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#27 / 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.

 

“We had really had some value…but now we don’t have any value.” -Jim Jones

 

When people have decided that they’re worthless they’re incredibly dangerous to themselves and everyone around them. There is truly nothing more frightening than people who have nothing to lose. After the shooting of the delegation on the runway, Jones felt like the group was so worthless that there was nothing else to live for. Believing that worth was in the past, Jones and his leadership became more and more dangerous. Ultimately, they caused the massacre to be realized. The problem with Jonestown was their attention was always centered on one man. Worth comes from something much bigger than that…God.

Amen.

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