Ok so…let’s cut to the chase, I’m really grieved in my heart right now about hearing the recent news that one of my favorite pastors and teachers, James McDonald from the ministry Walk in the Word has now officially been fired from the church he founded, Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC) in Illinois.
To say I’m disheartened and disappointed is an understatement! I knew something was up when about a month ago, my local radio station WMCA all of sudden dropped the “Walk in the Word” broadcast and replaced it’s time slot with other programming with no mention of it being rescheduled to a different time. Then maybe a few days later, I received an email from the ministry of Walk in the Word from James McDonald and his wife Kathy to their subscribers/partners that they were no longer broadcasting on radio and television, but switching to a more digital format. Encompassed in the email was a statement that struck me as I read it and made me wince: “immense season of unrelenting criticism in our role as Senior Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel.” When I read that statement, I immediately knew that there was something more to the sudden change in format, and was hoping it was not going down the same path as so many other ministries that got caught up.
But alas…as I digged further into finding out what may have happened, that indeed was unfortunately the case yet again. Allegations against James McDonald and his close leadership circle of financial mismanagement within the ministry, elders and leaders potentially covering up abusive practices, and who knows what else.
As I said this is very disheartening on so many levels and I certainly am not writing this to add to the slew of condemning evangelical voices that are no doubt abounding. What I do want to convey is that despite the allegations of impropriety on various levels with James McDonald and the HBC ministry, his teaching of the Word of God was very good, and myself along with countless others no doubt grew deeper in our walk as a result.
Nevertheless it is grievous and disconcerting to hear of yet another prominent pastor/ministry leader falling in their walk with Christ because of sin, and the members they leave behind who are left to pick up the broken pieces.
While I don’t in any way condone what is sounding more and more like an insidious case of abuse of power in leadership, it is a good reminder to all of us in the Christian faith to truly and sincerely pray for our church leaders and not to gloat when we see a pastor fall from grace. The only one that enjoys that is Satan himself. Satan and his demons are the only ones celebrating the travesties that have plagued the church of our Lord and Savior for years.
pride is perhaps the sneakiest and most wicked enemy of all sins
As followers of Christ, before we're quick to cast a stone at any of our brothers or sisters who are struggling in sin, we need to remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:12 – Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. In essence Paul is reminding us that we are NOT immune to the temptation or sin that so easily can beset us (Hebrews 12:1).
I think pride is perhaps the sneakiest and most wicked enemy of all sins committed by humanity that is capable of overtaking anyone of us and is always at the ready to rear its ugly head!
Dictionary result for “pride”
a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired
Greek Word for “pride” = haughtiness, disdain https://biblehub.com/str/greek/5243.htm
When you look at the Scriptures, there is nothing good said about pride, and here are just a few examples:
Proverbs 16:18 – Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.,
Proverbs 11:2 – When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
Proverbs 18:12 – Before destruction a man's heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.
Proverbs 21:4 – Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.
Psalm 10:4 – In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
Last, but certainly not least, we can't forget to look at how God feels about pride:
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for
“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” – 1 Peter 5:5
Having said all of this, I want us to go back to what I said earlier about the damage to the members who are left behind to pick up the broken pieces. It's very easy to look from the outside in of this type of situation and prejudge, but the fact of the matter is that there is a group of believers from Harvest Bible who are hurting, and hurting badly. Church hurt is real and it's the worse pain to go through. I've been through my own share of issues with church drama, and the like, nothing on the level of what's happened at Harvest, but I can tell you from experience that it's not that easy to forget some of the things you go through in the body of Christ. Forgive…absolutely because Jesus calls us to forgive. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+4%3A32&version=NKJV
What we have to understand, however, is that our church relationships and where we call our church home is really very personal.
You don't realize how personal it is until something happens that shakes or knocks you back a bit. And even for those of us who followed the ministry of Walk in the Word listening to the messages, it just grieves the heart to find out that all was not well with the leadership and ministry. I felt led to write about this for the very fact that when I first came to the Lord, James McDonald's teachings was one of the ones instrumental for me in growing into maturity with my faith. It just saddens me to see that his teaching legacy is now marred by the personal challenges he may have been facing.
So with that where should we go from here? Well, we must pray and continue steadfast in praying for our spiritual leaders in our churches and ministries. Jesus told us that men ought always to pray and not faint or lose heart. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+18%3A1&version=ESV
We should also have compassion and pray for those brothers and sisters who are hurting in the churches and ministries, who have been affected in similar ways by pastors and leaders who have betrayed and wounded their faith. Pray that God will heal their broken hearts as they move forward in Him. https://biblehub.com/esv/psalms/147.htm
Scripture References: Proverbs 16:18; Proverbs 11:2; Proverbs 18:12; Proverbs 21:4; Psalm 10:4
Update: As of Tuesday evening, it's been reported that James McDonald's two sons, Landon and Luke have now both resigned from the Harvest Bible Chapel leadership.