Here’s another Dear Dave letter. Thanks for reading.
October 14, 2004
Hope this note finds you enjoying the Indian summer days on your porch with a great book—not even a good book, mind you, but a great one. The Hudson Valley is too beautiful to describe, so I won’t even try. And as always, things here in Kingston stay interesting.
The good news is—I have a new friend. Actually, he may be my first friend in town. His name is Pastor Hank, but in the old days when he was smoking crack, people called him “Roach”. In those days, he carried a can of roach spray around to spray folks. Fortunately, after 82 visits to the county jail, he found God and changed.
Pastor Hank showed up at the soup kitchen the other day and told me I’ve been on his mind, so he thought he’d drop by and introduce himself. I liked him right away, which surprises me a bit because we have nothing in common. In fact, we may be opposites, yet right from the start, I knew somehow that Pastor Hank loves God and the people, and maybe if you have those two things in common—you don’t need anything else.
I have to admit, he scared me a bit at first. He was warm and friendly and welcoming when he walked in the door—and very flattering. He told me that he’d been hearing all these great things about me and that lots of folks were talking about the new pastor over at the Methodist Church, and I gave him the grand tour of The Clinton Avenue UMC. But when we got up to the sanctuary, his demeanor changed and he got very serious, and he told me that he wanted to pray for my protection.
“You woke up a dead church”, he said. “And the devil knows your name”. And he put his hands on my head and started praying like only a Baptist-born again-filled with the Holy Ghost-saved and sanctified-old sinner can. And if the devil knows my name, he now also knows that Pastor Hank has his. And he knows a man of God has surrendered me to the Most High in the powerful name of Jesus.
And it didn’t end with the laying on of hands. After the personal blessing, Pastor Hank started working on the church. I sat in a pew and watched him walk all around that sanctuary. He hit the aisle and every corner, and he called on Father God, Awesome God, Alpha and Omega, God the Most High. And he asked God to drive the demons out in the name of Jesus, the One who saves the world, the One who calms the sea, the One who conquered death and sin and darkness. And he called on God’s spirit to fill the place. And he called on God’s spirit to fill the community. And Pastor Hank was taking no prisoners. And if there were any demons hanging around, they surely felt fire and brimstone and unshakeable faith driving them out to sea.
And when the praying was over, Pastor Hank looked like a man who’d been running a race, but he was also pleased and calm and peaceful. And I felt better too, glowing in all the love and care, compassion and protection being poured down on my head. And I was grateful and maybe even a bit relieved that someone had taken notice and taken action. A stranger cared about our church and stopped by to pray, and the grace felt thick and smooth and healing.
Then Pastor Hank explained that since he’d been hearing my name, he knew the church was waking up. Seems we are in a mighty battle, even if we don’t know it, a battle full of scrapes and skirmishes and all out warfare—spiritual warfare. Hearing my name a few times was Pastor Hank’s call to action, so he drove by the church just two days ago to take a look.
And sure enough, right up on the roof by the weather vane perched a demon. He wasn’t big enough or bold enough to sit atop the sanctuary, but he was swinging on that old weather vane between the sanctuary roof and the roof covering the gym. Then Pastor Hank apologized for not getting here sooner, but the church was already closed when he drove by to check on it, and yesterday he had to go to Albany.
As supernatural and Holy Roller as it sounds—I believed every word, and I also knew deep in my soul that Pastor Hank, with the help of God, took care of it.
God is a mystery beyond understanding, and while the truth is—I never would have asked anyone to lay their hands on my head or drive a surly old demon off our weather vane—I am glad that a new friend dropped by and did the job.
And I am glad that I have an old friend to tell…
With much love,