Listen. I am about to share with you a story no one could imagine or write. No one, that is, except for the ultimate Storyteller.
This story begins a couple years ago with the dawn of a new friendship. Immediately, these friends were close – some say even closer than brothers. Watching them interact with each-other makes it hard to imagine a bond tighter than what they possess.
One of the things connecting these friends is dance. This friendship rests and feeds and inspires itself through telling a story through movement. Performance runs through their blood. Music creates instant choreography. You can’t go anywhere with these two without them finding an open space, turning on some tunes, and beginning to dance.
One of these boys is Devonte – our son. The other? His name is Jesse. This past weekend I heard about Jesse through Devonte’s stories about their dance crew – Outta Kontrol. I remember seeing Jesse in the trailer for Love to Kibera and even in a clip my friend recorded from this past Saturday where Jesse and another guy battled it out through dance. Watching it with Devonte was proof of their bond. He predicted almost every single movement “Outlaw” was about to execute. I realized then just how close these two were – you have to know someone pretty well to be able to read their dance moves.
Flash forward to last night.
This is where Debbie comes in to the story. Debbie is one of the major heartbeats behind Reagan ministry. Ever since Russ & I started going to events, we’ve seen her everywhere. She’s always there – loving on these kids. Always.
Last night, when I noticed Jesse, I asked if she knew who he was – not thinking of any connection between the two but remembering him as the kid in the videos Devonte showed me. It was Jesse – his best friend.
Knowing the relationship between Devonte and Jesse, Debbie brought him along as a surprise guest for Devonte. Like I said before – it didn’t take long for these two to strike up a dance party in the gallery. As they danced, Debbie spoke about her heart for Jesse and her prayer something would happen tonight through Devonte’s obedience. For thirty minutes, these brothers danced…and I contemplated the possibilities of these brothers one day sharing a heavenly Father. Recording their dancing (because I knew Devonte would want to watch & critique later), I did the only thing I knew to do…once more…
I wish I could accurately describe what it was like watching Devonte get baptized. The only thing I could think of, save fighting the tears threatening to fall, was “thank you Jesus…thank you.” This week – more than any other in quite a long time – shouts of His mercy.
It was just Sunday Devonte spoke of wanting to get baptized….it was just Sunday, after waking up with a distinct feeling to pray the night before, I heard him testify to Christ’s saving power.
Days later, with a smile on his face and truth in his words, he stood before his peers and spoke of how Jesus changed him…and I stood there, a smile on my face and tears on my cheeks and prayers of thanks on my lips realizing there are no words. Just a realization of His goodness and a full heart.
But the story doesn’t end with Devonte getting wet. Remember – this is a story of two brothers. And this is where I pause and let someone else take over – because I did not hear the rest until this morning on my way to work. Let me say this: grab some tissues. Like I said before…I couldn’t have imagined this story even if I tried…
from Dance Battles and Baptisms, by Tyson Joe (youth pastor at Austin Stone)
You’re gonna have to stay with me on this one. There are layers to this story and I’m gonna jump in and out of the narrative quite a bit. That being said, I’ll tell you what the main narrative is right now so you don’t forget.
The events of tonight were set in motion this past Sunday at the 7PM service at The Austin Stone. Following an announcement about First Tuesday Prayer, a couple of TeenRock students (Devyne and Ebony) came up to me saying they wanted to be baptized at the Tuesday service.
Without thinking, I said, “Absolutely!”
After all, I knew these girls. I knew their stories. These were girls you could tether a ministry to and just stand back and watch it grow from their passion and leadership, and here they were wanting to publicly testify to the body of Christ what Jesus had done in their lives. Let’s do this!
I immediately headed in the direction of one of the staffers who I knew could add the girls to the baptism list when John Palmieri stopped me. Now…John Palmieri is about 9 feet tall and so when he stops you…you stop.
“Devonte wants to get baptized.”
Go here for the rest of the story….and remember: HE is Stronger.