The Gospel at Work During a Pandemic

Share Button

(post by guest author Dan Mackett, bio below)

In one way or another, every person has been affected by COVID-19’s impact on the economy. Some have lost jobs, others have jobs but are continually worried their job will be cut next, and then there are leaders simply trying to make it to the other side. All of these situations present unique challenges, along with Gospel opportunities.

Over the past few weeks, God has tilled the soil of many unbelieving hearts through the fear of a virus. With increasing measure, people are considering the reality of death as the thin veneer of our sense of control has been ripped off. A fearful, anxious heart is fertile soil on which to scatter gospel seed.

A gospel-shaped person in the marketplace is counter-cultural in how they approach their work, and specifically the people with whom they work. Their coworkers aren’t just products to be managed, they are image-bearers who have eternal destinies with or apart from Christ. As marketplace saints who spend at least 40% of our waking hours at work, now is the perfect time to leverage our relationships for evangelism.

But, how? Let me offer a few suggestions.

  1. Pray often and specifically. 

Pray before, during, and after work. Ask God for wisdom, for help, and for fruit in your ministry at work.

Pray for your coworkers by name. Ask God to open doors to proclaim the gospel and strengthen you in commending the Gospel.

Are you sending an email to an unbeliever? Pray for them as you send it. You may be the only person on earth who is praying for them to come to know Christ.

While you’re at it, pray for other members in your church. Ask them to share the names of people they are witnessing to and ask them how their evangelism is going. Encourage and challenge one another with accountability. Help each other remember that our work week is about more than just getting a paycheck, it’s ultimately about helping those around us see Christ.

  1. Ask good questions.

Think about recent interactions with your coworkers. Did you ask many non-work related questions? Do you know the names of your coworkers’ spouses and children? Do you know where they live, what they like to do, how they spend their time? Asking personal questions is a great place to begin evangelistic ministry.

If you already know the basics about your coworkers, are you asking them heart-level questions?

  • How are you doing with everything going on with the virus?
  • What’s been difficult in this season for you and your family?
  • Have you experienced increased levels of anxiety or stress? If so, how are you dealing with it?
  • How can I pray for your family? Is there anything I can do to help?
  • Are any of your family members or friends suffering from the virus? If so, how are they doing? How are you doing? Can I pray for them right now?

These questions will often lead to opportunities for the gospel to be proclaimed.

If you’re on Zoom calls all week like I am, are you the first one to hop off a meeting or are you staying after to ask people how they’re doing? Are you scheduling non-work related zoom meetings with your coworkers to hear how they’re doing and how you can pray for them? Working from home can be a very isolating and lonely experience for someone. Go out of your way to make them know that they are seen, known, and loved. It will pave the way for gospel seeds.

Asking good questions gives us insight into the souls of our coworkers and shows them that we care for them more than just for what they do, but for who they are.

  1. Give honest and hope-filled answers.

If a non-believing coworker asks you how you’re doing, be honest. Acknowledge the anxiety in your heart. But also, tell them how you’re dealing with that anxiety. Maybe say something like, “You know what Bob, I am pretty anxious these days. I’m prone to dream up all the bad that could happen to my family. But, though I’ve been anxious, I’ve found great comfort in the psalms in the Bible. They’ve reminded me that God wants me to bring my cares to Him and He’s not mad when I do. And, they’ve shown me the truth of who God is, that He is good, sovereign, and has secured my future with Him because of what His son Jesus did for me. It has brought me peace in this time of uncertainty.”

If your coworker opens up to you about their stress, their anxiety, and their worry about life and the impacts of the virus, acknowledge their feelings but redirect them to the truth of God’s word. Tell them that God is a God who not only wants to bear our burdens daily (1 Peter 5:7), but also He is one who wants to bear our ultimate burden (sin) through Jesus’ finished work on the cross (1 Peter 2:24-25, 3:18). Tell them that God often uses awful and hard situations for good (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11). Show them from Scripture and give them examples from your own life.

Be honest, be hope-filled. “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).”

  1. Be bold.

As you pray, ask questions, and give honest and hope-filled responses. Be bold and leverage them for clear gospel proclamation. While you need to use wisdom based on the nature of your relationship, tell them that there is no ultimate hope in a COVID-19 vaccine. Hebrews 9:27 tells us that “all are appointed to die once and then will face judgement.”

Every person’s ultimate need is a ‘vaccine’ with which they can face the judgement of God. The blood of Christ Jesus is the only vaccine for sin. And when they die, if they haven’t trusted in the blood of Christ to cure their sin, they will face an eternally worse punishment than a few months of social distancing, they will be forever distant from God and His people in hell.

You could also say something like this:  “I hope and pray for a vaccine, but if we can’t find one, I rest assured that a vaccine does not reconcile me to God, Christ Jesus has.” Or… “I hope and pray they find a vaccine soon. But if they don’t, I’ve found ultimate peace in Christ Jesus, who has secured my eternity with God in Heaven through His substitutionary life, death and resurrection.”

Each of these applications will look different depending on the context. Plead with God for wisdom in how to best carry them out with the people He has put around you. He will guide you. Let the Spirit give you insight into when to push in and be bold and when to simply listen and respond in hope. But, do plead with God for wisdom and do apply them to your life.

We will all have moments of discouragement, disobedience, and despair when proclaiming Christ in the workplace. But when these come, look back to Calvary. Remember that, “He became sin who knew no sin so that we might be His righteousness” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus has already gone before you and purchased you with His blood, rest in it and be emboldened by it.

God has used the coronavirus to ready the soil of unbelieving hearts to hear the gospel. For most Christians in the marketplace, now is the time to leverage our work for evangelism.

A final word for pastors:

  • How are you spurring evangelism in the life of your congregation right now?
  • How are you equipping your flock to maximize gospel opportunities with coworkers?
  • Teach them, train them, pray for them, celebrate wins with them, and hold them accountable for the ministry you’ve been called to equip them for.

To brothers and sisters who may be out of work as a result of COVID-19, I pray God’s grace is meeting you in increasing ways and you’re learning to trust Him as Provider. And, as you pursue job opportunities, consider how you can be counter-cultural in the way you go through the application process. Pray all the more for your interviewers, be a hopeful rather than an anxious presence, and sow the seeds for future gospel conversations if He opens that job opportunity for you.

To the saints in the workplace, pray, ask, give hope-filled answers, and be bold in evangelism.

