Sanctuary San Diego

“I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here I am; here I am’ to a nation that was not called by My Name.”

Isaiah 65:1, NKJV

Sanctuary is not what you would expect. We are a fellowship of Christian misfits – a spiritual alternative for the disenfranchised. Our focus is currently directed at the gothic/industrial sub-culture, but we are here for anyone seeking Sanctuary and looking for answers in a big, dark universe.

Online Since June 1, 1999 – Last Updated: Oct 8, 1999 – Only 84 days until the year 2000

The Ministry

The Messages

What Is Sanctuary?

Sanctuary is a Christian ministry for the music underground. We are on a mission to reach out to disenfranchised youth caught up in the most obscure musical subcultures. Sanctuary, San Diego primarily focuses on those in the gothic and industrial music scene, but we are open to anyone into alternative, punk, metal, techno and/or the Lollapalooza crowd. As we watch these kids embrace the message of nihilism and hopelessness in their music and their culture, we realize that there is a great need to enter the underground and offer a message of hope and freedom.

Sanctuary is also a church to meet the spiritual needs of anyone honestly seeking the truth about God for their lives. In addition to cyberspace, we meet in homes throughout San Diego. If you live in the San Diego area, you are welcome to join us any Sunday afternoon at our primary meeting place — the home of Pastor Dave and his wife, the lovely Velva. (Feel free to e-mail any of us for times and directions to the meetings in the San Diego area.)

Messages From Pastor Dave

Gothic Gunman? A Response to Columbine

Most of you probably heard/saw the devastating news about the shootings in a Colorado high school today. There seems to be a great deal of confusion still about just who these kids were that did the shooting – were they Goths? Gays? Racists? Manson fans? Computer geeks? [I have sent Brian Healy/Dead Artist Syndrome’s take on the confusion in a separate email post.] My own take is the latter – they simply spent TOO much time on the Net learning how to build pipe bombs and back-pack bombs, etc. to be real goths. (And I have already said so on a couple of local radio and TV interviews.) Still the “Trenchcoat Mafia” is being seen as primarily gothic. And that may create some distress for all of us. As if goths didn’t experience enough harassment and singling out, now we have this image to live down.

So let me offer a couple of thoughts:

First, people need to find out what a real goth is really like. [I’m waiting for the toxicology reports and more interviews to reveal their favorite music before I make any final assessment of who these kids were, but I don’t believe these guys were real goths. I believe they were bright, computer geek wanna-be’s; they didn’t have the personality to be a true goth.] Goths are usually intellectual, artistic, and articulate. They are into art, poetry, and music. They are passive, introspective, and can be dramatically emotional. They can also be too self-absorbed, brood to a fault, and they internalize everything (even things that have nothing to do with them!) As a group and as a rule, goths take their stress and pain out on themselves, not on others – cutters, piercers, slicers – suicide addicts – they will beat themselves up in their guilt and their sorrow to prove how real their pain is. They are some of the most creative, interesting, wonderful gifted people I have ever met, and some of the most troubled. I know these generalizations don’t fit everyone exactly, but as a group, these characterizations mostly hold true in my experience. And I know these are entirely flattering portraits, but it is an honest assessment, and these are not killers.

Second, I think that we need to do some things as a Christian gothic community. We need to dispel the rumors about goths with the truth. Be honest about who you really are. For those of us who believe it is effective and important, we need to pray for all the kids and their families, those who lived and those who died. We need to pray for what remains of the “Trenchcoat Mafia”. We need to pray for goths in high schools across the country that they will be able to endure any backlash that may occur in the next few weeks. We need to pray that there will be no backlash, no witch hunt.

Now more than ever, we need to find courage and give courage to one another. We need to be prepared to expect and face more derision. We need to apply the principle of turning the other cheek, in a very real way. We need to be prepared to leave vengeance in the hands of God. We need to be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks us – an answer about who we are as goths and why, and about who we are in Christ (for those of you who are IN Christ). We need to practice the character of Christ in all our dealings, in faith, not fear.

Finally, we need to take this opportunity to go the extra mile. We need to explain how Christ, not nihilism, is what prevents us from turning into the Trenchcoat Mafia. We need to share the love of Christ with other goths who may be caught in the back-lash – in comfort, in courage, in love, indeed. We need to share the hope that is in us, so others will know who He is. In time, the gunmen will be forgotten. But it is an opportunity to bring the gothic community to a Christ that will never forsake us.

In The Aftermath of Littleton

I think it’s safe to say that the traumatic events at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado have left most of us stunned. As we pull out of shock, we are going to hear a host of opinions and accusations and assessments and blame.

The fingers are already pointing at violence in entertainment, the lack of adequate gun legislation, an unprepared school system, indifferent parents, racism, the neo-Nazi movement and the NRA. And let’s not forget God, the devil, and good old-fashioned sin. Soon we will leave behind the legitimate search for answers, and settle for revenge and payback through the accepted channels of courtroom suits and counter-suits, and it will all boil back down to money. And probably, we will even legally molest and abuse and traumatize these children all over again in the courtrooms, excused by our desperate attempt to find closure.

Who’s to blame? Everyone? No-one? Frankly, for all my experience with the youth of America over the past three decades, I’m not sure I have any satisfactory answers. I am seeing a couple of things as the dust settles and the chaos starts to clear. Perhaps these observations will help fill in some of the holes:

GOTH is going to be forever changed. I spent the better part of that tragic week doing interviews for radio, TV, and newspapers. I answered questions as best as I could, trying to be a voice of peace and reason in a maelstrom of angry accusations. I tried to tell people that the gunmen were NOT gothic, and most of the true goths I know were bright, talented, young people who could never perpetrate something like this. But after all was said and done, it’s a moot point.

This tragedy has put the gothic sub-culture in the public eye in a way that not even a year of Manson’s “Anti-Christ Superstar” tour could. It can no longer remain an underground phenomenon. We have been “outed,” brought to the surface, and thrust into the mainstream, whether we like it or not. Gothic is going to move from sub-culture to culture. It will become much broader and more inclusive than it started out to be. All things dark and black will now be labeled gothic. Anyone singing sad songs in a black dress will automatically become gothic.

You may doubt me, but you need to remember back to a time (if you can) before 1984, when heavy metal was just an obscure and extreme corner in the world of rock music. But after the success of Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and Van Halen – Heavy Metal WAS rock music. The same thing is about to happen to Goth, only this time, the changes are being born out of tragedy, rather than success. There’s no going back. The gothic/industrial community will just have to learn to accept the inevitable.

What does this mean for us? For awhile it means that goths will be under a level of scrutiny, often accompanied by an animosity, they have not been accustomed to. (Oh, joy! Even more mockery and abuse!) But after awhile the culture will adapt, as it always does, and gothic will become a cool cultural phenomenon copied by un-goths to show they’re “hip”. And some people will get rich, especially movies stars and musicians. For Christians, perhaps it means an era in which gothic/industrial music and ministry will become more acceptable to the public; and perhaps some gothic version of Calvary churches will offer synthesized worship like incense.

Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe not. In any case, it will push the true underground even deeper. The expressions and fashions of the dis-enfranchised will turn and twist a little bit more and some strange, new sub-culture will strangle hundreds and thousands of young people before we can reach them with the message of hope. It makes our job a little bit harder. Someone will have to start all over again learning a new culture, a new language, a new music, a new mind-set. I wonder how much time we have?

Reaching the Trenchcoat Mafia. For some time now, I have been crying out in the wilderness: “We must reach the underground. We must win the Marilyn Manson generation.” Although these young men were not gothic, they were part of the Marilyn Manson generation. While I would never say that the entertainment media make kids do dangerous things, it certainly contributes to the cultural atmosphere, mind-set and world-view that makes inconceivable acts like this conceivable in the minds of angry and anguished adolescents like these.

There is no excuse for what these young men did, but there are reasons. We’ll hear much about where the blame lies. People will point fingers at the NRA and the internet, violent video games and neglectful parents. But basically it all boils down to relationships. Like so many killers before them, these were isolated, insulated young men. They were on the fringe of a fringe group with the distancing, intimidating reputation of the Trenchcoat Mafia – wanna be Terminators, living in a fantasy world.

We all need key relationships with stable individuals in our lives to provide touch-stones for our wandering imaginations (Gen. 6:5, 8:21). This is especially true of adolescents. Where were the touch-stones for these young men? Apparently, it was not their parents. Nor have I heard clear reports of a teacher who tried to be that special bridge. How did the Christians on campus respond to these young men? Where were the brave souls who had an aching heart for the disenfranchised, the hurting, the misfits?

Despite all its self-professed cheer-leading, the Church has been retreating for some time now. Perceiving the world to be too dangerous, they have drawn back from the deserts and the outlands where people most need to be offered hope and Living Water. They have been busy building the walls of their holy cities higher and higher, happily singing “A Mighty Fortress is Our Church.” They have even withdrawn from the mainstream, hoping that politics will be a more safe and effortless weapon – although it is clearly not one of the weapons of our warfare (II Cor. 10:3-5; Ephesians 6). Like the Pharisees of old, the church is building barriers and denying entry to more and more of those who make them feel uncomfortable (Mt. 23:13, 15).

And yet, this is our destiny – to reach the unreachable; to search the highways and byways, inviting the poor and disreputable to a feast of His Love (Luke 14:16-24). Where are those with the eyes of God to look past the scary masks and the intimidating titles and see the hearts that are torn apart in fury and failure? Where is the true Remnant that realizes it will always be dangerous to do Christianity right – but are going to do it any way? Where are the brave souls who will say, “Here am I. Send me!”? (Isaiah 6). Where are the Christian warriors who will leave the safety of the City to spend their lives for their Lord? We can no longer cling to the old banner of “Come and see….” We must once again rally around the battle cry of “Go, therefore…”(Mt. 28:19).

The Last Days. The story is told that one of the gunmen stood in the library and screamed “Does anyone in here believe in God?” Out from under the desks where all her friends were cowering, Cassie Bernall, shaking but resolved, stood up and professed her faith in God. The gunman was reported to have screamed, “Why?” as he shot her dead on the spot. Cassie Bernall was an American martyr. To the best of my knowledge, she was the first Christian to die on American soil, specifically for declaring her faith, in almost 200 years. I do not believe she will be the last.

It would appear that we may well be in the Last Days, indeed. For the spirit of Lawlessness will grow until the Man of Lawlessness is revealed. And the Spirit that restrains him and his time seems to already be withdrawing (II Thess. 2:6-8). Does it not seem that we are in the beginning of the time of sorrows (Mt. 24)? What can we do in these dark times?

I believe that the Christian gothic/industrial community has been called for such times as these. Who else is more prepared to deal with dark days and painful times? You are a tribe of poet/priests and poet/warriors called to fight the darkness you know so well. Like Stryder and the Norther Rangers in “The Lord of the Rings,” you will be used to fight the shadows of fear and terror in the dark forests and murky swamps which lie outside the boundaries of the land of the Hobbits. Those Hobbits may never understand or appreciate the work you are called to do and the sacrifices God calls you to – but we do not fight the good fight for their approval. We do it because we already have His.

So what can do in these dark times? Be who you are. Be confident in your unique calling. You are a chosen tribe, a holy nation of priests (I Pet. 2:9) and a peculiar people (special treasure) (Exod. 19:5; Deut. 14:2) of a Holy (unique, special, set-apart) God. Be imitators of Christ. Look in the mirror. Surrender the weights (of fear, bitterness, the past, the pain) that hold you down (Heb. 12:1-4), and walk in His way. Do not forsake the fellowship of like-minded believers. Read the Word. Walk the Word. Remember where you came from. Come along side the misfits and the disenfranchised. Be ready to die: to your old life, to your dreams, to your glory, to your sin-nature, to this world, to this body. Remember it’s all going to burn. Remember that our suffering will not last forever. Live to hear these words and these words alone: “Well done good and faithful servant” (Mt. 15:21, 23).

pastor dave
Sanctuary, San Diego

Marilyn Manson Profile

MARILYN MANSON is not a girl. It is the name of a Florida-based industrial-noise band and the name of the band’s leader/singer. Like Manson (whose real name is Brian Warner), all of the original band members took stage names composed of the first name of a female superstar and the last name of a male serial killer — Twiggy Ramirez, Madonna Wayne Gacy, Daisy Berkowitz, and Sara Lee Lucas. It’s all a twisted attempt to say there is ugliness in the lives of the beautiful people and beauty in the mind of the mass murderer, and we all live somewhere in between (RIP, 2/95). (In 1996, Berkowitz and Lucas left the band, replaced by two players with less ominous names: Ginger Fish and Zim Zum.)

