We were headed to church in the village of Kitongo today when we had to take a detour. Detours in the bush can be quite interesting. One is never sure where the "road" is going to take them - past gardens, cows, through ditches, or what. It could be a decent detour, or like on other trips we've taken it can be a maze of thinking we'll never arrive at our destination.
Today as we drove down paths in the middle of nowhere I thought about a different kind of detour we had to take in this village. The detour we had to take was dealing with the leader who had lied repeatedly. It was a difficult time of confronting the leader with his sin, and explaining to the congregation the need for him to step down for a period of time. In Tanzanian culture even pastors can just say sorry for their adultery and it is expected that he'll not only be forgiven, but will continue in his current ministry. The church was very young and didn't understand the needed actions. For months Bill gave extra attention to this church. He preached messages on what true forgiveness means, the consequences of sin, and how a leader is held to a higher standard. It was not an easy time for this leader, for the church, nor for us.
Just like a detour that can be like a maze that makes us question the outcome, so did this detour make us wonder what the end result would be. Would the leader repent and eventually be allowed to lead again? Would the church grasp the necessity of him stepping down? Would this fledgling church survive such counter measures to their cultural ideas?
That was just over a year ago. The detour was long and windy, but I'm thrilled to report that this church is doing great! As we sat in the service with about 100 people present, we listened as this same leader - now the pastor - as he led the service with a humble heart, and we rejoiced. We rejoiced that this man submitted to the Lord and repented. We rejoiced that God is full of grace and is using this man again. We rejoiced that through this detour God reminded us again that He is faithful!