By Bob W.
When I started working for Ambassador College and The Worldwide Church of God in the 1960's I was like a lot of new employee's, I was excited about being at the very heart of such a wonderful organization. I had envisioned a group of honest hardworking people administering the right kind of leadership, actually caring about each others welfare. And a top management that was dedicated toward serving rather than being served. I guess at 21 I did not quite have the whole picture, probably because it was stolen....as you will see.
Now to say there were no hardworking and honest men and women employed by the church and college would be totally and completely untrue. The vast majority even though they were misguided and placed their loyalties in the wrong places were among the finest people I have ever known. I was proud to call them my friends and co-workers. They were hard working, trustworthy and honest.
However in any organization of this size there are going to be some few that have a very different goal and objective. They are ruthless, very deceitful and dangerous because their only purpose is to better their life and to gain as much authority and power for themselves as possible. For these the word service can only mean they feel they are deserving of our unquestioned loyalty, obedience and adoration, therefore they demand it.
This story begins with an opportunity that came my way unexpectedly. A need existed to help. Single mothers and spiritual widows (those that were forced by the church to separate from their mates because of a previous marriage) desperately needed help to move. Neither the church or college was willing to help. They were however willing to move ministers and other executives and pay all their expenses from money we gave as third tithe, which I mistakenly thought it was to help the widows and fatherless! They paid all the expenses of the move, including hotels, meals, car rentals. Many other expenses were paid from our third tithe money, including rental and utility deposits.
For the single moms it wasn't the ordinary move across town, in almost every case they were under extreme stress and the move was an emergency. Why? The ministers in their infinite wisdom (from the pits of hell) would discover a couple that were happily married but where one of the them was previously married. They would then tell them they must separate or burn in that famous barbecue, the lake of fire. Even with the threat of eternal damnation the husband was not always willing just to say goodbye and end a relationship with a wife he dearly loved. Especially when the advice was based on the irrational whims of carnal men who thought they were speaking for God. Sometimes the husband could be downright difficult, if not impossible to deal with. I attribute no blame or fault to them whatever. They were simply innocent victims of an unholy and unrighteous system. On occasion the men would became violent, who could blame them. Thus the need for a hasty move.
I find it interesting, and even a bit strange that the ministry would break up a family then just walk away, leaving it up to the couple to work things out. They were especially swift to move away if it looked as though there was going to be any trouble. So very often it was the wife and kids that were left high and dry. The church, like Ed's story of the good Samaritan, would spiritually beat up the couple then when their victims needed it most, the pompASS and arrogant minister would back out, leaving the wife to fend for herself. To my knowledge, no attempts were made to help. Now I am not saying that every case was like that, but far too may were, far too many!
So several other young people and myself decided to see what we, unofficially, could do to help at least relieve the stress of moving.
The biggest problem, and the most difficult to overcome, was not working around the ministry, actually that was the easy part. Since I was less than nothing in their sight, I was able to move about freely without my every move being scrutinized. The biggest problem to overcome was, where do I get a truck and the necessary equipment to move the furniture and belongings of those in need?
Praise God for miracles! As it turned out the college had just purchased a new truck with an 18 foot box, perfect! Now, how was I going to get the use of it? My job and status, being on the bottom of the food chain, as one person very adequately put it, left me without any clout to persuade those in authority. It would never have worked to simply explain the desperate need and ask to use the truck. It would have been easier to talk the devil out of his horns than to get the help of the ministry. I tried it previously, it was an object lesson in futility. They were not interested in allowing me or anyone else, regardless of their ability to handle the truck, to use the churches or colleges assets to help someone move. Stealing it was out of the question, although that came to mind.
After carefully studying the situation, I finally came up with what I thought was the perfect plan of action. If all went well I would get the use of the truck, and if it did not go well I would be invited to a barbecue where my goose would be cooked!
The young people I solicited to help were genuinely excited about the opportunity to serve those in need. When the question came up, and I knew it would, about getting the equipment. I told them I had found the prefect truck and equipment. And it was not going to cost us anything to use! They were excited as none of us had any extra money, we all were just barely getting by. So the prospect of getting to use the equipment without cost was a big relief. If it had cost us, this group of valiant young people would have sacrificed all they could to make it work. It was an unfortunate reality that even if we pooled all our resources together we would not have been able to meet the expenses involved. They had a willing heart, one of a true servant.
When they asked me how it was all going to work, I explained how I planned to gain the use of the truck. After hearing my proposal they very politely told me I was nuts! My plan required that I work around the ministerial upper crust of the church. At its best it was a risky and a potentially dangerous plan, one that could threaten any hopes of ever having a career with the Church. Just look at how many good men you know about, that had a heart for service, and were fired and disfellowshiped because of it. Not that I am putting myself in the same class as these men because I am not. None the less the risk and consequences was all to real. It would be worth it all just to help relieve some of the stress and feeling of overwhelming despair that a mother was forced into. Her choice was quite simple, either leave your mate or be disfellowshipped and burn in the lake of fire. The church and ministry never used fear and intimidation, and if you believe that you are indeed blind and ignorant. I have seen men as well as women throw up, faint , cry bitterly because the ministry destroyed their lives, and worst of all their hope for the future. And some have even committed suicide. No fear or intimidation here!
Working at the college, it sometimes helped to be just a little nuts, not too much, just a little. It also helped to ignore all the possible consequences and to be willing to put your faith where your mouth is and step out.
At the very next opportunity to help a mother move I put my plan to work. Within twenty minutes to everyone's amazement and shock I had the truck fully gassed up and ready to do some serious moving. Away we went to help this young mom in her time of need. We completed the move within three hours. We worked fast and hard. We were well organized and efficient. The move was accomplished smoothly and quickly. I was able to return the truck before midnight.
