Have you ever been hurt in church? I know I am not the only one. This morning God spoke to me that I need to share some things that have hurt me that have happened in church. Now I am not doing this to bad mouth people. There are good and well meaning people that go to church every week. There are good Shepherds. And then, there are others who are not helpful at all. I know, we are all people, and hurting people – hurt people.
I have a new category on my page, “Hurt in Church”. This is a place where I share what happened and how I am seeking healing and forgiveness. I know I have hurt people, and people have hurt me. We are all human. But I pray that I can use these hurts as ministry opportunities – and healing opportunities. Not only to bring attention to what we are doing to each other, but to release God’s healing in all of our hearts.
In many of my stories I may use the 3rd person. And I will not reveal names or places – just situations. Names will be changed as well. God knows who they really are – and God will take care of it. But I know for my own healing I need to let these things out – and release them, instead of hanging onto old hurts.
I know I have been deceived – by Abusers in many arenas in my life. Maybe that is why I always gravitated towards the Charismatic leaders. Many are good. But others like to abuse their power.
THE $50,000 CUP OF COFFEE
She was living in the shelter with her two kids. Lynn had recently left the 1969 broken down trailer she had called home after years of abuse. She was trying to protect her children and start a new life. She went to the church every Sunday morning looking for hope – and healing. She walked away from all of her things – left with the clothes on her back and no money. Seemed wrong – he was the abuser and he got the house – but she was grateful she was alive and her kids were safe.
At night Lynn worked as a part-time waitress at a local diner. Mostly senior citizens and families were her customers. She would make on average $30-$40 a night in tips. Well, except for the Friday Fish Fry. Then she might make more. A great Friday was worth $75 or so. That’s where she met him. His name was Tom .
Tom was a widower. He would come to the restaurant 3-4 nights a week. He had his favorite chair at the counter. Being that Lynn was the newest waitress, she usually worked the counter. She liked it there. She could talk and get to know whosoever sat down. Most nights Tom would come in for the special. He really liked the Swiss Steak on Thursdays.
Tom was a Christian too. Even though he went to a different church, he and Lynn would talk about what last Sunday’s sermon was on. His eyes lit up every time Lynn asked him what God was doing in his life. She knew he was sad and lonely and the restaurant was his only place to have a regular conversation. Tom would sit at that counter for a good 2 hours every time he came in.
And Lynn would pull out her little index cards. One of the ways she kept her wits about her was to write a verse from the Bible on an index card. She would keep them in her apron and pull them out every time she started to worry about how she would make it – being on her own with the kids, and living in the shelter. “What’s the verse of the day?” Tom would ask when he sat down at the counter. And Lynn would pull out the index card she had written on that morning. She was desperately looking for hope in a hopeless situation.
Then one night Tom asked her, “Hey, what church do you go to?” Lynn told him, and asked, “Why do you want to know?” Tom said, “You have such a freedom when you talk about God. I want to come visit.” Lynn poured him another cup of coffee.
It was a few weeks later that Tom finally showed up. He looked ragged and beat down. But he came. The next Thursday he came back to the restaurant. Lynn poured him his usual coffee and ordered his Swiss Steak. Then he told her. “Hey Lynn, did your Pastor tell you what I did last week?” Lynn looked at him sort of puzzled. “No, He didn’t say anything.”
Tom hesitated, and then took a breath. “Well you see, I recently lost my business and I had to sell a building I owned. I don’t want to pay the capital gains tax so I chose four churches to split the money with. I just gave your Pastor a check for $50,000.”
Lynn was speechless. She stood there a moment with the coffeepot frozen in her hand. Her mind was spinning. Finally she spoke, “Really Tom, that is absolutely amazing! What a generous gift. I can’t believe you did that. You see our church has been renting space for the last um-teen years, maybe now they can build. Thank you so much Tom. Here, have some more coffee – on me!” Lynn bought his dinner that night – just to say thank you. It was a small gesture, but Tom appreciated it. Who knows the last time someone bought him dinner?
That Sunday Lynn went back to church. She expected the Pastor to make an announcement and thank her for bringing Tom to church. She thought the $50,000 check would finally bring her some acceptance into the ‘inner circle’. Being that it was an independent church only the Pastor and his chosen men knew the finances. There were no open books there. Yet the Pastor didn’t say a word. So she waited, and waited. And Lynn kept working, making $30-$40 a night. And bringing Tom coffee when he came to the restaurant.
After about a month Tom came back to Lynn’s church. It was then the Pastor took him up front and thanked him for his generous contribution. The applause rang out and we were all grateful. Such a generous gift. There were promises of getting a new building, promises of supporting missionaries, promises of how they could now help so many people.
Lynn sat in the congregation fuming. She couldn’t believe it. She was the one who had poured the coffee – for months. She was the one who fed this man night after night. And the Pastor was acting like she didn’t even exist. He never even told her thank you. He never acknowledged her. He never told her that her pouring coffee and listening to Tom had helped him and his church. The Pastor took all the credit for bringing Tom to church. He said he knew him, and there was no mention of Lynn. The Pastor and the men had their private meetings and Lynn has no idea what they did with all that cash.
