8/03/2013 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Mulder the Christian?
Twenty years of my life I spent in Christian ministry. Not church ministry, but a para-church organization that works with drug addicts and alcoholics.
|i want to believe (x files) (Photo credit: roberto.pastene)|
My job as a director was less to make sure the people that came to us for help were helped, and more to raise the budget. I did, and I did it very well. However our money went to a headquarters, which paid whichever bills the wanted for the seven to eight locations in the state. On paper I was in the black, but that didn't matter when services were shut down for lack of payment. In essence we were carrying the organization.
This group has its own curriculum, which I helped write. Upon arrival at the center I directed, I noticed very quickly that the curriculum was not being followed correctly. I was chastised severely for trying to remedy the situation -- the clients (called students) needed to focus on fundraising, not education. To make a long story short, I found myself in a hospital in July of 2010 needing a quadruple bypass. I was covered by insurance, sort of. The day after the surgery our group missed their insurance payment for the 3rd month in a row and was dropped -- I had no insurance for my recovery, rehab, and prescriptions. On top of that I was not allowed to take more vacation and pay it back; I would have to take days without pay.
So, back to work after two weeks, only to find myself back in the hospital for an issue with my foot at the beginning of September. I was told by our director that we would have insurance so take care of my problems. Ha. The group could not qualify for an affordable insurance. $60,000 later I was released from the hospital, only to be notified by the end of the month that they were realigning the organization, and the only job available for me would be at the headquarters at half my salary. With so long a history with this group, I thought finding employment at another location would be easy. However this did not happen. This was the first blow to my faith.
We moved back to the closest place we would call home, into a friend's basement. On state insurance because of unemployment, I finally surrendered the leg that had caused me so much trouble in December of 2010. Now recovering from heart surgery, and a recent amputee, I was ready to find work.
A local church pastor, who was a friend of mine was great, and helped me tremendously. I wish I could say the same for the church members. We had been very active in this church 10 years before -- my wife had been the children's pastor. We were met with spite, judgement, and disdain. My wife soured very quickly. I tried to hang on, but finally gave up. This was the second blow to my faith.
My wife carried our family through my convalescence, working three jobs at times. Finally I found work with the government, of all places, and my wife was soon to follow. Things went well for a time. I thought I was seeing "God" work on my behalf.
The the final, and most devastating blow came.
I wish I knew how many times that some church leader, after praying for my wife, had declared her healed of the past. We really believed. We really thought she had overcome her childhood. I knew my wife had come from an abusive family, abusive in all ways. She went into foster care at 15, to a good family... or so we thought. We received a visit from her biological sister. This opened up the flood gates of memories that had been repressed. My wife was devastated. So was I. I wanted to know why God would allow this. I wish I knew how many times that some church leader, after praying for my wife, had declared her healed of the past. We really believed. We really thought she had overcome her childhood. She pursued a degree in Christian counseling so she could help other people. If I had only known this one visit would devastate her like it did, I would have stopped it. Now she is recovering, seeing a secular therapist who also has helped her see the supposedly "good family" (a christian family she was taken in by) added to her damage both emotionally and mentally. They abused the children they took in because the children were a check to them. They had 8+ foster children in the house. And of course the older children took care of the younger children.
I am left with my questions. I am not just a guy who ministered; I have a M.Div. and six hours towards a D.Min. I know the Bible. I struggle with Jesus' words in Matthew 7:9-11
9 Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!How was it good for God to allow my wife to recall all these repressed memories when the had been "healed," and she "believed," and had "faith." She had seen Christian counselors, and been prayed for. What kind of God does that? I determined if I knew something that would destroy my daughter's psyche, I would not tell her, especially if she was living a normal, productive life. I just didn't get it. This was the third and final blow to my faith.
I find myself like Mulder in the X-Files. His iconic poster of a UFO with the words, "I Want To Believe" printed on it is the best picture of where I am at with my faith. I want to believe, but do not know if I can, or should. I do not know what tomorrow holds for my wife and I, and at this point do not think God controls it. At best I think he is a distant observer, not interested in the lives of everyday people. Maybe there are some people he intervenes for, but certainly it has not been me.
I have drawn one conclusion. The Western, over evangelically influenced church is nothing more than a business enterprise using the Gospel, and it has got it mostly wrong. The god they portray is not the god of my experience, he is not the god that I know. Now I find myself, just hoping that we can hold it together for another day.
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