had invested millions into a crime-ridden, impoverished city of the U.S. It read something like... how dare they claim to be Christians and invest millions for entertainment while people starve around the world. Rant. Rant. Rant.
I was feeling particularly cranky that day, and so I engaged the hater. We exchanged several dozen comments back and forth about how the hater felt it was ok to spend a hundred thousand dollars on a statue of a sports figure, but not Jesus Christ, how dare a church give a poor city a safe place to bowl and even DANCE (oh... the nerve) and basically unleash his view that all mega churches are evil empires of corruption that will split Hell wide open, dragging humanity with them in a fiery, sulphuric crash!
Don't you know they should give that money to charity?
Finally, I asked the honest question that ended the conversation, "So where do you donate money?" I figured that I'd try to patch up the relationship (it was quite heated) by giving a small amount to his charity of choice. I was met with several minutes of nothing... and then the response, "I don't give to anyone, I pay taxes."
The hater didn't give a penny of his income to anyone else. At this point I replied that I found it interesting that he who gave nothing wanted to direct others how to spend their millions. Now... grant it, I should have been more loving, more compassionate, and less willing to rub his nose in his own excrement. I'll admit that I was feeling a little bit like I needed to ask forgiveness....
...and that's when I received the instant message from Jason Lee. Jason also was an old school acquaintance. Jason told me that my approach was refreshing, and it was about time that someone said it. He then went on to tell me that he was the worship pastor at Bear Valley Church in Colorado, his lead pastor had directed him to find an international mission to visit, and since I'd provided him such an entertaining afternoon over my exchange with the hater... he wanted to invest into Guatemala.
Are. You. Kidding. Me? This is evidence that God can use anything for His glory when we are willing and available.
What Jason didn't know was that I wanted to be him when we were at Anderson University. He had natural talent and charisma that just dripped from his fingers. He could play the piano and sing.... absolutely rocking it out like Billy Joel and Elton John. His rendition of I Guess That's Why They Call it The Blues had stolen the show at an Agathos (think fraternity, except without booze and debauchery) 80s Encore, a talent show.
Of course, we were a CHRISTIAN university, and so I'll never forget that after the line, "rollin' like thunder, under the covers" he shouted.... "of course they were married!" Jason Lee was everything I was dying to be, but I lacked the talent. I walked away from Anderson with a music minor, and my pride partially intact. He was a superstar. He had my admiration from across the 18 years since our graduation.
Jason came to Guatemala this past week and he brought his wife Ann. He volunteered to lead worship one night at our mission. I was afraid to hear him again. I thought... what if I have some warped memory from our college days and he really isn't that good?! I mean... it's been years and I've heard a lot of great performers since then. Maybe he was just a big fish in a small pond.
And then he began to sing. Haters of the world... I had an authentic Jesus-tingle moment. Tears fell down my face as his voice ripped out across that stormy night with the rain slamming down on the laminate roof and he absolutely rocked the piano. Better. He was better than I had remembered. Dude was KILLING it. The teams that were gathered from three different geographical locations in the U.S. were suddenly united around the throne of God.
For the next 25 minutes we were transcended from that stormy porch, around 80 sons and daughters of God singing as one strong voice, led by the vocal giant of my memory, and my Facebook brother in arms. Life in that moment, singing beside my wife and family, along with his family... just seemed somehow perfect.
We went on that week to serve together, and I watched Jason and Ann change the lives of a beautiful family. God is good. And that's how Negative Christian Haters Helped a Family! So... the next time you're frustrated with those nay-sayers out there... remember the Stove Project of Jason & Ann Lee.
|First shovel into a concrete mixture|
|He said he'd never done it before...|
|...and yet he had that concrete folded like a Frosty!|
|It all begins with a solid foundation.|
|Now Jason becomes a mason.|
|Ann comes over to make sure he doesn't foul it up.|
|Foundation complete. Base unit installed.|
|Assembling the fire-box.|
|Ann, Jason, and Brayan smoothing out the insulating composite.|
|The counter stone is layed (all local materials).|
|The vented stove top must be level and flush.|
|Ann inserts the steel stove-top.|
|Jason placing the chicken-wire protector over the stove-pipe.|
|A family comes together to fire it up.|
|Anna lights her brand new stove.|
Smoke will no longer fill their home.
The amount of daily firewood is radically reduced.
|This small amount will burn for half the day.|
|Grandma & Grandpa, Mom & Dad,|
& 15 kids, some from aunts and uncles
now have a little more hope for the future.
|The Lee family testified of the great love of Jesus Christ,|
prayed, and together we all dedicated this home in obedience to God.