Everything else about this band is equally as twisted. Although labeled as KISS or Alice Cooper for the ’90s, Manson owes their image more to early gothic groups like Alien Sex Fiend. Their stage props have included shopping carts, live chickens, dice with all sixes, and a Lite-Brite that reads “Kill God.” Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails became enthusiastic about the band and signed them to his nothing record label. Their first album, Portrait of an American Family (1994), features such twisted tunes as “Cake and Sodomy,” “Dope Hat,” “Get Your Gunn” and “Wrapped in Plastic.” Images from their EP Smells Like Children, led to the rumor that Manson is a pedophile. It was their cover of the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams” that started gaining them national attention on radio.

The album AntiChrist Superstar (1996) took them out of the underground as it shot up to Number 3 on the Billboard charts (behind such mainstream artists as Celine Dion and Kenny G!). It is a concept album about personal and world-wide apocalypse. In this album, Manson portrays himself as a worm, who is constantly being told he will never amount to anything. In the end, he transforms into a dark angel and brings about the end of the world.

The concert tour promoting this album was equally dark and perverse. Manson comes out spitting lyrics, piercing the air with agonized shrieks. Looking something like a shrouded corpse in fishnet stockings, he gradually sheds his clothes, until he was down to nothing but a leather jockstrap. At the height of the concert, he magically reappears dressed in a coat and tie, behind a podium draped with a downward-pointing lightning bolt, designed to resemble a swastika. As the audience chants on cue with the song, Manson tears pages from a Bible and tosses them to the crowd. The concert hall begins to resemble a fevered Nazi rally led by Hitler himself. A real pipe organ, a snow machine, and a barrage of lighting effects add to the madness. During his hit single “Sweet Dreams,” he smashes a bottle and uses it to cut his chest. He closes the show with his habitual encore chant: “We hate love / We love hate.” The audience sways and writhes to the music, lifting their hands as if they were at a charismatic worship service. And in a way, they are.

Manson’s message is not obscure. It starts with T-shirts that say “Kill God…Kill Your Mom and Dad…Kill Yourself” and ones that proclaim Manson is the “God of F***”. There are shirts with the red shield of the Salvation Army which substitute the words, “The Satanic Army.” They were banned in Salt Lake City while on the Self-Destruct tour with Nine Inch Nails because of such material. Manson and Reznor protested together on stage by tearing up a Bible (LAT, 10/5/94). On the Antichrist Superstar tour, they sold T-shirts proclaiming: “When I’m God; everyone dies,” and “The world spreads its legs for Jesus Christ.” Perhaps the most insidious message is simply the T-shirt that simply says: “BeLIEve.” For Manson and his followers, life is the depressing realization that everything they were taught to believe is a lie.

“The message that I’m sending out to America is ‘raise your kids better or I’ll be raising them for you.’ I want to raise kids in truth and tell them that everything is a lie–there is no truth!” (RIP, 2/95). [Is that true, Marilyn? Are you sure you aren’t lying to us? How can we be sure?] Marilyn says the truth is a lie. God says the Truth will set you free (John 8:38). There is no middle ground here. As Amy Grant sings, you have to decide “who to and who not to listen to.”

Manson use androgyny, the occult, and sensationalism in a misguided attempt to say something profound about the confusion and hypocrisy of American life. Unlike White Zombie, Marilyn Manson’s posturing is not simply comic book Satanism calculated to perturb parents. They claim to have “a special place” in Anton Lavey’s organization (the Satanic Church of America), because of their power to sway today’s youth. Manson understands the more insidious side of Satanism. “I go by the attitude: ‘do what you will — that is the whole of the law’. [This is a direct reference to the supreme principle of the infamous occultist, Aleister Crowley.] Satanism is not about a devil. It’s about realizing, much like Nietzsche said, that you are your own god. I guess a word for it is ‘me-ism,’ because it’s a very selfish philosophy” (RIP, 2/95).

This is not a band that you can excuse with “I just like their music.” “I’m here to call Christian America on their bluff,” he says (Faces, 2/95). “Christianity is just another product, so you figure out which lie works best for you. That’s all they are–they’re all lies. Even if there is a god, that doesn’t mean you have to worship it. I believe in myself” (RIP, 10/95). Manson is on an apocalyptic mission: “Each age has to have at least one brave individual that tried to bring an end to Christianity, which no one has managed to succeed yet, but maybe through music, we can finally do it” (Metal Edge, 7/96). “Hopefully, I’ll be remembered at the person who brought an end to Christianity” (SPIN, 6/96).

Parents from “normal” circumstances are pretty bewildered about why any kid, especially a kid raised in a Christian environment, would find Manson appealing. He seems to glorify ugliness, and pain and anger and destruction and all the things that are wrong with the world. You only have to hang around in these circles for a little while, however, before you begin picking up on the shame and the pain that many of these kids feel. I have heard stories about kids being raped on the playground, fiancee’s being shot a week before their wedding, divorce, suicide, verbal, physical and sexual abuse coming from parents, step-parents, foster-parents, neighbors, and yes, even church people. These kids have experienced trauma, neglect and abuse from the very people who were supposed to care for them and protect them from such things. Is it any wonder they feel ugly, ashamed, hurt, and confused?

But just because kids really identify with Manson, does not mean that Manson offers them a real solution to their pain. Manson’s solution lies in bitterness, rage, and revenge. His answer is to turn the tables and abuse the abusers; to bring the world down on the heads of those who hurt him. But what he has failed to realize is that he is subject to the natural law of revenge. In the natural scheme, revolutionaries inevitably become just like the dictators they overthrew. Kids raised in abusive households become abusers. Those who live by the sword, die by the sword. Without God’s spiritual intervention, Manson and his followers will all become what they hate. Indeed, Manson is already becoming exactly what he hates. And I think he has begun to see it, but he just doesn’t know how to stop it.

The solution of the church seems to be to take a stand against evil by persecuting Manson. But I don’t see as much benefit in taking a stand.

The Madman

(Mark 5:1-20; Matthew 8:28-34; Luke 8:26-39)

by David S. Hart (Sanctuary’s Minister of the Goth-spell)

Shrieks of terror echo in the darkness, awakening me from my long nightmare – tortured voices crying out: babbling, blaming, threatening, seducing; hammering me with the weight of their horror. Ever insistent, I cannot stop the voices – even in the empty realization that I am utterly alone.

Tossed about by some unseen power, I am dashed and bashed upon the broken bones and crumbling rocks that litter my way; and I am cast headlong down the dark, dank corridors of the tomb that has become my life. Blood on the walls – my blood? The blood of the innocent? Or the unwitting sacrifice of those who are spillers of blood?

And what have I become? Am I victim or victimizer? Master or monster? Heartless bully or helpless child? I can no longer remember. The twilight explodes upon my numb awareness as I slowly emerge from the dark hole of my existence. And as I reel from this invasion on my senses, I strain to focus on the road that lays before me.

Oh, it is not my road! It is the pedestrian path of ordinary people on their way to the safe haven of home and hearth. I once wandered on that road, but I never quite found my way. Eventually my ‘irregularities’ and ‘abnormalities’ began to disturb the others. They said I had demons. They said I was no longer fit company for ‘polite’ society. They said I was a danger to myself and others.

So they put me off the path and cast me out of their precious paradise. At first they were content to simply drive me away with the sticks and stones of their taunts and stares. But I kept returning to mirror their morality. So they began to take stronger measures. They held me down and bound me with the chains of their ignorance and prejudice, and they beat me with the whips of their furious contempt.

And with each encounter, I was driven deeper into the twisted mazes and convoluted caverns of my brooding sanctuary. In lucid moments, I realize it is a refuge of my own choosing. I just can’t remember when, or how, my refuge became a prison.

Oh, they have never fully succeeded in keeping me in my place. I often break their bonds and invade their lives with a fury of my own, but they are far too many to conquer. I clearly bear the scars of their abuse, and the remnants of their chains drip from my limbs like steel tears from my iron-clad shackles.

I stumble toward the road again, but I cannot see my way. My foggy focus comes to rest on a Man – a single, solitary Man. He is plain, unremarkable. His simple tunic blends into the bleak desert until He is almost invisible. Except for His eyes. There is something about His eyes – a lively knowing – the opposite of all I have known: a strong humility; a vivacious peace; a winsome death, which He begs me to embrace.

Those eyes pierce me – driving great spikes of compassion deep into my soul. Struck by a fleeting sense of shame, I foolishly attempt to cover myself with the few tattered remnants of decency left to me. My strength fails me, and I fall at His feet. For a moment, I struggle at this involuntary act of worship. But I soon yield, for I am weary. Besides, I have bowed before a hundred idols less worthy. I rest. And for the first time in my murky memory, the voices are silent.

Suddenly, I feel the cold grip of deadly, greedy hands clutching at my soul; tearing at my being; ripping at me from the inside. What cruel joke is this, coming from those kind eyes? But from somewhere – nowhere – comes a quiet voice breaking in on my pain.

This clutching desperation is not of His making. It is the failing corpse of my madness, grasping for a final chance to remain in the uneasy comfort of its tortured familiarity. And in that moment I realize that I am free to embrace my madness, or sit in the blessed silence of His sanity. And I do not know if I should run, or remain….

And yet, I remain – for the horror of returning to the haunted prison of my past outstrips the fear of any future He might hold for me. And so I remain, sitting at His feet, bathing in the warmth of His graceful eyes, basking in the brilliance of His warm words.

And soon, they come. His friends. At first they are puzzled to see a madman sitting peacefully at His feet. And yet they are not entirely surprised, for they were once madmen in their own way. And I yearn to hear their stories, and rehearse a miracle of my own.

And so I remain. All that day and throughout the gentle night – listening, learning, drinking in the holy perfume of His presence. And at dawn, He rises to go. I cling to His bosom and beg Him to stay. But He is drawn in a way that cannot be dictated by any man’s whim. Fear clutches at my breast, as I ponder the necessity of returning to my empty tomb. But He assures me, that I need never return there again.

My road, He tells me, lies back toward the city. Those people? But they’re not worthy of such a gift! They are cruel and dull and spiteful, and….’Mad? Just as you were? Yes. All the more reason to go. All the more reason to tell the tale. For who should comprehend the freedom of a madman, better than a nation of madmen?’ And so I go. Into a new night. And the only voices I hear are His and mine.

Tattoo or Not Tattoo: That is The Question!!

It seems like parents are always arguing with their kids about the latest fashion. How long should they wear their hair? Or their skirts? How much is too much make-up? Why are
their jeans so tight? So low? So baggy? The latest fashion craze to drive parents crazy is the art of tattoos and body piercing. Why did you pick that design? How many earrings do you need in one ear? You want to pierce WHAT?!?!?

Although this trend is usually associated with the Lollapalooza crowd, I’ve been noticing that more Christians are getting into this youth culture craze. Is it alright for a Christian to get a tattoo? What kind? Is it okay for a guy to wear an earring? Should a Christian pierce his nose or belly button? Is it okay in some cases, but not in others? How do Christians make this decision?

It’s important that Christians think about what God wants for their lives and base their decisions on spiritual principles, rather than impulses and feelings. It’s important to think things through before you make a decision that may be with you for the rest of your life. Let’s look at this issue from both sides. First we need to ask, “Why in ‘the world’ do people want to get pierced or tattooed?” And can a Christian do this for the same reasons? And second, what does God think about this trend? Does the Bible have anything to say about the latest fashions?

What the World Says:
I hang out a lot in the rock and roll underground: concerts, clubs, and festivals. That’s my ministry. I hear kids talking about tattoos and body piercing a lot. It’s my observation that there are basically three reasons why they get a tattoo or body jewelry: 1) identification with today’s culture; 2) sexual enhancements; 3) the need for pain.

1. Most people in the first category say they are doing this for themselves, for the art, fashion, or decorative beauty. “I think it looks nice” or “It’s just me, right now” or even “I don’t know why — I just did it.” The truth is that when you adopt the current fashion, you are identifying with the current culture. Tattoos and body jewelry communicate a certain message. It may be specific, like a tattoo of a certain band. It may be more general — piercing your navel is a trend of Generation X, not some other generation or group. While they may not be aware of a specific reason (much of this is done on impulse), it often communicates a specific message.

