This past weekend had to be then most rewarding weekends that I have experienced in life. We hosted The Sanctuary Ministries first Feast of Ingathering (found in Leviticus 23) on October 19, 2019. I was assigned a very risky and bold task, to gather the Body of Christ for The Sanctuary’s first celebration of the Feast in a brick and mortar, (we have honored this season in prior years via our virtual tabernacle). When I accepted this task, I knew first-hand the challenge that laid before us, as many consider this to be a "jewish" celebration, but I am in the season of taking the risks to be obedient. In my study, I learned that in Hebrew the word for “feast” is “mo’ed,” and one of its important meanings is “appointed time.” I knew that this risk was unpopular, but I knew that it was the appointed time and I was willing to take the risk.
Risk very simply are actions that exposes one to the possibility of loss or injury. Well, risks shouldn't be something that we as those that know Him should be afraid to take. We serve a God that is a risk taker. God apparently thinks the risk of creating and empowering free creatures was worth the chance He took on creating us, mankind. His risks, are judiciously chosen for the possibility of promoting abundant life. But they're still risks. So I took on the risks despite what I felt and what people said, I knew that I had to do this for HIM because He told me in Scripture that it was supposed to be done. And everything that I calculated could happen taking on this risk happened. As we drew closer to October 19, 2019, it crossed my mind to cancel and return my life back to normal, but nothing is “normal” about a life with God. He requires us to die to ourselves and keep our eyes on doing the impossible. Thank God my tribe kept me focused on moving forward with the plan. I had so much going on personally the month leading up to the event and I did not feel well the week of the event. I was moving slow and was low on energy. So the night we arrived in the hotel I still had to print material for Saturday's event. I was tired. I was worn out. And I just wanted to sleep. But Monte reminded me of the importance of making the copies. So he encouraged me to the business center in the lobby of the hotel and that's where my risk intersected with my appointed time.
As I sat in the hotel lobby at about 2.30 am on Saturday morning printing the material for The Ingathering, I was getting an eye full with the lobby traffic that occurs in hotels on a Friday night. As I watched the traffic, I noticed a woman in a beautiful African print dress getting out of a Lyft. She was with two guys and they seem to follow her lead. I wanted to take a glimpse at the dress without being so obvious. So I kept my eyes straight ahead until she was right in my peripheral, and right when I looked in her direction, that's when I realized just who I was looking in the eye, the same woman I saw on Sister Circle talk show early Friday morning as I was working on the material that I was now printing -- Yo-Yo the legendary hip hop recording artist who stomped into the 90's with Ice Cube, actress and teacher whose music I loved growing up and nicknamed myself Yo because of her influence. I admired Yo-Yo growing up, as she was outspoken, tough, never scared, didn't take no mess, "intelligent black woman," who didn’t fit molds, and who was concerned about awakening and advancing her community. I saw myself in her. I couldn't believe how the heavens aligned that Saturday morning, this was an appointment that I was right on time for.
I could not let her walk by me without expressing to her how she inspired me. She graciously stopped and expecting this encounter to be brief, I quickly shared that we had the same name, and how she put the Yolanda's on the map. I shared my favorite songs and why they were my favorite. She listened and we engaged in laughter and compliments. She complimented me, referring to me as a queen and having a light. I complimented her on still being fearless and using her gifts with her School of Hip Hop after she took a break from the industry, how she reinvented herself with Love and Hip Hop and being a solution to a big problem in the music industry. Before I knew it we were in the lobby vibing, connecting beyond the music but in a spiritual and meaningful way. In our conversation she repeatedly used a word, fearless. This resonated with me as I started my ministry quoting that I was "living fearless." I hosted "Fearless Life Brunches" to encourage other women to be fearless. I knew that this was a "God Wink." As our conversation was coming to a close, I ask why she was in Charlotte, NC, she told me. She asked why I was visiting Charlotte, NC. I shared with her that I was an ordained pastor and told her about The Ingathering I was hosting, and that's when she informed me she wanted to be there -- I could not believe it. She wanted to support my efforts despite all she had on her busy schedule. She stated she desired to support me because she loved my light. And she was a person of her word. She made an appearance at The Ingathering Fellowship Lunch and surprised everyone, as I did not share with everyone my appointed meeting. This really made me like her more as integrity and being loyal to your word is everything to me as I strive to be a person of my word. When I walked through the door with her, the expressions on the folk’s faces was priceless and she did not disappoint. She greeted everyone at The Ingathering personally, spent time sharing her testimony of faith, the new things she is doing, and she gave us a taste of her most popular song and my life anthem since high school, "You Can’t Play with my Yo-Yo." That fellowship hall went up a little higher and my heart soared. As I walked Yo-Yo to her car afterwards, she expressed to me that she could feel the love in that place. When Yo and Yo-Yo get together love happens!
As I think back over that epic weekend and the success of The Ingathering, I realize that if I had started questioning my capability to pull off this momentous HIStorical event, questioning the support and the resources needed to move this risk to completion could have instantly paralyzed me and could have ultimately prevented me from taking the risks to advance and serve the KINGdom and its people. There are so many stories of risk takers in the Scriptures and all of those stories involve a degree of dependence, that was on Him. However, the enemy tries to get our thoughts in a loop of fearing right or wrong choices so we never move forward, but we must not lean to our own understanding and make the choice to do His Will. When we take the risk for the right reason that's when we see the desires of our heart, we experience joy, favor leans in our direction and we become more than conquerors.
I am overjoyed I took the risk and followed through, The Ingathering is by far one of the most FULFILLING events I've ever hosted in ministry. And Yo-Yo showed up just in time to remind me of who I was and have always been - a divine risk taker whose never scared because she knows who holds the key to every door and the spaces at every table. Leading up to that day everything was not smooth and easy but the day of we experienced an intimacy that allowed peace and fellowship to flow, the sessions were fire, folks testified of being set free by the truth, some found their identity and the Word brought new life!
Yes, this is risky business but it is very rewarding!
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