Debacle Turned Into Blessing

Written by | January, 2014
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FROM THE FIELD                                                               November 13, 2014

Debacle Turned into Blessing

On December 13, 2001 the BELC celebrated its 20th anniversary. But that celebration lost its luster when information came to the CLC that same month that Pastor Bas, head of the BELC, was working also with the AALC in violation of his and our stated Bible position on fellowship. A rupture was occurring in our relationship. I was in Nigeria at the time. In consultation with the Mission Board it was decided that I should go to India to see face to face this situation and what could be salvaged.


In January and February of 2002 I met with Pastor Bas and his men and received more information from the AALC. Tragically Pastor Bas had openly lied to them and us. In confronting him he admitted his sin and asked for forgiveness. But there needed to be more forthcoming, bearing fruits that befit repentance. While I naturally forgave him, he could not be trusted with responsibilities or finances until he proved himself to us. This he did not take well. I asked him to resign his position as President of the BELC in the best interests of the church. He declined and was overtaken by some emotional problems that influenced his body. From that point it was difficult to communicate with him.


However it was not difficult to communicate with his pastors. Since I had been on the field over the years, I knew his men and had no compunctions about discussing the whole situation with them. In my explaining how he had openly lied, I also disclosed that we did not have confidence in him at this time. That would have to be restored over time. Around forty pastors indicated their desire to remain in fellowship with the CLC regardless of other outcomes and they signed a statement to that effect. Interim arrangements were made.


Pastor Bas did not change from his refusal to resign. Even the offer to have him teach did not mollify him. He closed the orphanage in April. We were no longer in fellowship. While he did retain some of the  pastors that he had trained over the years, the vast majority, 36 at the time, remained with us. And we have seen the men he had either leave him or come over to us. And he has gone back to his former church, the IELC.


What can we learn from this? It is not that people will not lie to us, but it is – what do we do when we find out. Another thing is to be on the field as much as possible with eyes and ears open learning. Be one with the men and demonstrate what we are interested in – God’s Word in its truth and purity and spreading it far and near. Never gloss over sin, but call a spade a spade. The objective is forgiveness and repentance. Repentance involves a change.


What appeared to be a disaster twelve years ago has by God’s grace turned into a blessing with the Berea Evangelical Lutheran Church continuing to expand under God’s hand.