We decided to leave, met with an elder, and later a pastor. The pastor suggested a letter we AGONIZED over writing. We shared our hearts and concerns boldy at the prodding of this pastor. The lead pastor responded, and didn’t agree. Initially he wanted to meet, then it seemed he didn’t. We weren’t sure. My husband really dreaded meeting with him, and many people actually said things like, “good luck with that” and “wow, well, we’ll be praying for you.” We did ask for advice of a few friends. This was a very hard time.
I felt we’d never find another place. We were used to this former church caring for us, it was one of their strengths. We are a large family on one income, and an elder had told us homeschooling and mom staying home was a good thing so just trust God. We really thought this was right (and still do). Sometimes, this meant our church helped us financially when things got tough, like when my husband lost two jobs and when I had a new baby, or when our furnace just quit in the middle of winter. We also had individual friends help us with emergency plumbing and car repair, and more furnace trouble. We only sought help when we’d exhausted our personal options. We were scared of making it on our own. We do know that things in the future could become hard for us financially. We do not expect others to pick up the bill. Now that time has passed and we’re chugging forward, we really feel we’ll be okay. What we have witnessed in our new church shows that people are loving, and we’ve already had an opportunity to serve.
In our new church, there is a family with serious issues. The mother, a wage earner, has cancer. Treatments are difficult and some haven’t worked as planned. Mom is sick, and often has to be hospitalized and kids have to stay away when they catch cold because of the compromised immune system. This new church has taken a stand from the pulpit. The father gives updates frequently. The church people provide meals for this family several times a week, housekeeping, laundry, and rides for the girls. There have been individuals who have gone to the hospital to sit with the mother and take her to the bathroom, etc. so that she’s not neglected by nursing staff. I do not know if any financial assistance has happened. Most of all, there is prayer. The congregation has been given purple bracelets, which remind each of us to pray for the family. There have been times when people sign up to pray for ten minute incriments in the day for this family. Completely surrounded, that’s what’s happening. The call in a bad economy with difficulty has been to look within the body and to step up and care for each other. What is awesome about this is that I do not believe the gospel is being dumbed down in order to get people to serve. There has been no cry that church as usual is weak, and we need to get off our duffs to prove ourselves. What has happened is a family has been lifted up and the true compassion of the church people has come out to meet the needs. We have been convicted to find our ways to help, and others are likely to be there too.
So, what has happened since we left our church? We found out who our true friends were there, and we have found new friends in a new church. No, the new church is not perfect. I will continue to pray for our former church as brothers and sisters in Christ fight the battle there whether they know it or not. I will pray for our new church, that the staff leadership stand guard and keep themselves focused on Christ and the scriptures. I believe we have found that God does have his people in the positions they are in for a reason. We were so blind, we’ve learned to pay more attention. We’ve learned to watch out better for our kids. We’ve learned to speak up after careful consideration and prayer. We’ve learned to be firm. We’ve seen we sometimes cannot trust those we think we can.
Now we move forward. It’s actually been good NOT to be in a small group. We have more family time. Our children need to spend time in our church for sure, but we should be building the relationships at home too. We have examined our beliefs, and it’s been hard but good.
On a side note, some we thought were “shunning” us actually have responded lately. It seems life just threw them some hard days and they weren’t checking email. This is not the pastors who haven’t answered email…just the few members. So, it wasn’t all what it seemed to us. Sure, we do have one individual who is being very weird, but I think she’d be that way anyway. Some of the other couples have not been so cold as we thought.