Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Ambassador: His Rise, Fall and Rise Again

I recently began a Facebook Group called "A Pastor's Wife's Garden" with the goal of connecting hearts with other pastor's wives like myself. The idea for this group came totally from the Lord one day while I watched a recording of an interview on CBN. The topic of this interview: William Branch, also known as The Ambassador, also known as Duce, and his wife discussing the challenge of his emotional affair with another woman.

To give a little backstory, Duce is a Christian hip hop artist that co-founded and led Cross Movement, a rap group that took the Christian world by storm in 1996. All original founding members, including Duce, grew up in Philadelphia. Having earned a Masters degree in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary -- graduating with honors, by the way -- he began co-pastoring Epiphany Fellowship Church, a growing and vibrant multi-ethnic church in Philly.

That is, until he fell into this emotional affair. At that point Duce was asked to leave his pastoral position and Cross Movement. May I add that I appreciate churches and recording artists/companies that take a stand against sin. I have become so disheartened with Christians that lightly tap fallen leaders on the hand, then throw them right back up into the pulpit or right back into the recording studio. But I also rejoice in Christians who reach out to pick those leaders back up, help them dust themselves off, then help them resume walking in grace with our Savior. After all, that's the kind of grace I'm sure I would need.

But back to the CBN interview... What moved me most about the Branches' trial was the evident forgiveness, redemption and healing they had experienced through Christ. But another thing struck me as a pastor's wife. Duce's wife Michelle stated that as a pastor's wife, she didn't know who to talk to when she suspected her husband's affair. Her words exactly: "And I really felt in my mind that there was no one I could tell."

Those words hit me like a brick when I first heard them. They still make me cringe. I cringe over the disheartening reality of Michelle's words. As a pastor's wife, you sometimes feel quite alone. Who do you go to when your marriage is in trouble? Where do you turn when you need help?

I hope and pray that we as believers would support our pastors -- in all their humanity and frailty. Let's give these men -- and their wives -- a break. Let's find the balance between esteeming them as our God-ordained leaders and also remembering how very human they really are. Pastors have many of the same struggles, temptations and weaknesses as anyone else. And so do their wives. Lord knows, I can testify to that.

The best gift we can give our pastors this year during Pastor's Appreciation Month is not a load of cash, a gift card or a day off. (Although those are all nice! :-)) What pastors need most are our prayers, our support and our grace to fall short -- every now and then.

I'm hoping and praying that "A Pastor's Wife's Garden" will be a safe place for pastor's wives to share life together. I hope we'll find a place of solace and grace there. I hope we'll meet one another and the Lord there.

I'll leave you with two video clips: one of the actual CBN video of Duce and Michelle (click here to view). The second: a YouTube audio clip of his new hit hip hop song -- "Up Down." I love this cut; it speaks to Duce's personal testimony of his "Rise, Fall and Rise Again" -- in Jesus' name.

Trusting Him Through the Ups and Downs,


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