I stood on the land which once was owned by Jim Bakker. Its a vast land that is beautifully landscaped and new houses are being built. I could still see the remnant of its former glory when Jim Bakker developed it as a theme park with hotel facilities and other amenities. Many retirees bought houses with the understanding that eventually a Christian community will be developed. Many Christians in America particularly those in Charlotte gave generously to fulfill Jim Bakker's dream of a Christian center that will be a blessing to the city and the nation. Jim Bakker's dream turned out to be a nightmare. He was imprisoned, his wife Tammy Bakker left him, his son became wayward. His whole life and ministry collapsed. In his book "I was wrong", Jim Bakker regretted preaching the gospel of prosperity. In his own confession he knew that it is not the correct doctrine. He had since been released from jail. His prodigal son came back to God. In his lowest moment, many Christian leaders deserted him. But Billy Graham and Ruth stood by him. They embraced his brokenness. On the day of his release from imprisonment, they brought him to their church and Ruth was seated beside him. It was a very healing moment for Jim Bakker.
The 2000 acres land was once called "Heritage." But there was no trace of any heritage being left behind, what remains are trails of broken lives, wounded hearts and anger. Many Christians felt they had been cheated of their money. They felt deep sense of betrayal. Christian testimony was destroyed and Christian community worldwide became a laughing stock when CNN, Time Correspondence carried the news of defrauding.
My host Ruth who few years ago served in the county of North Carolina was involved in the case. She was instrumental to get the different counties to link up the trails across the land for public usage. The Heritage land criss-crosses across few counties and its 300 acres of land is located in the flood plain. The Northern Carolina county wanted that portion to be set apart as a trail and park with rivers serving as a natural dam in the event of flood. Jim Bakker had sold it to Jerry Falwell who in turned sold it to MUI chairman, Datuk Khoo Kay Peng. The Malaysian Christian tycoon became the rightful owner of the land. This land with hotels, houses and other properties were later sold to some American developers. Ruth and her husband Ken were excited when they discovered that I am a Malaysian. They asked whether I know Datuk Khoo or not. I told them that I knew the man (Vice President of MUI) who was sent to manage Heritage many years ago is a good friend of mine. He had since left his job and became a pastor. Ruth narrated the story of how she heard the voice of God telling her to ask the owner of the land to give back 300 acres to the public and used it as a trail and park. Ruth wasn't sure who is the rightful owner of the land now. But the present developer refused to give it to the county.
Ruth and I stood on the soil adjacent to the chapel and we prayed for God's healing to be upon the land. I felt that restitution ought to be done. The Christian owners should return part of the land (300 acres) to be used for the interest of the public since the land was initially purchased with money from public donation.
Just as we were about to leave the place, we saw a car pulled over and an immaculately dressed young man came out from his car headed to the chapel. We thought he went there to pray. Ruth sensed that God wanted her to talk to the man. She hesitated, wasn't sure whether its the right thing to do. I told her she should obeyed the voice of God prompting her. As we talked to the young man, it turned out to be a situation of divine appointment. He is a real estate agent. His boss was the one who acted as the broker selling the land to Datuk Khoo. He could arrange Ruth to meet his boss to ascertain who is the actual owner of the land so that Ruth could proceed to ask that person to donate the land to the county for public use.
I suggested to Ruth that the Christian community should invite Jimmy Bakker back to Charlotte to make public confession to ask the Christian community to forgive him. The Christian owner should give back part of the land to the public to be used as a trail and park as a form of restitution on behalf of Jim Bakker. The land can be healed. The community can be healed when justice and mercy is done.
"Pastor Wong, you are an angel sent by God." Ruth commented in all seriousness. I nearly freaked out by the whole event. I was supposed to stay with Ian. He put me to stay with his church members, Ken and Ruth. And they believed that God has sent me to their house to resume the unfinished business. God spoke to Ruth several years ago when she was serving in the county. She had the nagging thought (restlessness) that God wanted her to accomplish his purpose -that the name of Christ be honored and glorified through righteous actions.
Do I believe in divine appointment? I bet you.
My devotion this morning reads:
"Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be" (Psalm 139:16).
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Eph 2:10)