May God strengthen all of us to share the hope of Jesus in increasing ways for His glory and the salvation of the nations.


Dan Mackett and his wife Alyssa, with their son Jones, live in Alexandria, VA and are members at Del Ray Baptist Church. Though Dan works full time at IJM as the Director of College Mobilization, he is in the process of starting Redemption Collective, whose mission is to launch businesses that optimize real estate for church outreach and financial sustainability. Connect with him through email at


Share Button

I Had Sex in a Windmill but Jesus Still Loves Me

Share Button


The Bachelorette is a reality show aired on ABC that gives millions of viewers a front-row seat as a female contestant attempts to find her true love.[1] This year’s bachelorette, Hannah Brown, describes herself as a woman of faith and was even caught on camera praying for God to help her choose the right man.

But Hannah’s prayer is not what she’s likely to be remembered for. Rather, it’s her comment that—

I [had sex] in a windmill…and Jesus still loves me!”

The confession was made during an argument with Luke Parker, one of Hannah’s final suitors. Luke also professes to be a Christian who now abstains from sex in hopes of saving himself for his future wife. During their date, he shared his convictions and sought assurance that Hannah hadn’t been intimate with any of the other contestants.

That’s when things got ugly.

In a passionate response, Hannah made the confession that she had sex with another contestant in a windmill. Luke was visibly frustrated and she became enraged, accusing him of judging her. She said,

“You know the story in the Bible about when the woman was caught in adultery and she’s thrown into the village and Jesus is there and is like, ‘You without sin throw the first stone?’ What you just did was you’re holding your stone up at me and asking and trying to see what I’ve done. I know that I have God in my heart. I know that everything that I do and who I am is light. I am light. Do I make mistakes? I’m not Jesus.”

If you aren’t familiar with the story she’s referring to, it’s found in John 8:3-11.[2]

“The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to [Jesus], “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do You say?” This they said to test Him, that they might have some charge to bring against Him. Jesus bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask Him, He stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more He bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before Him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

After Hannah reproved Luke, she sent him packing.

Since then, many have hailed Hannah as a model of true Christian virtue. She has been applauded for standing up for her freedom to do what she wants with her body and not let a man “slut-shame” her for her “mistakes.” Her windmill quote has become so well known that some fans in the audience wore shirts bearing the quote (kid size t-shirts, coffee mugs, and phone covers available now as well).


While I don’t comment on most pop star’s lives, Hannah claims to be a sister in Christ, so that invites encouragement and correction. Here are a couple of thoughts regarding her statements about Jesus.

  1. Jesus calls us to show mercy to sinners.

People often refer to the woman caught in adultery to say sinners should be shown mercy. This is appropriate because in John 8 Jesus said, “Let him who is without sin throw the first stone.” Under the Mosaic Law, the woman caught in adultery (and her lover) should have been stoned to death (Deut. 22:23-24). The severity of sin’s consequence reveals how serious God views sin. Indeed, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).

Yet Jesus did not call for the adulteress’ death. Instead, He called for mercy. Did Jesus do this because He mercifully overlooks our sin? No. Jesus does not overlook any sin. Rather, Jesus did not condemn her because He knew He would soon be condemned for her on the cross.

Jesus died on the cross for the sins of people like the adulteress, the self-righteous Pharisees who wanted to stone her, Luke P, Hannah B, her windmill lover, and you and me. He then rose from the dead and offers forgiveness to any who will repent and believe. For those who are forgiven and receive mercy, we ought to be quick to extend mercy to fellow sinners. It is hard for us to pridefully look down on the sins of others when we are looking up at Jesus who humbly took our sin on the cross. Of all the people on the planet, Christians ought to be the most merciful people.

  1. Jesus calls sinners to repent.

When people like Hannah cite this passage, they always mention the mercy part but often overlook Jesus’ command to “go and sin no more.” Jesus delights in extending mercy, but that mercy ought to move us to repentance. Jesus’ call to repent is in itself an act of mercy to warn Hannah and all the rest of the judgment that awaits those who do not flee from sin.

God lovingly warns, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Heb. 13:4) and “be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient” (Eph. 5:5-6).

Sin is serious and God will judge all who do not repent and cling to Jesus by faith.

To be clear, I am not saying Christians are perfect people. Hannah was spot on when she said: “I’m not Jesus!” No one is perfect but Jesus. Sadly, some of my most grievous sins have been committed since I became a Christian. I have been just like Hannah and the woman caught in adultery. This is why Christians need Jesus just as much as people who don’t know Him. 

But “not being Jesus” doesn’t give us an excuse to treat sin flippantly. Romans 2:4 puts it this way, “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” Mercy moves us to grieve and turn from our sin, not shrug it off or boast in it. We can’t be perfect like Jesus, but at the same time “whoever claims to live in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked” (1 John 2:6). This means that true believers ought to be broken over their sin and do everything we can to not give in to it anymore.

And if we fail, we know that Jesus desires us to come to Him to receive mercy, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 Jn. 2:1).

If you have sinned like Hannah or with any of the other sins of envy, jealousy, slander, gossip, hypocrisy, and vulgarity that are on full display on this show, then there is hope for you. Jesus came to save sinners who will repent and flee to Him.

This is why I’ve taken a moment to write. I don’t really have any interest in this Bachelorette lovers spat, but I care very much about millions of people being deceived about what it means to know Jesus. What Hannah, her windmill partner, and all the rest of us need is not people to help us feel accepted in our sin, but to be appalled by it, grieve over it, confess it, and to flee from it and into the arms of Jesus who is ready to save us.

While it is true that Jesus still loves His people when they sin, it is also true that if we really are His people, we will love Him and strive to go and sin no more.



[1] My wife and I have watched portions of two episodes because we heard the contestant was a professing Christian, but the show is too raunchy for our taste. We would not recommend it to others.

[2] For a full treatment on John 8’s validity in the NT canon see this article by Daniel B. Wallace.

Share Button

When God Saves a Pastor’s Wife – Jess Kurz & Amazing Grace

Share Button

On June 2, 2019, Pastor Joel Kurz baptized his wife, Jess at The Garden Church in Baltimore, MD. After years of reflection and struggle, Jess came to understand that her conversion happened after her husband began church planting work. The story she shared at her baptism is one of rebellion and the grace of the Gospel. Praise God for His mercy!


