Yesterday we finished filming for GOSPEL Journey Maui. It was better and way more different than we expected. These late teen and early twentysomethings had much more defined and developed belief systems than the original GJ participants...and they BOLDLY proclaimed these belief systems!
Suffice it to say that Zane and I had our hands full.
I think GJ Maui will be much more of a reality series than the first one. There was much more emotional drama. Think about it. We had a Jew, Muslim, Mormon, Seventh Day Adventist, Buddhist and a girl who believed that God was a big black woman cooking cookies for us in the heavenly kitchen of unconditional love.
The original GOSPEL Journey was "stacked" in Christianity's favor way more than this one. In the first one three of the seven teenagers considered themselves strong Christians. In this one none of the participants did (other than Zane).
In the first one I was set up as a teacher who lectured and then took questions from the participants. This ensured that things didn't get too out of control. Ask a tough question and I'll give you an answer from the Bible. When Q & A time was up I "closed" the session. In this one I'm the one asking questions and getting asked questions. Sure I'd share the Bible's POV at some point during the discussion but these young people were free to interupt, argue and push back anytime.
After Zane and I said our goodbye's to the participants and dropped them off at the Maui airport we had a long talk. GOSPEL Journey Maui was much more intense than either of us had expected. It was flat out dangerous in a lot of ways, not in the sense of someone falling into hot lava or getting caught in an undertow, but in the real sense that it was a week long debate of different points of view. It could have quickly devolved into a week long shouting match or "it doesn't matter what you believe" lovefest. To be honest I was afraid that this second option was where we were headed for awhile). We live in a postmodern culture of tolerance to the extreme.
But Zane, Jasser (the Muslim kid) and I pushed back. Everyone can't be right. Right?
Jonathan (the Jewish guy) asked me at the beginning of the week if we needed to try to create any controversy. I told him "no." The only thing that I wanted to make sure of was that the conversations were completely honest and authentic. "If controversy happens it happens" I told him.
It happened. But it happened in a naturally unfolding way. It's almost like you could see the lights going on and, at times, the shudders going down.
I think that when everyone left they left with new questions to ponder, new facts to consider and Old Scriptures to think about. My prayer is that we made the "way of grace and the way of work" crystal clear to them. My hope is that they all understand that, accept it or reject it, Jesus claimed to be the exclusive way to God.
It was a tough, rewarding, dangerous week. Thank you for praying. Please don't stop until ever single one of these precious young people receive the hope that only Jesus can offer them.