When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices,Proverbs 11:10 (ESV)
and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness.
A number of years ago I heard the story of an abusive husband who had passed away in an accident. His wife had suffered years of abuse at his hands. He was praised by his church at the funeral (as would be expected) and she suffered the continued hurt in silence.
And, a number of years ago, I heard of a Christian mission leader who passed away. The leader was abusive to both the nationals and to missionaries. Those who had suffered under his leadership continued the suffering of seeing that leader praised in social media.
In interviews with those who have suffered under abusive leadership of Christian organizations, this is so often their story. Particularly, if the leader’s abuse has not been widely known. The abuse they received at the leader’s hands is now heaped upon them by unsuspecting supporters who are more concerned for the dead than the living.
Different Kind of Sin
I have heard them share that as missionaries they would advise other missionaries when they would come to them for advice on how to respond to some ill-treatment they had received from their leaders.
They would say, “The leader is a sinner like you. . . give her some grace. It is their mission, they can do what they wish with it.“
They so often now wish they could take back those comments.
First, what I have learned from Scripture is that on the contrary, they are not sinners just like us. There is a wickedness that goes beyond the common sin of those willing to admit the sin and repent of it. When a Christian leader is lying and manipulating and harsh, and when confronted, justifying and blame-shifting, there is a deeper sin problem. When there is a pattern of abusive behavior their sin is more heinous because of the destruction they cause.
David spoke of the depth of this depravity in Psalm 55 and it can be seen in other “imprecatory” Psalms.
Second, a ministry is never in the ownership of the leader. Ministries are according to Scripture to be directed and “owned” by the Lord. If a leader is abusing their authority, they are to be held accountable by the Lord, and if possible by the church.
The Lord Relieves the Oppressed
It takes a long time to heal from the treatment that employees of Christian organizations, led by abusive leaders, have faced.
The Proverb above describes how they feel. They may feel freed and joyful that the Lord has taken an abusive leader home that others may be relieved of his torment. Some subordinates of abusive leaders have been praying for years that the leader be held accountable for the horribly broken relationships he has caused. One missionary told me he was “sick of watching all the missionaries sent home in body bags.”
Desiring the fall of an abusive leader is not vindictive or hateful, as I read in one post. It is expressing love for those who are suffering under their wickedness. It is looking out for and desiring the truth to set captives of their evil free.
The leader may be a Christian who is now enjoying the presence of the Lord and has been cleansed of all his sin. Those who have served under him can look forward to seeing him, having been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ and rejoicing together that their hope and freedom was in Jesus, not in the works they did.
I pray for the healing of those who are rejoicing in the death of the wicked, that they would know rest in the Lord that is neither vindictive, nor bitter. May they know a rejoicing that there are those who have been freed from suffering at the hands of their wicked leader.