I was not raised in a godly home. Church attendance was not something we did. At 12 years old, however, my family went to church for Easter. I thought that day was all about a bunny and the thrill of finding hidden eggs. But after that Easter Sunday, I remember my mom asking my sister and I if we liked our time at church and if we wanted to keep going. We both said, “yes.”

That summer I attended a Christian camp. I remember hearing how Christ died on the cross for sinners and I remember being told that if I prayed this “prayer”, that I would go to heaven, and not hell when I died. So, of course, I prayed the “prayer”.

Nothing changed.

There was no Godly conviction when I sinned, and I still delighted in sin. I feared that I did the prayer-thing wrong. This must mean that I needed to pray the sinner’s prayer again. I was dunked at 14 because I was told I should be baptized.

For years, my life spiraled into a pattern of sin, followed by the horror: “I’m going to hell now”, then praying all over again, and even still feeling hopeless. This pattern went on for many years––in one form or another. Though I never expressed it, I severely doubted God’s love for me and did not love him and other people. Believing I was a Christian, I graduated college, married a young man going into the ministry, had babies, and, in July of 2008, even moved with my husband when he wanted to start a church in Baltimore.

Our transition to this city was exciting, at first. The excitement, however, wore off with the challenges of being married to a church planter. I was thrust into a world of expectation to be a pastor’s wife and felt lots of pressure to get way out of my comfort zone, live on mission, go to the park and try to meet with some moms, and share the Gospel with some random individual Joel was trying to connect me with. These things are just small examples of how it all became so utterly frustrating and daunting as I had no clue what to say to these women.

How does someone who feels no hope in Christ try to fake that she has hope in Christ to someone else?

How do you even admit these feelings to your pastor-husband who has this immense desire to start this church in Baltimore?

You can’t fake it––but I couldn’t admit this to Joel. I went back to one of my most favorite sins of all time: escapism. The year was 2009, and it’s also when I started telling myself lies. I said to myself, “Joel loves this church and others more than he loves me.” I said, “He wouldn’t care in the least if he wasn’t married to me.” I said, “He hates me and I suck at this pastor’s wife thing.”

The stress was too much. I started getting drunk to numb the pain. I would drink so much and stay out so late, I don’t know how I made it home in one piece. I finally came up with a plan to do whatever I could to make Joel as miserable as possible––then he would finally tell me to leave. I followed through with my plan, but I couldn’t get him to tell me to leave. I gave myself over to severe sins and didn’t admit everything to him right away, but I told him that I wanted out. I honestly hated my husband. I hated this church.

It was July of 2010 when I told him I wanted to leave. He begged me to go on a marriage retreat, and do marriage counseling with him. I reluctantly agreed. He knew he couldn’t continue to serve as a pastor and said that he would try to find a church planting replacement for him. With all that I had done, and all I was still doing that he didn’t know about: I knew that I was not converted. I knew I wasn’t a Christian. I remember asking Joel one day if he would be ok if I wasn’t a Christian. He told me he would still love me, but that he wouldn’t be “okay” with it. He said, “If that’s the case, I would preach the Gospel to you every day if I have to.” And he did.

For a solid six months, he patiently preached the Gospel to me while trying to work himself out of a job. He assured me that God forgives all sin through Christ and that anyone who turns to him finds the hope of forgiveness. For six months, I refused to believe and refused to find any hope in faith or our marriage.

In January of 2011, something changed. I now believe that what changed is this: I was converted. The Holy Spirit of God convicted me of my sins, assured me that Christ took the penalty for my sin on the cross, and rose again from the dead. I repented of my sin and trusted in Jesus Christ.

It happened in a moment but I can’t tell you exactly when that moment was. All I know is that Joel took me out to a restaurant and I confessed my sins to him. As I confessed sin to him, I confessed those sins to God and was assured of his forgiveness. I not only felt grace and love from Joel, I felt grace and love from God. I felt a weight lifted off of me. I felt as if I had literally hit rock bottom and God broke through my wicked and dark heart––and He saved me.

I was saved under the faithful preaching of my husband. The hopelessness that I had always felt was gone. I grew with an insatiable desire to be in the Word and even better: The Bible made sense to me. I had a new desire to pour into other people, share the Gospel with others, and serve the church. These were just some of the beautiful evidences from the Spirit that God had saved me.

For years, I wrestled with my own story––in large part was the astonishment: was I really not converted during those early years? But it is what it is. It’s my story and I praise God He saved a wretch like me. It took me some time to realize that I was converted in 2011, which is why I am just now being baptized. But I want to be baptized today because I believe I was not a Christian when I got dunked at 14 years old. And I want to obey Jesus.

I know without a doubt that God has saved me. The thought: God chose to save a miserable wretch like myself––this is amazing grace.



Share Button

How Christians Can Pray for Muslims During Ramadan

Share Button


Many of us have Muslim friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers we hope to see trust in Jesus. We know they consider Jesus a prophet, but we long to see them believe in Him as their Lord and Savior. As Ramadan approaches, we are provided with a fresh opportunity to pray for them and hopefully engage with them in spiritual conversation.

What is Ramadan?

On Sunday, May 5, 2019, billions of Muslims around the world will begin observing Ramadan.  It is the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar and is considered the holiest month of the year for Muslims. Ramadan is one of the 5 Pillars of the Islamic faith, which requires all Muslims who are physically able to fast each day of the month, from sunrise to sunset.

This time of fasting from food, drink, and other physical needs are intended to purify the soul, practice self-restraint, and refocus one’s devotion to their god, Allah. This is also a time when many Muslims increase their almsgiving to the poor, which is another of the 5 Pillars of their faith.

The evenings are spent enjoying time with family and community meals, engaging in prayer and spiritual reflection, and reading from the Quran. The observance of Ramadan concludes, according to the western calendar, on the evening of Sunday, June 4th.

How Can We Pray During Ramadan?

Father, we pray that as they set their hearts to worship their god Allah, that You might make them to “know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). Help them see that Jesus is Your eternal Son through whom they can have eternal life.

Father, we pray that as their bodies hunger and their tongues thirst, that You would show them Jesus who promised “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6:35). Help them see the insufficiency of their works and lead them to hunger and thirst for the righteousness that only Jesus can give.

Father, we pray that as they practice self-restraint that You would show them Jesus who, before He was crucified for sinners, denied Himself and “prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will’” (Matthew 26:39). Help them believe that He truly died on the cross and drank fully from the cup of Your wrath.

Father, we pray that as they give alms to the poor that You would show them Jesus who “though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Help them see and treasure the eternal glory of Your Son Jesus.

