Kicked out of Church

As we strive to do good in the world, we often face obstacles and sometimes even encounter people who treat us poorly. This truth became real to me when I was the Area Director for Young Life in St. Augustine. One of my priorities had always been to reach a diverse group of students. God had blessed this vision so much that our ministry was thriving. Instead of meeting in homes for our weekly gatherings, our growing gaggle of students was now meeting at a local church. But one day, right before our scheduled weekly meeting, the church informed us that we were no longer welcome to meet there. We were being kicked out of the church!

As it turns out, this abrupt decision stemmed from one individual’s discomfort with the diversity we brought. Suddenly, we had no place to meet and felt unjustly rejected while trying to share the Gospel and support these young people.

This experience reminded me of a powerful story shared by Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Christian who helped many Jews escape from the Nazis during the Holocaust. After World War II, Corrie was preaching at a church in Munich when she saw a man in the back of the room. He was the same man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the Ravensbrück concentration camp where she and her sister Betsie had been imprisoned.

After the sermon, this man approached Corrie, thanked her for her message, and extended his hand to her. Corrie hesitated, flooded with painful memories. Yet, she prayed for God’s strength. As she shook his hand, she felt an overwhelming sense of God’s love and forgiveness flowing through her. This act of grace was not from her own strength but from God’s perfect power working through her.

In leadership and fundraising, we, too, must rely on God’s strength to overcome obstacles and respond with grace. Whether facing challenges or being rejected by donors, embracing forgiveness and maintaining faith is crucial. Ephesians 4:32 reminds us, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Just as Corrie felt God’s strength in her moment of weakness, we can rely on God’s power in our leadership efforts. When we feel inadequate or face unexpected challenges, we can pray for God’s guidance and strength.

Recently, the same church that had asked us to leave 30 years ago approached The FOCUS Group for help with a much-needed campaign. While my situation was far less extreme than Corrie’s, this request reminded me of her encounter with the former guard. Just as she extended forgiveness and felt God’s love, we, too, had the opportunity to respond with grace and support. Despite the pain from the past, I knew I needed to rely on God’s strength and embrace forgiveness.

My challenge to you is to seek to extend grace and focus on the bigger picture to turn past challenges into opportunities for growth and collaboration, reflecting God’s love and forgiveness in all we do.

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