Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Was The Gadfly Project Vandalism?

According to Pastor Eddie Romero (the Gadfly himself) the answer is yes. Mr. Romero visited our community house Monday, and I had a chance to talk with him about his experience protesting in China. I also had the chance to ask him about people's argument that his hotel room transformations were vandalism, and therefore not a Godly act. There have been a number of people, some of them very close to me, questioning Romero's methods and intentions. Of course I believe that questioning is a very important right that every person should have. While I never questioned Romero's motives or the cause, I did have my questions about his actions. How are a bunch of murals on hotel walls going to free people from prison camps and convince China to ratify the ICCPR covenant? Would the Chinese government even notice? Are the complaints about this being vandalism correct? Shouldn't we be more focused on the lives and rights of our brothers and sisters in China? The more I thought/wrote about it, the more I supported the project and the methods it contained. It was more of a gut feeling though, rather than head knowledge. I wanted to fully understand the choices he and his team made.

When I asked him what he would say to those Christians who disagree with what he did, Pastor Eddie mentioned the story of the paralytic in the beginning of Mark chapter 2. Jesus was teaching in a house owned by a local. A large crowd gathered to hear Jesus speak. The house was so crowded that you couldn't get in. Four men heard that Jesus was in town so they brought their paralyzed friend to be healed by Christ. They loved their friend so much that when they saw they wouldn't be able to get in the house they became desperate. They knew Jesus could heal their friend so they had to do whatever it took to get him inside. As illegal as it sounds, the four friends tore a hole in the roof of that house and lowered their friend down to Jesus. Romero explained, "Probably by every society's standards these guys acted illegally. All they knew was that they had to get their friend healed, and they were willing to do whatever it took to get him to Jesus. When Jesus looked up and saw them tearing a hole in this other guy's roof he didn't say, 'Hey! You guys can't do that!' No! Jesus commended those men for their extraordinary faith. I'm just one of those four friends desperately trying to get my friend healed."

Pastor Eddie also mentioned how Jesus cleansed the temple by throwing the tables over. The mention of that story also reminded me of the legalistic Sabbath laws that Jesus broke. It's true that complete disregard for man's laws are not a Godly quality for a person to have. There are times, though, where a believer must have more regard for God's higher law. Sometimes this regard calls us to be counter culture, and call attention to it when that higher law is being broken.

In my opinion, Mr. Romero's actions in Beijing were of civil disobedience. He told me that breaking the law was the point, and that he willingly turned himself in to the police once the Olympics were over. Romero voluntarily subjected himself to Chinese law much like Christ subjected Himself to the law and allowed Himself to be crucified. Efforts were even made to pay those two hotels for the damage. Every effort was made to respect the people of China. It was out of love for the Chinese people that Eddie risked everything. Pastor Romero went on to say, "If you want to call what I did vandalism- go ahead. It was vandalism." It was that vandalism that made the world take notice of the injustice going on in China. The mask that authorities in China tried to put on for the world was shattered even if just for a moment. News groups all over the world reported on the lack of religious freedom in China when Pastor Eddie "morphed" those rooms. They continued to report on it while he hid in China. These issues were brought to light yet again when he turned himself in and was deported back to the States. Awareness was raised, Eddie did everything God asked of him, and now it's time to wait for God's next set of instructions. Mission accomplished... so far.

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