As I was wandering the halls of Wescoe on the campus of the University of Kansas today, looking for the offices of the French/Italian division today, I was quite nervous about my upcoming meeting with Dr. Allan Pascoe - my new academic advisor for KU's French program. I'd never been up on "the hill," had lucked into a parking lot and was wandering quite overwhelmed by the immensity of everything. Of course, my choice of a black and gold Hawkeye shirt made the 31 year old man look even more conspicious. All of that put me a little off-edge, then there was the nervousness of wondering how a professor at a major school like KU would treat a non-traditional student like myself, one who isn't even sure what academic course to pursue. Dr. Pascoe had seemed nice during our email correspondence, but I was still a bit nervous.
Well, it all changed pretty quickly when he asked about Trinity Family. He'd obviously checked out our website via my email signature. He asked how old the church was and how things were going presently, to which I gave my standard answer these days, "we're 5 years old and it's been a very difficult year." He then proceeded to tell me about things he'd been through as an elder and parishioner.
At his former university, he was an elder in the Lutheran church. Some people wanted the pastor to leave and they were eventually able to frame him on bogus sexual abuse charges; he'd accidentally brushed a female student in an inappropriate place while trying to do crowd control. I don't mean to minimize sexual abuse and I don't know the whole story, but Dr. Pascoe is convinced of the high moral character of his former pastor and that the leaders who wanted him gone twisted the situation to their own selfish means. This event split the church in half. The pastor ended up entering the counseling field and, according to Dr. Pascoe had a fruitful ministry the rest of his life.
Dr. Pascoe was very, very angry over this entire situation and he desperately wanted to leave the church and run away from everything. But God wouldn't let him. "He forced me to stay, to work through my anger and learn how to forgive. It was hard, I couldn't understand how those SOB's were allowed to take communion." Dr. Pascoe was eventually able to forgive and he's very glad he stayed in that difficult situation and allowed God to mature him, cause him to grow up and enable him to learn about forgiveness.
When Dr. Pascoe moved to Lawrence to teach at KU, he got involved in a church that was about 5 years old at the time. The church was growing and doing good things, when a staff member's underground attempts to split the church and start a "new ministry" were exposed. This caused the church to lose a lot of people and to go through a very difficult time. While Dr. Pascoe wasn't an elder during this split, he still felt the pain of all that happened. Over the past five years, however the church has healed and regained it's previous level of health.
All of this was in the context of him wanting to encourage me, allow me to grieve that things haven't happened the way I'd hoped they would, that pastoring is a very difficult and very essential calling and that God will bring good out of times of difficulty and pain.
I went to KU hoping to figure out some direction for my french studies and was hoping not to be embarrassed and came away encouraged and a bit wiser from the counsel of an older soul.
And I learned why they call KU's campus "the hill." I am NOT looking forward to climbing up that thing every day for class.