As the summer outreaches fast approach, I embark on added adventure, as if four days of hitchhiking in Iceland, followed by five weeks of traipsing around Wales and England aren’t adventure enough. In addition to connecting with dear friends I’ve met in all of those places, Phil and I will attempt to add our own Light and Love to that of others at three festivals, the same ones we reconnoitered last year; Burning Nest (in Wales), How The Light Gets In (also in Wales), and the summer solstice festival at Stonehenge. Back in the states, there is the Wild Goose festival in North Carolina, the month-long Haunted Happenings here in Salem, as well as a few scattered events here and there.
The “added adventure” I mentioned is that, since I’ll be raveling so much, I’m moving out of my apartment. Why spend money on rent if I’m not going to be there? My brother Greg has graciously agreed to store my stuff, and both my brothers (Jeff is my other brother) have room for me when I’m not traveling. Dear friends in Essex, MA have also let me know I am welcome to stay at their place indefinitely, and I am blessed by others who have made similar offers.
So. I’ll be couch surfing. This greatly adds to my immediate “to do” list, but it’s all manageable (I think!).
My family, of course, especially my mother, thinks I’m nuts, so that’s one thing, at least, that will remain the same. Wouldn’t want to ruin my image. And as contrary to sound reasoning as this may seem, it really is consistent with my developing understanding of who I really am (yes, at sixty years old, I’m finally figuring that out).
Arthur Burk has done a tremendous amount of work in the last twenty-plus years in learning about, and teaching, what he has come to call the redemptive gifts. These are the Romans 12 gifts. Burk describes the behavioral characteristics that accompany each of these gifts, among other things. His teachings on the redemptive gifts has been tremendously helpful to me in my ministry as I have been able to identify people’s gifts and, as a result, help them understand what makes them tick, who God has made them to be, how they fit and function with the Body of Christ, etc. It is probably the single most valuable thing I’ve studied with regards to ministry.** It has also been a huge help to me personally. I’ve been able to ascertain that I am a redemptive prophet and the behavioral characteristics that go along with it not only help me accept who and what I am, it has been a huge relief to find out that I am not flawed. I was designed this way.
“This way” includes, among other things, two things that have made my life difficult on one hand, but have also been a blessing when I have been able to indulge them properly and with wisdom. They are, my urgent need for a great deal of alone time, and a seemingly compulsive need for a frequent change of scenery. Both these characteristics have caused me trouble when I’ve indulged them compulsively. I’ve had to exercise some restraint and to mature in the meeting of these two needs to avoid hurting others and making a mess of my own life. At times, I’ve felt guilty for what I assumed was selfishness and immaturity for these feelings, and very often, I WAS selfish and immature in getting those needs met. Understanding that there is a reason God made me this way is now proving to be very helpful and liberating in using these characteristics in order to complement (and implement) my life’s purpose, which is serving others through missions.
So, at the end of April, I will be a wanderer. I’ll be Bilbo Baggins. The thought excites me and gives me butterflies in my stomach. I don’t think for one minute it will all be pleasant and easy. But, funny as it may sound, I know I’ll feel as much at “home” as I maybe ever have. The idea of “home” being a place of firm roots has always made me uneasy (and consequently made me feel flawed). That uneasiness can be a curse if I allow it to be. It’s a burden in any case, but so is an established home a burden. It’s just a matter of the type of burdens one is designed to carry. An ass and an ox carry loads differently. Feel free to decide which one I am. My friends will not find it necessary to hesitate.
Stay tuned. My adventure is changing. It should at least result in some decent stories!
*My mother didn’t actually say that, to me anyway. But I know she thought it!
**I consider Burk’s teachings on redemptive gifts to be a real life treasure – the missing key, with the potential to change the relatively formless entity that is the Body of Christ into – finally – the fully functional, every member participating community we’ve always known it should be. I am currently studying the subject with the hope of helping local communities realize these gifts.
