Stalking Jaeson Ma, But Not Really

I probably shouldn’t joke about that, but I mean, as a journalist, it’s just good journalism to get a well informed story. However, I hesitate to call myself a journalist, because I’m trying to get PhD in Computer Science and already trying to be a musician at the same time, while being some evangelist and missionary to the communities I’m part of. With that said, I feel like God wants me to be a journalist too (just don’t tell my advisor).

I just remember the ride to San Jose State University on Friday night where I was praying with my friend and I promised God that if he lets something crazy happen (which He usually does), that I’ll write about it so that the experiences aren’t lost on me and available to countless unknowing Googlers. Man, I owe God a lot of blogposts.

Funny, it was clear that I’d try to get some meal time conversation with this Jaeson Ma guy, but as the evening wrapped up, I figured that some sort of conversation didn’t really have to happen that night. I did print out a copy of this blog post: Top Aspiring Experts and Professionals Gather at Stanford to Pray for him to read, so that I didn’t have to tell him my months (and years) of dreaming in 2 minutes.

So, what makes me so bold? Because, I find the alternative of boldness to be intolerable, which is more likely impatience than boldness. Why aren’t people more bold? Well, some of them have great measures of patience, but others don’t find the cost to be worth it. I once wrote to a friend:

If you are worried about being discouraged, don’t worry.  ’Cause you will be discouraged.  Thats the cost of doing stuff that matters.

Nevertheless, I go for the things regardless of whether others are on board, because I’d rather look like a fool than fool myself into believing that nothing can be done.

A fool? As an emerging adult, I remember grabbing the stranger nearest by to explore and experience something new. What I wanted more than anything was a group of friends who’d live life like me, but I’d usually just get divinely appointed passer-bys. I’m my later years, I’ve grown more persuasive, but, overall, people seem just as boring as they did when I was younger… haha.

There is a price for boldness, but that’s why we do God’s will in the name of Jesus Christ. In my boldness (or impatience), I’ve met many important people. As my vision becomes clearer, each interaction becomes more fruitful. In the past, I’d go say hello just because I knew I could.  Just ask Zwak about the time we met the lead singer of Switchfoot back in 2006.

Usually, these interactions may be memorable for me, but I’m sure the feelings are not so mutual, especially for those A-Listers.  Sometimes I’m the cute adoring fan, sometimes I’m parading my knowledge around with pedantic questions, but very rarely did I feel ashamed for putting myself out there (at least not what was important enough to remember). Someday I’ll tell the story about meeting Jamie Cullum– that’s the one instance where I wish I was less bold.

So look, 9 days before that screening of Jaeson’s 1040 documentary, I didn’t even know he existed. I didn’t urge my party to follow Jaeson’s entourage to dinner for celebrity points or to be a groupie. The best way to describe it is that I wanted to give God more to work with. If you don’t know what I mean, then I’ll have to explain another time. If you think that it’s a bad idea for me to do things that no one else thinks makes sense, then I’d like to know what your life is like. You probably owe God very few blogposts.

Chris Mork, Danielle Washington, and Alan Asbeck were the ones braving the late night with me, while 6 others had gone home already. When asked how they knew each other, one would say, “I go to Sherol’s church,” the other would say, “I go to Sherol’s other church,” and Alan would say, “I just met Sherol after talking to her online”– they didn’t know each other. Interesting situation, God, you have me and these three very different fire-filled friends hanging around praying for people. To be honest, I know we probably overwhelmed those that we prayed for, one turned out to be Jaeson Ma’s sister. (More grace to us though, and bless our hearts for trying). It didn’t seem like the healings were happening, but I was able to say that Jaeson’s sister was a researcher, where her field wasn’t directly Christian but would help a lot of people. (You know, it still feels like I’m guessing though.)

I was managing a lot in my mind, having just met Alan, and trying to figure out the plans for the night. I dragged Alan to talk to Jaeson Ma, but since I didn’t really know Alan, we didn’t have a straight story, so I just imposed mine onto him (power in numbers!) Right after the event, I said to Jaeson outside the building, “I’m Sherol and this is Alan, I’m doing a PhD at UC Santa Cruz and Alan has a PhD in Robotics at Stanford. We want to get all the PhD’s and aspiring experts together from the universities. I wrote about it here (handing him the printout of my blogpost).”

Then I introduced Danielle and Chris saying, “additionally, theses are my friends from Santa Cruz, and we’d like you to come do an event with Jake Hamilton and other’s who’ve already agreed to come do some tent revival in Santa Cruz.” Jaeson prays, gives me his card, and walks away saying, “this is an answer to prayer.” Honestly, he was (appropriately) too tired for me to interpret; I suppose he meant it, but he’s also Chinese, so he could just be saying it to be nice.

Alan knew the guy who was apparently going to eat a late dinner with Jaeson. It was already passed midnight and 6 of the people I knew had left. We’d have an hour to drive back to Santa Cruz, but when I found out that some guy got to go eat with Jaeson, I thought to myself, “wait a second, I was supposed to try to do that.” I had, not only, Jaeson’s card, but the card of the guy who was going to eat with Jaeson. I try to encourage Alan to call his friend, with no luck. Then some random lady comes to ask if we’d like to join the email list, and in the hustle, she said, “wait, I know Brandon, I’ll call him.”

This is my read of the situation:

  • Alan was down to go along for the ride as long as he didn’t have to initiate
  • Chris was tired and wanted to go home and sleep, because he had a really big next day
  • Danielle was like thinking that I’m being my crazy self and that people would look at me weird
  • I was thinking, “What’s going to matter more: that we went home and got some sleep, or that we have this awesome story and got no sleep?”

