Evan is now famous. He made Gwen Stefani cry. He made Pharrell Williams ask for a second song. He made them both fight Blake Shelton and Adam Levine for the privilege of coaching him. Evan’s on The Voice, and we will all be glued to our TVs for the season.
But those of us who know Evan have even bigger goals for him than winning The Voice. When you’ve been praying for a soul–for a kid’s integrity and future–you’ve got other concerns on your mind than who he’s met or where he’s been. And when the person you’ve affirmed lands on a world stage, that’s confirmation that your prayers have taken root.
Last night in a crowded restaurant, with its walls rimmed by big-screen TVs, I watched the beautiful mystery called “the church” unfold around me. Hundreds of us were crammed into chairs and booths or standing on every available square of flooring, holding in our breath while we waited. We screamed, hooted, chanted his name. From babies to boomers, all races, all walks of life, and from multiple churches–we who know Evan assembled to witness a triumph in the life of this 20-year-old. A young adult we have all prayed for, all cheered for, all known since he was a little boy.
Over Evan’s life, we have watched him develop as a soloist, actor, guitarist, and worship leader. And while we can’t take any credit for his accomplishments, we are still filled with pride and admiration to have been even a small part of affirming so gifted a kid, who–in a different environment–might well have given up on his dreams and his abilities. Hidden his talent. Cowered in a corner. (Well, maybe not cowered. Knowing Evan, that’s unlikely. But something terrible could have happened.)
No–instead Evan grew up in a church that celebrated the arts and invested in young people. This living organism gave us all opportunities to care about him. Not about his talent, but about him as a person. The teen years are hard for everyone. (Perhaps they are doubly hard for artistic souls?) Yet Evan had a church. He had love to fall back on.
The Christian community is an amazing blessing, when it works according to plan. When meals show up on doorsteps, when prayers are lifted, or when friends are given encouraging words, Jesus walks again on the earth. He places warm hands on the sick. He pulls forgotten children into his lap. He affirms the tentative and celebrates with the victorious. Sometimes, he even shows up on a sound stage and holds a microphone.
We are Jesus. We who love and serve him are the body of Christ. And we have been formed to give light to the world through normal, every day life and through an extraordinary events like the one we witnessed last night.
Whoot, whoot, Evan! We’re here for you, always. Keep being yourself, and keep being Jesus to the world. This time, you actually have a world watching you.