Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Jeremiah Burden, Part Three

Hidden Treasures by Depplain-Graphix:
    Now here we come to the part of the story that I mentioned in an earlier blog post, Hidden Treasures; that moment in the moving van when I asked God, "Why Freeport?"  And He answered, "I have hidden treasures for you there."   It's important that I mention this again because in all the yucky details of men's ugliness, we can lose sight sometimes of the beauties that God prepares for us.    Yes, it was an awful season in our lives, but Daniel and I would not trade it for anything because of the treasures we found there.   So, really it's my delight to finally get to a part of our story that involves two of these. 

  We pulled into the church office, just north of Freeport in mid-December.  The snow had held off, thank God.  First priority was to get the media equipment we had brought with us from the Colorado campus unloaded at the Freeport campus.  I took our two small children in from the cold, and sat in the office while Daniel and a few men from the church helped him unload.

  I am to blame for expecting a welcome of some kind, I suppose.  I had thought that since there had been so many departures from Crossway Community Church that the fact that someone was arriving would be seen as a celebration, just for the sake of something different.  Already, the church had seen the Vancouver church site break away, and they knew that Colorado was planning to.  In a few days, the announcement would come that Pastor Dean, Daniel's direct boss and the current Executive Pastor, would be leaving as well.  Perhaps a Media Director and his family didn't rate quite as highly as an Executive Pastor, but I figured the very fact that we were excited about coming should at least be encouraging to those who were still here.

   But God hadn't forgotten us, and just before I led our two kiddos into the office, I saw a young couple entering before me. I get to share with you their
Abe and Stephanie Markley
real names (I checked beforehand) which makes me very happy since I get to boast about them.  Abe and Stephanie Markley were some special friends that God allowed us to meet so that they could walk with us through a very trying time: true treasures, as true friends always are.

  That first day in Crossway's office, where Stephanie graciously volunteered her time each week, we struck up a conversation.  Abe happened to be hanging out there too, and all of a sudden these people whom we had never met, were offering to bring us dinner that very night.   When they pulled up some hours later, generously offering food and friendship, we had no idea how much we would need them over the long winter ahead.  It was a divine appointment and you will learn more about them later.

  Now there are always two sides to every story.  As I share about what happened at Freeport, I'd be remiss not to mention that the Freeport church apparently began badly through "no fault of their own".  They tell a tale of a year of discontent and change, how stretched they were on every side, how pummeled by the circumstances that had rocked them since Pastor Ken's sin the summer before.  They had no recourse.  There was no intentional cruelty in their treatment of us.  They're terribly sorry it worked out the way it did.  It was never something they wanted, either.  In fact, they still intend to connect with us and make sure we're all right, they've just been so busy...
Our living/dining room in our new home
  It is true that there were many good intentions voiced from several people over the next few months:  Intentions of having us over to dinner, babysitting our children, desires expressed of getting to know us better.  If these had at all been followed through on, perhaps what God called us to do in Freeport may have been a lot harder.

   I've already hinted at the trouble that was building before we got there with Ned.  Once Daniel was settled in his office, there were no changes in Ned's attitude.  And since no email was sent out to either the Network or the Freeport campus announcing the arrival of the Media Director, business went on as usual, and all media requests or concerns were still sent to Ned. 

Our lovely kitchen
  Rather than answering to Pastor Dean, Daniel now had four bosses.  At first, we were excited to think that Pastor Gavin, the young Freeport Campus pastor, might be Daniel's direct go-to man, for we sincerely liked the man.  But Gavin decided to put others in that role as well.  The first additional boss was Pastor Chase, a former missionary turned Pastor who had been removed from campus pastoring a few years back, but was now going to be stepping into the role that Dean had left.  Pastor Dean hadn't left yet so he was still a manager, apparently.  And lastly, there was Pastor Cody, another campus pastor who was somehow stepping into the role of managing the media. 

   Daniel's title of "Media Director" seemed to mean nothing here.  He was no longer included in any creative meetings.  His job responsibilities were being demeaned while increasing.  Although his video team had been diminished, he was expected to complete more work than he had been doing in Colorado.  Ned was constantly usurping the major stuff and handing off to Daniel the "garbage" work, like event coverage or printing dvd labels.  The event coverage itself had gone from one Sunday service each week to five weekly events, plus staying up until 2am every Saturday evening to process
Our pretty bedroom
the message and send it out to the other campuses for the next morning.

  Daniel was given the mundane tasks and removed from the decision making process on the larger decisions that affected everything.  His work was ballooning, while being completely inefficient because of unwise decisions being made.  And in spite of the fact that Daniel had four bosses, not one of them sat down with him to establish new goals or expectations.  Rather, video and media requests were thrown at him from every Joe Blow who decided to pop their head into his office or send him an email. 

  Ned was remote accessing Daniel's computers and continuing the media role despite the fact that he
"Weeping" by impatienss:
had been told specifically by Pastors Gavin and Dean to hand that work over to Daniel.  And when Daniel protested, his bosses made him sit down with Ned like a five year old to "try to work out their differences".  Systematically, every one of these "bosses" removed Daniel's role and kept it out of his hands.  They were intentionally setting him up for failure.

  As I watched my husband endure these indignities,  I had to deal with anger, frustration, and bewilderment.  Every morning, Daniel would get up in the morning and pray.  God had led him at the beginning of the year to memorize the first chapter of James.  He would work on his memorization and then take these men to God in prayer.  I would hear my husband weeping and praying in the basement on the days where it was too cold to walk outside.  Daily, he would forgive every person involved what was going on and then get dressed to go in and face another day of the same.

   As day followed day, week followed week, and nothing changed, I was beginning to feel desperate.  I would wake at 3am and cry out to God, asking for His help, forgiving the same men for myself, and then simultaneously boiling over with anger at what was going on.  This was not good.  I knew that the next time I encountered Pastor Gavin in a church hallway and he offhandedly asked, "How's it going?", I was going to let him know exactly how it was going.  With both barrels.

  I knew I had to talk to someone.  But we had been kept in such isolation, there didn't seem to be anyone I could call on for help.  Who would listen?  No one knew us or our walk with Christ.  Wouldn't we just be seen as obnoxiously squeaky wheels that couldn't hack a challenge?  Then Daniel reminded me of Tom Shueman.  We had met the elder of Crossway when we first came out and interviewed.  We had felt an instant liking for him.  And his wife had extended an invitation to me to visit the local Mom's group.  I had liked her.  With Daniel's agreement, it was decided:  I would call Joan Shueman and ask for help.

Link to The Jeremiah Burden, Part Four:

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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