Here’s a challenging situtation.

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Pastor Gary, Sep 12, 2003.

  1. Pastor Gary

    Pastor Gary
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    Some time ago I befriended a man who was accused of child molestation, just accused, never convicted or even arrested. Eventually I was able to lead him to the Lord and he has recently become active in my church. His heart for service to the Master seems genuine and he has become someone I can rely upon when certain things need to be accomplished.

    The challenge I am facing is this. His presence in the church has upset many of the “old guard” members. Two families have already left and more are threatening, unless I ask this man to leave the church. Rumors are rampant in the community and are causing even more strife amongst the church members.

    I truly don’t wish to see further division because of this mans presence. However, I am very reluctant to ask him to leave and thereby become a tool for Satan’s design myself. I can see fruit in him and I am concerned how he might react, how this might influence his walk with Christ.

    So far he has done nothing to deserve the peoples ire, short of being accused of a crime he didn’t commit. BTW, another man was eventually convicted and imprisoned for the crime my man was originally accused of.

    Has anyone out there ever dealt with this type of situtation before? Can you offer some godly counsel to this embattled pastor?
     
  2. Hardsheller

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    There are many aspects of this story that we do not know that I assume you do, such as:

    Is he a long time resident of the area?
    Does he have a family?
    Does he have children of his own?
    Does he have a job?
    Does he own property in the area?
    What is his criminal background besides this one accusation?

    Has he matured as a Christian enough to understand the weaker brother principle?

    Are you willing to put your Pastoral Position on the line for this man?

    How do the folks in the church that you have confidence in feel about this?

    Do you have any doubts about him?

    The list of unknowns makes it virtually impossible for any of us to make a realistic recommendation.
     
  3. SaggyWoman

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    We had a l dy in our church at one time ..bless her. She had two elementary aged children at the time. As she became "active" in our church, and eventually came to know the Lord, she at first would sit in church in a mantra--yoga type position. Eventually, it came to knowledge of some church members that she was a registered sex offender.

    Rather than alienate her, we made sure, particularly when she would attend any children's function because of her children's presence, she would be shadowed. She was never permitted to work in any area of children's ministry. But she could attend with her chilren. It worked.

    She no longer lives here. Long story, but I can say that we were the example of Christ to her. Can your church say the same thing?
     
  4. Pastor Gary

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    Hardsheller, I will tell you what I know.

    Yes, 18 years.

    No, he is divorced.

    Yes, one son.

    No, he lost part of both hands in a logging accident 10 years ago and he currently receives SSI.

    Yes, a home and land.

    None and this accusation was four years ago. He is not listed in the state’s sexual offender database and he came through a criminal background check clean.

    No, he gets angry and simply wants people to let him put it behind himself. This is where I am sure he will fall, if I don’t find a way to quench this fire.

    I will as you say put my Pastoral Position on line for what is right and I know that the rumors and hatred are not right.

    They are a wonderful source of encouragement to me and have accepted him as their brother in Christ.

    I have no doubts about him regarding this particular situtation.

    I hope that this helps.
     
  5. Pastor Gary

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    SaggyWoman you said...

    Sadly, I must admit that the answer to your question is probably no. There is only my family and two others that begin to even remotely show him the example of Christ. Right now the people in the church and the community that seem to “hate” him so much, are practically all he can see.

    His anger grows with each passing moment and I feel that shortly he may abandoned Christ altogether. I counsel with him daily and he knows that he should just “dig another well” as did Isaac. However, I am convinced the continued spiteful remarks, hateful rumors and sideways glances are more than he can handle at this time.

    My cries go up to the Lord for this man and I seek His light and guidance in this situtation.
     
  6. Hardsheller

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    Since this is also a "community" situation there may realistically be little hope of his acceptance in the community at large even if your church could get past it.

    This is a sad case. I don't think there are any easy answers to this one.

    He's not likely to move to another location which might be the only long term solution for him since this is a community wide "attitude."
     
  7. gb93433

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    Unity at the expense of the Bible is not unity at all. God often brings this kind of thing to prefect us and expose us where we are weak so that we might be mature. IF they didn't know anything about this man would they would have said anything?


