The stranger sent by God

I am a Perception Artist, which means I distort the angles at which we see, feel, hear, and understand.  Perception is a fascinating thing because it allows something to be two things at once.  Here is an amazing story of coincidence that deals with perception, and it really affected Andrea and I in a really positive way.

Recently, I was running errands in town, having just come from the gym.  Covered in sweat and smelling like weightlifting, I decided to make a pit stop at Academy Sports to look at some toys.  It was on the way, I wasn’t planning to buy anything…unless it was marked down to a price Andrea wouldn’t get mad at me for.  I’m in the aisle, comparing the intricacies of carabiner keychains and Nalgene bottles, when another man steps into the aisle to look at flashlights.  This story is RIVETING, isn’t it?  After a minute, the other guy casually asks me, “What do you play?”

“What?”  I said. 

“Are you an athlete?  What sport do you play?” he questioned. 

“Oh, uhh, no I’m not an athlete and I don’t really play a sport, but thanks!”

He then told me he asked because he manages children’s recreation and music camps overseas.  He basically attempted to witness to me as if I was a non-believer.  The exchange turned into a conversation and we both discovered that we were both in non-traditional ministry, raising support and moving towards becoming missionaries.  It was extremely cool to meet a stranger that shared so much in common with me.  He had to run, but before he left, he mentioned how raising support was difficult for people not doing the normal thing.  He and his wife just met with a friend, a rich business man in Virginia that had a passion for supporting unique ministries and that he was going to talk to him about a meeting. 

Wow.  Just like that, God seemed to show me just how uniquely he could open doors.  A very similar situation happened recently in which a complete stranger, after meeting us for one day, prayed and said he felt God leading him to give to us.  I didn’t even ask.  Sometimes God does the thing we least expect! 

So, we exchanged numbers and agreed to try and connect soon.  After our last event, this past weekend, I got back home and saw he had messaged me about getting together and meeting his wife for a couple’s date.  It was cool to not only have the possibility of God providing, but to also make friendships with new people in the area.  Yesterday, we met in town and had a great conversation!  We really clicked with them.  It was especially encouraging to talk evangelism with fellow missionaries. 

So it just goes to show you that sometimes our perception of people and situations can’t account for those random, unique coincidences.    

I hope this story encouraged you.

Because it ends darkly. 

When I perform and speak, I tell people constantly that we are targets.  Deception is the pillar by which empires are built upon.  Deception is the instrument of sin. 

As I was sitting at the table with these two new friends, I began to notice some things.  And personally, I believe it was God pointing them out to me because I definitely didn’t pick up on them at any point, and yet they all came at once, like a checklist.  When they spoke about evangelism, there was a strange vagueness.  When they spoke about God, there was ambiguity—they could have replaced God with Karma and what they were saying would have been congruent.  From a psychological angle, everything about their attitude and demeanor suggested an agenda, like there was something they were more interested in talking about but had to wait and get through the soft talk first so as to build rapport. 

At the opportune time in the conversation, he began his script.

“So, I know we had talked about my friend in Virginia and how he supported us.  Sean, I noticed you perked up when I mentioned financial support.  That’s why I think this is something that will totally change your life.”

He launched into a script, complete with well-timed, too-witty-to-actually-be-that-witty jokes with his wife, and lots of psychological cues and techniques such as anchoring, agreement, and appeal.  And it was masterful.  This couple was incredible.  Andrea and I felt like we were at a show, watching one of the greatest performances of psychological persuasion ever.  It was art.    

We were being conned, and they saw us as “marks.” 

Fortunately for us, Andrea and I are the worst choice of victims they could make.  I know every nook and crevice of the cave.  Heck, I’m basically the boogeyman if I wanted to be.  I already found out the names of everyone in his immediate and extended family.  If I was the villain in this story, he’d be moving back in with his parents. 

They were trying to con us into fraud and racketeering that due to subtlety, is just barely legal in this country based solely on a single legal loophole that has yet to be amended.  Nonetheless, the con victimizes people and can result in theft and criminal prosecution for the “mark.” 

However, the most disturbing part of this story is that it all started with a guy witnessing to me at Academy Sports.  This whole plan started with an attempt at evangelism.  We are now convinced they intentionally prey on strangers and look to build rapport via mentioning a list of topics in their small-talk that people can relate to: sports, church, family, music, etc.  

Now the point of me writing all of this is two-fold.  First, I thought it could serve as an eye-opener into just how saturated our culture is with predators masquerading as friendly neighbors.  I’m not advocating paranoia and distrust, but I am advocating awareness.  Andrea and I personally know many, many people who have fallen prey into milder versions of this trap, as well as pyramid scams and Ponzi schemes.  It happens more than we think.  Deception is THE instrument of sin.  It’s the scalpel of lust, the axe of greed, the sword of pride.  Deceit is the papercut that begins the bleeding.  You barely notice it’s there until it gets infected. 

The second reason I wrote this is to encourage you towards the truth.  As followers of Jesus, our two jobs are aligning ourselves with the truth, and ensuring the truth is made known.  We cannot convince everyone, but we absolutely must make the truth available to them.   

As Andrea and I continue to fundraise for our mission, we are so thankful that we have people praying for us in public and in secret.  We are thankful that God provides through love, and not through greed.  And lastly, I’m thankful that God didn’t let me become the villain.

