Alan Vandermyden’s Exchange with Mary

Facebook Conversation between Alan Vandermyden and a Friend, “Mary,” October, 29, 2011

This is a copy-and-paste of a conversation I had on FaceBook, with identifying names and details removed, and my correspondent referred to as “Mary.” The conversation—through private message—began when I asked about Mary’s post about someone who had passed away. The name was familiar, but I hadn’t known the person well and was attempting to place that person in my mind.

After Mary answered my question about the deceased person, I then commented on “aging,” referring to her children, as I had looked at Mary’s photos on FaceBook. There are a couple of joking sentences, as I tried to understand what Mary was saying in her comment, “except you huh?” Then she made it very clear what she was saying.

I am posting this, not because I wish people to see the kind of “attacks” that I and others sometimes “suffer.” It really made no difference in my life or happiness, though I have evidently lost a friend, at least for the present. My interest in posting this is to help others to understand some of the dynamics sometimes referred to as “exclusivity” or “shunning.”

It would be very easy to say, “Well, that’s just this woman; not everyone in the fellowship feels this way.” And this is true. But, it does inform me that there are discussions—I had not seen this woman for 10–12 years, so someone at least had to have made the comment that we no longer attend meetings. And that’s fine—we all discuss the people we know, and not attending meetings is significant to me, and probably to anyone who is taking the time to read on this site.

But Mary also referred to “things she had heard,” later changing it to “what I had said,” which really didn’t seem logical, as she had “attacked” me after I had only asked her the deceased person’s age and made a joking comment about all of us growing older. This tells me things are being said, and people—not just me—are being defined as “bitter’—or something similar—which is very often untrue. But, as in this conversation, it effectively prevents many people from listening to what we have to say.

I also say this because, as a professing person for 31 years and as a worker for nearly 18 years, I was very much involved in the same kind of talk. It was all too easy, upon being asked about someone who no longer professed, to respond with “Oh, they just got bitter.” End of the story, no questions asked.

Again, this is not posted in anger or retaliation, nor is it intended in any way to hurt or humiliate anyone. But please, read it, and consider what is occurring in this conversation, and the background of “talk” that informs it and supports it.

Alan Vandermyden
August 12, 2011

Alan: Hi Mary – Thanks for your post about *****. How old was he?

Mary: almost 90

Alan: wow! Where did he originate?

Mary: I don’t know, but he lived in the ***** area for as long as I can remember. He only retired up to ***** years ago and his wife is not able to care for herself now.

Alan: OK – I know that I was somewhat acquainted with him, and was just trying to bring back recollections – did he go to Santee or Buttonwillow?

Mary: Sometimes both =-) but the last 15 years neither of them could handle the hills at Santee.

Alan: yeah that makes sense. Well thanks, _____ FB kinda helps to keep up with some things . . . Looks like your kids have gone n grown up too, along with everyone else’s . . .

Mary: except you huh?

Alan: something like that . . . since I don’t have any kids! It kinda takes away the gauge when one doesn’t have their own.

Mary: more than that Alan, think about it.

Alan: but then my stomach is still growing out, and my hair falling out . . sort of anyway me along with everyone else, yeah. Others’ kids just remind me at times . . . I don’t think I’m following you?

Mary: No? Alan, you died a while back and haven’t been able to grow since. I am not sure what caused your death. You are just in a twilight world now not really alive but dead just the same. Haven’t you noticed?

Alan: What do you mean, Mary? I haven’t even seen you in a number of years . . . are you referring to [specific incident through which I met Mary and her family]?

Mary: That might have something to do with it but you don’t profess to know God anymore either do you? Then you are dead.

Alan: Why do you say I don’t profess to know God?  I may not talk about it a lot, but I feel more comfortable being quiet about my faith.  I’m confused as to why you attest that I don’t profess to know God when we haven’t even spoken together in a number of years, Mary. Have I said something here or elsewhere that you have taken exception to?

