The Bible teaches that if you have a problem with a brother, you are to go to that brother and work it out. If that doesn't work then you are to bring in the elders/pastor to help reconcile the issue. If the brother doesn't respond, the elders have the authority to shun them.(paraphrased) In theory I believe this. With the exception of a crime being committed.
This is where things went wrong in our situation.
It would seem that the pastor, Eddie Rojas, and elders, Dave Barrueto and Jim Cameron, don't believe that "the world" has any authority whatsoever in church matters.
That is also where I get hung up.
This was not a church matter. We were not deciding whether or not to build a church or change the time we met or if we should take communion every week or every other week. We had discovered that a child had been sexually molested.
Another place we got hung up: The elder's didn't agree that a child had been sexually molested. They just saw it as "inappropriate affections."
I shutter at the thought that if this would have happened to a different family in our congregation. They might have bought into the elders' rhetoric. I believe that people allow elders (who are just men) to handle matters that are far out of their league more often than we would like to admit. I believe that small conservative churches are the most vulnerable to fall into this misguided, dangerous thinking.
I am very grateful that both Eric and I had a check in our spirit and kept seeking God and asking questions.
Despite the attempts by leadership to conceal the true nature of Patrick and his crimes and despite the Rojas' attempts to control information and awareness in the church body.....the truth was revealed. But not without consequences.
On my entire Christian walk, I have been taught that we are Gods' hands, feet, and body and He is the head. That God works through us. That we as Christians are not suppose to just sit there and wait for something to fall out of the sky. That we are His vessels. We are an active part of what God is doing. But in a not so subtle way we were being told to "trust God." Interpretation: Don't ask questions. Just let the elder's handle it. They are the ones that God has placed in authority over this church. Dangerous! Very Dangerous!
Do not be afraid of getting help outside the church. The men that are in authority in a church are just that, men. If your family is dealing with issues such as a sexual crime being committed, depression, cutting, drugs and alcohol, or physical abuse, someone with an education in these matters must be consulted! Prayer over the issue by the elders is absolutely needed, but should not be the stopping point! There are many, many qualified counselors and therapists in our communities that have the proper understanding and education to deal with these matters along with solid biblical world views.
During everything that has happened in our family, we have seen three different counselors with different levels of education. It was important to have someone our children felt safe with that we as the parents also trusted. When our children saw counselors, one of us parents were in for part or all of the sessions. We were able to make sure we agreed with what was being discussed and we also were able to learn how to help our child in the healing process. Many of the sessions started or ended with prayer. Eric saw a PhD in psychology and biblical doctrine. This was vital, simply because we believe we had been in a cult-like church. Although we saw three different professionals with different levels of training that attended different Bible-believing churches, they all had the same view: we were in a church with some twisted views and doctrine. That was hard to swallow! I am considering a post in the future to explain this in more specific detail.
Bottom line...God uses the saved and unsaved to accomplish His will! Greater is he that is in you than he who is in the world. 1 John 4v4. We do not need to be afraid of the world if we are walking with God.