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The Counselee

One of the saddest and scariest stories I’ve ever heard was about a young evangelist. He was just barely 21, on fire for God, effective in his preaching and soul-winning, and in great demand from local churches. He had preached several large crusades and was soon invited to an area-wide effort at which he would be the main speaker. Though he was not yet even out of college, he was a protégé of international evangelist, Sammy Tippit, and was admired and considered wise. Though he didn’t have a steady girlfriend, he dated regularly at Bible college. Spiritually he was alert and mature. He was, however, naive.

The first night of the crusade he headed up the counseling ministry in a large room near the pastor’s study. A beautiful teen-ager asked if she could speak with him personally. He tried to assign her to someone else, but when she persisted, he agreed for her to wait until he was finished with the others. More than an hour after the meeting had ended, the rest of the counselors and counselees had left, and he was alone with the young girl. A few minutes later she burst from the room, screaming, “He made a pass at me! He wanted to make love to me!”

That very night the pastor of the host church and a small group of the crusade planners confronted the young preacher and demanded an explanation. He denied the girl’s charge but had no witnesses. The girl had seemed an upstanding young woman in the church, and there was no reason to disbelieve her story.

“What did happen in that room?” the pastor demanded.

“To tell you that would to be to make an accusation behind someone’s back,” he said. “Which is what happened to me. I ask only that I be allowed to face my accuser.”

The pastor and the others canceled the rest of the crusade and agreed that the young woman should be asked to face the preacher in their presence. Two nights later she showed up with her parents at a private board meeting. The pastor asked if she would care to speak about her charges against the preacher.

“She has already said all she has to say, “her father said sternly, her mother nodding and glaring at the accused.

“Would you, son, care to share your version of what happened in that room the other night?”

“No, sir,” the evangelist said. “I see no future in that. Only she and I know the truth, and I cannot defend myself. I’d just like to say this to her. Cindy, you know what happened and what didn’t happen in that room. If you don’t tell the truth, I will be branded and may never preach again. This will damage my reputation and that of this church, and even that of God. If I did what you say I did, I deserve no better, but we both know that is not the truth. I’m begging you in the name of Christ to set the record straight.” The silence hung heavy as the board and her parents watched her face contort into a grimace before the tears began to flow.

“I lied,” she said quietly. “I’m sorry. I lied. He didn’t make a pass at me; I made a pass at him. When he turned me down I was so embarrassed and ashamed and angry that I made up that story. I’m so sorry!”

Hedges, Jerry Jenkins, 1989, Wolgemuth & Hyatt, pp. 76-78