It's Thursday night (Friday morning, really.) I think I'm ready to write about my time in Houston. I spent last weekend in Texas with Ted Law and his team at Access/Vox. We met back in February at the Covenant Midwinter Conference in Chicago. I was hanging with a bunch of my worship/arts buddies in the lobby and he walked through with Greg Yee. We talked a few times there in Chicago, and then in subsequent phone calls and Facebook messages, decided that it would be good for me to come to Houston and check out what was going on.
So on Friday I boarded a plane and flew from LAX to Houston's Hobby Airport. Ted picked me up and gave me an impromptu tour of Houston. We ended up at a restaurant in the Chinatown area called Cafe 101. It was the first of many meals with many people to meet and many conversations to enjoy. After a few hours there, we moved next door to Juice Box and had shaved ice with condensed milk, fresh fruit and ice cream on top. Never tried that combination before, and it was delicious. The place was packed and loud and really fun.
I stayed with Ted and Amy and their girls. Tried my first Sleep Number bed. (After three nights of experimenting, I decided that I'm an 85.)
Saturday was spent hanging out, eating, meeting more people and talking! Had breakfast at Access's office, moved to someone's house for my more formal "interview" time with the lead team and then on to lunch at a Phoenician deli. Then it was on to a big indoor game place (the name escapes me at the moment) for bowling and video games. Then dinner at a BBQ place. Back to the Laws' house. Compared iTunes libraries. Laughed at Youtube videos. Have you seen this guy?
Sunday was sweet. Access is in its infancy. In fact, they have not really "launched" yet. (That's coming this fall.) So far, it's about 50 adults and 10 kids in a small office in an industrial park. They have breakfast together and then Ted preaches. People get in discussion groups and share their lives and respond to questions that Ted poses. Announcements and then dismissal. They didn't take an offering.
I loved the simplicity of the worship gathering and the "blank slate" feel of it. It's not church as usual, and that really appeals to me. I know God called me out of PCC for something really different, something new. Ted interviewed me and asked how they could be praying for me. I sang a few songs I had written and then led them in three worship songs. They don't have music worship very often, so I think it was a refreshing thing for them and we all were able to enter in and express our hearts to the Lord.
Then it was another lunch together (this group loves to eat and be together!) and then home to Ted's. We hung out and watched a movie (Cloverfield), and then he took me to the airport in the morning.
There are a few other things I haven't mentioned. First, Access is primarily an Asian-American church (Chinese-American, to be precise). This would be a new experience for our family, since we have been in nearly all-Anglo churches our whole lives. But we're excited about it. I've been feeling for some time now that the Lord wants to teach, grow and use our family in a multi-ethnic setting. The weekend was a great experience to explore that possibility, ask questions and deal with stereotypes head-on. The authenticity that I experiences was refreshing.
Second, Access is really only half of the story God wants to tell with these people. They have already started a non-profit community development/arts organization called Vox Culture Houston. From their website: "Vox Culture Houston brings people together through music, culture and food from different parts of the globe in order to do something good. Vox is the Latin word for voice. We are combining the voices of artists, merchants and entrepreneurs to speak up for those who don’t have a voice."
So far, they have had one event called "The Global Cafe" featuring local musicians, artists and food. The money collected went to a local elementary school and also to an organization called Floresta that does microcredit, community development and environmental work in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Tanzania.
I've been dreaming/praying about stuff like this for a long time. See my previous post on this subject.
Thank you to all who have been keeping up with the blog and praying for us during this transition time. Our God is faithful and will lead us to the place where we will be best suited for His purposes in the Church and in the community. I long to be in the heart of this intersection of faith, art and good works. Pray for God's guidance for our family and for the folks at Access/Vox. And pray that we would all act in obedience and faith. I can't claim to know whether this is God's will or not, but I know I'd be delighted to throw my lot in with these folks. We'll see what happens... To God be the glory!