Father, we pray that as they gather together to feast in the evening, that You would show them Jesus who invites sinners of all sorts to abandon their false gods and by faith join “those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 16:9). Show them the resurrected and ascended King of Glory who desires them to draw near to Him in faith.

Father, we pray that you would give Your church love for Muslims across the world. Make us like Jesus who “felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34). Guard us against self-righteousness that would lead us to have hard hearts toward those who do not know You.

Father, we pray that you would give Your church opportunity and courage to proclaim the Gospel to Muslims throughout the world. Lift our eyes to Jesus who promised to empower us when He said, “I am with you always even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Let us not fear any consequence of faithfully taking the Gospel to those who desperately need Your grace.


May this season of Ramadan be marked by the faithful intercession of God’s people who long to see many Muslims come to the saving knowledge of Jesus, the Son of God.

If you’d like ideas for daily prayer during Ramadan, you may want to consider this resource.

Share Button

Drugs, Death, and Deliverance – Greg’s Story of Amazing Grace

Share Button

Today I had the honor of baptizing my friend Greg. We’ve been meeting almost every week for the past ten months and he was just recently born again. In many ways, Greg is the last guy who would ever become a Christian. His life was marked by pain, drugs, immorality, and death. Yet, on the other hand, his conversion is just the sort of thing God loves to do. God delights in taking people who are far off and bringing them near through His grace in Jesus.

Here’s the testimony Greg shared with our church this morning. Praise God.

“My name is Gregario Colon III and I was born in the Bronx, NY with my older sister and younger brother who absolutely mean the world to me.

Looking back on my life I realize how blind I was to God’s grace. My earliest memories were filled with tragedy and now I see why I so often played the victim. My neighborhoods were infested with drugs and both my parents were addicts. One of my earliest memories was on Christmas morning when I came out to find my dad sitting next to the milk and cookies we left for Santa with empty syringes sitting on the plate. These kind of memories were always confusing to me as a kid.

We went to live with my grandparents who did their very best to give us a childhood despite our parents disappearing from our lives. My grandparents knew where my dad lived and one day took me to visit him. I still remember seeing my grandpa talk to him, watching my dad look at us, wave us off, and then walk back inside his house.

When I was twelve, my grandpa took me to watch one of his stickball games. But during the game, he collapsed of a heart attack and died in front of me. He was the closest thing I had to a father, but then he was gone!

Out of Control

During high school, I was out of control. At one point I got caught stealing and was sent with my brother to live with my dad who had begun to get sober. I resented him at the time despite the fact that he tried hard to make things up with us. I began hanging out with older kids in our neighborhood, which put me on a path that would cross more lines than I can bear to think of.

It was about this time that I began cutting hair as a hobby. My dad got me my first set of professional clippers for Christmas and allowed me to cut hair on the roof with people from the neighborhood. That’s also when I started getting mixed up with drugs and alcohol. What began as just having fun quickly became an everyday thing for me.

At this point, I was angry, violent, and lost. My downward spiral became a blur when my father passed away from complications with AIDS. I didn’t know how to deal with his death or my emotions about his attempts to reconcile with me. I went to his funeral drunk and high—it was one of the worst days of my life.

Drugs and Death

Eventually, I moved back to the Bronx and rented a room in a crack house where I began dealing drugs. During this time I saw my stepdad die on my mom’s couch and within a year I watched my mother drink her self to death. Near the end I asked her, “mom, why can’t you get help and clean yourself up” and she said to me “Greg, of all my kids, you should be the one who understands.”

Haircutting was my refuge. It allowed me to make decent money, which led to all-nighters at nightclubs, bad relationships, new kinds of drugs, and coming face to face with death. I’ll never forget seeing one of my best friends shot to death in front of me. It should have woken me up, but instead pushed me on a darker path of dealing drugs. You might say I picked up his clients and ran hundreds of pounds of drugs across borders. This afforded me more money than I knew what to do with but also left me constantly worried about who was trying to kill me.

Arrests and Rehab

Eventually, my world came crashing down when I was arrested on serious drug trafficking charges. The charges were reduced, but I spent time in rehab in Upstate NY. In 2012, I moved to Virginia in another attempt to clean myself up. This lasted for about two years. Haircutting really took off for me, and I even landed a gig cutting hair for the Redskins. It was during this time that I met my friends Scott and Mike McKinley (who is a pastor) who are here today.

My family was proud of me because I had gotten my life together (but not really). You see during that time a doctor began prescribing pain pills for me. I got hooked pretty hard and when he stopped writing me scripts, I moved on to heroin. I began burning bridges with friends and family and soon enough I was back on the dark path heading toward death.

One day after a hair cut Mike McKinley asked me, “Can I pray for you?” I was like whatever dude. He also gave me a book he had written with a guy named Mez. Later I found that he left a $20 bill inside to bless me, but I took it and used it to buy drugs. I was spiraling out of control. After one of my overdoses, I remember waking up in the hospital and my sister saying to me, “you are going to end up dead, is that what you want?”

Divine Deliverance

I entered a detox program here in Alexandria and afterward moved into a recovery home for a year to work on my sobriety. During this time I met a lady named Karen Solms along with many other dear friends. I would see Karen going through such hard things but always trusting God. I asked her how she did it. She would always point me back to her faith in God.

One day Karen invited me to come to church with her. She said she had heard a pastor from Scotland name Mez share his story and thought I could relate to him. After my visit I called Mike and told him I went to church. He asked where and I told him some place called Del Ray Baptist. He told me he knew Garrett and that the guy Mez that Karen had told me about what the guy he had written his book with. I felt like God put the thermal scope on me at that point.

I came to Del Ray Baptist last April (2018) and haven’t missed a Sunday since. As I did I began to see things in a whole new light. I heard the messages about Jesus, but I also saw God’s love through Karen, Gordie, Garrett, and all of you.

Garrett always used to ask me “what are you holding on to and what keeps you from surrendering to Jesus?” It took me a while, but I’ve come to realize that I’ve been holding on to me, and holding on to my sin because I loved it so much. I was scared of letting go because I didn’t know what would happen. I didn’t know which “Greg” would show up.

But what I’ve come to learn is that if Jesus was faithful to save me, He’ll be faithful to keep me. I wasn’t looking for Him, but He came looking for me. I don’t deserve to stand here alive here today. It is by His grace and mercy alone. This is a miracle. I should be dead, but the reason I’m here is because Jesus has made me alive.

