REVision - THE STORY BEHIND THE POEM
By Pete Greig
It was the middle of the night. I was all alone. It was just a bit of anonymous graffiti. But the poem/rant thing I'd written on the wall of that first prayer room was about to take on a life of its own.
We were behaving like fanatics back then; praying night-and-day. 'I mean, what are we even doing here?' I wondered. 'Why am I here, trying to talk to God, when sensible people are all asleep at home?' I began writing my why on the wall. It was just a stream-of-consciousness. An attempt to articulate the passion that had recently brought me to my knees.
"So this guy comes up to me and says, 'What's the vision? What's the big idea?'
The words flowed easily (I'd drunk a lot of Red Bull and the marker pens smelled of pear-drops).
"The vision is Jesus. Dangerously. Obsessively. Undeniably Jesus..."
I left my graffiti on the wall and went home to bed. No-one knew who'd written it, which was fine by me. But then a few days later someone 4,000 miles away in Canada emailed my own prayer-poem-rant thing back to me saying they thought I might like it. After that I watched in amazement as The Vision got printed in magazines, recorded and remixed by DJs from New York to Sweden (you can hear their tracks above), and choreographed in Spain. Some people even had phrases from The Vision inked on their skin for life.
And then, in one single week in 2001, The Vision was picked up by tens of thousands of young people at the first 'Call' event on the Capitol Mall in Washington DC, and was simultaneously printed in 'The Way' magazine which circulates a staggering 100,000 underground churches in China.
"They need no passport. People write their addresses in pencil and wonder at their strange existence."
It was bewildering and exciting. My very personal, private RedBull-fuelled rant had somehow gone viral.
Then a 'prophet' in America announced to the world that he was its author and I realised it was time to go public. I decided to make a book called The Vision and the Vow exploring and applying the call to discipleship at the heart of the poem. (It's currently out of print but you can see some of the original artwork and I'll get round to re-releasing it eventually).
Eventually the buzz around The Vision died down. Hard-core 24-7 old-timers (and a few middle-aged people with embarrassing tattoos) were the only people still quoting it.
But then the old dog surprised us again. Suddenly a whole new generation began to discover The Vision and make it their own. Their big question was no longer 'Who wrote it?' but 'How come you crazy people don't even have a decent video for this thing?' So we launched a crowd-funding campaign.
The old-timers with their embarrassing tattoos, and their original white-label remixes of The Vision gave generously. And so did the new guys - hipsters with Hasidic beards and cool tattoos and brand new, old-skool record players.
I had almost nothing to do with the film they made with that money, which is probably why, when my teenage son finally saw it he said 'OK, Dad, now I get it. Now I understand why people get so stoked about that poem-thing you wrote back in the day.' And when he said that I couldn't help smiling and whispering: