Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Are You Looking at ME?

"You must be looking at me 'cause I don't see nobody else". Robert DeNiro - The Taxi Driver

The line made famous in an oscar winning performance "are you looking at me", plays in my head each time I look out into the audience of children.

I will wave, or smile, or call them forward to help with a story and they look around at all their friends, giggle, glance back with a finger pointing towards themselves and in the language of all hearts I read it in their eyes -

"Are you looking at me?"

They are also hesitant at times, unsure of embarrassment or worse, but on occasion my glance and gesture for them to come forward is met with great excitement as they jump to join me up front.

This usually happens after they have witnessed someone else do it without harm or injury, and actually survived and had a good time.

I have seen over a thousand children's faces, another 500 or so adults over the last six days and twelve programs. I saw quite a few "are you looking at me" gestures in the crowds I performed for.

I heard their applause echo in the heavenly realms and breaks hearts in bondage to false deities, through His love and joy.

Part of the program is making "Gospel Bracelets" as a craft. I share the Good News with them beforehand and then - what can I say - chaos erupts! The lay workers make their way through the crammed in bodies of the children, while most of them are jumping up to get their beads, their strings, their "possession". They grab, they trample, they cut in front of their friends - all for some worthless beads that will in all likelihood end up lost before they make it home.

I watch (from a safe distance) in awe at the patience of the workers (well, sometimes they loose their patience and resort to yelling for silence or "be seated") while they finish their job.

To add to the pandemonium of the experience I have added a bonus of handing out prizes for those who can tell the Gospel story.

At first, some are reluctant, but once the initial kid comes forward and leaves with candy and a pencil - it is a mad rush for the stage!

Tonight, during the last performance something unique happened among the children. Spontaneous groups formed among friends and they would coach each other to be sure they could make it through the "test". It was wonderful to see them take it so seriously. AH... If we could learn an evangelism lesson from that.

I do share at the end, the enthusiasm to gain an earthly "prize" for sharing the Good News should be equally matched with enthusiasm for sharing to gain a prize collected in eternity.

Isaiah 6:8 says "I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "whom shall I send". Isaiah OVERHEARD in the spiritual realm the Lord looking for those to send out to proclaim His news.

The presence of our Master is all around us. Sometimes I think are we are gathered around our church pews waiting to see the "show". The Bible certainly says many came to see the miracles. And when some new "purpose" or "prayer" is offered in a Best Selling book, we clamor like the children, grabbing at this piece of knowledge, these three steps to progress, prosperity or promotion in the ranks.

And when we've got it "down", we're looking for the "prize" of a blessing He'll pass out because we paid attention and got it right.

And when we catch the Master's glance - do we look around at our friends for affirmation or decline - "no, you go". Afraid to be "chosen" for the job?

In many of my experiences with children and orphans around the world, I will look out at the crowd and catch a glimpse of His gaze through their eyes. Sometimes it is only a flash, a deep old soul look emanating from a grinning baby, or overzealous eyes followed by wildly enthusiastic laughter.

I don't have to say to Him, "are You lookin' at me?". Because I know that He is.

And when I find myself in the audience of One, I always here His voice saying "whom shall I send, who will go for me?". You must have guessed I always answer, "here I am send me."

At 2:00 pm Thursday CST, I will begin my long journey home. It will take 24 hours to make it back halfway around the world.

It has been a joyous adventure - and a harvest ripe for the picking. I have reaped what the faithful here tirelessly sow, and I have sown what will bring a harvest for the next round of workers.

Beseech the Lord of the Harvest!

If you are looking around at your friends - STOP! He IS looking at you!
If you haven't overheard His question - be quiet and then be brave!

YOU are the workers He is raising up!

Smiling because I saw His face here and heard His voice -
He was laughing