Yesterday I wrote a blog listing the various crazy festival outreaches I’ll be ministering at in 2016. It is crazy ministry with other crazy ministers ministering to crazy people. It is great fun and I love it. All of those outreaches, except one, are pretty much a sure thing. I’ve done all of them in the past, so they’re not an unknown quantity. Only one is in question, and that one is Burning Man.
Burning Man is my favorite festival. It is wild, it’s in the desert, it’s raucous, hours from anywhere, with amazing examples of self-expression. It also the most demanding. It’s demanding physically, emotionally, and demands a lot of money to do. A person going to Burning Man can expect to spend a minimum of a thousand dollars. But the festival goers are hungry for spiritual reality…
As of yet, I don’t have a team committed to going this year. I went alone last year, and I absolutely loved it, as I always have. It remains to be seen whether I’ll go alone this year. If I cannot put together a team, it will likely be my last year.
So this is pretty much a last minute call for a team. Have you ever thought of going to minister there? If so, let me know right away, and also go and check out the Burning Man website as soon as possible. Sign up for the newsletter (this is crucial) called “The Jackrabbit Speaks”. Look at their list of Important Dates and the ticket page.
God bless you. It’s not easy to get in, it’s not easy to get there, it’s not easy to Be there. But it sure is fun.
I’m looking for Special Forces kinds of people!
My first organized outreach of the year has just ended and planning is busily happening for the rest of 2016.
From April 29 – May 1 I will be in Raleigh again for https://onetribefestnc.com, which will take place at the same fairground as the BMSE I just returned from, and with the same extraordinary team. My airfare for that event has been graciously provided by a supporter, for which I’m very grateful!
From May 25 – 31, I’ll be with a team in Port Talbot, Wales, for Burning Nest , which is a festival in the tradition of Burning Man. This is a fairly new festival on which we had a big impact last year. This year, we expect to have a MUCH bigger impact. We will have a larger and very capable team operating in high levels of prophetic ministry. One thing I’m excited about doing there is to train and release other festival goers (called “Burners”) to bless their fellow Burners during the festival, thereby building on the camaraderie and brotherhood that all such festivals depend on. That is really part of the point of the festival, and I hope to make that more directed, focused and agape-ish. Yeah, that’s a word. Really! (No, not really. I made it up) (http://www.burningnest.co.uk/#event-details-1-1 Burn)
Running concurrently with Nest is How The Light Gets In (https://howthelightgetsin.iai.tv), a philosophy festival in Hay-on-Wye, also in Wales. Phil will be taking a small team there and will be running some events called “cigars and philosophy”, which is exactly what it sounds like and which Phil has used with great effect at Burning Man and other places. These dialogical events always lead to talking about God, and that’s what we’re all about!
Next is the Solstice festival at Stonehenge . This starts a few days prior to the solstice at a campground a few miles away from the stones. We are very excited to have seven people from the States joining us this year, and possibly a few from the UK as well. Last year, Phil and I were busy the entire night of the solstice, Phil engaging in dialogue about philosophy and religion and me interpreting dreams and doing some other prophetic ministry, including some healing. (http://www.stonehengecampsite.co.uk/solstice_festival)
We return to the states after the solstice and head to Hot Springs, NC for the Wild Goose (festivalhttp://wildgoosefestival.org). This is a Christian festival with a very liberal focus, which we welcome, but one of our objectives is to be a somewhat more conservative Christian voice (We don’t consider ourselves to be strictly conservative by any stretch. We’re pretty hard to categorize. We don’t even know what we are). I’ve had the pleasure to see people there who were wavering in their commitment to Christ make a renewed commitment, and this is very satisfying.
Burning Man is next (http://burningman.org). This will be the seventh year for our team (my sixth year). I hope to take a larger team and so to have a larger impact. This is one of the more strenuous events, requiring a huge amount of resources, financial, physical, and otherwise. I’m planning to do a Go Fund Me campaign to replace our dome which we were using for a communal kitchen area and hospitality area and which was destroyed by high wind last year.
