This comment from one Dr. Clarence Charles on the testimony of Sir Lionel Luckhoo is worth repeating:
As I meditate on Psalm 1 today, I contrasted the glorious life of Sir Lionel Luckhoo and its outcome, with the inglorious one of Jim Jones and his clan and their outcome in a piece entitled, “Eleven Days to the Rescue”:
“Eleven Days to the Rescue ….”.
I, a newly minted doctor, returned to my homeland Georgetown, Guyana in August, 1978. With the glowing MBBS degree from the University of the West Indies, I was confident of a viable exciting future.
I was gradually introduced to one choice made and within eleven days to witness the effect of that choice on another choice that was summarily reflexly made.
Two contrasting choices, two paths, two roads, two positions, two outcomes, two contrasting fortunes, two destinies – one for life, one for death; one for time, the other for eternity; both out of intense desperation, both end games: one out of sleepless nights and inner discord, the other out of public exposure and legal pursuit. Two contrasting choices made on single moves at a mutual critical intersection. The two paths intersected each other at a crucial defining moment in time and then diverged irretrievably, eternally.
One scenario was eminently redemptive, with twenty years of enviably productive peripathetic purpose-driven life yielded to “My… Jesus…”. The other was horrendously destructive, ending like Hitler’s final solution, sudden summary death of a captive multitude; seated “in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in iron chains” (Ps. 107;10).
It was a fiasco that the few survivors would never forget, not even for a single day, nay, a single moment. According to New Jersey-based cult psychiatrist, Dr. Hardat Sukhdeo, the psychological scars would remain active, unsoothed, unassuaged, smoulderingly volcanic, forever.
Both had revolutionary world-wide impact, though contrasting, with reverberations echoing through time to the present and for all eternity.
The Robert Browning “Two Roads” moment of two equally attractive and competing paths painted for me a Rembrandt, the iconic master of contrasts, with rich sharp black-white pastels, rooted in the first Davidic Psalm – “Trees planted by streams of water” versus “Chaff that the winds drive away” (Ps. 1; 3,4).
Happily, legal luminary, Sir Lionel Luckhoo, on November 7, 1978, quickly learning how “way leads to way”, took the” narrow road less travelled by”, and that, for him, “made all the difference”.
Regrettably, James Warren Jones, eleven days later, took to the broad way (Mt. 7: 13), the way that looked right to him (Prov. 14: 12, Prov. 21:2), the way that looked right in his own eyes (Judg. 21:25). He took with him 918 souls. They were bound captive men, women and children. His November 18, 1978 Jonestown jungle agricultural settlement, experiment and cultic commune, inevitably, imploded to obscurity and a cosmic instructive lesson in the art and end of deception.
In view of the 7th and its divine directive, thereof, Sir Lionel, in obedience, dare not turn up as Jim’s Jones’ demanded legal counsel and intermediary. He thus, wisely, absented himself from the crucial Leo Ryan-People’s Temple consultation on the 18th.
As such, God preserved his life, immediately ratifying his destiny before his very eyes. The Lord Jesus, as ever, had timed the American FGBMF-Guyana visit and hotel testimony meeting to perfection.
Like Nehemiah, Sir Lionel had begun to do a great work, by just simply believing in the Lord Jesus and following His nudges, in the first instance, and, as such, he would not travel by small plane to Jonestown (Neh. 6: 2-4). He had determined not to “walk in the counsel of the ungodly, stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of the scornful” (Ps. 1: 1). He thus escaped the quick cyanide Kool-Aid collateral death. He avoided a wild wayward bullet to the chest.
“Eleven Days to the Rescue” was, for Sir Lionel, a mission in God’s international divine design of Pauline proportions, character, singularity, intensity, consistency and urgency ….”
Although for us those two choices probably don’t look as dramatic as they did during that fateful November in Guyana, they are still the choices we all have to make.