We pastored in Turkey for almost five years and then…
We pastored in Turkey for almost five years and then moved to Italy for almost three years then my wife’s mother was terminally ill and we moved back to the states to see to her needs in Atlanta.
We underwent hardship in Turkey and in Italy. It looked like we were going to be caught in the Turkish-Cypriot conflict. The COG reassured us that we would be rescued if the need arose. Our Servicemen’s Center was off base in the city of Adana and the servicemen were afraid to travel away from the base.
We closed down and relocated to Italy and started a Servicemen’s Center there. All this was from 1974 to 1982.
We were isolated for seven years without Stateside connections. We had been assured that the COG would not abandon us in our isolation. My concern was with us getting a Executive Committee church appointment. The Executive liaison was J frank Culpepper` and from the European office we were reassured that we would get a good assignment.
We had a healthy 1976 Opal Rekord diesel and owed $1500 on the car. I left the car with the European office with the title signed over to a minister there. He would sell the car and send me the money so I could pay off the loan.
We went to Atlanta and then off to the 1982 General Assembly. We were told we would get a church at the assembly. Bro. Culpepper let me know he was busy, understandably so, but we were eager and waited till he could get back to us. We anxiously waited the duration of the GA and at the last day Bro. Culpepper told us that he had a church in East St. Louis. We were of the notion that if we were not pleased with the offer we could wait for another.
Out of nowhere a gentleman who I didn’t know and he did not know me but having heard of me being offered the church he came quickly to me and explained how we didn’t need to take this church. The reason he gave me was very convincing. I returned to Bro Culpepper with my refusal. He shortly, curtly told me I would have to give him a call after the assembly.
I waited for a few days for him to get back and get settled in. I called him asking about a church appointment. He told me in strong words that he offered me a church and I refused it. The words he said hurt me deeply, he said, “my obligation to you is over.” I pleaded with him that we had served faithfully in Europe for over seven years and I felt we were due the consideration of a church. He continued his harsh words and I said, Brother Culpepper, this call is on my dime and I am not going to waste anymore on this call and promptly hung up.
It was an awful feeling of abandonment, left in Atlanta with my wife’s mother who had recuperated sufficiently. We had no contact with anyone.
Now I know the comment flow from this will be on me. We were naive and believed we had served God by faith. It was a terrible lesson.
You’ll say, “you should have taken the church and not turned it down.” I have wrestled with that…”what if we had taken it” All we had was what we had brought back in suit cases from Europe. We had personal belongings which were scattered around. Boxes of books were in my parents attic.
This is a part of what I struggle in my dreams and it won’t go away. I know you will say I am angry, get over it, move on.
I’m retired and 70 years old!