Growing up in East Cobb, my neighborhood was awesome. There was a small group of us kids that played together every day. The streets were safe, the people friendly and every parent maintained a watchful eye.
There was, however, this one house. All of us were terrified of it, and naturally so, since it was haunted. The thing just sat there, day in and day out, looking all creepy-like. The property was sunken in as if the land was forming a moat around it. Lights were never on. Cars were never in the driveway. It just seemed to us like nothing good was going on inside.
There were many days that we spent hiding out in the lawns across the street from this house, just hoping to get a glimpse of the would-be-freaks that must live inside.
“And all the people were amazed.” - NIV
Who is the first person in the Gospels whom Jesus commissions to be a witness of His mercy? A disciple who trained with Him for years? A seminarian, or converted Pharisee perhaps? No, it was a Gerasene demoniac: The man in whom a legion of evil spirits dwelt. A beastlike creature with superhuman strength that lived among the tombs. Some could say, the village sideshow.
Children would have been warned by their mothers to stay away, but like us, they probably went anyway lurking in the distance to catch a glimpse of the unusual. He was the equivalent of the modern day haunted house, the village enigma who defied explanation.
This man, after one encounter with Jesus, begged to become a disciple, but Jesus said no. The Son of God called this man to be a missionary to his hometown that was so afraid of him…and yet, “all the people were amazed.”
We often think that we need years of preparation and experience before we are useful to God. We don’t. We often think that God needs His witnesses to have sterling reputations. He doesn’t. All that’s required is this: An encounter with Jesus and the will to tell about it.
It’s that simple.