Mary: No, just your action that I have heard about. have I been misled that you no longer go to meetings? If that is so I am sorry for that.

Alan: No, you are correct that I no longer attend meetings. Are you then implying that a person does not know God unless they attend meetings? I must say that it is this kind of thing – workers and friends making assumptions about people based on hearsay – that led to my seeing that meetings were no longer the place for me. I value many of the friends, workers, and former companions, and I value much that I learned during my years in the work.

Mary: See that is the kind of thinking that is killing you. You know that the meetings are important to those of us who love the Lord, for ressurance, correction, and comfort. We need each other Alan. Jesus planned it this way, satan says it isn’t so that all we need is our own mind. But test that spirit carefully Alan. Test it carefully. In the bottle, liquor seems so harmless and on the shelve, is seems so safe. You can even take it home and it is still not dangerous. But it is a fire in the belly and a fire in the brain, and it can cause the same type of fire on the floor if spilled. Or just seen in your home by some weak person. No man is an island and what you do affects everyone you encounter, EVERYTHING. So how are you affecting those around you?? Good or evil?? Just because you think you are too good to go to meetings, oh you appreciate them, but you don’t need them anymore huh? You are good enough without them and the people there are not good enough for you?

Mary: It’s a good job you are over the sea, =-) I’ve gotten a bit fired up. I’ve heard all this so often. It all leads to the same circular argument.

Alan: Mary, I do not think I am too good for people at meetings. I have often defended them against those who do attack them. And yes, I certainly agree that we need one another. But I also feel that we have all developed some ways of seeing and doing things that have blinded us to some real problems. I do not care to broadly attack and announce things, but Jesus did teach us to privately deal with problems, and I have been told many times to just “keep quiet” when I have attempted to privately deal with things, while the same people were allowed to broadcast hurtful rumors about me and my wife. And why would you feel I am evilly affecting those around me? I was angry for a while, but I have learned to forgive, and that is what I seek to bring to any relationship I have, with anyone, whether they are associated with meetings or not.

August 15, 2011

Mary: I’m not sure my last message got to you. I meant evil in the standard sense in that it was not for good spiritually. If we are not doing things that glorify God in our daily life then we are doing evil in the eyes of God No? Jesus only left us with 2 laws Love God with all our being and love our neighbor as ourselves. That covers a lot of territory. If we do the first the second will be done too. But we let our own understanding get in the way and our pride. I know because I’ve been hurt and had to find a way to get over it but God has always provided a way.

Let me tell you a story that happen some 20 odd years ago. I was told that I was spending too much time at the hospital where Mike M. was dying. And that I should stay away. That was untrue, there were 2 other sisters who looked like me who popped in because they worked near. But I didn’t say anything. I just went at night only from then on. During the trial, someone said that I was trying to take over things because your family and lawyers had met at our home before you went home with your parents. This time I didn’t understand what was meant but someone else did and she got into the face of the person who was saying things. We happened to be together so she explained it to me later.. It was the same person who had called me on the carpet the first time. She is a strange person but not a bad person generally. She just doesn’t like me for some reason. Yet I like her. Weird huh? Perhaps she resents that we got to spend those last hours with you all. I don’t know but I appreciated God letting us have that little time with John and Mike and you.

The next day I came to the hospital, I was not allowed into ICU but I could see you from the doorway and the nurse was kind. She said that they couldn’t keep you covered because you kept trying to get up (you had a strap around your chest to keep you in bed). She asked me who Larry was because you kept saying you had to meet him. I just told her that he was someone you worked with closely. Mr. Larson was in the same room but he was yelling about being in pain. Well as loud as he was yelling he couldn’t have been in that much pain. I know I’ve been in so much pain that I was vomiting, but I could scream or yell. The nurse was upset with him, she said he didn’t belong in ICU. He wasn’t the next day.

