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Pastor and Wife Arrested; No One Had their Blind Side

By Raul Rivera

Several years ago, a sixteen-year-old girl went to her pastors-Pastors Matt* and Debbie*-and confessed that her father had been molesting her.  After the pastoral husband and wife team counseled the young girl to best of their ability, they next confronted the father, who confessed to them that he had indeed molested his daughter.  The repentant father asked his daughter for forgiveness, which she granted, and the family underwent a process of healing and restoration directed by the pastors.  The father never touched his daughter again.  Though it had been a very sad time for the sixteen-year-old girl, Pastor Matt and Pastor Debbie felt that they made their best efforts to mend her broken heart and also reach out to the father with help and restoration.

When Pastor Matt started the church on July 11, 1996 only seven people made up the congregation, and Pastor Matt envisioned a ministry alive with unconditional love and grace to the world.  That is indeed what he has seen.  Thousands have come to the Lord.  He and Debbie have seen many miracles over the years as the ministry has grown to house a 22,000 square foot facility, with plans to expand. 

Who has your blindside?

One thing that the pastors did not know was that they had a blind side in their ministry.  There were some things they did not know that would bring them some fiery trials.  On July 9th, of 2010, the father of the now 19-year-old girl was arrested on several counts of sexual abuse and molestation charges.  What the pastors did not know was that shortly after the father had repented, he fell back into the same sin, only this time with his younger daughter.

Many pastors work IN the ministry but not ON the ministry

Busy working IN the ministry, Pastor Matt and Pastor Debbie had been making plans to start construction of the new facilities while also making efforts to plant new churches all throughout Mexico and Central America.  The Spanish church they recently started had also been growing.  But something happened that no one was ready for.  When the police arrested the abusive father, the older sister was interviewed, and she reported that the father had sexually molested her, too, years earlier.   She also told police that Pastors Matt and Debbie had counseled her through the process, which was all the police needed to hear in order to arrest both pastors for failing to comply with Arizona Statute A.R.S. § 13-3620. 

Many pastors are busy pouring out their lives IN the ministry to which they have been called, but very few take the time to work ON the ministry to ensure that they obtain the proper wisdom for how they conduct ministerial matters.  Stop for a moment and ask yourself, "Am I certain that every part of my ministry is right?"  Do I have a blind side?  Do I even know if you have a blind side?  These are real questions for the real world of ministry today! 

Take the time to work ON the ministry

How much time do you spend preparing for a message or serving in the ministry?  In Bible colleges in the U.S. there are many students today spending countless hours learning to better communicate the gospel message, give counsel to the broken hearted, and manage numbers of people.  Preachers today spend countless hours teaching classes, discipling new believers, and praying for the sick.  Yet how many are taking the necessary time to work ON the maintenance of their ministry?  It requires that you invest time learning the ever-changing laws that affect churches and ministries.  Whether in IRS compliance, taxes, counseling, risk management or zoning.  Staying up to date with these changes empowers your ministry to keep growing through strategic planning. 

Don't suffer unless you have to

Pastor Matt and his wife Debbie each faced one charge of failure to report sexual abuse.  In Arizona, their violation is classified as a class six felony.  If their meeting with the girl and her father had happened before 2008, they may not have been charged at all because the law previous to that year did not require ministers to report sexual abuse.

The truth is, we leaders tend to believe that God will never allow such things to happen to us, since we pray and occupy our time winning the lost.  Won't that mean that He will keep us from all of the snares of the enemy?  Do not allow your busy life and schedule to become an excuse for naively believing that the Lord is more interested in providing you with supernatural protection over the mistakes you make and keep on making than He is in you acquiring the necessary knowledge to steward His ministry better.   All you have to do is dedicate the time needed for acquiring knowledge.  The Lord was faithful to protect Paul in and out of prison...but let's not go there unless we have to.

Our Ultimate Church Structure Conferences are designed to aid you in gaining the needed knowledge in these critical areas of ministry stewardship.  Allow us to equip you with the understanding you need; we spend hours researching changes in the law, and other ministry-pertinent information so that you don't have to.  Join us at one of our convenient locations upcoming.

*The names in this blog have been changed for the pastors' privacy.

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