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An Answer To Everyone PDF  | Print |  E-mail
A Response to False Accusations  
By Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD

[NOTE: This is a revised summary of my presentation to the Church Board members of the Ann Arbor Seventh-day Adventist Church on May 29, 2012 at 7:00 PM. It was in response to a document distributed to board members and some members of the Ann Arbor Church. That document has since be spread around the world.—SKP; June 3, 2012]

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.” (1 Peter 3:15, 16).

Introduction

Today is May 29, 2012. Exactly one year ago, via a message to my colleagues in ministry and CAMPUS staff, I publicly announced what I had communicated to the Michigan Conference Executive Committee on May 23, 2011—namely, that as a result of a moral failure I had experienced while on an overseas travel, I had resigned from the Michigan Conference employment and from my role as Director of CAMPUS (Center for Adventist Ministry to Public University Students). CAMPUS was established as the nerve-center for a Bible-based approach to youth ministry). 

The substantive part of that May 29 public announcement read:

It is with deep pain—a pain far worse than death—that I have to resign at this critical time. Many of our standard bearers are being laid to rest, others are retiring and growing old, thousands of young people are calling for spiritual mentorship from faithful and courageous adult leaders, doors that are now opened for God’s work will soon be forever shut, and the cause of God urgently needs more faithful laborers in the field and within the church. Now shouldn’t be the time to resign. But I believe my decision is in the best interest of God’s work, and is consistent with the biblical teachings and messages I have shared by voice and by pen.

Undoubtedly, my resignation will be greeted with deep sorrow and hurt by those of you who have known me and worked closely with me. On the other hand, others who have always opposed what we stand for will have an additional reason to rejoice. For this, I am deeply sorry. Pray that the Lord will grant me genuine sorrow and humility of heart as I wait patiently on Him. Pray also that God’s faithful people everywhere—especially the young people whose lives I’ve touched—will learn important lessons from my experience, be comforted and encouraged by the Lord Himself, and be strengthened to carry forward the work of a “Bible-based revival movement in which every student is a missionary.” Pray that the treasures of truth that have been faithfully delivered would not be rejected nor ignored on account of the damaged vessel that carried them, and that the Lord will renew my strength, restoring me again to full health—physically and spiritually.

It has been a real privilege serving with you during the past twelve and half years. As you pray for me, my family, and the work I am leaving behind, don’t forget to pray for all the faithful workers and leaders at different frontlines of the work. They are the special targets of the enemy’s great wrath. Pray that the Lord will open our eyes to perceive the dangers that lurk around us, to discern our own true condition—our shortcomings, our secret evils, our faults and failings—and to behold the spiritual resources in Christ that are presently available to us. Above all, pray for the Lord to open our eyes that we may see the urgent need of depending upon Him moment by moment, as we seek true revival and reformation in our lives and in our church. This is my prayer for myself and for each one of you.

Sincerely
SKP

That was exactly a year ago today. As a consequence of my spiritual failure and resignation from Michigan Conference employment, I also surrendered my ministerial credential. I subsequently resigned from the GYC Board, and submitted myself to discipline by my local Ann Arbor Seventh-day Adventist church.

For the past eleven or so months, I have heard, read, and watched with dismay as individuals and interest groups have sought to exploit my spiritual failure for their personal and/or ideological agenda. I therefore consider it providential that I can be invited before the Ann Arbor Church Board to respond to some of the accusations that have been leveled against me. 

I title my presentation “An Answer To Everyone: A Response to False Accusations.” It is based on1 Peter 3:15, 16 [“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ”]. 

But whereas my presentation is a response to accusations by certain individuals, I hope that in the course of my presentation I will also set forth some principles to guide in how we deal with rumors or gossip in our effort to reclaim penitent sinners. Inasmuch as my accusers have widely spread their material, I trust that my answer will also be shared with the members of this church or anyone else who needs to know.

Before going into the specifics of why we’re here this evening, allow me to give a little background, and also express a word of appreciation and a word of apology to the Ann Arbor Church, through this board. The background is important because, whether we’re aware of it or not, few would have shown much interest in my failure had I not been engaged in ministry in Ann Arbor. 

Background: CAMPUS and Ann Arbor

In September 1998 Michigan Conference became the first in the North American Division (NAD) to create a separate department focused solely on ministry on secular university and college campuses. A year later, CAMPUS (Center for Adventist Ministry to Public University Students) was established as the nerve center of Michigan Conference’s Public Campus Ministries Department.

Located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, near the University of Michigan, CAMPUS is widely recognized today for pioneering and developing a credible Seventh-day Adventist missionary training program for campus ministry. Among other things, CAMPUS—

o has earned the trust of many students and young people as the place where lives are transformed and where brilliant and godly leaders are developed; 
o is the only Adventist secular campus ministry that has a viable, sustainable, carefully-planned, and year-round program of training for students;
o is one of the few ministries in the NAD that has succeeded in actually creating a truly racially-diverse  and mission-driven student movement.
o is the birth place, headquarters, and a sponsor of GYC (Generation of Youth for Christ), a thriving, grassroots, revival movement organized and led by Adventist young adults;
o has also spawned in North America other student movements and endeavors, such as ALIVE, ANEW, l.e.a.d.s., STRIDE, Advent/Campus HOPE, ExCEL, L-I-N-K, p.r.e.s.s, and others—all of which are attracting attention from other regions of the world.

None of these accomplishments would have been possible without the blessings and providential leadings of the Lord, careful strategic planning, the training and empowerment of converted youth to be missionaries to their peers, and the active support of the Ann Arbor Seventh-day Adventist Church. 

In 1895 E. G. White wrote that ministry to secular campuses is “a work [that] must be done, and it will be done by those who are led and taught of God” (Selected Messages, bk. 3, p. 234). Interestingly, this statement was made in connection with The University of Michigan, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

In fact, a number of E.G. White’s statements about Ann Arbor, has to do with the University of Michigan and the wider issue of ministry to students on public university. Thus, the choice of basing CAMPUS in Ann Arbor can be seen as our desire for the 100-year-old prophecy of EGW to be fulfilled in our day. 

Today, I can say that the work EGW stated “must be done” on secular university campuses is being done at and through CAMPUS. The Lord is transforming a ministry to students into a movement of students. And the Ann Arbor Church has played a valuable role in this work.

Thank You, Ann Arbor Church

I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you for the Christian friendship and support you have offered me all these years—as we have attempted to grow a seemingly ordinary ministry to students into a vibrant movement of students. 

But for the Ann Arbor church, there would be no CAMPUS or GYC, or some of the other grassroots organizations that the church is beginning to recognize as a powerful force for change. Permit me to share with you again what I stated in my resignation letter of May 23, 2011:

I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to all of you for the Christian friendship and support you have offered me all these years. I would also like to thank you for your tremendous contribution to the kind of youth empowerment that CAMPUS promotes—namely a spiritual movement of young people which is Bible-based, life-transforming, mission-driven, and racially-diverse. 

As you may already know, CAMPUS is not only the birth place, headquarters, and a sponsor of GYC (Generation of Youth for Christ), it is also the sponsor of ALIVE (Africans Living In View of Eternity), an emerging grassroots missionary movement for African graduates and young professionals. CAMPUS also has a joint-partnership with STRIDE (Student Training & Resource Institute for Discipleship and Evangelism), a campus missionary training program that is based in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Further, as the grace of God has abounded in the work of our CAMPUS staff, missionaries, students and alumni from our events and programs, CAMPUS has earned the trust of many students and young people around the world, inspiring them to do great things for their Lord. Your continued support for this work, which I’m now leaving behind, is much more needed at this time than ever before.

Indeed, with the help of the Ann Arbor Church, what started among a group of idealistic young students as an experiment in authentic biblical Christianity has today become a global phenomenon and the envy of many who were initially prone to dismiss our work as “third world,” “ultra-conservative,” “fundamentalist,” “reactionary,” or “unrealistic in the first world.”

Contrary to the naysayers and our critics, young people saw that our approach to youth and student ministry was an answer to their needs. A retired General Conference and ASI communication director, summed up why young people were drawn to CAMPUS: 

“They were enrolled at some of the nation’s most well known schools: Harvard, Brandeis, Wellesley, Brown, Princeton, Rutgers, Boston University, Eastern Michigan University, and the University of Michigan. All were Seventh-day Adventist youth trying to maintain their religious roots on secular campuses. . . . All wanted something more from their religion than ‘anecdotes and entertainment.’ And then they heard about CAMPUS at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. . . . The message of CAMPUS and its mentor Samuel Pipim reached these students. Dr. Pipim’s challenge for spiritual and academic excellence fell on willing ears and hearts. Students liked his can-do, tell-it-like-it-is, traditional Adventism. Committed to Dr. Pipim’s ‘higher than the highest’ philosophy of excellence, these scattered students began dreaming what they called the great experiment in 1999.” (Shirley Burton, “With Such An Army,” Inside ASI Magazine, Spring 2008, p. 14), available online at: http://www.asiministries.org/inside-asi-magazine (click on Spring 2008 issue).

What started in 1999 as an experiment at CAMPUS would later give birth to GYC in 2002. And eight years later, the world church could not ignore what our critics initially dismissed: Writes the Adventist Review in 2009:

"Call it a movement. Call it a ‘confederation of possibilities.’ Call it a Spirit-inspired meeting of minds and hearts. Or just call it GYC—Generation of Youth for Christ. The eight-year-old young adult organization has grown from a handful of idealistic college students to a powerful force for Bible study, evangelism, and mission service in the life of North American Adventism—and now around the world.” (see Adventist Review, December 24, 2009). 

In fact, 13 months after the above glowing report was published, the associate editor of the church magazine wrote about how GYC had since attracted a large global following: 

“Youth training events in Canada, Australia, Germany, and other places around the world have been inspired by the successful GYC grassroots movement.” (Adventist Review, January 13, 2011, online edition).” 

It would interest you to know that besides GYC, CAMPUS has also birthed and sponsors ALIVE, a GYC-like movement in Africa.  ALIVE is an acronym that stands for “Africans Living In View of Eternity.” The goal of ALIVE is to connect African graduates and young professionals studying and living in the USA (and their non-African friends) with their counterparts on the continent, and to mobilize them as a missionary force to transform neglected areas on the continent. Already, they’re having a transforming impact in several African countries (Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Kenya, Rwanda, etc). In Zambia and Zimbabwe, the ALIVE movement is called IMPACT (Inspired Missionaries Proclaiming the Advent of Christ Today).

Time would fail me to tell you of how ALIVE is mobilizing young people in the French-speaking parts of Africa. Known as JAFA (Jeunes Ambassadeurs Francophones Adventiste—Young Ambassadors of French-speaking Adventists), these young people have done similar life-changing missionary activities like ALIVE in Togo, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Cameroon, etc. 

For lack of time, I’ll also not discuss ExCEL (Excellence through Canvassing, Evangelism & Lifestyle), our summer canvassing program for students on secular university campuses. Today, ExCEL has also spawned other similar organizations in North America. Beginning next week, you’d be seeing a group of dedicated young people, all of who will be dedicating their summer to sharing the Everlasting Gospel through Christian literature. 

Without the Ann Arbor church’s support, the Lord’s blessings on CAMPUS during the past years could not have been possible.  As I said earlier, I pray that you’d continue to support CAMPUS and its new leadership as it forges ahead. CAMPUS was not about a person, but has always been a set of ideals solidly grounded in the Word of God and our distinctive end-time message. 

Apology & Appreciation

As on the day of my resignation, and as I have done on different occasions, I want to express my deepest apology to all of you for the hurt my sin has caused you, the valuable time it has wasted, and the distraction it has been to the work we all love. I pray that, somehow, the Lord Himself will find a way to employ even this situation to advance the cause of truth.

Perhaps you may be interested to know how I have fared during these twelve months. I have suffered reproach of friends and foes, misunderstanding, misrepresentation, slander, libel, intrigue, derision, ostracism, betrayals, and the wish by some that I would forever be banished away by God and man. On the other hand, I have gained new friendships, learned new truths, and been called to minister in my personal capacity in ways that were not possible before. 

