August 2, 2001 Danny Edwards Wrote to George Geftakys:
Appeal to Avoid Further Damage
'Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.' Gal 6:1-2
Dear brother George, Mark and Dan,
We have been here about 2 months so I thought it prudent to set forth the issues at hand and suggest a course of action that hopefully will be tenable for all parties involved. I would like to preface this letter by saying that I have delayed in writing and fully discussing these issues that I might have more time to pray and listen to all parties involved, as well I have thought about many passages in the Word of God, in order to seek what scriptures most accurately fit this situation. I understand that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the forces of darkness in heavenly places, the enemy is seeking to compromise the Testimony and overthrow the faith of many.
When Zachariah was asked, "What do you see?", he said that he saw the golden candlestick, not the weakened condition or the compromise of his own day. I am believing the Lord to enable us to work out our issues to the end that the testimonies might continue to express His interests and purpose. Part of this means that we must speak ‘the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.’ Though it is unfortunate that we have to deal with these issues it seems to me of the utmost importance that we do so as swiftly as possible to avoid further damage to the work in San Luis Obispo and this ministry as a whole. I think there are three main areas that need to be considered if we are to go forward and see healing and restoration in the Work and in David’s life.
There are many areas that we can look at in the history of San Luis Obispo, but the main issues at hand are regarding David. One of the main reasons that we are still in a quandary is the refusal of David to admit any culpability regarding the conditions of the Assembly, his marriage or family. He sees himself as the one who is being persecuted and treated unfairly. The need is to explain to him why we are standing the way we are regarding his responsibilities in the Assembly and the Work. I think it is important for David to come to the place where he accepts that his behavior has led to the decisions regarding the Lord’s supper, preaching and leadership in San Luis Obispo and why he is not in the Work, or full time in the Work. Though we may not want to bring up things in the past, if there is going to be a re-instatement of any of the above responsibilities mentioned above, we can’t ignore the history that has led up to the present.
There are in my opinion three areas to address and consider:
- The first area to address is the issue of why David was not partaking, why he is not preaching and in leadership in San Luis Obispo and is no longer in the Work or full time in the Work...
- Partaking: The leading brothers have specific reason why they feel he was not partaking and why he is not preaching or in leadership in SLO. They are available to discuss any of these points
- Preaching: David has been consistently asking why he cannot preach.
- Leadership: I Tim 3:5 ‘For if a man know not how to rule (to maintain, superintend, preside over) his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God’. Leaders must be above reproach and excellent examples to the flock, ‘…commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.’ II Cor 4:2
- The Work and full time in the Work: I believe Dan and Mark have discussed this with David.
- Considerations for restoration: I believe that if there is to be restoration to any responsibilities in this ministry there must be a hearty amen from many brothers in the Work. I believe that restoration to being a profitable brother in the Work is possible, but some major hurdles must be overcome. After many discussions with brethren it seems as though there are some fundamental changes that need to take place and agreed upon by the brothers in San Luis Obispo, the Work and David himself. Below are a few of the issues that should be addressed so that David clearly understands what we are thinking regarding restoration...
- Outbursts of anger: The leading brothers seem to have gone through this for years and of late Mike, Dan and Mark have as well. ‘For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God, not self willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker…’ Titus 1:7
- Striker: There have apparently been several occasions where this has occurred, though infrequently over the years, how many times warrants a commitment to be accountable in regard to this.
- Railing: To make sure he understands what this entails as this is an issue of the recent past.
- Accountability to the leadership as a brother among brothers: Not to express the thought that nobody in San Luis Obispo is his peer and thus not to entreat him, but on the contrary to demonstrate respect for the brothers in leadership here.
Standards in the work: We have agreed not to have televisions. David has said that he received permission so he could watch the news and home school. It leaves a wrong impression to the saints who have for years heard that it is not the best to have one and to the Workers who are not allowed to have them. Smoking seems to be something that is in question. Has he laid aside his teaching that it is not sin and has he quit. Drinking on a daily basis. I would not want to get into a debate whether or not a husband and wife might on occasion have a glass of wine together, but I think that moderation as defined with other Workers is in order. Modeling in a thong is also very questionable and could easily stumble some.
Though some of these are hard to bring up, there seems to be controversy on every hand when we are told in I Thess 5:22 to abstain from all appearance of evil. Rom 12:17b ‘ to respect what is right in the sight of all men’. As we have been taught as Workers and Leading Brothers we need to show forth a higher standard in all areas of our lives. The Lord Jesus said in Luke 12:48 ‘for unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required...,’ and in I Cor 10:32 'Give no offence to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.' II Cor 8:21 ‘For we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men’. For years it seems as though David has lived on the edge of controversy and it seems now that if we are to win our brother we should call this to account and entreat him with sound scripture and the standards we have all come to accept as Workers. It seems as though those who were closest to David have come to many of the same conclusions regarding David’s ways and lifestyle. The Word tells us, "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring on before another, doing nothing by partiality.' Either we agree on these standards or we re-evaluate them and abandon those that are not applicable for today.