 

|| sean ||      

 

 

NEW VIDEO: Ink Transfer

Got the opportunity to try a brand new illusion on one of my favorite people. This is my friend Chuck, and his reaction is justified because this illusion is level 10 weird!

Why Do We Fundraise?

A post from my wife: 

I struggled for a long time with the idea of raising support for what we do. Pretty much for 2 years I refused to entertain the idea. However, over time, God has shown me that it’s what we need to do. It’s the most biblical way to do ministry full time, and instead of doing everything alone, you surround yourself with people who really, truly believe in you. And, well, that is such a better feeling than trying to do everything yourself. Also, there’s nothing that will tear down your pride like asking people for money.  Still, sometimes people have questions.

WHY DO WE FUNDRAISE?

We’ve gotten a lot of questions from people asking why we need monthly sponsors to do what we do. After all, we get paid for doing shows, right? While that is correct, we have a vision that is bigger than running a business.

1.) We don’t want to only do the shows that churches can afford. It costs money for an event. However, it’s really hard for smaller churches to pay for it. They don’t have the numbers, and therefore rarely have the funds to do big outreach events. We want to be able to say “yes” to these smaller communities who are willing to work, to spend time in the area drawing people. We want to give these smaller communities the same outreach that we do for larger communities – while continuing to pay the bills.

2.) Sean and I feel called to do missions – both in the states and overseas. Sean has a rare gift, and I want him to use it as much as possible. When he’s not traveling, I want him to be able to do local ministry in our community full time. Also, we would love to be able to do at least a couple of international mission trips a year. And, well, mission trips cost money. Flights, food, etc. Since we plan on doing multiple trips per year, using a fundraising site like GoFundMe wouldn’t work for us. We would just have it running 365 days a year!

HOW MUCH SHOULD I GIVE?

Honestly, any amount is amazing. Some people feel led to give $10/month, others might feel led to give $100/month or more. It’s completely up to what you feel led to do. Just know that we are so thankful.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I DONATE?

More than anything, we want our donors and prayer supporters to be like a FAMILY to us. We want to get to know you, your husband/wife, your kids, etc. We truly want a relationship with the people that sponsor us. We’d love to put you on our newsletter list just to keep you updated on the behind the scenes stuff.  If you have any other questions, feel free to message me. If you’re interested in donating, you can click the donate tab on the website at SeanEmory.com

Love you guys.
Sean & Andrea

NEW VIDEO: Vending Machine Magic

A volunteer gives a $1 bill, the serial number is written down, then the same bill appears in a bag of M&M's moments later. I tried this effect last night before the show in Oklahoma. It was quite awesome.

The miracle that happened yesterday

Yesterday, Andrea and I were walking out to our car and I double backed to get my keys.  Right as I was opening the car door, a lady burst out the patio door of her first-floor apartment screaming for somebody to help.  She had a small child in her arms, maybe a  year old, and he was having a seizure.  There wasn't anyone around, so Andrea and another girl knocked on doors and found someone to come help while I called 911.  

As soon as I told the 911 dispatcher our address, the child began suffocating.  I turned Andrea around and she began praying fiercely, and the remaining 3 of us literally watched this child die before our eyes.  His body turned blue, I watched his eyes roll and his head and body go completely limp as he stopped breathing and moving for more than 2 minutes.  You can't unsee something like that.  It was horrific.    

The small group of people who had gathered around this child knew absolutely nothing about what to do in this situation, and yet each person assumed a specific role and fulfilled that role calmly, it was incredible.  I'm on the phone walking through 911's CPR protocol, a neighboring mother is following instructions, Andrea is praying, and the Grandmother(the woman crying for help)  is rubbing the child and talking to him.

The 911 dispatcher gave us instructions and let me go while we waited for the ambulance.  The Grandmother, Andrea, and myself all started praying that God would have mercy and return  his breath to this baby.  

A moment later, I saw his chest fill up with air, and he took a breath, opened his eyes, and moaned.  The ambulance arrived minutes later and transported the child to the hospital.  We plan on checking with them today to see how he is doing.  

Life is a mystery, and so is God's Will.  As Andrea and I have reflected on the events yesterday, there are some thoughts we've had that have  held weight in our minds.  First, its amazing that the first-responding group of strangers all stayed calm and collected and assumed a job to do and did that job.  You hear about people gawking and standing in shock or simply watching without doing anything.  Yesterday, I believe the Holy Spirit was revealed in how 5 strangers worked together so efficiently for the good of one.  

Second, we met a fellow neighbor in our apartments who happened to be a Christian.  As we held hands and prayed to God, I noticed how each of us prayed.  It was revealing to see how each of us prayed in this situation.  One declared God's power and plead for a miracle.  One prayed for the Holy Spirit to comfort and bring peace.  One prayed for God's Will to be done.  

Lastly, life is a mystery.  We like our theories about where it comes from and where it goes a little too much, to the point that we as a culture sometimes forget about life happening right now.  In light of the the recent media exposure given to the topic of abortion, if  we do not have proof of the origin of life and identity and breath, shouldn't we try to savor every instance of it as much as possible?  

|| sean ||