Where do you want us to live?

2003 – Broussard, LA

Barry and I walked along the dusty road, following closely behind our newly acquired friend.  He was told to show us where we would be living.  His slow pace revealed the hesitancy he felt as led us to the house with the flat roof.  Standing hand in hand Barry and I stared at the tiny house in the middle of the church grounds.  Until that moment, I never really paid any attention to the run down building with torn blinds and a dirty exterior.  It was just another facility on the almost 30 acre campus the church owned.   As we walked inside I let out a small gasp, I couldn’t believe the view.  It was dirty and musty smelling.  All of the furniture was carefully placed on cinder blocks and the walls showed signs of water damage.  As I looked around, I could feel myself starting to sink.  It was overwhelming to think that this was a place where someone actually slept, prepared food and called home.

While I examined the kitchen Barry took the initiative to look around thoroughly.  With years of experience in construction he quickly realized the amount of work it would take to make the place decent and livable.  As newlyweds, he wanted to give me the best, but he knew that the building we were standing in was beyond repair.  I could feel his apprehension as he returned to my side.  Without saying a word, Barry gently grabbed my hand and laced his fingers through mine.  He graciously thanked the young man who had taken time to show us around and then swiftly led me outside.

As we walked away, the tears I held back only moments before spilled out onto the dry ground.  I couldn’t believe that we were being asked to move into a building that was barely livable.  I wondered if that’s how they treated all of the new staff members, or if they just thought we needed an extra dose of humility.  Regardless of their reasoning , there was no doubt in my mind that we could ever live in such conditions…even if it was free.

As the evening drew to a close, Barry made an important phone call.  He declined their “generous” offer and asked our leaders to appeal to the Pastor for a better living space.  Little did we know, we were about to lose the beauty of newly wedded bliss.

6 thoughts on “Where do you want us to live?

  1. Jana…All I can say is, i know that “house” all to well!!! Unfortunetly, yes they do treat all the newbies that way! My husband and I were part of the 1st leadership (staff) group of this particular church. Our best friends, already coming from an abusive church in Florida, were offered the worship leader position, they accepted. Before you knew it, they were living in that same house. They had no place else to go. After my husband, myself and several others saw the condition of this house, we decided that the only way that they could move in is if we cleaned, painted and fixed everything that we could. Our friends also had 2 small boys that had to live there as well. My friend stayed sick for most of the time that they lived there. Long story short…2 years went by, and well, lots of abuse and so on and so forth. My husband and I left (my story is on Mikes blog) After we left,the worship pastor was sat down in a one on one meeting with the senior pastor and asked “Are you with me, or not?” Clearly they were not, but didn’t want to loose the only income that the family had. Our friend, who is one of the most gentle spirits, kind, loving and more importantly, completely in love with Jesus, left that meeting without a job and was asked to move out of the house. That meeting proved to be the best thing that has ever happened to this couple. They are now serving as senior worship pastors at a 5000 member church in Palm Beach. They are loved and they are able to love others.
    Jana, I’m sure you know this, as well as others who have broken free from this church…God is and will always be on the Throne! Thank you for sharing your story and know that there are people out here that have experienced the same things and who have overcome!!!! peace and blessings

    1. Oh Paige, I can’t believe how many couples and young adults have lived in that house…it continues to amaze me. I’m going to go and read your story on Mike’s blog…I know we have a lot in common! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Jana,
    I remember very well the first time I stepped into that house. I had a hard time believing that they expected any one to live in that house in the condition that it was in. I know that you were also expected to be grateful that they provided you with a “home”.

  3. Oh Jana!!! You know I feel your pain! We had to live there when i was pregnant! It was so horrible. I cant believe that use that building either. It was the worst!

  4. That you are still in ministry is totally a miracle. This is dumbfounding to me and I thought WE had some tough years!!! (We did, but now they are in perspective!!)

    I remember driving around with a realtor when we had just taken my husband’s 2nd assistant pastorate job. We had already met and been in the home of the music minister. I thought their home was GORGEOUS and couldn’t WAIT to go looking…figuring that if the MUSIC guy could live like that, what were they going to give the assistant? (this was a big church). Imagine my dismay as we drove in the neighborhoods she was told we would be able to afford…not just a step down…MANY MANY steps. And how was it SHE was told my husband’s salary before we were?

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