This will probably be a very controversial post. The topic has been in my mind for some time, but I have never had a forum until now. I grew up in church as did my husband. I enjoyed church; the fellowship, learning and being involved. How involved? My husband was a Sunday School teacher, Deacon and taught Awana. Myself; Awana teacher, bible school director, choir, praise team, youth choir director, women’s ministry and Founder/Executive Director of the Crisis Pregnancy Center.
When I got married, I began attending my husband’s church. This was a church that he had been attending since birth. His parents were founding members of the church and very involved as well. We never thought that we would ever face humiliation, lies and betrayal from the church we loved. Here is the story.
I briefly mentioned being the founding director of the crisis pregnancy center. It was my calling and my passion. I began that journey in 1998. This mission consumed my life and my family played a vital role in the inception and running of the center. We would hold several fundraisers a year including speaking a various churches asking for support. There were many times when my family would provide the assistance needed out of our own pockets. We purchased diapers, formula, cribs, maternity clothes, baby clothes and just about everything that a new mom and baby would need. Thousands of dollars from our personal budget was given to the center in one form or another. The center struggled financially at times, but we were there to support it.
7 years into this program, I became very ill; many hospital stays with no clear diagnosis. I was discharged from the hospital and was alone at my home while my husband went to the pharmacy to pick up my prescriptions. There was a knock at the door and it was the pastor along with his brother; also a preacher. I invited them in thinking that it was just a visit. The words they were about to say would break my soul.
When the pastor began to speak and referred to me as “ma’am”, I knew something was wrong. He would only use this term when he was angry. I was told that there had been some problems with the bookkeeping and finances of the center. Keep in mind that on several occasions I asked for help with the books as I was not well versed in math. I never received the help I so desperately needed but I did my best. He continued to inform me that he believed that I had been taking funds from the center and due to that belief, I was being relieved of my position. I was devastated. Crying, I asked them both to leave.
The pastor left but his brother would not leave stating that he wanted to talk with me further. I agreed because I had, or thought I had, a good relationship with this man. He began to preach to me and quote scripture. By this time, I could not hear a word he was saying. While he was there, I called my husband to let him know what was going on. He told me to tell them both “to get the hell out of the house”. Finally, they both left.
Later that day, we received a call from one of our Sunday School students informing us of a situation that had occurred earlier that morning at church. The pastor and his brother had addressed the class stating that my husband and I had “mishandled” the center funds. They also shared that due to my ongoing illness that they were fearful that I would end my life. WHAT?! We left the church.
After leaving, no one reached out to us; no calls, no emails, nothing. The people that we had thought were friends, abandoned us. People that had watched my husband grow up in the church never spoke to us again. We felt betrayed and wounded in the back. We vowed that we would never attend church again; no church anywhere.
Several year later, an old friend of ours started a church plant. We discussed the possibility of trying church once more and started attending. It felt good to be back worshiping and working within the ministry. Soon my husband was asked to be an elder in the church and I was asked to sing in the praise team. We agreed. Our attendance was not regular. We missed some Sundays here and there. Then it happened again. Out of the blue a call came while we were on vacation from a congregation member.
The voice on the other line informed us that the pastor of the church, which had been a very close friend, addressed the church body. He stood in front of the congregation and spoke about my husband and I. He quoted the following scripture.
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
Never once did this pastor come to us in private and discuss any concerns that he had.
1 Cor 5: 4-5
4When you are gathered in the name our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, along with the power of the Lord Jesus, 5Hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of our Lord.
He followed up the scripture by telling the body that a vote was to be taken as to if my husband and I should be rebuked from the church. Vote was taken and we were rebuked. Immediately my husband called the pastor confronting him about the information we had just received. The pastor confirmed what the caller had shared. He attempted to justify his actions by stating that our attendance was not in compliance and he felt that we were not committed as we should be. Once again we were broken; wounded in the back. My family has not been to a single church since.
One thing I want to make perfectly clear is that we were betrayed by the body and not Christ. From our experience, the church has been a misrepresentation of what the scripture commands it to be. These events have changed our lives forever. My view of the church body will never be the same. We question what we believe and how we feel. We question motives, sincerity, compassion, love, friendship; I could go on and on. We feel betrayed and embarrassed. We have been broken by the body.