Then it’s time for Haunted Happenings (http://hauntedhappenings.org), the month-long Halloween celebration here in Salem, MA. This probably requires as much resources as all the others combined, but the impact is huge and the number of people reached is commensurate. We’re upping the game on every level on this one this year. We have far more people committed. This means LOTS more prep work and planning, but the month long event should be more relaxed and smooth (we hope!)
In early November I’ll be in Lyons Falls NY at the Health and Wellness weekend (http://hersle.com/events/1416189/health-and-wellness-at-the-edge-hotel). I work alone at this one and have seen very deep healing happen. One of the other vendors there, after doing healing encounters with her two years in a row, called me a “spiritual chiropractor”, LOL. She even wrote that on my sign.
Are you interested in participating in any of these? This ministry is not for everyone, but if you think it may be for you, let me know. If you Would like to participate but can’t go, consider donating. Thanks!
Last weekend, 2/26/16 – 2/28/16, I was ministering at the Raleigh, NC, Body Mind & Spirit Expo. This was my third time ministering at this New Age event. It was here, in 2012, that I first met Kelly Williams and Papy Fisher who have become dear friends and highly valued fellow ministers. I was invited by them to join the absolutely amazing team, made up mostly of young adults, that they have been training and nurturing for several years.
We had anywhere from eight to twelve people ministering at any given time and often had up to twenty five people waiting in line for ministry. Most of them, of course, were New Age adherents who were nonetheless willing to talk about God (even Jesus) IF THEY DON’T SENSE ANY JUDGEMENTALISM FROM YOU! which is how we have trained ourselves to speak. It’s also important to NOT use “churchy” language (we call it “Christianese”) and this has also been our emphasis.
This being in the bible belt, we always have lots of Christians come through. Now, one might be tempted to judge them for coming to a New Age event, but we understand that these people are hungry for real, tangible spirituality, and that is why they come. Others have begun to incorporate different spiritual practices into their lives. We talk to each of these about Jesus and arrange dialogue between them and Jesus. He always responds! These are life changing moments and we have turned not a few back to faith in Christ.
As for the non-Christians (or, as we like to call them, “pre-believers”), several got saved! Yup! Made genuine commitments to Christ! Many more encountered God and found Him to be an actual loving person who cares about the things they care about. At least one got delivered from a spirit of fear and had that broken off her bloodline. Others had painful emotional wounds healed.
Here are a few of the things that they wrote in our journals (I removed the names and the little drawings of hearts, etc):
“Wow! Thanks so much for your gifts that you shared with me regarding my dream. You’re the best! Thanks.”
“I really had an eye opening experience and thank you.”
“Thank you Bob and Conny for telling me what I’ve so desperately needed to hear! “
“Papy and Cheryl, thank you so very much for giving me some tools to put the thought of positivity first, and put the darkness in my wake.
“I appreciate your energy and blessings and I promise to keep them close to me always. “
“Dream Interpretation. Thank you for the insightful dream interpretation you gave me. I am not overreaching to call it life changing! My own interpretation set me on a course that required a lot of change – but I now understand, not in the right way. Now I can make the changes in myself that will be most helpful. Thank you also for freely (literally) giving of your time to help others and your kind words of support. May the loving energy you have shown be returned to you tenfold!”
“I received a spiritual blessing from Dennis and Maggie. They gave me great insight on how to strengthen my marriage. I wish you all luck and great success in life! Peace and blessings.”
“I received the wonderful Spirit of God to help heal me. I felt lovely tingling and eventually free of pain. Thank you! God of Goodness and Miracles!!”
“Thank you for freeing me from my fear and giving me the guidance to pass it on to my daughter.”
“The information and beautiful words of compassion I heard today were exactly what I needed and afforded me clarity I had previously lacked. God bless.”