Are these good enough reasons for a Christian? Not really. Christians don’t do whatever the world does just because “everybody’s doing it.” We are not trying to identify with this world, but identify with Christ. But what if the jewelry is Christian or the tattoo has a Christian message? Would that be okay? Perhaps we could justify a pierced ear with a cross earring. But what about a pierced nose, nose ring, pierced lips or tongues? At what point does this identify with a lifestyle other than Christianity?

2. The second reason the Lolloapalooza crowd is into piercing has to do with their sexual inclinations. This is the territory of the S&M (sado-masochism) and B&D (bondage and domination) crowds – pierced tongues, lips, septums, nipples and genitals are not just a fashion statement. It’s often a functional attempt to enhance sexual arousal through pain, humiliation, etc. Gross, huh? It’s hard to see Christians using this as legitimate reason for piercing.

3. A third reason for piercing is that some people identify so thoroughly with the hopeless nihilism of this generation, they have decided to embrace their pain. Some not only tattoo and pierce, but regularly mutilate and cut themselves, in order to feel the pain. For some it’s a rite of passage, for some it’s a rush, for some it’s a genuine need to punish themselves for a guilt they can’t get rid of.

Personally, I think a lot of this behavior is demonically driven and I’ve counseled enough “cutters” to know that this is true. It’s difficult to see how a Christian could use this as a rationale for piercing. (By the way, could the use of needles for drug ingestion also be a form of piercing?)

In this quick overview, it should be obvious to most of us that “the world” out there uses a lot of reasons to tattoo and pierce that just don’t work for Christians. Are there any reasons that do work for Christians? What about tattoos that say “Jesus Loves Me” or some Scripture? What about body jewelry with a cross or a dove? Would that be okay? Maybe. What does God have to say about this?

What God Says:

Piercing and tattooing is such a new trend, an old book like the Bible doesn’t seem relevant. And if God is silent on a subject, aren’t we basically left to our own decisions about such things? Ah, but God is not silent about this topic. For example, did you know that there is a biblical precedent for men wearing earrings? Let’s explore what God says about such things a little more closely.

In biblical times, slavery was not always a permanent condition. Slaves were often allowed to buy their freedom, or were simply given their freedom after a period of obligation had passed (in Israel, this was usually seven years). But some slaves developed such a loyal attachment (or bond) to their masters, they chose to stay in their service for the rest of their lives. To symbolize this choice, they would put their ear to a door and have their earlobe pierced with an awl. Then they wore an earring (usually gold) there, to proclaim that they were a
bond-servant by their own personal choice, rather than by circumstances beyond their control.

Paul says we’re all very much like those slaves. We are all born into the slavery of Sin (Rom. 3:23), but Christ bought our freedom from that slavery (Rom. 6:23). Paul was so grateful for his freedom, he chose to bond himself to his new Master for the rest of his life. This is why he refers
to himself as a bond-slave or bond-servant of Christ (Rom. 1:1). Perhaps you feel the same way. So this could be a biblical precedent for a Christian to pierce his ear. But before you run out saying, “It’s okay to pierce and tattoo whatever I want,” let’s look at a couple of other biblical conditions, first.

While you are free (John 8:36), you are not free to do anything you want to. Being a bond-slave of Christ comes with the obligation to serve Him by considering what He
wants, not just what you want. Galatians 5 and Romans 6 have a lot to say about the use and abuse of our freedom in Christ.

Besides, He’s the one who paid for your freedom. Your life is His now. In fact, you don’t even own your body. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, Who you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20, NAS). And there is also Peter’s advise to consider: “Let not your adornment be merely external – braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the site of God” (1 Peter 3:3-4, NAS).

So what does this mean? Am I free to get a tattoo or not? Certainly. You are free to decide, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be the best decision. “Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive” (1 Cor. 10:23). You are free to decide, but with that freedom comes obligation: an obligation to glorify God, to be honest with yourself, and to be a testimony before the world. The truth
is that there are some hard questions you should ask yourself, before you start poking holes in your body.

What’s your real motivation for getting a tattoo or a nose ring? Is it because it will make you look good? Because it’s fashionably cool? Or just because everyone else is doing it? Can you have (do you want) more than one piercing or tattoo? Does this identify you with Christ or with Generation X (or both)? If Christ was pierced on the Cross for our sins, is any other kind of piercing necessary for a Christian?

Lots of kids are getting tattoos of their favorite bands. Is that something you’re willing to live with for the rest of your life? (For instance, how many fans are still proudly displaying their “New Kids On The Block, Forever” tattoos?) Is it okay as long as it’s a Christian band? What if the band breaks up? What if they mess up? (Everybody sing: “What if I stumble? What if I fall?”) Does your tattoo say you value temporary things or eternal things?

Does a nose stud or lip ring decorate the temple or desecrate it? How will it glorify God? Your body is His residence now. How’s the house look? Have you mowed the lawn lately? Taken out the trash? Does the outside look be tter than the inside? Does the outside reflect what’s really on the inside?

What are you trying to say to those around you? Is this an act of defiance toward your parents or your church? Is it strictly for shock value? Is it simply an attention-getting devise? Do you have a legitimate ministry to those in the Lollapalooza nose-ring crowd? How will people’s idea of
Christ be affected by your choice?

There are no hard and fast rules here. Each Christian has to decide for himself what’s right before God. But just doing it because you feel like it isn’t really an option. It’s important to think these things through, “…taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5b). Christ sees things from the inside out. He knows your heart and your motives, even when you don’t. However, the world sees things from the outside in. What you do on the outside may help or hinder them in entering the Kingdom of God. This decision is about more than just looking cool. It could have consequences that last beyond the life of even the most permanent tattoo.

Notes to Pastors

from Pastor Dave Hart

PASTOR is a very special word to me, full of images of tender care and nurturing. It is a word that connotes warm relationships and heartfelt feelings. There is nothing plastic or insensitive about the Pastor. He is a people person, balanced in mind, heart, will, and touching others. Because he cares, we can trust‑and even hope‑that we can become a little more like the Good Shepherd ourselves.

There are many Godly people in the Kingdom, but not all of them are Pastors. Many have fine qualities to admire and emulate. Some have such consistent discipline and faith that we feel aware (and often ashamed) of our own spiritual poverty when we are in their presence. But they are not Pastors.

There are those who are focused on the Holiness of God. Too few Christians are truly overwhelmed with the vast Holiness of God ‑ His awesome power and His terrible purity. Fewer still desire to seek and know those qualities in Him. We are busy with our own puny lives, and if the truth be known, we almost always value our own comfort more than we value His Holiness. There are men and women in the Kingdom who honestly desire to see His Holiness (and hope to become more holy) more than anything else in the world. But these people are not Pastors. They may be monks. They may be mystics. They may have wisdom beyond their years. They may be truly righteous in their affairs. But they are not Pastors.

There are those who are consumed by the Word. They hunger to study and lift every nuance of every proposition and preposition in the Book. They seek to understand the universal verities and the microscopic details that make His Kingdom true. They wrestle with ways to integrate all of this knowledge into systems that make sense and bring order to a chaotic world. But these people are not Pastors. They may be scholars. They may be theologians. They may even be Pharisees. But they are not Pastors.

There are great Preachers and Teachers. They are able to speak the Truth in ways that people can grasp. They are masters at motivating the masses. They are elegant in expressing emotion. They are found on the great stages of the world. But they are not Pastors. They may be powerful prophets. They may be prolific Pulpit pounders. They may even be on TV. They may only be pretenders. But they are not Pastors.

There are great Managers. They construct great plans to accomplish great deeds for the Kingdom. They know how to get things done. Prolific producers, they often lead others to accom­plish more than they ever dreamed possible. But they are not Pastors. They may have monuments to their memory. They may be a pillar of progress. They may be the symbol of structure. But they are not Pastors.

Pastors are not alien to any of these qualities. But they are not absorbed by them. The one who is focused on Holiness often leaves humanity behind. They may become too heavenly-minded to be any earthly good. They are often perceived as untouchable, unreachable, un-relatable. For the Pastor, holiness is not an escape. He seeks holiness for the strength it brings him to heal an unholy world. He seeks God’s character to find the courage to complete his calling. He looks for Holiness because it’s the source of Love when his own love is used up.

Pastors can be scholars. They know the Word. They know what it says, and even more, they know what it means. But scholarship is often an escape, as well. Words and ideas are safer than people and feelings. Ideas can always be manipulated and managed until they suit us. People cannot. Jesus did not die for the truth. He was the Truth. He died for people. Scholars sometimes forget this. Pastors do not.

Pastors should be able to preach and teach. They have every desire to feed their flock with holy meat, life‑giving bread, and refreshing water. But pastors do not get lost in the power of the pulpit. They do not find their validation in their authority or their effectiveness to move the masses. They do not find their esteem in their eloquence, nor do they guarantee salvation in their sermons. Pastors are living sermons. They know the gospel is best communi­cated with working hands, aching hearts, and a caring presence.

Pastors should manage their flock. There are things that need to be done. There is order and peace and progress to be made. But Pastors do not confuse being efficient with being effective. People remain more impor­tant than programs. Service to God is not slavery to structure. Too often, management becomes a fortress to protect the church. And while nothing evil may get in, too often, nothing healing gets out. Pastors value freedom more than safety. They prefer the open field and the flowing stream. They would rather risk being vulnerable in the open, than suffer stagnation behind sealed walls. Pastors would rather move, and make mistakes, than be bound to a perfect system.

The Pastor is a shepherd. Above all, he seeks to be like the Great Shepherd in every way. He wants more than the robes of righteousness, the depths of discernment, the gift of eloquence, or the mastery of management. He seeks the mind of Christ, the heart of Christ, the character of Christ. He wants to offer Grace and Freedom and Healing as fully as it was offered. He wants to love as God loved ‑ deeply, completely, sacrificially. Not for reward in this world or the next. Not for the glory of men or of angels. Our joy is to be like Him. Our meat is to do His work. Our service is in expressing our gratefulness. Our joy is to help others fall in love with Him. There is no greater expression of faith than to live as a Pastor.

Messages from Associate Pastor Ed Carter

Can a Christian Be Gothic? (Pastor Ed’s response)

From the Old Sanctuary San Diego Site, circa 1997

This is a personal question to me, so I will address what being “gothic” means to me and why I have chosen to embrace this lifestyle. Let me start by explaining how and why I became a “goth.” I jokingly say that my dear friend Chase sired me to the “dark side,” because he was the first one to introduce me to this culture. I became “gothic” during a time of extreme sadness in my life. I was surrounded by others who were telling me to just be happy and I could not. I found solace in the dark sounds of Love and Rockets and Bauhaus. In the Cure, I found honesty of emotion, something I desperately needed.

When I became “saved” I noticed that while I had the “light of the world” in my life, I was still an outsider. I could not adapt to the cookie-cutter Christian model. Eventually, I discovered Sanctuary and truly found it the right place for my soul. Now I am a Shadow Dweller, lurking with a candle, holding it out to others, sharing the light and the love of God to those who are also living in the shadows.

It is hard to understand the real meaning of who/what a goth is if you are not a part of this scene. To me gothic is more than a fashion choice or a music preference. It is an attitude of how one views the world we live in. Some choose to look at life from a very shallow point of view, i.e., “life is one big party and fun is the big goal in life.” Others see it from a “yuppie” perspective, looking for their identity in their work, money, possessions, etc.

Life from a “gothic” point of view is one that is bleak and somber, thus the dark appearance and style of dress. The world is dark to me, because it’s so far from God’s holy plan and design, that it saddens me greatly. I express my somberness to the world by my style of dress and demeanor. I relate to the prophet Jeremiah regarded by most as the Weeping Prophet.

Being gothic to me is also being real real with myself, real with others, and real with God. I do not hide behind a mask to hide who I am and how I truly feel. When I am happy I express it fully, and when I am sad I express that as well. Most goths express their bleak sadness openly and I see that as an honesty of humanity.

I admire the culture for it’s open and honest expression of self, no matter how perverse or strange, because this is how God sees us. We cannot hide our sins from Him and it is foolish to think we can. In “normal society,” people seem so concerned with appearances, they hide their true selves in order to gain the favor of others. This mask-wearing is accepted, yet stark honesty is often shunned, even by those in the church. This is truly sad.