As I look back at that painful period when the future seemed bleak and unsure and compare with now, I am awed by the Lord’s goodness in taking repentant ones back to the full joy of sonship with Him. 

To all those in the Ann Arbor Church family who reached out to me and my family during that difficult time, we offer our sincere and deep appreciation for your spiritual, social, financial, and every other form of support. Some were kind, some were cruel. The Lord found fit use for all forms of response and taught us valuable lessons from everyone who felt the need to connect with us, so none need feel bad. 

Strange as it may seem, among the most profitable blessings have been the pain resulting from the consequences of my sin. Though it was painful and shameful to have owned up to my sin publicly, by the grace of God, I am learning that pain is not merely the price of sin, but investment in righteousness. For it is in facing the painful results of sin that God prepares us for the rich blessings of His righteousness.

Thank you, Ann Arbor Church Board for inviting me to this meeting to address a matter that has been extremely painful to me and my family. 

And thank you, Pastor Danny Velez, for all that you’ve been to me and my family. As my local church pastor, I have a deep respect for you as a man of God and principled Christian. I know how much you have been bombarded by messages from so many outside forces who felt they could shape events in this church and even the larger church by their relentless streak of accusations. The way you have led the Ann Arbor SDA Church to navigate through this crisis—from the moment I notified you of my willingness to submit to church discipline, through our twice a month accountability meetings, the periods we discussed the time of my re-baptism, and to this very day have all confirmed to me the tremendous role of a godly minister towards the healing of his broken church members. 

And Pastor Velez, kindly extend my gratitude to the team of pastors you worked with and who met with me from time to time, as the occasion demanded. Notable in this group were Dr. Raoul Dederen (the former Dean of the Seminary at Andrews University and an honorary elder of this church) and Pastor Steve Conway (the former Pastor of our church on the University of Michigan campus).

Besides our church pastor, allow me also to convey my deepest appreciation to one particular member of the Ann Arbor church for the unique support and encouragement I received from her. Only time will reveal her tremendous contribution to the cause of God—in good times as well as in bad times. Though many of you may not be aware, as a result of my failure she has suffered more than me in the fallout of my spiritual failure. Despite the pain, she has dealt with this situation with Christian grace, even when she was battling with her own health issues—issues with cancer. I am referring to my wife Becky. But right now, I’m speaking of her as a member of this church.

Though she’s not perfect, I can truthfully say that my wife has been a model of what a Christian wife ought to be in the work of ministry. I cannot think of many women who will put aside their graduate degrees in developmental administration from Western Michigan University in order to dedicate their lives to cooking every week for some 60 to 100 students. Whereas some today aspire for other roles in ministry (whether biblical or not) Becky understood that ministry is any legitimate service rendered to advance the cause of Christ. Besides cooking, she’s also been there for the students—present and past students, offering spiritual counsel and guidance to them. In fact, besides her personal prayers on their behalf, she has a schedule by which she calls up present and past students and prays with them. Becky has been a true “Mother in Israel.” 

More than these, she’s also suffered alongside me. She’s suffered the same humiliation and pain I have suffered. But she’s carried herself as a godly Christian lady. Even as I meet with you this evening, she’s at home praying for the Lord’s blessings upon this meeting. Whenever you see her, let her know that God will not forget her labor of love which she’s shown in ministering to God’s people (cf. Hebrews 6:10).

My hope is that at the end of this evening’s meeting—during which I will attempt to clarify issues raised by allegations from a particular individual (and others like her)—the Lord will guide the church board in how it responds to a crisis of this kind, so that members will better understand how we ought to treat one another in times of spiritual failure. 

This meeting will not only shed some light on the pain and injury I believe my accuser (and others of similar attitude) has inflicted—perhaps unwittingly—upon me and my family, but also, I believe, the evidence will show that I have handled the situation in the best way I know how. If I have failed, I am open to your kind correction. 

Why We’re Here

I am here this evening, at the request of the Ann Arbor Seventh-day Adventist Church Board, to answer the accusations contained in a document circulated against me by a person who describes herself in that document as “a pastor’s/administrator’s/professor’s wife of nearly 33 years.” Describing herself in those terms may be calculated to give force to the content of those allegations.

Among other things, the document accuses me of dishonesty and falsehood in my stated reasons for resigning from church employment and in how I have conducted myself since. It specifically alleges that my sin was not simply a moral failure, but a criminal conduct. In fact, she accuses me of “rape” (four times in the document). It also alleges that, since my resignation, in my preaching and speaking “dozens of times in various countries,” I have been “promoting dangerous anti-biblical views,” or “new non-biblical teachings” etc. (see #15 and 16 of her document). 

Let me state at the outset that I categorically reject as false these damning accusations. I am confident that at the appropriate forum I can forcefully challenge these malicious allegations. Unfortunately, these accusations (based on hearsays, half-truths, outright misrepresentation of facts) are circulated by a person who should know that one should not spread accusations that are slanderous and libelous. 

And, even if one sets aside the serious legal implications of the accusations, the person ought to know that it violates Christian principles to circulate allegations without first seeking clarification from the person against whom it is directed.  But, alas, the accusations are made, intending to effect a particular outcome. The document states:

“In view of concerns such as the above, I would like to urge all those seriously concerned about this matter to prayerfully consider what the proper Christ-like response should be.”

What is this “the proper Christ-like response” being sought from this Church Board? I am not alone in seeing through the ultimate goal in her making these accusations. As anyone with the gift of discernment will know, she (and those like her making these allegations) simply do not want me back in Seventh-day Adventist membership or any form of ministry—until in their opinion I have repented enough. In fact, by branding me a criminal and a liar, they’re essentially saying the church should be cautious in how they view me, even if I have truly repented. Moreover in accusing me of teaching false doctrines, they are basically saying I should not be baptized, since false teachings are grounds for discipline. Ultimately, stopping or delaying my baptism is one way they can force me out of ministry.

Based on these kinds of accusations, I have watched with dismay as hasty decisions have been made in certain quarters to either withdraw from circulation my published works—both books and audio and video resources—materials that had proved to be edifying to believers and unbelievers prior to my spiritual failure. It’s like throwing away the messages of Elijah on Mt Carmel (1 Kings 18) because of his subsequent failure in running away from God (1 Kings 19). Or like jettisoning Peter’s messages on the day of Pentecost and thereafter because of his momentary failure in Galatia (Galatians 2). And yet, such has been one of the casualties of the accusations. One can only wonder about the biblical justification for these actions. 

It should be noted that this particular individual who is accusing me is NOT a member of the Ann Arbor Church and doesn’t even live in the Ann Arbor area. But she found it necessary to drive to the Ann Arbor church premises on Monday, May 21, 2012 to circulate these slanderous and libelous material. She also wrote in a covering letter to the Ann Arbor church pastor: “I did share this with a few of the members already.” 

This “pastor’s/administrator’s/professor’s wife of nearly 33 years” found it necessary to circulate her document to church board members and church members, but never found it biblically imperative to share it with me. What ought to be of concern to any serious Christian is that, although this individual wants readers to believe that she is  “a friend of mine for more than 20 years,” she has NEVER at any time sat down with me to share those specific accusations—as the Bible clearly teaches we should do. In fact, I had for at least eight months been requesting to meet with her husband— her “pastor/administrator/professor … of nearly 33 years”—to acquaint me with my theological errors, all to no avail.  Is that how any “friend of mine for more than 20 years” should conduct themselves?

Also, though not a member of the Ann Arbor church, it should be pointed out that the author of the document is an employee of the Michigan Conference. She is also the wife of a departmental director of the Conference, one who in recent times describes himself as “Resident Theologian” of the Conference. Given her position at the Conference, how she describes herself in the document, and her relationship with the departmental director and “resident theologian,” the accusations leveled against me to the Church board may be intended to influence the Board’s decision—possibly regarding my spiritual and doctrinal readiness for the scheduled rebaptism on June 9, 2012. 

It may also be calculated not only to harm me personally, but also to hurt my family as well—however unintended it may be construed. In fact, her document offers her motives for circulating her document:

“Since serious misinformation has continued to circulate regarding this matter, and since I am very concerned about the physical, emotional and spiritual welfare of others (especially young people), I am compelled to let you, my fellow Adventists, know the following information so that appropriate action may be taken for all concerned (paragraph 2; emphasis mine).

“As a pastor’s/administrator’s/professor’s wife of nearly 33 years, this is probably one of the most difficult things I have ever had to deal with. A friend of mine rapes a 20-year-old girl. Now what do I do? I want to be supportive and encouraging; yet I do not want to enable and encourage him [SKP] or his [SKP’S] family in an inappropriate or unhealthy way. But, since I am also concerned about other young people, and about the church at large, there is nothing easy about this – either way a friend is caught in the middle. I am sorry it has come to this, regarding a friend of mine for more than 20 years. Many tears have been shed over this matter, and it is with deep sorrow that I present this information to you now.” [Last but one paragraph]

I want you to know that, although these accusations may be new to you, for the past eight to nine months, my wife and I have had to endure such painful accusations (and worse) from individuals and organizations, who for personal and ideological reasons have gone to great lengths to exploit my failure.  Others have done so out of a zeal without knowledge. Regardless of motivations, the accusations have been spread far and near. Unfortunately, my “friends of 20-some years” have played a very active role in the dissemination of false rumors and accusations.

The Facts
 
Here are the facts that I can confirm:

1. On the very last day of an overseas journey, I had a moral fall—a sexual encounter. Believing that we had repented and renounced the sin, I treated the matter as a private moral failure.

2. Four months later, I got to know that our sin had come to the knowledge of a handful of individuals. The very day that I got to know that the private sin had come to the knowledge of others, and as soon as I confirmed with the person with whom I had that encounter the circumstances leading to that, I decided to resign from my denominational employment. 

3. Prior to submitting my resignation letter, I assured the person with whom I had had the sexual encounter that I would take full responsibility for my role in the sin, and will do my best to protect her identity and safeguard her integrity. I believe it is the biblical thing to do. As far as I’m concerned no sin is ever justifiable. Thus, I have taken full ownership of my actions, leaving the other person to respond to the Spirit’s conviction on the matter. I will never blame her for what happened. Being the more mature person, I should have known better, and under no circumstance should I have been involved. 

4. Three days after my resignation we decided to cut off all communications between us. Here’s the substantive part of my last communication with her:

Any continued communications would be misunderstood by my wife and others, who might be led to think that, despite my expression of genuine remorse over the incident, perhaps, something is still going on between us.  Also, continued communications would increase the chances of our being more emotionally attached to each other. For the sake of the people we love, and to not give any appearance of evil, it is important that we desist from all further communications.

I will continue to protect your identity and integrity, as, for example, was demonstrated in how I stated the reason for my resignation. I take full ownership of my sin and the resulting painful consequences. The enemy sought to ruin our lives, but by the grace of God we shall prevail.…

The coming days will be particularly painful as I’ll have to inform all my colleagues in ministry and my CAMPUS, GYC, ALIVE, etc. groups, and others why I have had to resign. I know they would be deeply disappointed, pained, and hurt by my sin. I am praying that they will find it in their hearts to forgive me, and that some may learn from my mistakes and be warned (again) about the dangers of temptation and the need for constant vigilance. We are much weaker than we think, and we need to depend on the Lord daily.
 
Though you may not be hearing from me again, you will remain in my prayers. I know the Lord has great plans for our lives, hence the enemy has sought to hurt us. But let us not give in to despair. God’s grace is sufficient for us. We may be wounded, but the Lord will heal. We don't need to dwell on the written past; let's begin writing the future today. I leave with you a promise that has become very meaningful to me in the past couple of days. The passage not only speaks about God’s delight in his faithful children, but also how He does not forsake them when they stumble. And it assures us that He will provide for our livelihood, when all human sources seem dry. Writes David:
 
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,
         And He delights in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
         For the LORD upholds him with His hand.  
I have been young, and now am old;
         Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
         Nor his descendants begging bread
(Psalm 37:23-25; emphasis mine)
 
 
5. Since, my resignation, I have been strongly provoked by friends and foes for me to go into details of the sexual encounter and to set the record straight on some issues. I have resisted doing so. I will continue to maintain that posture because it is the right thing to do. As far as I’m concerned, what I did was wrong. My involvement in that immoral encounter, though not a criminal conduct, was a betrayal of trust. It should never have happened—whether overseas or any part of the world. 

