Monday, September 22, 2008

Samaritan's Purse

Yesterday, I went to the Samaritan's Purse Mission Update, a conference given for people who work at or support the charity. Immediately after that, we went to the Low Country Festival, a big revival-type event run by Franklin Graham.

The lunch was standard luncheon fare, but the dessert was boysenberry cobbler, pecan pie, and vanilla pudding. It was a nice touch. I haven't eaten vanilla pudding since I was a little kid.

I talked with a guy who has done a lot of work for Samaritan's Purse abroad. He was in the military, and then he created and ran a distribution company, and now he is retired and does logistics work for the charity. We chatted about various things, but mostly Sudan, where he just finished building a hospital:

Me: "So do you run into any other charities?

Him: "They are all over the place in Juba, the capital, but nobody is out in the rural areas where we are working.

Me: "I thought the capital of Sudan was Khartoum."

Him: "That's the capital of North Sudan. South Sudan is mostly autonomous, and everybody knows they will vote for independence soon."

Hopefully that will happen without more violence, but I doubt it.

Then, there were various speakers talking about the work they are doing and how it gets done. Franklin Graham was one of them. His talk seemed weak and muddled, but that wasn't a problem. I figured that his mind was on the preaching that he would be doing later that night.

After the conference, we went to our seats at the Festival. It started off with a lot of music, mostly from contemporary Christian groups.

I realized something about popular music by watching the lead performer of one of the groups. He spent almost no time or effort singing or generating music. Instead, what he did was work the crowd. He got people to move around, dance, wave their hands, etc. I realized that this was the key skill nowadays. Musical talent is not necessary or sufficient, the thing that makes you a big-name performer is the much rarer ability to manipulate large numbers of people.

So there was a lot of yelling, singing, loud noise, and flashing lights. John Calvin would not have been pleased.

Then Franklin gave the message. I quickly realized that he is not a natural-born speaker like his father. Maybe it was because I have heard it all a hundred times before, but I was not impressed; the message seemed no better than what any preacher could do.

But something happened, because lots of people came down to the floor to talk with the counselors.

I drove over seven hours yesterday. It keeps getting easier. I remember when a three-hour drive would knock me out.

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