Saturday, February 22, 2014
“IT happened. There is no avoiding it, no forgetting. No running away, or flying, or burying, or hiding.” ― Laurie Halse Anderson
When I taught second grade in an all black school in the ghetto in Los Angeles, I had an absolutely wonderful African-American principal named Bill Pitts. He was the best boss I have ever had, and I have had quite a few. He always knew when to praise and when to scold—ever so gently. Then one day, a staff member said and did something that was very racist to a small child. I saw Bill heading toward his office and his face had an expression I had never seen before. I asked him what was up, and he replied that there had been an incident and he was on his way to confront the person responsible. He said he was going to have a “come-to-Jesus” meeting with this person. What he meant was that only truth was going to be told and it would be told face-to-face with no excuses allowed. I had never heard that expression before but I have heard that expression used many times since in a variety of circumstances but always with the same meaning—the meeting would be harsh in its reality and its consequences. Bishop Monto, the presiding bishop of the denomination (pictured at right) and I had just such a meeting today with the pastors, evangelists, and church leaders of the Methodist Church in Tanzania. There were twenty-five in attendance. A lot of harm has been done to the church by just three or four men, but it could no longer be overlooked. We can forgive the men their sin, but there are consequences for it. One pastor is no longer a pastor or even welcome in our denomination, one evangelist is no longer an evangelist and is on probation as just a member. One member has been expelled from the church where he caused so many problems for so long, going back to his stealing money from the church many years ago. Christ said you could only serve one Master, God or Money. This man has always chosen money and it has cost him almost all of his friends and his own grown children won’t come near him, and his wife is going to a different church. I cannot hate this man because I know too many like him and understand the temptation, but I can pity him and pray for him. May God soften his hardened heart and turn him back to the light and love of Christ before it is too late for him. I don’t enjoy meetings like this one, but this has been the only one like it since we have been here, and after this, judging from the reactions of the other pastors and evangelists, I don’t think another will be necessary for quite some time.