6. The only other contact I had had with the other person involved was sometime after June 8, 2011, after I had returned from a previously scheduled vacation/retreat with my former CAMPUS staff. Prior to my resignation in May, at her request I had purchased some spiritual books for her, but never got to mail them. After agonizing over whether or not to mail the books, I eventually did. There was no communication in the package; only the books.

7. Fully aware that people would try to exploit our failures for their own agenda, my wife and I have been praying for the other person involved that the Lord will give her grace to deal with the situation, peace and joy that comes from a brokenness of spirit, and wisdom to see through what others would try to do to exploit her pain for their personal and ideological agenda. This is what we have asked the Lord to help us with; and we wish the same for her. I am confident that the Lord will answer our prayers.

Accusations & Accusers

1. The Accusations Against Me. Since my resignation in May, I have been the subject of many endless rumors, accusations, falsehoods and half-truths, slanderous and libelous information. Among other things, the moral failure on that overseas trip was falsely interpreted as a homosexual conduct, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, fathering a child outside marriage, child abuse, rape, attempted abortion gone wrong, etc. etc. The more outrageous the accusations, the more the purveyors seem to draw people to their causes, websites, or their own self-righteousness.

In recent times, the accusations have included the fact that I’m teaching false doctrines, not listening to counsel from church leaders (including, allegedly, leaders at my Conference level and even to the highest level of the church). Often my accusers employ the names of influential individuals to give credibility to their misrepresentations.

These accusations of “false teaching/strange theology etc.” have been prompted by my sharing of important lessons I have learned from my personal failure through my book Six More Chances and two sermon series titled My Song in the Night and Take Heed [available online at: www.EAGLESonline.org/resources/audio]. The sermon series are based on my forthcoming book titled The Wounded Eagle: Lessons from Failure—in which I warn about the dangers of temptation, the ugliness of sin, the pain of sin’s consequences, and the hope we have in Christ for his forgiving, transforming, and restorative grace.

NOTE: Some of my accusers have alleged that by using the title “The Wounded Eagle” I am implying that I am the “victim” in my moral failure. Nowhere will such a claim be found in the book or any messages I have shared. The fact is, over the years, in my ministry to young people and young professionals, I have employed the Eagle as a symbol of excellence—academic, professional, and spiritual. Thus, the eagle metaphor is employed to challenge all to live to their highest God-given potential and to soar above the “chicken” predicaments of the day. However, when, through our own misjudgments, attitudes, choices, and actions, we fall short of the “eagle” ideal, we become “wounded eagles.”)

The above accusations—namely, (1) the alleged nature of my moral failure, (2) the belief that I’m not heeding counsel from church leaders, and (3) my alleged false teaching—have all been calculated for one objective—namely, to ensure that I am never back in ministry again or that I never rise again from my fall. (NOTE: When I resigned in May and surrendered my ministerial credential, I understood that to mean that, unless the Lord clearly overrules my decision, I will not be in any denominational employment as a minister—even if offered the option).  So, the ultimate goal of these accusations seems to be that, even after repentance and forgiveness, I should NEVER again do ANY ministry—not even as a lay person. My accusers don’t want to see me rise from my fall.


2. Those Accusing Me. As far as I’ve been able to ascertain there are two major organizations that have made it their goal to exploit my failure to their advantage. One “ministry” is a husband and wife team. They are former Adventists, members of an independent/off-shoot group, even though the wife sometimes disguises herself as an Adventist and writes in Adventist fora. 

[NOTE: Just today, June 3, 2012, will revising this document—i.e., my presentation to the Ann Arbor Church Board of May 29, 2012, I received a forwarded mail from Europe, showing that this woman is actively splashing the document by the wife of my “friend of 25 years.”]

Foremost among bonafide Adventists who have sought to exploit my failure for their causes or agenda, have included individuals associated with a particular organization that aims at ministering to victims of clergy sexual abuse. As far as I can ascertain, they were the first to splash across North America and the world the slanderous and libelous accusations contained in the document by my “friends of 25 years.”  Without ever contacting me (even to this very day), this organization (led by its chairman, CEO and Vice President, and its volunteer counselors) began spreading uncomplimentary material to Church and Youth leaders in the North American Division—an information that would later on be passed to other parts of the world. 

Worse, whereas  Christian decency led me to continue to safeguard the identity and integrity of the person with whom I had my moral fall, and whereas Christian responsibility compelled me to take full ownership of my sin, this organization shamelessly published her name and past failures, caring little about the damage they were inflicting upon a person who was already traumatized by our failure! I seriously doubt if they would do so if the person were not from an overseas country. I am personally outraged by the hypocrisy that masquerades as genuine “ministry.”

I believe that I’m not alone in taking serious exception to the ethics, if not spiritual maturity and motives, of the individuals associated with this organization who have widely circulated the uncomplimentary statements about me without first giving me the courtesy of a response or explanation.
 
The Bible cautions us not to "betray another person's secret" (Prov 25:9). Besides, Christ's instruction in Matthew 18 makes it clear that private sins should be kept private. In her commentary on Matthew 18 EGW wrote that "whatever the character of the offense" we must not violate Christ's principles on private sins: 
 
In dealing with erring church members, God’s people are carefully to follow the instruction given by the Saviour in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew. . . Church members have no right to follow their own impulses and inclinations in dealing with fellow members who have erred. They should not even express their prejudices regarding the erring, for thus they place in other minds the leaven of evil. Reports unfavorable to a brother or sister in the church are communicated from one to another of the church members. . . . Do not tell others of the wrong. One person is told, then another, and still another; and continually the report grows, and the evil increases, till the whole church is made to suffer. Settle the matter ‘between thee and him alone.’ This is God’s plan.  . . . Do not suffer sin upon your brother; but do not expose him, and thus increase the difficulty, making the reproof seem like a revenge. Correct him in the way outlined in the word of God.. . . Whatever the character of the offense, this does not change the plan that God has made for the settlement of misunderstandings and personal injuries. Speaking alone and in the spirit of Christ to the one who is in fault will often remove the difficulty. Go to the erring one, with a heart filled with Christ’s love and sympathy, and seek to adjust the matter. Reason with him calmly and quietly. Let no angry words escape your lips (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, pp. 260, 261).
 
I emphasize again the fact that “whatever the character of the offense” of the private sin, “this does not change the plan that God has made” regarding how we handle private sins. Believers “should not even express their prejudices regarding the erring, for thus they place in other minds the leaven of evil.” They should “not tell others of the wrong.”
 
“While we seek to correct the errors of a brother, the Spirit of Christ will lead us to shield him, as far as possible, from the criticism of even his own brethren, and how much more from the censure of the unbelieving world. We ourselves are erring, and need Christ's pity and forgiveness, and just as we wish Him to deal with us, He bids us deal with one another.” (Desire of Ages, p. 441).

Since September 2011, this organization and certain individuals who have fraternized with them—including my friends of 25 years-, and some otherwise well-meaning individuals—have cycled and recycled their accusations far and wide. Some of these individuals wormed their way into the company of people who had been very close to me (friends, former CAMPUS staff members, co-workers, present and past students and missionaries, etc.) looking for “dirt” to throw at me. 

I also have documented evidence of some of my accusers deliberately targeting or “be-friending” some of my Facebook friends, and then splashing their malicious information to them or attempting to recruit them to say things that are not true about it.

Those responsible for the dissemination of these allegations have sometimes published on the blogs of theological liberal organizations (known to oppose a number of our fundamental teachings). Some independent off-shoot groups and/or individuals have also been powerful preachers of this gospel of gossip.  
I have been greatly dismayed by their actions, given the fact that they carried themselves as Christians seeking the well-being of sinners. Assuming for the sake of argument that all the evils I was accused of were true (and they are not), is that the way Christians are to treat their own Christian brothers and sisters who have failed spiritually? 

I was initially hurt. But later, in as much as these individuals don’t know me and, in some cases, hold theological agenda different from mine, I did not see a need to respond to their non-Christian conduct. For we’re told, in connection with David’s sin that even when repented of, sin still gives occasion for enemies to attack God: “Because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” (1 Samuel 12:14:).

Indeed, the downfall of a Christian is always a cause for celebration among those who have reasons to oppose what we stand for. It also boosts ratings on their websites, gives publicity and credibility to their causes and in some cases helps them in their fundraising efforts. I consider these allegations or accusations as consequences or casualties of sin. As I explained in a thought nugget:

CASUALTIES OF SIN: “Sin is a betrayal of trust. As such, it has many casualties, even when repented of. Here’s one: Sin waives our right to be believed, giving falsehood an undeserved platform to legitimize itself. However, with time and through the mercies of God, the voice of the penitent will be heard.” --SKP

Though painful, the hurt from those who didn’t know me were expected—and, therefore, much easier to bear. The greatest pain had been those inflicted upon me by individuals I had considered to be friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, and theological allies. These are folks with whom I have fought alongside in some common causes. Some of them live and work in Michigan and even have been my former colleagues in ministry.

3. Hurt from “Friends.” I have considered the “pastor’s/administrator’s/professor’s wife of nearly 33 years”—the Sister who circulated the document to Ann Arbor members and board members—to fall within this category. Indeed, both she and her husband have been friends for some 20+ years. Sadly, they have been very active in exploiting my failure.

The teaming up of these “friends of 25 years” with the particular organization mentioned earlier to spread malicious information against me has been very painful to me and my family. This is because they have exploited our relationship and their position at the Michigan Conference to lend credibility to their ill-founded accusations. Their words and accusations, together with those from the organization mentioned earlier and another well-meaning individual, have been cycled and recycled everywhere. 

For example a gentleman who describes himself in one email as “a youth ministry professional” has similarly circulated uncomplimentary email information about me, which he claims he obtained from my “friends of 25 years.” In a December 22, 2011 email, he attached a widely distributed document by that particular organization, and prefaced it by saying, “I will not tell you who sent this to me, but all I can say is that they are very close
to Pipim and has known him for over 25 years…” 

And with this preface, this “youth ministry professional” (who himself has gone to great lengths to publicize the message he got from my “friends of 25 years”) urged all who receive his email to pass it on others. He added, “I meant to let you know, in case I didn't, that the GC has informed all the division presidents about SKP - that he should not be asked to speak at any SDA entities. . . . Hey, if you hear of any speaking appts by SKP, can u let me know asap – [we’re] officially trying to put a stop to it.”

In fact, I have a trail of documented evidence that compellingly reveals the extent to which my “friends of 25 years,” had aligned themselves with the activities of that particular organization to spread slanderous and libelous information against me—all in the name of “ministry.” 

Sadly, none of these individuals and organizations (all of who claim to be bonafide Seventh-day Adventists) has done the Christian thing of personally sitting down with me to ascertain the truth or, at least, seek a clarification from me. And yet, they have splashed these uncomplimentary and malicious information all over the world. 

I don’t need to tell you that these have been extremely painful to me personally, my wife (who is battling with cancer-related issues), and even my family in Ghana, as word has gotten there from “my friends of 20+ years” that I have left the church and I’m now attacking the church by teaching false doctrines. In November 2011 I had to incur additional expenses to rush to Ghana to assure my sick father and family members that the accusations are not true.

In fact, as recently as (February 29), in a statement by the husband of the Sister whose document was passed on to Ann Arbor Church board members (and other members of the church), this “friend of 25 years” also wrote to accuse me of publicly sharing “spiritually dangerous, non-scriptural theories/ideas” that are contrary to what “we as faithful Adventists believe the Bible teaches,” and that in his capacity “as a ‘watchman on the walls of Zion,’ and as a faithful Bible-believing Seventh-day Adventist Christian” he has a “serious spiritual responsibility to warn, caution, etc.” when theological and ethical errors are being taught. 

