7 weeks ago life was going along smoothly. I was preaching once a month and people were responding well to the messages. I was due to preach for 3 weeks in a row to cover for the pastor's holidays and many people had told me that they were looking forward to my sermons.
I had finished my application to become a taxi driver and my intention was, and still is, to use this as a means of earning income but also to evangelize and speak to a wide variety of people about issues of faith and life.
Around this time I had a visit from the police. An extremely serious allegation had been made about me by a family in the church. I later found out that the police only told me part of the allegations but the full scope of the issue soon came to light. The police and the other government body involved both told me that there was absolutely no evidence and after 20 minutes said that they definitely would not be pursuing the case against me. As far as the legal authorities went it was case closed.
The only other question the policeman asked me was whether this family had a grudge against me to which I answered "no". I had no reason to think that someone would try to ruin my life and my reputation. The police officer advised me to stay away from this family which I have done.
The response of the church has been altogether different. I am an ordained Baptist pastor with a wife and 3 young boys. I have my issues but I have always sought to live with integrity. The wife of the family in question went around telling people of the allegations as if they were fact although they had been legally dismissed as groundless. People in the church began to believe her without taking to either myself or my wife. Thus began the hardest part of this journey so far. People stopped talking to me; someone emailed the pastor and said that they would attend church if I was still there; I was asked not to preach for the 3 week holiday cover and, finally, after a leadership meeting, I was asked to step down from all of my ministries until the allegations were "proved or disproved". This, in spite of the legal authorities telling me that reports were being written clearing me of any wrongdoing.
At the present time I am not attending a church. I have been driving taxis for 2 weeks now and have had many, many opportunities to share my faith and to speak generally about issues of faith and belief. This is my church right now. My wife is very hurt by the church's response to this issue. Since the leaders meeting we have not had one phone call from the pastor.
As I speak to people in the taxi the general complaints are not against God, Jesus or faith in general it is with the Church. People see the Church as dogmatic and judgmental. At the present time who am I to argue? All that I can do is to continue my call to love those who Jesus loved. I have forgiven the church and those involved and wait for the time when the truth is fully revealed but for now I will continue to be Jesus to the lost. Please pray for us at this time.