Anyway, it was a great night, and Greg Laurie really did a great job with his message. I was totally into what he was saying. He has this way about him where he can just catch peoples attention and keep it the entire time. He gave the "altar call" and many people proceeded to go down the many flights of stairs to reach the field. This included Camyron and I as I was a follow-up supervisor...oh yah ;) ...and Camyron didn't have a name tag on so she just looked like she had gotten saved. It took forever for all the people to come flooding down. Crystal Lewis sang her classic, "Come just as you are", and it was really awesome. I love how she uses her whole body and hand motions while she sings...it's pretty cool. Finally Greg led everyone in the "sinner's prayer", and then us follow-up people were off to find someone to give a bible to, and pray with. I found a lady named Carole, and we chatted for awhile, and I gave her a bible etc. She was rededicating her life to the Lord, so that was cool. After that we went to look around for other people who needed follow-up but everyone was taken care of. At this point we ran into Levi Lusko, Marc Paternostro, Frankie's cousin, and Chris Reinhardt. We chatted with various people and eventually made our way out to the parking lot, and I made my way towards the infamous "cult" people that Chuck Smith so adamantly warns everybody about. Whenever I go to Harvest, I always make it a point to stay and talk with the cult people afterwards (it's the most exciting part for me).
This year, I learned a lot, and I was so sad by the time I had left the conversation. Sad because of two things - (1) Sad because these poor young girls (and kids in general) are so brainwashed into living this kind of life, and (2) Sad because of all the intense "Christians" who like to go pass the people yelling mean things at them. Is "intense" the right word? You can decide later.
So Camyron and I make our way over to the cult people, who were not protesting this year, all they were doing was dancing Israeli type of dances, and sharing their beliefs with people. Sounds like something we kind of do on mission trips when we do little skits in public places and share the gospel with those around us. So I spot this young girl talking with some people and I know that she is the one I want to talk to. I wait patiently for her to finish as we watch all the dancing. She finishes her conversation and immediately grab her intention and I ask her what her beliefs are. She proceeds to tell me that she is a part of "Twelve Tribes", and that they are a community who believes that they should live with all things in common, sharing all things, just like Acts tell us that the first church did. I won't go into everything that we talked about because we talked for over an hour with her, but basically you can just mix Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and Seventh Day Adventist's, and get "Twelve Tribes".
The main thing that I wanted her to realize from our conversation is that 1 - Jesus was and is God, and 2 - That she could think independently for herself. I went onto their website today and other websites that talked about these people, and it said that thinking for themselves was considered sinful. This was no surprise. We were really getting to places, and I was taking her through John, Philippians, and Romans, with my bible, trying to show her places where scripture said that Jesus was and is God. I could definitely tell that she was having trouble standing her ground, but she never ran away or called for an elder, because the first thing Camyron and I did with her is gain her trust, and show her love. Yes, the first thing I asked her about was her spiritual beliefs, but then I moved the conversation into things like, "So, what is your school like", and "Do you have a boyfriend?" Typical questions you would ask a sixteen year old. ;) By this point, I think she was enjoying talking to us. Well then, during various times of our conversation, random people would come up and say things like, "So what do you believe?! Do you believe Jesus is God?!" Camyron and I would like at each other, like, darn...we are already working on this with her. People didn't even care that we were talking with her, they would just come up and interrupt with their big ol' attitude and hands on their hips. I was so annoyed. At one point, this guy came up to me and said, "You know, they are a cult, you shouldn't listen to them...Chuck Smith tells us not to listen to them." I kindly was trying to tell him that I had the situation under control until finally I had to verbally point out the fact that I had a harvest follow-up person sticker on my shirt, to which he still didn't think I was safe to talk to her. Only to make me then say, "I know what I am doing, I work at a Calvary Chapel, and we are having a conversation here." He proceeded to feel kind of dumb and walk away with a "God bless you" (I was about to pull out my Biola education on the guy...but then he probably would have thought I was a flaming liberal...so good thing the convo ended). But all throughout our conversation people would just yell things like, "You are a cult...you aren't Christians!" So at one point in the conversation, I had to apologize on behalf of all these "Christian" people.
I am sorry, but I don't think that Jesus would go up to a sixteen year old girl and yell at her. No, He would share the love of God with her...because that what she needs most. I reminded her that the "Harvest Crusade God" was a God of love, and not of hate, and that people can just get confused sometimes. She proceeded to tell us that she is not out here yelling "Harvest is bad", they are just trying to share their faith. I was convicted. I was convicted because that "cult" group was more loving than the people walking out of the Harvest Crusade. I was also convicted because she told us a story about how her parents came into this "tribe". Basically, they needed someone. Their parents were not in the picture, and they had no where to go. I guess they went to a Christian type of church first and asked if they could help them, and they were turned away. Turned away to only find this communal group, and never looking back. This young girl was kind of looking at us like, sooo, ummm, you want to debate that, because anyone can come knocking at our door and we will take them in...what about you guys? Yep, couldn't argue with that one.
So, I ended our conversation by sharing Romans 10:9-10 with her (they have a lot of works based things..), and just reminded her that if she believed in her heart and confessed with her mouth that Jesus is Lord...God...that she would be saved. I asked her to take her Bible and read through the scriptures we had talked about, and to pray to God to give her wisdom in interpreting them...not just listening to what she was told. Honestly, this girl was brave. Every other girl I saw talking to people (who were pretty much being attacked by "Christians") would call over a male elder to talk with them. This girl we talked to stood her ground for over an hour sharing her faith with me. She knew scripture like the back of her hand because that is what they study all the time. These people are seriously harmless (physically). They are just so spiritually lost. They all need to take a hermeneutics class reeeeally bad. ;)
So I will continue to pray for this young girl we connected with. As we left, we gave each other (two) hugs, and she told us that she loved us. It was so touching. Camyron and I walked away to our cars and marveled at how lucky we are for the the freedoms we have.
We also need to continue to pray for Christians around the world who think that the best way to talk to "cult" members is to get up in their face and shove our beliefs down their throat. What do people think...that they are going to convert them right then and there on the spot with all their other "cult" members standing around? I don't think so. But what I do know is that this young girl won't remember anyone who yelled at her, but I think she will remember Camyron and I because we just talked to her like a normal person. We laughed about things and joked around, making fun of the crazy Christians who were yelling at her. But most of all, we showed her love. We apologized for the mean people's comments and told her that we worship a God who loves her, and whose love lives inside of us. I am convinced she will never forget that, and that Camyron and I planted some major seeds in her own heart, which will one day, hopefully, blossom.