Sunday, June 13, 2010


The morning started hectic. With the missus leaving for a week on a business trip, and the dog still recovering from a post-operative infection, and the kids needing to be shuttled off to be with their grandparents, and worship, and a session meeting, it was lining up to be a busy one.

I got to church with 50 minutes to get things prepped and copied and unlocked. Or, rather, I arrived at the entrance of the church in plenty of time. As I pulled up to the one entrance to our facility, there sat a battered SUV, parked perpendicular to the church entrance. Some bottles were set out on the ground in the drive, making for a makeshift barricade. I rolled to a stop, and walked over to the SUV, in which sat a young Korean man who'd visited our church on a variety of occasions before. He's a creative guy, but is living with mental illness that is likely exacerbated by substance abuse. Oh no, thought I. This is not good. We'd had a few long conversations before. I asked him what was going on.

He informed me that there would be no worship today, and that he was going to prevent anyone from entering "the building that is the gateway of Hell." I asked him to move. He refused, instead getting out and putting his body in the only place where a vehicle might possibly squeeze by. I asked again, calmly, letting him know that if he didn't, I would need to call the cops. Not budging.

So I put in the call, and spent the next five minutes or so trying to persuade him to move along peaceably. He wouldn't, instead going on long rants about being Legion and about how God had instructed him to insure that worship never happened again. Worship is evil, he insisted. It's monstrous, a sign of the end of things, and it was forbidden. He'd clearly had some sort of major event in the last week, and was more agitated than I'd ever seen him. Still, I hoped I could get him to move on before law enforcement arrived. No dice. He'd alternate between almost acquiescing, and then suddenly becoming angry, raising his voice, eager to bring about confrontation as evidence of his role in the great conflagration he was convinced was about to begin at my tiny little church.

When the cops showed, things gradually deteriorated. Law enforcement in Montgomery County is as professional as they come, and they calmly tried to talk him into leaving.

He was first incoherent, and then disrespectful. Neither are good things to be around cops, and when they began to press, he became agitated, challenging the officers to arrest him...or to shoot him. Fortunately, they only did the former.

I stuck around for a while, then scrambled into the church to get things going. I felt like crap. The arresting officer came in with my copy of a form, and we talked for a bit. "I know you try to have patience with people like that in your line of work," he said. "But we can't afford to have patience." "You're running a business here," he said. "You can't have someone disrupting your business, and making sure that doesn't happen is our job." I felt even more like crap.

It's hard for a pastor to charge someone with trespassing.


  1. Any concerns he will come back next week and be more violent?

  2. @ Anon: He has not expressed any desire to inflict harm. I did not at any point feel I was in physical danger yesterday. But he was in a different mindstate yesterday than I'd previously experienced. The delusions had always been there, but he'd not been seeking confrontation.

    So, yes, those concerns are there. The trespass citation forbids return for a 12 month period...but this is meaningless unless he's getting the proper care.

  3. Don't feel too bad, you gave him a fair chance to move on and it's possible there wasn't much you could do to convince him otherwise. Hopefully the police got him access to treatment although I know that's not always the case.

  4. Sorry to hear about this. The mentally ill are a difficult population to work with. Don't beat yourself up over this one. Here's praying he can connect with the right resources and get some help, especially for any substance abuse as this only aggravates the issues he's already dealing with.

    God bless you, brother. You did what you could.