That week was a blur, my children were upset because they had really loved John, I volunteered at their school and worked from home sewing. Robert worked shift work and was working nights. People were calling asking me questions I didn’t have answers for. Rumors abounded. We didn’t have the internet like now, or it could have been worse I suppose. I just remember seeing you laying there all broken up and deep in your mind you still wanted to be with Larry doing the work of God and that touched me deeply. I never thought anything could get you down or offend you. I met a man in the hall of the hospital who was waiting to visit you. I had never seen this man before. He was very black (much blacker than any of my relatives) but the moment I looked into his face I knew that he was one of the friends and that he was a friend of yours. I guess you heard that their son was killed in a motorcycle accident not too long ago in Las Vegas.

Anyway that is why I feel hurt and feel that you are not doing good but rather evil. That doesn’t make you evil but your deeds evil. I hope I haven’t hurt your feelings or rubbed salt into a wound. My foster mom often said that I have the tact of a charging rhino. And some people say that a broom is my usual mode of transport. I just don’t want the rumors I’ve heard to be true is all. Love in Him Mary.

Alan:  Thanks for replying once again, Mary. Yes, evidently something didn’t make it through – sorry about that, however, it happened!  Yes, that definition of evil makes sense to me, and I love those 2 laws that Jesus held up as the most important ones as well – they cover it all! I also love Jesus’ response in the following verses (in Luke 10), when the man asked him “And who is my neighbour?” Jesus’ answer effectively erased all boundaries of creed, nationality, politics, etc. For me, I find that as I allow God’s love to affect my own heart, I have something that I can extend to all, regardless of their position in regard to boundaries humans have drawn.

I appreciated your story regarding the hurt you felt in being misunderstood by certain people – and yes that does happen to all of us at times, and we learn to forgive and keep loving them. And yes, there was personal hurt involved in the incidents that led to our decision to no longer attend meetings, but our decision has nothing to do with “unforgiveness,” or “holding a grudge.” It just became very odd to us to have many workers – one after another, and these are workers I have known and worked beside for years – basically refuse to talk about the situation. We asked for no more than the opportunity to sit down and hear what the “charges” were against us, and were repeatedly told to just ignore it, and that we were troublemakers. All of this occurred over a period of about six years, in which the man we were attempting to talk with continued to spread rumors about us, affecting many, many of our friendships. It became very uncomfortable to be repeatedly preached at in meeting by people – even some of the seasonal visitors here in Hawaii – who really had no clue about the entire thing.

But again, our decision is not about personal hurt. This just led us to wonder how we could trust and have fellowship with people who were very obviously covering something they did not wish to be talked about. These are workers I am talking about – people who were holding themselves up as our shepherds. There are still workers that I think highly of, and I do feel that even some of these were simply caught up in something they didn’t really understand. But, again, that still made me wonder how I could be expected to accept their counsel when they refused to even follow the simple advice of Jesus in Matt. 18:15-17, to go to your brother when there is something that needs to be dealt with. Instead, we seemed to be treated with suspicion based on rumors, while our attempts to go to the man were ignored. I did find two men – our elder and one other – who were willing to visit the man with me (after the man admittedly lied about my initial, private visit with him). The man refused to visit in the presence of others and told me he didn’t have to tell me his reason for refusing. The worker still refused to hear any of this, though now that the man is out of the country, they admit that he “had problems.”

You also now say that you “don’t want the rumors I’ve heard to be true.” So far, no one has been willing to tell me what those rumors are. If you are speaking of the fact that we no longer attend meetings, yes, it is true, and I wouldn’t regard it as a rumor. But I really have no way to answer the other charges until I know what they are! This brings me right back to the situation here in Hawaii . . . people would tell us we “needed to forgive,” but we didn’t really know what they wanted us to forgive – we were simply trying to find out what we had done wrong, why there seemed to be so much feeling against us. I link this matter of not listening to rumors very closely to “loving your neighbor,” and to the “golden rule” – “do unto others . . . ” Would not a love for God and for fellow humans prompt a person to at least listen to a person before forming an opinion about them?

I speak this in compassion, kindness, and in the hopes of furthering communication and understanding. I hold nothing against anyone, and I love to see things “dealt with” and put away. Communication is the beginning of any understanding and fellowship.

August 16, 2011

Mary: Thanks for your response, Alan. You answered my questions. I can understand your frustration and bitterness because of a man who had mental problems. Now you have to find a way to get around all of that. Who said you had to trust the workers anyway. They are human too. Weren’t you human when you were a worker?? Didn’t you ever make a mistake? Sometimes it is hard to not be influenced by the loudest voices around you too. Again ***** and I had a misunderstanding with another family that we didn’t even know about until the workers came to us about it. We had to go and make up with these people about something that we were totally clueless about, but in order to keep the peace, we did it. And that man has been very mean-spirited to me since, but he pretends not to be. The truth will out.

It is up to me to keep the right spirit even when all others fail. Jesus told us to daily take up our cross and follow him. Some people think that is the same type of cross that he was hung on but no it is a cross tree. You put it across your shoulders to do heavy menial labor. You see it often in Asia. Jesus also called it a yoke. That means that we are to be ready every day to do the most menial and demeaning work if necessary to glorify God’s name and to put our own pride under control. Try to build some bridges Alan and remember you are working with stone here, both in your heart and the hearts of others.. It will be rough work but stone bridges last a long time. Love in Him, Mary

Alan: But Mary, why do you say I have bitterness? I am more at peace than I have ever been in my life, and I am able to lay aside struggles that have plagued me for years. Yes, I have made choices that are different from yours, and you may not agree with my choices, but does that mean I am bitter?

And yes, I have made many mistakes, even in the work – and I freely admit that I at times said things when in this experience that would have been better off not said, or said differently. I’m not faulting anyone for their mistakes, but just saying I have learned to not place my confidence in humans. I have forgiven; I am kind to people and do not consider people my enemies, though some seem to feel I am their enemy.

This all brings me back to my initial question – why do you feel I am bitter, and what is it I am doing that is so wrong in your eyes? Or, what are these rumors telling you that I am doing? You seem to feel I have stones to work within my heart – well yes, I did have some, but I have worked and removed those – I could not be as at peace and as happy as I am if I allowed them to remain. But what is it that I am saying or doing that makes you feel I have stones to remove? I’m happy to speak with anyone, will receive anyone – I may not necessarily agree with their opinions, but I don’t hold that against them – no two people ever think entirely alike.

I would still find it much easier to address things though if I knew specifically the charges being leveled against me, what it is I am being accused of doing or not doing. Is it simply that I am “bitter?” Have the people who are saying that actually spoken with me, or are they simply repeating things others have said and continuing a pattern of making assumptions?

Thank you kindly for taking the time to correspond, as no one has yet been willing to be open about this, though I have sensed things at times.

August 22, 2011

Mary: Well it is more what you have said to me than anything that I have heard. Really all I have heard is that you aren’t going to meetings anymore and that it has hurt a lot of people. Well, that hurt me when I heard it so I can understand that. But you lash out at some and I felt that it was bitterness speaking. Like you calling the workers ours Shepherds whom we should be able to trust. But Alan they aren’t our shepherds only Jesus the Christ is our shepherd. The workers are just servants, humans like you and I, some trustworthy some not. I’ve met both types. If I can help it I don’t knowingly help those who are false, but I have had to, help some that I didn’t trust. God helped them to grow up. Or to move on and out. Some have grown to great power, which is sad. But they have to face God just like the rest of us and woe with them.

I am glad you are at peace Alan, though many of us would be a bit more at peace with you were breaking bread with us again. Not that I don’t feel the peace of God with me always but it does bother me that someone that I love may be missing something that they could so easily have. Have you ever plowed a field, Alan? I used to sit on the tractor beside my dad as he plowed the garden or the cornfield every year and every year new stones would turn up. We children had to pick up the stones we could carry and take them to the fence line dad had a pan for the bigger ones. You think you have gotten them all out after a few years of plowing but no they still come up. Our hearts are the same way. We try to fool ourselves that we have taken care of the hardness in our hearts but it is just covered over it will come up sooner or later. It is like burying a body in a swamp. It just won’t stay buried.

Well, I am glad you are well and happy and are not confused about where you stand. Sometimes I feel a little confused, I feel like a kid at a new school not sure where I am supposed to be.=-) I have this recurring dream that I am supposed to be taking a final exam somewhere but I don’t know where and I don’t know what subject it is in. They say that is a dream of high achievers. HA HA. I think it is for those of us who are sometimes just know what panic is. Love in Him, Mary

Alan: Thanks for explaining where you are “coming from,” Mary. I can understand people feeling hurt in hearing I no longer attend meetings, as it can be seen as a rejection of something that means a lot to them.

But I do still question your assertion that it is what I have said to you because you seemed to feel I was “dead” and “in twilight” before we had even spoken, other than a bit about Roy Gall. I’m not offended, but I do love to communicate and establish an understanding.

And yes, I certainly realize that the workers are not our shepherds. But I have often heard them present themselves in that manner, and people are often expected to abide by their decisions. We should of course make our own choice as to who/what is directing our lives. And that is what I am doing . . . simply moving choosing to move away from an unhealthy situation. I am not rejecting anyone, but I am saying that I do not care to live by certain people’s expectations.

And yes, what you say about stones is certainly true. But do you feel that stones cannot be removed from a heart unless one is in meetings?

That’s an interesting dream! Does it leave you feeling fearful, or maybe like the worker dream of suddenly remembering it’s your turn to speak and you forgot to prepare?

And I do not intend to “lash out against” the workers. I am speaking of something that I fully acknowledge that I was once a part of, and I feel that we have slipped into certain ways of thinking that are unhealthy and at times hurtful. Moving away from meetings is not the right choice for everyone, but I felt directed of God in my choice, and I actively seek places like this to engage and to establish communication. Thanks again for writing –

Mary: No I just mean that there are still hard places in your heart even if you chose not to acknowledge them. We all have them, some big some small. I get fed at meetings Alan and so do the rest of us, those that want to be fed that is. I’ve been in meetings where the spirit isn’t present and it is hard to sit there, I want to run out of the room. But I just go away and pray for those people and myself. I hope that you are still praying for us, as we are praying for you. Yours, Mary

Alan: But Mary, this very much reminds me of the workers’ response when I brought up an issue – a man in the church was severely affecting another family in the church here in Honolulu, and we were told “Well you’re not so perfect yourself.” Well, I’m not contending that I am perfect, and if anyone cares to discuss the situation, I fully acknowledge that I at times said things out of place too. But, the issue became a matter of the workers being unwilling to simply address a problem, as Jesus taught in Matt. 18:15-17. To follow Jesus’ instructions in this regard meant going completely against the workers’ repeated instructions to “just forget about it.”

I believe that God is interested in producing fellowship, and this is a part of it. Yet, if I am instructed by a leader of a church to not do this, it makes me question that leadership. Yes, we can say we just “go according to our conscience,” and don’t worry about what the workers think, but they are the leaders of this church – they make the arrangements; they have the ultimate word as to if someone is in fellowship or not. They may not exercise that authority in overt ways too often, but it does exist. And yes, I fully acknowledge that some workers are very Godly men and women. But a structure still exists, and all must live within that if they care to be in meetings.

The Bible instructs us to “try the spirits.” How is one to do this if every word spoken that questions a worker is taken as a “bad spirit”?

Yes, I do continue to pray for the friends and workers – that is why I try to communicate. I care more deeply than I ever have before, and I feel that I pray more effectively. I am not attempting to convince anyone to leave meetings, but I do hope and pray to see people’s hearts opening, seeing things they have been fearful of seeing.

God has led me to where I am, and I have been aware my decisions would not be understood by many – but what else can one do but respond? It has brought a much greater peace and clarity into my own heart and experience.

August 23, 2011

Alan: Mary, I would like to say a few things that are important to me, so I am going to step a bit outside of the bounds of our ongoing discussion . . .

As I noted earlier, I can well understand your feeling hurt upon hearing that I no longer attend meetings. I have been in your position as well, in years past, and a person’s decision to not attend meetings can easily be perceived as a rejection of one “thing” for another.

And this may be accurate, to an extent, in some situations—society is conditioned to affixing labels on perceived groups of people, and to then relate to individuals within that group based on the description/definition “assigned” to that group.

We all do this—look at the way in which we interact in society, as we designate people “conservative” or “liberal,” “Christian” or “heathen/atheist/non–believer, etc.,” “civilized” or “savage,” or even something along the lines of “over–educated” or “uses common sense.” These labels generally have a certain validity to them, and yet, we tend to foreclose on any consideration of an individual’s story—what s/he has experienced, how s/he interprets it, how s/he attempts to use it to productively engage with “the world”—other individuals, society in general, the environment . . .

Yes, these ideas do stem from “education,” and they could be used carelessly, to simply say, “You can’t tell me what to do.” Please understand that I am not assuming this position at all. When I speak of the danger inherent in assigning labels to people, I speak, not only about labeling the non–professing person as “lost” or “dead,” but I just as emphatically emphasize the danger in labeling professing people—friends or workers—in any way. Wherever we find ourselves in relation to the “boundaries” of meetings, we will find our own connections with people much more meaningful if we interact with them as individuals, considering their personal stories, rather than interacting with the “group” we see them as being a part of.

We spoke yesterday of praying for one another, and that is something that I have pondered over repeatedly through the years, feeling that I was deficient in praying for others, yet feeling uncomfortable simply trying to go through a “list” of people I know. I realize that a prayer for a specific person can be very effective, and yet I feel my prayers increasingly directed to situations “in general,” which then can lead to a consideration of my own particular role and set of relationships within that situation, and to things I may be able to do or say that could serve to change the relationship or situation in a healthy, productive manner.

Often enough, this leads to an opportunity simply presenting itself—and I am reading our conversation here on FaceBook in that light. Though I was admittedly somewhat “shaken” by your initial charges that I am “dead” or “in twilight,” I do sincerely appreciate your willingness to continue talking, and to express “where you’re coming from.” I have of course sensed things from some friends and workers, and as I’ve said, I’ve “been there” too, but no one has yet been open to discussion. Thank you!

My hope is that you will find—and perhaps even convey to others—that I am open to discussion, and that no one need fear engaging in conversation with me. I’m sure that we will have differing opinions on many things—I have yet to find a human being who sees everything my way! And I’m guessing that you haven’t found anyone who agrees with you in everything either! But, I will say that everyone I engage with brings something from which I can learn—a unique perspective, showing me the validity of “where they’re coming from.” And all I ask of others—including you—is to simply listen and consider what I have to say, as I seek to listen and to understand your story.

Mary, I care deeply about the friends and workers. The fellowship is a significant part of my story—some of my great–grandparents professed, I was taken to meetings from infancy, and my last two meetings—at the Hawai`i convention—were two days before my 50th birthday. And, as you’re aware, I spent 18 years in the work, years for which I am deeply grateful, looking back on them as extremely valuable years. I have not stepped into a different position, not to reject or attack, but to engage differently with friends and workers, as well as with people in general. This requires a lot of effort, as my position is frequently understood differently, but I do find that I am establishing a few very meaningful friendships.

Thank you for considering what I am attempting to say, Mary, and please feel free to share this with your family or others who may be interested or concerned, encouraging them to contact me as well if they feel so inclined.

