A young preacher, a new hell. (Traditional Proverb)
On a street corner adjacent to a four way stop, a lone charismatic holiness preacher defied his detractors and critics with a megaphone in hand, balancing a home made “REPENT OR DIE” sign with his calloused knees. His wardrobe reflectedhis ancient worn out message of “turn or burn”. Dressed in jeans and a flannel button up shirt, he echoed scripture toward the motorists. His congregation was anyone within the decibel of his 600 yard range, 16 watt voice amplifier. He was sacrificing for the gospel’s sake, breathing in the exhaust fumes daily to proclaim his message of “if you sin, you die.”
His spiritual hero was Charles Spurgeon who was quoted as saying, “Brethren, do something; do something, do something! While societies and unions make constitutions, let us win souls. I pray you, be men of action all of you. Get to work and quit yourselves like men. Old Suvarov’s idea of war is mine: `Forward and strike! No theory! Attack! Form a column! Charge bayonets! Plunge into the center of the enemy! Our one aim is to win souls; and this we are not to talk about, but do in the power of God!’”
The hungry patrons of the local McDonald’s burger joint across the busy street kindly ignored his taunts and warnings.
Mothers moved their children quickly from their mini-vans, ushering them inside to the PlayLand so their toddlers would not be exposed to the scary old man shouting Bible verses from across the street. In some ways they felt violated, intruded upon and offended. They were afraid that the least little word the street preacher shouted might crawl into their children’s delicate, impressionable ears and lead them astray. Their children would inadvertently turn into lost sheep, turning to and fro, from field to field and take up pasture in the occult or something worse. For most that heard the street preacher, he was no more than a black raven crowing, “This is it and nothing more.”
“Repent in the name of Jesus for forgiveness of your sins. He will make your scarlet sins white as snow and save you from a devil’s hell!” Continuing in an angry tone, his raucous voice with its inconsistencies became a mockery of himself. This was not a popular modern message and the new generation of young people hardly found his messages to be of serious merit or to be equipped in solving daily matters. It was not difficult for High School teens going home after school in the afternoon to drown him out with an open window and loud stereos with bumping sub-woofers.
The bullhorn amplified his unidirectional voice mimicking the Pink Floyd song “Waiting for the Worms.” “God loves you and has sent his only begotten Son into the world to die for you. Turn or burn sinner or face eternal judgment!” He competed on equal ground with the sound of traffic and those that tuned him out by simply rolling up the windows of their automobiles. In truth, very few actually heard the message of contradicting hope.
There were no more than two or three gathered in Jesus’ name on this asphalt sidewalk today, harmonizing in the unity of the Spirit. There is just one disturbed old man trying to save the world one soul at a time. If his god was so grand and so great - so supreme - how did he allow the world to become so messed up?
With lonely, elderly people needing company and terminally ill children lying confused in hospital rooms, one would think that a man of religious conviction would find something more worthwhile and productive to contribute rather than shouting condemnation to his community.
In this one stop-light town, pure evil existed.
Every trailer park brewed its poisons of crystal-meth, domestic violence, heartache and unmentionables. There had been so many voluptuous High School beauty queens from the past now haggard, anorexic “Tweakers” with missing teeth, orange hair and leather skin that manifested the years of abuse.
There were others that took a different path in life that had come out smelling peachy and now were involved with positive affairs within the community. Some worked in local government at schools, and others volunteered their services to community projects.
The heroes of the football teams did not fair much better. Many were now bitter, middle aged men working on their second and third marriages, balding with “in denial” comb-overs, with waist lines rolling over the very Wrangler jeans that fit loosely just a couple of buffets ago. On the other hand, there were those who aspired to better things and sprung forth with prestigious jobs, adding their talents and services to the betterment of the town.
This town like so many across the heartland of America, had seen its share of too much scandal, gossip, drug epidemic, alcohol dependency; too much fast food, too much grease, too much anxiety. Failed diets, cardiovascular trouble, insomnia, diabetes, COPD and other physical ailments were staggering the evolution of the species. The new animal to contain would be the paranoid schizophrenia that so many were being treated for, because of their experiments with “Jib and Butu.” The Emergency Medical Services called these people “pharmaceutically gifted.”
The EMS crews made the majority of their 911 runs on obese people who were just too big to take themselves to the hospital. Other patients were called frequent fliers. These were the elderly without immediate family. They would call 911 and report an emergency just to get an EMS crew to come to their home for attention.
Crime was alive and well, festering, breaking open daily and oozing out untreated. The criminal seemed to be a repeat offender that would be sent away for a little while, only to return to the same community that they had terrorized, raped and encroached upon.
At the local Judicial Center where district and circuit courts hustled and bustled with over-worked judges, the court security could not help but to entertain themselves, by standing in judgment of those appearing for their court dates.
They saw the terrified eyes of women desperate for relief, shaking when they entered the front doors, there to take out domestic violence orders and emergency protective orders against their husbands or boyfriends. Family court was swollen with couples ending their vows or fighting for custody, while their children kept the courts a potentially explosive place. Drugs, truancy, rebellion and stupidity, all were represented though some seemed more the results of breeding rather than criminal results.
Court Security was tight and on guard for any threat to the judges, providing a safe environment for clerks, attorneys and the general public.
Some people see the best in others. That was a few decades ago. The absolute worst was out in the open, infecting and contaminating the soul of the community, like a spreading epidemic.
Some people see the future. That was centuries ago. Short jail time or brief stints in prison just weren’t enough. The law breakers and those that were self-abusive, seemed to consider the judicial system a game. It was only a device to tinker with and attempt to manipulate. From the thug or hoodlum, to the jailbird, felon, or fugitive, the lawbreakers played the system either for the adrenaline rush, notoriety or just to see if they could win.
Whatever foul wind had blown the stench of dereliction into these small communities, the pungent aroma was cold blooded and easily embedded in the garment of each neighborhood without bias or prejudice.
The future cannot be interrupted, it cannot be deluded. Whatever will be, will be.