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STORY: The Messenger

Stanley was a bummer of a name for a stutterer. He was made fun of all through school, and so he didn't like people much. After school, hez fell into a shady online job where he stayed in his apartment and basically sold useless insurance to the elderly. He had made a habit of looking at some pretty shady sites, and movies, and he let his body indulge in its desires. His hair and clothes were greasy, his posture slumped, and his blood pressure high.

When he did have to talk, he had to think through his words very wisely beforehand because sometimes people had to wait 30 seconds for them to come out. He was practicing his words while walking through a park one day, when he bumped into a tripod holding a light for a film set. Everyone looked over for a second until Stanley caught, and secured the light again. He tried to disappear as he stuttered a "S-S-S----orry."

They all looked back to what they were doing, except the person who was being filmed. It was a middle aged, leather-faced man with a salt and peppered beard, sitting on a park bench facing the camera. "Wait!" He called. Stanley tried to ignore and slip away. The leather-faced man caught up to him and said, "My friend, I know how to make your life better."

Stanley tried to duck away again but the man got in front of him. "Look," He continued in something like a Brazilian accent, "I escaped a POW camp and was lost in the Amazon jungle for 12 years where God spoke to me and helped me become better. I recognize something in you that was in me."

Stanley paused and looked at him. The man's blue eyes arrested Stanley. He was chiseled and built well. Every hair in his beard was in place. His skin was bright and healthy.

"I'm Sarasota Campbell. Can we sit down somewhere. No judgment. I want to help."

Stanley looked back at the film crew. Sarasota interjected, "It was them who reached out to me. I can pause the filming if I want. Let's just sit down around the corner. I won't take much time, unless you want to."

They sat and Sarasota asked one pointed question which broke Stanley open: "Whose hurt against you makes you sin?" In response to Stanley's fearful expression, Sarasota explained, "I had a weird encounter with some god in the Jungle and had to reckon with the unforgiveness toward my captors. Not easy, but when I did after 8 years, I started to see this body, this life and all its challenges as a gift. Now I am in better shape mentally, emotionally and spiritually--I see beauty in everything-- more than I ever have before. And I no longer desire my previous vices."

Stanley shifted uncomfortably. He didn't even try to speak, knowing his stutter would just make this last longer.

Sarasota saw he may not have more than a moment more with him so he delivered his message, "Forgive them, then let God forgive you. After that, go and bear fruit."

Stanley didn't want this so he walked away, leaving Sarasota alone on the bench. This sounded too much like the Christian God he grew up with.

But he went home and the question bore into him for the next three days. Eventually he thought of the main bully in school, convinced himself to imagine that boy's insecurities, and he found he was able to forgive. But then he considered the second half of Saratoga's statement. "Let God forgive me? Does he even want to?" And then all those seemingly useless years in Sunday school kicked in with the words he hadn't let himself hear for ages, "He died for you."

A week later he walked back out to that park, looking for Sarasota. Sarasota spotted him, left the film crew again, and ran to him in a stylish pair of joggers. This man was put together.

Stanley stuttered, "I'd l-l-l-like to hear m-m-m-more."

Sarasota met with Stanley once a week for the next 6 months. What he had learned having to fight for his life in the jungle, alone with God, had trained him to master the art of healing his heart and maximizing his human potential. He taught Stanley the beauty of redeeming pain into purpose, to desire integrity over indulgence, and the commission to do all aspects of life well.

In a couple more months Stanley was well on his way to physical, emotional and spiritual health. He was fostering daring friendships, walking 3 miles a day and eating well, had a tidy house, had renovated his wardrobe per ethics he believed in, and was pursuing help for his stuttering.

But he had discovered one significant thing as they had looked for ways to redeem his pain. All the stuttering made him have to cull through so many words so fast in order to pick the one that was worth waiting 30 seconds for, that he had become surprisingly adept at word choice. And like many stutterers, if he was singing he almost never stuttered. So Sarasota had encouraged him to start writing poetry and singing it. His style settled more into a type of rapping. When he asked himself what to rap about, what he wanted to tell the world, he only wanted to tell them about what Sarasota had taught him and how it could save them.

So he took his computer skills, his YouTube familiarity, his microphone from his gaming, and recorded some raps. There was so much he was learning that he wrote and released a new one each day. He found such purpose in it that most of his vices fell away. He went viral. There was a thirst for this hard but helpful advice.

One day someone recognized him on the street and asked for his autograph. Suddenly Stanley was taken aback. "No, no, n-n-no! It is not me you want to meet. It is Sarasota! His movie is coming out this Christmas!" And Stanley realized that people were admiring him, but that was counterproductive; he needed them to pursue Sarasota and Sarasota's connection to God.

So from then on, each of Stanley's raps mentioned "Sarasota Campbell" and the documentary, "12 years in the Jungle," which was coming out that Christmas.

By Christmas day, at the movie release, Stanley had been recognized as a phenom. His local fans had come and packed the house. The others filled theaters across the nation. He was asked to rap at the debut. No one yet knew Sarasota but they all recognized Stanley. So when Stanley finished his rap and invited Sarasota to come to the front with him, he was not ready for Sarasota to ask for his autograph. Stanley immediately knelt on the stage and said, "No, Sir, who am I to give you an autograph? I owe everything to you and your God."

This showed others that now it was time to listen to Sarasota.

With his arm lovingly over Stanley he addressed the audience and told his story. Then they watched the movie, the message resonated, and spread across the nation. Because of Stanley's mission to tell what had saved him, so many more people were able to be saved.

Raw Spoon, 9-25-21

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These BLOGS are usually inspired by messages I (or friends) feel we have heard from God. This is the nature of our God. Listen for how he may be speaking to you.

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