Well, I would love to tell you what Redding was like, but we didn’t really see it. I mean we drove through it a couple of times, stopped for a burger and went to church a few times, but we were too fresh off the plane. We didn’t want to see towns. We wanted to rest and see our friends. After all our purpose for enduring our flight, drive and discriminatingly painful rental car scenario was indeed to visit some friends whom I had not seen for twelve years.
So we arrived, we PT something-a-rathered up their lovely peaceful hillside-forested driveway, gathered our stuff, emotionally prepared ourselves for whatever a twelve year reunion would be like and rung the door bell. A boy answered. It has been twelve years and our friends have sprouted a clan since I saw them last. He was polite and showed us in. Shortly afterwards his babysitter showed up and introduced himself. Now this guy was freaky, freaky in the nicest possible non-threatening meaning of the word, but freaky.
Perhaps here I should explain. Bethany, a church in Redding, is quite famous in some Christian circles. Bethany is not the churches real name, but it will do for now. It was a happy coincidence that our friends also went to this church, So like Toronto and Pensacola before it, I would get to visit a somewhat famous church. Now, in these churches that generally believe in the working power of the holy spirit, the weirdest people hang out. They are usually ghettoed in some kind of church training school(22). In this case, I believe that they had something, like eight hundred young students, who are involved in most aspects of church and community life. The problem was they were all weird and generally, well, just plain old weird people. Weird in a lovely way. I know because I have lived, studied and worked in similar schools.
I mean, put a whole bunch of young people together, have them study the character and works of Jesus through testimony, biblical and practical applications, continuously pump into them, and I mean, pump into them the goodness of Jesus and then encourage them to be like him. And what do you get? Weirdness. I mean of course, in their culture they are normal and I am weird. These young people were just floating around on a blanket of security and peace. They seemed to genuinely love everyone. They would stop and talk to Jesus or better still pray for you at the drop of a hat. And weirder still, they expected their prayers to be answered, and why shouldn’t they? For indeed, not long before we arrived, amongst the usual array of people being healed from many things between cancers and head-aches, they had seen eight people healed from total deafness. One person’s ears popped open as he walked past a room where people were praying. So why shouldn’t they expect their prayers to be answered when God seems to be healing people all around them? For kicks, these guys go to American football games and pray for the players and cheer-leaders who injure themselves. They don’t seem to care if the people know God or not. They will just waft up there on their cloud of peace and pray for anyone about anything. Of course, as part of the deal you will have to sit through a chorus of hallelujahs, come ons and ‘I love Jesus’, but they will genuinely pray for you.
So, imagine your average truck driver who finds the persistent need to swear in every sentence, replace the swearing with ‘I love Jesus’ and ‘Hallelujah’ chorus’. Replace his attitude with that of a sixties hippy who has been high for too long, and replace his body with that of an ardent vegetarian health nut and you have the babysitter sitting in front of us trying to emulate Jesus.
He was freaky, lovely and freaky. He seemed to be genuinely interested in who we were and where we came from. He clearly oozed peace and was in love with a man called Jesus who none of us had ever seen before. He was full of stories of God’s kindness, compassion and mercy. I was in total culture shock. I mean I had seen such people before, but never in the Californian context, which means they would not only be Jesus freaks, but they would be Jesus freaks in the louder, bigger, brighter and more confident version. This guy was gearing up to pray for me and in my frazzled, jet-lagged, cultured shocked state, I was beginning to look for the eject button. I wanted out before this plane flew into the side of a mountain. Lithuanian-ised Kiwis need to ease quietly and gently into these situations. But in the nick of time our host arrived.
After an initial and somewhat bizarre miscommunication, we settled into a well-prayed-in, thus peaceful house that was cradled into a rather peaceful hillside with Mount Shasta views. We needed rest and it was somewhat impossible not to rest in this place.
To be continued. Next week read all about how to be healed.
For past chapters click here. Or look on the side panel.
You may have noticed some bracketed numbers in this chapter. These numbers correspond with explanations and definitions that are in an accompanying glossary. To read the glossary you will need to by the yet to be released book. Sorry 🙁
And to donate towards the production of ‘Clueless in America’, just click on the button.