It may interest you to know that on Wednesday, May 23, 2012—also exactly one year to the date of the resignation—I met with the Michigan Conference Administrative Committee (President, Secretary, Treasurer, and the two Ministerial Directors), in the presence of our Ann Arbor pastor, to confront similar accusations leveled against me by this “friend of 25 years”—who also happens to be a Michigan Conference employee and departmental director Conference official. I am confident that a report of that meeting from the Conference will show that the accusations against me cannot be sustained.

It’s always unfortunate when members of our church and, especially Conference employees, resort to accusing their brothers instead of strengthening them. The damage done in such instances can be incalculable. This is particularly the case when they, knowingly or unknowingly, resort to misrepresentation of facts, half-truths, outright falsehoods, slander, intrigue, and libel. I pray that this kind of spirit will not be countenanced in any church and in any Conference.

I’m still baffled as to why anyone who consciously chooses not to sit down with the person they are accusing (after repeated pleas), would go to great lengths to spread ill against their brother. Only God knows.

4. Issues At Stake. There are some issues at stake in the manner before us this evening. First the substance of the allegations and, second, the process used by those making the allegations. It is my contention that— 

(1) on both scores (content of accusations and process used to address them) major damage has been done to me, my family, and the cause of God.

(2) the accusation by this individual and my other accusers that my moral fall was a criminal act cannot be sustained by facts. At the appropriate forum, this slanderous and libelous accusation will be forthrightly addressed. 

(3) the accusation by this individual and my other accusers that I am spreading false theology or teachings that are contrary to our beliefs are equally without merit. My teachings are in the public domain, and it is up to them to show wherein I have erred.

(4) the claim often made by this couple (my “friends of 25 years”) that they have personally met with me to discuss their concerns are not true. Since my resignation announcement in May 2011, this couple has visited us only twice and the substance of the meetings will be discussed below. Moreover, I can provide written email exchanges to show that it is I who had been pleading to meet with them—all to no avail. 

My Two Meetings with my “Friends of 25 Years”

Since my resignation, my “friends of 25 years” have visited our home only twice. First, on Sabbath, July 2, 2011 when both of them came to visit our home. The second occasion was on Sabbath August 27, 2011, when only the husband came “to pray with me.” This was three days before the Michigan Conference Executive committee was to appoint my successor at CAMPUS.

Let me summarize the content of those two visits by at least one of “my friends of 25 years.”

Sabbath, July 2, 2011—Both “my friends of 25 years” came to visit us at home. In the course of the visit, while the wife was talking with my wife, the husband and I stole away into the basement of my home in order to discuss his claim that "other people are pushing my name to take your place; and I'm open to that possibility." 

We discussed the pros and cons regarding whether or not the Conference should appoint a successor from a pool of my capable associates at CAMPUS or should look outside for the replacement. In the course of the discussion, I candidly gave reasons why I didn’t think it would be wise for the Conference to appoint him to my position. 

It was my strong impression that he came to seek my support for the campaign he described as “people are pushing my name to take your place; and I'm open to that possibility."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011—After agonizing that weekend over the long conversation, I felt impressed to send a follow-up email to him summarizing the reasons I shared with him as to why I felt it wouldn’t be wise for him to be my replacement. Here is the email I sent to him:

From: Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
Date: July 5, 2011 5:14:22 AM EDT
To: 
Subject: Some Thoughts re: CAMPUS Leadership

Hello __ [First Name]

Since our conversation last Sabbath, I've been doing a lot of thinking and praying about your openness to the idea of coming to CAMPUS. Those who are suggesting (and pushing) your name have very good reasons to do so. In fact, of all "outside" candidates, you'd be my first choice. Besides, many already know of our close friendship and the fact that I'll endorse and support you unreservedly if the Conference assigns the task to you. 

Let me briefly summarize some positives and challenges to your candidacy. 

A. Positives
 
--Your impressive theological training and credentials
--Your vast experience in administration
--Your connectedness with young people and creativity
--Your fundraising abilities

I will not expand upon any of these, because you and I are already on the same page. As I indicated earlier, of all possible "outside candidates," you will be my first and ONLY choice.  Because we're already together on the above points, I'd only mention the challenges that must be surmounted if you were to be appointed to the position.

B. Challenges

----May create an unfortunate situation in which young people may be forced to question your impressive resume as irrelevant to this particular decision. Having already seen what Israel, Justin, Sebastien, etc. have delivered to students and the GYC and YC [Youth Conference] movements around the world, it would be a hard-sell to convince the young people that none of these locally-grown leaders are capable of taking the mantle of leadership. Notwithstanding limitations in their theological credentials and experience, the track record of these young leaders in actually raising and developing a global movement will be presented as an effective answer to the first three positives mentioned above.

--May create some uncertainty among the young people--locally and around the world--as they may be wondering if the Conference is changing course or whether there are some hidden agendas at play.

--May cause a loss in the momentum of the youth movement, as it would take some time for them to "check you out," to see whether you really are on their side--locally and globally. We would lose valuable time in the process.

--May undermine the philosophy of grassroots youth training and empowerment. One of the key philosophies of CAMPUS has been the idea that trained and and empowered young people are capable of taking ownership of the church--a fact that has been validated when the Conference recognized the abilities of two of the CAMPUS team members (Israel and Justin) by calling and ordaining them as pastors. However, by-passing these two without any adequate explanation would create confusion in the minds of young people regarding the intentions of the Conference about youth empowerment. 

--May create a new challenge among CAMPUS staff. Currently, the staff works as a team, knowing the strengths and failures of each other. Bringing an outsider may naturally affect the dynamics.

--May undermine CAMPUS's plans for  fundraising at grassroots level. The CAMPUS network has been steadily developing young people and young professionals to fund the ministry. With an "outsider" coming to the helm, there may be uncertainty on the part of the future donors (the young professionals) as to whether the cause which will be championed by the new leader will be worth their investment.

_____ [First Name] those are the challenges I can see. It doesn't mean they cannot be surmounted. It simply means that we shall have some work to do if the Lord wills that you come to CAMPUS. I am confident that if this is the direction the Lord leads, we shall be able to rally the troops to support it. I'm simply mentioning the above challenges as issues that shouldn't be lightly dismissed. 

On a personal note, I really believe that your professional training and experience, as well as the many hats you have worn in the past makes you the perfect candidate to fill me[sic] shoes. But if I were pressed hard right now for an answer, I'd say that because of the above challenges, I'd be more inclined at this time to consider either Justin or Israel. They have public campus ministries in their DNA. (Ideally, assigning both of them to the task would have been the best; but I'm not sure the Conference has the resources to do so.)

Any way, I thought I should let you know that I've been thinking and praying about our conversation. I'm confident that the Lord will guide the brethren. I pray that it would happen soon. (The delay in coming up with a replacement is creating concerns) Let's catch up briefly at LEADS.

Regards,
skp

In the above meeting with my “friends of 25 years,” there was no discussion about my alleged sexual misconduct or my teaching false doctrines. Thus, it is simply not true to cite this visit as evidence that they had personally met with me to discuss the content of the present or past allegations against me.

The second visit was done by the husband alone—some three days before the Michigan Conference Executive Committee met to choose my replacement.

Sabbath, August 27, 2011— My male “friend of 25 years” paid me a visit “just to pray with you, not to discuss any issues.” When we finally got time alone, we ended up with little praying, but mostly the discussion of issues. The latter took most of the time until he left very late in the night. Here are highlights of our conversation. 

#1. CAMPUS Leadership.  He assured me that although his name “had been strongly pushed” by a named individual at the Conference office, he fully agrees with me that the choice has to come from “within.” I affirmed his decision and explained that, in my opinion, it would be a very bad idea if the brethren asked him to take the position. 

When we parted, he suggested that we should “leave the door open for the Lord’s leading.” I agreed. Nevertheless, he promised to actively support whoever the Conference would choose. 
 
#2. “Praying with Me” Incident at Ministerial. Before we went into “praying with me, not discussing issues,” I explained that “issues” were part of me; and that we cannot meaningfully pray without knowing what “issues” we’re praying about. He ended up mentioning concerns he had heard about my publishing The Wounded Eagle (concerns which led him to pray with the CAMPUS group at Ministerial). Towards the very end of the meeting, he profusely apologized for not first discussing his concerns with me before rounding the CAMPUS Team together to “pray for me.” Apology was generously accepted.
 
#3. Concerns about Book. My “friend of 25 years” was among the very first individuals with whom I shared my manuscript about a forthcoming book titled The Wounded Eagle: Lessons from Failure. I gave him the manuscript on August 7, 2011. At the time of his second visit to my home on August 27, he mentioned that he had then only cursorily looked at the book (he promised doing a thorough reading over this coming weekend). He, however, mentioned three major concerns he had:
 
(i) Publishing The Wounded Eagle (TWE) would be perceived as Self-Serving—an attempt on my part to rehabilitate myself for denominational re-employment. I explained to him that I was aware of that perception, hence I’ve already made up my mind not to accept any denominational employment. I read to him three paragraphs from my last chapter in Part I of TWE, where I’ve made it very clear. That last chapter (“The Soaring of the Eagle” deals with “Forgiveness and Restoration.” Under a heading “A Delicate Chapter,” I wrote:
            “I also risk being misunderstood because my argument for compassion to wounded and healed eagles may be questioned simply because the case is being made by a healed eagle—this particular eagle. The need to plead hope for the fallen and repentant is vital, but I fear that my treatment of this subject may seem to be self-serving. Some would have preferred that another who has never been wounded should make this case. (Curious, though, if we can find such an “unfallen” human being to make the case.)
            “To avoid any misunderstanding, let me make it absolutely clear that this chapter is not a plea for this eagle to be restored to his former position of service. On the contrary, I am perfectly content to serve in any line of God’s choosing—within or without official employment. For this eagle, the call to service or ministry has never been tied to a particular job position. Rather it has always been a response to the graciousness of God and a desire to serve Him faithfully and wholeheartedly. This is why I am willing to serve anywhere—within or without the official work, with or without credentials, recognition, or remuneration.
            “The question left, then, is not whether God can restore; for He already has and is restoring. The question is what the all seeing, all knowing God determines is the best manner of restoration as far as His work is concerned. Thus, upholding the biblical teaching of restoration of repentant sinners should not be misconstrued as a plea for a particular eagle’s reinstatement to an official position.”
 
I explained to my male “friend of 25 years” that my original draft of the above paragraphs was more categorical in my ruling out ever working for the church. I “toned it down” at the advice of some thought leaders who had reviewed the manuscript and who felt I should not presume to know God’s will regarding my future denominational work. Needless to say, I made it very clear to my friend that I was not writing this book for reinstatement to denominational employment. Left to myself I would not accept any denominational employment. He felt extremely relieved that I had taken on this issue as it would quiet my critics. He felt that that statement should come earlier in the book.
 
#4. The Publishing Date. My “friend of 25 years” also mentioned that, though not opposed to the publishing of TWE, he had some concerns about the November publishing date I had proposed.
 
I explained that I had removed the November publishing date off of the table, till there is a consensus among my trusted individuals. I mentioned that for me the people that really matter are my CAMPUS Team and the Michigan Conference family. I’m confident that the Lord will make things abundantly clear one way or the other. I shared with him my reasons for choosing the November publishing date: 
 
(i) Timeliness; we should address issues when they are in the minds of people. If you lose that time, the subject doesn't become as relevant. This is one problem with our publishing houses and BRI. They take forever to confront burning issues. By the time they get to address a subject, folks have moved on. Meanwhile opinions formed by that time are harder to correct, if wrong. I explained that one reason why my books Receiving the Word, Must We Be Silent, and Here We Stand had an impact is that we struck when the iron was hot. With the forthcoming book (The Wounded Eagle; TWE), folks are currently talking about sexual sins, repentance, etc. Now is the time to talk about it. If we unnecessarily delay (for no justifiable reasons), the subject becomes irrelevant. They might as well go and read about the subject in Steps to Christ (which may not have any force with some readers because there's no "flesh" around it).
 
