Thursday, March 17, 2016
“The Church is so filled with corrupt men that if it weren't divinely founded it would collapse within a week.” — Jonathan Fears
Bishops Monto, Festo, and Kitandu showed up last night to spend the night in our guest cottage, so I gave them money to eat in town. They were up this morning bright and early so Shaban could drive them to Mwanza for what we hope is our last court appearance at the High Court of Tanzania. Three previous times we have been there and heard all good things, but this is supposed to be the last and should provide us a written judgement in our favor. This is the last time that those suing us can offer what the justices said would have to be overwhelmingly undeniable proof that they were the official church for Methodists in Tanzania and not us. Hard to do that since we have all the official paperwork, stamped, sealed, and on file in government offices. Failure to prove their case and failure to apologize to us may result in the seizure of whatever assets the Tanzania/Kenya folks have: houses, vehicles, whatever. I gave the guys enough money to spend the night tonight if the court case drags on because we don’t drive after dark here. The last time the court met for our case, none of the Kenyan church people even showed up, just their attorney. People who know the two main guys suing us, McKenna and Leopold (both live in Tireme) say that they haven’t seen either of them in several weeks. They may have already fled to other parts of Tanzania or to Kenya. This has all been rather upsetting and costly for us. The Methodist Church in Kenya has been paying all the costs for McKenna and Leopold, but I have been paying all of our costs which have amounted to several thousand dollars so far. Interestingly, these court cases that attempt to get control of our buildings and property started just a month after the United Methodist Church officially ceased sending any funds to Uganda, Kenya, and Burundi because of fraud and the outright theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars. One conference in Pennsylvania lost almost $500,000.00 that was to build an orphanage and a school, but went instead to a personal home for a bishop, a new car, and the purchase of a farm for when he retires. I wish I could say that using the church to line one’s own pockets was just an East African thing, but it happens all over the world. Pastors, bishops, and church treasurers have all been caught with their fingers in the till. I was sent to a new pastorate in the 1990’s and found seven checks to the building fund made out and signed but left blank in the desk drawer of the previous pastor. I could have made them out to cash and helped myself to almost a hundred thousand dollars, but, honest to a fault, I took them to the trustees for safe keeping. It could have just been an honest mistake, but it sure looked bad. I really understand Christ’s anger at the money changers in the temple and think that there are a lot of people, clergy, bishops, and church leaders who have not made Christ happy with their actions in His name. We do the best we can here with what little we have. We hope to set a good example for the whole church and have been told that we do. Other people will know just how Christian you are by what you do, not what you say.