Letter to Steve Johnson
March 31, 2003
I want you to know that I pray about your situation almost every day. I know that when you finally "get it" that it will probably be the most difficult time you will ever have to live through. When all the blindness and pride has fallen aside and your heart is laid bare before God, I pray that He will be merciful and will ease the overwhelming guilt that will undoubtedly haunt you. As Lisa said about David standing and looking upon 70,000 (physically) dead, I imagine that his guilt will seem trivial compared to what may engulf you as you realize the spiritual implication of the many souls who you may have turned away from God.
I've thought many things about you in the last 10 years, but my heart is now simply filled with compassion for what Ken and Carla are going through, what Dan and Cinnamon are going through, what all the others in leadership across the country who do "get it" and have resigned are going through, and for what you and your wife are on the brink of experiencing. Regardless of what you have done, and not to lighten the severity of it because the devastation on all levels is so wide spread and so atrocious, but I would not wish what you will have to go through on my worst enemy. And I do pray that your children are spared the anguish and the fallout.
I don't know why I feel the compassion I do. You certainly have not earned it. But you had a kind word for me once and I still remember that. I'm not out for your blood or your head on a chopping block as almost everyone I speak to in Manhattan seems to be. I do in fact think about how you will get by financially, because even though you can be forgiven you and I both know that you should not remain in leadership or ministry. I think that deep down you really know this to be the truth. And if not, I pray that God will convict you of it and make is so clear to you.
From everything the ICOC has printed in the past about leadership and why people get removed so that they can reflect on their sin, you meet every criteria, and then some. And given the enormity of your sins compared to those other leaders in the past who were removed, I cannot comprehend how there would be any doubt in you mind. Just the fact that you admit that you don't fully "get it" yet should tell you it's the right thing to do, the only thing to do. Be honest, haven't you removed people from leadership for far, far, less? Are you really that much better or different from those men?
I don't know if you've been totally forthright about all of your income and perks and such, but I'm presently giving you the benefit of the doubt. I cannot say the same for Sam Powell. You had praising words for him, yet he remains closed off about his finances and refuses to relinquish his position "even if it would be best for the church." At least that is the way it came across on Tuesday night. That just tells me he doesn't really "get it" yet either.
Strangely, I find myself wanting to take you to lunch and just relate to you brother to brother. But I don't really know you that well so I don't imagine that will happen.
I am, however, hopeful that you will accept an invitation to an open forum for the NYC Church that will be held next Sunday (April 6th) at the Manhattan Church of Christ located at 40 east 80th Street (Between Madison and Park). The forum will begin at 5:00pm. It will give people a few minutes each to stand before their brothers and sisters and ex-members and anyone else who cares to attend, and express their concerns about the present condition of the NYC Church and their ideas about this transitional period that the Church finds itself in. Hope to see you there.
May God watch over you and your family during this time, and may He bring you through this a stronger man, a stronger husband and father, with a stronger, burning love and desire for Him.
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