-Rev Melissa Fain-
I'm standing in the ruins of a compound. The jungle vines are twisting around the remains of dorms, and there are trees growing up in areas that used to be kept clean for walking. The air is stifling. The sounds of birds sing out, hiding the hideous truth hidden in the remnants. I push through the calm before me. Question it. Want it to call out as I stare into it's silence.
Then it does. Voices rise from the ground. "Help me!" "Save us!" Faces materialize into the voices. Bloated and aching. They are fighting against the very ground to free themselves from their prison.
They cling to me; desperately clawing at me. I cry back, "You can leave! Don't stay in this hell!"
This seems to be the permission they need, and I feel them departing, but a red hot face pushes forward, pulling the others down with his sheer force. "You can't have them! They belong to me! And, I'll have you too."
This demon terrifies me. I want to save those who are too afraid. Only, they are now gone, and it has eyes on me...
That's when I wake up. It is officially the only real nightmare I've had over the past decade. I had just finished reading Raven: The Untold Story of Rev Jim Jones and His People. The book shook me to my core. God was used for personal gain. The Divine was warped, and recast in the vision of Jim Jones. Using the poor as leverage, he was after power. The only outcome was death. In the jungles of Guyana he took a large part of his People's Temple in a trial to attempt communism. When it was clear the attempt was going to fail, he convinced everyone to drink cyanide laced Flavor-Aid.
Using the name of God for this end is simply wrong. So many looked away because it fit their agenda. There was sexual assault, falsifying miracles, adultery, inappropriate conduct as a church leader. He was a bully. He made sure no one crossed him, or they would be punished. That's before the mass murder at the end of the story. Just because someone says they are called by God doesn't make them a prophet or even called.
Here's the thing. God's call is there, and remains there, even when the call has been hijacked by evil. God is still there, was there, and will always be there. We must condemn the warping and twisting of the call, while trying to salvage God from within it. It's sometimes a life or death task. Standing up to corrupted power is dangerous. It must be done for the sake of God's children. God is warped beyond recognition.
Pray with me:
Holy God, All I need is a sacred remnant, a reminder of what you need. I will plant that remnant in the good soil, and grow your Kingdom. Amen.