It was a Wednesday evening at a North Miami Beach Charismatic Lutheran church. The place was packed. Before we were introduced to minister, the pastor invited victory and celebration statements. A stylish, fashionably made-up lady in the back row told us she had spent the day with Hollywood producers, director Martin Scorsese and actor Robert DeNiro. They were interviewing her for an upcoming movie which was in part about her.
I expected men in white coats to usher her out. Then I wondered what in the world we would sing or say that would connect or grab the crowd’s attention. Her story sounded like a precise definition of a person out of touch with reality. Well, the White Coats didn’t arrive because she was telling the truth. The lady was the ex-wife of boxer Jake LaMotta and the movie was “The Raging Bull.”
As I remember, no one else gave a testimony or celebration that evening. The regulars knew Vickie and they knew she was not making anything up. There was a buzz in that room—rafter-high emotions.
That was quite an event. I still feel the aura of that preacher. He was low-key and direct. He prayed with us and admonished me to “step into your calling.” As effective as we were that evening, he saw something else. Not instead of, but in addition to.
Trekking with Abraham’s Tribe seems far-fetched. I think the predominate mindset for me was, I just don’t fit with this group. We stunt our witness when we compare ourselves or measure our value. My fear that night in North Miami Beach was anything I said or sang would be anti-climactic. After all, I had never met anyone like Robert DeNiro and my story was not going to be made into a movie—ever! Even an eight millimeter one.
I’m pushing the boundaries a bit, because Galatians 6 has impacted me the last few days.
“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.” (Message)
After taping a television program that was somehow connected to TBN, a lady said, “Jan is going to love your work.” While I was envisioning our national TV debut, the lady’s father stepped into our circle. He was an elderly Italian gentleman and began to tell me his conversion experience. I understood about a third of his heavy Italian-accented words, so his daughter kept a running interpretation in the background. God had turned his life around by just speaking his name, the man told me. I asked how he knew it was God and not just his own imagination.
“Because no one has ever pronounced my name correctly. God did! He said, ‘Alphonso’ like no one ever has.”
His daughter had heard the story and seen the evidence dozens of times. Tears filled her eyes. The story never lost its punch or implications for the whole family.
“…his sheep recognize His voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them…He leads them and they follow because they are familiar with His voice.” (John 10:3-4 Message
©2017 D. Dean Benton firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanderings—Trekking with Abraham’s Tribe
Published this fall. An informal study of Abraham and Sarah as they learned to hear God’s voice. I use many stories of the people we met and places we visited when we were on the road.
This chapter is timely. Jake LaMotta died in recent days.