No, this has nothing to do with RICE at all; it was the only title I could think of with the energy I have left at 11:30pm at night. Tonight, Lillian invited me and a number of people from Baulko out to this “Jesus Loves You” church out in Blacktown, where they were having an evangelical night for their youth group, at least I think that’s what it was; Lillian didn’t tell me much about what was happening, she just told me to come.
Strange enough it was Pilipino church, first time I’ve ever been to one, there are many other single-culture churches that I haven’t been to, so it was a good experience tonight. I guess I do liken the evangelical event as a RICE-like thing. We arrived a tad late but already they were pumping music with lots of people bobbing up and down to it. I know it would’ve seemed strange to people who aren’t used to a church environment, surely I wasn’t either before. The last time I saw anything as “wild” as this was the church camp that Grace invited me to; still thanking her for letting me have the best 5 days of my life!
But yes I was not new to this sort of “wild” Christian activity; funny how you see it hard to associate the crazy rock concert activity with Christianity, who would’ve thought Christians could get this crazy? Shame they played so few songs, and also that I didn’t know any of the songs. But the music was really good; their band was really good I have to admit. One thing that stood out the most was the song leader (lead singer if taken out of context). He was very passionate in his song-leading; he got everyone to sing loudly, he sang really loud himself and he was dancing all over the stage in a fairly controlled manner. This is sort of the type of song-leading I like to see; one who can encourage the congregation to take part enthusiastically. How else are you going to encourage the congregation if you yourself aren’t willing to go crazy too? That’s the sort of effort I admired in him.
Afterwards was a short dance type skit which was okay; a copy of RICE much? Funny how the structure of tonight mirrored RICE very closely. I mean we even had a game like after the first round of singing. We played that animal farm game that we played at iLight; four teams, each with a given animal, and one leader for each team who has to find the other animals (who make their respective noises) while everyone is blind-folded. Me and most of our Baulko group took part; I must’ve jinxed something about being a leader because when I drew the piece of paper, I was given “Cow Leader”, deary me…We didn’t win though, yeah I’m a bad captain for this of game haha, I forgot to memorize the size of the room so I lost track of my position and I didn’t reach Vanessa, who was on the other side of the room.
We eventually got to the talk; and sadly this is the part which caused some controversy in my mind. I will create a separate post about it. The speaker was rather strange because he preached in an “African American” way, like in “those” type of churches. He constantly used phrases like “you get what I’m saying?” and “check this out”; strange slang like that. But I found his talk rather empty; in fact I couldn’t pick out the structure of his talk, and there didn’t seem to be any flow to it; he just kept ranting about those questions “Why does God let us suffer in this world?” those type of questions; and I don’t think he even answered any one of those questions. Vanessa pointed out that the one he did answer, sort of, was “Where is God?” although I will say he gave little effort in giving a proper answer for that.
Afterwards there was more singing; followed by something I would call “open ministry”. It’s hard to define what that is specifically. And somehow I am sort of against it depending on how it is performed. All other forms of “ministry” would be those regular “rituals” adopted by Christianity throughout history, such as the Holy Communion and water baptism. “Open ministry” I guess would be where preachers literally try to call on God, or God’s power, to actually move into people and stir them up. I guess one such account of something like it would be when the tongues of fire descend on the people in Acts.
Far be it from me to adopt these strange “rituals”, I don’t personally believe in being able to “call upon God or His power” to physically, or spiritually, do something. Logically I don’t believe in being able to “control” God in that sense; but I guess if God really did want to “move” someone He would do it of His own accord alone, influenced by people’s prayer. But I suppose I have been through something of the sort, this so-called “open ministry”. It was sort of conducted the same way as tonight; it was a chance for new believers to “experience” God and for others to re-new their faith. I will admit that at iLight, I really was moved for the first time in a way which somehow did feel as if God really did do something tangible to me; I don’t know whether such a feeling was emotional or spiritual but I surely felt something that seemed to transcend from God. And as corny as it sounds I did drop to my knees and I grovelled for a good hour amongst others, and I cried with utter remorse, something I’ve never cried over. That was an experience I would never forget.
But taking a step back from it now; I’m not sure if I do approve of what did happen to me 2 years ago, knowing what other similar “open ministry rituals” are like. I guess at this point I haven’t reached a conclusion as to whether it is “right” or not, since I did experience it for myself once, and somehow it does in a way convince me that God really can “move” you when you ask Him to. I will find an answer to that one day. Other things that conflict me is the tongues thing, where the preacher calls on God for a person to be filled with the Holy Spirit in a way in which they jabble on in tongues, sounding like jibberish. And another one I’ve encountered was tonight.
Practically everyone got up to have their faith re-newed and for God to directly work in them for that moment. Some people apparently were given a soft nudge on their head and they fell backwards, unconscious. Those people woke up like 5-10 minutes later; they were just sprawled over the ground during that time. It was very strange, and now having seen that it’s conflicting to wonder if something like that can actually happen. The idea of “this isn’t right” and “I’m seeing it, though” are two conflicting points which make you either re-assess your beliefs or force you to ignore what was clearly in front of your eyes.
But anyway I said I would leave this to another day when I’ve found out more; it was indeed a strange moment seeing “open ministry” conducted in this way; it’s all too confusing. And like usual, everyone was crying and were obviously emotionally moved and possibly spiritually if you weren’t crying but still felt that warmth. Ministry ended with more singing and that was the program for the night. The music finally began to fall flat because they played the same songs again T.T” and they played only one variety of music; hard rock, no soft mellow/emotional music. Not the strongest way to end, I’ve seen better haha. I was sort of disappointed that I couldn’t join in because I just wasn’t sparked by anything that happened. If I did know t he music, and if they had played enough songs and enough variety of songs I’d be full into it as everyone else haha! But on another note one thing is certain, I will never be moved by “open ministry” again. Again I can’t explain it too well but I just feel that people should only be able to go through ministry once; and feel “touched” by God in that way once. And so therefore I don’t think I can ever feel it again, hence I felt fairly indifferent throughout the course of the night.
Afterwards we had food, man I was starving then because I hadn’t had dinner yet and it was 9:30pm >.<” and then we chatted for like an hour and such; Philo-Christians are an odd bunch, or maybe it’s because they all grew up in the Blacktown region, where conduct is slightly less controlled; they were hooting and making noises which make them seem like drunks, very disorderly and slightly unfriendly. Adam from the grade above us was talking to me later about the “quality” of churches, quality as in what they teach about the gospel and such. Yes, I am beginning to understand that now. We took a bunch of photos in the carpark, Aaron should post them up soon, jump shots and various other weird photos haha so yeah.