PHI: A New And Not-So-Secret Fraternity/SororityGeorge Shamblin
PHI – traditionally known for being the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet; and the golden ratio in architecture and mathematics.
PHI – for this blog represents a new and not-so-secret fraternity or sorority.
The founding of Phi, a corny and not-so-secret fraternity, was birthed out of a daddy-daughter bridge-jumping outing in South Florida, August 1st, 2020. It was an unlikely marriage of filthy music, a barbie raft, a rough as heck crowd mixed with God’s word that set the stage for a not-so-secret fraternity or sorority to emerge.
For days before that August 1st daddy-daughter outing, I’d promised a once-in-a lifetime Magical Mystery Tour to Bailey and Sydney; a silly dad thing I’d done since their childhood that never once lived up to the hype. As far as the girls were concerned, expectations were low. The tour began by car, continued by foot, then led down a secret trail far beyond the highways and byways. Our destination was a rundown metal bridge in the middle of nowhere.
I must say, throughout my lifetime I’ve been around rough people, and I’ve personally been rough, but the wild crowd of kids in their 20’s we encountered upon arrival was in a league of their own. Admittedly, each older generation thinks the younger generation has slid further downhill than it did. My parents did, I do, and my children will in due time. I get it. But if the nastiness blaring through their speakers or the non-discreet extra-curriculars taking place right in front of us were any indication of the times, a massive multi-generational effort is needed to get society back on secure footing.
My gut reaction was to approach the situation with sarcasm: “any chance y’all could que up some songs with a few less ____ words and ____ words and _____ words?” To this day I remain disappointed with how close I came to taking that approach. That’s when everything turned on a dime as I mentally began to rebuke myself: “George, what in the world were you thinking? Such hypocrisy! Had I been told 30 years ago ‘be outwardly more religious, cuss less, clean up your act, dial your radio to Christian stations only,’ no power would have existed. That’s about as absurd as tidying up a junkyard car with new tires, a paint job, and shiny trinkets without fixing the engine.”
Reminded of what Jesus instructed “On the outside you appear as righteous, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matthew 23:28), I knew full-well genuine change only occurs from within. That is why it’s imperative to speak to the heart: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)
As Bailey, Sydney and I gathered our belongings preparing to leave, a check in my sprit forced me to stay. I first had to leave something tangible from the Gospel behind. The only inroad I could think of was our Barbie raft. “Hey! Any chance y’all want this? It’s too much trouble to deflate and take back?” Their “yes” reply was quicker than the amount of time necessary to plan the next step. After walking down the embankment and handing over my inroad, I nervously began, “do you believe there are certain times in life when the right thing happens at the right time and changes your life forever?” Thankfully they replied “yes.” “Well,” I continued “this might just be one of those times. Would it be ok if I took 5 minutes to share one such encounter I had with the Living Jesus 30 years ago that changed my life forever?”
I told my conversion story in two minutes, leaving plenty of room to hand off the intangible “living and enduring word of God.” (1st Peter 1:23). I concluded with a challenge, “Later today maybe ask yourself ‘was it a coincidence that some random man in the middle of nowhere, with a Barbie raft, encouraged me to read through the Gospel of John?’ If no, read a chapter of John’s Gospel each day asking Jesus to reveal Himself and His plan for your life to you. Since today is August 1st, you can remember to read John 1 today, for August 2nd, John 2, etc. Within that 5-minute window, I’m convinced something germinated in the hearts of a few of those kids. I’m sure something grew in me – the beginnings of a not-so-secret fraternity named PHI.
From August 1st forward, I resolved to share Christ with at least one person each week. The experience has been too fun and encouraging to keep to myself. That is when the whole not-so-secret fraternity idea took off. It is corny no doubt: giving bids to grown men in Bible Studies, metal swords serving as pledge pins (a great reminder to hand off the word of God which is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword“), plus weekly chapter meetings to determine who remains in good standing (active members are required to share Christ weekly to maintain good status).
Never in my life have I seen grown men so fired up. Never in my life have I seen total strangers more receptive to words from God than now. All that to say, I’m telling you this “Phi” thing has legs. Much, much more to follow next week.