Bella Vista Church of Christ



Randall Caselman




  The year was 1986. After a long hot summer, the city of Philadelphia was desperate to get rid of its trash: Orange peels, beer bottles, old newspapers and magazines, junk mail, chicken bones, cigarette butts, dead car batteries, coffee grounds, half-eaten hotdogs, tin cans, and a host of toxic wastes, including ash from its industrial incinerator.


  The city contracted with Amalgamated Shipping, operators of the ship, Khian Sea, to dump 15,000 tons of toxic cargo in the Bahamas. However, as one might think, the Bahamian government turned the ship away, and Philadelphia withheld payment to the companies because the waste was not disposed of.


  The 466 foot ship roamed the seas for the next two years searching for a place to dump her toxic trash. She sailed to Europe, Africa, Asia. She changed her name and flag four times to hide her original identity and purpose. She's best known as The Pelicano.


  Failing to find a place to unload her nasty cargo, she illegally dumped some 4,000 tons of the waste on a beach in Haiti. Two years after it left Philly, the ship arrived in Singapore for repairs. She had been turned away from 11 different countries including: Puerto Rico, Haiti, Bermuda, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, New Guinea, The Netherlands, etc. She still sails the seas today, hiding from the courts, but some say without her cargo. Most suppose that most of the dumping took place somewhere in the vast reaches of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.


  According to Wikipedia, in April of 2000, two thousand tons of ash and contaminate was loaded onto a barge from the beach in Haiti and shipped it to Florida. Once there, the barge was docked in the St.Lucie Canal for two years, until June 2002 when the contents were moved to a landfill in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Awesome, from 1986 to 2002!


  The Pelicano story has come to symbolize the problems of toxic dumping. Today nobody knows the whereabouts of the Pelicano. The last reported sighting was said to be in 2011 off the coast of Chile. The moral of the story is simple: Garbage, (toxic waste), isn't a desirable commodity, it’s nasty, dangerous has a horrible odor, nobody wants it.


  Let me suggest that garbage has a real-life synonym, it's called gossip! Because of our fallen, corrupt, sin, nature; gossip and evil speaking are a constant problem. Our human nature delights in hearing and spreading gossip. Amen?


What does the Bible say about toxic behavior?


  The word doesn’t appear in our King James, but is used seven times in the New International Version…


Proverbs 11.13...  A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.


Proverbs 16.28…  A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.


Proverbs 18.8… The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; go down to a man’s inmost parts.


Proverbs 20.19… A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.


Proverbs 26.20… A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.


Proverbs 26.22… Says the same thing as 18.8.


2 Corinthians 12.20... Has Paul saying… I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be… I fear that there may be quarrelling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.


  I believe it's possible to understand what God thinks of a sin by noting the company He places it within. Here the HolySpirit places gossip alongside some ugly sins. Most of us would resist slander, arrogance, causing disunity and disorder, but think nothing of listening to or passing on a bit of gossip.


  We have Paul giving us the antithesis of gossip in Ephesians 4.29...


Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth,

but which is good to the use of edifying

that it may minister grace to the hearers.


  Well, the Pelicano has never found safe harbor. However, my story and yours can be different. We don't have to sail life's uncharted sea searching for forgiveness. Our trash talking sin against another person can be forgiven by the Blood of Jesus. Then, we can say no to loading up with the toxic trash of gossip in two ways: Stop listening! Stop dumping! We can empty our life of sin. We can find safe harbor in behaving like Jesus: "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit (guile, gossip) was found in his mouth.”


—Randall Caselman