Too Transparent

Our regular elders meeting was set for that evening, but after two police detectives visited my office in the morning, my news became our agenda.

"My son was charged today," I told the elders. "He was involved in the fire that burned down the children's wing of the church."

The men were as stunned as I was. I told them everything, and I felt from the expressions on their faces, from their tears and consoling gestures, that they supported me. After an hour, I had said all there was to say and left. The meeting, however, continued until midnight.

I took an induced 90-day leave of absence.

On Sunday, my wife, Marie, and I stood before the congregation and told them the news. So much had happened to us in recent years, there wasn't a lot of our tribulation the church didn't know. But the trials, and the pledge I made to myself to be open about them, had taken its toll on my ministry. I wasn't sure—after 22 years as senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church—that I would return from the unexpected time ...

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