How did I accomplish the seemingly impossible task of securing the truck? Well, I waited until about 8:30 pm which is well after the dinner hour. It was also the time a particular evangelist was getting ready for bed. (He had mentioned this several times in various sermons about how important is was to get to bed early. Interestingly enough it was the same individual that stated that if you ate a 1/2 gallon of ice cream it would kill you. Good thing he was divinely inspired otherwise we would have never known these wonderful truths. Moan) I knew the truck was at the Transportation Department, so I simply told the supervisor on duty that Mr. Evangelist, who is well known and I might add highly feared, told me to pick up the truck to move a single mom that was in a desperate situation. I lied, not about the woman in need of help, but about the top ranking, (rank is a bad odor), minister giving me the okey dokey to use the truck. When he hesitated, I told him he could call the minister at home. I also mentioned that the call would probably get him out of bed, and he might be a little cranky. The supervisor decided it would not be in his best interest to call. He gave me the keys and away I went. It worked just as slick as I had hoped! It is amazing the amount of respect and fear that is generated by using a name, only this time it was for positive reasons.
Had he made the phone call, which I was fairly certain he wouldn't, I would have been in serious doodoo. This setup worked well for almost a year. Three or four times a month, as the need arose we used the truck. It got so routine that all I needed to do was show up before 9:00 pm and the supervisor would almost automatically hand me the keys to the truck. Until one evening, the unexpected happened. Midnight madness struck Our use of the truck came to a rather sudden and unexpected end, but not for the reasons you might think.
The trouble started when we arrived to move a young mother with serious husband troubles. First thing we ran into some difficulties, nothing was packed at all, and she needed to get out before he returned somewhere around midnight. The dishes were still in the cupboards, the clothes in the closets, nothing absolutely nothing was ready or packed. It required a lot of hustling, be we finally got her and her children out of the house before her hostile husband returned. In spite of the obstacles everything went rather smoothly.
Having to pack everything ourselves slowed us down. It was well after 1:00 am before I got the truck back That's when things started to get real interesting and somewhat complicated. There to greet me, in a glaring and sinister way was one of the church's more obnoxious elders. Just my luck! He demanded to know where I had been with HIS truck! His tone of voice reflected how agitated and annoyed he really was. He was downright nasty and hateful! Actually it was not his truck, but being a minister (he was all too typical) he was very possessive of the churches assets treating them as his own. It seemed he had planned to use the truck that evening to move some personal items. And I really messed up his plans and now he was going to have my head.
His name was no where to be found on the schedule or check out sheet for that evening which was really strange. I always checked it before taking the truck just in case it had been reserved for some other use. In almost a year this was the first time there was a conflict and such a strange one at that.
The elder was extremely angry and appeared to be stressed. He didn't scare or intimidate me in the least. I simply followed my plan. I told him that Mr. Evangelist gave me his permission to use the truck that night to help a single mom move. Which was only partially true. In fact if he had known I was using this man's name and office in vain I would have been dead meat. I told him, if he had any questions or concerns, to direct them to him. To my amazement his countenance changed. His voice quickly became friendly and he began to apologized for assuming I was not authorized to use the truck and for being so harsh. Beads of sweat began to form on his forehead. He seemed nervous and a bit shaken when I mentioned the name of the evangelist. He said he would consider it a personal favor if I did not mention it to Mr. Evangelist. Smiling to myself I assured him I would say nothing. So I gave him the keys and left. I thought for sure this elder was one brick short of a full load. He was really acting weird, even for an elder.
It wasn't until sometime later that I indirectly found out why he became so friendly and did not want me to say anything about his using the truck. To my amazement he was using it at midnight to steal furnishings and other assets from the church's warehouse. That's right, a sinister minister using church assets to steal church assets, now that is strange!
He was smart in the manner in which he stole various items. He would take the junk furniture from his house or other places and replace it with the excessively expensive furniture from the warehouse. By switching them the inventory would always show that all items were accounted for, at least in number. When he was caught, he had stolen multiple thousands of dollars in furniture, paintings, fine crystal, and other decorations. They really had no idea of all that he took. The inventory was done in such a haphazard and sloppy manner that there was no way they could tell what was really missing.
No public disclosure was made, typical, of this mans misdeeds. It was quietly swept under the rug and handled internally. The administration simply transferred him to some obscure outpost to preach and teach righteousness, how sad!. He did not last very long, he simply disappeared into obscurity after being disfellowshipped.
What I did was just as wrong and I should have been fired. But if you could have been there to see and experienced what the church did to these unfortunate married couples, you would understand why I felt I had to something, even if it were wrong. The one major difference between me and the elder was taht I worked outside an unholy and unjust system to help spiritual widows in need, while he did so for personal gain.
Shortly after he had been caught red-handed with a truck load of stolen goods his midnight madness was put to an end. My big picture had been stolen and replaced with a bit of harsh reality. As an unfortunate consequence, all equipment use, other than for college ordained projects, was totally banned. Without the use of a truck our project had to cease. At this point it was far too dangerous, even for me, to use Mr. Evangelists name. I might not be very bright but I am not stupid.
I tried desperately once again to solicit the help of several ministers, names you would immediately recognize. It would have been easier to talk the devil out of his horns than to get these men to help. It seemed there was no advantage for them, it would not add status or stature to jobs, it would not help them in getting ahead and up the ladder of church administration. After all, if they could not climb the ladder they would not be able to serve themselves, oops, us better.
Life on campus was sometimes outrageous. It is sad. They could have accomplished so much good, instead, their interest was in making themselves look good, and securing their future. What an unfortunate paradox we financed, and some of you still are!
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