[b]"An APOLOGY in AMSTERDAM" [/b]
-by J. Lee Grady.
Some American evangelists have given us all a bad name in
Holland. Last weekend I begged Dutch pastors to forgive us.
"Statistics show that in Amsterdam we have the highest
concentration of churches in Europe," says Samuel Lee, an Iranian-
born church planter whose Jesus Christ Foundation Church in the
suburb of Deimen boasts 500 members from 12 nations.
But while this influx of Africans, Asians and Middle Easterners is
helping to revitalize Dutch churches, the influence of some Americans
has not had the same effect. I was shocked and embarrassed to
learn that charismatic evangelists from the United States have
earned a dubious reputation on the other side of the Atlantic.
During a one-day summit of pastors and church planters held in
Amsterdam last Saturday, I discovered that several high-profile
Christian speakers have worn out their welcome because of
questionable financial practices and inappropriate demands.
One of Holland's most respected charismatic pastors, Stanley
Hofwijks, says some American ministers are no longer welcome
in his country. Hofwijks' 2,500-member Maranatha Ministries
Church is predominantly Surinamese and is one of the largest
congregations in Holland.
"These pastors come here and insist that they must take their own
offerings," Hofwijks told me. "Then they get up in the pulpit and tell
the people that if they will give $1,000 each, all will be well and
they will be blessed."
Weary of what he considers financial manipulation, Hofwijks now
has a new policy: If a visiting minister insists on taking his own
offering, he is not welcome to preach.
Christian businessman and conference organizer Arie Templeman
has many horror stories to tell about his dealings with American
preachers. Their behavior outside the pulpit, he said, is as disturbing
as some of their questionable public demands for donations.
Some visiting preachers insisted on pricey hotel rooms-including,
on one occasion, a $10,000-a-night penthouse. Others made rude
demands of hotel staff.
"Many Dutch people look up to these men because they see them
on Christian television," Templeman said. "If they knew what went
on behind the scenes they would lose all respect for them."
On one occasion an American preacher who was speaking at a
Dutch conference was asked if he could come to another city and
address a group of pastors. Said Templeman: "[The evangelist]
asked how much he would be paid for the ministry session. When
he was told he would receive $1,000, he looked down at his shoes
and said: 'One of my shoes costs more than that. I will not go.'"
Hofwijks' biggest concern is that American arrogance is infecting
some younger Dutch leaders. "They want to be like the preachers
on American television," the pastor said. "They are focused on a
superstar mentality. It's very negative for our country because they
fall and many people fall with them."
...I had no choice but to extend an olive branch to my wounded
brothers and sisters. I shed a few tears as I asked them to forgive
us for taking financial advantage of their people. And I prayed
publicly that God would cleanse Dutch churches of the pride we
export to them.
Making an apology was a first step. Now I can only pray that those
of us who have misused our place of international influence will
find the grace to model genuine humility and integrity before it is too late.
God will not tolerate this sick, haughty spirit for too long. If we
don't repent, plenty of men and women from other parts of the
world are capable of stepping into our shoes to provide Christ-like
leadership. And they will not need to wear $2,500 Italian-leather
Oxfords to do the job.
~J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma and an award-winning
journalist. He writes a column for Charisma Online twice a week.
[Source: www.charismanow.com ].
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon