Stories of the Rainbows: Divine Guidance Part II

All the Emmaus folks that went to the Gathering were interested in learning the balance of the so-called “sign gifts” that I talked about in my previous post in this series, so we were anticipating what we would learn about prophecy during a meeting where some folks were explaining the “Divine Guidance Tent.”

At this point, I should probably explain the Bread of Life camp consisted of four different areas: the actual kitchen (held within an impressively built log frame made from trees from the forest), a “worship tent” complete with fire pits, a playground with swings and see-saw (once again, all made out of logs from the woods), and finally, the Divine Guidance Tent.

It still strikes me as an incredibly cheesy and ridiculous name, but it was an absolute stroke of brilliance as a PR and marketing move. It was simple in its setup: a tarp tied between several trees to form a ceiling with about a half dozen chair placed under it. Various people from Bread of Life would sit underneath throughout the day, and hippies, interested in “divine guidance” would come in and sit down. The Bread of Life folks would then proceed to prophesy over the hippies.

It was that last part that we were kind of freaked out by and interested in learning more about. I had no idea what God was about to do in and through me.

Turns out that the informational meeting was not to talk about the divine guidance tent or prophecy necessarily, it was to practice prophesying over people and give general guidelines for when we went and sat in the tent ourselves! All of us looked around at one another with faces that were half bewildered, half skeptical, and half just totally weirded out. Needless to say, this was not what we expected in the least. But we sat through the meeting, and at the end of it they had a guy sit in the middle of the circle so we could prophesy over him – tell him any visions or pictures or messages God gave us for him.

“Right,” I thought. “Let’s get this over with and get on with serving some food at the kitchen.” So there we all were, obediently silent and praying, when all of sudden, a picture came to me. I can’t explain how or why except to say I saw a picture – or a scene might be more fitting – in my mind. It was a doe, standing by the bank of a river with her head down in the grass. Suddenly, her head shot up and she looked around as if startled. I somehow knew that the doe was trying to decide whether to run or to stay. And that was it.

So when it came time to share anything we’d received from God to tell this guy, I held off until the last possible moment while a few other people shared. When they were about to move on and wrap up the meeting, I spoke up and shared my vision. The guy shared how that related to something he was going through in life, but to be honest, I was so weirded out by the whole thing I don’t even remember what he said.

So that was my first experience ever with prophesying over someone. And it would happen three more times over the course of the next day.

Time #2 was when I decided to sit in on the prophecy tent just to see how other people did it. There were two other Bread of Lifers in the tent when I went to sit down. I honestly never expected to be in on the prophesying, despite what had happened that morning. God had other plans! The first hippie that came in the tent while I was there sat down, we explained what we were doing (we’re not channelers, psychics, etc. – we just know God and share what He says with you), and then began to pray. Almost immediately, I got another vision from God, this time of a stream flowing over a rocky bed through a lush meadow. I immediately somehow knew this represented the living water Jesus talked about in the Gospels, and that God wanted to offer this girl salvation. Even then, I asked God to confirm that it was him speaking to me so I didn’t make a fool out of myself, and He complied. Another guy who was there began telling the girl how he felt God telling him she was in a dry and thirsty land, and that was all I needed. I told her I agreed and shared my vision of streams of abundant and living water that God wanted her to have. It led to a great time of sharing the Gospel with her that she was completely touched by.

Time #3 was the next hippie that came into the tent. As we prayed, I received yet another vision — this one of a young girl swinging on a swing set. There was a lion walking up from behind her off to the side that she was unaware of. I prayed more and received the meaning of this vision and shared it: at first, I thought the lion represented some kind of danger in her life that I was supposed to warn her about, but as I prayed I realized she wasn’t the little girl. She was the one who was going to stop the lion from devouring the little girl. The lion represented an injustice, but most likely more than a single instance of injustice — I got the feeling that it was a series or a system of injustices that God was calling her to fight against to protect the young girl.

The response of the woman I had just prophesied over shocked me. We don’t allow anyone to tell us anything about themselves when they come in the tent, so I didn’t have a clue about any of this. Her job back in the real world was as a teenage advocate, fighting for the rights of abused teenagers within the court system in Utah. The case she was currently working on involved a young girl who was abused, but she kept running into a brick wall with the courts and was about to give up on the case. She said after hearing me speak, she knew she had to go back and fight for that young girl. In addition to that, she was wondering whether or not she should move somewhere other than Utah because the court system there is so patriarchal and incredibly unjust toward teens, but that now she was going to stay there and fight against those injustices to help protect other teenagers as well.

Wow. The final time came as we were just walking around the Gathering and we came to another kitchen where we decided to stop and eat. There was a girl working behind the fence, and as soon as I saw her, I knew God wanted me to deliver a message to her. But I kept putting it off and putting it off, worried again about making a fool out of myself. Finally, after it kept nagging at me the whole meal, I prayed to God and said basically, “God, if this is you, I want to be obedient. But you’ve got to show me it’s you. If it is, have her come out from behind the fence {something she hadn’t done since we’d been there) so I don’t have to go back in their kitchen to talk to her.” As soon as I was done saying that to God, I looked up and there she was, walking through the gate in the fence and heading toward where we were. So I grabbed a friend who was there with me and had no clue what was going on, went up to the girl, and said exactly what God told me to say: “Despite your struggles otherwise, God thinks you are incredibly beautiful and wants to adopt you as his daughter.” She looked at me dumbfounded, said, “Okay,” and turned and walked off. I am confident that someday down the road God is going to use that brief conversation to achieve mighty things in her life.

So there you have it. My freaky, unbelievable, and amazing story of prophesying over hippies at the Rainbow Family Gathering. I haven’t received any messages or visions or anything since we’ve been back, so I don’t know if I necessarily have the gift of prophecy or if God just used me to do the work of prophecy for that day. What I do know is that I am more open to, and understand so much more about, prophesy and the other “sign” gifts than I ever have before and simply want God to use me to touch the people around me.

Stories of the Rainbows: Divine Guidance Part II

All the Emmaus folks that went to the Gathering were interested in learning the balance of the so-called “sign gifts” that I talked about in my previous post in this series, so we were anticipating what we would learn about prophecy during a meeting where some folks were explaining the “Divine Guidance Tent.”

At this point, I should probably explain the Bread of Life camp consisted of four different areas: the actual kitchen (held within an impressively built log frame made from trees from the forest), a “worship tent” complete with fire pits, a playground with swings and see-saw (once again, all made out of logs from the woods), and finally, the Divine Guidance Tent.

It still strikes me as an incredibly cheesy and ridiculous name, but it was an absolute stroke of brilliance as a PR and marketing move. It was simple in its setup: a tarp tied between several trees to form a ceiling with about a half dozen chair placed under it. Various people from Bread of Life would sit underneath throughout the day, and hippies, interested in “divine guidance” would come in and sit down. The Bread of Life folks would then proceed to prophesy over the hippies.

It was that last part that we were kind of freaked out by and interested in learning more about. I had no idea what God was about to do in and through me.

Turns out that the informational meeting was not to talk about the divine guidance tent or prophecy necessarily, it was to practice prophesying over people and give general guidelines for when we went and sat in the tent ourselves! All of us looked around at one another with faces that were half bewildered, half skeptical, and half just totally weirded out. Needless to say, this was not what we expected in the least. But we sat through the meeting, and at the end of it they had a guy sit in the middle of the circle so we could prophesy over him – tell him any visions or pictures or messages God gave us for him.

“Right,” I thought. “Let’s get this over with and get on with serving some food at the kitchen.” So there we all were, obediently silent and praying, when all of sudden, a picture came to me. I can’t explain how or why except to say I saw a picture – or a scene might be more fitting – in my mind. It was a doe, standing by the bank of a river with her head down in the grass. Suddenly, her head shot up and she looked around as if startled. I somehow knew that the doe was trying to decide whether to run or to stay. And that was it.

So when it came time to share anything we’d received from God to tell this guy, I held off until the last possible moment while a few other people shared. When they were about to move on and wrap up the meeting, I spoke up and shared my vision. The guy shared how that related to something he was going through in life, but to be honest, I was so weirded out by the whole thing I don’t even remember what he said.

So that was my first experience ever with prophesying over someone. And it would happen three more times over the course of the next day.

Time #2 was when I decided to sit in on the prophecy tent just to see how other people did it. There were two other Bread of Lifers in the tent when I went to sit down. I honestly never expected to be in on the prophesying, despite what had happened that morning. God had other plans! The first hippie that came in the tent while I was there sat down, we explained what we were doing (we’re not channelers, psychics, etc. – we just know God and share what He says with you), and then began to pray. Almost immediately, I got another vision from God, this time of a stream flowing over a rocky bed through a lush meadow. I immediately somehow knew this represented the living water Jesus talked about in the Gospels, and that God wanted to offer this girl salvation. Even then, I asked God to confirm that it was him speaking to me so I didn’t make a fool out of myself, and He complied. Another guy who was there began telling the girl how he felt God telling him she was in a dry and thirsty land, and that was all I needed. I told her I agreed and shared my vision of streams of abundant and living water that God wanted her to have. It led to a great time of sharing the Gospel with her that she was completely touched by.

Time #3 was the next hippie that came into the tent. As we prayed, I received yet another vision — this one of a young girl swinging on a swing set. There was a lion walking up from behind her off to the side that she was unaware of. I prayed more and received the meaning of this vision and shared it: at first, I thought the lion represented some kind of danger in her life that I was supposed to warn her about, but as I prayed I realized she wasn’t the little girl. She was the one who was going to stop the lion from devouring the little girl. The lion represented an injustice, but most likely more than a single instance of injustice — I got the feeling that it was a series or a system of injustices that God was calling her to fight against to protect the young girl.

The response of the woman I had just prophesied over shocked me. We don’t allow anyone to tell us anything about themselves when they come in the tent, so I didn’t have a clue about any of this. Her job back in the real world was as a teenage advocate, fighting for the rights of abused teenagers within the court system in Utah. The case she was currently working on involved a young girl who was abused, but she kept running into a brick wall with the courts and was about to give up on the case. She said after hearing me speak, she knew she had to go back and fight for that young girl. In addition to that, she was wondering whether or not she should move somewhere other than Utah because the court system there is so patriarchal and incredibly unjust toward teens, but that now she was going to stay there and fight against those injustices to help protect other teenagers as well.

Wow. The final time came as we were just walking around the Gathering and we came to another kitchen where we decided to stop and eat. There was a girl working behind the fence, and as soon as I saw her, I knew God wanted me to deliver a message to her. But I kept putting it off and putting it off, worried again about making a fool out of myself. Finally, after it kept nagging at me the whole meal, I prayed to God and said basically, “God, if this is you, I want to be obedient. But you’ve got to show me it’s you. If it is, have her come out from behind the fence {something she hadn’t done since we’d been there) so I don’t have to go back in their kitchen to talk to her.” As soon as I was done saying that to God, I looked up and there she was, walking through the gate in the fence and heading toward where we were. So I grabbed a friend who was there with me and had no clue what was going on, went up to the girl, and said exactly what God told me to say: “Despite your struggles otherwise, God thinks you are incredibly beautiful and wants to adopt you as his daughter.” She looked at me dumbfounded, said, “Okay,” and turned and walked off. I am confident that someday down the road God is going to use that brief conversation to achieve mighty things in her life.

So there you have it. My freaky, unbelievable, and amazing story of prophesying over hippies at the Rainbow Family Gathering. I haven’t received any messages or visions or anything since we’ve been back, so I don’t know if I necessarily have the gift of prophecy or if God just used me to do the work of prophecy for that day. What I do know is that I am more open to, and understand so much more about, prophesy and the other “sign” gifts than I ever have before and simply want God to use me to touch the people around me.

Stories of the Rainbows: Divine Guidance, Part I

To see the first three parts of the “Stories of the Rainbows” series, click here, here, and here.

Okay… I’m still not quite sure how to go about telling this part of my Rainbow experience, despite having told it to a few close friends already. So here goes nothing. First, a little background.

One of the reasons I was so excited to go to the Gathering was because there were going to be folks up there working with the Bread of Life kitchen who were known to be pretty charismatic — that is, believe in and practice the sign gifts such as speaking in tongues, healing, miracles, prophecy, etc. Every experience in my life with things of that nature had been less than positive, to say the least, and I found myself in a place where I knew Scripture said these gifts existed but my experience told me it was all a bunch of hogwash.

On the one hand, you had conservative churches who taught these sorts of things didn’t even exist any more, and on the other hand you had charismatic churches that not only said these kinds of things existed, but that every believer should do them or they weren’t saved — and then added other non-biblical junk like holy laughter and barking to boot. I knew the truth must lie somewhere in the middle, and I was excited to experience firsthand some of these things in a more biblical way.

But before I could do that, God had to whip me into shape and teach me a few things.

My first night there, I was kind of underwhelmed. I felt like the Gathering wasn’t as huge of an experience as folks were making it out to be. And on top of that, I hadn’t seen any miracles, prophesying, speaking in tongues or anything. I was walking in the woods telling God my disappointments when I heard him say to me, “I’m still the same God you’ve always served.” I replied with something along the lines of, “But I expected you to be different up here!” The response was the same a second time: “I’m still the same God you’ve always served.”

I didn’t know fully what that meant, but I received it and after that conversation my spirit was lifted and I fully enjoyed the rest of the night. The next morning, by God’s design, I ended up reading Luke chapter 10 during my devotional time and God clearly spoke through the pages of his word.

The first half of Luke 10 is Jesus sending out his apostles and giving them the authority to heal and cast out demons. Then the second half of Luke 10 is the parable of the Good Samaritan, where Jesus lays out an example of ministry that includes caring for someone’s physical needs, covering their room at an inn, and basically doing very “ordinary” acts of service. It couldn’t have been more clear if God had written it in handwriting on the rock I was sitting on: he taught me that those two halves of Luke 10 are the same exact ministry, powered and led by the same Spirit, with the same importance and same power, and having the same God over them. The ministry of handing someone a cup of cold water is just as powerful and Spirit-filled as prophesying or healing. They have different purposes in the Kingdom, just as, say, craftsmanship and hospitality have different purposes, but they are part of the same exact ministry.

It’s like a light bulb came on in my head and in my spirit. I finally understood. What I was seeking at the Gathering wasn’t a new or different move of God or a different ministry of the Spirit… it was an extension of the same God and ministry I had always served and been a part of. And once that deep understanding occurred, God allowed the gates to open for me to experience Him in deep and unexpected ways.

And it all began in a meeting to talk about the Divine Guidance tent.

Coming up next… the finale to the “Stories of the Rainbows” series.

Stories of the Rainbows: Divine Guidance, Part I

To see the first three parts of the “Stories of the Rainbows” series, click here, here, and here.

Okay… I’m still not quite sure how to go about telling this part of my Rainbow experience, despite having told it to a few close friends already. So here goes nothing. First, a little background.

One of the reasons I was so excited to go to the Gathering was because there were going to be folks up there working with the Bread of Life kitchen who were known to be pretty charismatic — that is, believe in and practice the sign gifts such as speaking in tongues, healing, miracles, prophecy, etc. Every experience in my life with things of that nature had been less than positive, to say the least, and I found myself in a place where I knew Scripture said these gifts existed but my experience told me it was all a bunch of hogwash.

On the one hand, you had conservative churches who taught these sorts of things didn’t even exist any more, and on the other hand you had charismatic churches that not only said these kinds of things existed, but that every believer should do them or they weren’t saved — and then added other non-biblical junk like holy laughter and barking to boot. I knew the truth must lie somewhere in the middle, and I was excited to experience firsthand some of these things in a more biblical way.

But before I could do that, God had to whip me into shape and teach me a few things.

My first night there, I was kind of underwhelmed. I felt like the Gathering wasn’t as huge of an experience as folks were making it out to be. And on top of that, I hadn’t seen any miracles, prophesying, speaking in tongues or anything. I was walking in the woods telling God my disappointments when I heard him say to me, “I’m still the same God you’ve always served.” I replied with something along the lines of, “But I expected you to be different up here!” The response was the same a second time: “I’m still the same God you’ve always served.”

I didn’t know fully what that meant, but I received it and after that conversation my spirit was lifted and I fully enjoyed the rest of the night. The next morning, by God’s design, I ended up reading Luke chapter 10 during my devotional time and God clearly spoke through the pages of his word.

The first half of Luke 10 is Jesus sending out his apostles and giving them the authority to heal and cast out demons. Then the second half of Luke 10 is the parable of the Good Samaritan, where Jesus lays out an example of ministry that includes caring for someone’s physical needs, covering their room at an inn, and basically doing very “ordinary” acts of service. It couldn’t have been more clear if God had written it in handwriting on the rock I was sitting on: he taught me that those two halves of Luke 10 are the same exact ministry, powered and led by the same Spirit, with the same importance and same power, and having the same God over them. The ministry of handing someone a cup of cold water is just as powerful and Spirit-filled as prophesying or healing. They have different purposes in the Kingdom, just as, say, craftsmanship and hospitality have different purposes, but they are part of the same exact ministry.

It’s like a light bulb came on in my head and in my spirit. I finally understood. What I was seeking at the Gathering wasn’t a new or different move of God or a different ministry of the Spirit… it was an extension of the same God and ministry I had always served and been a part of. And once that deep understanding occurred, God allowed the gates to open for me to experience Him in deep and unexpected ways.

And it all began in a meeting to talk about the Divine Guidance tent.

Coming up next… the finale to the “Stories of the Rainbows” series.

Stories of the Rainbows: Shut Up and Eat It

There were several kitchens at the Rainbow Gathering serving food besides Bread of Life, who I had the opportunity to serve with. One of the more colorful groups was the “Shut Up and Eat It” kitchen (where the story at the bottom of this post referring to “dangly bits” occurred).

Shut Up and Eat It was famous at the Gathering for their fried food. Legend had it that they would fry up just about anything they could get their hands on — fried bananas, fried strawberries, fried zuzus (the hippie word for candy bars), whatever. You name it, they fried it. However, like everything else at the Gathering, nobody really worked on a strict schedule to say the least, so you had to be there at the right time to get some fried goodness. By the time word got around to your camp that Shut Up and Eat It had some fried stuff made, it was almost guaranteed that it would be gone when you made it down there.

Such was our plight for two full days. We’d stop by the kitchen whenever we were out, but they never had anything made. Finally, one afternoon this conversation commenced:

Me: “You guys going to have any fried food later on?”
Them: “Yeah.”
Me: “Would you happen to know when?”
Them: “In about 20 minutes.” (side note: everything at this kitchen was going to happen “in about 20 minutes” regardless of whether in Babylon time it happened 5 minutes or 5 hours later.)
Me: “Do you know what it’s going to be?”
Them: “It’s going to be fried shut up and eat it.”

Well, there you go! Couldn’t get much more clear than that. Needless to say, when we went back about an hour later, there had been no fried anything served yet — they were still cooking it. When we foolishly asked how much longer it was going to be, the answer was the now standard, “in about 20 minutes.”

Roughly 45 minutes later or so, a call came out from behind the counter at Shut Up and Eat It that was music to our ears: “We’ve got some fried balls!” These were massive sized donut-hole looking things with something special cooked into the middle of them, their most famous dish of the Gathering! How lucky were we?

When one of my friends tasted the delicious goodness of the fried ball, she asked for their recipe. To which they responded:

“It’s equal parts of shut up, and eat it.”

Luckily for us, they had great senses of humor so we got to feast on fried balls (with chocolate and banana in the middle) that night. As one of my friends here would say, it was hippy-licious!

Stories of the Rainbows: Ozone, Dougie-Baby, and the Rest of My New Hippie Friends

For the few days I got to hang out with the hippies in the woods, I got to meet and talk to many hippie-type folks. Here are some highlights:

  • The guy who refused to stand in line for the bathroom (lovingly referred to as the “shitter” by everyone there) because he said lines reminded him of Nazi Germany. And the Army. I must point out here that as he appeared to be under the age of, say, 35, he clearly was referring to philosophical dissent and not to actual events he had experienced. When he came up, he pointed to the last person in line, proclaimed, “I’m behind him!”, and went off to the side a ways to sit on the ground and wait.
  • The guy who looked to be between 40-50 years old and insisted that we call him “Dougie-Baby.” We called him Doug, and he said, “No — it’s Dougie Baby.” Oooookay. After that introduction, he proceeded to sit down next to some folks playing music in the worship tent at Bread of Life kitchen, pulled off his shirt, and started playing his jimbe along to the music. Welcome home. (I think hippies would be all about naked laundry day, regardless of who else was around.)
  • Everybody had a djimbe up there, or some equivalent. For those not familiar, a djimbe (pronounced “jim-bay”) is an African hand drum that’s relatively easy to tote around. We saw tons of people packing them around on their backs, carrying them with one hand while carrying their drugs in the other, or just sitting around in random various drum circles banging away on the things. It was actually really cool and probably one of the defining experiences of the Gathering.
  • One 20-30 year old kid I sat and talked to for a long time insisted his name was “Ozone”, so who was I to argue? Of course, that declaration may have been influenced by the fact that he proudly shared with me that he had been smoking pot for six hours straight, or longer, before he met me. He was super friendly, though. He is the lead singer for a local band somewhere in California or Louisiana (I can’t remember which), so I asked him to sing me one of his songs. He proceeded to do so, and I must say, I was actually incredibly impressed. It was an amazing song! He insisted to me that when all of his band members were high, they practiced better because things “just flow better, you know?” He then added, however, that it was difficult to get everyone together to practice because they were “always strung out”. I pray someday the world would get to hear this kid’s music (as well as the poetry and fiction writing he said he does) when he’s cleaned up.
  • “Verge” was around 60 years old or so and was a talk show host on a local station in San Francisco. He complained at length about the evil corporations out in Babylon (the hippie name for the “real” world) — even labeling NPR as one of them (now that shook my political foundations :). He told me he loved coming to the Gathering because out in Babylon “everyting’s a twiangle [making a triangle with his hands], you know? One guy on the top. Out he-ah, it’s a suh-cle [making a circle with his hands]. Nobody is over anyone. We all make decisions togethah.” I nodded and continued the conversation, but inside I was thinking, the rainbow ‘family’ has elders who make decisions without consulting anyone – decisions like where to have the Gatherings, not to allow alcohol inside the camps, and so forth. It’s all about perspective. You can’t argue against generally accepted known facts.

In addition to all of these experiences, we saw the naked guy running through a different kitchen up there (to which a guy who worked there incredibly calmly turned around and requested, “Please keep your dangly bits out of the food”), the folks who were convinced that if you took their picture you would steal their soul, and the guy who didn’t care if you took his picture because, in his words, “I used to not like my picture getting taken because then the government would know exactly where I was. But now I figure with all their technology, they already know anyway, so go ahead.”

Upon review of this blog before I post it, I’ve realized this might not seem like an incredibly glowing review of the folks I met up there. I regret this post if that’s the overall impression you walk away with. Let me just say this: the hippies at the Gathering were some of the nicest, friendliest, most open, accepting, and inviting people I have ever met. When they say, “Welcome home!” (their motto for every Gathering), they really mean it. It does almost feel like a family there. They’ve got the whole grace part of “grace and truth” down pat and it really was neat to be in their midst. I was a little nervous going into the Gathering because I felt like a poser. A pretender. I mean, truly – I’m a middle class guy with a family who works in Babylon and doesn’t have a hippie bone in his body. Who was I trying to kid, ministering to these guys, acting like I belonged there? But I very quickly realized that issue was all mine. Nobody there cared about any of that stuff. What mattered was you were home, among family, and they loved you because you were you. It was a great experience.

Coming up next: The Shut Up and Eat It kitchen, and the Divine Guidance tent experience.

