John Mannel's Letter to Henry Kriete
Although, as I previously stated, I am not a writer I will attempt to put my thoughts down for you in response to your letter.
To be quite honest, there is a great deal in your thoughts that I have no issue with, they need to be addressed, and repented of. We are Christians, followers of the living God who set for us an example. What I believe more then ever is that we are just like the people described in the bible. We can do well for a while but at some point, we get off track and need to be corrected, admonished or rebuked for our own good.
Having said that, I would like to offer these thoughts. I have told you already of my regard for you and your family. You have been an inspiration and encouragement to me for many years. I know that we don't have a close relationship, and I don't really know what you think of me in that what I say has much or little credibility. I hope you hear my heart at this point.
You spoke of the need to change, interestingly, your letter comes out after change has already begun, and it has been felt already around the world. You spoke of the "so called" unity conference. I must tell you that my view of that event and yours could not be further apart. I personally feel that I witnessed a miracle. From angry thoughts being expressed to humble leaders acknowledging and confessing their sins, weeping and asking for forgiveness. The bible teaches that we are to forgive as we have been forgiven.
Henry, I don't believe that you were at the conference, I may be wrong and if I am that would change what I am about to say, but I met with the Commonwealth brothers at one point and you were not in the group. If that is true, then you are speaking, with authority, of something that you did not see. What that tells me is that you are speaking from emotion, looking for things that will build your point rather then seeking the truth. The conference, though certainly not the completion of anything, was the beginning that all of us were waiting for. I greet it with gratitude and thankfulness to God.
Please understand, I am not in any way trying to negate or discredit the good that is in your letter, things that must be addressed with all diligence and righteousness. I am addressing a separate issue that also has its consequences.
You have been in a difficult and painful leadership situation; I want you to hear that not everyone shares your seat. However, in your letter you speak as if everyone's experience with leadership has been the same. I have been under Marty Fuqua's leadership for many years; I have never felt harshness. Overall I have never felt him unopen to my thoughts and counsel though he ultimately made the decisions he felt necessary. I know he is not perfect, nor do I expect him to be, I expect him to be humble. Since the unity conference he and other leaders have traveled to various geographic sectors to talk through feelings, apologize and ask for forgiveness, which has in all cases been extended. For our special contribution, he laid out the expenses openly and explained what the churches are willing to give was a gift and would be received as such. The result was a generous show of support. However the amount did differ. One of our geographic sectors had great expenses and therefore lowered the amount offered, another had small churches that were not yet self-supporting, they opted to allow them to keep their special. Marty and everyone whole-heartedly agreed and was grateful for the support, generosity, and love for one another while we work through difficult times.
My dear brother, you sent me an email asking me for my input, regarding your letter. I responded that I would get back to you this week due to my schedule. Yet before I had a chance to respond, your final draft was already out. Did you really want my input?
We have a great desire for truth, and I agree with that. But the following scripture is also in the Bible.
A man may have a wife that is over weight. He could say, "you're fat", which is the truth, yet would damage their relationship. Or he could apply wisdom, tell the truth and perhaps even hopefully strengthen their relationship.
From what I can see wisdom is not being honored these days. A self-righteous desire to speak honestly has overshadowed other aspects of Jesus life. Truth without wisdom can do as much damage as wisdom without truth. I believe at this time, God is crying out for for both.
My son Jeff leads the church in Madison Wisconsin. It's a young church that he had the privilege of planting a few years ago. He has created a great family of young believers; they love the church universal and are grateful. Your letter has even reached them, my son is now fighting another battle. Concern over whether young innocent believers who have neither the knowledge or experience of theses issues will begin to question what this group really is that they are now a part of. His prayer and mine is that none become so disillusioned that they lose their faith. This to me is a very real possibility given the tone of your letter.
You mentioned the need for elders of which I am one, I wonder if you submitted your letter and thoughts to overseers to truly gain their counsel on what you are thinking and how to approach it.
You may think that I am in opposition to what you are trying to accomplish. I am not. We need to proceed to examine ourselves before each other and before the Lord. I want nothing more then to be right with God. For God to look at all of us and be pleased with what he sees. David sinned greatly, but once he was confronted and repented, he was forgiven. We all need to feel forgiveness.
If you want my counsel, Henry, here it is. I don't want you to change your convictions. But you have said that there is no Jesus or Paul in "the movement" that is true. But there is also no prophet of the movement. In my opinion you have put yourself in that position. For anyone to offer another opinion after reading your letter, they could now easily be dismissed as one of those leaders who fears for their position. When Elijah felt that he was the only one, God revealed to him that there were many others who were doing the right thing.
Henry, I make this appeal and I ask that you pray about it and think about what I am asking. I believe that a second letter must come from you. Not to withdraw your concerns, but to change the tone of your heart as displayed in your letter. There are parents who have worked hard to pull their children from the church as you well know. The tone of this letter provides a powerful weapon that there is no doubt is already being used. We are to speak the truth "in love". In 1 Cor. 13:1-3 God tells us that if love is not the heart behind our motivation, then we will gain nothing. Then we are told what love, God's love, really is.
I hope you understand that I am not in opposition to you, I am your brother. I believe we all want the same things. During the writing of this letter my wife Nancy came into my office after reading your letter. She has a tender heart and was in tears over the sins that we have seen and at times been guilty of. There is no question that your thoughts have have a great affect. However you want us to know that approaches taken in the past were wrong and rightly so. I want you to be open to the thought that your approach may be wrong as well. We will all be called to account, for actions and careless words.
I look forward to talking with you.
In Christ's deepest love, your brother
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