Mary: Okay Alan so what have you proved by leaving the meetings. Who won here huh? Your wife? How does she feel is she happy about your decision? You say the workers are the leaders but you know that is a lie. The church is the core and the spirit guides, if it is the wrong spirit whose fault is that but the church, the individuals within that church. God didn’t guide you away from a fight you ran away because you couldn’t have things your way. You wouldn’t stand up and keep your place and do the right thing. You ran and now you are blaming everyone else for treating you badly. Well boo woo, poor Alan, no one has been treated badly before. Certainly, Jesus didn’t have to deal with this type of thing. He was never betrayed or denounced by those he trusted and loved. Satan can quote scripture too, Alan, and use it to his own ends. You just keep listening to yourself and believing in yourself and see where that gets you.

I was right in the beginning when I said that you do evil. Because if you are not doing things to the glory of God then everything you do is evil. And NO I will not spread your message of discontent. You are not a happy man Alan and you don’t want anyone else to be happy either. I feel sorry for you but more sorry for your poor wife she was so excited to be marrying a worker, someone who loved the truth as much as she did.

Alan:  I must admit that I am baffled by your response, as it does not seem that you are not really responding to—or addressing—anything I have said. I do not feel I need to “prove” anything or to “win.” My wife has made the same decision, finding she also has a much greater peace in not attending meetings. Actually, I found it more difficult to see the way some of the friends and workers were treating my wife than to accept the way they were treating me.

You may disagree with me as to the workers being leaders, but I find it very strange that you feel it is imperative to tell me that “I know it is a lie.” Am I not entitled to have my own opinion without being told it is a lie? I have been in the work, and I have been in on making many plans for the friends. And, beyond this, one can repeatedly hear mention of the importance of the workers in the prayers and testimonies of the friends.

And, as far as “blaming everyone else for treating me badly,” I did not stop attending meetings simply because of the way I was treated. I moved away because I realized that people were not interested in following the teachings of Jesus, and I wasn’t really finding anything for my soul in their teachings. Yes, some people do make a sincere effort, and some are more willing for what Jesus taught. And I seek friendship with people like this.

You also say that “God didn’t guide me away.” I may disagree with people, but I would never presume to discount a person’s feeling that God has led him or her in a certain direction. Who am I to define the ways in which God can work or lead? Your words seem to point to a feeling that there is no way a person can be right without going to meeting, regardless of what is taught or practiced among the friends and workers, within the “meeting” context.

Yes Jesus was mistreated, but he certainly didn’t keep fellowship with those who did not accept his teaching. Yes, some whom he had trusted denied and betrayed him, but those things were also dealt with in various ways—Judas died; Peter, and I assume the others as well—repented. Jesus didn’t just remain among people who refused to acknowledge and deal with things. He loved people, he was kind to them, he showed them compassion, he taught them . . . but he sought fellowship with his Father and with those who received his word.

You also say that if I am not doing things for the glory of God then I am evil. I can accept this statement, but why do you say I am not doing things for the glory of God? You have yet to tell me specifically what it is that I am doing wrong, that you feel is so evil. I see maintaining the spirit and the love of Christ within my heart in the face of adversity as glorifying God, but you evidently see it otherwise? I am not meaning to contest your views and opinions, but I am baffled as to what they are . . . what are your allegations?

Yes, Satan did use scripture, in his attempt to tempt Jesus to consider himself and to gratify his flesh. I have referred to scriptures that show us how to deal with things, and how to bring harmony and fellowship. I don’t feel your comparison is very well–considered.

Lastly, when you have not even seen me in at least nine years (we have lived here in Honolulu for nearly that long now), how is it that you presume to tell me that I am not happy and that I don’t want to see others happy? Would it not at least be in order to speak with someone who not only knows me but also who is not also in disagreement with my choices?

Did you meet my wife when we were over there, Mary? Perhaps when we went to ***** convention soon after we had married? You are partially correct about her “being happy to marry a worker” although she did try to encourage me to go back in the work before we married. But again, why are you saying she is unhappy? Has someone said this? If this is so, it is not true. Like all of us, she has her struggles too, but she is finding greater and greater peace as well. Where are these allegations coming from?