Volume 17 Issue 1
Jaimen Ortiz was walking down the street in Arlington, Virginia when he saw that two small children were playing around an open window on the second floor of an apartment building. He did a double take and noticed that one of the girls was clinging to the ledge. This launched a miraculous series of events. Ortiz jumped the fence and ran toward the building as if propelled by some force. He said, at the moment, without even thinking, I jumped the fence and ran toward the window. So, basically, by the time I was able to get to the wall, the girl was falling and I was able to catch her if I had delayed one more second, I would have missed her.
In a recent ceremony, Mr. Ortiz was recognized for his actions, and it was further noted that as a young man of 13 or 14 in Guatemala, he once jumped into a river to save a women who was drowning. During the ceremony Ortiz commented, if you think about all the opportunities people have in their everyday, busy lives when they see something strange, you know they make the decision to walk away or to do something.” He continued, “In this case, a man saved a little girl’s life.”
I was struck by this story from the Washington Post, (December 13, 2006) and could hardly get it out of my mind for some reason. Maybe it was the remark that Mr. Ortiz made about how one can make the decision to walk away or to do something. We all see so many things today that shocks, saddens, disappoints, and concerns us about the condition of the world, about the carnality and worldliness in the Church. Will we walk away? Turn our heads? Do we think that someone else will come along and jump the fence? Maybe someone else will save the day, save the children, save the future.
If you and I can see the good people of faith, anointing, holiness, and doctrinal commitments clinging onto the ledge, what will we do? If people are caught in a flood of criticism from success driven Christian profiteers, who see anything objective as being a hindrance to progress, then someone better jump the fence, dive into the raging stream of confusion and make a rescue. Now.
When Pentecostalism was emerging from Azusa Street at the turn of the last century, the main line denominational churches laughed it off. They dismissed it as a populist religious blip that would soon be forgotten. They were wrong, however, proving again that the best and the brightness can miss the moment. They can and often do misread the mail. Today Pentecostalism is the only real force in Christianity. The decline of the mainstream of Protestantism is thought by many to be irreversible.
But here’s the point. We Pentecostals ourselves can miss the significance of today’s events. We can fail to act; fail to see danger or opportunity. Either we are frozen by shock, retreating into some sort of cliquish complaint committee or we become, as Jesus put it in Luke 21:34 Overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.
A we just don’t care attitude runs rampant through society. This determination to just let it all unfold is like being brain dead. We cannot shrug off the waning respect for the Bible, the smirking attitudes toward holiness, the lack of respect for authority, the disregard for elders, the passion for the robes of academia at the cost of Apostolic doctrine. When the children of our generation are clinging to the ledges, having played too carelessly at open windows of worldliness, then we must jump the fence now. We must reach out now, the baby is falling. As Mr. Ortiz said, we either walk away or we do something.