“What do You want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have You come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Matthew 8:29
There are some passages in scripture that you can read several times, but certain truths or realities may not really “connect” until you pause, meditate, and study. The reality in this passage that the demons were speaking to Jesus via the possessed men who lived in the graveyard was always a truth that I acknowledged, but had not meditated upon.
These men (or I should say the demons within them) terrorized people for miles around and changed people’s travel schedules. They were known to be some truly notorious men who were unclean, living among the dead and, even worse, among evil spirits. Their lives, reputations, personalities, relationships, and much more had been ravaged by the demons who possessed them. I do not know if they did anything to welcome such possession but, generally, I do not believe that many of our neighbors desire that kind of unruly guest in their lives.
The simple truth that these men were not speaking for themselves has hit me squarely between the eyes. Are there people whom I have encountered, or even judged, based on their behavior when they may have not had any control over their realities? I’m a firm believer in personal responsibility, but there are times and situations in which some people may have no control. How do we respond? Do we judge or will we have compassion? While the demons deserve to be cast out, tortured, etc., the men were simply the instruments of this evil presence.
I look back on my life, and I have had many graveyard experiences where I visited or lived in places that most people would not go. Whether it was the “armpit” of Mexico or the hotbed of jihad in Yemen, I strangely walked among people who desperately needed to hear the good news of Christ. While there were many threats to my personal safety, the experience of seeing lives changed by sharing the gospel and making disciples far outweighed the costs involved.
Within our community, there are populations who struggle to have that voice. We could blame it on any number of things, but that does not negate the reality that they are all people like us in need of a Savior. God is moving in wonderful ways among immigrants, minorities, marginalized, and others in great need among us. This is being accomplished by existing churches as well as church plants that serve in new ways with people who have little access to the gospel. There are so many great things happening among PMBA churches that I can’t possibly highlight them all, but I will celebrate some today.
A few recent events that we can celebrate include:
The opening of a new ministry center on the East Side by Crestwood Baptist Church in cooperation with Greg Jones who started Healing Ministries (pictured above).
One of the newest of nine churches planted in the PMBA celebrated their first anniversary! Citizen’s Church Kernersville was blessed with a great attendance, baptism, and cookout on March 27th. (pictured below)
Hispanic ministry is flourishing in new and exciting ways as well. The pastors’ breakfast was well attended, and we are so thankful to see these leaders engaging in new and exciting ways in the PMBA. Two anglo churches (Griffith and Crestwood) are in the process of beginning or hosting Hispanic church plants in their buildings. A joint service was also held by Glennview and Union Cross churches recently as they plan to do outreach together in preparation for Easter.
Be sure to read about the coming events at the PMBA as well! The Every Child Fostering and Adoption evening and our Easter Hunger Initiative are just two exciting opportunities approaching in the days ahead.
Until He comes…go!