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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The True Story that Beggars Belief




Writing is a scary thing. Putting words on paper is more than merely typing. It's finding the words and forming them into coherent form. Writing means baring one's soul to others. It makes us vulnerable. So, why write? Because it's important to share.

What have you experienced? How did you confront your circumstances? What happened next? Tell a story. Are you stumped? If I tell one of my stories, you might remember one of yours.

This one's true. You couldn't make it up. (The names of people and place have been changed for anonymity.)

My husband and I arrived at the church in the late morning of a weekday. We noticed quite a few dirty, troubled people in the hallway. They were waiting for something—a meal, perhaps? We passed through these men and proceeded to Pastor Martin's office.

Entering his study, we scanned the jam-packed room. The pastor made space for us to sit down. He was friendly, but his surroundings were … odd. A leopard pelt covered his high-backed desk chair, and here and there I noticed stuffed animals. Crammed with mementos, the office appeared colorful, almost gaudy, like a carnival. My husband continued speaking, "Would you allow us to present our work in your church?" he asked the pastor. We were surprised to hear "yes" but pleased, since each meeting was important to reaching our goal.

Ours was on a Wednesday evening. The yawning church building contained only around twenty people, mostly women. Pastor Martin strode across the platform in a shiny black suit, dazzling diamond rings on his fingers, and a mic in his hand. He introduced us in a showbiz voice, "And nooww … the Keisers." I could've died. It sounded like we should perform. What had we gotten ourselves into?

My husband calmly gave our presentation, complete with slides. The audience applauded, and then it was prayer time. Pastor Martin asked everyone to come to the front and join hands in a circle. I forget what happened next, but I left that meeting with disquiet in my soul. What was wrong? I couldn't put a finger on it. My husband said, "Look how few people were there in that huge church. Surely, they can't take us on."

But, they did. A few weeks later, we got our first support check from Pastor Martin's church.

Some months afterwards, we were talking with another pastor, who asked us which churches we'd visited in the area. My husband's list included Pastor Martin's church. The young pastor was Pastor Martin's relative, and he asked if we knew about Martin's moral failings, which he briefly described.

What were we supposed to do now? My husband felt we should ask the pastor of the practically empty church if the accusations were true, confront him with what we'd heard, and not just believe one person's account outright. So, my husband wrote a letter to the flashy pastor. He didn't get any reply. After several months, he wrote to Pastor Martin a second time and asked the church to discontinue our support.

At least a year later, we were packing to move to Spain, and the telephone rang. "Hello," I answered.

"This is the Jonesville City Police, Detective Steven Montgomery. Is Mr. Keiser there? I'd like to ask him some questions." I handed the phone to my husband and listened to our end of the conversation.

"Yes. Yes, I did. Well, it was of a delicate nature…. You see, we had heard he had had some moral failings, and we wanted to give the pastor an opportunity to reply. Well, yes. Let me explain. We are missionaries, and we want to be supported by churches that don't have these problems. Since I didn't hear back from him, I wrote him again."

After a pause, "No, I hadn't heard. No, it was only because of the moral problem. Thank you. Good bye."

I was all ears, curious to find out the remaining details. My husband told me that the huge church in Jonesville had burned down. The police suspected arson. One of the few papers surviving the fire was my husband's letter stating, "Since you have not responded, we have to believe that these accusations are true. Please cancel our support immediately."

Later, Pastor Martin was found guilty of burning down his own church in order to collect the insurance money.

I told you it's a story that beggars belief.

As you read my story, what incident from your life came to mind? Write it down. Share your experience. You are enough. And, your life can be shared. Just write.

___________________

Note: My contest entry ends at the above line. 

Now, for some lessons learned from our incredibly unique experience:
  • Don't outright accept everything you hear about others. My husband was correct to give the pastor an opportunity to respond. Jesus said, Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment (John 7:24).
  • When God calls, He provides. He has always met our needs over the thirty-four years we've served in Spain.
  • Be sure your sin will find you out (Numbers 32:23b). Sad, but true.
What's your story?




4 comments:

  1. Wow, what an experience. I agree your husband did all that he could to find out the truth, and I applaud him for taking the step of withdrawing from a questionable supporter. It's fascinating that your husband's letter was one of the few items to survive the fire.

    I am also happy to know of this site and this contest!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! Yes, it was so crazy that the pastor kept that letter!

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  2. Life hey? Thank you for sharing this experience Lou Ann. I really like the descriptive way you narrated everything. Very engaging.

    ReplyDelete

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