I live in Texas. During an election year, it is a hot bed of political activity for candidates seeking the Hispanic vote. Thirty-four percent of the population is Hispanic, and that folks, makes for a lot of Jesus'!
Before you get confused, Jesus is a very popular name among the Hispanic culture. However, it is pronounced "Hey-soos." People don't get confused down here when someone calls out "Hey-soos." But to see the name printed (like in the title) anyone could be taken aback and assume what comes next is religious in nature.
I'm just repeating the title of an article that appeared in an 1997 South African magazine. They were looking for "Hey-soos," not "our" Jesus (as in Son-of-the-Living-God-our-Lord-and-Savior Jesus). In fact, the person the author was looking for was not named Jesus at all, but Sixto Rodriguez, a Detroit born singer/songwriter of the early 70's. The songwriter (and the ensuing search to find him) is the subject of a new (must see)documentary titled "Searching for Sugarman."
Why would I be musing about such a saga on a rainy Sunday afternoon?
In a word:
JESUS (not "Hey-soos")
It's been a few days since I saw the documentary and I can finally comment without tearing up (so far so good). There is a surreal quality to much of the film; part mystery (the search), part myth (what happened to the musician), and part history (the profound effect the music played in the anti-apartheid movement among white Afrikaaners).
SPOILER ALERT: if you intend on seeing the limited release movie you might want to stop here.
My oldest son (the Ironman) often laughs at my ability to spiritualize the smallest "secular" thing or event. Watching the unfolding of the movie was a PROFOUNDLY spiritual experience for me. Yes, I capitalized profound! Decades have passed since the music of a virtual unknown ignited the passions of young whites protesting the horrors (toward the black population) of Apartheid in South Africa. Although the end of Apartheid was less than twenty years ago (1994), like most Americans, I don't recall much about the events of it ending, much less what was happening in the 1970's.
I can ramble on a rainy day, and turn a music documentary into a significant spiritual event because I "look for Him (Jesus) with my whole heart." I find Him everywhere and in everything because, there is no place where He is not. (see Psalm 139:7-10) I'm not "looking for Jesus," I have found Him.
"We have stories of those who were stoned, sawed in two, murdered in cold blood; stories of vagrants wandering the earth in animal skins, homeless, friendless, powerless..." Hebrews 11:38 The Message
As Believers, we are called to a life of faith (Habakkuk 2:3-4 and Hebrews 10:38). We are instructed to live NOT seeing (for the most part) the impact our lives make in our communities and our world. The story of an obscure musician thought to be dead, illustrated that fact beautifully. Sixto Rodriquez, at the time the journalist found him (quite alive in 1998) was a common laborer. He was hardly a superstar in retirement living off royalties or past fame. Both men could not believe their good fortune; a journalist who discovered a legend, and a brick-layer learning he was a icon in a country 8,000 miles away!
"...the world didn't deserve them! -making their way as best as they could on the cruel edges of the world..."
During their conversation, the journalist says, "Did you know that in South Africa, you are bigger than the Beatles, bigger than Elvis?" The humbled musician only replies, "I don't know how to respond to that." Fame, by American standards had not just eluded Rodriguez - it had never even noticed his genius. The cruel edge of obscurity for a brilliant talent.
We live most of our faith on the cruel edge of a similar obscurity. We seldom see the impact our obedience brings about. We rarely know how our prayers are effecting change in the heavenly realms, and as for our short-term missions into Third World mayhem, most time we (personally)experience more change than the people we encounter.
"Not one of these people, EVEN THOUGH their lives of faith were exemplary..."
Would the artist known as Rodriguez lived any differently had he known of his legendary almost mythical status in South Africa? Would you live any differently if you knew how God had used YOU to change a country 8,000 miles away? Would you pray any harder, give any more?
"not one...got their hands on what was promised..."
In case you're wondering how the music of an American man got to South Africa in 1970, the myth has it a young girl carried his album with her on a family vacation. Who could imagine the consequence of that choice?
There are thousands of things I have absolutely NO understanding about whatsoever. It's actually more like a billion, but if I don't know about them, I can't count them now can I. I don't know if I would respond with the shy and detached mannerisms the musician showed in the film. Even after enjoying the popular Christian music hit of the 1990's (Thank You for Giving to the Lord), I still think if someone told me in the nation of Bigger-than-your-Backyard-Land I was a hero, I'd be shouting, "What? Shut-the-front-door!"
"God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together..." Hebrews 11:39 The Message
Let me take this moment to encourage all the writers, musicians, artists and ALL Children of the King, to be inspired and motivated. If the story of Rodriguez resonates with you - HOW MUCH MORE IS OUR GOD REALLY REALLY REALLY doing for those who call upon His name; for those who are working, singing, painting, writing, living a life of FAITH (belief in what is hoped for as YET UNSEEN), as well as for those who are "looking for Jesus?"
I won't SEE a great cloud of witnesses in Tanzania. I won't experience fanfare like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones when I step off the plane in Kilimanjaro. You won't be getting reports that include tales of fans fainting at my appearance. BUT, one day you will know the full report of how God used YOU to change history, and to make His-Story one that reveals His Son and brings glory to His Name. I am one obscure girl boarding a plane to a distant land carrying a life-altering, world-changing revolutionary thing. The consequence of the choice is considerable!
"You never saw Him, yet you love Him. You still don't see Him, yet you trust Him - with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you'll get what you're looking forward to..." 1 Peter 1:8 The Message
Smiling, knowing somewhere I'm probably famous in His Service,
Participate financially in the 2012 World Tour - next stop Tanzania! visit our website:
"Looking for Jesus"
Directions Magazine - October 1997
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