Church of Dreams; If You Build It, They Will Come!

By Evan Bartholomew, Lead Minister.

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Acts 2:17-21 (NIV).

Renee emerges after a powerful baptism!

As the Kingdom of God came down to Earth at Pentecost, Peter is recorded quoting this scripture from the book of Joel. He quotes the scripture as an explanation to the Jews in attendance who were baffled by the workings of the Holy Spirit. Without a doubt, it was an important scripture as it was the first scripture ever used at a “church” service! In it’s prophetic message to the Israelites, it speaks of God sending down His Spirit on ALL people where It’s power would be evidenced by sons and daughters who will prophecy, young men who will see visions, and old men who will dream dreams! God’s Kingdom, the church of dreams, was to be a movement full of dreamers!

I’ll never forget a movie that I watched as a young boy. It was released in 1989, and was called Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner, Ray Liotta, and James Earl Jones. The movie was about a simple farmer named Ray Kinsella who owned several corn fields in the middle of Iowa. As he was working in his fields one day, he heard a voice which uttered one of the most famous lines in movie history that would be repeated over and over by real life dreamers throughout the next few decades! The voice said, “If you build it, he will come!” Ray was haunted by the voice, and it’s meaning, until he finally came to the conclusion that he was supposed to build a baseball field in the middle of his corn fields. This was an especially daunting task because it required the destruction of his only source of income, the crops themselves!

On faith alone, he fights through the persecutions of heckling neighbors who labeled him and his dream “crazy” and “impossible”, and begins work on the baseball field. Eventually, his worked pays off as a baseball player named Shoeless Joe Jackson, played by Ray Liotta, shows up to play on his field. Ordinarily, this would be considered to be far from a miracle, except that Shoeless Joe Jackson was banned from baseball back in 1919 for throwing the World Series, and had been dead for many years. He had come back from the dead to once again play baseball on this “Field of Dreams!”

Renee gives Kelly a hug for helping her become a Christian!

I find it ironic; the similarities between this whimsical story of a dreamer and the true realities of God’s Kingdom. Instead of a gentle whisper from a mysterious voice, we hear a powerful charge from God’s infallible Word! But the message remains the same, “If you build it, THEY will come!” If you build a church full of “crazy” dreamers who are set on bulldozing the corn fields of denominationalism, and evangelizing the World, THEY will come!

Who is “they”, one might ask? In the movie, following Shoeless Joe Jackson’s miraculous appearance, he went back into the corn fields to find others to come and play this dream game. Even Shoeless Joe believed in evangelism! Slowly by slowly, more and more men came from death to life as they stepped forth out of the fields of corn, and onto the “Field of Dreams”. Incredibly, just in the last week and a half here in Hilo, two young women also stepped out of the world’s corn fields and into God’s church of dreams! On Thursday, Marissa Sperry got baptized after studying for just a few short weeks. Then on Sunday, Renee Shutt was also added to God’s Kingdom.

Marissa (second from left) hangs with the sisters after coming up from her incredible baptism!

Marissa was met and brought to our UHH Campus Bible Talk where she simply found a group of college students who were serious about following the Bible. Growing up Catholic, she was never really taught what being a disciple was all about. The campus sisters, and my wife, Kelly, began studying the Bible with her! She was instantly impacted by the Bible’s call to be totally sold out! Though, because what was being taught was so radically different than what she had formerly witnessed, she was still unsure about the church. Finally, she came to a Sunday Service to see! She loved it, and just four days later, after a four hour Bible study she decided that she needed to be baptized and become a disciple right then and there! We called everyone we could to come down to Lili’okalani Park, and at about 8:00pm on Thursday night, July 17, she was baptized as our new sister!

Only three days later, Renee also was baptized! Renee originally got reached out to by one of the sisters, but because she had grown up around hypocritical religiosity her whole life, she was quick to reject the opportunity to study the Word of God. Almost a year later, after seeing one of her friends, Melissa, getting baptized, she opened up about coming to one of our Sunday Services. It was a fitting sermon for the her, as I made a very simply point in the sermon that a disciple was the same thing as a christian, and therefore we are called to God’s standard of discipleship which is found throughout the Bible! She was shocked and intrigued that there was no double standard of commitment to God; it is either all or nothing! She rushed up to me after service and wanted to know exactly what it meant to be a disciple. She then started studying the Bible! At that point, she was living with some of her college buddies, but they were into partying and doing stuff that she no longer wanted to do, and so she decided that she needed to get out of there. She moved in with Kelly and I just about a week later. Amazingly, she had already scheduled a trip for the summer to visit some friends and family. Her destinations were Honolulu on Oahu, and up-state New York; two places where God had previously planted churches full of sold out disciples! She visited the Honolulu church, and got to spend some time with the Evangelist and Women’s Ministry Leader, Kyle and Joan Bartholomew. Then she was able to visit the Syracuse Church in New York, where she heard Chris Adams give a sermon that she felt really spoke to her heart. Surely, it is awesome to be in a Kingdom where the mission to seek and save the lost is the same in every church! Renee came back to Hilo, and although somewhat troubled by some persecution she received by her family while she was away, she continued to study the Bible! On Saturday, she requested that she get baptized the next day on Sunday. She did not want to wait any longer to take part in what God had in store for her! She studied the Bible for six hours that night, with a slight intermission, and on Sunday, July 20, she was baptized!

Levi and Mel have fun at their wedding rehearsal!

We aren’t called to bring people from death to life physically, like in the movie. Jesus already did that! We are simply called to bring people from a spiritual death into a Spirit-filled life! That is the dream! That is the whisper that speaks to us through the Word of God! “If you build it, they will come”, it says to all those who claim to be disciple dreamers! What motivation did Ray Kinsella have to risk giving up all he had in order to build the “Field of Dreams?”At the end of the movie, one of the baseball players that had come up out of the corn fields to play catcher, removed his catchers mask to reveal his identity to Ray Kinsella. It was his father, John Kinsella, who was dead, but now had come to play on this field. Once again, being reunited with his father, Ray finally understands the meaning of the phrase that was spoken by the mysterious voice, “If you build it, HE will come”! I can’t help but to imagine a Kingdom so incredible that even our closest family members, that sometimes seem impossible to influence with God’s Word, will find a means to come up out of the corn fields and into this incredible “field of dreams”! A dream church and a church of dreamers!

Let us not be afraid to dream! But add to our dreams the work of building, so that when we build, THEY will come! To the God that works through our dreams be the glory!