Note: This is the third and final installment of a story shared with us by a former youth pastor (now serving at another church in a different kind of staff position). We have changed the names and some details for the privacy of all involved.
Brad had moved his family out of state to take a position as youth pastor. After a couple of years there, he found himself let go from his position overnight. Brad and his wife Andrea, deeply wounded by events, moved back to his home church.
As time passed, Brad realized he had learned some things about himself. Still, there was more healing to come and we pick up the story there.
At some point, a young lady attending Bible School had approached the Senior Pastor of Brad’s home church about a school project requiring her to interview someone who had been hurt in ministry. He referred her to Brad and Andrea.
Answering her questions actually started them on their healing journey.
(Note from Dr. Jeannie – I mention this because I believe that reflection and prayer help us overcome hurts from the past. In Brad and Andrea’s case, the interview became a springboard to reflection. For other people, journaling could serve a similar purpose.)
However, one further major test lay ahead for Brad and Andrea before they could complete their healing journey.
Brad relates that just recently, one of his former youth group members reached out to him. Her father, a man who had supported Brad’s ministry, unexpectedly and suddenly passed way. She wanted to know if they would come to be part of the funeral. Of course, the leaders by whom Brad and Andrea felt so hurt would be there, too.
Prior to this, Brad had written a letter to his former leaders at that church, releasing all the bitterness. In fact, it took him six months to get to the point that he could send it because he wanted to make sure that when he dropped it in the mailbox the forgiveness was real and permanent. He wanted release!
They did go back to the funeral. They saw the former leaders there. Brad says, “We felt perfectly at ease there and for me, that’s proof that God had healed my heart.”
I asked Brad what he had learned from this whole situation. There was somewhat of a long silence. Then he said, “That's a loaded question!”
His response, though: “God is faithful. He still uses us in spite of us and in spite of other people. God was faithful to provide jobs for us immediately when we left. All our needs were met. We never went without a roof over our heads even though our world had been turned completely upside down.”
I also asked Brad this: if you were sitting face-to-face with the young ministerial couple who had just been through something similar to your experience, what would you say to them?
He said, “Well, I know it's a totally Sunday school answer but I would say ‘Keep your eyes on Jesus’.
Brad and Andrea say those were the darkest moments of their lives and ministries. However, today they are now in a healthier place than ever. They minister in a growing church. They're seeing people's lives radically change. And their current leadership stands behind them and supports them.
Brad told us to share his story because "If it helps just one person, it will have been worth it."
If Brad and Andrea’s story has helped or encouraged you in some way, please email us or leave a comment below. We will pass it along to them.