One of the greatest struggles all of us has is, to be honest. All of us are wanting to hide some aspects of our lives and present ourselves the best we can. This is obviously the same for us as missionaries and maybe even worse at times. We have many people looking at us, and we are wanting to look good and present our works as being great. So to avoid this, I am going to intentionally about sharing a very sad story with you guys, about a very close friend of mine. A story that has hurt me very much, and that has damaged the name of Christ and His church amongsts the Mengen.
It is the story about “Jerry and Jane”. I changed their names out of love and respect for them. I will not show any pictures of them.
Jerry grew up a in a very strong animistic family, with a father who married two ladies. As a young man, he left the village and soon got into a lot of trouble. At times he returned to the village and then joined up with other men causing trouble in society and amongst us as missionaries. He worked closely with us as we learned the language, which meant he had access to our stuff and would often steal it. Once he was caught stealing, which resulted in allot of shame for him. He came to the end of himself during this time and tried to commit suicide, by drinking poison that they make from a certain tree vine.
Through God’s grace it was unsuccessful, and it was not long after this that he heard that the Bible teaching will be starting in our village. He came early and helped with the preparation of the lessons and then attended all the lessons. He was very sharp and quickly placed his trust in Christ for his salvation.
As teaching continued through Acts and Paul’s epistles he became a very faithful disciple.
But not long ago, just before I came to South Africa, another Mengen coworker contacted me and said that Jerry and Jane are struggling in their marriage. I was surprised by this as I was not working with them anymore and assumed they are doing well. We encouraged other Mengen leaders and leaders from Ata and Maleu to meet with them and help them, as I could not believe that it was very serious.
But then soon after I arrived back in South Africa I heard that Jerry actually committed adultery, with a girl in the new church they planted, and it was the daughter of the man who invited us into that area. To make it worse, is that this has been going on for a while, and he managed to hide it from me and others for a long time.
When this came out in the open, Him and his wife had some major arguments and Jerry has beaten up his wife very badly in public, in front of the believers and unbelievers from the home village that send them out as missionaries. After this his wife left and returned to her unbelieving family where she also has been living an adulterous life, which in typical Mengen culture is a way to get her husband back.
As you can imagine this is very painful for me, as I am extremely disappointed in this couple. I also feel a bit hopeless as this couple was one of our main leaders and we actually thought that he would soon become our first elder. (I know that I can rest and trust in Christ, yet the emotion keeps nagging!)
Furthermore, this is a huge embarrassment for the sake of Christ’s name. It is very very difficult to establish a Christian testimony amongst the people that we are working with, and this has really damaged the name of Christ and His church. Christ and the Mengen church will be mocked for a long time! And this might close opportunities for us to go to other areas, that we have been praying for, for many years.
This is also an embarrassment for me personally as well, as I vouched for this man, and often took him with me on trips, and invested many years into them.
Restoration and hope!!
This is an example of one of the stories we don’t tell many people. This is really how the church of Christ looks amongst the Mengen. It’s not finished, it’s not ready and it needs a lot of work. And at this time in South Africa as we are working on developing our support network, we are reminded that
Will you consider partnering with us in finishing what we started?
- Check out this BlogPost that will help give some perspective about financial support for the Mengen work: 5 Questions about finances
Will you concider praying for us?
- Pray for Jerry and Jane – That they will humble themselves, and be reconciled with God, each other and the church.
- Pray for the churches who witnessed this sad testimony – That they will be reminded of the danger of sin, and that they will be encouraged to live closer to Christ.
- Pray for the unbelievers who witnessed this – That God will miraculously still create a hunger in their hearts for truth despite our terrible testimonies.
- Pray for Simon and Annika Flanagan, our co-workers and also other church leaders who need to work on restoring the situation. check out their website at Simon and Annika Flanagan.
- Pray for me, that I will have the right perspectives about our situations and that I will trust and rest in Christ and not allow this to drain and burden me.