Monday, September 17, 2001

This last week has just been madness for me. I tried last week to encapsulate the events of Tuesday in my journal, but I ran out of time to do it, and I assume that I will run out of time today to complete it, so I will try to be summarizing and somewhat brief.

Last Tuesday, I was watching the news as the events unfolded and as reporters were still confused about all that was happening. I was shaken by the immense act these terrorists had done, and some of the initial harrowing predictions of casualties numbered upwards of 10,000 (even today, nearly 5,000 are missing and presumed dead). I decided that I needed to go to work for a bit, so I came over to my office. On my way over, though, I thought it might be a good idea to open up the sanctuary to people who wanted to pray. I came into my office, and almost immediately there was a knock on our office door. I opened it, and there was a man standing there who looked a little dazed and confused, so I thought he was shaken up by the events of the morning. I invited him in to talk with me and to pray if he wanted to and he said he would appreciate that.

Right after he came in, Virginia Baumann came out of the bathroom and told me she really needed to see me, so I asked this fellow to wait just a few minutes in the hallway in front of my office so that Virginia could tell me what was going on with her. She came into my office and told me that she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was going to have surgery soon! We prayed about it, and then she left.

Now, remember, Mildred Takecare had died the previous Friday, and we were all in the throes of putting together a funeral service. (I was trying to put together my first funeral service ever, and I was rather nervous about the whole thing.) Also, remember that the previous Sunday was my “altercation” with P.C. Straw and the sound guys about improving the quality of our sound (P.C. walked out and then came back, and we talked, and he said it was all cool…) Finally, remember that Monday had been my extended conversation with Lorraine about all the monkey business between the sound guys and the worship team. Argh!

Anyway, this fellow, named Miguel, told me after quite a bit of coercion that he had been confused for the last two weeks about his whole life. To make a LONG story somewhat shorter, I eventually pieced together that he had been in some kind of organized crime group and two weeks previously, he decided he hated his life and wanted to change. He started going to church and eventually got a meeting with the pastor there who witnessed to him and counseled him to leave his life of crime behind. He told his boss that he was out. His boss told his uncle. His uncle put a gun in Miguel’s mouth. Miguel panicked. The boss stood up for him. He went back to work, and Tuesday morning he was on his way to make a delivery of some kind when he decided to just run away. He dropped the car somewhere, took a bus, and ended up at our church talking to me.

Well, after about two hours of talking with this guy, I was pretty convinced that for some reason, God had brought him through the last two weeks, and for some reason God had brought him to our church. He was VERY willing to be obedient to anything God told him, and anything I told him because as a pastor, I was a representative of God. We talked, and eventually decided that I would give him a ride to the nearest train station and loan him some money to get a ticket. I gave him a Bible and the street address of our church so that he could return the money if he ever got the chance to.

We had a prayer service on Wednesday evening that was just wonderful (I thought).

We planned the funeral for Thursday evening, but that day, I got a phone call from Gary Bledsoe saying that Perry for some reason was opposing my ordination, and he wanted to know why that might be so. I read my email, and Perry had sent an email telling all the stewards that he would oppose my ordination if it came before the congregation that Sunday. He sent me an email listing some other grief he had with me, and he carbon copied that email to both Bob Carlson and Lorraine. I sent an email back to the stewards explaining that I wasn’t being pushy with the whole ordination thing and that I was willing to do it whenever the church wanted to make it happen because I had already done my part of the whole thing.

Anyway, Perry and I spent about an hour and a half on Thursday afternoon talking about his “observations” about me, and me trying to explain to him that his methods had been inappropriate, and him saying that I had asked him to do that for me…

I don’t want to continue in that vein, but you can clearly see that the week was absolutely harrowing from a spiritual/stressful/practical point of view. Sunday was our annual budget meeting and the church put together a task force to plan my ordination, and Perry didn’t say anything.

Lord, I’m confused about how to deal with Perry and his family. Mostly, I’m confused about how to understand him. I have the sense that Lorraine and I can talk and understand each other, but I feel like everything I say to Perry just gets all jumbled up once it hits his ears. I asked him to make a small list of my offenses and what he wants to see accomplished in the meeting he wants to have, and today, he sent me an email with a two-page document outlining all manner of things without any comments on what he wants to see accomplished in our meeting. I have told him many times that I never asked for him and Bob to be my accountability partners, but that I wanted him to call me on individual issues on an individual basis, but he still thinks it is necessary to have all three of us meet together. I don’t really know what to do, because I can’t think of any potential good that can come out of this meeting, unless he hears me totally capitulate to everything he accuses me of and requests of me. I think he wants to have Bob in the room so that there is a little more firepower on his side. I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to have a meeting with Perry at all, but I really don’t want to have a meeting with him and Bob. All I can think is that I have to tell him that I mistakenly told him something that shouldn’t happen in the context of this church. Perhaps I need to tell him that if he has a personal problem with me being the pastor, he should speak with someone on my pastoral cabinet or speak to the steward of Human Resources. I think I would prefer for him to handle things that way. But I need your wisdom about this.

Lord, I pray that you would watch over Miguel and help him to get to where he wants to be both in terms of physical location and in terms of spiritual maturity. He is in your hands now, and I ask that you would hold him tightly so that he could realize your power in his life. Help him to grow closer to you, and help him to see you more clearly even in his travels.

Lord, be with Charles Takecare since he just lost his wife. Be with our church. Help us all to hear you above ourselves and help us to see Your passion for the lost people in this neighborhood. I love you Lord. Help me to love you more.