You see, being gothic is more than a fashion statement or a certain style of music. It is a reflection of how one chooses to see the world. This world is lost, hell- bound, and full of people in complete denial, seeking to fill that God-shaped void within them with everything except the Cross. It is a world lacking in honesty of self or honesty toward others. If I were to be anything but “gothic” in my views, I would be among the mask-wearing hypocrites. So I wear black and tell others who will listen that the world is empty and bleak. Yet it does not have to be. Though we live in the darkness, we are not of it. Thanks be to God for that.

Last Days

(Disclaimer: the following evaluation of the End Times, the coming Apocalypse, and the Millennium does not necessarily represent the exact beliefs of everyone at Sanctuary, San Diego, it’s staff or it’s members – but it is not required to)

“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not troubled, for all these things must come to pass. But the end is not yet, for nation will rise against nation, and Kingdom against Kingdom. There will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these things are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:7-8)

One only needs to read the headlines in the newspaper or watch the news on TV to understand that we are in a time like no other in history. The words of Christ are becoming very real.

In the last twenty years, the earth has experienced an increase in floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Society is crumbling, the leaders of our nations cannot be trusted, the institutions of our faith have become dens of hypocrisy. The world is ready for a new direction.

The Christian church calls this the” End Times” and New Age writers say it is the dawn of a new evolution. Music, poetry, writings and radio and television programs are filled with the coming of the new Millennium. Questions like, “What is going to happen?” “Will we go to war?” and “Will our economy survive?” are filling the minds and hearts of people all over the world.

How can we know what to expect in the future? Are there any “signs” we can trust? Who are the true prophets and who are the false ones? These are questions that need to be answered, if we are going to look into the future, with any hope of finding truth.

Before we begin this journey, let me first set the foundation for our study. I have chosen to use the Bible as the primary source for this study into prophecy, with comparative analysis from texts by Nostradamus, the Hopi Indians, and others.

My choice to use the Bible is based upon my own personal study into the authenticity of the Scriptures and the absolutely perfect record of prophecies recorded and fulfilled concerning the Messiah and the people of Israel. If you are skeptical of this, let me suggest that you read Evidence That Demands A Verdict by Josh McDowell and come back to this study when you are confident in God’s word.

With the foundation set, we can begin to delve into the mysteries of Bible Prophecy. The first thing we are going to attempt to answer is the question,”Are we actually in the End Times?” We will look at the prophecies of Christ, himself and the Book Of Daniel to try to answer this question.

If the bible is accurate in it’s historical and archaeological records, then it is reasonable to assume that it is reliable in it’s predictions of the future. For one thing, Biblical prophecies are not generally shrouded in complex metaphors like those of Nostradamus. It offers clear, accurate explanations of future events when looked at in their proper contexts.

Let’s tart with Matthew 24:3-44, where we find Christ talking to his disciples, responding to a question posed to him concerning the future: 3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of birth pains. 9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. 15 “So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel let the reader understand – 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now and never to be equaled again. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 “At that time if anyone says to you, Look, here is the Christ!' or,There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect if that were possible. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time. 26 So if anyone tells you, There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or,Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 “Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. 29 “Immediately after the distress of those days “`the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 30 At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. 32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 36 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. 42 Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” The first thing we should note is verse 36: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” No one knows the exact date or time that Christ will return.

We are not given and exact date or year, only general “signs” – things to look for that indicate the end is near. Therefore it is futile to try to determine exactly when Jesus will return. Only the Eternal Father knows for sure. If Jesus himself does not know, how could any mortal man know? This should help us to see that any man who says he knows the exact date or time, is not speaking from God, and should be considered a false prophet.

Now let’s look at verse 34, to find what can be considered a “cornerstone” passage in Bible prophecy: “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” Here is a key to understanding when Jesus will return. In Hebrew dating, a generation is anywhere between 40 to 100 years. But the world has gone on for 2,000 years since Christ’s death, and the generation he was alive in has long since passed. To which generation is he referring?

Verse 15 holds a clue to unlocking this mystery: “So when you see standing in the holy place `the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel let the reader understand….” This is one of the “signs” we are to look for that indicates the end is near. The generation that Christ was talking about is the generation that will see this specific event occur.

But what event is he talking about? What is the ‘abomination that causes desolation’? Jesus is referring to a specific prophecy from the Old Testament in the book of Daniel (9:21-27, NIV):

21 While I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. 23 As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision:

24 “Seventy sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. 25 Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven sevens,’ and sixty two `sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.

26 “After the sixtytwo `sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.

27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one `seven.’ In the middle of the seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”

In this passage Daniel has received a revelation from the angel Gabriel. Gabriel says that the time allotted to the Jews is seventy weeks. A week in ancient Hebrew was a common reference to a group of 7 years. So seventy weeks is 490 years. Gabriel is saying that there would be 490 years for the Jews to rebuild their city, accept their Messiah, and begin the 1,000 year reign of peace, with Christ as their king.

But if that’s true, then why are we still here? Daniel lived around 500 B.C. If we add 490 years, it would only brings us to around 10 B.C. Confused? Be patient and read on.

Go back to verse 25: “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven sevens,' and sixtytwosevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.”

If you add the 7 sevens and the 62 sevens in this verse, there are only 69 weeks, or 483 years, not 490. Where are the other 7? If we do some historical homework, we will discover “the decree” is the command of King Artaxerxes to rebuild the city of Jerusalem after it’s destruction by the Babylonians. According to this prophecy, the specific time from the time of the decree to the coming of the Messiah, will be 483 years. Did it happen? Exactly as it was written.

Here’s the proof. In 1841, Sir Robert Anderson, a Scotland Yard detective, took it upon himself to do just that. He discovered that “the decree” by Artaxerxes occurred in the first of Nisan (the 14th Of March), 445 B.C. From that day he added 483 years, (173,800 days) and came to the tenth of Nisan AD 32, April 6. This is the exact day that Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem, was welcomed by the people, and was declared by them to be the Messiah. We know this day as Palm Sunday, one week before Easter.

Mark 11:49 (NIV) details the event: 4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

History tells us that one week later, the Messiah was rejected and Jesus was crucified. Does Daniel’s book correspond with this event? Look at Daniel 9:26 again: “After the sixtytwo `sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing…” The “cutting off of the anointed one” is a descriptive reference to the crucifixion of Jesus. As incredible as this is, it still does not explain the final week.

Let’s continue with verse 26: “The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one seven.’ In the middle of the seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”

Remember that “one seven” refers to a period of seven years, and this is the one seven that is left, to complete the 490 years. In this seven years, a ruler will come and in the middle of this seven years, he will put an end to sacrifice and offerings, which can only be performed in the temple at Jerusalem, and set up an “abomination that causes desolation.”

This is what Jesus was referring to in Matthew 24:15: “So when you see standing in the holy place `the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel let the reader understand” The final seven years refers to the time when the “abomination” occurs, and it is this “generation” that will not pass until these things have come to pass.

But why didn’t this happen seven years after Christ was crucified? And what is this “abomination?” We will look closer at the specifics of the “abomination” soon, but for now it’s important to understand that it has not happened yet. One could say that God stopped the Millennium countdown when Christ was crucified. If that is so, then when does the clock start again? Has God left us any insight to this? Yes, He has.

You must understand that all Bible prophecy centers around the Jews and events in the Holy land. There are three specific events that must occur before Christ returns. One has happened, another is going on currently, and the third is yet to come. These three events are:

  1. The Formation of the Nation of Israel.
  2. The great migration of Jews back to Israel.
  3. The rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem.

The prophet Isaiah tells us about God’s plans for his people, in Isaiah
11 In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. 12 He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth.

God promised that He would gather His people and return them to their

Jeremiah also refers to this time of gathering, in Jeremiah 23:78: 7 “So then, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when people will no longer say, As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,' 8 but they will say,As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ Then they will live in their own land.”

It’s important to understand that for over 2500 years, since the invasion of Babylon in 586 B.C., the Jews were without a nation of their own. This “dispersion” was a direct result of their disobedience to God. God had promised that he would scatter them to the four winds for not following his commands.

In his book “A Cup Of Trembling,” Dave Hunt explains: “When the Jewish people entered the promised land, God warned them that if they practiced the idolatry and immorality of the land’s previous inhabitants, he would cast them out as well (Deuteronomy 28:63, 1 Kings 9:7, 2 Chronicles 7:20). That all of this happened as it was foretold is an indisputable fact of history.”

Even as God scattered them, He promised that one day he would bring them back. This promise could not be completed until the Jews had a homeland to come back to. Again, Dave Hunt explains: “The Bible declares that God determined to keep his chosen people separated to Himself (Exodus 33:16, Leviticus 20:26), because He would bring them back to their land in the last days (Jeremiah 30:10; 31:8-12; Ezekiel 36:24, 35-38) prior to the Messiah’s second coming. That prophecy and promise, so long awaited, was fulfilled in the rebirth of Israel in the promised land in 1948.”

The second important prophetic event is a great migration to the land of Israel. This has been occurring since the time of the Holocaust. The Jews are also returning to their homeland from the ashes of the once powerful Soviet Union, and their numbers are increasing. In fact, the only area that is not seeing a great migration to Israel, is the west. Be assured, it will come

And what of the third prophetic even, the rebuilding to the Temple? Is a temple being built? Are there plans to build one? I believe this is the most significant “sign” we can look for. For it is here, in the rebuilt temple, that the specific event of “the abomination that cause desolation” must occur.

Let’s take a moment here to review what we have discovered:

  1. Christ tells us that the “generation” who sees “the abomination that causes desolation” will not pass until he returns.
  2. This “abomination” will occur in the final seven years of Israel before the millennial reign of Christ, as told to the prophet Daniel by the angel Gabriel.
  3. This “abomination” must occur in the temple of Jerusalem.
  4. Israel must first be a nation; the people will return to it in the last days; and here they will rebuild their temple. THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION

Here are some specifics on the “abomination that causes desolation” – a despicable misuse of the Lord’s Temple in Jerusalem during a time of great trouble — an event foretold by the prophet Daniel.

The phrase is found in Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14, as a quotation from Daniel 11:31 and 12:11. In Daniel, the phrase is literally “the abomination that makes desolate.” In other words, Daniel prophesied that the Temple would be used for an “abominable” purpose at some time in the future. As a result, God’s faithful people would no longer worship there – so great would be their moral revulsion, contempt, and abhorrence at the sacrilege – and the Temple would become “desolate.”

According to the verses in the gospels, this abomination would take place some time in the future. It would be a “sign” that a time of great trouble was coming to Judea. People should take warning and flee to the mountains (Matthew 24:16; Mark 13:14).

Some believe that Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled in 165 B. C. when Antiochus IV (Epiphanes), Greek ruler of Syria, polluted the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem by sacrificing a pig on the holy altar. To the Jews, the sacrifice of an unclean pig was the worst kind of abomination that could take place. They also believe the prophecy in the gospels of Matthew and Mark was fulfilled when the Romans sacked the Jewish Temple in 70 A.D.

But others believe just as strongly that neither of these prophecies has yet been fulfilled. They insist the ‘abomination of desolation’ refers to the idolatrous image of the “man of sin” who will take over God’s place in the Temple and make people bow down and worship him (2 Thessalonians 2:34). According to this interpretation, this will be the final act of sacrilege that marks the beginning of the end time (see Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, copyright (C) 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

Here we see two separate beliefs concerning this event and it’s interpretation. In order to shed more light on the interpretation we are using, let’s look at the “Prophecy Knowledge Handbook” by John F. Walvoord: “Accordingly, the best explanation of the 490 years is that the 483 years were fulfilled just before the time of Christ’s crucifixion, that an interval time between Christ’s crucifixion and the destruction of Jerusalem of more than 35 years will occur, fulfilling Daniel 9:25, with both events occurring in that period.

“The final seven years, however, will begin when the ruler of the ten nations in the middle east, who yet will appear, will fulfill the description of being a ruler related to the people who destroyed the Roman Empire, that is, the Roman people. He will begin the final 7 year period by making a covenant of peace with Israel, which will be broken after the first 3 1/2 years.

“Interpretations based on past events simply do not fit or fulfill the passage. Some have suggested that Antiochus Epiphanes is the person who fulfill this prophecy, however, nothing in that period of history corresponds to a seven-year covenant following the abomination of Antiochus. Only those who believe that Daniel is a forgery, written in the 2nd century B.C. (Instead of the 5th century) offer any support to this view.”

What are our conclusions then? Are we in the “End Times?” Based on the key events concerning Israel, we are close. We currently have no temple, but that may only be years away, and as we shall see in our next study, even closer than we think.

We certainly can say that we are in a time of “wars, pestilences, famines” and natural disasters at a scale we have never seen before.

If you have any questions about this study or the End Times in general, or if you would like more references on what we have discussed, feel free to write me. My address is

Thanks for taking the time to read this. And until the next study, keep your eyes on Christ. For be assured, He IS coming back.

Sanctuary Staff

Pastor David Hart

Pastor Dave Hart has been the guiding light behind Sanctuary, San Diego for a dozen years now. He holds a Master’s Degree from Talbot Theological Seminary (BIOLA) in Christian Education. He served a number of years in the Navy as a drug and alcohol counselor and is currently the editor of “Media Update” magazine for Al Menconi Ministries. He has been married to the Lovely Velva for a decade now (and is still deeply in love with her).

As an author and speaker, he is nationally recognized for his expertise on the current music scene and its impact on youth culture today. He has just finished writing a book called “It’s all Rock-n-Roll to Me,” which features over 125 profiles on current bands and artists. Each profile features an analysis from a Christian perspective and offers Christian music equivalents. If you would like to discuss today’s music or are looking for some personal counsel, simply click on Pastor Dave’s picture to contact him with your e-mail message.

Cindi & Ed Carter

Ed & Cindi Carter Associate Pastors, on IRC (EFNET) Ed is dmnknight and Cindi is theclaw .

Wayno Guerrini and his cat Misty

Wayno Guerrini Cyber Minister, Wayno’s passions are God, Goth, music, and F.L.O.S.S.

Karen Buck – Webmaster

TW Shelton

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Sanctuary?

Sanctuary, San Diego is not what you would expect. We are an underground Christian ministry on a mission to reach out to today’s disenfranchised youth caught up in the more obscure musical subcultures. We seek out the cast-aways and the misfits from Generation X, Generation Y, the Marilyn Manson generation, the Gothic subculture, the Industrial nation, the hard-core kids. We focus primarily on the gothic/industrial subculture, but we are open to anyone into the alternative, punk, metal, hardcore, techno, and/or rave scenes. We’ve watched young people embrace the messages of nihilism and hopelessness in their music and their culture, and become convinced of the need to enter the underground and offer a message of hope and freedom. The tragedy at Littleton, Colorado showed us that this has never been more true or more necessary.

Sanctuary is a loose-knit fellowship offering to meet the spiritual needs of anyone honestly seeking the truth about God for their lives. We are here for those who seek Sanctuary and search for answers in a big, dark universe. We meet at clubs and concerts and coffee houses. We meet on-line, on the Net, in cyber-space. We meet here and there throughout San Diego. If you are visiting the San Diego area, we encourage you to contact us to see if there is a group meeting while you’re here. Feel free to e-mail Pastor Dave at or contact us through Christian Goth webpage.

Are you the Sanctuary with all those Christian heavy metal bands?

Not really, but we are related to that church. Back in the mid-1980’s, Pastor Bob Beeman was approached by some friends of STRYPER. Knowing his interest in rock and roll, they asked if he would help them with a bible study they had started for friends and fans of that band. As more and more long-haired heavy metal fans started showing up at Beeman’s church, the congregation became nervous and asked him to choose between his church and his heavy metal ministry. Pastor Bob decided to leave that church and start the ministry that came to be known as Sanctuary: The Rock and Roll Refuge.

Over the next few years, that ministry grew into a church with 500-750 attending Sunday afternoon services in the Redondo Beach area of Los Angeles. Many of the most prominent Christian metal bands of the time either attended or were associated with Sanctuary in those days: from Stryper and Barren Cross, to Deliverance and Vengeance Rising, right up through Precious Death. By the ‘90s, the rock music scene had changed quite a bit, and they decided it was time to move on and start up again as Sanctuary, International in Nashville, where they are today.

Two or three years after Sanctuary started up in Los Angeles, a San Diego concert promoter named Dave Hart began doing some concerts with Stryper. He found himself continually bombarded by heavy metal fans asking questions about their musical careers, personal problems, and spiritual issues. God directed him to create a special place for these kids (almost like that movie “Field of Dreams” – “If you build it, they will come!”) So he started a group called The Rock and Roll Refuge”, totally unaware of the group in Los Angeles. Eventually the two churches found each other, affiliated, and Pastor Dave became an ordained minister of Sanctuary. Sanctuary, San Diego continues today with the original mission of reaching disenfranchised youth  on the musical edge, it’s just that the edge has changed over the last decade. We no longer focus on heavy metal, but have plunged into the deep catacombs of the gothic/industrial subculture.

What do you mean by the term “goth” or “gothic”? What is a Goth?

Goths and Visigoths were originally the primitive Germanic tribes that invaded the Roman Empire, bringing an end to the once invincible civilization. We also find the term used to refer a style of architecture, as in gothic cathedrals. From the 11th to 14th centuries, monks and artisans were commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church to build monumental cathedrals and castles. A few centuries later, the Renaissance and the Reformation periods would drastically change perceptions about art and architecture. This new wave of artists felt these old cathedrals were ”uncivilized, lacking in taste or education.” They considered these buildings gothic.

Today’s Goths do not consider themselves uncivilized as the neo-classical artists considered the Cathedrals. Most Goths are quite artistic, intelligent, and well read. They consider themselves unique, special, and even eccentric. The Victorian era of the late 19th century, the period in which the Gothic novel was popularized; was an era with a fascination for spiritism and the paranormal, the search for a world beyond the material plane. This fascination would later give rise to both the Theosophy and the Pentecostal movements of the early 20th century.

[It is interesting to note that the mind-set of the Victorian era was completely opposite of the late 20th century. In the Victorian era, sex and sexuality were a repressed subject, considered unfit for public  conversation. However, death was openly discussed and debated at all levels of society. Americans in the 20th century, seem to focus on quite the opposite, freely (blatantly) speaking of sexual things, while avoiding the topic of death like, well…the plague!]

The literature and poetry of this era – known as the English Romantic movement – has been  highly influential in shaping the gothic subculture. It romanticized subjects ranging from the sad to the sinistre – hence the Gothic novels explored such morbid, morose and macabre topics as lost love and madness, death and suicide, demons, ghosts, monsters and vampires. It is a literary era rooted in works like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) and John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819) [both birthed on an infamous weekend of ghost-story telling in 1816 – depicted in the bizarre Ken Russel film Gothic in 1987]; Edgar Allan Poe’s morphine-riddled visions (ca. 1830s and 1840s); Robert Lewis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (1886); Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” (1891); Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” (1897); and Henry James’ “Turn of the Screw” (1898) – all of which are often favorite reading fare for Goths.

Many Goths are also well-versed in the poetry of Shelley and Byron, and to a lesser extent Colleridge and Keats – not to mention the works of William Blake, T.S.Elliot, Emily Dickenson, and Sylvia Plath.  They also tend to explore  the writings of Nietsche, Sartre and Camus, and often bury themselves in the tales of H.P Lovecraft or Anne Rice’s vampire, Lestat. It is this fascination with the darker side of life, with sadness and death, cynicism and art, rising from the grave of the Gothic novel which most identifies today’s Gothic movement.

Today we also use the term Gothic to describe a musical subculture. But unlike most trends in music, this one is not based on the latest fad – but on music that began several decades ago. This music began in London at a club called the Batcave, where it was originally referred to as ”Death Rock.” It was something of a backlash against the colorful disco music of the ‘70s. Although punk seemed to be breathing its last, one can claim that Gothic music grew out of punk. The music of these bands was angst ridden, but the anger was turned inwards and the music was characterized by introspective lyrics. Gradually, gothic was also connected to the revival of Victorian horror novels, and the association with vampires and the paranormal became more pronounced.

The British music magazine, NME (New Music Express) reportedly took the term from Siouxsie Sioux (of the Banshees) who used it to describe the new direction for her band. It was also used by Ian Astbury (of the Southern Death Cult, later simply known as the Cult) who described Andi Sex Gang (of Sex Gang Children) as a ‘gothic pixie’. However, the earliest significant use of the term  was made by Anthony Wilson on a BBC-TV program in 1978, when he described Joy Division as gothic compared to the pop mainstream. Joy Division (whom he was managing at the time) is generally considered more of a punk band today, but they offer one source of the term. Bauhaus were labeled ‘gothic’ as early as 1979 when they released the song, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.”

Pop journalists applied the term to a number of bands in the early ‘80s. Most of these bands did not sound much like the Banshees (or anyone else for that matter), but these journalists thought they all had a similar “look.” The (Southern Death) Cult was foremost amongst these bands. Like the Banshees, they wore lots of black and silver  and had extremely dark hair, as did the Sisters of Mercy. When Wayne Hussey split from Sisters and founded the Mission (UK), they  carried the gothic label with them. The Fields of the Nephilim also cultivated a gothic image during this period, however, none of these bands sounded enough alike to define a particular gothic sound. Some have argued that Peter Murphy came closest to defining the gothic sound in his solo career after he left Bauhaus. The image was carried into the mid-80’s with dark synth-pop groups like the Cure, Depeche Mode, and Morrissey of the Smiths.

Most Goths tend to avoid the crass commercialism of mainstream rock. Goths can be found in Germany, where they are called Grufties. Goths are also prominent in London, Ontario, New York and San Francisco. Some critics of the sub-culture characterize Goths as people dressed in black, standing around in circles in pubs, clubs and coffee houses, smoking cloves and talking about how to become vampires or witches. First generation Goths sometimes complain that second and third generation Goths think that being Gothic is only about wearing the blackest black, and trying to look as thin and pale as possible. Second and third generation Goths complain when Marilyn Manson is called Gothic and claim his fans  are too angry and too ignorant to be true Goths. In any case, today’s Gothic subculture is about more than just music. It’s about literature, art, fashion and music.

How do you reach out to these people? (Pastor Dave’s response)

There are a few keys to successfully reaching today’s disenfranchised youth. One of the most important is to meet them where they’re at. These kids already tend to view the traditional church with disgust and distrust. Feeling they have been misjudged, misunderstood, and/or manipulated by the church, they have rejected Christianity as hypocritical, cruel and irrelevant. They will no longer come to the church. The church must come to them.

Sanctuary does this literally by visiting the kids in their own territory – the clubs and coffeehouses where they tend to hang out. We try to blend in, rather than stand out. We talk to them about their world, not ours: their music, their fashions, their culture, their experience of life. We believe that our freedom in Christ allows us to be liberal about cultural things, while being conservative about spiritual things. We believe in building bridges and developing real relationships with those who need God, so that we can introduce the ones we love to the One we love. This is the same pattern Jesus followed when He left heaven to meet us where we’re at — laughing with us, crying with us, eating with us, dying for us (Phil. 2:5-11). He was not ashamed to eat with the tax collectors and sinners and the prostitutes were his friends. Why should we be any different?

We are also reaching people throughout the world in cyberspace through our web site, through email, though news groups and chat rooms. We are connected with a number of other underground ministries throughout the world, so we can be a resource for others trying to reach these kids for Christ. Many gothic, industrial, or metal fans feel isolated and alone. They believe they are the only one who likes their music or lives their lifestyle in their little town – especially if they are also Christian. By sharing our common interest in music, poetry on the computer, we help these young people realize they no longer have to remain isolated in their corner of the world.

Articles about Sanctuary San Diego

Goths For Jesus: Pastor Dave’s Christian Goths

Author: Jay Allen Sanford, Publish Date: Aug. 29, 2007, Publisher: San Diego Reader

Gothpel: The New Testament for Goth Girls. My life verse: James 4:9. How to keep that sullen look without technically violating Philippians 4:4

“The Lord said…’Stretch your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread…darkness that can be felt.'” Exodus 10:21

Old School “Goth” can be traced back to the third and fourth centuries, when a Germanic tribe known as the Visigoths waged war against the Roman empire throughout Eastern and Southern Europe. They didn’t wear eyeliner but they did collect skulls and gaudy silver jewelry. Later, an architectural style called “gothic” became popular, favoring wrought iron trim, gargoyle draped columns, cathedral spires and belfries suitable for bats.