(ii) My message to youth. Another reason for my November publishing date was this: My failure has greatly impacted young people all over the world. I've taught them to ask why. Why did it happen to me, and what have I done about it. Since youth of GYC meets in December, and I'll not speak to them, the book will be my silent voice to impress upon them the awfulness of sin (this will be the first time in its history I'll not be able to teach or speak. Why? because of sin... The book explains why). Besides GYC, there are many other youth groups around the world I'd like to be warned (or encouraged) by my situation.
 
(iii) Christmas season.  When TWE book comes out before Christmas, it would give folks opportunity to give it out as a gift. Within the context of Christ first coming, the book takes on a new meaning. "You shall call his name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins."  Timing is important, as Christmas time is the time for folks to hear about how Jesus saves from sin—the thrust of my TWE book.  
 
(iv) Getting Book Overseas. My final reason why I had wanted the book to come out at the end of November was this: Among the folks greatly impacted by my sin are our people in Africa. Publishing TWE by November allows me to ship the books to Africa, get it there by February/March--just in time for the regular season we normally have our yearly Bible lecture series on university campuses. The book will explain why in 2012 the young people would not see me doing a Bible Lecture on the university campuses. Why? My sin.
 
It was for all these reasons that I settled on November ending. I explained to my “friend of 25 years” that was still evaluating the reasons why folks have a problem with that publishing date. The content is classic biblical theology upheld and taught by the church. My story is just a foil. I asked: “What is the most compelling reason against November? Honestly, I haven't found one. But out of respect for my CAMPUS team and some at the MI Conference (who may have over-reacted before weighing the issues), I've put off the table the publishing date. I'm confident that the Lord will make things very clear and there will be a consensus.”
 
I also mentioned to my friend of 25 years that in making decisions, I always ask (i) is it biblical? (ii) how does it help the church--not just local, but global? (this is where consensus comes in); (iii) how timely is it? Once I'm convinced about these, I tend to act--regardless of consequences. Since my ministry in the church covers a wide area, in building a “consensus,” I listen to a wide body of people—not just one parochial group (this is why I circulated the draft to over 70 people, representing a wide background and nationality, etc.). Folks tend to be pragmatic. From experience, I’ve learned that it is never safe to make decisions contrary to these principles—though at times very painful to walk alone.
 
#5. Why Public Confession after 5 months? A fifth issue we discussed at our August 27 meeting had to do with the timing of my public confession. My “friend of 25 years” wanted to know why I didn’t confess to my wife or the church right away in January, but waited till May. It almost seems like I had to go public because “I was caught.” Moreover, he felt that my “marriage vow” compels me to disclose any such conduct to my wife immediately anything like that happens.
 
In response, I mentioned that, indeed, I revealed my sin to my wife 5 months after the incident--within 24 hours of the day I got to know that it had become public knowledge (7-10 people). Why didn't I tell her when it happened? Based on my understanding of Scripture and EGW’s “Private sins should be privately addressed.” As far as I knew, our sin had been repented of, confessed, and renounced. There was no need (definitely at that time) to share that information with my wife. If I didn't consider it a private issue between the other woman, myself, and God, I'd have immediately revealed the sin to my wife. But as far as I knew it was a private issue to be dealt with privately. At the very most it was up to me to use my discretion as to the best time to share with my wife the information about my moral failure (knowing that she was battling with cancer-related health issues).
 
At this juncture my “friend of 25 years” and I had a good discussion on this subject. The issue was: Does our marriage "covenant" suggest that we should tell our spouses everything, if so when? We pushed the argument to the limit to test his hypothesis that Yes, the spouse must know everything immediately. So we discussed that in the case of adultery, what if a relationship never became physical. Should the spouse know? What about lusting in the heart? etc. etc. He was surprised when I shared with him EGW counsel on the subject in which she strongly cautioned against a minister revealing a shameful immoral sexual conduct to his wife.
 
E. G. White has offered judicious counsel regarding confessing private and public sin. Though what she was talking about was different from the moral fall that took place during my overseas travels, the principle she lays down about private and public sin still applies. In Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery and Divorce, pp. 128, 129, she strongly cautioned against making private sexual sins public. She wrote:

            "You ask me if you shall make a public confession. I say, No. Do not dishonor the Master by making public the fact that one ministering in the Word could be guilty of such sin as you have committed. It would be a disgrace to the ministry. Do not give publicity to this matter by any means. It would do injustice to the whole cause of God. It would create impure thoughts in the minds of many even to hear these things repeated. Defile not the lips even by communicating this to your wife, to make her ashamed and bow her head in sorrow. Go to God and to the brethren who know this terrible chapter in your experience and say what you have to say, then let prayer be offered to God in your behalf. Cultivate sobriety. Walk carefully and prayerfully before God. Acquire moral stamina by saying, 'I will not dishonor my Redeemer.'
            "I am sorry that you feel injured because I let Brother A have a copy of the letter I sent to you. I did not do this to injure you in any way. You had yourself written me that you had made matters known to him concerning yourself and he thought you should confess the whole matter to the church. I thought that letter would prevent any such movement and keep the matter as private as possible.
            "I did not sanction any public exposure. I thought that the letter, which condemned the sin, also encouraged you to hope and trust in God.
            "Whenever I have written a message of reproof, I have always sent one copy to the minister who is officiating in the church, that he may have wisdom to recover such ones as are in danger through temptation, giving them such advice as they need. I also knew, under existing circumstances, that it would not be possible to give you credentials as a shepherd, recommending you to the confidence of the people, because knowing your course of action, if you should in any way be overcome, the Lord would make the conference guilty of the sin of which you are guilty."            
 
After reading the above to my friend of 25 years, I explained that although the specifics discussed in the above EGW statement differs from my own, on the strength of the principle in the EGW counsel above, I felt I should not inform anyone—except in very confidential setting of spiritual counsel with individuals who are trustworthy. Here’s a summary of my position to my friend:
          “If my “moral fall” on that overseas travel had not been known by others, I would have kept it very private. 
--However, when my private sin came to the knowledge of at least 7 to 10 people, I had to address it publicly—hence my public ownership. 
--Moreover, if some 7-10 people know of this situation, who knows when this could come up in the future and how it could be used to affect the cause of God. 
--Not resigning could also potentially compromise the integrity of church leaders in that area in their dealing with sexual misconduct. I didn’t want my moral fall to be ever used to justify any actions or inactions. I sinned, my sin became public knowledge—albeit to just a handful—and I felt I needed to resign. 
Prior to my “moral fall” being public, I dealt with it as a private sin: The person and I mutually confessed to one another and to God. I thought the issue ended there—until some five months later, when I heard that it was no longer a secret between us and God. 
Did I need to go into specific details of what actually took place on the night of my moral fall? On the strength of biblical principles and the principle in E.G. White counsel above, I felt I should not go into the details of what happened—beyond my wife and a very close circle of friends. The important thing was that I took ownership of my “moral fall” and confessed it publicly because my action became known to a few people.”
  
#6. Title of Book. Another issue we discussed on August 27, 2011 had to do with the title of my proposed TWE book. We discussed the word “Wounded” in the title (The Wounded Eagle). My friend felt that it is too passive; I should rather say “The Wounding Eagle.”  I mentioned that the book explains that I’m referring to “self-inflicted” wound. He advised, and I agree, that in the course of the book I should use more active verbs to show that I fully accepted responsibility—choice, wrong decision, etc. He also promised to read the manuscript more carefully and give me a feedback by the end of that week. [For the record, while he has spread near and afar the accusation that I’m teaching false doctrine, for the past 8-9 months, he has not personally shared with me his reasons for thinking TWE teaches false teachings—despite my persistent email pleas]
 
#7. Time for Bouncing Back. Finally, we discussed when I should be re-baptized and start ministering again (ministry as a layperson, not as a denominational employee). We didn’t spend too much time on this. But it came up in passing. 

I mentioned that this should be addressed theologically. What does the Bible say? After repentance and forgiveness, how long should it take for a person to share what God has done for the person? I mentioned that this was a subject I'd been reflecting over for some time. It has to do with both my re-baptism and when I begin with my public ministry (I'm not talking about denominational employment. I'm talking about my Christian responsibility of sharing the gospel--of which writing, speaking, and teaching are part of it). Unless we address these issues theologically (the implications of biblical forgiveness and restoration), we shall allow ourselves to be shaped by feelings, opinions, culture, tradition or some other factors that raise more issues than we think. 
 
I explained that as I understand it whenever the Lord heals (physically and spiritually), He bids us to go and tell others what God has done for us. There is no waiting. (My waiting is simply to drive home the lessons on the awfulness of sin). As far as I was concerned it is a biblical responsibility to share what God has done in my life. Hence the book TWE. I sought to follow King David's example, who, immediately after his penitential prayer for forgiveness and restoration in Psalm 51:1-12, declares. "Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee" (verse 13).  In the words of E.G. White,

“Help those who have erred, by telling them of your experiences. Show how, when you made grave mistakes, patience, kindness, and helpfulness on the part of your fellow workers gave you courage and hope.” (Ministry of Healing, p. 494).
 
As far as my official public ministry as a lay person was concerned, I explained to “my friend of 25 years” that it would take place shortly after my possible re-baptism in January, or earliest by November ending. I mentioned that my continued delay in my rebaptism raises many theological problems as to the timing and eligibility of a sinner for re-baptism. I explained that I was delaying my baptism so people (especially young people) understand the magnitude of my sin and so I can drill in important lessons). But biblically and theologically, there was nothing holding me back from a rebaptism and sharing of the gospel. If it becomes necessary, I'd have my rebaptism in November 2011. But I prefer January--the beginning of a new year; 2011 was the year of my death (sin), 2012 my resurrection. I confided to him that this is purely subjective. My wife was with me on postponing the November publishing date of The Wounded Eagle. But she was NOT with me on my delaying till January 2012 the date for rebaptism; she wanted the baptism sooner, as she feared a delay may create doubts in some minds about what was holding me back.

The above seven issues were what we covered during our long meeting on August 27. None of the discussions dealt with any allegations of the nature of my alleged sexual misconduct, my teaching false doctrines, or my not listening to counsel. These accusations only began surfacing in September after that organization referred to earlier started their campaign against me, and after August 30 when the Michigan Conference chose a replacement for my position. Since then, “my friends of 25 years”—both husband and wife—have added their voices to these accusations. 

Besides the organization mentioned earlier and my “friends of 25 years,” I know of other individuals who have been the source and purveyors of these accusations. Even, with my “friends of 25 years” I have additional documented information as to the extent they have gone in their attempt  to “put me out of ministry.” But I believe I have shared enough to respond to the accusations of “friends of 25 years.”

As a result of their accusations some have hastily tried me and condemned me without even seeking a clarification from me. Also, based on these accusations the messages I have previously shared in print and by voice (books, audio and video resources) have in some cases been pulled out of circulation for no biblically defensible reason.

Confronting Accusers’ Accusations: May 23 & May 29

By January 2012, when it became evident to me the extent of the damage being inflicted upon me by my accusers, I notified “my friends of 25 years” that I needed to meet with them to discuss some “concerns” with them. 

Because of unsuccessful efforts to meet with the husband, on the eve of this year’s Mother’s Day, May 13, 2012, I had to appeal to their employers and spiritual leaders, Michigan Conference Administrative Committee (consisting of the President, Secretary, Treasurer, and two Ministerial Directors). (See Appendix I and II). 

 On May 23, 2012. I finally met face to face with my male-“friend of 25 years,” in the presence of my Conference leaders and my local church pastor, to confront his accusations and the manner he had treated me in my failure. In fact, I have documented evidence (email communications), showing that, despite my repeated efforts since August 7, 2011, asking for the theological input or critique of my book The Wounded Eagle from my “friend of 25 years” (who also, in recent times signs his emails as “Resident Theologian” of the Conference), he never once did offer me any. [The emails are dated August 7, 13, 22; September 1, 15, 22; October 7 and 18]. 

