Camp meeting came and went and, as is common with the Adventist clergy, shifting became the order of the day as people moved to occupy the new offices they had been given. In the Adventist world, camp meeting causes pastors to move to higher or lower offices depending on what the nominating committees have prayerfully decided.
After this particular session, my husband had been asked to leave his office as publishing director to become a district pastor. He had been a departmental director for five years, meaning that our family had become used to his routine. But it was time to change and hence, a time to shift.
When my husband announced that we were going to shift to the district, I felt challenged because I had never experienced district life before.
Our children had attended services in one of the churches in this district, and the children’s Sabbath School was very lively. They looked forward to having more of those good lessons again. Also, moving to this new district meant our children would be closer to their school. The family was happy about the move.
When the shifting day comes in our conference, the conference truck moves the ingoing pastor and the outgoing pastor on the same day; this plan helps cut expenses for the conference. However, this move did not go smoothly, and several embarrassing problems could have been avoided had the transfer been handled differently.
First, though the conference personnel had assumed that the outgoing pastor knew he was being moved, it was not so. The pastor and his wife were unaware of the move and consequently, not ready to shift.
Secondly, since the truck was not ours, we could not decide to go back home because it would mean an extra charge and also a disturbance of the planned program. Besides, a new pastor was already occupying our old home.
When we knocked on the door to our new home, we found that the pastor and his wife were not even there. Their children allowed us to unload our things in the lounge and dining room. That night we had to use wardrobes to demarcate the places where the maid, the children, and we were going to sleep.
The pastor and his wife arrived the following morning. They, especially the wife, were disgusted to find us there. It was difficult for her to hide her anger from us. The husband demonstrated his disgust through telephone conversations in which he told the elders that the church had been cruel to him and that he was not prepared for a different appointment. He told falsehoods about us and said my husband had chosen, on his own, to come to this district and push the pastor out. It was embarrassing to hear these false reports from church members. And as if the telephone reports were not enough, some leaders and their wives actually came to see how we had “wronged” this family. I was mortified.
When the pastor and his family finally left after two days, they took the telephone key so that we would not have access to it. The telephone belonged to the church, and because I was pregnant and near my due date, I worried about the lack of communication had I gone into labor and my husband not been home.
Yet through this embarrassing situation, I experienced the love of God and heard Him speak to me. When people started gossiping and asking for more information on what was happening in the two pastors’ lives, God gave my husband and me the power to be silent or to speak only words which were seasoned with love.
This was a challenging experience for me, but it taught me that God was on our side. We can face every temptation and trial. Christ gives us strength and calm when we trust in Him.