Rockin’ redemption

I first became aware of Vince a little over a year ago while I was the campus pastor at Resurrection West. The sermon we show on video on Sunday morning at West is the recording of the Saturday night sermon, burned to a DVD, edited for length and clarity, and hand-carried to the folks at Prairie Trail Junior High where we worshipped. At one point I began noticing something odd in the background of the sound portion of the sermon video. It sounded like there was someone yelling out in the background every now and then. It was slight at first, but then it was really noticeable when there was a pause or silent place in the proceedings. I asked Molly, my associate pastor, about it and she told me, “Yes, there is a guy with Turrette’s Syndrome who usually comes to the Saturday night service. He tries to sit as far back in the balcony as he can, but the microphones still pick him up.”

I have to admit, at first I found him a little bit annoying. Someone told me he was yelling obscenities, but I could never really decipher what words were being said. It just seemed to pop up at the most inopportune times and really deflated the mood and seriousness of the moment. On one occasion I went to worship at the central campus on a Saturday night and sat in the balcony myself, forgetting all about “Turrette’s guy,” as I called him. The first time he yelped out, I almost jumped out of my seat! It startled me. And it kept happening right throughout the service. And although I am somewhat ashamed to admit it, I left there thinking, “next time, I’ll come to a different service.”

Eventually it dawned on me that I am a Christian and a pastor to boot and I began to really have an appreciation of the dedication of “Turrette’s guy.” I mean, here he is, yelping out in the middle of church, knowing that everyone in the place is muttering about him under their breath, and yet he keeps coming back week after week. I thought, “This man really wants to WORSHIP! Praise God for that kind of dedication!”

I eventually got to know “Turrette’s guy.” I found out that his name is Vince. He joined the church a couple of months ago, and we had a chance to sit down and visit about some things going on in his life. I found out that Vince is a profoundly dedicated follower of Jesus Christ. He wants to do everything in his power to live as a disciple. AND he has this “thorn in the flesh” known as Turrette’s Syndrome. As we talked, I found myself wishing that I had a portion of the zeal for my faith that I perceived in Vince.

But then, just this past Saturday night, my world got rocked again by God’s inexhaustible ability to redeem. I went to the Saturday night worship service because I was assigned to serve communion in the chapel afterwards. I sat in the balcony in my usual spot, but noticed Vince was not there. No big deal, I thought. Everybody takes a night off now and then. But then as the sermon concluded and the ushers began to distribute the offering plates, I got the shock of my life! Lance – our contemporary music director – got up and said, “We have a special treat for you tonight…” Lance explained that the band was going to play a song by Collective Soul called “Shine,” in keeping with the sermon theme of Illuminate, featuring a guest vocalist. And there right beside Lance on stage, tossing back his long, rock star hair with a microphone in his hand was VINCE!

And brother (and sister) let me tell you this: Vince ROCKED THE HOUSE! He was AWESOME! He hit every note square and sang with a passion I have rarely seen before. It just gave me the chills to think about Vince’s journey – at least in my mind – from being the annoying noise in the background of my sermon DVD to being the star of the show. Of course, God and his power to redeem ANY situation is the real star of that drama, but you know what I mean.

And do you know what the really cool thing is? Vince is going to be the LEADER of the Celebrate Recovery worship band! How completely cool is THAT!?

2 Responses to “Rockin’ redemption”

  1. October 29, 2008 at 4:13 am

    this is one very cool post! Im a collective soul fan, a believer, and this touches me on so many levels.

    thank you for posting.

  2. November 18, 2008 at 4:47 am

    I remember Vince’s first few Sundays at Resurrection, and was rather concerned that he’d feel unwelcome with all the people staring and muttering and moving away from him as he tried to keep that “thorn” under control. It made me wonder who we really were as a church, because suddenly I wasn’t liking what I saw.

    When Vince was on stage, I was utterly blown away. The man truly has a gift. And if someone like him can be up there leading worship for Celebrate Recovery, that in itself is a tremendous testimony to the healing and redemptive power of God. I can only imagine the impact that will have on those participating in that ministry.

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