I thought I would leave everything behind when I moved to another state. All the gossip and rumors would be left in my previous state. I could start again. And for a very short time, they seemed to be. Then things changed. A girl told the pastor I’d invited her to stay with me when I hadn’t. She moved in and then started rumors that I was overcharging her. She borrowed things in my name and didn’t return them. People said I’d stolen them, even though she was the one who took them from them. Finally, the roommate arranged a group to go to the mall. Single people weren’t supposed to go out without chaperones. She arranged for five of us to go — a couple who the pastor had said shouldn’t be going out, her, a man who was interested in me, and me. I refused, the church office found out, and they got in trouble. I’d made enemies, and they were enemies who would not forget, and who quickly began discussing why I had come to their church. They were sure it wasn’t for good reason. I was “a cloud without water, a wandering star” just going from church to church. One of the worst possible accusations there… I was a move-in.
Then the pastor died, and the pastor who’d thrown me out showed up to the funeral. A new pastor came, one that was known for his hard preaching, and he invited an evangelist friend of the man who threw me out. That evangelist told several members to beware, that he felt there was something wrong with me. I tried to remain true to what I’d been told, not to tell anyone about being expelled, but in time there were too many questions. I told the new pastor what had happened.
Shortly after that I began being called into the pastor’s office, yelled at, accused, and questioned. I stayed. I stayed as people lied about me, as I was falsely accused without any opportunity to respond. As soon as the first lie was told, I was declared guilty. The Bible warns against leaders judging a person without first hearing them, but the church did that to me and others on more than one occasion. They condemned before they had real information and sometimes even on only a feeling or a thought that a leader said he had.
In doing so, the church betrayed us. It also betrayed itself.