    The only people Jesus ever condemned were the religious people (The Pharisees) Sounds like you have a big dose of what Jesus condemned. Jesus was never able to reach those kind of people. If God has not reached them it is doubtful you will unlesss God changes their heart. You have a spiritual battle. The man who is sick must have surgery and you are the surgeon. But if the man is sick and doesn't know it, he won't want surgery.

    I would suggest that you start discipling this man by meeting with him personally one on one and taking him through some good Bible studies and then teach him to share his faith. You might start a Bible study with some othewrs who have shown interest and include this man as part of the study. Pray for some men who will accept him and surround him with love and support.

    The next time one of the leaders brings it up about asking the man to leave. I would appoint the person who even suggests that you do their handy work. I would say something like, "I don't have that kind of personal conviction from scripture or from the legal system so would you like to go and talk with the man personally." Then have that same man bring it before the church. After all shouldn't this be a matter of excommunication if it is truly an offense where the man in unrepentant. But I guess he only knows if he should repent. That is the only time I see in scripture where a person is removed. Put the ball in their court. If it is their idea then let it be there action. My guess is that you have a bunch of babies who are the biggest cowards. A man of courage will not afraid of that man.

    I would get ready for some fire and be ready to leave because the cowards will probably start undermining your pastoral authority by slandering you. I know personally.


    Perhaps a good book to preach on would be from James. The book is about a creedal faith versus a genuine saving faith.


    James 1:22-2:4, "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with [an attitude of] personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, "You sit here in a good place," and you say to the poor man, "You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?"

    I would not say anything to them about their spiritual condition. Let God do that. If He doesn't reach them through His word you won't either.
     
  8. GODzThunder

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    You really only have two choices here. One tell the man to leave in order to satisfy the uneasy members of your congregation. This will satisfy the people but will cause the man to lose hope in Church and Christ. (of course, you can talk to a fellow pastor and have their Church prepare for him and direct him there, that may or may not work out).

    The other is to tell them he is forgiven and that the Bible commands us to love and forgive him as well (and remind them that for their sakes he will never be put in charge of a children's ministry, it may satisfy them). This may cause some unforgiving members to leave Church.

    The choice is yours and yours alone. You must pray over which choice and then just trust God in your decision.
     
  9. j_barner2000

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    I am familiar with Northern Mi. White Pine is a small community. When something like this is accused, even if the real perp is caught and the accused is shown to be innocent... people will almost always remember the allegations and believe that if they were accused, they deserved it.
    The stigma will likely stick forever. Be sure the public is aware that he was not convicted, and the actual perp was found and prosecuted for the crime.
    An editorial in the local paper on how the community is persecuting an innocent man may help.
     
  10. Pastor Gary

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    gb93433 you said

    Preach it!!!

    I know what you say is true, but sometimes I want to just look towards heaven and scream, “Why me God?!?” :rolleyes:

    This is my current approach.

    Outstanding suggestion! It seems to me that this approach will start to sort the wheat from the tares. Thank you for your godly insight.

    Yes, I am currently fully involved in undermining you speak of. I am sure you can imagine some of the things that I hear that some of people from the church and community are saying about me.

    Another great suggestion I will take advantage of!

    Maybe this is where it ends up after it all shakes out.

    I can only ask that you will pray for me, that I might have the strength to withstabd this attack from Satan.
     
  11. TheOliveBranch

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    We had a man start coming to the church that was older, divorced, but very friendly. He was open to the Gospel, attended church regularly, and eventually was saved. He had a prior accusation of molesting young girls, but only a few people knew of this, including the pastor. The family he was staying with, knew, but had assumed that because he was saved, he had started new. He would fellowship with other members, help at the church, and truly loved to be there.

    He was later found out to have molested two girls, one before salvation, one after. He was convicted and is now in prison.

    Two situations arose after the fact. The pastor decided not to make it known of what happened to the man, but it came out by a woman that had known of the situation. The father of the girls became very angry in the whole situation, because he had done the christian thing, to see that the man heard the gospel and helped him, in spite of his past. He was angry with the people for not reaching out, at the pastor for wanting to hide the situation, at God for allowing this to happen, even when he was doing the right thing for the man. The pastor told the father that it happened, but not to blame God, but himself, for God had revealed what the man was capable of doing. The situation was troubling, but the only people that had left was the father with his family, and the man, of course.

