Monday, March 23, 2009

A Night at the Blackhawk

As a father ( if you are one you will relate to this ) you sometimes get the opportunity to just sit back and take pride in what your children are doing. Whether it involves sports, academics, career, music or some other activity, once in a while God lets us in on a moment in time when your child excels.
My oldest son Willis has been playing guitar for a long time now and is very good. He owns his own business teaching others how to play and he is the worship director at his church. I've seen him play a hundred times and he makes very proud. Even more of a source of pride for me is how great of a father and husband he has turned out to be.
However, this past weekend the spotlight was on my youngest son Chad. He too, has proven himself to be a great father and husband, and that alone makes me very proud. A very good musician in his own right, he and his band took the stage at a local night spot, and my wife and I were privileged to see them. They packed the place, and I was amazed at how good they are. They play country which is not my bag, but I enjoy almost any kind of music when it is played well, and they played it very well. I was very proud of Chad and his band mates, Timmy, Gavin and Big Ben. Rebel Minds Forever!

But what impressed me the most about that night were the people that were there. There were a couple of hundred young people there, and by that I mean they were twenty-somethings. My wife and I were seated in a loft area and we found ourselves looking down on a culture that was totally foreign to us. A lot of drinking, dancing and general foolishness was occurring ( duh…we were at a bar) but more than that, there seemed to be such a variety of people and personalities that my wife and I found ourselves fascinated by just observing them.
We saw people who were just having a good time, people who were out to get drunk, people who just wanted to dance, and some who just wanted to be left alone. There were happy people, but at the same time we saw faces that could not conceal the sadness or confusion that person was going through. This new culture I was experiencing was very diverse.
Strangely enough, I found myself drawn to these people, not because I felt sorry for them, or anything like that. To be honest, the real reason I was drawn to them was because, after spending several hours with them, I liked them. I truly liked these people. I want to spend more time with them because I appreciate their openness and their honesty. I know that there are jerks everywhere, and there were a few there that night as well. But I never had so much fun, just talking and laughing as I did that night.
Which brings me to my real reason for writing this. I discovered something as I was replaying the evening through my head on the drive home. In those few short hours that I had been at the Blackhawk Bar I made almost as many friends as I have in months at any church I have ever attended. Seriously, and I was floored by that. I know the skeptics out there may say that it was just the liquor talking that made these folks so friendly, and maybe to some small extent it was, but in church it's supposed to be the Holy Spirit talking, and I don't think a lot of us are listening.
I really like my church, and I love the people in it. But truth be told, if I had to decide who I was going to spend the most time with, I would choose the gang I met at the bar, because I believe more Kingdom work could be done there. I am praying that God will present more opportunities for me to be with and interact with these young adults. My wife and I have earned a certain acceptance and respect with this group despite being twice their age, and I hope that they will come to know that we love them and are willing to listen and help.
I know that some of my church friends may not understand this new direction that my wife and I are taking, but maybe someday. Until then, please pray for us that we will take advantage of any and all opportunities that God presents us with to share the love of Jesus.


Dan Gregart said...

Can you read minds Garry? Because I've been thinking along the same lines. You're so right about church and how it doesn't compare with being 'out there'. If we stopped putting our efforts into the church machine and instead focused on loving people, that would change the world! There's a lot of hurting people in those bars, and to think that our efforts should be in getting them to come to our churches is wasteful and looks nothing like the Christ Followers we see in the scriptures. I encourage you on your path my friend!

Garry Bouwman said...

Hey, Thanks for the encouragement Dan! This is quite a step for us but I am convinced we are doing the right thing.
Knowing that there are people out there that get what we are trying to do is a real comfort. Keep us in your prayers please.