I’m sure the campfire would burn long into the night if it was surrounded by youth workers sharing stories of the risky, dangerous, and downright stupid things they had done over the years. . . all in the name of ministry. I know I could keep a campfire burning for days with the litany of stories recounting my own stupidity. There were those famous electric chairs, snow-tubes tied to the rear bumper of my car, and a whole lot more. And if I had stayed in local church ministry rather than starting CPYU back in 1991, my list of stuff would be even longer. Not only that, it might have caught up to me as a shift has been made into a more dangerous and litigious culture.
The big youth ministry story here in our central Pennsylvania world is one that features a grand jury indictment handed down last Friday against the Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church in nearby Middletown, and 28-year-old youth pastor Andrew Jordan, who’s been charged with false imprisonment and simple assault.
In a nutshell, here’s what happened:
Andrew and his youth ministry team decided back on March 21 to devote a Wednesday evening youth meeting to an experiential learning opportunity about missions and the persecution some missionaries face in countries opposed to the Gospel. While the students were meeting, the room went dark and men with flashlights entered the room. Reporter Bernard Harris describes what happened next: “They flipped over chairs, ordered the teens to the floor, covered the teens’ heads with pillow cases and bound their wrists with zip ties. The teens were led into the back of a cargo van and driven around before being taken to a windowless, unfinished basement. Once there, the pillowcases were removed. They saw one of their captors holding an assault rifle. Nearby, behind a tarp, the teens overheard the men interrogate their youth pastor. They used power tools to torture him and, when they brought him before the teens, there was blood on his face. But the blood, like the entire incident, was fake. The teens were led to a bonfire where they were told the exercise at the Glad Tidings Assembly of God was intended to show the persecution endured by Christians in other parts of the world.”
While some of the kids figured out that what was happening wasn’t real, others were deeply traumatized. . . which led to one mother reporting the event to law enforcement authorities. Now, Jordan and his church are facing the possibility of some rather severe penalties, which could include a prison sentence.