One of my church planting mentors, Wy Plummer, suggested that I should get my hair cut in a predominately black barbershop as a way to meet people and develop friendships. So, I began praying that God would open a door for me to do that.
Meanwhile, Sean Sawyers, pastor of Trinity PCA, began preaching through a series on the topic of “loving our community.” Laurie and I were encouraged and challenged as we listened to each sermon online. We were not the only ones. Back in mid-February, Henry Bass, longtime member of Trinity PCA, told me about how God had convicted him to engage in conversation with more people in public places. Specifically, he told me about a conversation he had with a black man while he and his wife were waiting to be seated at a local restaurant. Most of us, no matter what our ethnicity, have difficulty engaging with people who look, dress, and talk differently than us. In truth, we usually assume the worst about people. That was Henry’s temptation, but the Holy Spirit (along with the Word) won the day! After a simple initiation, Henry, Calvin, and their wives carried on an hour-long conversation. Great things can happen when we walk humbly with God.
Oh, and did I mention Calvin owns a barbershop?
The next day, I went to a street corner that, growing up here, had always seemed to be “off-limits” to me. So with a deep breath, I walked into Celebrity Cutz and sat down. The place was buzzing with conversation, laughter… locker-room humor. My first interaction was with a young man sitting next to me. He greeted me with, “You sure you want to be in here? There are some other places down the street you might want to try.” I acknowledged that this was a new experience and explained that I was new to town and just wanted to get my hair cut. He was not impressed, so he moved down 4-5 seats to another chair.
After awkwardly sitting there for 15 minutes–unsure of the protocol–one of the barbers kindly invited me to his chair. Wally Spencer gave me the best haircut and shave I’ve ever had. He used a straight razor to clean up my hairline and beard. While he worked we talked about the community, family, schools, our backgrounds, and music. Afterward, he invited me to attend their Friday night poetry and jazz event in the big room at the back of the barbershop.
Over the last six weeks, I have gone back to get my hair cut (I finally met Calvin), and I have attended the jazz and poetry night four times. The jazz and poetry night is not “family friendly,” but I have a lot of respect for Calvin and his brothers Wally and Sean. They are trying to create an alternative to the club scene in Orangeburg. That makes them true servants to the community. I am challenged and encouraged by these men.
Last Friday night, I decided that it was time for me to step up to the open mic to share a spoken word poem I had written about the recent tragedy in North Charleston. The title of my poem is “Black and Blue.” When the Emcee (Wally) called me up to read my poetry, he said, “Now I want to call up our boy Rev to do a little somethin’ he wrote.” Nervously, I took the stage. It wasn’t the best poem of the night, but it was honest and heart-felt. My new friends welcomed me.
I think I’m going to be a regular.