Faithful's appearance before the Board of Executive Elders the same night JE called was civil, possibly because we knew about it, so we were able to pray for it and so several lay people could attend to be sure it remained civil. Faithful was given time to respond to questions and time to give his own statement at the end. Then the executive elders went into closed session. We waited for their verdict and heard nothing.
The Sunday before Faithful met with the Board, they had told him that two elders would be sitting in on his class. Prepared and pre-prayed, the dozen or so members of Agape received the two elders with a genuinely warm welcome. Both were old friends of most of us and Faithful introduced them, adding that one of them had helped found the class years before.I'm not sure what they expected to hear--plots against them, perhaps--but Faithful just continued teaching the book of Revelation. (Interestingly, two other elders sympathetic to us, also attended--and, by choice, have attended ever since.)
So now, the Sunday after Faithful's interrogation, when we had not heard whether he would be allowed to continue teaching or not, we gathered as usual and the same two elders--this time without advance notice--showed up again.
One of them was JE. I was sitting in the back row before we started and at his voice I glanced around and saw him standing a few feet from me, a styrofoam cup of coffee in his hand. Our eyes met. I think he may have said "Good morning" to me, I don't know. I freaked out.
I started shaking so violently Jerry had to hurry over, sit beside me and keep his arm tight around me so I wouldn't fall off the chair. I kept glancing at JE, who had taken a seat closer to the front of the class, on the other side of the small room. I was clutching myself together and my teeth were chattering as if the temperature had fallen 50 degrees. Only another victim will understand why my reaction was so extreme.
Within me, the younger parts were in crisis, all over the place, looking for cover yet determined to speak aloud. I prayed hard, "Lord, help! I can't tell them I am broken! They will think I am crazy! But I don't want to leave. This is my class and it has always been a safe place. I need prayer. Please help me be able to ask for prayer without identifying the person whose presence is terrifying me!"
After a few opening comments which seemed to take forever, Faithful asked if there were any prayer requests. I raised a trembling hand and gasped out something about having been split in childhood by abuse and feeling re-traumatized by the persistent calls of someone in the room. I said I had just started seeing a counselor who specializes in this kind of brokenness.
Several people prayed aloud for me as I kept shaking. One of them--the first one to pray, bless her heart--was the wife of the other elder assigned to sit in on our class. She had come with him and she prayed such a sweet prayer for comfort for me.
I was so grateful that when I got home I e-mailed her to thank her.