Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chapel Message from Feb. 6th

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of sharing in chapel again, for the third time.

I challenged our students to share their secrets and become children of the light (Ephesians 4.) I keep coming back to the concept of freedom, knowing that many students have junk they are hiding in the dark.

I've recently been intrigued by PostSecret and the man behind it all: Frank Warren. He's become known as the "most trusted stranger in America." Basically, Frank had an idea for a community art project which has now turned into a worldwide phenomenon of telling secrets. He left 3000 blank postcards in public places with these simple instructions: "reveal anything, as long as it is true, and send to to me."

The art project is long over, yet Frank continues to receive 1000 postcards per week. In addition to publishing several volumes of postcards (available at most bookstores), he has created an online community where he publishes 20 new secrets every Sunday. Many of the proceeds from Frank's work go toward the Suicide Prevention hotline.

Why is this secret phenomenon so intriguing? Why have over 1 million people visited the website? Why do so many people send this stranger their secrets?

Relief. Freedom. Healing. To not feel so alone. Community. Love. Forgiveness. Relief.

This whole concept is Biblical.

Proverbs 28:13 says "He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy."

John 3:19-21 Light has come into the world but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the Truth will come into the light so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

Healing happens when we confess. James 5 says "Therefore, confess your sins to each other any pray for each other so that you may be healed."

I challenged our campus to participate in our own version of Frank's project: Campus Secret.

The message was way better received than I had anticipated. The response is heartbreaking and leaves me... speechless. My RA staff has been so affected by this project, too. During our staff meeting, I read each postcard aloud and laid them on my carpet. We sat in silence, feeling the pain, courage, and bondage behind each one.

Feelings of inadequacies have arisen: "How do we even begin to deal with such hurt?"
"I don't feel like I have anything to offer."
"These secrets are so huge."
"My problems seem so insignificant. I'm getting the bigger picture."
"For being such a small campus, I really thought we knew each other. I was wrong."

For me, I'm in awe of how big God is. Only God can handle all these secrets. Praise God.

The timing of all this has been incredible, too, and none of it was planned. Though this topic has been on my heart for several months, it "just so happened" to fall into a campus-wide concept of repentance and forgiveness. Our display was brought to an end with 15 straight hours of prayer, where at least 10-15 students signed up for at least one hour each. Our campus pastor even shared a heartbreaking piece of his testimony in chapel that has opened up another door for vulnerability, trust, and respect.

It's so humbling and lots of things are left undone. Many need counseling. They need help climbing out of the pit. They need someone to listen, to love them, to sit by them. I know about unwanted pregnancies, deaths in families, sickness, financial hardships, hospital visits, broken hearts, etc.

I devoted the proceeding blogs to sharing more about the Campus Secret project.
I encourage you to follow the steps (as outlined in the post) and take a virtual tour of our exhibit.

May you, too, experience grace and wholeness as you journey into freedom with our Healer.


ryan said...

wow. a very intriguing and obviously eye opening experiment. i wonder how many guys shared their secrets.

based on the cards you took pictures of (the writing style, content, artsy fartsiness), i'd say the majority are from girls. the only one i would guess was male was the "when i pee for a minute" one.

it will be interesting to hear how this effects the campus in the long run. great work, El, on a creative and healing outreach.

i think the post secret idea is a great one, but i have sadly stopped visiting the website because it was becoming more and more pornographic in nature. i was a bit disappointed in frank.

Violet Read said...

oh my... eek! can't wait to read all this. thanks el for the update!