In 2010, CrossPointe took on one of the largest evangelistic efforts the church has ever done. We put on a production of “Heaven’s Gates & Hell’s Flames.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with the production, it is a stage performance comprised of several different skits. Each skit ends with someone’s death and subsequent transition to the afterlife by either ascending to Heaven where they are met by Jesus, or down into the depths of Hell where Satan and his minions await. It is all really quite dramatic! There is a company that sends out all the props, lighting, decorations, and a team of directors. What is unique about the whole thing is the cast is made up entirely of our church members!
The team arrived on a Friday. That night they held auditions and assigned parts. Everyone was involved, young and old. We had people on stage, people working backstage, people working to keep the cast and crew fed, and people responsible for counseling and following up on any decisions made on each night of the production. I think I was the only one not working. My job was to encourage and cheer everyone on and pray like I’ve never prayed before.
Saturday was a day of preparation and practice. The entire day was filled with rehearsals and stage construction. It was long and tiring, but you could feel the excitement building. Sunday morning was filled with worship and anticipation. After the service we grabbed a quick lunch. Then on to an afternoon of final dress rehearsals before the first performance that evening. Sunday night we all gathered for one last meal, a wonderful Mexican dish served up by our kitchen team. The show that night went great! The nerves and the mistakes were unnoticed as the drama of the skits unfolded and many people responded in faith. We headed home, tired yet buzzing about what God had accomplished through us that evening.
I don’t remember what time it began, but some time in the middle of that night, diarrhea came to visit our house. Not just me, but my wife and son too. Like ships in the night, we passed one another frequently, taking turns in the bathroom. By morning, it was decided that work and school were out of the question that Monday. It continued through the day. My wife was able to connect with another family from the church and discovered they were having the same issue. Hmmm!
We dragged our worn out bodies to the church to check in and get ready for the Monday night performance. As we sat in the pre-production prayer meeting, you could tell by looking around the room that something was up. Pale, tired faces stared blankly at the walls, but nobody said a word. Finally, somebody piped up and said, “I didn’t sleep well last night. I had diarrhea and stomach issues all night.” There were so many “Me too!” shouts at that moment we could have started our own movement, hashtag and all. The room was abuzz with a cacophony of poop stories as amateur detectives worked to put the pieces of evidence together and solve the case.
What we discovered was that everyone who had eaten the beans from dinner on Sunday evening got sick. And those who did not were fine. Holy Frijoles! It was the beans! They threatened to derail this train that had already picked up so much Holy Spirit momentum the night before. But we prayed, and we asked God to show up and show off His awesome power. We asked him to stop everyone up long enough to get through the play. And He did! We had a fantastic night! The crowd was larger, the performance was better, and the response was bigger than the night before. We finished out the production the following night without a hitch! It was an awesome movement of God in the church at an early point in our history. The important thing to remember about it is the following Sunday we baptized 28 new believers, the most ever in one day in the church! The thing everyone remembers is the story tha has come to be known as “Heaven’s Gates & Hell’s BEANS!”
I gained a better understanding of what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians about his thorn in the flesh. I don’t know if the beans were “a messenger of Satan” to harass us that night or not. What I do know is that I learned a valuable lesson.
Lesson #7: God’s power shines brightly in our weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” On a night when we could have been very puffed up thinking we had accomplished something great, we were given a more profound weakness, so that our God could show off His power through us. In doing so, He gave us a story for the ages!