Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Leaning Back

A couple of weeks ago a visitor to the Billy Graham office here in New York asked if I was from California. Said I was too laid back to be a New Yorker, and my shaggy hair gives off a surfer vibe. Nah, I'm definitely a New Yawka, born and raised. I love living in the Capital of the World, the Center of the Universe, the Big Apple. And I LOVE to represent The City. I wear my affection for New York all over my ripped sleeves, every chance I get. Still, I can get used to Southern California. Not enough to live there, but definitely to visit regularly. Sure, traffic may suck, the smog is grimy, and there are too many plastic bodies. But the San Gabriel Mountains are hot, the sun always seems to shine, and the weather is nearly perfect. Even the heat (high 80s, low 90s with no humidity) is of the pleasant variety. Throw in great company and good food, and I had a thoroughly satisfying trip last week. The Urban Youth Workers Institute was a blast. Few conference experiences offer the rich sampling of accents, ethnicities, and traditions as UYWI. The sounds and sights offer a snapshot of heaven, what UYWI guru Larry Acosta calls a preview of an eternal party. The entire UYWI team are to be commended for their intentionality and success pulling together such a diverse cast of characters and corresponding insight. Among the highlights:

  • a Star Wars screening,
  • Friday night block party,
  • multi-ethnic praise band,
  • hip hop,
  • comedy,
  • drum line,
  • salsa dancing,
  • step teams,
  • half a dozen DJs,
  • spoken word,
  • bonfire,
  • 79 workshop speakers (that's no typo) on every conceivable topic; and
  • an eclectic mix of keynotes, including yours truly.
UYWI is definitely not yo' mamma's conference. Thanks again for inviting me to participate. Also on the CA trip, I visited, like, the Valley, dude. Armando and Judy from Living Hope Community Church hosted me Saturday night in a guest suite at their home -- a lovely home, with a luxe backyard that felt like a retreat -- and served me great food. (Note to anyone who cares: feed me well and I'll love you forever!) Grilled carne asado, beans, rice, tortillas, homemade salsa and avocado salad for dinner followed by a sorbet medley with fresh fruit for dessert -- another taste of heaven. Thanks to the Living Hope family, especially Brian Meza and Pastor Sam, for your gracious invitation to worship with you Sunday. May you and your congregation live each day in the hope that resides within you. Yep, I can get used to this. From time to time, I just might follow NY emcee Fat Joe's advice and "Lean Back."


At 5/25/2005 10:40:00 AM, Blogger TheWriteJerry said...

They have Christians doing Hip-Hop out in California?!

What's next, Christian-themed comic books?

What is this world coming too?

At 5/25/2005 12:27:00 PM, Anonymous Greg said...


I attended parts of UYWI, and the evening of your talk was very significant for me. I appreciate the message you brought in light of the spoken word about fatherlessness.

At 5/25/2005 05:06:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Del Rio said...

Greg, thanks for the kind words. Do you remember the name of the spoken word artist? I want to link to his website if he has one. His piece was incredible, and it explored a subject that we're passionate about at Generation Xcel.

Jerry, yes -- believe it our not -- UYWI embraces hip hop. And art. There weren't comics, per se, as part of the program, but there was an area set up with canvases and paint for inspired artists to worship creatively in that medium. A cool place all around.

At 5/25/2005 07:49:00 PM, Blogger Tony said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 5/25/2005 07:58:00 PM, Anonymous Greg said...

I don't know for sure, but George Williams rings a bell. I was unsuccessful with my google search permutations.

I might consider springing for the DVD recording of that night.

At 5/26/2005 11:13:00 AM, Blogger Tony said...

I was at UYWI. It was awesome! Every single speaker was amazing. It was encouraging to hear from you how God used your Father and also that team of young urban people during 9/11. Overall, the conference was (spiritually speaking) very refreshing! It has been a long time since I felt surrounded by so many real and alive people. One of my favorite aspects of the conference was the free time in which I was able to worship God through art just like the creators of the paintings you mentioned.

[edited on 05/26/05 by Anthony S. Dias]


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