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February 2, 2003

Greetings, dear Shannon,

I love you so much, and I still pray every day that the Lord will re-unite us, to His glory.

Would you and other members of your church join us for the April parents meeting if I sent you bus tickets? The Lord would be delighted to see us working with love through our disagreements, misunderstandings, and confusion. Even if we simply agreed to disagree on some biblical doctrines and church practices, the Lord would be glorified if parents and their sons and daughters interacted in a way that expressed love and concern for one another as we seek to live according to God's will and Word.

I understand that members think the parents are fowls, adversaries, and Satan's soldiers. That's a pretty broad and harsh judgment against a group with whom you have limited personal interaction. Even though I don't agree with everything all the parents and all who call themselves Christians do and say, I value and love them and try to keep communication with them open. The Lord may use us to positively influence each other. With your church, I feel as if I've been sentenced without a trial -- and I don't even know the specific crime with which I've been charged other than that I'm a sinner (Romans 3:23). Do you think I want to control you? I neither want to nor could do that against the will of a good and sovereign God. Do you think I'm guilty of being an "unbeliever" or "nominal Christian" and that I'm bad because I want to talk to you and see you? I don't understand why members of your church are not encouraged to talk to their parents yet are encouraged to talk to other "unbelievers."

Maybe we can talk by mail. I made copies of the parents' website, and I would love to have you and others in your church let me know which statements you think are inaccurate. I'll send you one section each week. A copy of the Homepage is enclosed. I pray that you will read it, pray about it, and respond as the Lord leads to you. I suppose you will not like the phrase "lured away from us" -- but "lure" is defined as "entice", which is defined as "to persuade by the offer of pleasure or reward." My understanding of Scripture makes me think that God called you into His Church universal but that members of your local church -- not God -- lured you away from your family and friends. You probably also do not like the use of the word "unsuspecting" in the same sentence. The reference here is to the fact that members of your church do not suspect initially that (1) they will become totally isolated from family and friends, (2) only their past sins and the sins of their family will become the basis of their testimony and that all of the good things of their past would be ignored; (3) all of the mistakes made by their family and friends would remain unforgiven and result in total rejection of and lack of concern for those who love them. You didn't seem to realize this when you called me on 5 and 6 May1998 and told me about the missionaries you had met. As you recall, Claudia and I both encouraged you to become a missionary and told you we would support you. We are still stunned that this was the last time you spoke to us. This isolation is the reason parents have concluded that Roberts in "an authoritarian leader who determines the members' beliefs and their daily behavior." He hides rather than deals with questions about biblical issues. We love you, Shannon, unconditionally -- too much to forget or ignore you. Will you please tell me where you are so that I can come talk to you? God bless you!

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