Monday, August 12, 2013

The Jeremiah Burden, Part Nine

Bound Hands by:
You might say, "That whole 'no unemployment business' was probably something you should have been aware of" and Daniel and I would heartily agree with you.  However, we were not the only employees at Crossway who were in the dark on this.  Two others, who were still employed there (and would still talk to us), expressed their shock (for themselves as well as for us).

  "Dude, WHAT is going on?" came one distressed text message before Daniel's phone was shut off and he lost all his contact information, both church and personal.   From what we later heard, any distraught people who were concerned about what had happened (Say, Daniel's young interns or the volunteers on his team), were directed to keep quiet and go to Pastor Gavin if they needed to know more.  One friend told us that when she called the church office and demanded to talk to someone she was informed that Gavin was on vacation.  He had apparently left the scene completely, some time after the firing meeting.  Pastor Chase Bowler was the man in charge.  He was certainly quite active on our email and now calling us on my phone, continuing to threaten about the receipts.

  "Daniel," I said.  "Maybe we should go to the elders and let them know what went down?"

  "Babe, I have been in communication with one of the elders, Tim Shoeman, through this whole idiotic mess.  The elders are the ones who chose Chase and Gavin.  They know these men and they want these men in charge.  There is absolutely no reason for me to go to the elders."

  "Well," I tried again.  "Everyone seems to think Chase is such a great guy.  They can't know him, really, unless they're really that low and dirty that they want someone around who will do their dirty work for them.  I mean, even a non-Christian organization cares about the law.  We could report Crossway to the Labor Board.  They can't withhold our vacation pay!"

  Chase had sent over an email, forwarded from Ned, listing out a few items that still needed to be returned to the church.  Daniel returned the email, explaining that some of the items listed could be found in the closet outside of his former office.  In addition, Daniel informed them of an entire shoot's worth of gear that still needed to be returned, but we hadn't yet had the chance.  These things had been stored in our basement since there wasn't a lot of room at the office. 

  Pastor Chase seemed to feel that he and Ned had egg on their face.  To discover that Daniel knew much more about the church gear and where it was stored at, and was willing to also reveal other items that they hadn't known about, seemed to make him even more angry.  A very nasty email was sent to us, insinuating that Daniel intended theft, saying, "This really calls into question whether you ever intended to return any of this gear!"

Stealing Tony Stark's heart by:
  Daniel didn't bother answering this.  And when he had the time, he packed up his car with the items and headed over to the church to offload it all, whether they were aware or not. 

   These items included our computer.  When Daniel had first been hired with Crossway, he had requested to be able to use his own computer for much of the video work.  This was a top of the line PC that had many state of the art software apps added to it, which Crossway had no budget to purchase at the time.  He'd gotten an "Okay" and this computer had been humming away for almost two years, pumping out sermon opener after sermon opener.  It had also never received any IT service, as a result of the fact that Ned would never answer any requests to fix IT issues that Daniel put in.  Recently, the computer had begun to under perform.  A few bugs were cropping up here and there.

  Daniel mentioned this problem to Gavin in one of their many meetings.  Gavin had said, "We need to remedy this: Absolutely, let's get your computer taken care of!"  Knowing that Ned would never deal with it, Daniel took some of his own budget money and had the computer rebuilt with outside Tech assistance.

  Even though it had originally been ours, Chase insisted that since it was rebuilt on the church's dime, and he had not approved of the expense, it now belonged to Crossway.   At one time, the software on that computer had been worth over $6,000 of our own money that we had invested.  But, it had been rebuilt on Crossway's money, and the software technicality didn't seem to be something we could legally fight, since it diminishes in value as time goes on.  So our computer went in the car with everything else and to the church it went.

  So far, I had kept all this latest business off of my Facebook page.  I had received a message from Pastor Dean, telling me I should not be posting my frustration about the church on Facebook. "I just want to encourage you not to use social media to make your hurts public..."  I didn't necessarily care what Pastor Dean thought, but I DID care a great deal about my own motives and trying to act in a Christ-like manner. So, I went to Jesus about it.
Silence by:

  "Lord, you know what is going on better than anyone.  Religious people are telling me to keep mum.  I don't want to, but I will do what You say.  Father, if You're okay with me posting about this injustice on Facebook, You let me know.  I will wait on you."

  That following Sunday, Daniel and I went to Eastside church.  We received two words there, again from people who did not know all that we were facing.  The first was a Bible verse from Ezekiel 2:3-7, where God was speaking to the prophet:  

  "He said, “Son of man, I’m sending you to the family of Israel, a rebellious nation if there ever was one. They and their ancestors have fomented rebellion right up to the present. They’re a hard case, these people to whom I’m sending you—hardened in their sin. Tell them, ‘This is the Message of God, the Master.’ They are a defiant bunch. Whether or not they listen, at least they’ll know that a prophet’s been here. But don’t be afraid of them, son of man, and don’t be afraid of anything they say. Don’t be afraid when living among them is like stepping on thorns or finding scorpions in your bed. Don’t be afraid of their mean words or their hard looks. They’re a bunch of rebels. Your job is to speak to them. Whether they listen is not your concern. They’re hardened rebels."

  Well, that seemed appropriate.   Then, during the worship, Natalie came up to me with her iphone and Bible app.  She handed it over to me to see.  

  "I just think this is for you," she said softly.  It was Acts 16:37:
Paul of Tarsus by:
   "But Paul wouldn’t budge. He told the officers, “They beat us up in public and threw us in jail, Roman citizens in good standing! And now they want to get us out of the way on the sly without anyone knowing? Nothing doing! If they want us out of here, let them come themselves and lead us out in broad daylight.”

  That was good enough for me.  I had my answer.  I went home after church and pulled up Facebook.

   My new status read:   "So, we were fired on the spot with no unemployment, and they're withholding our last check and vacation pay.  But if I say anything about it here, I'm "out of line"Well, let it be known, Christina Morrison is OKAY with being out of line in this organization!

  Once again, there was flood of outrage from our family and friends.  People were expressing anger that a church would be so corrupt and that pastors could be so heartless.  For Crossway, which values appearances above all, perhaps this was an awkward time.  It's hard to know for sure. 

  Although he still did not wish to speak to them in person, Daniel decided to send an email to the elders.  He told them pretty straight, referencing Bible in every line.  He told the elders that their hands were filthy.  That this whole business was laid at their feet.  The responsibility for the evils that had been perpetrated against us and others were on them and they would have to answer to God for it.  Needless to say, it was a strongly worded email. 

  A day or so later, Daniel received an email back from Tim Shoeman.  The elder asked if Daniel would come to speak to him, and two other elders who were open to hearing "what God had to say". 

 I remember asking Daniel once more, "Are you sure you're not supposed to go talk to them?"

  "I'm telling you, I have nothing to say to those men.  I already said it in the email," he answered.  But being Daniel, he went upstairs for some quiet time and talked to God about it.  About 30 minutes later, I went to check on him.  He was sitting on our bed, reading the Bible and his face was calm and at peace.  

  "I guess I will be going in to talk to them, Babe.  God just gave me a word for them."

Link to The Jeremiah Burden, Part Ten:

 To be continued...unless mentioned, all names have been changed except my husband's and my own.  I write for healing and for others wounded on similar journeys.

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