Burning Nest 2017Posted: June 1, 2017
I just got home last night after two weeks in the UK where I took part in an outreach at Burning Nest, a Burning Man affiliated transformational festival. This was my third time at Nest and I’ve been overwhelmingly pleased by the fruit of each of those outreaches. Each year, anyone who happened to be on the team made many genuine friends and were able to provide deep insight and even healing to many of our fellow “Nesties”. Through social media, we’ve been able to continue those friendships throughout the year.
I can say with confidence that this year was the best so far. And the only credit I can take for that fact is for inviting Papy Fisher and his Desanka team to come with me. Papy and his team of (mostly) young people are veterans at festival ministry and I’ve been fortunate enough to work with them at several different outreaches. They are skilled at helping to build and run large festivals, then provide hospitality to festival goers, mostly, but not limited to, feeding them good food. After a few years of seeing this in action, I decided after last year’s Nest that I never want to do anther festival without providing some serious hospitality. So I mentioned it to Papy. I was intending to twist his arm if necessary, but I knew it wouldn’t be. So Papy, Jake, Micheal, Jordan and Alycia (Smurfette, since she was the only female on the team, plus she has blue skin. Ok, she doesn’t have blue skin) came to Nest!
Their plan was to serve a great breakfast for free to whoever wanted it. This was an ambitious plan. Think about it – how do you take the necessary equipment for such a thing on an overseas flight? Well, you don’t. We borrowed canopy tent and chairs , but other than that, we had to buy or build whatever equipment we needed, plus the food! We bought two table top gas burners and a gas grill, and the three propane tanks to fuel them. We bought pots, pans, buckets, washtubs, and utensils. We built four work surfaces totaling about 19 feet long. We bought peppers, onions, potatoes, mushrooms, fruit, coffee, milk sugar, bacon, ham and sausage by the van full (We had to rent a van and a passenger vehicle), and over 700 eggs!. We got up early and worked for hours feeding festival goers. Why? Because sharing food with people is a very intimate thing to do, and because it’s one of the most loving ways to serve others, which is probably why Jesus did it. Ok, we didn’t do it quite like he did. Maybe next year! But because of our efforts, folks hung out with us throughout the entire festival, which resulted in even deeper friendships. We had a lot of fun too.
But before we could serve in that way, the festival had to be built. A lot of work goes into setting up an event like that. In the previous two years, we worked hard with the build crew. Last year, Mr. Jeff and I worked long hours for 3+ days helping to set up. We got to know the others who were on the “build” team. This year, the Desanka folks worked so hard that those organizing the build came looking for us whenever any hard work was needed. We got to know and love the others on the build crew.
Unlike nearly every other such outreach, there was very little formal tent ministry going on. Instead, any personal ministry we did was spontaneous and intensely relational. I had been trying to move in that direction for a few years now, with limited success. I knew that focusing on hospitality could achieve what I wanted, because I had seen it happen at other events where Desanka was ministering. I was not disappointed at Nest. I heard from Alycia of a man who identifies as agnostic who encountered God in such a way that he had to acknowledge he had had a genuine spiritual experience. A group of people who were intentional cynics and doubters showered us with gratitude and respect and we returned the favor. Several people thanked us and said that the festival was far better than it would have been had we not been there. I personally (because Jesus was working through me) was able to alleviate not a little of the pressure for two people with painful anxiety. And several told me how their lives had changed in the last year, or two years, after being ministered to by us.
We are currently relying on the extreme generosity of several people to be able to continue ministering at Nest, but one in particular who is storing our equipment for us. His name is Will. He’s a great friend, but we will not be able to continue to impose on him year after year. I know that’s it’s imperative that we continue at Nest, more so now that we have the correct formula. It will be impossible without outside support, so I’m shamelessly putting in a plug for support here! We need to be able to rent storage space in the UK. I’d beg if I thought it would help, but ‘nuff said for now 😉
If you’d like to know more about festival ministry and why it matters, feel free to contact me. If your faith community would like to have someone come and speak about our experiences, or if you would like a workshop in prophetic ministry, including prophetic street ministry, we’d love to help you with that. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org