So today I come to be baptized to show that the old Greg is dead and testify that Jesus is my Lord and Savior who has made me alive. And I do this in front of you Del Ray Baptist because I love you guys and need you to help me to live this out.”

Praise God.

Share Button

Was Murdered Missionary John Chau An Arrogant Fool?

Share Button

For months, John Chau prayed, planned, and journaled about reaching the Sentinelese people with the good news of Jesus. On the morning of November 15, 2018, he attempted contact for the first time but was met with an onslaught of arrows, narrowly escaping with his life.

That evening he penned a prayer from a boat offshore, “God, I don’t want to die…[but] if you want me to get killed with an arrow then so be it.” To his parents he wrote, “you guys might think I’m crazy…but I think it’s worth it to declare Jesus to these people. Please do not be angry at them or at God if I get killed.”

The following day, Chau returned to the island, but this time it cost him his life. According to on-looking fisherman, the Islanders were seen dragging Chau’s lifeless body with a rope. His mission had ended, but his quest has sparked much conversation and a compelling question has surfaced concerning this man who walked toward flying arrows to bring the archers news about forgiveness from God.

Was John Chau an arrogant fool who sought to impose his views on people who didn’t want to hear them?

It is well known that the Sentinelese community had no desire to communicate with outsiders. Local laws were developed to protect their indigenous culture and guard them against the threat of disease. Reports of grotesque evil done to them in days past may fuel their resistance of outsiders. Yet Chau chose to ignore all this to go on his mission. Some have charged him with arrogant hostility, saying he got what he deserved.

The way we ought to evaluate John Chau’s dying actions, whether they are good or bad, depends (from the Christian perspective at least) on whether Jesus is who He claimed to be. In fact, you can’t honestly assess whether Chau (or any Christian) is loving or arrogant without determining whether the message of Jesus true.

Good News for the Sentinelese People

The Bible claims that Jesus is the Son of God who left heaven’s glory to warn us of coming judgment and offer salvation to any who will believe (John 3:16-20). But it also says that mankind did not receive the truth-imposing savior (John 1:11-14). In fact, humanity so hated Jesus’ message that we tortured Him to death through crucifixion (John 19:1-37).

Yet, the scandalous message of the Bible is that Jesus intentionally laid down his life for His people and rose from the dead to offer forgiveness and fullness of joy to all who believe in Him. If this is true, and if John Chau went on his mission to proclaim this good news, then he was much more of a friend than an arrogant fool (Acts 4:10-12; 10:42-43). In fact, if the good news about Jesus is true, then all Christians, like Chau, best show love by risking everything to tell the world.

In his going, should Chau have considered the danger of bringing potentially fatal infection to the island? Certainly. Most Christian missions agencies take precaution to ensure the physical safety of the workers and those they aim to reach. This is part of loving our neighbor. But believers also know that the spiritual safety of people is of far greater importance. It is the spiritual infection of our sin, which separates us from God that stands as our greatest threat, whether we live on Long Island or an isolated one.

God’s Love for the Sentinelese People

Despite our resistance of Him, God still shows love toward us, as he has toward the Sentinelese people. He has continually given them “rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying [their] hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17). He has made His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). It is God who keeps their heart beating and gives them breath (Isaiah 42:5). Without knowing John Chau personally, I cannot definitively speak of his motives or methods, but as a Christian, I share his desire for the Sentinelese, and all people, to know the God who made and sustains them.

The details about Chau’s encounter with the inhabitants are still unknown. Was he able to over come language barriers to communicate the gospel before he died? Did any believe what they heard? We do not know. But a vital question remains—what will happen to them if they never believe in the Jewish Savior born two thousand years ago who was likewise killed, having his body being dragged into a tomb, and yet, Christians believe, has been raised from the grave?

God’s Proof to the Sentinelese People

The Bible teaches that because God is good, we can know that He will judge them, not because of information they lack, but because of their failure to believe what He has revealed to them through creation and conscience.

Whether we look through a telescope, a microscope, or at the ecosystem on an island, evidence abounds that God created and sustains the world. God charges all people with “suppressing the truth” that He has “made evident” to us (Romans 1:18-23). Rather than love and obey Him, we exchange God for our own ideas and idols (Romans 1:23). We all do this, whether we were raised in the Bible Belt or on undeveloped beaches.

God has also given all people an inner awareness of right and wrong. Our conscience convicts us of sin when we lie or delete search histories or deceive our spouse (Romans 2:14-16). Deep down we know we have done wrong, but we try to medicate and excuse away the guilt. The Sentinelese people who killed John Chau prove their condemnation by not treating him as they would desire to be treated (Matthew 7:12).

Yet, God still desires to show them mercy and forgiveness (1 Timothy 2:1-4). He promises, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). Some will say that the islanders can call on God in their own way, but God makes clear that no one can know His mercy and forgiveness apart from faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Is it arrogant for God to say there is only one way? No, it is merciful of Him to provide any way at all. If God were fair, all of us would be left in our sin.

So what will God do with the Sentinelese people if they never hear of Jesus? They will be judged, like everyone else. This is why people like John Chau are willing to risk their lives to reach them. He went because he believed, as Christians believe, that there is only one way to heaven. And, if that is true, telling people is the most important and most loving thing anyone could do. To step over a “no trespassing” sign to rescue someone from a burning house at the risk of your own life is the height of love, not wickedness.

A Christian’s Hope for the Sentinelese People

The hope of every Christian is that the Sentinelese people will hear the Gospel of Jesus, turn from their sins, believe upon Jesus, and know the forgiveness of Jesus. Please do not hear this as some sort of desire to colonize them. I desire no such thing. The Bible teaches that every culture possesses aspects that displease God and must be put away. But every culture and every person in that culture also uniquely reflects the beauty and glory of God. I long to see how much we could learn from Sentinelese people who love Jesus. Their appreciation of nature, simplicity of life, and healing from hatred would bless and challenge believers around the world! I pray that God will save many of them for their own joy, but also for the good of His church around the world.

Many questions remain about John Chau and the mysterious community in the Andaman Islands. Some will suggest that Chau’s actions pushed more people away from Jesus than attracted them to Him. My hope is that God will use this event to open doors for conversation about things that matter most.

If you are not a believer in Jesus, I challenge you to investigate whether or not Jesus truly died and rose from the grave. If Jesus did not raise from the grave, then Christians like John Chau are reckless idiots. But if Jesus did rise from the dead, then the Gospel is true and our efforts, however imperfect, will be shown to be done out of love, not arrogant foolishness.

