Saturday, December 6, 2014
“We must cease striving and trust God to provide what He thinks is best and in whatever time He chooses to make it available. But this kind of trusting doesn't come naturally. It's a spiritual crisis of the will in which we must choose to exercise faith.” ― Charles R. Swindoll
We knew when we came we would face many obstacles, and that we would have to persevere and fight on whatever bad thing happened to us. Recently, we got an attack from the very church that we served faithfully in the U.S. for decades, but that’s what it means to answer God’s call, not to have everything handed to you on a plate, but to have to work and sometimes dig deep inside yourself to get the strength to carry on. Every missionary who is truly committed to their mission knows this all too well. They also know that the worst betrayals and assaults against their mission would not come from other faiths but from within their own. This has been our experience and from our discussions with other missionaries here, it has happened to almost all of them. I once had the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Kenya write to the Immigration Chief in Tanzania asking him to deport me and to hand over all of our buildings and assets to the the church of Kenya. The Chief of Immigration did nothing, but the next time I went in to get my residence permit renewed he showed me the letter and asked why this man was acting in such a non-Christian matter. Of course, my permit was renewed and the claims of the Kenyan church were ignored. That same church has sued the Methodist Church of Tanzania on four other occasions, losing every single lawsuit. A nun who helps albinos once came with the police to arrest me because she thought I was stealing money from her charity—it was untrue, of course, and the nun apologized profusely as did the police for listening to her without knowing the facts. A pastor was using my name on the internet to get people to give money to an imaginary orphanage. We stopped him and he is no longer a pastor, but he is still scamming people. Even the man in charge of the preschool here on our grounds was collecting money from the parents for food and uniforms and other things that we were providing. He also did not pay the teachers but kept that money as well. Next week, he is moving to Arusha and Karen will be in total charge of the school. Another missionary friend found a man who had worked for him for over fifteen years stealing money and other things from his house. He was crushed that a man he considered a friend would be so evil. I fought the same kind of battles when I was a pastor in the United States. I was accused of many false things for reasons I will never understand, but never really suffered for any of them except for the pain in my heart that comes from that kind of betrayal. It always seems to the be the people we have helped the most that attack us. Karen and I paid for three years of Bible college for a man and his wife only to have them attack us and try to have us deported as soon as they were made pastors. They have since been removed as pastors from our churches, but they have found other followers. What does one do about this? There is only trust in God, forgiveness, prayer, and protection to keep it from happening again. I once gave a man enough money to pay for an entire year’s schooling, but he spent it all in the first month and was kicked out of school. He came by sometime later to ask my forgiveness which I freely gave, but I did tell him that I would never again trust him or give him any money. We must forgive those who, in the words of Christ, “Know not what they do” but we must also pray that they change and become more like Christ. Our enemies here have never been Muslims or pagans or even the government, they have all been friends and church members, pastors, and in some cases, bishops. We pray for them, we forgive them, and we protect ourselves from them, but we never let them sway us from the task that God called us to do. We knew the risks when we came, and we have fought, prayed, and forgiven over and over. God has blessed us either in spite of these attacks or because of them. If you are doing what God knows is good, you will come under attack. It is a fact. That the attack will come from friends, colleagues, and church leaders should not be a surprise. It has always been so. Just ask St. Paul. Keep your eyes on the prize and don’t let “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” make you stray from the path where God is guiding you. Trust in God, not in people. God has never abandoned us and always fills us with faith and strength, as it should be.