Last week there were reports of a something strange happening in a marshy area off St. Helena Island. Residents of a nearby community were noticing small groups of people cutting through the woods and making their way towards the water. Concerned that there might be some illegal, and potentially dangerous, activity, these neighbors began calling the sheriff’s office. The deputies dispatched to investigate were startled when they reached the marsh where the trail ended. Standing waist deep in the muddy water was a wild-looking man. His clothes, caked with grass and mud, looked like they were made of the marsh itself. The deputies seemed struck most by his piercing wide eyes, which shone extremely bright in the midst of his bushy hair, matted beard, and dirt-smeared face. In spite of his wiry thin frame, the man “spoke and gestured with so much power and energy” that the deputies assumed he was under the influence of drugs.
One of the deputies in an interview revealed that their first instinct was to take the man into custody, even though they were not immediately sure if he was breaking any laws.
He was just some weird guy standing in the middle of the mud telling people to live good lives, do good things,” said the deputy.
They hesitated in making an arrest because of the large crowd of people gathered around him. One estimate indicated that over a hundred “normal looking” people were standing around this man in the marsh. They seemed to be oblivious to their surroundings: the cold tide coming in, the muddy water soaking through their clothes, or even the arrival of the deputies. The crowd focused their complete attention on the man.
Shortly after the deputies arrived, the man paused in his tirade, grabbed another man who began to approach him and threw him down in a quick and violent action, holding him under the water. Seeing an attempted drowning occur right before their eyes, the deputies began to move in and push their way through the mesmerized crowd towards the crazy-looking man in the center of the action. The crazy-looking man pulled the other man from out of the water. The deputy who gave the interview described the soaking wet man as emerging with “such a serene look of joy and peace” on his face that it made him question his own sanity. However, the deputies carried out their intention and took the crazy man into custody.
In the interview, the deputy only referred to the man whom they arrested as “John Doe,” and while authorities have not positively identified him yet, rumors started circulating that “John” is the adult son of a local religious leader. The deputy would not deny this rumor in the interview, but said he believed what he witnessed was some sort of baptism. “The man we thought was drowning said he was ‘confessing his sins,’” said the deputy. “As we removed John from the marsh, he kept shouting, ‘Don’t just say you’re good; do good. Be good.’”
The deputy told the reporter that although they dispersed the crowd, several people have been coming to the Beaufort County Detention Center to visit John, and authorities are worried that the individual might be responsible for starting a religious cult in the Beaufort area. The deputy acknowledged that their investigation of those who assembled in the marsh that day revealed that almost all of them experienced a renewed sense of altruism. “One individual we interviewed had just returned from donating half their material possessions to a local charitable organization. This individual told us that John had said, ‘Anyone who has two coats must share with anyone who has none.’” According to the deputy, this individual took John’s words “very seriously… but this is the same type of thing we are seeing with all the people that were there that day.”
Blood samples collected from John revealed that there were no prescription or illegal drugs in his system, and a mental health specialist contracted to examine and diagnose John has not been able to pinpoint any specific mental or emotional conditions. Despite a seemingly clean bill of health, and the lack of evidence that John or his followers have ever been violent, community leaders remain on heightened alert. This stems from the fact that John indicated there is a co-leader of this alleged cult.
I overheard him saying, ‘Someone else is coming after me,’” reported the deputy.
This unknown accomplice is reportedly the cause of the heightened alert. Apparently John has made veiled threats, claiming that his partner will somehow use fire to cleanse people, although no one is really sure what this means. The individual in question remains unidentified, although John has promised that his partner’s arrival is imminent and will have lasting impact. The deputy revealed that he recently paid a visit to John at the Detention Center. “He had left an impression on me, for sure,” said the deputy. “I just feel like what he’s saying is real and important.”
“It’s confusing, though,” said the deputy. “The last thing he said to me from his cell was, ‘He’s coming. You better get ready, because he’s coming.’ I’m just not sure what to make of that.”
This story was originally reported by Luke to Theophilus. For more details, you can read Luke’s full account in chapter 3, verses 1-20 in the book that bears Luke’s name.