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#14 / Jonestown Theology: Lenten Explorations in the Valley of Death

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Wikimedia / Nancy Wong

Wikimedia / Nancy Wong

 

God is never lost. In the midst of great evil, God is there. I have long wondered how Jonestown fits into such ideas. In the 1970s, Rev. Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple founded the settlement in the jungles of Guyana. After a few years of communal living, Jones led his followers to commit a mass suicide/murder that left over 900 people dead. The last words the community ever heard were recorded. Jones’ words are beyond disturbing. Evil resonates with every syllable. Even in the midst of such, I refuse to believe that God was absent during such terror. Lent is a time to look for God in death. To honor the victims of Jonestown, I’ve decided to seek God in the last words they heard in the order that they would have heard them.  In those evil words of death, may there also be something for us. These devotions should never be mistaken for an apologetic for Jim Jones or anything he stood for. This is a search for God.

 

“Is it too late for Russia?” -Christine Miller

 

Regardless of what anyone said, life was still important to Christine Miller. As the only person who pushed back against Jim Jones’ rush to mass suicide, Miller deserves our admiration. Grasping for anything that would save lives, she suggested that the entire community go to Russia. Is it too late? Miller asks a question that stirs in all of our souls. When we are wondering if it’s too late, let us remember that it is never too late. The hour for righteousness is always here. In every situation the choice remains the same, either we will stand for what is right or we will die. Like Christine Miller, Jesus spoke a truth that never died. May we go and speak likewise.

 

Amen.

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