It all started my freshman year of college. It was my first time away from home, and I was excited. I was eager to meet new people and explore the world. I came from a small town, so with great excitement also came naïveté.
I volunteered that fall during campaign season to make some extra money; that's when I met Pastor Brown.* He seemed to be such a godly man. He invited me to his church and even picked me up from campus. His church membership had only two adults and the rest were children, but that was okay; I didn't mind. I was just happy to hear a message from God and worship with other believers. Pastor Brown asked me to volunteer at his church right away. I always loved serving God and the community, so I said yes! In the beginning, everything seemed fine.
After a short period of time, he seemed to develop feelings for me. He started to act more like a man who was pursuing me than a pastor who was three times my age. I began to receive hugs that seemed more like squeezes. They just didn't feel right, but I thought I was overanalyzing it. It wasn't until my roommate and her friend began to discuss their observations with me that I realized something wasn't right.
I was very uncomfortable, but I loved the kids, so I kept serving. The next school year, my boyfriend made the same observations. I guess I didn't want to believe it. Finally, a sergeant from the campus police department saw Pastor Brown pick me up one day and received negative vibes (or maybe discernment). I'm not sure what caused his concerns: the pastor picking me up in his freshly polished Cadillac, his flashy outfit that looked as if he were going out for a night on the town, or the awkward embrace he gave me that almost cut off my circulation. Whatever it was, the sergeant had a talk with me the next time he saw me. I was a work-study student in his office, and I guess he felt the need to protect me. He asked me many questions about the pastor and expressed his concerns for my safety and well-being. That's when I finally took heed to my intuition and my friends' observations. I stopped serving at Pastor Brown's church. However, Pastor Brown continued to call me and ride around campus looking for me for approximately one year. It frightened me and hurt me at the same time. How could a married pastor do this?
Unfortunately, this was only the beginning of my encountering pastors and ministers inappropriately seeking me. Over the last 10 years, I have come across several men telling me and other women that God told them we were their wives. These men had no intentions on marrying me or my sisters in Christ. I've also encountered leaders making inappropriate comments to me and other women. I've seen men invite women to be part of a ministry, only to invite themselves into their lives.