“Jesus Land”

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            I recently finished reading the book, Jesus Land. It’s a memoir about a young white girl growing up in the ‘70s in the South with an adopted black brother. Their parents feel the need to “reform” them and send the two to a program in the Dominican Republic. There, the staff members set out to reform the kids into growing in their loving relationship with God and send them back into the real world a redeemed individual.

After reading about the girl’s experience at the school, I feel it displays one of the most unfortunate realities that Christianity has to offer; hypocrisy.

The school described in the book is a hell-hole. The children are humiliated, beaten, and repressed beyond belief in an attempt to “save their sinning souls”. The following passage has yet to leave my mind and pretty much sums up the atrocities of The Program:

“Ted (a staff member) walks to the middle of the ring and shouts over Boy 0’s profanity… ‘Andrew has refused to accept the staff’s authority, but he has accepted my invitation to a boxing match. May the best man win.’ …Boy 0 thrusts out a small fist that glances off Ted’s broad chest. Ted jogs back a half step, then swings his glove, hitting Boy 0 squarely in the jaw…Boy 0 totters unsteadily to his feet…He charges Ted and pummels his chest with the sides of his fist and Ted…steps back and swings at his face again. Boy 0 crumples to the ground and sits there. Ted extends his orange glove to help him up, then punches him again, and this time Boy 0 collapses into the dust and stays there. He lays on his back… his bony chest heaving up and down, a trickle of blood running from the corner of his mouth . Ted pulls off his gloves and kneels beside him. ‘Dear Lord, please help Andrew accept this discipline. Help him become a true child of Christ’.”

Ted then leads prayer the next night and mentions “Let her (the author) know how much You love her and how much we do too.”

She probably knows exactly how much Ted and the rest of the staff members love her: seemingly not at all. Why should she believe that they do? They beat and ridicule the students. They treat them like scum who will never be good enough to adjust back to society. And if these staff members are running this program “in the name of God” and everything they do is to promote “God’s love” into their students, then surely the students are going to get quite the warped image of God’s love.

As the author recalls her days growing up with her God-fearing family in the South, she explains, “…Beneath the hyped-up ‘family values’ morality of the Bible Belt, you’ll find child abuse, intolerance, and racism.”

What an unfortunate truth this is. People all over the world are being treated in the way that Ted treats Andrew; all done “in the name of God”. It may sound like something out of the ’70s, but these things can still be found in 2013 around the world. Christianity in itself is a beautiful thing, but certain people who call themselves Christians give Christianity a bad name. People profess that they are Christian, then that very same person burns a cross in their neighbor’s yard because their neighbor was black and he had asked out the pretty white girl to the Homecoming dance.

This is just one of the many reasons why people say they love Jesus and think of themselves as spiritual, but do not like to identify themselves as “religious”. They’d be mortified to call themselves Christian after a lifetime of seeing “Christians” doing horrible things “in the name of God.” Some people even resolve to doing away with Christ all together. From a young age, they’re exposed to “Christians” who preach that God loves them, yet those same people show them the exact opposite notion. So who can blame these individuals for not wanting anything to do with the God-man, Jesus Christ, who is the foundation of the religion that seems to always repress and humiliate people?

People do away with the idea of Christianity, with the idea of Christ, partially because the “Christians” that surround them on a daily basis promote a type of Christ that seems pretty undesirable. Who would want to be associated with a Christ, with the Christian lifestyle, where beating someone “in the name of God” is acceptable? I sure wouldn’t.

It’s unfortunate how people around the world fail to see God and the love he has for us because they are surrounded by these hypocrites.

When it comes to writing, authors are taught “Show, don’t tell. Don’t tell me it’s night, show me the moonlight reflecting off the glass in your hand.” If you consider yourself a Christian, if you consider yourself a believer in the God who loves us and expects us to love others, then start showing people. If you “tell” them, then live your life in a way that “shows” them something completely different, what kind of message do you think you’re sending?

Christians everywhere: Will you please, for the love of God, “show” people the love of God?

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