Before I got on stage at Urbana 2015 to perform I started to cry. It was the first time I was performing a poem without my Mom. She died on September 13, and my hope was that she would be at this conference to see just how far her boy from Brodnax had come.
As I walked backstage and received prayer, one of the intercessors told me she got an image of Moses being pushed out in the basket to be raised by the Egyptians. The story of Moses is a staple for me. I can be quick-tempered, passionate and murderous. And at the same time desire deeply to have encounters with God that lead me and the oppressed to freedom. When I took the train to NYC for the first time to visit Columbia University, I came alone. Instead of a basket, it was Amtrak. And instead of Egypt, it was somewhere north of DC. My Mom blessed and sent me to a place she had never been because she knew I couldn't stay there with her. She told me on more than one occasion that God had something more for me to do. She maxed out credit cards and got family and friends to give money for me to visit what would be my alma mater and ultimately my principle mission field. "The same God that's in Brodnax, is God up there," she said. Later, I learned just how many of her prayers had been answered as she pleaded with God to give me mothers and fathers that could guide me where she could not go.
And as I hugged Alison Siewart and wept, I know those prayers are still being answered. I walked backstage to hug my wife and 4 other amazing women of God, 2 of whom had adopted black children. God provides exceedingly and abundantly beyond what we could ask or imagine and if we leave mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers for His sake, we gain so much more. These were just scriptures before but at Urbana the Word became flesh for me.
Further reflecting, 15 years ago I started to write poetry. And in 2005, I began to wrestle seriously with what it meant to fight sex-trafficking and labor exploitation. Soon after prayer and intercession in 2008 took on new meaning and became an integral part of my life as I began to direct InterVarsity's New York City Urban Project. In 2011 I heard clearly from God to make a 20 year commitment to this work.
Now, as I look into the future with at least 15 years left on-staff with InterVarsity I realize that what brought me to this place will not get me to where I am to go. The best of what I had to offer in my personal life and professional career was on display at Urbana. At the conference, I had 5 responsibilities.
- led the backstage intercessory team alongside 5 powerful women of God including my wife!
- led a team during the Hack4Mission to expand our LoGOFF platform
- taught a seminar on racial reconciliation and racial justice
- facilitated a "community day" for anyone interested in learning more about stewardship and the LoGOFF Movement
- performed an original spoken word piece from the main stage
Praise be to God for those who came alongside me to make all of these things possible. It was a privilege to offer myself in these ways. As I reflect on the culmination of these efforts, I am challenged in my life as an intercessor, maker of disciples, an artist, and the servant leader of a movement. I know that what got me "here" will not get me "there".
Our culture is about being the "man on stage" and following Jesus is all about giving glory to the "man upstairs".
What would it look like to allow God to be the chief actor and make disciples instead of being the well-known teacher, speaker, or activist? One build campaigns and the other stewards movements. One path lives out the commission of our culture and the other lives out the commission of Our Lord. I don't want to be a savior, I want to be a disciple and I need to build the disciplines to do so.
Would you pray that I am able to cultivate a rule of life that enables me to love myself well?
Would you pray that I'm able to cultivate a rule of life that enables me to love Priscilla well?
Would you pray that I'm able to cultivate a rule of life that enables me to shepherd those staff, students and communities that God places under my leadership?
Would you pray for the financial resources necessary to sustain all of the above? And if God is inviting to you be an answer to that prayer click here to give!
Today, I'm taking a retreat of silence to meet with Jesus and covet your prayers and petitions. He is Good and Faithful and your reading this message is evidence of that.