Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.
As a young believer, my heart was tender to the understanding of what Christ had rescued me from. When I surrendered my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ as a seventeen year old freshman at Bridgewater College playing football, it was a gamechanger. It wasn’t lip service. It was not merely an attempt to secure fire insurance from the prospects of spending eternity in hell. It was a decision to live all my days for the glory of God.
In those early days, I had no idea what that looked like; this walk of faith with Jesus was all new to me.
During the summer of ’95 as a twenty year old, I worked as a sports camp counselor at Chinn Aquatics & Fitness Center in Woodbridge, Virginia. The job was not for the faint of heart. Some of the kids came from broken homes and were quite unruly. The summer of ’95 was certainly unforgettable in more ways than one.
One of the perks of the job was the opportunity to workout in the weight room once I was done for the day. Throughout the summer, I bumped into old friends from high school, which was always a treat. I was only three years removed from roaming the hallways of Osbourn Park in Manassas. On occasion, I’d converse with others in the weight room as well. One particular older guy well into his thirties was quite talkative as he struck up a conversation with me regarding my cross necklace made of nails. Whenever I worked out in the evening after work, this older man seemed to be around.
Meanwhile, that summer I attended a healthy vibrant church in Manassas called New Covenant Fellowship (NCF). One afternoon after work I ran into a friend from NCF in front of Chinn Aquatics, Brenda Seefeldt Amodea, who was a youth evangelist. This precious woman who was in her early thirties, shared stories with me concerning what God was doing in the lives of the inner city kids. These youths were impacted by Brenda’s ministry. As always, my heart was transfixed by the stories she shared. As we sat on the bench talking, a friend of hers recognized Brenda; he strolled over to talk with her for a moment. He peppered her quizzically, “Oh, is this your boyfriend?”
“Him?” she gasped, followed by a good hearty laugh. “No, no, no … Brian is a young man who is a friend helping me reach the youth with the love of Jesus Christ.” Brenda went on to explain that we had partnered together the previous school year to bring inner city youths for a weekend getaway to Bridgewater College. These middle schoolers bunked in the dorm rooms on campus. Together with my fellow classmates we planned fun activities throughout the entire weekend that created moments to encounter the love of Jesus. This amazing woman had a heart of gold that radiated the purity of Jesus.
Brenda’s shining example stood as a contrast to the example of another who was slithering in the dark shadows with ill motives.
Meanwhile, the older guy in the gym continued to small talk about Jesus whenever I saw him. Eventually he extended an invite for me to join him at his church, which met at Garfield High School. I only went that one time. Honestly, I didn’t really feel a connection with this guy. He kept inviting me to different meetings, but I kindly declined. A few weeks later he told me about a prayer meeting over at the Hylton Chapel. That piqued my interest. As I grappled with my newfound faith in Jesus, prayer felt like that one elusive discipline that I couldn’t quite grasp. I told him I’d go to that prayer meeting, which was in the evening after work.
He insisted on meeting me after I got off work for me to follow him over to the prayer meeting. As we pulled into the parking lot, I saw the towering chapel, but to my surprise I did not see any vehicles anywhere on the property. Instead of driving towards the chapel, this man drove towards the far edge of the parking lot where he parked by a wooded area. At this point I felt quiet uneasy and honestly, a bit angry.
As I got out of my car, I asked, “Where is the prayer meeting?” Pointing towards the wooded area down the slope, he said, “Oh, I thought we’d pray together down there.” At this point, I felt very uncomfortable, even violated. I knew something was not right. Honestly, I was ready to punch this man if he tried to touch me. “I don’t know who you think I am, but there is no way I’m going down there with you,” I firmly responded. “You have wicked desires in your heart and I don’t want anything to do with you.”
Let me reiterate that plainly, the man had nasty, wicked intentions in his heart. He mistook my kindness to engage in conversation as an invitation to defile according to his darkened, unscrupulous mind.
From that day forth, I avoided him in the weight room. He tried to call my parents’ home multiple times before I finally conversed with him. Though he finally admitted to his perverse agenda, he never apologized for his actions; nor did he bear any fruit of biblical repentance. He was more interested in sweeping it under the rug. At that point I cut off all contact with this man.
Thirteen years later in 2008 during the closure of a service in Fredericksburg, Virginia, I was asked to pray over the guest speaker and his team as they returned to their ministry base in San Francisco. There was much authority in my words as the Holy Spirit graced me to pray according to the Father’s heart over this team to impact San Francisco. As the room resounded with a hearty amen, I turned around to catch the bewildered eyes of the man whom I had not seen in thirteen years. He quickly looked away in shame. I was no longer the young twenty year old, but a somewhat grizzled thirty-three year old. Through much testing by fire in my own journey, my heart burned for purity.
I was reminded of Ephesians 5:11-12, which reads:
I never saw him again, but I did once come across some of his waywardness online through his words on social media. He was clearly a deeply troubled man. A predator. Such predators use small talk about Jesus to garner trust from those who are seeking to feast upon words of “spirit and life” (John 6:63) that are from Jesus. They seek to prey upon those who are genuinely drawn to pray with purity before the Lord Jesus Christ.
First, if you have a pattern or a history of preying on others for your own fleshly gain regardless of the cost to others, you need to repent. It may be sexual in nature. It may be an entirely different reason. Control. Codependency. Regardless, you seek to take something for your gain at their expense. That is selfish. It is the antithesis of the very example of Christ. It stands in stark opposition to the example of the Cross. Such vainglory is fueled by demons that ultimately want “to steal, to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10) the lives of those it preys upon. You need to repent until you bear the fruit of purity in your life. It will require that you expose the darkness in your soul; otherwise, it will eventually expose you through its diabolical fruit.
Second, I want to extend the “healing balm” of Jesus to those who have been preyed upon. Thankfully in this moment all those years ago, I trusted the discernment of the Holy Spirit. Understandably each predatory situation is different. The Father is able to extend His redeeming love to you in this very moment. If you have never shared this incident with a trusted friend or mentor, please take the necessary steps to do so. Bring the painful, dark memories into the light so that you can experience firsthand the deep, unwavering love of the Father. Through Christ, you can experience a deep cleansing that cleanses you from past invasive defilement that leaves you continually feeling yucky, slimy, and dirty; in short, defiled.
The power of the Blood of Jesus Christ is more powerful than any chains of past defilement. Regardless of your story, the finished work of the Cross does provide the redemptive healing you need to experience today through Jesus Christ. Ask the Father to help you to forgive the predator. Forgiveness doesn’t condone what they have done; rather, it allows you to relinquish the predator and the situation into the hands of God. Such forgiveness positions you to receive the healing virtue of Christ. It frees you from the entanglement of unforgiveness so that you can move into freedom in Christ. It is not easy; but it is the best decision you can make.
Father, thank you that through Christ, there is hope, faith, and love that we can experience in you regardless of what we have gone through. I’m asking right now that you would touch the lives of those who have been preyed upon by predators. May today be their day to begin this journey of healing and redemption in your loving hands. I ask that the revelation of the Blood of Jesus Christ would fill their hearts afresh. Thank you that many redemptive stories will start a new chapter as a result of what you do through this post. In Jesus’ name, amen.