"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Glimpses of Grace 10: Can't pray for our church?

     On 9-29 we wrote to friends and prayer partners: You've read about people overseas being harrassed and intimidated for praying in their own homes? That's how Jerry and I are feeling right now--and it's coming straight from the leadership of our church.
1. Two weeks ago (Sept. 14), Jerry and I emailed some members of the church, inviting them to a time of Prayer and Praise for Grace in our home the next day. One of the elders who had received the invitation [Note: this is the one I am calling Jesus Eyes] called and told Jerry, "I've been asked to ask you, Who else did you send that invitation to? Who did you put in blind copy? Why are you praying? What are you going to pray about?" We were taken aback. 
2. Last Wednesday (Sept. 21), we sent out a letter asking prayer for [Faithful] and the meeting of the Executive Board of Elders (EBOE) the next evening. All we asked in it was "that they be guided by the Holy Spirit, that truth prevail, and that God be glorified." We signed it Jerry and Jessica Renshaw, Prayer Coordinators, Grace Brethren Church. 
     Again this elder called us. This time I answered. He persisted in wanting to know who else we had sent this request to. He asked how we knew about the meeting--because it was "confidential." When I said, "I didn't know it was confidential. Isn't it okay to pray for it?" he said, "WE'RE praying!" which to me sounded like "No!" He added, "Next time you want to send out a letter like that, ask me first!" And he demanded to know who made Jerry and me Prayer Coordinators for the church. I was so rattled by his questions and persistence I didn't even remember that he was the one who approved us, he is the pastor we have worked under, sharing prayer requests with each other as they come in. Under him we head up the after-service Prayer Team, the phone Prayer Chain and the prayer requests listed in the bulletin!
     That night at the EBOE meeting, a member of our church went up to this elder and pointed to my name printed in the e-bulletin as the person to call for prayer. One or both of us have been listed as Prayer Coordinators in the church bulletin for years and in every issue of the e-bulletin--
--until today! 
     If you received today's Grace e-bulletin, you will notice that the entire category "Prayer Requests" (which included my name as the person to call) has been removed! I called the woman who prints the requests I give her each week, and said, "We notice that 'Prayer Requests'--the whole category--does not appear in today's e-bulletin." She said, "The elders removed it while they are deciding what to do about that." (EH? Deciding what to do about listing prayer requests for our church members?) I said, "So now we're not allowed to pray?" She said "You can always pray by yourself" and added, "There are some things we are not supposed to know about."

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