Friday, March 16, 2007

Thy Kingdom come

Some conversations change your perspective on an issue, your perception of a person, or your view of yourself. This one did all three.
I went in for a massage and came out with a message. The young massage therapist began my time on the table with a question, “What do you do, Dave?”
“I work for the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”
His response revealed a lot, “Is that a Catholic or a Christian church?”
Moments later I felt as lost in his world as he was in mine. “I’m a krumper,” he said.
“What’s a krumper?” I asked.
He explained that krumping is a form of dancing that “looks a lot like an epileptic fit the first time you see it.” He said he was a break dancer but broke his fibula landing a backflip. “I wont be able to do flips for at least a year,” he stated sadly. “So, I started krumping because it’s low impact.”
He then said something that really caught me off guard, “Krumping is a really religious dance.”
“Religious?” I questioned. Based on his earlier statement I wasn’t quite sure what “religious” actually meant to him.
“Yeah,” he said, “the guy that leads out in the krumping sessions at the skate park forms us into a circle and tells everyone to ‘bow your heads for a moment of respect.’ So, we bow our heads. He’s a big New Zealander, so everybody does what he says.”
“Respect?” I asked, “What are you respecting? The dance form? The leader?”
“We respect God!” he replied. “He full-on prays to Jesus—about the krumping session we’re about to start. When he finishes we take turns krumping. He even has his own style of krumping called ‘praise buck’ where he freezes with his hands together like he’s praying.” (Buck is the term used for a dancers personal style of krumping.)
The idea of praying before a dance session intrigued me. “What does he say when he prays?” I asked.
“He says pretty weird stuff, like, ‘Jesus, we know You made us in your image and made our bodies able to dance. We are getting buck for you Jesus! As we krump here on earth, we hope you and your angels will krump with us in Heaven.’ Then he says, ‘In Jesus name’ and everyone in the circle shouts ‘AMEN!’ It is an amazing sound to hear all those guys shouting ‘amen.’”
What was happening in that skate park as that dancer led in prayer? Was this evangelism? According to my masseur the krumping sessions attract druggies, homeless people, and teenagers who come to watch and krumpers who come to dance. And they all hear the prayer. I asked, “Do his prayers make you think? Have you ever asked about Jesus?”
“Nah, not yet,” the young krumper replied, “but it does make me wonder. I respect him a lot and he believes in Jesus. It’s cool. Yeah, one day I’m gonna ask him what it’s all about.”
He fired another question at me, “Hey, you being a Christian, is it alright to pray like that?”
My reply took me by surprise, “In the Bible King David ‘danced before the Lord.’ So, I guess the ‘krumping for Jesus’ thing is okay. And, when Christians are about to worship Jesus in church—we do that by singing—the worship leader will often pray, ‘Dear Jesus, as we sing here on earth, we hope you and your angels will sing with us in Heaven.’ So, yeah, I guess it’s alright. But, I know I couldn’t do it.”
“Why not?”
“Because I can’t dance!”
Later, sitting at my computer, I googled “krump” and discovered it is an acronym for Kingdom Radically Uplifted Mighty Praise. The krumping dance form emerged in South Central Los Angeles as a nonviolent way of releasing aggression. Now it’s an internationally recognised dance form.
Bringing God’s kingdom to people often happens in ways unexpected by the majority of believers. Jesus told parables (literally ‘near bringers’). Martin Luther translated the Bible. Charles Wesley wrote hymns. Ellen White penned books. Each using the media and the means of their day.
I was challenged by that conversation. Not to become a krumper, but to withhold judgement of what I do not understand, to value those who do what I am unable to do and to use my skills to take God’s kingdom to the people I can influence.

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