5 Lessons I Learned from a Pastor’s Betrayal (Part 1)

sad-man One of the pitfalls of our instantaneous digital age is the temptation to write about experiences immediately, rather than allowing yourself to marinate in them and to invest the necessary time to allow God to work them deep into your heart.  In March of this year I and my church experienced an unprecedented betrayal from a man who was a member of our church and had served as a pastor at another local church. It’s only now, some five months later, that enough time has passed where I sense the clarity of mind to really evaluate these experiences and to talk about what I’ve learned.

In 2012 I was introduced to a local pastor named Jack [I’ve chosen to change the names of Jack & his wife for the purposes of this series of posts]. Jack was having a very difficult time at his church, so I befriended him and did what I could to offer help / counsel as he worked through the issues there. Eventually Jack’s church closed and he and his wife (Jenny) began attending Cool Community Church. At first Jack seemed like a gift from God. He was a capable preacher, he was helpful during hospital visitations and was always available. Over the course of 2013 our families became very close, spending a lot of time together every week, sharing meals, etc. Jack and I even shared a room together at the 2013 Shepherds’ Conference and enjoyed many late night conversations about the Lord and about the ministry.

Towards the end of 2013 I started to notice some odd things in their family. They always seemed to be in financial distress, yet Jack claimed that he made a fantastic salary as an insurance salesman. There were other lingering questions, but never enough to make me suspect any duplicity on their part. I simply assumed that they were going through a rough patch as a family and that they would eventually pull out of it.

My naiveté was revealed in March of 2014 when I discovered that Jack had stolen my identity, opened up credit cards in my name and begun making charges on them. Through the course of a lengthy investigation I also discovered that he had committed insurance fraud against some of our dearest friends in the church, posing to be an insurance salesman by taking their money but never issuing insurance (it turns out Jack did not have an license to sell insurance). By God’s grace that was the extent of the damage at our church, but upon further investigation we found another church who’s members had been defrauded of tens of thousands of dollars and one other church that had members defrauded of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

We immediately entered into a process of church discipline with Jack and begged him to repent, but after many meetings and a lot of legwork on my part (culminating in a trip to the California Secretary of State’s Office) it became clear that despite his words Jack was absolutely committed to the darkness of his sin, so we warned the church, removed him from membership and contacted the other local churches in our area to warn them about him.

My greatest concern through this whole process was for the church body. It was clear that a wolf had been amongst us, but it wasn’t clear what the extent of the damage was and to tell you the truth I was quite scared.

There are at least five big lessons that the Lord has taught me through this experience, which I plan on writing about in coming weeks. But, if there was only one lesson that I could share with you about this journey it would be this: God is faithful. Even in the darkest valleys, even through the deepest betrayals, God remains faithful. The faithfulness of God was a rock in the midst of a hurricane that went on for months. It sustained me, upheld me and was my greatest comfort and encouragement to do what was right.

Five months later it is becoming increasingly clear that the Lord has seen us through all of these events without any lasting repercussions. In fact, I believe that our church is much stronger today than it would have been if we had not gone through this. We baptized 16 people this last Sunday at the river, our nursery is nearly overflowing, we just received 7 new members into our fellowship and our next membership class has more than 20 people signed up already!

Hebrews 6:17-18 – “…when God desires to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us…”

It's only fair to share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

August 25 2014 05:00 am | Betrayed

Comments are closed.