As far as ideology and fashion goes, 19th century poet Lord Byron and Frankenstein author Mary Shelley were most certainly goth, with their dark clothes, powdered white faces, poofy laced sleeves, depressive outlooks and morbid imaginations. Musically, goth culture coalesced with the minor-chord melancholy of 80s bands like Joy Division, The Cure, Fields of the Nephilim, Sisters Of Mercy and Siouxsie And The Banshees.

Back then, the darkly dressed in San Diego congregated at now defunct venues such as the Skeleton Club, the original downtown Soma and clubs like Stratus and SubNation. In the late 90s, the place to be pale was Crocodile Rock, which regularly held goth-themed events like Soil, Savage Garden and Seventh Chamber. Trenchcoats and jewelry in the form of a religious cross were common, but one older gentleman haunting the scene wore both in a somewhat more official capacity – Christian Pastor Dave Hart, who was there not to dance but to find what he calls “disenfranchised youth” in need of counsel and guidance.

“I became one of those ‘born-agains’ back in 1970, during the Jesus People days” says Hart, or Pastor Dave, as he likes to be referred. “I had a hard time settling on a church or denomination, because like most hippies in those days, I was distrustful of organizations and institutions and I suppose I retain some of that attitude to this day.”

He says he originally had no intention of going to seminary school, considering organized religion “just another institution that ultimately would crush my faith. But eventually I became convinced that I was ‘called’ to be a minister of some kind, and found myself at Talbot – the graduate seminary connected to BIOLA College in Orange Country. After I graduated [with a Master’s Degree in Christian Education], I tried my hand at youth work, but found myself unable to steer successfully through the politics of the church system, and kept getting fired.”

After a stint in the Navy, as a drug and alcohol counselor, he noticed young people increasingly warming up to the word of God, at least when those words were dressed in rock and roll clothes. This led to him promoting local mid-eighties concerts by Christian heavy metal bands, such as Stryper and others.

He recalls one show at the Fox Theater featuring Christian punk rockers Undercover. “The Dead Kennedys had been in that theater two weeks before and the fans had torn the place apart. The vice squad was on the alert for any punk bands and shut us down while they [the band] were trying to load in – just on general principle.”

“They ‘discovered’ that we were missing a permit. This was at 4:45 pm and the permit office shut down at 5:00 pm so there was no time to go get the permit – convenient, huh?” He says he’d secured all the same approvals utilized at previous events with no problems. “Refunding the money back to twelve different Christian bookstores all over the county was a real headache.”

In the course of promoting shows, Pastor Dave says many of the young people he met yearned for spiritual guidance, while disdaining most forms of organized religion. “These kids already tend to view the traditional church with disgust and distrust. Feeling they have been misjudged, misunderstood, and/or manipulated by the church, they have rejected Christianity as hypocritical, cruel and irrelevant.”

This inspired him to launch a rock and roll driven youth ministry. “I had a meeting with a young Christian metal-head named Steve Gray, who was DJing a metal show on Palomar College radio. Soon we had a regular group meeting in my apartment on Monday nights, which we called The Rock and Roll Refuge. We did this for about two years with about 30-35 kids crammed into my tiny living room.”

When Hart heard about a similarly named group operating in Redondo Beach near L.A., he sensed a perfect match for his own San Diego ministry. Founded in the mid-80s, Pastor Bob Beeman’s “Sanctuary: The Rock And Roll Refuge” attracted hundreds of people to its Sunday services, as well as promoting events featuring the big name Christian rockers of the day – Barren Cross, Deliverance, Precious Death and others.

“Both ministries were birthed out of our relationship to Stryper,” he says. “The only difference was that what I had been doing for three months, he’d been doing for two or three years…I was eventually ordained through Pastor’s Bob’s Sanctuary, and I became the infamous Pastor Dave.”

From the start, he was particularly interested in Goths. He saw in them a fondness for the iconography and rituals endemic to church tradition (crosses, candles, incantations, etc.), as well as great intellectual capacity, emotional depth and spiritual yearning. “[Goths] are into art, poetry, and music. They are passive, introspective, and can be dramatically emotional. They can also be too self-absorbed, brood to a fault, and they internalize everything, even things that have nothing to do with them! As a group and as a rule, Goths take their stress and pain out on themselves, not on others – cutters, piercers, slicers, suicide, addicts – they will beat themselves up in their guilt and their sorrow to prove how real their pain is.”

So what if I like black? It doesn’t make me a bad person. “For The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but The Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Instead of trying to bring teens into church, Pastor Dave took his pulpit to wherever Goths gathered – the Empire Club (30th Street North Park, later Club Xanth), which hosted mostly 18+ and all-age events, the Sin-Klub (inside Club Elements on University Avenue), Club Luminal (Tuesday nights at Hamburger Mary’s) and Therapy, then held the first Friday of every month at Club Xanth (North Park) and every other Friday at The Flame in Hillcrest. “I try to go wherever there might be interesting sub-culture experiences. I have been to a Wiccan Handfasting and occasionally get into a confrontation with a Satanist or two.”

Today’s most notable goth gatherings take place on Wednesdays at Kadan (Darkwave Garden) and Sundays at Club Montage on Hancock Street (Underworld).

A local volunteer organization called Goth Help Us regularly organizes outdoor clean-ups and other civic-minded endeavors.

Christian Goth and proud “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined” Isaiah 9:2

The Sanctuary website is promoted as “a fellowship of Christian misfits.” Though delivered in an unusual manner, in unorthodox places, the message preached by Pastor Dave is textbook – or “Good Book” – Christianity. He urges young people not to use drugs, to avoid promiscuity, not to cut themselves and to steer clear of other self-destructive habits. He reminds them that Jesus himself was a social outcast and political iconoclast who others didn’t understand.

Those who seek Pastor Dave’s advice aren’t told that aligning themselves with the Goth lifestyle is a mistake; they are counseled on life’s negative aspects.

“Some kids romanticize death,” he says. “They romanticize the blade, the blood that trickles down.” He says he was once invited by a fifteen-year old Goth girl to attend a ceremony where her friends cut themselves and drank each other’s blood from a cup, believing the ritual to be a rite of passage into vampirism.

Rather than shrink away in horror or scream “Blasphemy,” the pastor clinically instructed them on health risks such as A.I.D.S. and Hepatitis. He points out that vampirism is a poor man’s translation of the salvation and personal power given to humanity via the blood of Jesus, and that Christ’s crucifixion was the most intense body piercing session in recorded history. These commonalities make it possible, he says, to embrace both goth and Christianity, while remaining true to the ideals of both. He says the girl ended up dedicating herself to Christianity.

Liquid Grey is a local DJ I contacted some time ago, when we were both members of the online mailing list and discussion group Replying to a list of queries I posted to the group soliciting their opinions, Grey said “The whole idea behind the [gothic] culture is freedom of the mind and soul, not imprisonment of them. A place to exist without judgment and forced conformity.” Asked whether it’s possible to be a Christian goth, Grey says “When I think of goth rock and the subculture around it, there is definitely a religious influence to it.”

Bynner Drake responded to my post to say “Reconciling ‘Goth’ and ‘Christian’ is like reconciling Hip-Hop and Islam, or Folk Guitar and Zoroastrianism. One is an aesthetic and one a spirituality. And few things have caused greater suffering on this Earth than the implication that the depth or validity of one’s faith can be judged by the outward forms of its expression, or lack thereof. The very notion creates a culture of convert-by-the-sword conformism where people are persecuted for not being sufficiently conspicuous in their ‘Rendering unto Caesar,’ as it were. Dangerous ground for a free society.”

Another San Diego Goth, Nick, AKA “DJ Aeon” says, “The Gothic culture has nothing to do with religion. Everyone I know is strong enough that they find their own path, everyone in this culture is very tolerant of every spiritual path. No one really cares what you believe as long as it doesn’t involve hurting anyone.” He continued, “I was raised Christian and realized that it was completely the wrong thing for me when I was about fourteen. I’ve been following a Wiccan path since I was sixteen. According to the Christian/ Catholic bible, I should be killed for that. ‘Suffer not a witch to live’.” He says Christianity still makes him uncomfortable.

These insights from San Diego Goths were offered in defiance of dozens of message posts warning them not to speak with me, citing the media’s tendency to portray goths as Satanic cultists seething with hate and malevolence and prone to violence against others.

It’s easy to understand their paranoia, especially considering the reporting that followed the shooting spree at Columbine High School in Littleton Colorado. In the weeks following the shootings, Pastor Dave was interviewed by radio, TV and newspaper reporters convinced that the killing somehow stemmed from adherence to goth culture.

“I tried to tell people that the [Columbine] gunmen were not gothic,” says Pastor Dave, “and most of the true goths I know were bright, talented, young people who could never perpetrate something like this. But after all was said and done, it’s a moot point. This tragedy has put the gothic sub-culture in the public eye in a way that not even a year of [Marilyn] Manson’s ‘Anti-Christ Superstar’ tour could…all things dark and black will now be labeled gothic. Anyone singing sad songs in a black dress will automatically become gothic.”

Sanctuary’s cyber-minister “Wayno” Guerrini witnessed this damning misconception in action while watching a TV news report on KGTV Channel 10, focusing on local goth culture. Dismayed by the portrayal of goths as obsessed with evil and hate, he e-mailed Bill Griffith, the station’s morning and midday news anchor.

Griffith has been with KGTV since 1976, hosting the long-running daily show “Inside San Diego” as well as the station’s “Charger Report” which, for ten years, followed ABC’s “Monday Night Football” coverage. Wayno’s initial letter and the subsequent volley of e-mail is posted at, samples of which include the following:

Cyber Minister Wayno: “Dear Bill, I work with Pastor Dave Hart, whom your station interviewed last night. That same interview re-ran on the 11:00 am news, which you anchor, today. You made a statement today which is totally false: You said that most goths are into Adolph Hitler. You could not be farther from the truth! Most of these kids are into Philosophers like Nietzsche, not Hitler. Please, don’t start a witch hunt where none is warranted. As Dave said last night, goths are not into inflicting pain on others.”

Bill Griffith’s response: “Thanks much for the e-mail. I respect your viewpoint – and Pastor Hart’s – as coming from someone who works with ‘goths,’ but I plead with you not to excuse or underestimate the deeply disturbed nature of this movement. It takes only a cursory look through the internet under ‘goth’ to see the kind of Satanic, nihilistic, anti-Christian credo the ‘goth’ culture adheres to. Just because some goths don’t follow every tenet doesn’t mean we should ignore their world view.”

Sanctuary’s ministry stresses that the world view of Goth culture is anything but anti-Christian. The gothic lifestyle values the importance and value of individuality. Passivity and tolerance of others are treasured ideals, and vegetarianism, volunteerism and humanitarianism are common in practice. Goth kids have even cultivated an image of themselves as a “chosen people,” special in the eyes of a contemporary, post-Millenium God.

This concept is encouraged and reinforced by Pastor Dave. “I believe that the Christian Gothic community has been called for [in] such times as these,” he preaches on the Sanctuary website. “Who else is more prepared to deal with dark days and painful times? You are a tribe of poet/priests and poet/warriors called to fight the darkness you know so well. Like Stryder and the Northern Rangers in ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ you will be used to fight the shadows of fear and terror in the dark forests and murky swamps which lie outside the boundaries of the land of the Hobbits…be confident in your unique calling. You are a chosen tribe, a holy nation of priests.”

“Be ready to die,” says Pastor Dave. “To your old life, to your dreams, to your glory, to your sin-nature, to this world, to this body. Remember it’s all going to burn. Remember that our suffering will not last forever.”

Searching for Lost Souls

By Jimmy Stewart from the August 2001 issue of Charisma Christian Life Magazine.

David Hart is known as a godfather of sorts in Goth evangelism.

Pastor David Hart, 51, of San Diego often dresses in Gothic clothes and heads off into the night to befriend kids who are immersed in the city’s Goth subculture. Nothing unusual about that. Hart’s been doing it since the 1980s.

That’s how he met Lythia several years ago. She was about 14 then, and she was conducting a vampire ceremony for friends outside a Gothic dance club late one night.

Hart watched as she cut herself, drained her blood into a cup and passed it around for her friends to do the same. When it came back to her she did an incantation and sent it back around. Each person took a sip this time, and when the cup reached her again she drank and ended the ritual.

Lythia was practicing magic, trying to turn herself and her friends into vampires. Afterward, Hart attempted to befriend her.

“You’re that pastor who’s invaded our club,” she said. “There’s no sense talking to you. You’ll just freak out about the occult and demons.”