Up until I met him in the presence of the Michigan Conference ADCOM on May 23, 2011—some 8- 9 months after my initial request, my “friend of 25 years” chose not to point out to me my theological errors. And yet, both he and his wife have spread far and wide their accusations that I was teaching false/dangerous theology.  

The truth is, the manuscript of my forthcoming book, The Wounded Eagle, has been reviewed by very competent theologians and thought leaders. None of them has accused me of teaching false doctrines. My audio-recorded sermons based on the book, as well as my most recent book Six More Chances, are also available for anyone to listen to or read. The two sermon series I have presented are titled My Song in the Night and Take Heed; these are available online at: www.EAGLESonline.org/resources/audio].

Finally, I believe the Michigan Conference ADCOM will be in a position to issue their own report of that May 23 meeting, when I met face to face with “my friend of 25 years” in their presence to confront his accusations.

On May 29, 2012, in response to the document distributed to Ann Arbor Church Board members and some members of the church by the wife of my “friend of 25 years”—the one who describes herself as the wife of  a “pastor/administrator/professor … of nearly 33 years”—I have appeared before this church board to address any questions you may have. It is to this end that I am providing my answer in the form of this letter. 

Let me mention at this stage that it is surprising to me that, despite my specific appeal to my friends of 25 years to cease and desist from their activities, the free circulation of libelous information about me by his wife continues unchecked. Up till this afternoon, June 3, 2012, I received emails of enquiry from those who have been impacted by my ministry both at home and abroad, who are now concerned about the contents and wide circulation of the libelous May 21 document, bearing her name. 

Thank you for this opportunity to address these painful issues. Let me recap briefly for you some major highlights that could be of interest to you on the issues pertaining to my failure, discipline, and plans for my rebaptism.


From Church Discipline to Rebaptism

On Wednesday, June 15, 2011, my local church took an action to discipline me. On Thursday, January 26, 2011, my local church pastor, my spiritual advisors, and I settled on the date of June 9 for my rebaptism. Below is a chronology of the events leading to the action, the nature of the disciplinary action, and my response to it. 

On Sunday, May 29, 2011, I publicly announced my resignation as Director of Public Campus Ministries and from Michigan Conference employment. I did so via a message to my “Colleagues in Ministry” and “CAMPUS staff, etc.” (www.campushope.com/resignation). 

From Wednesday June 1,2011- Wednesday June 8, 2011—Following the resignation announcement, I went on a previously planned one-week vacation/retreat with seven members of our CAMPUS personnel.

On Tuesday June 7, 2011, towards the end of the one-week vacation/retreat, I sent an email to my Conference President, requesting a prompt disciplinary action from my local church. By a copy of that email, I also informed my close friends, family members, and CAMPUS Team of the necessity for this important, but oft-neglected, biblical teaching and practice. 

On Thursday, June 9, 2011, following my return from the vacation/retreat, I met with my local church pastor for prayers and discussed the need for a prompt disciplinary action—as the Church Manual says. 

On Friday, June 10, 2011, I wrote to my local church (via my church pastor), formally expressing a willingness to submit myself to the disciplinary action of the church.
 NOTE: When I formally requested church discipline, I essentially expressed my willingness to accept whatever action the church would decide—even up to disfellowship

On Wednesday, June 15, 2011—at a duly-called business meeting, my local church voted to subject me to church discipline. 

[NOTE: I had left it totally up to the church to decide on whether the discipline should be a censorship or a disfellowship. I believe that the decision the church took was the right one, although many feel otherwise (some even didn't think I should have resigned, let alone be disciplined). Among other things, my reason for believing that disfellowship was preferable to censorship is that disfellowship is the severest form of discipline the church can subject a person. Given my influence in the church, anything short of disfellowship might have been interpreted as a slap on the wrist. Moreover, at a time when this biblical teaching and practice is being watered down in certain quarters of our church, it is important to call attention to this teaching by subjecting myself to this biblical imperative. We should preach the gospel, not only when we are on the mountaintop, but also when we are in the valley. Perhaps, my willing submission to the disfellowship may also help members overcome their own fears or shame of church discipline--unfortunate situations which have tended to undermine true repentance and confession and which have contributed to secrecy and cover-ups in dealing with sin in the church.
 
On Thursday, June 16, 2011, I communicated to my local church, in a letter through my local church pastor, my willing submission to the disciplinary action of the church. The substantive part of the letter reads: 

“I am grateful to the Ann Arbor church for its prompt action on this vital aspect of church life. By subjecting me to this disciplinary action, the local church shows that we cannot afford to deal lightly with sin—any sin—and that, no personal considerations should affect its decision to uphold biblical standards or teachings set by God. 

I willingly accept the discipline of my church family as an expression of its love for me, and its desire to work towards my spiritual renewal and restoration (cf. Hebrews 12:5-11). By subjecting me to the severest form of church discipline, I understand the church to be calling me to the highest standards of spiritual excellence—a biblical principle I have taught by voice and by pen. This principle still applies, even though I failed to live by it. 

Though disfellowshipped, I still subscribe to the biblical teachings and mission of the church, and I purpose to employ my personal efforts to advance the cause. I look forward to the day when, through re-baptism, I can be restored to full and regular standing within the church.  To this end, I solicit your heartfelt prayers.

For those who may question the necessity of such discipline, even when a person is repentant and has made public confession, I can only refer to God’s discipline of Moses and Aaron when they sinned against God by striking the rock (Numbers 20:1-13). Here are some relevant insights from Patriarchs and Prophets, chapter 37, pp. 411-421 [Quoted]…

From God’s dealings with Moses, we learn that church discipline does not necessarily mean a person is lost. Nor is it the end of a person’s ministry or usefulness to God’s cause. Discipline simply means that the Lord (and the church, the body of Christ) disapprove of the person’s sin and desire that individual (and the church family) to a renewed commitment to Christ. 

I pray that my submission to the biblical teaching of church discipline will accelerate the process of my own spiritual renewal and that, although painful, it will ultimately prove to be a blessing—as promised in Hebrews 12:5-11 [Quoted].”

After sharing the above letter with my local Ann Arbor church pastor and a senior (honorary) elder of the church (a former Dean of the Theological Seminary at Andrews University), all three of us felt that reading my response to the church would be beneficial. 

Thus, on Sabbath, June 18, 2011, during the divine service hour, the senior elder, on behalf of the church pastor who was then at camp meeting, read to the entire church my response, willingly accepting the disciplinary action of the church. For the sake of members who were not in church on June 18, my entire response document was emailed later that day to the members of my local church. The email to the church members included the following note that my church pastor had sent to me, when he first acknowledged receipt of my June 16 letter: 

  From: Danny Velez 
  Date: June 16, 2011 4:59:59 PM EDT
  To: Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
  Subject: RE: Church Discipline

  Hello Dr. Pipim,

It is a testament to the work of God in your life and heart that you are accepting the discipline of the church with such grace and integrity.  As I stated to you over the phone, it was not an easy decision.  You have, however, expressed it correctly and [accepted that the church discipline was an] action of Love for you and the cause that you championed.  I can only imagine what God has in store for you and your family but I know that you will continue to be a voice for the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ.  

  I am in agreement with [the senior elder] to have your letter read to the church.  I think that this will serve to unite the church through this painful ordeal, (We are all suffering with you).  May I also send this letter via e-mail to the membership at large? [NB: I subsequently gave the permission for him to do so, and this was done on June 18 when church members were sent my entire response document] I think that it would be good to make sure that everyone can have access to it in case they are at camp meeting or not able to attend church this week.  Let me know.  Please know that my family is praying for yours and if there is anything that we or I can do for you during this time we will be more than happy to do it.

 In the Blessed Hope,
Danny Velez, Pastor


Local Ann Arbor Pastors & My Accusers

Although the accusations contained in the document distributed to Board Member and members of the church by the wife of “my friend of 25 years” may be new to many of you, perhaps it would interest you to know that the local church pastor (Pastor Velez), the honorary elder of the church (Dr. Raoul Dederen; former Dean of the Seminary at Andrews University), and the former CAMPUS church pastor (Steve Conway) have been aware of these allegations. My local Conference leaders have also been aware of them, having received similar documents from the organization behind it and from my “friends of 25 years” and others. They have confronted me with them and I have answered forthrightly.

In fact, until recently, Pastor Velez and I had been meeting twice a month for accountability sessions and prayers. At other times, we have met in the company of Dr. Dederen and also Steve Conway. These local church pastors are very much aware of what my accusers are doing, have looked into their conduct, and would be in a better position to judge the character and integrity of those making the allegations.

On January 26, 2012, at a meeting with my local church pastor (Ps. Velez), the honorary church elder (Dr. Dederen) and the former Pastor of our church on the University of Michigan campus (Ps. Conway), we settled on date for my rebaptism as Sabbath June 9, 2012

On the eve of Mother's Day, May 12, 2012, I formally informed all members of my local church family of my rebaptism date. I believe the rebaptisms symbolizes the reality of what had already taken place in my heart—my heartfelt repentance, confession, suffering the pain from the consequences of my sin, accepting the forgiving, transforming, and restorative grace of Christ.

Dealing with Hurt from My Accusers

In responding to all the rumors, falsehoods, slander, libel, and outright malice—whether from “friends” or “enemies,” I have been guided by certain principles. These principles have restrained me from saying what I could or could not say in self-defense. In one weekly thought nugget, I described such a voluntary self-restraint as “Majestic Silence”:

THE MAJESTY OF SILENCE: “Silence at the right time is the most effective speech. The majesty of silence is revealed by a calm, dignified restraint in the face of accusations, injustice, betrayal, and hurt. Being thus silent does not mean one is speechless, sullen, or dumb. Rather, this voluntary surrender of our right to speak is occasioned by a higher cause. It permits God to be our voice, while allowing our accusers to reveal their true character. Like our Lord Jesus Christ at His trials, we don’t need to defend ourselves when we’re secured in God’s will and His plans for our lives.”–-SKP

The guiding principles for my self-restraint (what I could or couldn’t say regarding the accusations) are as follows and have been based by the Bible, EGW counsels, John Wesley’s Six-Covenants, and Christ’s counsel on the Sermon on the Mount regarding how to treat our enemies.

1. Biblical Counsels:

“Debate your case with your neighbor, And do not disclose the secret to another; Lest he who hears it expose your shame, And your reputation be ruined.” (Proverbs 25:9-10). 

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17)

“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23, 24)

[NOTE: According to Christ, we should never feel comfortable at worshipping God anywhere (“at the altar”), when we’re fully aware that that there is a broken relationship between us and our brothers. We have an URGENT obligation to meet (“go…be reconciled to your brother…then come and offer your gift”).  This urgency in Christ’s command overrides any busy schedules we may have to avoid our Christian duty to meet with our brothers.]

2. EGW Counsels:

In dealing with erring church members, God’s people are carefully to follow the instruction given by the Saviour in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew. . . Church members have no right to follow their own impulses and inclinations in dealing with fellow members who have erred. They should not even express their prejudices regarding the erring, for thus they place in other minds the leaven of evil. Reports unfavorable to a brother or sister in the church are communicated from one to another of the church members. . . . Do not tell others of the wrong. One person is told, then another, and still another; and continually the report grows, and the evil increases, till the whole church is made to suffer. Settle the matter ‘between thee and him alone.’ This is God’s plan.  . . . Do not suffer sin upon your brother; but do not expose him, and thus increase the difficulty, making the reproof seem like a revenge. Correct him in the way outlined in the word of God.. . . Whatever the character of the offense, this does not change the plan that God has made for the settlement of misunderstandings and personal injuries. Speaking alone and in the spirit of Christ to the one who is in fault will often remove the difficulty. Go to the erring one, with a heart filled with Christ’s love and sympathy, and seek to adjust the matter. Reason with him calmly and quietly. Let no angry words escape your lips (Testimonies for the Church, 7:260, 261).

