Rod Barks

Jones and Gomez: two radically different ministers

Perusing the recent spiritual landscape makes me mutter with Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”

The epitome of the latter is Pastor Terry Jones, leader of the Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida. His ill-considered and ultimately failed “International Burn a Koran Day” drew worldwide criticism – and rightly so. Raw impudence such as his is ugly and deserves to be resisted. Anything less would be foolishness.

Now, I disagree with Islamic fundamentalism; that is my right, and a product of my Christian belief that Jesus is the way to my (our) relationship with God and, ultimately, Heaven. However, at no time did Jesus instruct followers to burn the books of other belief-adherent. Instead, He armed followers with the unlikely weapons of lavish love and unflinching faithfulness.

Can you imagine Immanuel announcing to His followers, “You will be known by your love…but if that doesn’t work, burn their books. Yes, that’ll show ‘em.”

Jones has backed down. Good. Such behavior has no place in the ranks of Christian ministry.

Consider in contrast a genuine light shining in the darkness – this darkness nearly one kilometre beneath the face of the Earth, where 33 Chilean miners have been trapped since Aug. 5.

The miners have each taken on roles within the underground world, naming a priest, a doctor, a poet, a television presenter and a foreman within the group. If Jones is the picture of foolishness, my underground pastoral colleague is the portrait of wisdom.

His name is Mario Gomez. According to news reports he has taken on the role of spiritual leader and urges the men to pray daily in the makeshift chapel he has created in a corner of the subterranean chamber. His job is aided by 33 mini-Bibles lowered into the mine with the daily supplies of food and medicine.

Gomez’s parish is tiny, but his ministry is monumental. He whispers encouragement in the midst of despair. He speaks of hope in the face of disaster. He calls to prayer as questions persist. He reminds parishioners that the presence of God extends even to the bowels of the Earth.

Such is the labor of a genuine minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; one who innately understands that faith is not proven in the burning of Korans, but rather in one’s persistence in the face of adversity.

A grandstanding manipulative pastor stands on a manicured church lawn, adorned in suit and tie, performing interviews and demanding his brand of justice. Meanwhile, a humble miner kneels in a shadowed sepulcher – made sacred by faith – leading grime-covered congregants in worship.

The comparative faces of ministry are extremely different. Jones revels in foolishness and anger while Gomez chooses the way of wisdom and peace. Both profess to represent Christ, but one alone receives the nod of affirmation from the Master who announces via St. Paul, “God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these ‘nobodies’ to expose the hollow pretensions of the ‘somebodies’.” (1 Corinthians 1:27 – The Message)

I have the feeling one of those God-chosen “nobodies” is Gomez. I’ll let God determine which category Jones fits into – but I have my suspicions.

Rod Barks is a Saskatchewan pastor and can be reached at highwaysconnect@hotmail.com

Just Posted

Creativity on display via the Middle Schools Awesome Art Show

‘First Friday’ Red Deer opening reception runs May 4th

Additional closures as water levels rise in the Red Deer River

Red Deer River rose by half a metre over the past twenty-four hours

City art gallery to close after 20 years in the business

Lacombe mainstay set to close at the end of April

Central Alberta dancers ‘shimmy’ for a great cause

Shimmy Mob will take place in more than 169 locations all over the world

Toronto van attack suspect faces 10 counts of first-degree murder

The suspect in the Toronto van attack that killed 10 people and injured 15 others on Monday is a 25-year-old man named Alek Minassian

Issues split Trump and Macron, handshakes and kisses aside

Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron professed a sunny, best-friends relationship

How hospitals prepare for mass-casualty incidents

Code Orange alerts explained following the Toronto van attack

Jury to deliberate after Cosby painted as predator

A jury of seven men and five women are to decide actor Bill Cosby’s fate

Memorial to victims of Toronto van attack continues to grow

The subway station where a van was used to run down pedestrians has reopened in Toronto

Doctor sees healing power in psychedelic plant as Peru investigates death of B.C. man

Peru’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of two suspects in the killing of 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe

Toronto police officer ‘gave himself the space and time’ in van attack

Footage shows officer standing up, turning off his siren and talking clearly to the suspect

Turning vehicles into deadly weapons is easy and cheap, expert says

Not all recent vehicle attacks have been linked to terror groups, says Candyce Kelshall

Toronto van attack accused was briefly in Canadian Armed Forces

Alek Minassian was a member of the forces from Aug. 23, 2017 until Oct. 25

Most Read