“That’s not where I was going at all,” Hart answered. “I was just curious…how are you going to keep from getting AIDS?”

As a young teen, Lythia hadn’t yet fathomed that possibility. Hart’s concern led to a friendship between the two, and he still sees her sometimes in his role as pastor of The Sanctuary in San Diego, a church he founded in 1986. He was just ending a career as a concert promoter in Southern California and started the church to reach heavy-metal kids.

Today, among his many roles, he’s pastor for MCM Music, a Gothic music label that’s home to Christian artists Saviour Machine, Rackets and Drapes, and Eva O–formerly known as Evil Eva of secular punk-Goth band Christian Death. He’s the author of It’s All Rock-n-Roll and the founder of Rock Talks Ministries, through which he lectures at schools, churches and youth camps on such topics as “Getting Goths to Christ.”

Hart says Goths are summarily misjudged by society.

“Goth kids are intellectual,” he says. “[They] are well-read, artistic and passive. They mull and brood. Whereas metal music is more about banging your head on the wall, Goth music is more about staring at the wall.”

They tend to be dark on the outside, he says, because “they focus on reality and think life is painful and that we’re all shooting toward death. Most Goths have been told they’re fat, ugly, stupid. The most common wound I hear is, ‘I’ll never amount to anything.'”

To combat that rejection, Hart goes out of his way to build relationships with them. He went once with a group of non-Christian Goths to a Marilyn Manson concert and ended up being less offended by the concert than by the behavior of Christians who picketed the show.

Says Hart: “[The Christians] screamed at me that I was going to hell if I went in that show. All I could think was: You don’t understand. I’m going to hell if I don’t go in that show–woe to me if I don’t preach the gospel. They had no idea who I was or what I was doing. They were just screaming.”

Hart admits he sometimes feels isolated in ministry, and young pastors out of Bible colleges tend to think he’s too old to understand youth culture.

“I feel like the old Indian fighter in the Westerns–where the young cavalry lieutenant is telling the old scout how it will work. I’ve done youth work for 30 years, and I’m not naive,” he says.

That dedication won Lythia’s heart. After two years as Hart’s friend she gave her life to Jesus. After another year, she led her boyfriend to Christ. Today she’s free of vampirism.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

By Jimmy Stewart from the August 2001 issue of Charisma Christian Life Magazine.

They are called Goths, and they prefer black clothes and darker emotions. You may not know these people, but they are in your city tonight. Pray that somebody–maybe you?–will reach them.

A young woman is checking IDs on a Saturday night outside the Kitchen Club in Miami. In the glow of moonlight, her wan face radiates against the coal black of her lips, eyeliner, hair and clothing. Darkly accented patrons drift by her to be frisked before vanishing into this Goth club situated along a main street of the tropical city.

Everywhere inside the cave-like club there is black–on the floors, the walls, the ceilings. Jet black clothing shrouds hundreds of Gothic allies of the night who are here after midnight. They are adorned in capes, hoods, wings, spikes and chains or veiled with leather, lace, wool, fishnet, vinyl and velvet.

A young man and woman–slim, androgynous and decorated by huge shimmering fairy wings on their backs–glide like a pair of Gothic pixies along a twisting bar tempered by dim ruby light and draped with scarlet curtains. Beyond, it’s so dark you can’t see your feet.

Wham! wham! wham! goes a strobe light against the eyes, stabbing the blackness of the dance floor with thrusts of white. Figures caught in its eerie flash go jerking by–appearing, vanishing, reappearing.

“The bats have left the bell tower / The victims have been bled / Red velvet lines the black box / Bela Lugosi’s dead / Undead! Undead! Undead!” cries a song from the P.A.

Like one fluid form, a black mass of people move to the music in a dramatic underworld exhibition of how the “dead” can dance.

A young woman snakes with arms held high in the ethereal atmosphere. Black lace-up boots reach above her knees, and she wears a shiny black-vinyl miniskirt. She is shirtless, and only black tape shaped like Blair Witch crosses covers a scant portion of her upper torso. Nearby, a young man dances in a tight black skirt that hugs down to his ankles, and a woman in a black top and clear miniskirt pushes through the crowd.

Wham! wham! wham! against the senses goes the unceasing strobe, and the music cries again above the macabre regale: “The virginal brides file past his tomb / Alone in a darkened room / Oh, Bela / Bela’s undead!”

Celebrating Darkness

If you think the kind of Saturday night fever found in Miami’s Kitchen Club is uncommon, guess again. From Bondage A-Go-Go in San Francisco to Straightjacket in New York City to Release the Bats in Germany to The Blood Coven Bar in Brazil–similar scenes are everywhere.

Welcome to Goth culture.

Today, students from the country’s most elite universities gather at Goth nights called “The Crypt” and “The Fuse” in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the sprawling ManRay Club only a few blocks from Harvard and MIT. They hang out below a giant mural of bats that covers an entire wall lit by black lights.

They dance to Gothic, industrial and synthpop music within spider-web partitions made of chains. They shoot pool and drink while bloody vampire movies play on ceiling-mounted televisions.

Such clubs are a fixture–but only one–of the subterranean Goth culture that has emerged in the United States in recent years. Goths tend to see beauty in what society considers morbid–a pallid look, skull and skeleton designs, coffins, graveyards. Their tastes lie outside the mainstream–and that’s how they like it.

Beyond the glint and glare of everyday society the Goth subculture has spawned its own music, arts, fashion and distinctly alternative way of thinking. Since the 1970s, “Gothdom” has grown from its British grassroots into an international taproot for counterculture youth.

Bands old and new such as Christian Death, London After Midnight, The Electric Hellfire Club, Alien Sex Fiend and many others power the important musical side of the scene. They can be found in assorted record stores or in extensive catalogs such as the U.K.’s Nightbreed Recordings.

Contemporary novelists Anne Rice (Interview With the Vampire) and Poppy Z. Brite (Lost Souls) as well as 19th century dark muser Edgar Allan Poe are but a few literary favorites. Some Goths prefer comic-book series, such as The Sandman (Neil Gaiman) or Johnny the Homicidal Maniac (Jhonen Vasquez).

Gothic films hawking the imagery abound: The Crow, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu the Vampire (1922) and a slew of other vampire films. A staggering Gothic network exists on the Internet with newsgroups, listservs and chat rooms.

You might spot Goths by their dress–a classical Renaissance style with elaborate medieval-style shirts, gowns and topcoats–clothing that many of them make themselves–or the sharper-edged look of vinyl, PVC polymer, latex, or black leather fixed with metal studs or spikes. At The Inkubus Haberdashery in Miami’s eclectic Coconut Grove district you can pay $300 for a black trench coat made of PVC, $120 for a latex miniskirt, or $200 for a fierce-looking “armor” ring of silver and turquoise shaped like a talon.

Today’s Goths, who generally tend to be in their teens and 20s, have little to do with the Germanic Visigoths of Europe in the third and fourth centuries A.D. Instead, they derive their cultural identity from bands such as Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The (Southern Death) Cult, The Cure, Ministry, and Sisters of Mercy, some of whom revolved around London’s Batcave Club during the late 1970s and early 1980s. These musicians launched what became known as a “darquewave” musical style that originated in punk music but stood out as a campy response to the happy image of disco that was popular at the time.

British band Bauhaus, named for the German architectural design school whose credo was “less is more,” is considered a progenitor of the subculture. Formed in Northampton, England, in 1978, Bauhaus debuted in 1979 with its spooky single, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” and the gaunt atmospheric guitars and creepy Buddy Holly-like vocals raised a generation out of the shadows.

Says Todd Mayville, 36, of Northampton, Massachusetts, a high-school teacher who’s been a Goth since 1984: “In college I saw David Bowie’s The Hunger, and it opens up with Bauhaus singing ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead,’ and I just got chills. I was like: ‘Oh, what is this music? I need to have all of it!'”

Who Are These People?

The growth of the Goth movement in the last two decades has spawned a few misconceptions and misguided stereotypes–specifically, that the Columbine killers were Goths, that Goths worship Satan and that they all believe they’re “vampires” who must drink blood.

Goths bristle when it’s suggested they hold the same beliefs that prompted the killing spree at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, in April 1999. Anders Mar, an administrative assistant in his 20s who lives in Portland, Maine, blames the stereotypes on posers who don’t authentically represent the subculture.

“I can speak for the true Goth population as a whole: The fact that these fakes have ruined our good name is a source of great anger to us,” he says.

“We’ve really gotten a bad rap because of the Columbine massacre,” says Julie Peterson, 29, of Madison, Wisconsin. “Those who don’t conform are stereotyped as bad.”

David Hart, 51, a former concert promoter in Southern California for Christian artists ranging from Amy Grant to Stryper, has been a pastor to Goths in San Diego for close to 15 years. He says they are more likely to be passive and artistic than aggressive, more the type to sit in a room with candles and talk about literature.

“Their parents tend to be the opposite,” Hart says. “Goths tend to come from homes of two-career parents who are aggressively pursuing the American Dream. If anything, Goths are more likely to be suicidal than homicidal. Many are from families where they were parented from the philosophy of: ‘I’m too busy. Here’s $50. Go to the mall and let me work.’ The kind of thing that was going on with the Columbine killers.”

The mainstream stereotypes cause people to ask, “But surely all that black garb Goths wear means they’re evil? After all, the Columbine killers wore black trench coats; And Goths are Satan worshipers, aren’t they?” Most Goths scoff at the notion that they worship the devil.

Mayville grew up in the Episcopal Church and was an altar boy. His DJ name, D’Arcangel, is a play on the term “dark angel” or “the archangel.”

“My baptismal name is Michael. My DJ name is an homage to Michael the archangel. So I find it ironic with these Christians going off on me, saying you must be a devil worshiper.”

He also has to defend himself, as many Goths do, against accusations that his dark clothing means he’s evil.

“People will say: ‘You dress in black. Do you worship the devil?’ And I’ll say: ‘Well, priests dress in black and so does Johnny Cash. How come I can’t?'”

Peterson echoes: “I’ve never in my life met anyone who worships the actual being, Satan. Satanism is, in fact, humanism–the worship of self.”

Also exagerrated, Goths claim, is their shadowy reputation as “vampires.” Most members of the subculture are quick to say vampirism is a sideline interest or a fetish embraced by a minority within their ranks and that it is practiced nonviolently.

Those who do engage in it sometimes do so through a “live-action role-playing game,” or a LARP. Some players use a guidebook titled Vampire: The Masquerade, a sophisticated volume of genealogy and role-playing that reveals how to play a vampire or victim. Players at times will share blood in a ritual called a “Vauldrie,” which is used to create covenants or allegiances.

Frankie Guell, 23, of Miami, has witnessed the exchange of blood between friends on several occasions. He has never participated in the act, but he has been intrigued by vampire lore he says since his childhood when actor Bela Lugosi, who played one of the first Count Dracula roles in film, appeared to him in a dream.

“I’ve seen people cut with razors or using syringes–consenting partners–never nothing that would hurt another person,” he says. On such occasions, blood would be put into cups and shared, he adds.

“There is something very sexual about it,” he says. “It’s almost like you’re sharing yourself completely because your essence is going into someone else.”

Yet, deep below their outer trappings of music, fashion or fetish, Goths define themselves primarily as being those who possess the “soul” of a Goth.

“Most [of us] consider it internal,” says Steven Bensinger, 18, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, who works for a national Gothic retailer called Hot Topic. “I don’t dress strictly Gothic. If I did, I wouldn’t be a Goth if I didn’t have my clothes on.”

Though Guell initially was drawn to the scene by a fascination with horror, the friendships and acceptance he found appealed to him more. The desire for relationships, Mayville notes, is a greater key to the subculture’s attraction that its mysterious side.

“One of the universal aspects of the Goth subculture is that we’re very accepting as long as you’re being true to yourself,” Mayville says. “We don’t care if you’re a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim or a pagan. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight. Be who you are, and we’ll accept you for who you are.”

Some Goths believe they are born with distinct Gothic personalities. Peterson believes that a person is born with an affinity for the subculture but chooses to embrace its dark aesthetics.

Hart has counseled many Goths who have been abused verbally, emotionally, sexually or physically. He says the “Gothic personality” tends to bury emotional suffering and that the style of dress sometimes is meant to reflect inner pain.

