Rock and Roll to the Lord!
Having recently attended a national men’s conference in UAE, I am still on high level of ecstasy. Nope, not that tablet some people use to fake a state of high. I’m referring to the genuine type that is beyond imitation. The real deal. A euphoria resulting from congregation of men with common faith.
Travelling 100 km from Dubai to Ras Al Khaimah, we started at 6:30 AM. We were four guys. Expats in Dubai working as IT Manager, Engineer, Logistics Officer and Business Development Executive. Our designations sound big but we don’t feel like those. We are brothers in Christ.
I didn’t expect anything grand since it was a conference catered specific to men only. No wives or girlfriends or sisters. In translation – there would be lack of organization since the organizers were men as well. In general and by nature, man is not an organized specie. We are, fictitiously, from Mars after all.
On our way, we drove by a road laid in a desert-like spot. There’s supposed to be nothing special about the sands but the striking orangey hue plus the vast pattern of dunes tempted us to stop and took selfies. Taking pictures in the peak of Middle Eastern summer, under the blazing sun in a desert, is ironically cool! I considered the view as God’s pre-conference gift.
We reached the venue at around 7:50 AM and the sun was already shining with pride. Although the place looked average, it had a pulsing aura of positivity.
As we wait for the program to start, I observed the attendees. The testosterone-packed crowd is supposed to be made of individuals of diverse backgrounds, statures, career levels, maturity, etc. The job designations could range from cleaners to CEOs. I could not tell which ones are which.
It started with an opening worship. It felt weird at first when the voices I heard were mostly low pitched. Not the usual couple’s conference I and my wife goes to. But as the worship progressed, the singing became harmonious. I felt this sense of unity with my brothers and could imagine scene from the movie “300” when all the muscled warriors in formation were marching for war. The worship ended with manly shouts of joy and cheering.
The emcees, then, worked on their spiels. They were very funny that it felt like I was watching a comedy duo live. This worked for the audience for the responses were quick and guffaws could be heard like every second. When one of the emcees shouted, “Alright! Rock and Roll to the World!” the whole crowd went crazy. (The phrase is actually a current trend in Philippine TV and even in Social Media sites. It originated from a contender in a comedy contest of a very famous noontime show. After every joke the guy cracks, he follows with “Alright! Rock and Roll to the World!” in a semi-intoxicated tone. It became viral and even reached the UAE Filipino populace).
During the talks, I couldn’t help but be moved by the videos shown by the speakers. I was holding my tears the entire day for fear of being seen by my fellow brothers. Of course, boys don’t cry, right? But after seeing others who were not as skillful as me in hiding their tears, I gave up. I had to slowly remove my glasses, discreetly wipe my tears, and carefully wear my glasses again, the whole time without looking at the other men beside me. After all, real men cry.
I thought that the videos were the only stuff that could pierce my heart. Until the sharers delivered their testimonies. You see, these men who went up the stage to testify God’s love are all blessed with courage. They cracked jokes from time to time so we don’t get bored. But we all know it is hard. Sharing something personal to a thousand pairs of eyes and ears is tough. I have noted what the guys have in common. What we all have in common. They were all sinners. They are still sinners. We are all sinners. But another great thing that we all have in common – we all have one God! We have a forgiving God who loves us through and through no matter what and this is what the sharers imparted to us.
The day went on with the usual “Alright! Rock and Roll to the World!” craze. And then (I’m not sure whether it’s one of the emcees or the speakers), one guy uttered, “Alright! Rock and Roll to the Lord!”. It came out of nowhere but it was a heartwarming thing to hear. One of the speakers said that, for him, the phrase speaks of commitment. That we do the rocking and rolling for the world to see what joy it is to be serving Him!
The day went on with a few technical issues but everything was a blessing. The speakers were powerful motivators. The food, especially, was great. The dance presentation was funky. No dull moments.
The event closing was a praise fest which was extra special. It is such a rare gift to experience worshipping God with fellow men. We sang, danced, clapped, and shouted, and nobody cared. Everyone else was focused on praising God. Without inhibitions. In solitude with God but united as one army.
Some may think we are weak. Exposed. But I beg to differ. It is during times of praises when we are at our strongest. When each single individual in the hall is a friend. When we know God is in our midst ready to lend his power. When we feel like we can defeat the enemy with our combined strength.
That we can move mountains.
Do the impossible.
That we can get all ears in the planet listen to us, as we scream in unison, from top of our lungs,
“Alright! Rock and Roll to the Lord!!!!!”