by Pastor Blake Cromwell
The Elephant Man is a film based on the true story of John Merrick. If you have seen the movie you know why John Hurt was nominated for an Academy Award for his part in playing the disfigured on the outside but beautiful on the inside, Merrick. You see, John was afflicted by a rare disease that caused tumors to grow all over his body.
Throughout the movie Merrick is tormented by his fellow human beings. We watch as he travels as the main attraction in a circus freak show. The film’s director shows us life through the eyes of Merrick. Women and children scream in horror at his grossly deformed body. Others laugh and mock him as if he is beyond feeling.
Doctor Frederick Treves is introduced to John Merrick and begins to uncover the hurting man trapped in this terrible cycle of abuse. The intervention of the doctor is a touch of heaven in a man’s personal hell. A permanent home in a London Hospital is provided for John. The Doctor and his friends begin to pour into Merrick the gift of unconditional love and a transformation begins before their very eyes.
The Elephant Man is a tremendous film, yet it is difficult to watch. Each time I watch it I am moved emotionally and I cannot help but reflect at this modern day parable. It is a parable about how we should reach out to the scores of John Merricks that are all around us who are scarred emotionally and relationally. My passion as a Christian is that we all would help others discover that everyone has personal dignity and purpose in the person of Christ.
I want to commend those churches in the Kings County that are opening their doors to meet the practical needs of people in our community. These churches view their services as places that people can find shelter from the rejection and disdain of others. Churches that are bonded together not by common race or wealth or social status, but bonded together by the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the common goal to help others know Christ.
Thank God for Beans and Rice in the Park that New Beginnings Church provides every week. Thanks for the Soup Kitchen that is there every day and is provided by the Episcopal Church. Thanks for the tutoring program for students struggling with literacy provided by our friends at the First Presbyterian Church. For the Champions Recovery Program provided by Sue Braz for those overcoming alcohol and drug addiction, and for the numerous programs provided for the needy by Jerry Bloom at the Salvation Army.
Many of these churches and others offer life skill programs: classes for parents, for those in grief, for those struggling with emotional problems, for managing finances, for those going through divorce, for overcoming sexual abuse, and just about any other problem present in our community.
Thank you to the churches in the Kings County who are rising to the challenge to meet the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of our hurting world. All of these (and there are many I am not aware of) are expressions of a touch of heaven to the personal hell many are experiencing today.
If you would like to help provide that touch of heaven in someone’s life, why don’t you volunteer at one of the many programs available in our community.