Lynn was disappointed. I mean really. A$50,000 cup of coffee. The Pastor wouldn’t even acknowledge her or say good job. Lynn wasn’t looking for a hand out. She was working hard to make her own way – without help from anyone. She didn’t ask for help her with rent, or gas, or food. Oh occasionally one or two people would give her a $20 bill on Sunday. Maybe they thought that would do it.
Lynn got a second job, and then a third. All while she went through the divorce. And lost everything. She got help from the Salvation Army and they helped her get into Section 8 housing. She moved into an apartment with her kids and a blanket and a pillow. Her and the kids didn’t even have beds. After a while she had to quit the restaurant. Her second job started at 6 am and she had to have the kids at daycare at 5 am. Working until 11 pm just wasn’t feasible anymore.
She told Tom on her last night, “Thanks again Tom. You have sure been a blessing to XYZ Church. I pray that God restores to you everything you have given 30, 60, 100 times over. God bless you my friend.” She turned in her apron and walked out of the restaurant – and out of XYZ church.
17 thoughts on “The $50,000 Cup of Coffee”
Hi, Diana. Churches would be amazing if they weren’t full of humans, eh? I’ve got my own set of grievances against church, too. When I left an abusive spouse, they invited me to move on – said if I wanted a divorce, I should just get one and not try to make my husband look bad. If they only knew!
A couple of years ago, I completed a study. It was so good that I went through it three times! It’s a Bible study by John Bevere entitled, “Bait of Satan.” Jesus said that it would be impossible for us to get through this life without being offended. How had I missed that?
It’s a great study, one I highly recommend to anyone who’s been mistreated by a church. The book is good, but the healing comes through completing the accompanying workbook. It was the best use of time and money ever. Perhaps you’ll find some healing there as well?
Praising Jesus – the Head of the craziest, most dysfunctional body ever!
Than you Tami. I haven’t read that one yet. I will definitely check it out. And yeah, what a body, lol!
Sad story. On one side, I don’t think she should have expected a thanks for being nice to the man, we’re serving Christ after all and we are to do it without expectation of anything in return. On the other side, I she was bothered by lack of support in her church she should have asked and if they really we’re willing then it’s time to leave.
When I was divorced there wasn’t much help and no support. Divorce was looked down on, as if there was something wrong with me. When I finally told my husband to “shape up or ship out”, to stop the sex, drugs, alcohol and abuse, the church leaders came down on me hard. I had done a horrible thing and I no longer received support and it was expected that I would never remarry as that was sin. In a way they cursed my life, after nearly 30 years I still haven’t remarried.
My church as programs/departments for hurting people but I think more could be done: food/supply pantry, sheltering and mentoring.
This post sure hit home, thanks for sharing.
Thanks Ana. Sometimes I think I am too naive. idk. But I do know the whole divorce thing. I went through it too – more than once. The guilt and condemnation that others put on me was unbearable – all while he was the one out cheating and not coming home. I don’t get it. Deserters in the service get punished – or sometimes killed. Yet with marriage it happens all the time.
I am sorry for the words spoken in anger over you from the church. I apologize that the body of Christ hurt you in your time of need. Forgive us for not being there for you. You are God’s special daughter, a Princess, and we should have treated you as Royalty, not an outsider. The choices your ex made were not yours – and God will deal with him.
I break any and all curses spoken over Ana from any church member. I command those words be turned back into dust, in Jesus Name. And Lord, I release life and prosperity and love in Ana’s life. I pray that if she is to be married (if it is Your will and she agrees) that You would bring forth the man you have already chosen for her. If she is to be married then Lord – you made her from some man’s rib – reveal to her who that is in Jesus Name. I speak love, and unity, and peace in all her relationships, in Jesus Name. Love you girl, Diana
Thank you so much for the prayer, I welcome any prayer. I’m going to paste it into my prayer journal.
Church is the place for hurting people, not a place to be shunned. Reminds me of the song “we are the body” by Casting Crowns, that even decades later this tragedy is still continuing. I’m so bless to be in the church I’m in now. Some “churches” are more concerned with sin, and perceived sin than the people. They forget it was the worst sinners that Jesus sought out.
God Bless you Diana, and again, thank you
You are welcome beautiful, thank you for sharing too 😉
Oh, how the fields are filled with the wounded from church abuse. The place that needs to be a hospital and a demonstration of unconditional love and forgiveness, instead becomes a killing field. Unmet expectations of the sheep leaving bitterness and pastors and leaders that feel sheep bit. Too often it is a place of religious formality devoid of relationships with others and most certainly with Jesus. Too often church goes on with a set agenda without listening to hear what would please the One who made it all possible. If the Holy Spirit is not there no one would know due to religious formats and performance. Everyone leaves devoid of real relationship with the Lord (there is no listening and obeying what he wants) and with each other. I too have received many wounds on this battlefield that left me distrusting of the leadership and the sheep. I have been called to forgive and to reconciliation. The deep wounds when exposed to the light of love and forgiveness heal.