    When it comes to a molester, or even the accused, there is nothing worse than having to live with having been molested. It's like being murdered, but having to live with the memories. The molester doesn't see that what they do is wrong, or they do, but don't want to stop. It's a chance to take, whether he is guilty. If he says he didn't do it, he may be telling the truth, or he may be covering up. That man that was imprisoned still denies having molested anyone.
     
  12. Pastor Larry

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    I would do several things.

    1. I would continue to disciple and support this man fully.

    2. I would meet the disgruntled members and remember them that the grace that saved them from their wickedness is available to others as well. Their unwillingness to forgive this man is direct disobedience to God and shows that they have not truly experienced the nature of forgiveness. I have been preaching from Jonah recently and this is exactly his situation: He loved the mercy and grace that saved him but loathed it when it was given to someone he didn't like. He was wrong and so are these people. I think you have to confront them about their spiritual condition. That is the job of ministry. I know GB says not to, that such confrontation is the job of the word, but I think you take the word and be straightforward with them. I was reading J. Oswald Sanders again yesterday on Spiritual Leadership. He reminds us that leadership is saying the tough things when they need to be said. Here you have some families crying out for spiritual direction and confrontation. To not give it to them ... to let them go on in their disobedience is the worst kind of spiritual abuse, IMO.

    3. If they refuse to accept this man, then they are liable for church discipline on the grounds of divisiveness in the body. They are not unifying the body; they are destroying it. These are the kind of people of whom Christ said should have a millstone hung aroudn their neck rather than causing a little one to stumble. They are risking this man's spiritual growth on the basis of their own petty issues.

    There is a chance that later on you might find out more about this man and find out he is guilty. But to act on that presumption now is to think the worst. Love does not do that (1 Cor 13). Our responsibility is alwasy to act biblically. If someone else fails, that is their problem. If this man later fails, 'I told you so" will not be a biblical excuse for disobedience now. We must respond biblically no matter what ... and the biblical response is forgiveness, discipleship, and acceptance.

    This is the unfortunate situation that happens when people are self-absorbed. They think only of themselves and forget about the world and other growing Christians. IMO, you would probably be wise not to let him work in the children's ministry. There are other places of active ministry where he can function. But do not allow these disobedient church members to ruin the unity of the church. Use it as an opportunity to preach such passages as Luke 15, Matt 6:15; Matt 18:21; Col 3:13; Eph 4:32; etc. With this man's permission, make it a public issue.

    [ September 13, 2003, 10:42 AM: Message edited by: Pastor Larry ]
     
  13. Molly

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    I agree with what Pastor Larry has stated for the most part. But....I don't think it is that simple. I would like to add some needs for concern....

    I,also,believe this pastor or leader,should be protecting his flock from harm...false teaching,but also other harmful things. Presuming this man is not guilty,he should be allowed to be an active part of the church. I think wisdom should be used in protecting the others,too,though. (Just in case he has done something regretable in his past) If he has repented,then great,but he should NEVER be allowed with any age children alone,EVER! We do not even allow men to change diapers at our church and they are not guilty of anything. It is a way to protect the children.

    Another thing to consider...he and God know if this has happened,if it has and he is lying to cover it up,he should be the one to have church discipline on and the flock should be protected from these kinds of people.

    If he is for sure innocent,then treat him as you would any believer who needs to grow in the Lord. And advise the ones concerned to do the same. I do understand their fear,though! I am the mother of 3 young daughters and we will do everything we can to protect them from such evil people. The pastor(or elders) needs to make sure that their body is protected from such things. In today's world,this is a major concern and to treat it lightly would be a mistake.

    This is an area to be very WISE. There is much at stake and I am very concerned about protecting the children...if this man is innocent,he will undertsand this.

    Molly
     
  14. Molly

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    A few more thoughts:


    It is very sad when people are falsely accused of such a terrible thing...it can ruin lives and reputations....but,we still need to exercise great caution and wisdom.

    As a church,we do a lot to protect others from this....and noone has even been accused of it,we just know it does happen and every caution should be taken.

    I would be very concerned if there was someone who had been accused of such a thing in my church...if he has been falsely accused,I'm so sorry about that,but I would still be very cautious. It would be foolish not to be.

    Molly
     
  15. gb93433

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    I would agree with you.

    Let me give you an example of something that really did happen.

    While I was teaching high school a fellow teacher was arrested and put in jail because someone accused him of child molestation. His wife took care of the two children after school. They now had enough savings so they told the family that they would quit taking care of their childrena and gave them a set date. I did not know of one teacher who believed that he was like that at all. Later, after all the dust settled it was found out that the parents worked for the State of California and had filed lawsuits against their employers in the past. They were people who would look for reasons to file a lawsuit just so they could benefit finacially. Fortunately for that teacher he had a squeakly clean reputation as a teacher and coach and still teaches at the same school. We had talked about adding an addition to his home. But to defend himself he had to spend that money for a lawyer. He was accused of something that totally false. It cost him a large part of his savings and the time it took along with being on the local news. The other family was never put on the news because their children were minors. Few people know who the family is. But the entire town knows the teacher.

    The family that falsely accused him was never prosecuted and the teacher was never reimbursed financially. I asked him about filing a lawsuit against the family. He told me they didn't have any money.

    The fact is that there are people out there who will destroy others just so they can benefit personally.

    When I first came to a church to pastor one of the men asked me how I liked it there. I told him that it seems like everyone knows everyone else. He added, "And they know some things about you that you don't know about yourself."
     
  16. GODzThunder

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    I am sorry to hear that teacher's life was ruined over a greedy family.

    A wonderful man and a great friend of mine was a high school algebra teacher and worked as the girls track coach on the side. There was this one girl he had to give a ride home to because her parents never came to pick her up one day. Everyone else was gone and he could not just leave her there (she had waited for over two hours). He tried calling people but could get no one so finally he took her home.

    Five weeks later a lawsuit was filed against him for statutory rape. The girl said that the two of them had been a romantic couple for some time and were both sexually active. Of course he denied it.

    He lost his job with the school immediately and was listed as a pedifile by the county so that no other schools could hire him. When he went to trial the girl admitted that she lied in order to get back at her father who not picking her up that day (and a few other things). He was proven not guilty when the girl on live news coverage said she lied. (she did not want to but she kept changing her story of what happened, finally she was caught in five different lies before the court).

    Sadly, even though he was proven not guilty the schoolboard refused to hire him back. He had to sue the school to lift the pedifile listing so that he could work in another county. The trial cost him over fifty thousand and his job, and he was only trying to help in that situation.

    I feel for people who are falsly convicted. [​IMG]
     
  17. SaggyWoman

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    Sadly, I must admit that the answer to your question is probably no. There is only my family and two others that begin to even remotely show him the example of Christ. Right now the people in the church and the community that seem to “hate” him so much, are practically all he can see.

    His anger grows with each passing moment and I feel that shortly he may abandoned Christ altogether. I counsel with him daily and he knows that he should just “dig another well” as did Isaac. However, I am convinced the continued spiteful remarks, hateful rumors and sideways glances are more than he can handle at this time.

    My cries go up to the Lord for this man and I seek His light and guidance in this situtation.
    </font>[/QUOTE]I will say that My person did not seek to stir up. But in the same sense, maybe your church needs some maturity and .... Jesus. No offense intended
     
  18. SaggyWoman

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    Forgiveness. But with watchful eyes. Your congregation has isues to deal with.
     
  19. amen_corner

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    Another suggestion...why not have the newspaper do a story on this man's situation...his struggle ever since being falsely accused. Writers love this kind of story, and maybe the community will change their perspective if they read about his plight in the paper. You could even be quoted mentioning the positive changes in his life since being falsely accused. I'd call the editor of the religion section, if you have one.
     
  20. A.J.Armitage

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    I would assume (correct me if I'm wrong) that there was only one perp. Which means, of course, that proving one person guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is also proving everyone else innocent, including past suspects, which further means that the man in question no more did it than Tony Blair flew in and did it.

    It seems to me the real question is, should the people objecting be confronted and, if they continue, excommunicated? If Jesus forgave the guilty, and they can't even forgive the innocent, what does that say?

    Maybe you should do a sermon about God's love for the innocent citing what happened to Ahab and Jezebel (like in Payday Someday).
     

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