If you are a believer in Jesus, consider whether or not you are willing to risk everything to help the lost come to know Jesus. I urge prudence, prayerfulness, and partnership with a legitimate sending agency. I also urge you to take to heart some of the final words of John Chau—

“Please live your lives in obedience to whatever He has called you to and I’ll see you again when you pass through the veil…This is not a pointless thing — the eternal lives of this tribe are at hand and I can’t wait to see them around the throne of God worshiping in their own language as Revelation 7:9-10 states…

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Lord, make us willing to risk all for Your glory and the joy of all peoples.


Share Button

Renewal Vows of an Unfaithful Husband

Share Button

‘Reconciliation’ by Josefina de Vasconcellos

As a pastor, few things are more heart wrenching than watching a married couple pick up the pieces after adultery. Feelings of betrayal, the unraveling of lies, and the waves of grief can seem insurmountable. At times those waves sink the marriage ship. Adultery can bring such catastrophic damage to a couple’s union that Jesus’ allowance for divorce appears unavoidable.[1] But this is not always the case.

As grievous as this intimate betrayal is, God’s grace often prevails. When God works real repentance and gives strength for genuine forgiveness, true reconciliation is possible. Reconciliation after this sort of sin is never quickly realized. The road is often paved with prayer and sleepless nights. Yet with every faith-filled step, God brings healing.

What I have witnessed is that the sort of healing God brings in the wake of such hurt is nothing short of miraculous. In a way only He can, God so often grants a bond between the healed couple that was stronger than before sin infiltrated their lives. Faith is stronger, trust is deeper, and promises are sweeter. What Satan intended for evil, God used it for good in a way only He can.[2]

In recent days I had the honor of standing with a couple to celebrate God’s gracious reconciliation in their marriage. The husband had been unfaithful, but God was not. He gave the husband grace to repent and gave his bride the strength to forgive. They still face hard days, but by God’s grace, their ship did not sink and today they continue to sail toward the distant shore together.

These are the vows he wrote and read during their renewal ceremony.

Years ago your hand I took

For you, My Bride, the world I forsook

My dying regret will be how you I’ve failed

and my unfaithfulness for which my Savior was nailed

So again this day I do thee wed. 

but different vows I take instead

On my own strength I will not rely

but on His mercy in endless supply

Because He, not I, is the groom that you need

and for all my sin He did bleed

From Him alone will I seek favor

and your touch alone I vow to savor. 

Only He is faithful and He is my King

and I vow today to Him I will cling

Again today, your hand I take

Again for my Bride the world I forsake

You and this covenant I will hold and cherish

till our better groom returns or till I perish. 


Marriage is God’s gracious gift to a husband and wife. This glorious institution reflects the love, grace, and mercy the Lord has for His bride the church. Pray for marriages to withstand the temptations that abound, and pray for those who have known the most intimate betrayal to find healing from the Lord of mercies.

[1] Matthew 19:3-9

[2] Genesis 50:20

Share Button

What Would Jesus Say About Bishop Curry’s Royal Wedding Sermon?

Share Button


Bishop Michael Curry delivered a soul-stirring sermon at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan. The BBC estimates that nearly 2 billion people tuned in to watch the ceremony. If you have not heard the 13-minute message, listen here or read the transcript (but you should listen because that man can preach!).

In his address, Bishop Curry masterfully captured the essence of love and the way we experience it. He helped all in attendance to understand that the reason love is so powerful is that it finds its source in God Himself. Quoting 1 John 4:4-8, He explained “God is love.”

He roused our hope by helping us imagine a world where love pervaded all—

When love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again. When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook. When love is the way, poverty will become history.”

His message of God’s love was hopeful and almost wonderful.

I say almost wonderful not because I could find any flaw in his presentation, but because there was an essential truth absent from his message—why Jesus really died.

At the pinnacle of his sermon the Bishop said of Jesus, “He didn’t sacrifice his life for himself, or anything he could get out of it, He did it for others, for the other, for the good and well being of others. That’s love.”

Jesus would say that the Bishop told the truth, but not the whole truth. And the part he left out is essential to understand what love really is.

Romans 5:8“God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

1 Peter 3:18 “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.”

Isaiah 53:5“[Jesus] was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

Jesus didn’t die just to give us an example of love; He died to forgive our sins.

If we’re going to talk about love, we must talk about true love—that the sinless Son of God died a gruesome death to take the judgment sinners like you, me, Bishop Curry, the Prince and Princess, and everyone else watching deserved.

Jesus did not die to warm our hearts or inspire us to feel love toward others. Jesus died because we did not love God and are destined to an eternity apart from Him in judgment.

The Scriptures tell us, God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

This is good news, but it is not the only news…

“Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18).

Jesus would say that you could be moved by the Bishop’s message about love, but if it does not lead you to confess and repent of your sin and cling to Jesus by faith alone—the judgment of God rests upon you.

Some may suggest what I’ve written is the exact opposite of the love the Bishop was calling us to celebrate. But that’s just not true. True love tells the whole truth, and that is what Jesus came to do. He came to show us love by dying for the sins that keep us away from God’s love.

The Bishop preached what may be one of the most broadly viewed sermons in history. He did it in a compelling way. But the heart of what Jesus did was omitted. Jesus did show love, but a particular kind of love—sinner-saving, God-magnifying love.

Some will surely be frustrated that I would give a critique of a moving message on such a historic occasion. I get it, but here’s the deal—there is nothing more important than rightly understanding what God’s love is really all about.

If you were moved by what the Bishop said about love, you should be. But Jesus would say the bishop left out the best part. Jesus’ love is seen at the cross where He died for people who do not deserve it. He then rose from the dead and calls former rebels to become His bride who know His love and show His love to all people.

And the news gets better! There is a fast approaching Day when Jesus will return to take His beloved bride to Himself and celebrate a great wedding feast in heaven with her. Today He has given good news that if you will turn from the sin He died for, you will be invited to that Royal Wedding in glory—not as a guest, but as the bride.

Now that’s true love.

May God bless the Prince and Princess in their new marriage and all the days He gives them together. And may He help us all to forever delight in His amazing love.

Share Button

If They Fell, So Can You

Share Button

How Sin Seduced the Strongest, Wisest, and Godliest

She sat across from me with fingers pressed into her forehead. “How did I get here?” she groaned.

