For the past 35 years, Roberto Miranda has been fighting Boston’s demons.
Miranda, a Phillips Academy grad with a doctorate from Harvard, is the long-time pastor of Congregación León de Judá, Boston’s largest Spanish-speaking Protestant congregation, which draws 1,000 worshipers on a Sunday.
The church runs a host of social programs to assist immigrants, to battle poverty and ignorance and to help individuals overcome “anything that prevents people from becoming what God intended them to be.”
That can include exorcising demons from a couch in the pastor’s office.
Miranda sees all the church’s ministries as spiritual warfare. Yet he manages to do battle in a way that somehow holds together a high-energy, impactful congregation where undocumented immigrants and Trump supporters praise the Lord side by side even in these polarizing times.
The congregation’s ministries were inspired by a dream he had in the 1990s a few years after Miranda, who had planned to become a professor of Romance languages and literature, took a job as pastor of a fledgling Hispanic congregation of about 60 people.
“I saw this swarm of giant tarantulas settle over the entire skyline of Boston,” Miranda, the 63-year-old senior pastor, told RNS in an interview. “I could see their eyes. They were intelligent. They were evil. Their skin was taut, tight with venom. They just stood there over the city. I knew they were exercising demonic influence. A lot of it was over the financial district.”
Then a lion’s face appeared above all the spiders.
“He wasn’t roaring, wasn’t angry,” Miranda said. “I knew in the dream, as he looked down on that scene, he was exercising authority — ultimate authority — over what was happening down there. I said three times in Spanish, ‘You are the Lord,’ pointing through the tarantulas to the lion.”
Inspired by that vision, he gave his church a new name (Lion of Judah in English) and moved it from Cambridge to a Boston neighborhood blighted by poverty and crime.
Today, Lion of Judah has become one of Boston’s most influential and enigmatic churches.
Known both for helping undocumented immigrants and for conservative moral teachings on sexuality, Lion of Judah doesn’t fit neatly into any political camp. Instead, it reflects the uniqueness of its Harvard-trained pastor, who emphasizes the importance of humility and routinely confesses to feeling fearful in the ministry trenches.