Witnesses in a Parking Lot
I stood in a parking lot surrounded by the faces of friends. These were the friends who had been able to hold the depth of my sadness and the intensity of my anger after my realization that a man who had been one of my most significant spiritual mentors and best friends had also been my abuser. I had invited these friends to this parking lot to be witnesses.
When I was 14, I had stood in that same parking lot with my abuser-turned-friend-turned-spiritual-mentor. The day leading up to that moment had been amazing, and we capped it off with a cigar in this parking lot before heading back to his college dorm room, just the two of us, where he would supply me with enough wine coolers to get me drunk.
Much was stolen, killed, and shattered for me that night.
This past June it was time for me to go back to that parking lot to mark all that Jesus was redeeming, buying back, from that moment and that relationship. In the past, I would have only been willing to enter a space like that on my own. MAYBE I would have invited my wife, Meghan, but relationships had felt dangerous and too vulnerable even before I understood the nature of the abuse in my story. Yet, I knew this time needed to involve others and, because of steps I had already taken into Brotherhood, I was willing to invite these friends to this parking lot to stand as witnesses of the loss and of the redemption.
These friends joined me witnessing with their eyes and ears as I looked Evil in the eye and spoke out loud that Jesus bought back what was stolen, He gave life to what was killed, and He rebuilt what was shattered. These friends witnessed with their mouths as they recited a liturgy I wrote. They witnessed with their senses as we smoked Liga Privada cigars, letting the smoke rise to heaven as a symbolic buying back what was taken.
That night didn’t bring full healing; I still bear scars of the abuse. But I’m becoming more fully convinced that this life between Genesis 3:6 and Revelation 21 is meant to be lived with brothers and sisters who can stand as witnesses to the tragedy and struggle that we daily live through. It is our heritage to stand as witnesses while we wait on Jesus, “I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34).
Standing as witnesses of the pain and redemption of another is the way we stand arm-in-arm in defiance against the tidal wave of Evil.
My friends who stood as witnesses in the parking lot are my altar (Joshua 22:34) reminding me that the LORD is still God. They are witnesses of my redeemer who brought me under His cloak of protection (Ruth 4:9). They are evidence of redemption in my life, trusting relationships in a place where relationship was violated. And those friends remind me that Jesus is still redeeming what was stolen, killed, and shattered, and they are a part of Psalm 27:13 to me, “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!”
What about for you? What significant moments in your life can you invite brothers and sisters to stand as witnesses?
Kevin Armstrong | Director of Legacy Partnerships