Jackie had been a faithful wife for many years. Yet she found herself ensnared in a sinful pit with no way out. Her web of lies had become a suffocating trap. She never imagined she would go this far, and now she saw no way back.

Sadly Jackie’s situation is not uncommon. Whether we are a pastor, president, or housewife, we are all in danger of being wooed, outwitted, and overpowered by sin. Yet we often do not feel the danger until it is too late. Sin is like a seductress who lures her unsuspecting prey with flattering assurances (Proverbs 5–7; Hebrews 3:13). Like a spider, she sets her trap and waits to pounce on those who play in her web.

But God does not desire us to be consumed. He warns us of sin’s schemes by recording the fall of others who were tempted as we are. Few examples are more sobering than those of Samson, Solomon, and David. They are tragic tales of strong, wise, and devoted men who were overcome by the power, trickery, and allure of sin.

Sin Is Stronger Than You

The life of Samson was marked by triumph and tragedy. Born to godly parents and empowered by God, he was set up to be a deliverer Israel desperately needed. Prior to Samson’s downfall, his supernatural strength was unmatched. No army or enemy was able to defeat him.

But sin could. Seduction weakened him to willingly surrender his secret source of strength (Judges 16:17). When his locks were clipped, he rose to fight, but “he did not know that the Lord had left him” (Judges 16:20). The spider had spun him up, and he was too weak to defend himself. His physical state mirrored his spiritual one. He was blind, broken, and crushed under the consequences of compromise.

Samson’s strength blinded him to his own weakness. The unseen enemy in his heart plotted mutiny — and Samson never saw it coming. As he fed his lust, he strengthened it. As he stoked his pride, he invigorated it. As he submitted to his flesh, it fortified against him. Apart from God’s strength, Samson didn’t have a chance.

What can we learn from Samson’s fall?

  1. Sin feeds on power.

We are tempted to think that the more powerful we become, the better we will battle sin. But the exact opposite is true. The more power, influence, or prestige we possess, the more temptable we are. The strength of sin feeds on our sense of strength. This is why we are warned that “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). In weakness, we feel our need for God, but when we are strong, we lack that saving sobriety.

  1. Sin flourishes in isolation.

Samson was almost always alone. He had no need for others. He had things under control. But his isolating pride set him up to be ambushed by the prowling lion. Isolation is the enemy of spiritual strength because it separates you from those God has provided to help you. We are not all strong at the same time. We need others to press us into the light of humility and honesty. Samson didn’t see a need for that kind of help — he was too strong.

Sin overpowered the strongest man, and it can take you out, too.

Sin Is Smarter Than You

Solomon’s reign began with love for God and his gift of unparalleled understanding. He wrote thousands of proverbs and authored inspired words of Scripture. But his heart had turned away to forbidden alliances, lovers, and idols (1 Kings 11:1–8).

Solomon had matchless wisdom, yet was outsmarted by sin’s schemes. The tempter sowed seeds of compromise that eventually sprouted and choked his discernment. He counseled others to lean not on their own understanding, yet he did not take his own counsel.

His collection of forbidden horse chariots may have been well-intentioned, but they revealed a distrust in God’s care (Deuteronomy 17:161 Kings 10:26). He made alliances with foreign kings that were sealed with wives who brought idols into his home (Deuteronomy 17:171 Kings 3:111:3). He thought he could keep the compromise under control (2 Chronicles 8:11), but eventually they outnumbered him a thousand to one. It seems Solomon thought he could work the system, but in the end he was eaten by it.

What can we learn from Solomon’s fall?

  1. Sin wants you to trust your own wisdom.

Solomon knew what God said about multiplying wives and horses and riches. Yet he thought he was wise enough to handle it. This is part of sin’s scheme. The tempter assures you that you are wise enough to see when you are in trouble. He wants you to think you’re safe, even while indulging in sinful exploration (Ecclesiastes 1–2). You’ll be assured that you can keep things under control — after all, God is with you.

  1. Sin wants you to underestimate small compromises.

The tempter has a crafty plan to patiently have you grow content with small compromises. “It’s just one look.” “A little won’t hurt.” “It’s not as bad as what they are doing.” If Satan cannot tempt you into a great sin, he will settle for a small one, because he knows that small sins pave the way to greater ones. Callousness grows in small degrees. Fear of God does not disappear all at once. You slowly become disillusioned with sin’s severity, and then you wind up with a thousand idol-worshiping housemates. Don’t assume something similar can’t happen to you.

Sin outwitted the wisest man, and it can outsmart you, too.

Sin Can Woo You

Few people have known the sweet fellowship David had with God. His delight in God marked the lines of his songs and the steps of his life. Whether in trial, trouble, or celebration, David’s heart was always oriented toward enjoying God.

Yet even those who love God can be wooed away from him. We do not know why David stayed back from battle that spring afternoon. Yet as he strolled aimlessly on his palace roof, his unattended heart fell prey to forbidden beauty. Rather than flee, he lingered. A look, a longing, an inquiry, adultery, lies, conspiracy, murder, and attempted cover-up. David would repent and find forgiveness from God, but the consequences of his sin sent incalculable ripples throughout the kingdom (Psalm 51).

The hot coals of David’s heart for God had grown cold with complacency. He had been strong for so long, yet he hit cruise control. His affections for God diminished and the tempting beauty of sin ignited his flesh. He played roulette with sin, and the thrill quickly turned to devastating destruction.

What can we learn from David’s fall?

  1. Sin has a deceptive beauty.

We must remember that Satan wears the disguise of an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). He is a master at twisting good things God made and using their beauty to luring our hearts into forbidden waters. The power of sin is found in its presented beauty. The affirmation of adultery. The safety of a lie. The enjoyment of stolen treasure. Remember that the tempter lays before our eyes the beauty of the bait, but hides the hook that ensnares us.

  1. Seek sin and you shall find it.

Temptation most often enters through a door intentionally left open. If you aimlessly wander in the wilderness near the tempter’s house, you can be certain you will get a visit from him. This is why we are warned to “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14).

Sin wooed the worshipful king, and it can woo you as well.

Jesus Is Stronger, Wiser, More Beautiful

God has given these examples to us that we might be instructed and warned to not fall into the same temptations (1 Corinthians 10:11–13). Yet we must not only avoid their example, but find help from the man who is greater than them.


Our sinful weaknesses need not lead us to despair. Instead, they can lead us to hope in the one who is greater than our sin. Jesus bound the strong man to set us free (Matthew 12:29). Jesus outsmarted the tempter by clinging to the wisdom of the Scriptures (Matthew 4:1–11). Jesus rejected sinful exaltation by drinking the cup of humiliation (Matthew 26:39).


Jesus was tempted as we are, yet he endured without sin. His life was righteous and his death satisfied his Father’s just requirements. His resurrection gives us liberation, and his intercession grants us help in our weakness. Jesus is stronger than Samson, wiser than Solomon, and more devoted than David — and in him we find help to resist the tempter’s snares.


Originally published at

Share Button

A White Guy’s Reflections on Black Panther

Share Button


To be honest, I can’t remember going to a movie quite like Black Panther. The buzz among many of my friends has been feverish. Some are Marvel movie lovers, but for most of them, Black Panther was about something much more.

Normally, if I were writing a review I’d hit on the movie’s theological themes[1] or what kind of workout those fellas did to get so rocked-up, but instead I’m going to take a risk and share about how the movie affected me personally.

Black Panther is a movie about a superhero, but not just any superhero—a black superhero. And that’s what has me a bit perplexed. The movie was excellent, but it moved me emotionally in a way I wasn’t expecting. The plot line was inspiring, the acting was captivating, and the special effects were dope. But that’s not what got me.


Recovering Racist 

I should probably tell you this upfront—I’m a recovering racist.

I never had a disdain for black people, or knowingly treated any black person with contempt. But sadly I’ve come to see that I had racist attitudes that assumed things about people who didn’t look like me. I passively assisted in the perpetuation of stereotypes that were demeaning to people whose culture and skin color were different than my own.

My parents didn’t raise me that way, but it was in the air I breathed. It was in the shows I watched, the attitude of my almost exclusively white hometown, churches I attended, and in the hearts of extended family members.

But over the past eight years, God has changed me in ways I never saw coming. You can read more about that here. Black Panther was no epiphany for me, but it captured themes I’ve been learning about in a way that was deeply moving.



We live in a world that has wrongly dishonored black people in horrific ways. Slavery, discrimination, injustice, and racism have beaten down the image of black people in the minds of many generations. Black men have long been portrayed as uneducated hoodlums who cause trouble while black women are seen as dramatic temptresses with little moral character.

Yet, in this movie black men and women were set forth with dignified beauty. They were not dominated by another narrative, but they had their own. Sure, it was a Marvel fantasy movie, but there was something powerful happening when the nearly all black cast filled the screen. Their dignity was represented boldly, and beautifully.

As a Christian, I know that God has created each of us uniquely to reflect His image. Our diversity of culture and skin color is part of His glorious design. Though this movie had nothing directly to do with God or the work of Christ, the dignity of black men and women shined through in a way that was empowering.

A movie has no power to ultimately change people’s hearts. Only Jesus can do that. But I believe it can serve to help the progress we must make toward racial unity. It can encourage the black community and educate other communities. I know it did that for me.



I won’t give any spoilers here, but Erik Killmonger’s role[2] was brilliant. His character’s bitter rage was provoked by the abandonment and betrayal of those who were supposed to love him. His disdain for the system that hurt him and desire to enact change at all costs only compounded his pain, but left me sympathizing with his character.

I know it was just a movie, but his hurt echoed the stories of so many of the black friends I love. Too many have known what it is like to be abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Too many have grown up in a world that has wounded them because of the color of their skin. Too many harbor the hurt his character embodied.

As I watched Killmonger become consumed by his quest for liberation, I was freshly reminded of the pain so many friends have shared with me. Watching him fight to make his brokenness whole freshly reminded me of my responsibility in the quest for progress. His pain reflected the pain many of my people have inflicted in days past and present. It gave me a fresh desire to serve in whatever way I can to undo what so many before me have done.

Vengeful anger will not bring progress, but I do believe God can use the pain of a people long oppressed to shine brightly as an example of how to make progress. I believe the grace of God can bring healing to wounds both in the culture and in the church. I pray the church will learn to better model this in a way God surely desires.



There is something beautiful about the unity of spirit that black brothers and sisters share. Seeing people decked out in traditional African garb and King Jaffe costumes gave expression to something I’ve never experienced. I’ve been part of tight knit teams and churches with thick unity, but black culture, in all its unique forms, has a unique unity that I find captivating.

There’s an energy and freedom (and volume) that I’ve grown to love. The common bond that centuries of struggle, suffering, and oppression tried to sever has only solidified them. As a people they have weathered much together, despite their abiding challenges.

I’m far from an expert on black culture, and don’t assume all black people experience black culture the same, but in this film and in the lobby outside I shared in something I often don’t. I was a minority on this night. My skin color was mildly represented in the film and I felt “other” in a way that was unusual.

Yet in the midst of that, I felt welcomed. The movie’s story and my friends’ laughter ushered me into a world that was foreign to me. It’s not the only time I’ve been in this situation, but it was a fresh joy for which I’m thankful and hopeful for more.

As a Christian, I’ve learned to see every situation, every movie, and every interaction through the lens of Jesus’ love for me. Tonight I freshly saw His love and felt an unexpected appreciation for our church family. We are a people continually deepening in all sorts of diversity. Being part of the Black Panther party gave a fresh way to experience the love we’ve been growing in over recent years.



Finally, there was something charming about Wakanda. One of my friends said, it “felt like a world where a piece of Africa escaped the destruction of colonization. It was fun to dream about.” Seeing responses like this helped me, maybe for the first time, understand why so many feel homesick for Africa.

What would their lives have been like, had my ancestors not kidnapped them and dragged them to America? Sadly, one can only wonder.

Homesickness for Africa made sense to me in a way I could strangely identify with. As a Christian, I too long for my homeland. Long ago Adam and Eve traded the paradise of God for slavery to sin. Their sin has led to much suffering and heartache. This is where the great hope of a new world rises up in the hearts of all humans, whether black or white. Wakanda was not heaven, but it helped me to long for it in a fresh way.

I’m thankful to my friends who have patiently taught me about their struggle and for this movie that moved me in a way I wasn’t expecting.



[1] Some of the key theological themes include the emptiness of ancestral worship, the devastating effects of sin, the temptation of the oppressed to become the oppressor, the beautiful complementarianism portrayed in the film, and the resurrection of the king to overthrow the evil strongman.

[2] Played by Michael B. Jordan…can you say Oscar?

Share Button