I recently attended my 11th Re:Create Conference in Franklin, TN. This year, my friend, fellow Fresnan and worship leader, Jon Shebaglian, was there. Jon is a wonderful Christian man who has a passion for Christ that literally oozes out of him.
During one afternoon at the conference the 1211 Band from Austin, TX led worship. It was truly an amazing time of worship. As they started, I observed Jon helping the band’s violist, Orhan, communicate his monitor mix issue to the FOH guys. Later, I watched as Jon and Orhan connected as Christian brothers and musicians. It turns out Orhan is a world-class viola player, having played with some of the finest symphonies in the world.
At dinner that night, I happened to hook up with Jon and Orhan has they were talking. They are both close-talkers – plus it was loud – so our heads were really close together. After a few minutes of talking, Jon asked Orhan, “So Orhan, I noticed you accent. Where are you from, originally?”
“I’m Turkish,” he replied.
And then time stopped. I remember looking from Orhan to Jon to see how Jon would respond. I remember looking into Jon’s eyes. I could see his brain working. An hour passed in the 2 seconds of time it took for Jon to speak.
“Wow,” Jon said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever met a Turkish Christian before. I’m Armenian.”
You see, Jon’s grandfather fled the Armenian genocide in Turkey. He great-grandfather was taken on a death march and shot. Jon is Armenian. Orhan is Turkish.
Then Jon brought his citizenship into the game. “You know, bro,” he said, “We can put that all behind us because we are brothers in Jesus.”
See, Jon and Orhan had connected on a spiritual level before they had ever connected ethnically. They had realized their brotherhood in Christ before they recognized that they were supposed to not like each other.
It was a beautiful thing to watch, 8 inches away from these two close-talkers. It was a God orchestrated moment.