About Pearls & Swine

The Pearls and Swine Site editor has eighteen years of missionary experience and is the Founder and Director of an international mission organization. He received a Doctorate in Ministry and researched toxic leadership in Christian organizations. He taught theology and music at an mission Bible college for seven years. 

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An Introduction to Pearls and Swine

In a perfect world, every part of the body of Christ would function in the way in which it should. Like Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 12, every Christian, gifted by God, has a place in God’s kingdom-building work.[1] Some believe they are called by God to pursue that kingdom-building work as an employee in a Christian church or parachurch organization. Frequently, Christian organizations are led by charismatic, charming, and visionary leaders.

However, some of these leaders are also “cruel, tyrannical, [and] fuel workplace misery,” as Christian authors, Gary Chapman, Paul White, and Harold Myra describe.[2] These “toxic” leaders are just as present in Christian organizations as in non-Christian ones according to Rob Hay, Principle of Redcliffe College.[3]

This is why “Pearls and Swine” exists.

We believe Jesus classifies these “toxic” leaders as “swine” in His teaching to His disciples in Matthew 7:1-6. In this passage, Jesus tells His church to approach a brother who has sinned with a self-aware humility. “Take the log out of your own eye,” He says, “before you take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

But, in a rather ominous turn of phrase, Jesus follows [verse 6] with “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”

I emphasize the last six words because I did not notice them or consider them until I lived and worked under toxic leaders. I found that confronting them was not just a waste of time (lest they trample them under their feet), but dangerous. And, Jesus gives permission to run for safety.

Rather than remain silent and suffer the trauma alone, Pearls and Swine gives a place for sharing the hurt alongside one another as Jesus desires for His church.[4]

Christian psychiatrist, Diane Langberg says, “When people have been traumatized, they repeat things over and over, trying to grasp what cannot be understood and trying to carry what is unbearable.[5] She says it is important for us to have a safe place to share the “unbearable” until we find spiritual and emotional resolution.

I look forward to hearing your story and sharing my own. We want the people who truly desire to serve the Lord in the workplace in humility to share their suffering under the swine. And we want to help the church bring accountability to those who act with such evil intent.

Grace does not mean allowing abuse to go un-challenged, but in fact means seeking God’s true and loving justice to reign.

I look forward to hearing the ways each of us and the church community can learn and grow from your experience.

“To Africa On a Lark” by Kelly Dehnert, Editor

[To Africa On a Lark] is extremely readable, with an easy to follow flow. The stories are quite engaging…The overall theme of cross-cultural adjustment, with the “razor” image, comes through clearly. I hope that many will read, enjoy, and benefit from your engaging string of accounts.

Rev. J. Nelson Jennings, PhD
Editor, Global MissiologyEnglish 

This well written, interesting book is a fantastic training text for missionary appointees, and I hope some of my SIM.org recruiter friends will read it and use it.  It would be very helpful  for new missionaries. TO AFRICA ON A LARK is must read material.  

Cordell Loken
Retired career missionary radio engineer at ELWA, Monrovia, Liberia.

As I read at times, I felt I was reading the travel log of a missionary tourist, the insights of a musical theorist, the confessions of a cultural imperialist, the wisdom of a cross-cultural missiologist, and the reflections of journalist investigating a mystery cult. [Dehnert] presents a childlike wonder as he speaks about strange and stranger things in a strange and beautiful land. It was great how he expressed his fears, weaknesses, and misconceptions as part of the path to a gradual awakening. Dehnert didn’t go to Malawi with an agenda and he loves people; I think that enabled him to learn so much. In the end the book comes across like a fun travel documentary with some sage-like wisdom thrown in.

Rev. Jay Stoms  
Missionary with National Christian Foundation
Stellenbosch, South Africa 

Historians study something called ‘movement’ — how one people group becomes a different people group simply by moving into another people group. The Dehnert tribe is a perfect microcosm of ‘movement’ – and we are all better for it. This book would be helpful for anyone considering cross-cultural service. For everyone else, especially we ‘experts,’ this book is a helpful lesson in humility – learning again the limits of our learning!

Rev. Sam McDonald  
Pastor, Faith Presbyterian – Brookhaven, Mississippi 
Former Missionary to Malawi

To Africa On a Lark is helpful to any considering any type of meaningful engagement in a cross-cultural setting. Missions committees would benefit by the “insider perspective” it offers and could help them be more wise and thoughtful in the works they support and encourage. Also, anyone thinking about being called to missions would benefit by reading this. (Or individuals that are going to work and live in a cross-cultural setting wherever it maybe.) To Africa On a Lark reads like a journal where we are given a glimpse into the growth and struggles that are faced by many on the mission field. This was a delight to read and well worth pondering how “the visitor brings the razor.” 

Brian Carlisle,
Former Missionary to Africa


[1] 1 Corinthians 12:1-31.

[2] Gary Chapman, Paul E. White, and Harold Myra, Rising Above a Toxic Workplace: Taking Care of Yourself in an Unhealthy Environment (Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing, 2014), 31.

[3] Rob Hay, “The Toxic Mission Organisation: Fiction or Fact?,” Encounters Mission Ezine, no. 2 (October 2004): 1.

[4] 1 Corinthians 12:26.

[5] Diane Langberg, Suffering and the Heart of God: How Trauma Destroys and Christ Restores (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2015), 79.

3 thoughts on “About Pearls & Swine

  1. Such trauma is often both a communal and a private matter….it is communal in the sense that others stood by too afraid to do or say anything; it is private in that it is done by one person to another….it may be that healing is also both communal and private. This can be a positive contribution to the communal part, providing a community of “give and take” and reflection. Thank you for caring.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was in a church for several years with a charismatic but tyrannical pastor. When I finally ‘woke up’ (after a major heartbreaking experience) I was slowly able to move on, realizing that my faith was in Jesus and not in the pastor. However, my young (~12 year old) was so damaged she has never trusted a church again and has struggled with loss of faith. Later in my life, I ran into the same sort of man running a very big and successful overseas mission. He lies, demoralizes his workers and volunteers, etc. etc. Fortunately, I was able to recognize him quickly (probably because of my earlier experience) and distance myself from his and his cronies. Seems some people believe that the Lord’s work somehow has become their personal kingdom. I did see many people damaged by both of these men. I am now very suspicious myself of very successful pastors and leaders. Thank you for having this organization.


    • Thank you for your comments, Donna. The problem is widespread and there certainly needs to be a response from the church to bring accountability and healing. I am thankful my children were never affected in the same way yours was. That is one of the most disappointing results of toxic leadership. When we suggest “grace” be given by overlooking the toxicity, we provide opportunity for further destruction of others.


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