To me, doing it would be memorable (at the least). That’s probably the way I am most comfortable with exercising  greater measures of faith. I mean, at most, we can’t please God unless we believe that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. At the very least, why would anyone think this is a bad idea?

Well, it sucks to enjoy the view by yourself, you know? It’s also hard to be respectful and coordinate other people. I can get away with a lot when I only have to worry about myself. I, however, love giving people that thrill too though (like when I introduced Jewl to Wynton Marsalis and Dave Brubeck.) That is to say, even after getting some vague location and some implicit permission to go, I was still championing a trip to Milpitas that other’s were not feeling.

Walking around San Jose State University, a bit dazed and unsure of what we’re doing, we run into Jaeson’s entourage by accident. First, Alan knew the guy who was already going, I had gotten his card, some random woman knows the friend and calls to ask if we can come, and now, we run into them as they’re about to leave. I tried asking some of the more “inside” people if we could come, but those people didn’t really know where they were going. At that point, I was managing too many people and too many details.

All of a sudden, Chris has a change of heart, stops one of the guys as he’s about to close the door, and gets his number. That was just enough to tip the scale and we were set to go, wherever that was going to be. We took two cars and weren’t sure where we were going, but we were able to call and get there. Oh, how I love being ridiculous.

At the restaurant, we met other tag-alongs, and realized that it was Jaeson’s sister that we prayed for earlier that night. Ok, so at that point, it was a lot of coincidental interaction, so towards the end of the night, the shame sets in a little. Eventually, other people’s worries from earlier start seeping in and I get self-conscious. “Am I being weird again?,” but at that point, it was too late to matter. I’m glad that my shame has a delayed offset.

Here’s another example: Danielle and I are in the choir at church. Danielle is a fantastic singer and I’m great at taking initiative, but one of us has to be able to have initiative and sing well to pull off the restaurant praising. We tried to kick it with one of the guys at our table, but he was a bit shy about breaking out into song. As Chris said, he didn’t let his timidity stop him from doing it though, but it’s just so hard to get everyone’s spirit on the same accord. Ugh, I wish I was better at singing.

So before the end of the night, I tried to get Jaeson’s singer, Caleb, to sing Danielle’s favorite song (lol, that he had sung earlier that night). If he started, then we’d jump right into 3 part harmony, but he was about to leave and didn’t want to disrupt the other customers. Fine, I’ll take that rain check. As they leave, Danielle says, “funny that they are part of such a bold movement.” I’m thinking, “I could’ve convinced him, if it was earlier in the night.” It would have been awesome– I dream of a day where we can praise God anywhere, and the music will captivate even those who’ve yet to know Him.

My favorite part of the trip was seeing my three friends become friends. I love connecting people, it brings us that much closer to heaven. I also ate with someone who turned out to be a brother of one of my dear friends. We did sing at the restaurant, just not very much, and interacted some with Jaeson and company. Life doesn’t have to be all fireworks all the time, but I know that there’s some good material for God to work with that came from our willingness to be there. Thing’s we won’t realize till much later.

Earlier that night, I snapped a photo of them, saying, “Hey, can I take a picture of you guys eating?” I’d like to think that the look of confusion on some of their faces was that they didn’t have time to welcome the capturing of the moment, or that they were comically making a funny face, rather than showing disapproval or contempt. I’m sure someday I’ll know the answer to that– not that it matters, because I’d rather ask for grace than save face. I told them that I have a blog, but that I’d write nice things about them. “Don’t worry, I’ll write nice things.” That’s my excuse for not making sense (1) I live in Santa Cruz and (2) I have a blog.

I did manage to lose both business cards, one was from Jaeson. He’s not hard to find though– the guy is on twitter every hour of the day. I don’t get why I keep losing contact information though… Haha, pray for me.

So, there’s too much to write, still a lot for me to say. I mean, Jaeson is doing everything that I wish I could be doing right now. I’m a bit jealous, because it doesn’t seem fair. I didn’t have the resources he had, nor the encouragement. The passion was always there, but I’ve been so hard to understand my whole life. Just ask anyone who went to University of Delaware, Isaac and I were pioneering a campus prayer movement through unity. We just didn’t have a whole lot of support.

Funny thing is, that isn’t even the craziest part of the night. I guess I’ll have to write about when Ryan confessed all his sins to everyone attending the screening onstage with Jaeson. Then all the Santa Cruz people got to go on stage and pray for him. God sure does let crazy things happen, and even if people aren’t sure it’s ok, I know it’s worth it. So what if people judge you? God doesn’t care, but if I have to be the scape goat for when people feel embarrassed, then I’ll take the blame for awkwardness and set it at the foot of the cross.

I had to take out my contact lenses and was blind for the drive back, but Chris and Danielle started saying “did you see that!” I said, “I can’t see anything.” Apparently, after saying goodbye and leaving the restaurant, we drive by Jaeson Ma’s group again 20 minutes later. God’s got a good sense of humor.

We got back around 4:30 am.

5 thoughts on “Stalking Jaeson Ma, But Not Really

  1. Sounds like an exciting night. This blog furthers my belief you’re my kind of person although I don’t believe I’m as bold as you – yet. I’ve come a long way from what I used to be. When it comes to anything Jesus I am very bold. 🙂 That is so cool that you got to meet and speak with Jaeson Ma. I hope you find your contact info. I found out about your blog from his tweet so maybe if you let him know again about this one…
    Anyways blessings!

  2. @Raeha, I don’t know, sometimes I’m scared to death of people. I think I only act out of impatience, haha… or boredom. And sometimes I just forget about what other people think and I’m like, “God, let’s make this one a good one.”

    Oh, I did finally find his card.

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