“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
A friend served as a Pastor’s Assistant for a number of years, at a local Church in Nairobi. He spent years running; waking in the dark, rushing early to work, leaving work and off to the Church every week day evening. Andy barely had time to spend time with his wife. Bella spent her evenings with her sister or a friend, staving off the loneliness of a young and busy marriage. The couple believed that a super-busy marriage would bring them the income and fulfillment they longed for.
The senior Pastor and her husband met Andy and Bella through friends, one fine Sunday, as they visited the fairly small Church in a quiet suburb of the city. They made a choice to continue attending services there, as the Pastor took a keen interest in Andy’s gifts in shepherding, leading and helps. Shortly after their wedding, Bella noticed that the senior Pastor required more of her husband’s time at the Church, inviting all her staff for training and meetings every Saturday, public holiday and any spare time they had. Bella thought this odd but decided not to question Andy too much about it. Within a year, Bella began to feel neglected and abandoned.
The senior Pastor on her part noticed this in Bella and the other wives. She set about busying the Church wives to go shopping and visit one another. Awkward, lonely and a little frustrated, Bella went along, offering her skills in fashion and shopping, as none of the other wives were medics, as she was. She smiled at the right moment, invited the other Church staff wives to lunch and tea, at their home. She tried to make friends but came to realize, she had little or no value to them.
Andy got home later and later each night. Finally, one night, as he walked in, dropped his jacket and brief case, Bella noticed how tired and harassed he looked. She asked how things were, assuming work was the issue. He spoke very little, and then finally, as they got into bed, he spoke.
‘Bella, there is something terribly wrong! Would you believe that all the plans we have worked on, for so long and so hard have been laid to waste!’
‘What has?’ asked Bella, curious to understand what was happening to him.
Andy went on to relate his impression of the lady Pastor, quite contrary to everything they had expected. She had propelled herself to a place of prominence and importance, over God. He sounded so weary, so much that Bella became anxious. She asked if they could pray and they soon settled down, as she comforted him and assured him that all would work out well, now that the Church elders had confronted the Pastor.
As the weeks wore on, they came to understand that the Pastor was struggling with her own loneliness, as her husband was a public figure. Although she wanted to love and serve God, her fears have fed into her insecurities, leading her to spout every negative emotion onto her staff. In abject frustration, her staff began to leave. Families he Church fell away and others moved. The Pastor’s husband was later caught up in an affair, reported across the national dailies. Her heart was broken for all to see, but her core team of good friends had long left her, isolating herself in work and home. Her family life must have suffered. We do not know what happened to her in the end, sadly. Only when we talked with our friends a good five years later, did we learn of the anguish they had endured. During that time, their marriage was tested, as they spent more time alone at home as a family, learning to enjoy their young daughter, as Bella enjoyed her second pregnancy.
The healing did come, and the learning turned into a treasure. God sought them out, healed, delivered and save the whole family. They can laugh about this experience now and are thankful that they can talk about spiritual abuse, abuse of authority and how it impacts people. Jesus Christ gave them an amazing testimony that will serve as a source of learning, comfort and encouragement to so many.