"We had far more trust than wisdom back then, and were certainly too trusting when it came to dealing with 'the brethren.' We were too quick to put people on a pedestal. We’d been renounced by our blood family when we became Adventist at age 30. Church became our family. It meant everything to us. But, oh, the lessons we were going to learn.
Mission work was our dream, so when we were recruited we eagerly abandoned everything we knew. Life, belongings, career—sold, quit, packed in boxes. We boarded a plane to a new country, new language, new culture. But we were baffled at the behavior of our fellow missionary 'mentor.' We’d never met anyone so subtle, crafty, manipulative, and power-hungry. Could such evil and cruelty really exist inside our own church family?
How do you love someone who twists every word? How do you forgive your enemy—the one sitting beside you in church? How do you work every day with someone determined to destroy you when you’re half way around the world and have no support system? How do you pick up the pieces and start over when everything inside of you feels stabbed? When all your dreams for serving God are ripped out from under you? Loving your enemies—loving them well—requires a power outside yourself, a godly power we don’t possess.
It was meant to be a five year post. In just five short months we were back, broken and bleeding to the point of classic breakdown. It took us two years to recover, while our daughters watched, confused and perplexed. We had no way of knowing how profoundly they’d be affected for life.
Back home, we were told to love and forgive, to shut up and move on. 'The devil is in the details and I don’t want to hear the details,' the mission recruiter told us while handing us a few hundred repatriation dollars with a slap on the back. Nobody seemed to care that we were numb and broken from the abuse. Bitterness reigned for a while, then pity, then time faded the pain. We’d experienced a version of the war between good and evil with someone who claimed to be a fellow believer. It was a dream-shattering lesson in how to balance wisdom against trust.
Deeply pondering the story of Christ and Satan helped us rise up from ashes. When we immersed ourselves in it, we learned to hold on to each other and cling to truth that plays out in Agape Love. As we kept looking at Jesus, we began to understand that high and holy things were expected from us, an other-worldly love. Slowly, one painful day at a time, God healed us. And along the way we realized—it’s not the devil in the details after all, it’s God. God is in the details."