Wednesday, May 6, 2015

20 years ago next year . . . a dubious anniversary

Next year will be a somewhat dubious anniversary for hubby and me.

Twenty years ago next year, in the summer of 1996, a church in far western Kentucky fired my husband as their pastor. They had no valid reason, other than that they were tired of him, and that his preaching was hitting too close to their secret sins and consciences. They were tired of leaving church feeling bad, so their solution was to fire him as pastor. Rather than change themselves, they changed who they would listen to on Sunday.

My husband had been a good pastor to their church; visiting, and going to the hospital, going to association meetings, all the things a good pastor does. But he faithfully preached the word, and his sermons stepped on their conscience. So they fired him.

What made this so devastating was that it was a full time church, and we lived in their parsonage. So we lost not only the home we lived in, but our only income as well. About 2-3 years prior, something had made an audible shotgun-like pop in my back; and it ended thoughts of me ever working.

We tried so very hard to find him another church, but another minister had been working behind his back, and had ruined him as a minister; telling lies about him, and telling people not to use him, or recommend him. So he couldn't get another church. And this church was a 2 hour drive away from our home area of Owensboro. So not only were we jobless and homeless, but we were a 2 hour drive away from home. We ended up moving back, into a rental house, with no job. We had a hard time finding anyone who would rent to us, because hubby didn't have a job.

Well, hubby did find a job, but our out-go was more than our income. We used our credit cards to help make ends meet, believing that before we maxed out our credit cards, that something would turn up. That our income would go up, that a miracle would occur, and that we would be able to pay off our debts. But that didn't happen. We believed in miracles and Christians too much, to our utter downfall.

During this time, church-wise, we didn't fare much better. My husband only filled in at churches, and supplied, not being particularly interested in pastoring another church at that time. Finally, he was enticed to pastor a church, a part-time church. Our brief time there was somewhat pleasant, until they wanted him to ask a family to leave the church because they didn't dress well enough to suit some of the rulers of the church. We left the same day that family did.

So my husband went back to filling in and supplying, determined not to pastor again. But once again, he was enticed to pastor a church he had been supplying at. This would be the last church that my husband would ever pastor, and the last one we would ever attend regularly.

By the time hubby did get a job that covered our out-go, we had defaulted on our credit cards, and had a huge debt. We wanted to pay the debts off, we really did; but we wouldn't be able to. It was while we were pastoring this last church, that we got the idea to send out letters to our 'brothers and sisters in Christ', seeking their help with our financial dilemma. That would be the final nail in my husband's ministry.

We knew the church was unable to help us, and the local church association couldn't either. We didn't think there was anything wrong with it. According to what the Bible said Christians were supposed to be like, it should have worked; it should have erased our debt. But this action angered the head of the local church association. On Sunday, we were there in the church, one of them. On Monday, the head of the local church association contacted the church leaders and instructed them to fire my husband or they would be kicked out of the local church association. On Tuesday, the church leaders met at the church. On Wednesday, they asked my husband to meet them at the church at 6 pm, before the regular 7 pm church business meeting. They fired him on the spot. They gave him a small severance check, and had us leave before the business meeting. We both walked out of the church in tears, our hearts totally broken by their coldness. They didn't even allow my husband to come back the next Sunday and preach a farewell sermon. We don't know what they told the congregation.

I remember the date that they fired him. It is forever etched in my memory.

The date was . . . . . August 1st, 2001

A little over a month later, the world trade center towers would fall to an enemy attack on our home soil.

2001 was not a good year for either us, nor our nation. He never pastored again. He never preached again. We haven't been a part of a church since then.

Finally, one of our creditors started garnishing my hubby's paychecks, and that was the last straw. We filed for bankruptcy. There was nothing else to do. We had no other choice, no other options. We dearly hated to do it, but had no other choice.

We went on; the bankruptcy cleared out our huge debt. But the work that my husband had done had began taking a toll on his knees. In 2010, my husband would have to go to working part-time because his knees bothered him so bad. He desperately needed to file for disability, but couldn't quit working, as my chronic bad back wouldn't allow me to work. I tried filing for disability, twice, but was turned down flat. I didn't have the mountain of stuff you needed to be able to get it.

The real game changer would happen in 2011. In February of 2011, my husband was fired from his job. March would find him in the hospital, diagnosed with cancer. We had to cash in his 401K from work, just to make it and have money to live on. I think that was the most difficult year of my life so far. I was at home in Hartford, he was in the hospital in Owensboro, and I didn't dare go visit him for fear of catching something and getting sick. I was on my own, and couldn't afford to get sick.

Hubby got disability, but the payments wouldn't start until October of that year. Our credit, barely better after our last bankruptcy, would take a devastating hit. We barely survived the year financially, and we've struggled ever since.

Yes, I've tried all those charities that are supposed to help people. You name it and I've probably tried it at one point or another in this 20 year journey. And still we struggle.

So when we ring in our dubious 20 year anniversary next year, I have no doubt that our financial situation will be no better than it has been over the last 20 years. I would love to be surprised, but I doubt that I will be.

So that is where this post finds us - out of ideas, out of answers, and barely making it from month to month. Like everyone else, we've had dreams, hopes, and wishes; and so many of them, we've had to lay aside and give up on. I think the one that makes me the saddest is my husband's wish to visit the Gettysburg civil war battle site. With both of our physical condition now, even if we had the money and the vehicle, we couldn't do it.

Did you know that he worked his way through college and seminary? His desire was to serve God faithfully, preach the word, and pastor full-time churches. He's a good man, and deserves much better than he's gotten in life. As for me, I've always had bad luck, must have been born under an unlucky star or something. I'm tired and worn out, and all out of ideas of what to do to improve our situation. All I want is for us to have plenty of money for whatever we want or need, and for me to be able to just sit down and quit; to not have to continually try to figure a way out of whatever catastrophe or trouble has befallen us.

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