One thing I noticed in this story was the woman did not speak to the pastor about her concerns. It is understood she was coming out of an abusive situation but not speaking up, gave no chance for reconciliation. This church was just another place to feel victimized. I agree with Don’s comment. Relationship with the Lord, listening to his voice and voicing what is going on with oneself is important. Then even if you are not heard, you will have taken a proactive step before leaving. Forgiving and not allowing bitterness to grow is so important.
Thank you my friend. I know I need healing. I know I need to forgive, that is why I brought it up. Yet he knew. He visited me in the shelter. He knew my need, and refused to see. Maybe my expectations were too high. I know I put my Pastor on a pedestal, even though he was still a man. I wanted to believe that somebody cared. I know God does. I just wanted to see it…how did you heal? How did you forgive? Live and let live? I trust God. But I still struggle with trusting men, especially those in authority.
This link tells Apostle Gabriel Crosses journey on being healed from spiritual abuse: http://pureglory.net/2014/04/24/healed-and-delivered-from-spiritual-abuse/
My journey has been similar yet different. I received deliverance from a spirit of victimization from a two trained deliverance workers. When I asked, the Lord showed me what the people who had spiritually abused me had suffered. I was able to release them and pray like Jesus prayed on the cross: “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” I realized that the poison I wanted them to drink was what I was drinking. I had become bitter and did not trust any spiritual leaders especially pastors. I also had a problem with the other sheep who had gone along with the leadership in very painful consequences for me as a young child along with the rest of my family. I cried out to the Lord to help me have compassion and he gave it to me. I knew that if I did not forgive (release) them, I would not be forgiven by my Heavenly Father. I was missing out on my blessings for holding them hostage. Forgiveness is an act of the will not an emotion. It releases the one who has the unforgiveness so one can move on. If nothing else allows one to live again. Forgiveness involves releasing the offenders to Jesus the Forgiver who lives inside of me. Think about Jesus and the river of live inside of you. You release to Jesus the forgiver. Your life depends on forgiving, because it allows you to move on and not camp out in the past in the land of pain and desolation. When I released them, I also spoke blessings on them. Additionally, I asked the Lord to heal my wounds. When you forgive, you let it go and give it to the Lord. I can honestly say, the pain is healed. I have learned it is much better to forgive daily and even pre forgive those that offend me before it happens. Life is so much easier this way. I no longer have to live as a victim but I am a victor. I now have authority in this area. Some of my deepest wounds came from spiritual abuse. Letting go of all the negative emotions and bitterness makes me lighter. I can receive forgiveness for my sins. The Lord has been teaching me that there is a much too high cost to not forgiving. I want mercy so I am merciful. Has it been difficult? Yes! But I would rather live this way than be tormented. Unforgiveness brings torment. It is too expensive. Cry out to God and ask for his help. Make a decision to release the pastor. Then you can move on and leave it all in your past not your life today.
I speak healing of your wounds with the blood of Jesus. Wholeness and completeness with nothing broken or lacking. A new ability to trust God to heal you. A new ability to hear the voice of Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth. You are loved and precious. As you release, healing will come. God will give you wisdom to know who is trustworthy.
This particular area is one I am passionate about due to where I have walked. I wanted to add that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers of darkness in high places. When he can divide the church, there is no unity or love or effectiveness. Joseph told his brothers that the enemy wanted him a slave for evil but God turned it for good. Even though his brothers had been jealous and hated him, selling him as a slave, Joseph had learned to forgive. He went from prison to ruling Egypt in a short time and saved his family’s lives and many others. Forgiveness was the key. What had appeared as the biggest victory for the enemy was turned into the biggest victory for God. Forgiveness was the key. Hop this helps.
Thank you…yes it does!
Praise God! 🙂
Thank you again Apostle Gabriel. I have been meditating on this all day. I receive it, in Jesus Name, and I forgive him. I never really asked God to show me what he had been through. He didn’t talk about personal stuff like that much. I will choose to trust God to heal me in those places. I never really liked camping out anyway, lol! Thank you, and God bless you as you minister to all of us here, Diana
Praise God! You’re welcome!
Her church did not know her, they were not her family. She didn’t have relationship. It is sad and I have seen it so many times. People hurt and are in pain, but do not reach out and then they are hurt by something that wasn’t even about them. She did need support and she needed help and her church family let her down, but may – just maybe she let them down by not giving them an opportunity to help her and love her.
I pray that God touches people that are hurting enough for them to reach out and be helped by their neighbor.
Thank you Don. May we all be more open to giving and receiving help from each other. God bless you, and thank you for your thoughts – they are treasures, Diana