We have many such outreaches planned for this year (and every year). If you think this kind of ministry is valuable and would like to see it continue, please consider a donation. All of us ministering at these events pay to do so out of our own pockets. We believe in it that much. Thanks!
This past week, I drove down to NC to be with my friend Jeff, an overseas missionary who has returned to the states. Jeff had a commitment to teach some YWAM students and staff about prophetic ministry and I accompanied him there. The teaching was excellent and on Friday we took about eighteen students and staff to a local community college to do minister prophetic blessings, words of knowledge, etc. They were all amazed at how easy and fun this kind of ministry can be, and at how open people were to receiving it.
This was a great group of people. I was filled with hope for the future of the Body because of them. I watched an introverted, tiny young woman named Gabby approach a large, somewhat scary guy whose body language clearly said, “Stay away!” She and Corey spent a lot of time with him and his demeanor visibly changed. They both prayed with him. I was standing a distance away, watching. The man was obviously appreciative and was smiling broadly when we left him.
As we walked around campus looking for people to minister to, Corey felt we should walk through a parking garage. I thought, well, what the heck? Who knows what could happen in a parking garage? We approached two young woman and asked them if they would like a “free blessing”. One said yes. As we blessed them, we each received words of knowledge for her and for her friend. As it turned out, they were both believers who were discussing how discouraged they each were in their faith. We spent maybe an hour with them. Corey and Gabby had great things to say to them. I was able to walk both of them through some inner healing. It felt like we were with lifelong friends when we, sadly, had to part and go on our way.
We had many other wonderful encounters with people that day, and heard similar great stories from the others who were all walking around in groups of two or three. One could easily write a small book from the events of that one day and it would be really encouraging reading. Maybe we should do that!
Prophetic evangelism is easy, it’s fun and it’s fruitful. Each of these people regularly practiced evangelism, but not quite like this. This is the kind of ministry I do, and if you’re interested in making a difference this way, I can show you how. We’re planning our festival schedule for next year and are looking for team members who might be interested in going with us to one or more festivals. Stay tuned, or contact me. My training style is mostly OJT (on the job).
My friend Jeff is also available to come and teach groups. He is an excellent teacher. If you are a pastor or other leader who would like to see your people on fire for evangelism, he’s your man. Contact me, I can put you in touch
It was a routine encounter in just about every way. A woman sat before me, troubled by anxiety (I don’t remember what the issue was. I never do). I said, “Let’s ask God what He has to say about it. Do you have a belief in God?”
“I believer there’s something”, she said.
“Are you ok with calling this ‘something’ God?”
So I had her ask God questions about whatever she was troubled by and listen for the answers. And God answered her. He almost always does. Actually, I think He always does, but sometimes people can’t hear.
The answers brought her great relief. It always amuses me that at this stage of the encounter, the person receiving ministry doesn’t think it strange that God is speaking to them, even though they are usually doubtful He will. So, as I’m in the habit of doing, I asked her, “Do you realize you’ve just had a two way conversation with your Creator?”
“God spoke to you because He loves you. And He is more eager to speak with us than we often are to speak with Him”.
Now she knows that “something” is a person with a voice, and that He cares for her. She encountered Him herself. My only role is as a facilitator. No advice. No sales pitch. No clever entreaties. Just her and God, having their own conversation, and I get to be a fly on the wall.
I love this ministry.
“The evangelical church is contributing to the political and social polarization in the nation instead of acting as peacemaker. The church’s responsibility is to be for the political sphere (and the culture) what it cannot be for itself. The church is not to hold those on the left in contempt, neither is it to be co-dependent on those on the right, but rather it is to provide moral/ethical guidance for the whole of the political sphere.”*
Reading this made me happy. Although I tend toward social conservatism, I’ve long been uncomfortable with the evangelical attitude that God is the champion of the political right, that conservatism equals godliness. Lately, I’ve been even more disturbed by the near panic of the Christian right and their insistence on preserving a culture which benefits themselves and their preferred lifestyle. As Christians, we aren’t supposed to be spending our lives making ourselves comfortable. That idea is absolutely antithetical to anything Jesus and the New Testament writers either said or modeled. And yet, the proponents of Christendom have never had a problem justifying such a life.