Stories of the Rainbows: Ozone, Dougie-Baby, and the Rest of My New Hippie Friends

For the few days I got to hang out with the hippies in the woods, I got to meet and talk to many hippie-type folks. Here are some highlights:

  • The guy who refused to stand in line for the bathroom (lovingly referred to as the “shitter” by everyone there) because he said lines reminded him of Nazi Germany. And the Army. I must point out here that as he appeared to be under the age of, say, 35, he clearly was referring to philosophical dissent and not to actual events he had experienced. When he came up, he pointed to the last person in line, proclaimed, “I’m behind him!”, and went off to the side a ways to sit on the ground and wait.
  • The guy who looked to be between 40-50 years old and insisted that we call him “Dougie-Baby.” We called him Doug, and he said, “No — it’s Dougie Baby.” Oooookay. After that introduction, he proceeded to sit down next to some folks playing music in the worship tent at Bread of Life kitchen, pulled off his shirt, and started playing his jimbe along to the music. Welcome home. (I think hippies would be all about naked laundry day, regardless of who else was around.)
  • Everybody had a djimbe up there, or some equivalent. For those not familiar, a djimbe (pronounced “jim-bay”) is an African hand drum that’s relatively easy to tote around. We saw tons of people packing them around on their backs, carrying them with one hand while carrying their drugs in the other, or just sitting around in random various drum circles banging away on the things. It was actually really cool and probably one of the defining experiences of the Gathering.
  • One 20-30 year old kid I sat and talked to for a long time insisted his name was “Ozone”, so who was I to argue? Of course, that declaration may have been influenced by the fact that he proudly shared with me that he had been smoking pot for six hours straight, or longer, before he met me. He was super friendly, though. He is the lead singer for a local band somewhere in California or Louisiana (I can’t remember which), so I asked him to sing me one of his songs. He proceeded to do so, and I must say, I was actually incredibly impressed. It was an amazing song! He insisted to me that when all of his band members were high, they practiced better because things “just flow better, you know?” He then added, however, that it was difficult to get everyone together to practice because they were “always strung out”. I pray someday the world would get to hear this kid’s music (as well as the poetry and fiction writing he said he does) when he’s cleaned up.
  • “Verge” was around 60 years old or so and was a talk show host on a local station in San Francisco. He complained at length about the evil corporations out in Babylon (the hippie name for the “real” world) — even labeling NPR as one of them (now that shook my political foundations :). He told me he loved coming to the Gathering because out in Babylon “everyting’s a twiangle [making a triangle with his hands], you know? One guy on the top. Out he-ah, it’s a suh-cle [making a circle with his hands]. Nobody is over anyone. We all make decisions togethah.” I nodded and continued the conversation, but inside I was thinking, the rainbow ‘family’ has elders who make decisions without consulting anyone – decisions like where to have the Gatherings, not to allow alcohol inside the camps, and so forth. It’s all about perspective. You can’t argue against generally accepted known facts.

In addition to all of these experiences, we saw the naked guy running through a different kitchen up there (to which a guy who worked there incredibly calmly turned around and requested, “Please keep your dangly bits out of the food”), the folks who were convinced that if you took their picture you would steal their soul, and the guy who didn’t care if you took his picture because, in his words, “I used to not like my picture getting taken because then the government would know exactly where I was. But now I figure with all their technology, they already know anyway, so go ahead.”

Upon review of this blog before I post it, I’ve realized this might not seem like an incredibly glowing review of the folks I met up there. I regret this post if that’s the overall impression you walk away with. Let me just say this: the hippies at the Gathering were some of the nicest, friendliest, most open, accepting, and inviting people I have ever met. When they say, “Welcome home!” (their motto for every Gathering), they really mean it. It does almost feel like a family there. They’ve got the whole grace part of “grace and truth” down pat and it really was neat to be in their midst. I was a little nervous going into the Gathering because I felt like a poser. A pretender. I mean, truly – I’m a middle class guy with a family who works in Babylon and doesn’t have a hippie bone in his body. Who was I trying to kid, ministering to these guys, acting like I belonged there? But I very quickly realized that issue was all mine. Nobody there cared about any of that stuff. What mattered was you were home, among family, and they loved you because you were you. It was a great experience.

Coming up next: The Shut Up and Eat It kitchen, and the Divine Guidance tent experience.