[NOTE: I emphasize again the fact that “whatever the character of the offense” of the private sin, “this does not change the plan that God has made” regarding how we handle private sins. Believers “should not even express their prejudices regarding the erring, for thus they place in other minds the leaven of evil.” They should “not tell others of the wrong.”] 

“While we seek to correct the errors of a brother, the Spirit of Christ will lead us to shield him, as far as possible, from the criticism of even his own brethren, and how much more from the censure of the unbelieving world. We ourselves are erring, and need Christ's pity and forgiveness, and just as we wish Him to deal with us, He bids us deal with one another.” (Desire of Ages, 441).

 “If we have in any manner defrauded or injured our brother, we should make restitution. If we have unwittingly borne false witness, if we have misstated his words, if we have injured his influence in any way, we should go to the ones with whom we have conversed about him, and take back all our injurious misstatements.” {Thoughts from the Mount of Blessings, 59.1} 

If matters of difficulty between brethren were not laid open before others, but frankly spoken of between themselves in the spirit of Christian love, how much evil might be prevented! How many roots of bitterness whereby many are defiled would be destroyed, and how closely and tenderly might the followers of Christ be united in His love!” { Thoughts from the Mount of Blessings 59.2}

3. Wesley’s Six Covenants

Wesley made a six-fold covenant with every man he worked with in the ministry. They all agreed, signed the covenant, and hung it on their study wall so they would never forget it. This was the six-fold covenant:
 
1. We will not listen or willingly inquire after ill concerning one another.
2. That if we do hear any ill of each other, we will not be forward to believe it.
3. That as soon as possible, we will communicate what we hear by speaking or writing to the person concerned.
4. That until we have done this, we will not write or speak a syllable of it to any other person.
5. That neither will we mention it after we have done this to any other person.
6. That we will not make any exception to any of these rules unless we think ourselves absolutely obliged in conference.
 
4. Sermon on the Mount

I have sought to be guided by the message from the Sermon on the Mount: 

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

Thus, in all cases of the injurious words and actions of some otherwise well-meaning individuals, I have sought the path of remorseful King David in response to the words and activities of Shimei (2 Samuel 16:5-14; 19:17-23). Thus, though hurtful, I have done my best to display a gracious Christian spirit to the modern day Shimei’s that may have been sent by the Lord to deepen my repentance. (2 Samuel 16:5-14; 19:17-23).

I explained my response to hurt this in another thought nugget:

DEALING WITH HURT
Have you been seriously hurt? Is anyone deliberately hurting you right now? Is a friend or loved one maliciously treating you worse than your enemy? Jesus offers four ways to deal with such painful situations: “LOVE [be patient and kind to] your enemies, BLESS [speak well of] those who curse you, DO GOOD to those who hate you, and PRAY for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43). If you are to do these four things for your “enemy,” how much to a friend or loved one at home, work, neighborhood, or church? Believe me, consistently displaying these four graces to those seeking your hurt takes the pain and bitterness from your own heart.—SKP

As I conclude, permit me to share with you a message from my wife, my own personal concerns, and prayer requests.

Message from My Wife

It has been extremely painful to suffer hurt at the hands of both the wife and the husband of an individual described by the wife as a “pastor/administrator/professor … of nearly 33 years” and who describes himself as “Resident Theologian” of the Michigan Conference. More painful has been the fact that these individuals claim to be “my friends.”

Assuming even that all their accusations were true, is that how to treat a man who was already down because of sin? Is that how matured Christians relate to erring ones? At a time when my family was dealing with the painful consequences of my self-inflicted wounds (loss of job, income, shame, health issues, etc.), I would have thought that these “friends” would show some kindness to their friend. But it wasn’t the case.

Even my worse theological nemesis, have not treated me the way “my friends of 25 years” have done. I have been extremely disappointed and pained by the intrigues they’ve employed and by other disturbing things they’ve done (which I’ll not go it) in their attempt to “put me out of ministry.” My family has been very much hurt by these, otherwise well-meaning individuals. It has even affected my job prospects outside denominational employment. 

My wife Becky has summed up how she has dealt with the pain resulting from my failure, especially in the light of the numerous accusations from both friends and foes. Here are a few excerpts from her postscript to my book Six More Chances (pp. 187-188, 192):

"In the words of our African elders, “All lizards lie on their belly, but you don’t know the ones with a bellyache.” This proverb aptly describes the discovery of foes among friends when the reality of failure hits home. It may sound petty to mention, but it’s one of the important courses you learn in the school of failure! 

"And to assist in conveying that lesson to others who will face such things, I need to explain the dangers by way of testimony. For “though we cry, we still see through our tears.”

"Many people tried to goad me into responding to failure the way they wanted. But I chose to respond the way God wanted me to.

"I was deeply pained by materials that were widely circulated by those who felt the author’s admission of failure disqualified him from ever ministering again—certainly not in public ministry any time soon. I was dismayed by the intrigue that was employed. But I held my peace, referring the matter to the Lord.

"I was also deeply wounded when I discovered that, without any direct efforts at clarification from the author, friends and former colleagues in ministry—some of whom we’ve known for at least two decades—did their best to publicize uncomplimentary material based largely on partial information and hearsay. I was equally saddened by how, on the basis of such materials, well-meaning individuals rendered judgment on the author’s spiritual failure and response to it as evidence that he had committed the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit.

"It was also horrifying to watch certain individuals and their organizations piously exploit the failures of others to advance their political agendas or to boost the survival of their organizations, caring little about the damage they caused to those already traumatized by failure.

"My heart reached out in forgiveness to the offending ones who had fallen, and I prayed for them to experience true repentance. But I was taken aback by the conduct of some well-meaning counselors who tried to excuse the sin.

"Some people wormed their way into my company—and into those of close friends and acquaintances—deliberately planting vile seeds intended to be harvested and juiced in order to poison any future ministry prospects of the author.

"Through all of this, I responded the way I’ve watched my ancestral mothers respond; for when the African woman feels helpless and fallen, she lifts up her voice in supplication and cries out to God for help….

"The book you now hold in your hands, Six More Chances, reproduces briefly some of the lessons that have been learned in the fiery furnace of failure. They are meant to encourage, guide, uplift, instruct, and place hope ever before you that God is bigger than your failures, and He can help you back on the road to Success, no matter how deeply you fell.

"It happened to me. It happened in my home. I chose to trust. I remained hopeful. You hold the evidence in your hands that God can help us succeed, in spite of having failed. I pray this will be your testimony, as well.

"I am the author’s wife of over three decades.

"M’akoma Ahye Ma! (My Heart Is Full)

Rebecca Koranteng-Pipim
January 5, 2012"
 
The Heart of My Concerns

The Bible has counseled us on how to treat our erring ones: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1, 2).

Unfortunately I have not experienced such treatment from some of my fellow believers who view themselves as “spiritual.” In fact, I can say in all honesty that I have fared better at the hands of my theological critics (my liberal friends) than with some of my so-called Bible-believing conservative friends. 

Two major issues are at the heart of my concerns: (1) Spreading of false rumors and gossip; and (2) a display of critical/unchristian spirit towards the erring.

A. Spreading Falsehood & Gossip

Just as moral failures are wrong, so are gossip and spreading of falsehood—even if we do so unwittingly. We wouldn't think of stealing another’s car, but think nothing of stealing his reputation, which is what gossip does.


Gossip is deadly. It ruins reputation; it’s sin—listed with other sins such as homosexuality, evil, greed, depravity, envy, murder, deceit, malice, and slander (Romans 1:24-32). “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends” Proverbs 16:28 (NIV).

There is good reason why our Church Manual includes persistent spreading of falsehood as grounds for church discipline. It’s simply this: God hates gossip and slander.

16 These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood,
18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil,
19 A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren. (Proverbs 6:16,19”


“He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends.” Proverbs 17:9 (NIV).

“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.” (Proverbs 18:8)

“He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; Therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips.” (Proverbs 20:19)

“Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife. The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.” (Proverbs 26:20-22)

“Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over( to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death,( they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” (Romans 1:28-32; NIV).

It is from my reflection on these Bible passages, in the light of my own experience, that I wrote a short thought nugget titled: “The Gospel of Gossip”:

THE GOSPEL OF GOSSIP
“’I’m very troubled about so and so. I’m confiding in you so you’ll join me pray and work for their salvation.’ The Gospel of Gossip is the only gospel preached behind closed doors. It tells of your faults and failings behind your back. While pretending your soul’s concern, the purveyors actually seek to look better by making you look bad. Preachers, listeners, and believers in this hearsay gospel risk their own salvation because it distorts truth, ruins reputations, destroys friendships, and splits homes and churches. People ‘talk behind your back’ because they’re steps behind you. Pray for them!”–SKP.
(Meditation on Prov 16:28; 17:9; 18:8; 20:19; 26:20-22; Rom 1:28-32; Matt 18:15-17.)
 
 
B. Critical Spirit Toward the Erring

One of the greatest hurt since my fall has been  the ridiculous speculations, unfounded accusations, half-truths, misrepresentation, impugned motives, whispered rumors, etc. that have been circulated and re-cycled by otherwise well-meaning and responsible members of the church family. But for my well-grounded faith in the Lord and the assurance of Christian hope, it would have been very easy to give up completely. Those who have suffered the pain of their spiritual failures need true love, not more hurt. E. G. White describes what true love eschews: 

"Those who love Jesus will love the souls for whom he died. The truth planted in the heart will reveal the love of Jesus and its transforming power. Anything harsh, sour, critical, domineering, is not of Christ, but proceeds from Satan. Coldness, heartlessness, want of tender sympathy are leavening the camp of Israel. If these evils are permitted to strengthen as they have done for some years in the past, our churches will be in a deplorable condition. Every teacher of the truth needs the Christ-like principle in his character. There will be no frowns, no scolding, no expressions of contempt, on the part of any man who is cultivating the graces of Christianity. He feels that he must be a partaker of the divine nature, and he must be replenished from the exhaustless fountain of heavenly grace, else he will lose the milk of human kindness out of his soul. We must love men for Christ's sake. It is easy for the natural heart to love a few favorites, and to be partial to these special few; but Christ bids us love one another as he has loved us. "The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 156).

Could it be that the cause of gossip, evil surmisings, and heartless treatment of the erring is a lack of conversion on the part of those who carry themselves as physicians of the soul? Could this unkind spirit toward the wounded be itself a wound needing healing. Could the unfortunate faultfinding be a case of the spiritual eye-surgeons trying to pick specks in the eye of the wounded, when they themselves can’t see past the log in their own eye? (Matthew 7:1-5.) Only the Lord knows.

Regardless, I pray that none would have to suffer this kind of treatment from any church member. More than that, I pray that those of us with such critical spirit will recognize that it is not the spirit of Christ.

In contrast the gracious spirit of the Father towards the prodigal son, we must be careful about the critical spirit of the older brother. We cannot gain our erring brothers back if we cherish a harsh, heartless spirit. Here are some counsels worthy of our meditation. They are from Christ Object Lessons, pp. 205-211:

[Encouragement to Prodigal Sons] “Do not listen to the enemy’s suggestion to stay away from Christ until you have made yourself better; until you are good enough to come to God. If you wait until then, . . . you will never come. When Satan points to your filthy garments, repeat the promise of Jesus, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37. Tell the enemy that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin. Make the prayer of David your own, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7. 

“Arise and go to your Father. He will meet you a great way off. If you take even one step toward Him in repentance, He will hasten to enfold you in His arms of infinite love. His ear is open to the cry of the contrite soul. The very first reaching out of the heart after God is known to Him. Never a prayer is offered, however faltering, never a tear is shed, however secret, never a sincere desire after God is cherished, however feeble, but the Spirit of God goes forth to meet it. Even before the prayer is uttered or the yearning of the heart made known, grace from Christ goes forth to meet the grace that is working upon the human soul. 

