Thursday, September 20, 2007
So I'm looking at the Soul Survivor site tonight........and I see a person I know on their web page. This is interesting too because he's going to visit my blog from time to time. I will be putting his photo up soon. I had it saved somewhere and can't seem to find it right now but don't worry.....I will. My photo of his is much more to his natural state of being. Theirs was pretty calm. I like the one I have. It's a bit more crazed.
I've been planning on introducing him for some time now in light of some things I've recently encountered.
Every time you see his photo.....you will understand why. Much more on this later.
Anyway back to Soul Survivor....I learned about them when my son was living in the U.K...did you all know Gabe lived there for a time? Imagine that huh?? Gabe went to England and did an "internship" at a place in "Battle, East Sussex" called......"Ashburnham Place." It is Anglican Prayer and Conference Retreat Centre.
I think he stayed there in Battle, for..3-4 months.
That was a journey for him and for us.
Gabe who was only 18 years old at the time was...(and pretty much still is although he is better now that he's a tad older) a totally big MOUTHED American and he was in trouble there ALL the time.
He nearly was kicked out once but begged to stay. He knew we would have beat him if he would have gotten kicked out. He and we had invested alot of money into this little adventure he wanted to go on AND he was a "guest" there and needed to go along with their policies which were not anything that was overly oppressive or sinful or anything like that at all.....they were just a bit restrictive in his view. However.....he knew their rules ahead of time and had signed off on them to in order to even come over.
Although.....the rules weren't restrictive at all in real life. I mean a snail could have done it actually....it's just he was young and ...Gabe was just always just a bit rebellious too. Add that factor in.
However the biggest circumstance he was facing was.. "the culture." Adjusting and coping with new cultures......because it wasn't just British things he had to deal with.....there were lots of kids from various countries there and he had room mates from other countries beside Britain. The MAIN issue was still him dealing with other people's lifestyles. Even when they were Christian.
He being American and not being a local or even from one of the other countries meant he had to learn HOW to deal with and submit to his British Leadership that was over him.....and it was their way or the highway. I think that was correct too.
He didn't like that once he got there though. This had been a dream of his and he had worked and saved and we had helped him to get there. Then he was disappointed because he thought so much of what they were doing was stupid or hypocritical.
I can't and don't blame the people at Ashburnham for that. Not one bit. It was their world and he entered into it....voluntarily too. AND paid to join it as well. There was a lesson in this whole experience for Gabe so nothing was or is lost as a result of the time spent there. Now he's happy about the time he spent there forgetting the bad and only remembering the good. That's how it works isn't it?
Gabe is and always has been way too "forthright"....British people....well they really aren't that way.."stiff upper lip and all that"..I mean I've met some that are a bit more vocal but as a whole....not this group these people were not this way. Nor were the people he had been invited over there to stay with in the first place. I know they were mortified by Gabe. HA! HA! Poor people. Very nice people too.
So you have an immediate clash happening when he comes on the scene. He began to call us and tell all his struggles over the telephone while he was there. Which drove us bonkers because we also hated some of the injustices he legitimately was seeing and feeling and there was nothing we could do but advise him to submit and for us and him to pray all would go well with him.
Most of the kids went there to learn English...Gabe knew way too much English.
The kids served on site at this beautiful English Manor and campus while they learned. It was an ideal setting actually.
Many of the kids were very poor and were on scholarships to attend there..because they all had to serve in various capacities while they were there.
Gabe was like a super, wealthy kid. Even though by our standards he isn't.....to these kids....he was RICH. He had money to blow and they had none. His family had cars and a big home in America....many of these kids came from poor families with no jobs in developing countries. Alot of the kids were from former Eastern block countries and they were not used to someone like Gabe Mahan. He was the "King of the world" in their eyes. Some liked him for that.....some despised him for that.
At some point while he's there....Gabe gets himself in a dilemma. Gabe loved the foreign kids and since he knew what was being said and done to some of them he would fight the leadership on these kids behalves....sooooo he would defend them and speak out for them because they didn't know how to defend themselves and sometimes didn't even know they were being attacked thus....Gabe was always in trouble. Silly boy.
I wonder where he gets that from?
It reminded me of the time I was in 2nd grade in Mrs. Chambers class. Mrs. Chambers had left the classroom to go to the office.....while she was out...this nasty little boy named Chris Parks went over and SPIT on my friend Beth's paper she had laid out on her desk. She didn't do a thing about it so I went over to his desk and spit on his paper and just as I did.....guess WHO returned to the classroom. Right. AND Chris Parks and I BOTH got paddled with the wooden paddle and all I was doing was defending my friend Beth who would not defend herself.
Get my point?
The British people were appalled at him. They were NOT used to having American kids on the campus. In fact..Gabe was the FIRST American volunteer that had ever come over to serve. I'm sure he was the last too after that experience with him. HA!
It wasn't all that bad really of a time. It was a growing time for him. He had to surrender some of his "rights" and his thinking. Not a problem. HA!
We felt bad for him...because we could see the injustices but.....he signed on for this and he knew it and we did too and you can't change that kind of system. Not when it's what they are all about. They didn't ask him to go there and to rock their world.
I mean they were a very small community of people that were stuck out in the countryside....they were basically all "Church of England" that in itself was not a bad thing nor is it still, however he was not used to their ways of life or religious traditions...not everyone there was Anglican, but the establishment and leadership were mainly.
And then here you add in Gabe...a P.K. from a big city in South Louisiana who had just undergone a MAJOR world of hurt in the previous year at the expense of his parents church lives.
Not a great combo.
It was immediate Culture clash.
It wasn't his fault and it wasn't their fault. Everyone was in a bit of a "culture shock"....they hadn't dealt with American's before. The European kids and others were much more submissive. Especially since they couldn't speak the language fluently they were more so intimidated.
I mean Gabe had been in and out of England and Ireland by this time......probably...about 6-7 times. But he had never LIVED there for any long amount of time plus the people he had always been around were "similar" in his upraising church wise. Somewhat.
Europe is different by many standards, even in the church world. If your a Baptist here.....there Baptist there are a bit different. Same thing for the A/G which they refer to as the "AOG"......it's a tad different. Not a bad thing. But the playing fields are still different.
He'd just gone on visits for weeks or even longer than that..but not for more than 6 weeks at a shot and he wasn't under many "rules" while he was visiting either. When staying in Ireland once on his own not on a missions trip or anything..he stayed with some Irish "church" kids we knew that had come to stay with us as well in America. When he would call us and tell us what they had been up to we would nearly choke on the phone at the stories he would share with us. Scary.
They were a wild lot those Irish boys.
Gotta love the Irish though. They have some kind of fortitude.
So .....this was total cultural thing that he was facing but with it came rules as well. And it was hard on him. Living amongst people of different culture and religious views than his. He couldn't just do his own thing. He had to do some of the things they did. They weren't bad things...just not his "comfort zone."
He fought hard to fit in...he had a hard time adjusting and he felt they (the leadership) compromised alot. Which in his view they did.
It wasn't his country nor his countrymen. He was liked because everyone always likes Gabe....but he wasn't understood and he was complicated. I mean people liked him because he was cute and American and people all over the world are intrigued by Americans. Yet some were "jealous" of him because he was an American.
Other's just plain though he was a snotty, loud "Yank" and told him so once at a church youth group event. He told them once...."If it weren't for us Americans you'd be speaking German right now."
Yeah......that went over well. We couldn't believe he even said that to them because it wasn't very nice...but he became totally defensive of who he was and where he was from.
We all learned alot from this experience. Many things.
Some thoughts were....."What was important to fight over and what wasn't."
Hence my "spitting story." Some things just can't be defended even if your right in your own eyes in doing it.
Right motives......wrong methods.
This next truth we knew already but kept relearning...as we still do....
"Souls are of the utmost importance no matter what country they are from."
Oh and here's a big one.....
"Bland food" for example....was not important really...not in light of eternity.
But it was important to Gabe at the time. He had real "issues" with the food in Britain. It wasn't up to his standards. Too bland....not enough seasoning. Ugh!
He was complaining all the time about the food they served and even the food that was being served at the people's home he stayed at as a guest when having "off days" at Ashburnham.
We were occasionally sending "Care packages" to England of ALL places on the earth....with food from here of course. Dumb. But it was our child you know???
He was "starving somewhere in far off England." Sure he was.
One time I sent him a box with a bunch of "Ramon Noodles" in it and a few other American favorites....and he says to me on the phone...."Mom you can buy that at the Aldi here"....I was like...."what store is that?" to which he replied....."it's the U.K. version of Walmart." ERRRRR.....that was dumb. Why did I spend a million dollars on postage for noodles when I could have sent money instead. Nutburger.
Long story short....Gabe did the internship thing..finished it....then did a few more things in England...went to France then back to England....then went on to travel all over Europe. Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Hungry, Austria...Switzerland...Belgium and maybe a few more places that I forgot...or maybe don't know about. HA! Then he went back to England for a time.
We paid for his friend he roomed with at Ashburnham who became his best friend to go along with him as far as Austria. We wanted him to have someone traveling with him that at least knew some of the languages and how to get help if they needed it.
That's another story because Gabe had his credit card "stolen" in Budapest and that freaked us out ( I told him not to go to Budapest, I had a weird feeling about it ugh!) and we had to "wire money" to Austria while he and his friend whose name I can't spell but I can say... slept on the streets of Vienna that night because they didn't have any money.
Once returning to England....he even went on another further trip into Greece and Turkey.
Very fortunate young man isn't he?? But it all came with a price. And a love for the world and a willingness to merge into other cultures. Even when it hurt.
Oh, he bought this really odd souvenir in Turkey..which we nearly had a fit over... we already had a missionary friend show us his that he had purchased shortly before this while in the Middle East unbeknowst to Gabe....otherwise Gabe would have been like...."so and so has one and he thinks it's okay."
Maybe we will discuss that later when Jack comes to see us.
Right, that's his name. Jack....Jack Hackett he's the guy coming to visit my blog.
I am glad for Gabe's time and experiences living "abroad".....but during that time he was also exposed to many things that we wished he hadn't been as well.
We couldn't stop that process. It was part of the journey.
The cultural revolution. It's all impacted his world to this day.
For the good and the bad.
After Gabe's Europe/Mediterranean travels....he went back to England for direction. He was done doing what he went to do and he wasn't sure if he would stay in the U.K. or come home. He'd been over there nearly 9 months.
During that time of wondering he went with a youth group from the local church where he was involved in Hastings, where he was living, to participate in the "Soul Survivor" outreach in London for a three or four days.
They lived in tents and their mission was to clean up trash and graffiti and other junk around the part of London they were in. At night there were outreaches and concerts with the likes of
Matt Redman who I LOVE and some others good worship leaders.
Gabe told me afterwards..."he's really short Mom and he had on an Abercrombie and Fitch shirt" which is a BIG thing in the U.K. because they don't have those stores there. Odd what people notice about other people isn't it?
The city wide outreach was fantastic. He loved doing what they did and I'm thankful he was able to be a part of that. Gabe's a bit of a heathen now days so I am glad those memories are etched in his heart and his soul. He does still reflect on this time in his life.
I heard Mike Palavachi the Pastor (he never calls himself the "Pastor") of Soul Survivor speak at the IHOP (International House of Prayer) at a "One Thing" conference a couple years ago and he was awesome. Great man. Great mission.
I read this article on "Breaking Christian News" recently....you might want to see the entire thing. During their summer outreaches in the U.K......they had "UPWARDS" of 2,400 young people commit their lives to Christ.
This is excellent news guys.
Those were/are someone's kids.....someone's brothers and sisters.
Priceless. Absolutly Priceless.