stonethe first time i remember was those two teenage bullies who made me feel extra small when i tried out my jokes [from my 1001 joke book, nogal] at the talent show [dressed up as an absolute mess with layers upon layers of wardrobe having not been introduced to the ‘less is more’ school of thinking at that stage]…

the adults who called me smelly or cheeky or a nuisance as a young too-excited-with-life child…

i remember the best mate from school who i overheard categorising various people at school into groups with his friend and when it came to me i was in my own category because i didn’t fit into any of the typical ones [what they meant as some kind of insult i have grown to take as the hugest compliment]…

i remember my pastor boss calling me into his office and telling me that he used to have the kind of youthful passi0n [still going strong at 40, eh?] i was demonstrating but when i got into the rut of life [like him] it would all die or fade away and i’d be just like him…

there was the woman in church whose brother told me that any time i opened my mouth in a church meeting to say something she immediately switched off…

the countless people around my life and on the book of faces who have mistaken my passion and zest for life to the full as condemnation or harsh judgement or arrogant better-than-you’ness…

the lecturer at teacher’s training college who wrote a three line comment about my essay and a one page comment on why my choice of the nickname ‘Bart’ as the time meant i was not cut out for teaching…

i have been judged for wearing an earring, for having long hair, for having too short or no hair, for having dreadlocks…

i have been judged for what i have said and what i have not said and even for the time  went to a church meeting with tape across my mouth because i knew that what they were discussing was likely to make me angry and i wanted to remind myself to keep still [and instead got accused of attention-seeking]

i have been judged for driving a motorbike into a church [it was the lobby], for getting a congregation to perform the Mexican wave [read Numbers 6.20], and for saying the ‘F’ word in a sermon [i was retelling a story where a homeless guy in church had F-bombed the place and instead of saying ‘the F-word’ i said the actual word because of my thinking that if i say ‘F-word’ your brain is immediately doing the maths and saying ‘fuck’ back to you anyways so might as well save you some brainpower]

i think by now you are getting the point – this guy has been judged a lot… why isn’t he a nervous wreck of a jabbering mass on the floor?

well, there are my parents who don’t really understand or necessarily agree with everything i do, but are just glad that i am following Jesus and living my life for Him.

there was Grant, who was the leader of me when i was the youth leader [doing all those dodgy church things and others] who took and deflected the flack for me countless times and also gave me great opportunities and didn’t even stop using me after i fell asleep while driving a combi-load of youth to Summer Camp and managed to somehow flip a trailer while keeping everyone alive [or ate all the milo at youth camps].

there was my best mate Rob, who forgave me instantly [because a thing is just a thing but a person is a person] when i accidentally dropped his guitar and chipped a piece out of it [i think the first time we really met] and showed me much grace and favour on other occasions when i was probably more deserving of a well aimed punch to the face.

there was my best mate Sean, who after meeting me after one game of 30 Seconds [where, to be honest, we did kick butt of a bunch of schoolgoers] invited me to preach at his church cos he saw something in me in the short workshop i presented and an excellent tag team partnership was built.

there was my best mate Duncan, who showed so much grace and was often the one to come and seek friendship-renewal after a particularly heated hockey match exchange between him and me and who, with his wife Megan invited Val and myself to live in their house for a month which lasted about 90 something days [and now have us back again for a promised 30 day  version].

there was a woman called Megan and a beautiful group of improvisors called TheatreSports or now Improguise performing TheatreSports who trusted me enough to let me loose on a stage, not once but for ten or more years in a row and allowed me to create and imagine and be wild and crazy and make some people laugh along the way.

there was a guy called Cedric Rautenbach who worked for Scripture Union and offered me the first speak i remember at an October Leadership camp which led to years of youth ministry and invitations to speak at churches and schools across the country.

there were people at a magazine called Truth and others at Vision, and some people at a Bible devotional called Khula and another called Closer to God and there is a guy called Andrew who heads up a ministry called The Word Space who have all given me space to share God challenge with their readership and allow me to write some pretty edgy stuff on occasion.

there were okes like Charl van Wyk and Dan Riddell and Jason Currie and others who believed in me enough to invite me to be a part of some incredible times at Baptist Summer camp as prayer guy and workshop man and camp pastor and one of the speakers [to 2000 young people – what an opportunity!].

there were pastors and youth leaders and school teachers and principals who trusted me to come in and speak lovingly and truthfully and bring some challenge and life to their various flocks.

and there is a beautiful woman named Val who trusted me enough to say yes [eventually] when i asked her to marry me and has taken some big  leaps alongside me to some of the dodgiest towns in Americaland and to take steps of faith and risk and daring in the last four and a half years and continues to love and forgive me and show grace to me when i get it horribly wrong and hurt her by word or by deed along the way…

and on and on i could go – story after story of person who believed in me enough to give me space and to encourage and forgive and cheer on and inspire…

 

 

so to all those who through the years have judged me in different ways and deemed me not good enough…

…i’d really like you to meet all those who didn’t!

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