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23 Years

March 31, 2012


“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”                Ephesians 4: 32

Yesterday I received a phone call that brought me to tears.  It was from a man that seriously sinned against me 23 years ago.  In 1988-89 I was senior at Spring Arbor college.  My major was contemporary ministries with a emphasis on public ministry or ministering to people outside of the traditional church.  In order to graduate I needed to complete an internship as an assistant pastor with a local church.  After speaking with several possible churches my advisor suggested The Jackson Michigan Church of God, a denomination out of Cleveland TN..

I was really not interested in becoming a professional minister.  All I wanted was to complete the internship so that I could graduate.  My heart was in relational ministry since I was saved.  Starting with a housechurch in Columbus Ohio and continuing in a interdenominational youth group.  I had never spent much time in any traditional Christian settings, other than the American Baptist church I was married in for less than a year and teaching adult Sunday school at a Missionary church.   Oh that and I played softball.  My home had always been open for fellowship or bible studies and I thought I would make tents as a counselor (minor in psychology).  Besides we were experiencing a revival of sorts at Spring Arbor and spontaneous relational fellowship was breaking out everywhere I went.  So I knew I did not need a traditional church to accomplish His will for my life.

My internship was going very well and I was leading the teen group, preaching and visiting the needy.  I was putting in over 30 hours a week and carrying an overload of credits at the Arbor.  The church wanted to pay me 75 dollars a week, but I refused it because I believe that getting paid for ministry would be prostituting my gift.  Then along came April.  The church was in the middle of a building project, adding additional seating to their sanctuary because we were growing quickly.  Then we had an all church business meeting and everything changed.  They voted to give Pastor Mike a steep pay raise with additional benefits and then to my surprise the people wanted me to come on staff full time with identical pay and benefits as The Pastor.  That was the beginning of the end for me.  Everyone wanted me to seriously consider the offer, so I told them I would pray about it and get back to them next month.  Knowing full well in my heart that I could never really sell out to the system like that.

My time there did not last another month.  In fact less than 2 weeks later a special meeting was called with the State Overseer and The Pastor was accusing me of sexual sin with several female members of the congregation.  Totally trumped up charges.  We had my trial and I was found innocent, but the damage was done and I agreed to leave that church. They did not excommunicate me or take my license.  Being misjudged like that hurt.  A day after the trial Pastor Mike stopped by our apartment.  He gave a backhanded apology saying he did what he did because,” I had threatened his position and all that he had worked for.”  I told him I was never interested in ANY position and that in another month I would have graduated and been gone from his life anyway.  I forgave him that day, but it was difficult.  The whole mess was devastating to go through.  I was in bed for a week.  Before I went to trial I went to the Dean Of Students telling him of my predicament and how he needed to expel me if the charges were true.  He laughed and said,” No worries I know you and your wife and kids.  Plus I do not know how you survived that long in a pentecostal holiness church.”  We laughed and then we cried.

This brings me back to yesterdays phone call.  As you can probably guess it was Pastor Mike.  I had found him several weeks ago on youtube.  He was pastoring a megachurch near Atlanta and I left him a message.  I figured he would never call back, but he did.  The very first words he said were, “I am so sorry for what I did to you all those years ago.”  I thanked him for the sincere apology and we both cried.  He wanted to know if I had continued on in Christ and I told him I had and about my involvement with relational housechurches and addictions counseling.  He didn’t fully understand because it is so far outside his paradigm, but he wished me continued success.  Then we prayed together.  I felt a leading so I told Mike that I had forgiven him 23 years ago, but that now it was finally time for Mike to forgive himself.  He broke down and admitted that what he had tried to do to me had haunted him all these years.  Now Mike is free and I have regained a friend of sorts.  Now do you see why I try to avoid entanglements with the traditional church?  I am just glad that I was able to stick to my principals and His ways.  Was I ever tempted to accept a full time paid gig in the church?  To be honest yes, but very briefly. Do I miss preaching?  Not really because I have learned how to share in conversational chunks.  I am happy where my life is today.

Love and ……

Kirk Out !

P.s. The three accusations against me were:  1. A deacons wife sat on my lap while I was pretending to be Santa at Christmas.  2.  I holy kissed a 40 year old woman on the cheek in the church building.  3. I told the Pastor’s wife she had sexy legs.  (My wife said that to her not me)  Oh wait a minute there was a fourth. We were at a church party and a deacons wife (who was like a sister to me) kept slapping me with my suspenders.  I had finally had enough and told her the next time she did it I was going to slap her with the strap of her tank top.  She did it again and I did indeed grab her strap and snapped her.  Guilty on all counts.  Lord have mercy!






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One Comment
  1. Martin permalink

    I”ve done all those things…. And, enjoyed it… lol

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