“Goths tend to be intelligent, sensitive and deeply introspective. They tend to hold their pain inside for a really long time and let pain define their lives–which is why some of them dress the way they do. They see their lives and their souls as tattered and dark, and they dress accordingly.”

“We are misunderstood and need an outlet for our intellect and creativity,” Hannah Syfritt, 25, a wife and mother in Phoenix, says of her subculture. “We need to be accepted for our emotions and style of learning and not just put on medication.”

Running From the Truth

Goths are outcasts who are desperately seeking acceptance, and they are running from established Christianity into the arms of Wicca, a neopagan religion of witchcraft and nature worship. Most Goths already have given up on absolute truth and are atheists. But the majority of the rest of them are Wiccans–most of whom were reared in Christian churches.

“A large percentage of Goths have come out of highly ritualized churches–Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian,” Hart says. “Because of this many are predisposed to the ritualistic nature of Wicca.”

Despite what they believe about God, Goths tend to be very spiritual, and sometimes this leads them to religions other than Christianity that promise power, something many Goths have lacked in life, Peterson says.

How then has the church lost such a sizable portion of its youth to the lure of unbelief, dark aesthetics and romantic paganism? Some say it’s because too many Christians aren’t willing to change with the surrounding culture.

“Culture changes, but the Scriptures do not. Yet the mainstream church’s mentality is: ‘I want you to have my cultural experience of Christianity,'” Hart says. “Goths come from a different framework and won’t have it.”

Bruce Wright, 40, a former Youth for Christ staffer and pastor of The Refuge in St. Petersburg, Florida, goes a step further. He thinks youth subcultures such as the Goths have no taste for Jesus because the U.S. church has diluted the Word of God.

“The Bible is sanitized and sounds like fairy tales to them,” he states. “They perceive that life is easy and that Christianity is a lifestyle that is prosperous and has no struggles.

“They expect those who know Jesus to be unselfish, but they see the church as a politically right-wing, elite social club who call themselves pro-life yet won’t help the poor.”

Horrific as the visage of Gothdom can be, there are some Christians who aren’t afraid of the dark. Outside the glint and glare of everyday Christianity they have spawned their own muisc, Internet life, and evangelism for Goths. They can be found in Christian Goth bands, on Christian Goth Web sites and even in churches for Goths, such as the First Church of the Undead in Orange County, California.

Most of them are just everyday Christians–such as Melody Bailey, who attends an Assemblies of God congregation in Slidell, Louisiana. Besides being a greeter at her church and a leader in her youth group, she reaches out to non-Christian Goths with friendship.

She’s also one of several people Charisma interviewed who became Goths after they became Christians. Bailey did, in part, because she “always liked to be different” and because Goths “were way nicer to me than other people,” she says.

Dan Chick, 26, of Minneapolis, an Internet database developer, was a Christian when he became a Goth two years ago while attending the Cornerstone Christian music festival in Illinois, where he met Christian Goths.

“When my life started falling apart a few months later it was the Christian Goths who were there for me when none of my other Christian friends were,” Chick says.

Peterson is a Christian stay-at-home mom who homeschools her four children. She attends a nondenomenational church in Madison, Wisconsin, and is taking a hiatus from a ministry she started for Goths called Ex Nihilo.

In the meantime, she leads an Internet ministry called Xnetgoth that provides a way for Goths to network with one another and fellowship online. Like those she ministers to, Peterson is unashamedly Gothic.

“People stop and stare when I go grocery shopping with my kids. I wear all black. I wear dog collars and lots of silver jewelry,” she says. “I love to sit in the graveyard and contemplate life. I like to light all the candles in the house and dance to The Cure in my living room.”

Syfritt, who attends a house church in Phoenix and whose parents are former Foursquare pastors, says Christians need to learn to embrace more than “just the happy people staring at the back of your head every Sunday morning. It boils down to this: We are here to love God and love each other. If we do not…then we do not know the heart of God.”

Syfritt and a growing minority of unorthodox Christians apparently have decided that if young people in the Goth subculture are going to hear the gospel, then believers must be willing to light a candle in the dark to reach them. *

Jimmy Stewart is the managing editor of Charisma. He travelled to Miami, Boston, and Northhampton, Massachusetts, to file this report. This article originally appeared in Charisma magazine.

Churches on the edge: Unique pastors reach out to goths

By Jimmy Stewart

With his 6-foot-1-inch, 295-pound frame topped by purple hair, tattoos and facial piercings, Steve “Pastor Freak” Bensinger, 41, couldn’t look less like your everyday pastor–except maybe when he’s also behind the wheel of the black 1985 Cadillac Hearse he drives.

“When you look like I do, you’ve got to know what you’re talking about,” he quips. So he studies 10 to 20 Bible chapters a day as pastor of Come As You Are Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a 50-member congregation he founded four years ago. A gentle giant, Bensinger holds four martial-arts black belts and used to smash bricks inscribed with “S-A-T-A-N”–a fitting skill for someone who says his ministry gift is breaking demonic bondages.

Bensinger represents a growing number of Christians who work outside of tried-and-true ministry traditions to reach an increasingly diverse, non-Christian American culture. Bensinger’s church–like The Refuge in St. Petersburg, Florida, and The Church on the Edge in Huntington Beach, California–specialize in ministering to people who don’t fit in most churches.

People such as the Goths.

Bensinger–with his son, Steven, 18, and church member Seth Gooch, 24, both Christian Goths–minister to the Gothic subculture by way of a “medieval outreach” held Thursday nights. They welcome Goths of all backgrounds, including Wiccans, and provide a meeting place, a meal, and medieval-style hobbies such as sword-play and dancing.

Bensinger began his ministry after first being denied ministry credentials with the Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.) because he wanted to start a church much like he has today.

“We need to understand that God says don’t judge by appearances but by godly judgment. God wants us to look like Jesus,” he says. “I respect the Goths. God died for them just like He died for me. What will God think if they don’t want to come to Him because Christians offended them?”

Hundreds of miles away, Bruce Wright, 40, a former Youth for Christ staffer, founded The Refuge in St. Petersburg, Florida, eight years ago to minister to kids rejected by churches. He reaches out to Goths through concerts, coffeehouses, Bible studies and a weekly church service.

He often teaches them from the books of Ecclesiastes and Psalms because they identify with the books’ themes of emotional pain and the difficulty of knowing God.

“Goth kids relate to suffering,” he says. “They identify with the disaffectedness, the vanity that Solomon felt with…his materialism and addiction.”

A similar ministry approach is taken by Joey Roche, 46, who pastors the 150-member Church on the Edge in Huntington Beach, California. He’s married with five children but is a self-described “scary-looking guy with lots of tattoos” who plays in a punk band and preaches a strong repentance message.

His church is “living for God straight-up” and resembles a “Noah’s Ark thing,” he says. “A grandma will be sitting next to a kid with a blue Mohawk. It’s radical.”

“Church on the Edge is made up of believers who are fed up with the traditions of men,” Roche says. “No one is ever turned away because of how they look, talk or live before they come to the knowledge of the truth.”

And that includes Goths. A married Gothic couple lead worship at his church, where ministry is done through hardcore-music concerts, anti-abortion counseling and feeding the homeless.

“People have looked at me and said, ‘That’s the pastor?’ and boom! left right then,” Roche says. “But Jesus never told us to look right. He told us to live right.”

Invading the heart of darkness

By Jimmy Stewart

As a Christian musician and evangelist, David Pierce, is more than “outside the box”–he’s literally “outside the coffin.” His exit from one of these postmortem props is the climax of an avant-garde rock opera he performs in Gothic clubs with his evangelistic band No Longer Music (NLM).

Pierce is the executive director of Steiger International, a ministry he founded in Amsterdam in the 1980s to reach the city’s punk and anarchist subculture for Jesus. The Minneapolis native now lives in New Zealand, and Steiger has expanded its ministry boundaries to include the United States and other countries. It continues to focus on taking the gospel to youth countercultures wherever they may be found.

NLM puts on an extreme theater performance set to Gothic-punk music. The drama’s grand finale is Jesus’ death and resurrection communicated in modern motifs. To symbolize the crown of thorns, cross, dark clouds and tomb, the band uses a torture helmet, knife, fire, flashing lights and smoke-filled coffin. “Jesus”–Pierce’s character–is knifed to death, placed in a coffin and resurrected by the power of God.

“We try to show the horror of the cross in order to break the cliché that the cross has become,” Pierce says.

On a recent tour of hardcore Goth clubs in South America, NLM led Goths to faith in Jesus inside bars where they performed. Club managers allowed the band to play in the occultic venues only because they liked NLM’s act.

One site was a three-story facility that included a bar where books on Satan worship, sadism, sexual depravity and torture were sold. Elsewhere, in a district of discos, gay bars and what Pierce calls “sleazy mafia clubs,” NLM played a venue where occultic symbols covered the walls, patrons dressed like witches or vampires, and the manager called himself “The Devil.”

The owners of another site practiced witchcraft and voodoo and had attended an international vampire convention in New Orleans. During the evening, Pierce says, chimes were rung at the club to welcome demonic spirits.

During one performance the crowd grew increasingly hostile as NLM acted out Jesus’ execution. By the time the other band members placed Pierce in the coffin, he feared for the group’s safety.

“As I lay in that coffin it felt like I was in hell. It was like hearing the cries of demons all around me. People were manifesting [demons] and screaming foul, obscene things about Jesus,” he says. The crowd–not realizing a resurrection was part of the drama–grew quiet when he burst out of the coffin, he says. In the lingering quiet caused by the impact of the scene he preached the gospel.

NLM concluded another performance by singing a worship song, which stunned that crowd as well. Again, Pierce says, he took advantage of the moment and led some 80 people to a room where he and NLM members told them about Jesus. About 15 Goths prayed for salvation while the rest yelled obscenities.

“It is extremely taxing going to these clubs,” Pierce told Charisma. NLM has performed in satanist bars and anarchist clubs in Europe and Asia, hardcore heavy-metal festivals in Siberia, and a host of similar venues where they have been threatened, spat upon, jeered and cursed for preaching Jesus. Still, they prefer playing in demonic strongholds to “preaching to the choir.”

“The way to reach Goths is with the cross, not by being subtle with the gospel,” Pierce says. “The cross is the power of God for salvation. There is power when you lift up Christ and Him crucified.”

A radical departure

By Jimmy Stewart

Nineteen-year-old Derek Corzine became a Goth for the “wrong” reason. After all, it’s normal to become a Goth if you’re drawn by the music, the dark fashions or the relationships. But Derek became a Goth because God told him to.

Wrong reason–according to some of the Christians Derek grew up with in Denver City, Texas.

Derek was raised in one of the local Baptist churches but drifted from his faith. In junior high he rededicated his life to Jesus, was filled with the Holy Spirit and began attending an Assemblies of God church.

By the time he reached high school his best friends across the nearby border in New Mexico were Goths. They dressed in black, got drunk, cut themselves with razors and said the Goth lifestyle was the only way they could “feel human.”

Derek wanted to tell them about Jesus. After praying about how to, he says God told him to become like his friends. “I became a Goth to minister to Goths,” he says. “My motive was 1 Corinthians 9:22–becoming all things to all men that I might win some to Jesus.”

So Derek grew his hair long and wore black leather, chains and spikes. He carried his Bible with him to school and shared Jesus with classmates. He wore Gothic makeup in a style that portrayed a hidden personality trait, as many Goths do.

His makeup, however, symbolized his unseen mission: “I wore my makeup like war paint, because I was in a spiritual battle,” he says.

Because of his conservative Christian background and his radical outward change, “people were tripping out…people freaked,” he says. One day his pastor told him he would have to stop wearing Gothic makeup, because it was “not ethical in a Christian church.”

Derek disagreed, saying that Christian mimes wear makeup for a similar purpose when they evangelize with skits. He tried to explain by quoting 1 Samuel 16:7, Galatians 2:6 and Matthew 7:1-2, but Derek’s pastor ordered him to leave the church and not come back.

Derek remained a Goth for three years and stayed true to his mission, though he calls that period “the hardest time of my life.” He led a Goth friend and several classmates to Jesus.

Today Derek still wears his hair long, but he dresses in baggy jeans and heavy-metal music T-shirts. He attends a nondenominational charismatic church in Lubbock, Texas, and plays with a Christian-metal band called Syringe, a name he chose for the symbolism of a needle injecting healing below the outward surface.

Says Derek: “Sinners will be sinful until they accept Christ. Get to know them–and say what God wants you to say.”

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