11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
In this reference, the man was living among the dead totally banished from his family and friends, crying out and cutting himself with the stones. Today, the drug culture draws in the lost, the ashamed, the violated, the ones who have tried to navigate their way through predators and parasites who bear the guise of family and friends. The dreams of this young woman to be able to practice in the field in which she had earned certification and raise her children to contribute to society had become to her almost impossible. It is here that the risen Christ who was mocked and humiliated, deserted by all He befriended, beaten and at last killed can enter into this person’s life down here at the bottom in the tombs and attempt to minister to her through the social services, jail personnel and representatives of the court. In this case, I would like to say that has happened but unfortunately for her, it hasn’t. She was told at one point by a representative of the court “I don’t have to listen to you, you’re a meth addict” further destroying her will to clean up her life and start over.
In her compromised state trying to stop the addiction on her own, she sought help with the exhaustive search navigating the system of rehab centers that would admit her but didn’t receive any. Did you know that many drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers have a triage rule that you have to be actively using to get admitted? If you stop the drugs on your own and you are clean while you are on a waiting list to be admitted, you may only be prioritized for admittance if you begin to use again. One rehab hotline representative stated that more and more drug rehab is being provided in a daily outreach program because the facilities are full and the waiting lists are long. But when the courts require that you do inpatient rehab which is at the time of this writing most often the case, the outreach option may not be considered. This representative stated that we need to retrain the justice system.
There are crucial moments in the addict’s life that if appropriate help or just respect for their humanity could be given, the outcome would be far different. Entire generations could be impacted for good if in that moment when the outcome is so crucial; a caring person could be the Christ and offer the living water. Our prisons are filled with victims of lost moments. When we continue to hold to the belief that the prisons are filled with just bad people who deserve to be removed from our communities then nothing will change and we will continue to build more and more prisons.
Jesus specifically commands us to minister to people in prison because He wants us to be a redemptive-minded people like Himself and then it follows that we will grow into His image.
Psalm 17:15 NIV 15” As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.”
Vindicate means to clear, as from an accusation, imputation, suspicion, or the like: to vindicate someone’s honor. to afford justification for; Dictionary.com
My sweetwater journey offers opportunities to give ministry in those moments that are crucial in people’s fragile lives where I can witness with my words and actions or in a respectful silence just listening, that I worship a loving God who brings people back from failure and even the edge of death. It is so rewarding and brings great satisfaction.
“Wrap me in a bolt of lightning, Send me on my way still smiling, Maybe that’s the way I should go, Straight into the mouth of the unknown.” These words are boldly tattooed on the arms of a gifted young woman who looks to us especially those who claim redemption to help her find the Unknown that we know and trust, and share the journey with her.
Jesus told the man, “’Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you’. 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him”. Mark 5:19-20
Members of our communities have stories to share with us about their healing from drug addiction. There are unfortunately many more who are still waiting for that merciful act that will give them another chance. Imagine the incremental changes in our communities as we seek ways to educate ourselves about what we can do or help others to do the hard work of ministering to those lost in the tombs.
“And all the people were amazed.” Mark 5:20