Spiritual Refugees


I keep thinking about the families.

The ones caught up in the Driscoll/MarsHill debacle.

I read the news stories, the blog posts, the Twitter feed. I take note of the wise-cracks, the I-told-you-sos, the self-righteous parading about, and I can’t help but think about Mark Driscoll’s kids.

I remember sitting in the backyard of a pastor’s home in Portland some years ago and listening to a writer/speaker tell her story about the way a church treated her pastor father over some sort of disagreement and how it caused her to have a crises of faith, even yet.

I remember a boy I dated once, also a pastor’s son, telling me that he was so tired of trying to please everybody. “I’ve grown up trying to meet everyone’s expectations,” he said.  He was only 23 at the time and already so weary with life and so disillusioned with faith.

These are the voices I hear when I read the headline news stories and the snarky blog posts deriding Mark Driscoll. I have written my own share of snarky blog posts about Driscoll. Sadly. Because, here, now, I see the brokenness that is the lives of so many, I am sorry I ever said what I thought about Driscoll, about Mars Hill. Because here, right now, as I consider the people I know and love who have lost their jobs this past week, I don’t feel any sense of rightness about any of this.  I only feel sorrow for everyone connected to Mars Hill.

Thousands of lives are being affected. Thousands of people are now being displaced. Religion News Service reported earlier this week that 30-40 percent of the staff at Mars Hill will be cut. Where will their church home be now?

All those people, all of them serving in some ministerial capacity, now out beating the streets looking for a job.

Wonder how easy it will be to get a job in ministry in the Seattle area, where they have homes, families, lives? Will their Mars Hill connection/resume make it more difficult than ever to get a job in ministry?

These are the thoughts I have been having as I read the snide remarks on Social Media, and the so-called dialogue that is often nothing more than a cover for self-righteous vindication.

It is true what they say, you know. That Christians shoot their own wounded. In the military we call that Friendly Fire. It’s a ridiculously tragic misnomer.

I pray for Driscoll’s children. I pray for the children of all those Mars Hill families facing displacement.

I pray that they don’t lose faith. I pray that they are loved dearly through these hard days. I pray that the fears these families are facing –  fears of being jobless, and without health insurance, and facing the unknown of how will they pay their bills next month and the month after that – will be a brief season of growing and learning and remembering.

I know God will be faithful.

It’s not God I worry about.

It’s all the innocent people caught up in the politics of a badly-managed mega-church.

So many lives displaced.

Spiritual refugees, if you will.

I can’t get those spiritual refugees out of my mind.

I pray that in the midst of all this, they don’t lose heart.


Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Will Jesus Buy Me a Doublewide? ’cause I need more room for my plasma TV. Zondervan

Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.


Steve T

about 7 years ago

Kagiven the power allowed to such charlatans, it will always be this way. There is no Christ but the Christ of love. Any other proclamation always leads to this. Praying for all the loss and pain and suffering such brings. it had to happen. It is sad and tragic and such wreckage always follows these false prophets who use the Gospel to subvert and confuse and build their own empires. We've seen it in mega-churches and we've seen it in empires. Whether such wear the title of Pastor or president or CEO. I too feel the pain of the carnage. And, given


Steve T

about 7 years ago

Oh wow. Well, apparently using one's cell phone at 4:30 AM, doesn't work too well when trying to post a comment that was meant to be decipherable. Here is the essence of what I was attempting to say: Given the power that some are willing to give to such people as Mark Driscoll, I suspect the disaster at MarsHill is inevitable and certainly will happen again. Indeed, any gospel that diminishes "the other," any gospel that is contextualized in domination and control, any gospel that resides in violence, is antithetical to the Way of Christ. Such gospel can only lead to devastation of the person and of the psyche. Karen, I too feel the deep anguish of those who will continue to suffer after years of violation. My prayer is that they will finally find that Jesus loves and holds them, especially in this time of pain and confusion. After all, that's the way it is with the Word made Flesh, it shines into the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it. Thank God.


Kaitlyn Smith

about 2 years ago

Than you!


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