“Oh, come on, pastors can take a break every Monday.”
Just how many pastors can afford to smile at this comment? Preparing for sermons, counseling the followers, taking care of financial matters and other administrative duties in the church… sometimes the amount of stress from ministry work can be more than one can bear. In the United States, the statistics has it that about 1,700~1,800 pastors a month leave the ministry while another 1,600 protestant ministers in the same country are forced out of their positions each month. However, there is an organization established to encourage these pastors, sometimes to the level of being their very lifeline – the PastorCare Network.
“There are number of pastors who preach the World of God…but they do not have experience in trusting God themselves. So when the going gets tough…they start seeking ways to bail out themselves rather than hanging in there and seeing what God can do in the situation,” explains Allen Tyndall, one of the representatives of PastorCare. Being a retired pastor himself, Allen is one of the veteran counselors who understand the pain and difficulties that pastors can face within the church. It was no coincidence that he chose his path to serve God. It was decided since he was nine when he sneaked under the tent in a tent revival meant for adults. The preaching he heard at the time changed him! Since then he decided to give his life to Jesus.
Also, while in his 30s, he was again praying hard one day to seek God for Himself. God, at the time responded with what was like “liquid love” which poured out to him for over an hour. Since then, the world changed for him, or rather, he changed for the world. He even began to treat his family in a more loving and caring way. The Bible came alive to him like never before and he became more intentional in seeking ways to show God’s love through him.
However the same could not be said for his church where one person in the board openly challenged his leadership. Allen was pointed out as the root of all problems within the church and not long after that, he was asked to leave.
No party, no celebration of ministry and not even saying of goodbyes. All after seven years of service! And especially when he did nothing morally wrong! He felt crushed.
For the first six months, he didn’t feel like attending any church and maintained his faith by watching church on television. However God continued to be with Allen and led him to get a job as a manager of a construction company in order to support his family. This was the time when he first came across PastorCare. An ad in the paper came to his attention and he asked for some counseling. The founder of PastorCare, Dr. Filbert Moore was there to comfort him. Thanks to his love and understanding, Allen was able to reflect on his past better and came to recover slowly. He began to attend the church that his son went to. On the other hand, it was still something else to forgive those who turned him down in the first place – until the Lord spoke to him.
“Allen, you will always be their pastor, so get over it and move on.”
That was another turning point for him. Allen managed to get past his hurt and was even able to attend his old church several times on special occasions. In his 70th birthday, he even had the attendance of some members of that church. He was freed from scar of his past at last! Not only that but two years later, regained his position as a pastor in another church in the area. Looking back on his old days as a pastor, he points out how lonely pastors can be.
“Most of the pastor I knew did not share at any deep level and most of our conversations superficial [in order to keep up certain image] even though their struggles were not any different than my own…. The pastor needs to have people to relate to other than just church people. He needs friends outside.”
PastorCare’s other representative Anne Moore too, has something special to share. She presents a unique case in finding her love while taken care of at PastorCare. Anne was a widow who previously worked at a crisis pregnancy center which is a Christian NGO organization that helps pregnant woman in need and connecting them to local church community. One day she had the opportunity to take to enjoy her getaway at a lake house prepared by PastorCare. That was when she met with above-mentioned Dr. Moore. Moore was living alone at the time, ever since his wife left him some 10 years ago, unable to withstand the hard life of a minister. He too, was hurt at the time. The two decided to get married just after five weeks.
“We found that there were more similarities and common ground the more we talked... He said something - I don't remember what exactly - but included the "marry" word which was not a proposal at that moment. I said, "Don't you say that word if you don't' mean it!" He thought a moment, and then said, "Well, I do.” And I said, "I do, too." I just sensed a peace, and "God's smile.”
Through Bert, Anne came to understand the kinds of trials and errors as well as traps that many pastors can fall into. She heard many stories from Dr. Moore such as a pastor who fell into a state of shock when his wife left him all of a sudden, another who came close to shooting himself, a wife and children belonging to ultra-legalist pastor who treat his family like prisoners etc., Anne believes it was God’s will to have discovered this path and continues to go on dedicating her life to helping those committed to God’s ministry.
Finally, there is also Bill Buck, one of the founding members of the organization. His first miracle from God came only two weeks after his submission to God. He realized his life-long habit of ‘filthy talk’ completely wiped away in such short span of time. This flared his desire to wanting to know God more. Nonetheless, he confesses however that he continued to remain self-righteous and stressed more on duty, seeing God as ‘cosmic rule-marker with a harsh judgmental nature.’ As professional counselor, he came to be more knowledgeable after counseling and sympathizing with many pastors. He comments,
“He [God] has continued to draw my attention with curiosity and peace and set me up to help people with the comfort he gave me.”
PastorCare currently has seven regional directors, each in charge of about four to five states, providing various counseling to troubled pastors.
However the Network can use more volunteers, given the number in need of help. Not just counseling but also introducing organizations stationed nearby the callers so that they can receive further assistance. PastorCare continues to pray for more volunteers in this ministry. Even at this moment there are pastors and church people, overwhelmed by so many problems or at the end of one’s rope and unable to find answers. Thus, the hotline for PastorCare rings on.