I had some doubts about him before I heard these rumors. I knew that he kept a file on various people in the community as I came upon it accidentally one time in the church office. It was filled with comments and remarks about certain individuals and seemed kinda inappropriate coming from a pastor. Yet, I put it back and didn't say anything about it.
He also had several snakes he kept in his office that he had picked up from the Amazon while traveling back and forth there. I don't care for snakes but I don't think it's particularly unusual to have snakes for pets. What was strange, for me, was he would let them out and they would crawl around the office, often laying up on the window sill sunning themselves or chasing the many lizards that were available.
Thirdly, he didn't seem particularly friendly to Ecuadorians who would drop by the office. Some he would make fun of but usually he ushered them out of the office waiting area. I think that it was mainly because he hardly spoke Spanish, in spite of having lived there a number of years. That was really odd to me... Living in a country and not learning the language.
Finally, he told me about his Christmas sermon that he wrote. The subject was unusual, it was about how Satan was present during the birth of Christ. He told me that he wrote his sermon, almost automatically. He said that he put the pen in his hand and the words just seemed to flow out on to the paper, without him giving it much thought. I wondered what was the inspiration for the sermon.
Yet, I kept those four things to myself. I only talked to Karyn about them.
I finally decided that I needed to ask him about the rumors I was hearing about him being abusive. I was NOT accusing him. My mistake was that I should have confided in a board member and had a board member present when I spoke with him. As I told him what I heard, I could see him getting red in the face, his nostrils flared and his hands clenched. I thought he was going to hit me. He demanded that I tell him where I heard such horrible rumors and I told him that I wouldn't tell him but that I thought he deserved to know that people were saying such things about him.
I thought that was the end of it, I believed that possibly, those rumors weren't true. However, the next morning, my suspicions were confirmed. When I got to the office, he was standing at his office window laughing at an Ecuadorian woman who was going thru the church trash. He was laughing because all of a sudden, she jumped and ran off. I asked him what was so funny. He said, "I had to kill one of my snakes because he bit me and I had him in the trash there. She found it and it scared her. Being raised on a farm, I learned early that when something turns on you, you kill it." Then he had a big grin on his face. I left his office and went to my office to think about what just happened. The timing was unmistakable. I decided to write a letter to my missions board letting them know what was going on. In less than a week, I got a reply, "We think it's better you just come home."
When I told this pastor that my missions board was calling us back early, he said, "don't think that means that you can play. You still have a lot of people to see here. If you have an appointment or not, I want you sitting in that office." I protested as this was new behavior. Before, he said if I didn't have appointments, I could go home to Karyn and the boys. Yet, I did comply. It was difficult as we had to make plans to move back to the States and that required some coordination with Karyn and we needed to get rid of things in our apartment that we wouldn't take back with us. Nevertheless, because I'm married to such a capable spouse, we managed to successfully move and were gone within a month.
Once we got back in the States, I heard that he got transferred to another church in the US and there he experienced a divorce. I don't know the particulars and I was saddened to hear it. I was saddened because that showed that his marriage was troubled. If he could have confided in me, I could have possibly helped him save his marriage. I really liked his wife and his children and him. I can imagine that this divorce was very disruptive to his family and probably ended his career as an ordained minister. I haven't heard since the divorce what happened to him or his family but I still pray that God would move in his life so that he experiences true forgiveness and reconciliation.
BE A MAN.