When I resigned from a toxic mission organization, I needed a friend. I had several, but Sam was an important one and he was there all along preparing me for the stand I needed to take.
He had left the mission a year earlier. I was depressed returning to the mission field following his departure thinking of all the coffee times I would be missing. He had provided an honest and Gospel-centered response to all my thinking. He had helped me recognize the messiness of life and how the Gospel was made for it.
Sam changed the way I interacted with my kids. Though always claiming someone else was a Pharisee, I began recognizing my own tendency towards graceless legalism and Sam’s “chillin'” attitude helped me give grace where I had held my nose in the air.
Sam prepared me for what lay ahead our last year with the mission. He helped me see there are some folks that, though we give grace and grace and more grace, will turn and eat you alive with their abuse. His choosing to leave the mission because he could not stand by a destructive and toxic leadership gave me some spine for when it came time for me to confront the leadership in our resignation rather than slinking away.
He had shown me there was life outside the basket where I felt I had put all my eggs.
Many of those who have faced abusive leadership (or even domestic abuse) have not had someone who stood beside them each step of the way. They have only had Pharisees who memorized a few biblical passages and preached at them the typical responses for horribly difficult circumstances.
- “Jesus saved you, a wicked sinner. He can save them.”
- “They are sinners just like we are. Give them grace.”
- “They couldn’t have meant it that way.”
Only number one is true. I had fully rejected Jesus and yet, he turned my heart to him. If he can save me, he can save anyone. Hallelujah, what a Savior!
However, scripture speaks of evil people who are not like you and me. And the world is full of people who most definitely “meant it that way.” Maybe they are narcissists – they have one god and that god is them. Or just incredibly self-centered – they are only interested in controlling others so they can enjoy the fruits of the other’s labors.
These are not the same as your average Joe-sinner. And the evil they produce is extraordinary and shocking to most people – even those who are uninterested in Jesus’ ethics.
Sam helped me know that though I seek to forgive, it may be a long journey. It was for Sam. But God is faithful.
Sam helped me to know that though I seek healing, it may be a long journey. It was for him. But God is faithful.
What a long-suffering and generous and faithful Lord we serve.
I am thankful for Sam. Hope I can be the same someday…
The editor of Pearls And Swine Site’s memoirs of his family’s experiences in Malawi, Africa. Take a quick peak: