by Jesse L. Smith
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I will never forget the effect that Donnie Moore and Radical Reality had on our little ‘cow-town’ of Tulare, Ca. a little over 15 years ago now… In a sense Tulare was your typical town supported by agriculture, with very little for the average teenager to do aside from lounging around and knocking cows over in the night (actually, we preferred to ‘teepee’ our friends’, and occasionally enemies’ houses). One of the most popular community events was the annual ‘bell game’, where the two rival high school football teams would compete for the coveted ‘cow bell’ of victory. At the time however, my cynical view of the town and life itself had been challenged by a recent and life changing encounter with the Holy Spirit.
There really is a whole lot to be said for the concept of ‘spiritual rebirth’, but it must be experienced in order to be truly understood. Even though I had heard all that stuff about being ‘born again’ before, what I experienced had the effect of changing the way I viewed myself and the world – as if I were a new person. Like a newborn child, the world once more was a place filled with wonder and awe – because for the first time I was looking at the world through a spiritual lens. When I heard that my youth group was going to be hosting a Team called ‘Radical Reality’ I was immediately drawn to it, because the name reflected my new understanding of the world… reality really was ‘radical’.
Radical Reality was going to be visiting the two rival high schools of our town, and afterwards have a special meeting for all who wanted to attend later that night. When I walked into the high school gym during the daytime assembly I immediately sensed the presence of God moving through the room, and knew that for this Team, ‘Radical Reality’ wasn’t just a name. At full volume the Winans song ‘It’s Time to make that change’ blared through the speakers – and I once again resolved in my heart that I wanted to pursue the radical reality that only God could reveal. The message of the Team was simple and inspirational, everyone is special and has unique value. While not directly sharing about God, the performances of the Team were more than enough to draw people to the meeting later that evening.
What happened that night is unlike anything I have ever seen in a public school setting… I saw students, parents, and teachers alike kneeling in the aisles of the auditorium to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. Local churches were immediately filled with new families who had collectively made decisions for Christ, and the entire community as a result began to feel like a different place altogether. Just as the excitement and laughter of a newborn brings joy to a home, our town felt revitalized – it was a place where you would actually want to live!
The events that happened in my home town will forever be imprinted on my heart because they demonstrated the most important truth any of us will ever know – there is more to reality than the things that are seen. There was nothing about Tulare that physically changed – but there was a spiritual change that impacted the way I saw ‘reality’. As the years have passed since then I have come to realize more and more that the key to experiencing that ‘radical reality’ is the gift that Jesus offers us, the Holy Spirit. There is nothing that God wants more than to pour out His Spirit in our lives, but we need to desire and pursue Him! Jesus said in Luke 11:13, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”
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