Once the above quote had sunk in a little, I did kick back against it a little, thinking, this is true, but the same can be said for progressive Christianity. And I believe that applies. But evangelicalism’s jingoism has been running on fumes for much longer and is more entrenched (in a rut, in other words). And for myself and most of those I minister with, we are either evangelical or from evangelical backgrounds, and I have no doubt this is where the cleanup needs to start. Progressive Christianity is at least partly a reaction to evangelical churchianity, and as such, they’re entitled to it.
We can either be missional or we can serve ourselves. Not both. If we want to be missional, we can’t insist the culture conform to our preferences, which were never anything like a perfect reflection of God’s Kingdom anyway. Instead, we need to allow the culture to inform us about how to serve them – in other words, be Christ to them – in a way that’s meaningful to them. It’s no good trying to provide someone with a sense of identity when they haven’t eaten in two days, and it’s no good talking about the hereafter if they’re outraged about the social injustices they see all around them.
“Jesus is waiting for the local church to join him in the culture. Christ is not waiting for the culture to join him at church.”*
Good things are happening! Let’s pay attention so we don’t miss anything!
* From “Following Jesus To Burning Man”, Kerry D. McRoberts
On Monday, May the 15th, Phil and I arrived in our rented van full of building materials plus a large tent, to be used for ministry, in a beautiful green valley less than ten minutes from the south Wales steel mill city of Port Talbot. This was to be the site of Burning Nest, a Burning Man inspired festival, and this would be its third year. It was obviously going to be very different from Burning Man, which is held in a completely barren desert where you have to bring everything you will need to survive for a week, two hours from the nearest city. Here, there were bunks to sleep in, running water, flush toilets, hot showers, wifi, green grass and lush trees. Five hundred people would attend this four day event as opposed to the seventy thousand that spent a week in the Nevada desert last year. We were here several days early to help with set-up and to build our interactive art project, and to minister in dream interpretation and inner healing to the festival goers.
We helped where we could, building geodesic domes, etc., and built our “Told Booth”. It was a toll booth on a bridge in which people were invited to write things they had been “told” which had taken a toll on their lives. People were curious about it, which resulted in us meeting people and having lots of conversations. They were excited to hear that, on Sunday, the last day of the festival, we would burn it and all the things they had written would go up in smoke.
On Thursday, Hope Deifell and Dee Cunniffe arrived. They are both gifted and experienced in prophetic ministry, including dream interpretation and healing. They had brought all kinds of material for decorating the ministry tent; bolts of colorful cloth, lighting, etc., and got to work making the tent into a beautiful, peaceful place. By this time, the Told Booth was operational and people were writing things on the walls. Heartbreaking things. Hurtful things people had said to them. Exposing secret hurts to the light of day brings healing. Several times, knowing that I was connected with the Told Booth, people would just tell me things they had been told. Some of these, I was able to minister to on the spot; others I invited to come to the ministry tent, and some of them did.
The ministry tent was immediately busy. Even though there were only three of us ministering, we often needed to have two encounters going at the same time because people would just walk in. There were several very powerful encounters. As usual, we watched years of hurt and trauma fall from people’s shoulders as they were changed before our eyes. We were able to share Jesus with nearly every one. No one objected. They were open to all that we had to say. Many expressed a desire to know Jesus, and we gave them all that they were able to receive at that time, encouraging them to continue getting to know him. A couple of them chose to ask Jesus into their lives.
Several of the encounters were very intense. One in particular was a young man who, just as he was about to get his freedom, would retreat into himself. I feared we would fail him. We were all praying intently, but we seemed to be losing the battle. I felt helpless. The way we approach this kind of ministry is to walk the person through the process to freedom, but they must do it themselves through an act of their own will in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, and he kept shrinking back at the key moment. Suddenly, it was as if a fire were lit inside him. He took authority over his torment, spoke truth to defeat the lies in his life, and he was free! We were all crying!