Stories From the Rainbow Family

I spent three days last week camping in the woods with around 10,000 hippies.

I never, ever thought I’d ever write a sentence anywhere close to that one!

Last week I went along with a team of 7 people from our church, Emmaus Road, to the annual Rainbow Family Gathering, which happened to be in Wyoming this year. The Rainbow Gathering happens over the 4th of July every year (and the weeks leading up to and following the 4th), and is more or less a massive hippy campout in the woods.

They come together to promote world peace and love, play in drum circles, and do a whole lot of drugs. It’s an illegal gathering on numerous levels, but the local authorities always allow it to go on with the understanding that they can’t stop thousands of people from showing up and partying for a month or more.

So why attend such a gathering as a Christian, let alone a church-sponsored and led activity? In some way, because so many people ask that question. Because churches in the past have been great at condemning things like the Gathering. Mostly, because we believe Jesus would have been there had he been on earth today, much like he was found eating with sinners and tax collectors, hanging out with Samaritans, and touching lepers.

And we didn’t go with the attitude that we were taking Jesus to the hippies. That’s an erroneous attitude that stifles many missions attempts before they even get off the ground. We went with the same notion we live by while we’re here in Laramie: that God was already at work there, and we were going to go meet him there to see what he was up to. And he was up to a lot!

We served in a kitchen up there, providing food, shelter, and a playground to all the hippies. We spread God’s love and also learned a lot about his love from other people who didn’t even know him. We did menial tasks like hauling waste water, washing dishes, and filling wash stations, which were huge things in the scope of the Kingdom. We got to hear some cool music. And we got to meet and talk with some really great people, which was awesome.

I’ll be filling you in on random stories from the Gathering throughout the coming days (including stories from the “Divine Guidance Tent”). Suffice it to say for now, though, that I am definitely glad I went and would go again in a heartbeat. Here’s the broadest lesson I learned from being up there: Jesus is active in the lives of everyone around you, even those (and perhaps especially those) you least likely expect. Take some time to quiet yourself and be in tune with His Spirit to see how you can join him there in Kingdom work!

Stories From the Rainbow Family

I spent three days last week camping in the woods with around 10,000 hippies.

I never, ever thought I’d ever write a sentence anywhere close to that one!

Last week I went along with a team of 7 people from our church, Emmaus Road, to the annual Rainbow Family Gathering, which happened to be in Wyoming this year. The Rainbow Gathering happens over the 4th of July every year (and the weeks leading up to and following the 4th), and is more or less a massive hippy campout in the woods.

They come together to promote world peace and love, play in drum circles, and do a whole lot of drugs. It’s an illegal gathering on numerous levels, but the local authorities always allow it to go on with the understanding that they can’t stop thousands of people from showing up and partying for a month or more.

So why attend such a gathering as a Christian, let alone a church-sponsored and led activity? In some way, because so many people ask that question. Because churches in the past have been great at condemning things like the Gathering. Mostly, because we believe Jesus would have been there had he been on earth today, much like he was found eating with sinners and tax collectors, hanging out with Samaritans, and touching lepers.

And we didn’t go with the attitude that we were taking Jesus to the hippies. That’s an erroneous attitude that stifles many missions attempts before they even get off the ground. We went with the same notion we live by while we’re here in Laramie: that God was already at work there, and we were going to go meet him there to see what he was up to. And he was up to a lot!

We served in a kitchen up there, providing food, shelter, and a playground to all the hippies. We spread God’s love and also learned a lot about his love from other people who didn’t even know him. We did menial tasks like hauling waste water, washing dishes, and filling wash stations, which were huge things in the scope of the Kingdom. We got to hear some cool music. And we got to meet and talk with some really great people, which was awesome.

I’ll be filling you in on random stories from the Gathering throughout the coming days (including stories from the “Divine Guidance Tent”). Suffice it to say for now, though, that I am definitely glad I went and would go again in a heartbeat. Here’s the broadest lesson I learned from being up there: Jesus is active in the lives of everyone around you, even those (and perhaps especially those) you least likely expect. Take some time to quiet yourself and be in tune with His Spirit to see how you can join him there in Kingdom work!