“Your heavenly Father will take from you the garments defiled by sin. …. He will bring you into His banqueting house, and His banner over you shall be love. … And heaven and earth shall unite in the Father’s song of rejoicing: “For this My son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” 

[Caution to Older Brothers] “Thus far in the Saviour’s parable there is no discordant note to jar the harmony of the scene of joy; but now Christ introduces another element. . . . The elder son. . . . This elder brother has not been sharing in his father’s anxiety and watching for the one that was lost. He shares not, therefore, in the father’s joy at the wanderer’s return. The sounds of rejoicing kindle no gladness in his heart. He inquires of a servant the reason of the festivity, and the answer excites his jealousy. He will not go in to welcome his lost brother. The favor shown the prodigal he regards as an insult to himself. 

“When the father comes out to remonstrate with him, the pride and malignity of his nature are revealed. He dwells upon his own life in his father’s house as a round of unrequited service, and then places in mean contrast the favor shown to the son just returned. He makes it plain that his own service has been that of a servant rather than a son. When he should have found an abiding joy in his father’s presence, his mind has rested upon the profit to accrue from his circumspect life. His words show that it is for this he has foregone the pleasures of sin. . . . He plainly shows that had he been in the father’s place, he would not have received the prodigal. He does not even acknowledge him as a brother, but coldly speaks of him as “thy son.”
 
Yet the father deals tenderly with him. “Son,” he says, “thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.” Through all these years of your brother’s outcast life, have you not had the privilege of companionship with me? . . .

“Was the elder brother brought to see his own mean, ungrateful spirit? Did he come to see that though his brother had done wickedly, he was his brother still? Did the elder brother repent of his jealousy and hardheartedness? Concerning this, Christ was silent. For the parable was still enacting, and it rested with His hearers to determine what the outcome should be. . . .

“Self-righteousness not only leads men to misrepresent God, but makes them coldhearted and critical toward their brethren. The elder son, in his selfishness and jealousy, stood ready to watch his brother, to criticize every action, and to accuse him for the least deficiency. He would detect every mistake, and make the most of every wrong act. Thus he would seek to justify his own unforgiving spirit. Many today are doing the same thing. While the soul is making its very first struggles against a flood of temptations, they stand by, stubborn, self-willed, complaining, accusing. They may claim to be children of God, but they are acting out the spirit of Satan. By their attitude toward their brethren, these accusers place themselves where God cannot give them the light of His countenance. . . . 

“When you see yourselves as sinners saved only by the love of your heavenly Father, you will have tender pity for others who are suffering in sin. You will no longer meet misery and repentance with jealousy and censure. When the ice of selfishness is melted from your hearts, you will be in sympathy with God, and will share His joy in the saving of the lost. 

“It is true that you claim to be a child of God; but if this claim be true, it is “thy brother” that was “dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.” He is bound to you by the closest ties; for God recognizes him as a son. Deny your relationship to him, and you show that you are but a hireling in the household, not a child in the family of God. 

“Though you will not join in the greeting to the lost, the joy will go on, the restored one will have his place by the Father’s side and in the Father’s work. He that is forgiven much, the same loves much. But you will be in the darkness without. For “he that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 1 John 4:8.

PRAYER REQUEST

My rebaptism is scheduled for June 9, 2012. Pray that the worship service and message on that Sabbath morning, as well as the actual rebaptism at 4:00 PM will speak to many hearts. I solicit your prayers in these specific areas:
 
1. That each member of the family--immediate and extended--will experience a deeper spiritual walk with the Lord
2. That our children Ellen & Sam will come to a clearer understanding of God's claim and calling on their lives.
3. That the Lord will continue to provide health and healing for my wife Rebecca
4. That with my rebaptism on June 9, I will be faithful in my new line of ministry as Director of EAGLES Center for Leadership Development
5. That the Lord will bless the family's June vacation and missionary endeavor in Ghana

***************

APPENDIX I
SKP’s Urgent Mother’s Day Final Appeal to for A Face-to-Face Meeting

From: Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
Date: May 13, 2012 10:41:15 AM EDT
To: 
Subject: Urgent Mother's Day Appeal

Dear ___ [First Name]
 
Yesterday, at the Ann Arbor Church, I approached [First Name of Wife] to inquire about you. I asked her to relay to you that I still earnestly desire to meet with you, and that I will contact you later this week. I know [Name of his wife]  is gracious and I’m sure she’s already related my message to you.
 
After a prayerful reflection, I have chosen to contact you today—this Mother’s Day and the day of Becky and my wedding anniversary— instead of waiting till a later time in the week to do so. I’m choosing this day to make one last appeal to you, requesting to sit down to share some of my concerns with you and [First Name of Wife]. Let me know the dates you’re available between now and May 28 so that I can plan with all the parties involved.
 
In explaining why I urgently want to meet with you, permit me to summarize certain facts which have informed the steps I have taken thus far. Towards the end of this mail, I’ll explain the theological principles that have informed and guided my interaction with you since January 28.
 
1. On January 28, I mentioned to you verbally and in writing that, at an appropriate time and setting, I’d want to meet with you to discuss some concerns I have. We eventually agreed to meet on March 1, in the company of certain select individuals.
 
2. On the night of February 29, you wrote to cancel the pre-arranged meeting scheduled for March 1. Although I was the one who requested the meeting because of concerns I have with you, your attached one-page letter stated that there was no need for the meeting because you have nothing personal against me. Your February 29 letter also proceeded to accuse me of publicly sharing "spiritually dangerous, non-scriptural theories/ideas" that are contrary to what "we as faithful Adventists believe the Bible teaches," and that in your capacity "as a 'watchman on the walls of Zion,' and as a faithful Bible-believing Seventh-day Adventist Christian" you have a "serious spiritual responsibility to warn, caution, etc." when theological and ethical errors are being taught. Thus to my request for a meeting, you stated: 
 
"There is no need to meet on March 1 or any other time regarding the so-called dissonance since there is really none."
 
3. On March 8, I wrote that:
 
“… there is an urgent need to meet. The reason is simply that I have some serious concerns I need to discuss with you and you have a Christian obligation to meet with a brother who ‘has something against you’ (Matthew 5:23, 24). I don't desire that you merely ‘pray’ for me, it is equally important that you meet with me to discuss those concerns. I sincerely hope that ‘a faithful Bible-believing Seventh-day Adventist Christian’ will not fail to honor this basic Christian responsibility.
 
4. On March 19, in response to my March 8 letter, you wrote:
 
“We are on vacation at present. Hence, this is a quick response to simply acknowledge that I have received your email. You may expect a response from me later, after the end of my vacation.”
 
5. Tomorrow (May 14) will be exactly 8 weeks since you wrote that I may expect a response to my March 8 request. Although I have seen evidence that your vacation ended for at least two Sabbaths now, I still have not heard from you as promised.  I choose not to believe that you do not want to honor this clear biblical imperative of Matthew 5:23, 24 to a person you consider as a “friend.” This is why, today, on this Mother’s Day and our wedding anniversary, I am making one final appeal to you for a meeting.
 
6. Consistent with the processes carefully outlined by Christ in Matthew 18:15-17, I intend to involve some additional individuals at a future meeting. I would prefer that this meeting take place no later than May 28. In order to plan accordingly with all parties involved, I would like to know from you in your response to this email the dates you will be available.
 
7. My reason for the meeting is still the same as that stated in my March 8 email (see #3 above). Thanks for understanding that my effort at sitting down with you expresses a genuine desire to follow Christ’s prescribed steps stated in Matthew 18.
 
I want to assure you, [First Name], that in fulfilling my Christian obligation of Matthew 18, I’m also essentially opening myself to your kind biblical correction. If there are theologies as well as personal things in my character needing your edifying correction, I am open to being instructed and corrected in accordance with the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. Ultimately, this meeting is about gaining a brother back.
 
I recognize that this urgent request to meet with you before May 28 is at a very short notice and that, like myself, you probably have a lot on your plate.  However in Matthew 5:23, 24, Christ puts urgency in His command for us to be reconciled to our brothers.
 
“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23, 24.
 
According to Christ, we should never feel comfortable at worshipping God anywhere (“at the altar”), when we’re fully aware that that there is a broken relationship between us and our brothers. We have an URGENT obligation to meet (“go…be reconciled to your brother…then come and offer your gift”).  This urgency in Christ’s command overrides any busy schedules we may have to avoid our Christian duty to meet with our brothers.
 
Thus, this urgency to meet before May 28 should not be viewed simply as coming from me, but rather as coming from the Lord. It is He who enjoins upon both of us to honor His instruction in this regard. This is why, on my part, I’m willing to do all it takes to meet with you.  I would encourage you to do the same.
 
[First Name], since last year (2011) I have made every effort to deal with this situation in the best way I know how, and to do so with Christ’s love and forgiveness in my heart. If I have erred in my interaction with you, I need to know. Let’s honor the Lord in the way we treat our brothers and sisters who fell, lest we cause them—and I’ll hasten to add, we also inflict upon others—more injury—whether our actions are deliberate or mistaken. Consider this final appeal to you an effort to honor the Lord. Let me know the dates you’re available between now and May 28 so that I can plan with all the parties involved.
 
Regards,
SKP
Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD


APPENDIX II
SKP’s Appeal to AdCOM for Meeting with “Friends of 25 Years,” May 20, 2012


From: Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
Date: May 20, 2012 12:01:03 PM EDT
To: [“Friends of 25 Years”]
Cc: Michigan Conference AdCOM Members, [My Wife], and [Wife of “Friend of 25 years”]
Subject: Re: Meeting?--A Request

Dear [First Name}
 
Thanks for your email last night, inquiring if I will be available for a meeting at a restaurant today (Sunday, May 20, 2012), any time between 5pm and 7pm. I appreciate your willingness to meet finally with me. For almost eight (8) months, I have been waiting for you to honor my frequent invitations for a one-on-one meeting.
 
Unfortunately, I cannot meet one-on-one with you today, Sunday, May 20. As I stated in my last email to you, “I intend to involve some additional individuals at a future meeting . . . [that will] take place no later than May 28” (see my email dated, May 13, point #6). Here are my reasons why we cannot meet today:
 
1. I am extremely busy today with prior commitments (ministry at a Federal Prisons’ this afternoon, work deadlines, etc.) that allow no time at all until any time between May 23 and May 29.
 
2. Given the nature of the concerns I intend raising at such a meeting with you, in the presence of the select individuals, it is not wise at this stage to meet with you alone. I would need to have other people present so they know the nature of the conversation that takes place between us.
 
3. Consistent with the principles outlined clearly in Matthew 18, I am by this email requesting the Administrative Committee of the Conference (ADCOM, consisting of the President, Secretary, Treasurer, and two Ministerial Directors) to be the “additional individuals” that I want to sit in the meeting between myself, yourself and our wives. The involvement of the ADCOM is in addition to the individuals who were to be present at our March 1, 2012 meeting—a meeting you cancelled at the very last minute.
 
4. My approach is to model the steps outlined clearly and prescribed in Matthew 18. This final appeal to the ADCOM is equivalent to "tell the church" (I am taking the "church" in this case to mean the ADCOM, the employers of you and [your wife]—whose presence I will also request at the meeting).
 
5. I leave it totally to the ADCOM to work out the details of such a meeting, at which the original group of March 1 and the ADCOM will be present.
 
Again, thank you [First Name] for finally deciding to meet with me. I look forward to doing so some time this week—any time between May 23-May 28. I pray that at such a meeting the Holy Spirit will be present to help us understand our Christian responsibilities to one another.
 
In the light of EGW’s statement in Thoughts from the Mount of Blessings, p. 59, paragraphs 1 and 2, I take our soon-to-take place meeting very seriously.
 
"If we have in any manner defrauded or injured our brother, we should make restitution. If we have unwittingly borne false witness, if we have misstated his words, if we have injured his influence in any way, we should go to the ones with whom we have conversed about him, and take back all our injurious misstatements. {MB 59.1} 

"If matters of difficulty between brethren were not laid open before others, but frankly spoken of between themselves in the spirit of Christian love, how much evil might be prevented! How many roots of bitterness whereby many are defiled would be destroyed, and how closely and tenderly might the followers of Christ be united in His love! {MB 59.2}
 

Sincerely,
Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD