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#29 / 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.

 

“Well, someday we’re gonna die, someplace that hope runs out.” -Jim Jones

 

Pastors should cultivate hope. Jim Jones cultivated hopelessness. Thankfully, there is a hope that transcends. God is with us. As the years progressed, Jones might have left God but God never left him. God can’t leave us. God is in us. God is hope. After Jones breathed those final breaths, he met hope face to face.

 

Amen.

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