Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Would you take this man into your home?

A pastor in Chicester, NH thinks that it is his Christian duty to try and help this man, even though the man is a convicted criminal who has committed horrendous crimes in the past.

You can read about the furor this missional act is stirring up up HERE.

I take it as a given that this kind of hospitality is not possible or even desirable for everyone. However, radical examples sometimes get our attention and cause us to think.
  • Is this pastor just being naive and idealistic?
  • What responsibilities does he have toward his other neighbors in a situation like this?
  • What part should his church (which, according to the article, is in another town) and the local churches in this town play?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

1 comment:

AZ said...

reminds me of the man who came to my door when I was a Peace Corp volunteer. He just showed up and knocked on the door late one evening: covered with oozing leprosy sores. I was shocked at the sight of him and sent him away. Then I realized what I ought to have done and prayed that he'd come back. Some weeks later he did, and I gave him some food and talked to him. After that, he'd stop by whenever he came from his distant village to get medical treatment in our town. I was always glad to see him and for the second chance to do the right thing.

Anyway, about this situation:

* Is this pastor just being naive and idealistic?

No. He evidently understands what he's doing. He's setting limits and rules for the man. If he trusts the ex-offender, he's naive, but if he trusts God then he's on solid ground.

* What responsibilities does he have toward his other neighbors in a situation like this?

If the laws of New Hampshire are like here in Indiana, the people of the town have a right to know the child murderer is there -- but no right to run him out of town. The pastor owes it to the town to comply with the law and to responsibly supervise the ex-offender. It sounds like he's doing that with the rule that the guy leave the house only in a car and only escorted.

* What part should his church (which, according to the article, is in another town) and the local churches in this town play?

If an individual at one of the churches is trained to intervene as a counselor or employment specialist, then they should do that. But it is a mistake to suppose that people possess qualities required for an effective intervention like this one just because they go to church. The national experiment of "faith-based initiatives" for social programs has been pretty much a failure.