Another, middle aged man had anger buried so deep that he wasn’t able to ever BE angry, even when it was appropriate. We located the source of the anger; he had been picked on relentlessly in school. I had him pretend that I was all the kids who had hurt him, and had him tell me all the things he would like to have told those kids. As he started, his voice got louder and louder. He got really angry! People outside were looking. It was pretty scary. But he got free. He was a different man after that. He didn’t even look the same.
Everywhere around the festival site, we heard people talking about the things we were doing. They loved the Booth and they loved us for bringing it. People who received ministry from us went and got their friends and brought them to us. Wherever we went, people would ask us when they could have an encounter. We were rock stars! We would explain that it was only through God that we were able to do what we did.
On Sunday, we burned the Told Booth. We had a large crowd. They watched the hurtful words go up in smoke as they cheered. It was a huge fire! This was a really cathartic thing to happen to this community of festival goers who had come looking for transformative and/or spiritual experiences. We had succeeded in providing just that for a great many of them.
But this was not intended to be a one time event. We believe in the long haul, in investing ourselves the communities to which we are sent. Going to Nest was also a reconnaissance mission, and plans for how to best serve this community began to form immediately and will continue to develop. This is true for each of the festivals we attend. We intend to return next year, with a larger team of eight to ten. We want to provide a spiritual oasis where people can encounter Jesus to the degree that they choose. That requires creativity and sensitivity to the people and to the Holy Spirit, and we have the experience to do it. This is what we do. We want to be a visible presence that is accessible to festival goers right where they can be reached.
Maybe you’d like to join us 🙂
IF YOU’VE NEVER READ MY BLOG before, you might not know that I am a missionary to Transformational Festivals. I spoken before about how these festivals, which number in the several hundreds or thousands world wide, are influencing the larger society. I’ve spoken about how spiritually hungry festival goers tend to be. Going to festivals has been for me a series of surprises and un-learning about people in general, about ministry and evangelism, and about Jesus. Yes, I’ve learned a lot about Jesus from people whom you will likely never see in church and whose behavior, dress, language, etc., would never be tolerated in most of them.
AND THAT LEADS ME TO talking about the one thing that has haunted me for eight years about festival peeps, and that is the percentage of them who have been wounded in church. It’s more than half. Now, I’m not interested in laying blame here. But along with that fact is this one: that almost none of these people are averse to talking about Jesus. You can see the hurt or anger in their eyes as they talk about church; but they very often feel some sort of affinity, even affection, for Jesus. True, they often have misconceptions about him (or are the misconceptions mine?). In any case, ministering at festivals is easy, IF! you’ve unlearned enough stuff.
ANYWAY, as our vision of festival missions grows, it has occurred to Phil, my partner in these crazy endeavors, that we need to create “church” at these various festivals, church which returns every year, which people can count on to be there for them. In true missiological fashion, these “churches” would not look like the familiar Western churches, but would be adapted to the culture they are presented to serve. We’ve been doing this awhile and consider ourselves to be very much the same as the people we go to serve; we identify with them fully. They are our people. We are them. This is the stuff successful missions are made of.
IN EIGHTEEN DAYS, we leave for Iceland. We don’t have a real plan for what we’ll do there, but that’s not unusual and is never a problem; quite the opposite. Then we go to Wales for Burning Nest (a Burning Man inspired festival) where we’ll be joined by Hope Deifell of North Carolina, and Dee, who lives near London, England. Then a philosophy festival at Hay on Wye, Wales, followed by the summer solstice celebration at Stonehenge.
Would you like to help? We could use lots of prayer, particularly for health issues we are battling. If you’d like to contribute, it’s tax deductible. Just follow the link. Let us know it’s for festival missions.
Thanks for reading!