Reconciliation with his family: David does not see that he is responsible for the present situation with his family. It seems to me if he would admit wrong where he can it would help to demonstrate his desire for reconciliation. In her letter to David, Judy talks of his horrible treatment of her. That could be a good area of discussion for marriage counseling. We should discuss with David ways he can seek reconciliation with Judy and seek to win her back to the Work and restored fellowship.
As David does not view that he needs to change or has done any thing wrong, this makes it difficult to proceed to the end of restoration. This to me is the singular most difficult issue regarding this whole situation. If David doesn’t see himself as at least partially responsible for the condition of the gathering it hinders restoration and reconciliation. 'He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy' Prov 28:13 Love covers a multitude of sins, but what sins are being covered if none have been committed? In James 5:20 the word tells us, ‘Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.’ The key is whether or not David has been converted (to cause to return, to turn back or come back), we certainly have not been able to convince him of error or sin or any wrong doing. This is what makes it difficult. If David would admit he has been wrong, has sinned against his brethren, has failed in his home or any other type of tone of remorse and admission, I know that the brothers and assembly in San Luis Obispo would receive him with open arms. This could lead to real fellowship and a clearing of himself. Even a letter to the assembly or the Leading Brothers expressing some of these sentiments would go along way towards restoration. I can testify that there is no bitterness toward David but general sympathy and compassion, all is forgiven with the exception of maybe one family in fellowship.
Though there may be forgiveness already on many issues discussed above, David needs to see that there are going to be natural consequences to his actions. Like a Rachel not being able to wear the white wedding dress, or an Abigail Martin not having an assembly baby shower, or the brother who is limited in Assembly responsibility because of his divorce and remarriage. Though they are forgiven, received and loved, there remain consequences. Maybe if the above mentioned conditions are met he could be fully restored, or maybe there may need to be diminished responsibilities, but in either case there still needs to be a clearing of himself. Even as John the Baptist said in Matt. 3:8, ‘bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.’ Many of the issues discussed above have persisted for years and David is now being called to account. Once again it is time that we are clear with him to the end that we might see him restored and profitable in the Work. I don’t know what the future holds for David, but I know that he desires to be the Lord’s servant, so we now need to come to some conclusions and once again approach him on some of these issues and give him our expectations.
- How to deal with the grievous accusations: I do not want to delineate all of the reputed sins of David. There are many, but I would like to know how to proceed in the matter. Do we investigate the accusations that some say can easily be verified by two or three witnesses? Do we ignore them based upon the source? Do we ignore the accusations Judy is bringing forth, supposedly verifiable by her own journals of the past years? From what I understand, Mark has specifically asked David if he was practicing some of the alleged accusations and David denied them across the board. Do we simply take his word and go forward or what? One thing that concerns me is that David has told me that if a person commits a crime and then repents, he views that that person never committed the crime and he would testify on behalf of that person. Does this give him the right to say he never did these things that he is being accused of? I would also mention that David said he never hit his wife, but on further questioning he admitted to using an open hand and thus it is not viewed in his mind as striking or hitting. As well, he told me that he did so twice, but to Roberto he said four different times. I am not trying to catch David, but this is not a clearing of the matter. Direction in these matters would be beneficial.
Final thoughts and conclusion:
As David is committed to live in this area to work out some of these issues and the idea of him moving to another location has been rejected, we should begin to work this out up here in San Luis Obispo. I think it is difficult for Dan and Mark to have a real clear picture on the day to day issues from 250 miles away. Sometimes David talks as though he is only accountable to Fullerton. If there is to be any marriage counseling that is fine, but even here some of these marital issues cross over into Assembly life, so we need to use wisdom in this as well. Having said this, I think before David is given any responsibility in the Work there needs to be a hearty amen from brethren from various quarters in the Work.
I am in no way unsympathetic to the difficult place that David is in. I know that he has suffered greatly in this past year and I do not want to add to this unnecessarily. I sincerely believe that we need to help him by letting him know how we are all looking at this. Not to be confrontational, but to seek to honestly and in a forthright way present to him the facts and seek to come to a common ground. David may also shed some light on the way he perceives these issues and the way he is thinking about every thing now. He seems to be thinking very clear and his speech is lucid. For now it is very awkward for the saints in San Luis Obispo. Hopefully we can begin to move forward in these considerations.
May the God of all grace and mercy grant to us grace and wisdom to help our dear brother. I believe that God is able to do the impossible, to restore our brother and to defeat the intentions of the enemy in attempting to bring this ministry into disrepute. It is not time to ignore what we have at hand, but for all parties to come to proper conclusions. The Work in San Luis Obispo is doing well, new ones are coming out, there has been consistent salvation and some who have left are returning saying that the Lord is doing a new thing. I desire this to continue and for David to once again make a valuable contribution in this ministry.
Sincerely, your brother in Christ,