For those of you that have been following these updates, forgive me for a being a little late this week - it was me and my wife's one-year wedding anniversary on Monday, and well, I just didn't write anything that day.
I've been staring at the screen and attempting to think of a way to aptly summarize this last week in a word, and the best that I can come up with is: warfare. I think it is a more than adequate word, but one that will leave many with heads spinning as to why. Firstly, "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but… against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." Second, on a tour of this size, not everyone stands in agreement with one another, and not everyone goes about their disagreements well.
And that's fine, because while we would stand firm and make a case for our convictions, it would be naive to suppose that everyone would stand firm with us, and do the same. I just think think that the amount (and hostility of) opposition was surprising. That, combined with a slower week at the Confessions Video Booth (we were only able to set it up at two of six shows due to space constraints at a string of smaller venues), left me feeling pretty inadequate.
However, I praise God for revealing a few things to me that I may as well share with you, since one of the main purposes of my speaking on behalf of XXXchurch is to be vulnerable before others, inviting them to share their own stories in light of the truth that they are not alone in this world. They are as follows:
- It is simply presumptuous and prideful of me to assume that not enough is happening - as though I know whose hearts Jesus has and has not affected / burdened for himself, and for purity.
- I based my happiness (or lack thereof) on the results that I thought I should see, so that if those results fell short, so did my attitude. Translated: treasuring God's gifts more than treasuring Him as the Giver.
- I based my confidence on whether or not another band or a kid in the crowd agreed with the reason for my stance. Translated: fear of man and the temptation to base my validation on anything other than Jesus.
So, how has this last week been? Sanctifying. With all of that said, Brandi and I both want to thank everyone who has been praying on our behalf, because we have literally been able to see your prayers in action - a testament to the fact that God remains faithful no matter what!
The last few days have been encouraging as some of my own baggage has come to light, and we have had the great honor of paying your prayers forward and against baggage in the lives of others. Whether the video booth is set up or not, stories, confessions and insecurities flood in via conversation throughout the night, and Jesus' love has not failed to penetrate even the most abrasive of audiences with his sympathetic voice (Hebrews 4:14-16), as boys and men and fathers experience forgiveness and girls and women and mothers recognize their beauty and worth (and vice versa).
Talking about pornography has opened the door to talking about various other addictions, as well, and two nights ago, a dude addicted to drugs met Jesus for the first time as I had the opportunity to walk him through the gospel. He specifically said, "I wasn't even going to come tonight, and I don't have any idea how I'm standing here right now…" to which I laughed and responded, "I do!" Haha… he smiled and started crying when told me he wanted to know Jesus.
At the next show, two more people met Him.
What we are seeing out on this tour is light penetrating darkness. We are watching, very literally and visibly, as God changes hearts and conquers sin and addiction "through the blood of the lamb and the word of [our] testimony."
In closing, especially because the Confessions booth was so scarce, I thought I'd share a couple quotes that I've written down throughout the week, or from emails in response to the shows:
"I want to thank you for the raw honesty in your poems; so many people shy away from topics like pornography and such, hiding in a thin shell of what they want to be [myself included]. Its a breath of fresh air... Reminds me to take a step back and re access who I am, and who I try to be…" - Anonymous
"…Your words have been changing me immensely over the past few days… I have an addiction. I'm addicted to porn. There isn't much you can really tell me, I know that. I've heard everything there is and I'm going to get X3 Watch…" - Daniel, FL
"Thank you for XXXChurch - it has saved my life and my marriage. Now I have a family, and it's such a great resource to continually have to come back to." - Robert, MN
"This is the first website/video or speaker that has really pulled my heart strings in a sense and made me realize I'm not alone. I was first introduced to porn on the web as a bully "pranked" me and spammed my computer with it… now I'm terrified it is hard to avoid and now I feel like no guy could ever love me… I feel like the only girl struggling with this…" - Anonymous
"I just finished listening to Pretty in Pornography for about the 50th time this week… my boyfriend used to be addicted to pornography and he's experienced alot of peace from this poem. It's also helped me out alot as well. He's been open and honest with me from the beginning about his struggles, and I've been honest with him that this was just something I didn't understand… After hearing your poem and reading the back story, I now feel like I understand… what you've done for both of us is just a small pebble on a very long road." - Mary
"It got to the point of preferring images over going to dorm parties and hanging out with my friends. XXXChurch literally saved my life." - Jeremiah, St. Paul, MN
"I have never seen anything like this at a hardcore show before. It's such an encouragement, because I know this was my story. Thanks for what you do. I imagine it can be hard when half of the kids don't care, but it's so necessary to talk about this." - Laura, TN
Until next week,
Levi & Brandi Macallister