I was on this phone call with this gentleman for over 8 hours that day. He could not come up with the account or the money. We called our legal counsel in, our board members, and finally I said, “You know what? It’s late. Tomorrow we’re going to go down to the bank. I’ll fly in and we’re going to meet with our bankers.”
This guy kept telling me, “I would never lie. The money’s in the account; I swear to you my relative has given it to Fellowship Church. I would never lie. I swear to you. I would never do anything to hurt the church.” Early the next morning I received the most devastating and brutal phone call I have ever received. It was the staff member that so many trusted.
He said, “Ed, I lied about the money. I made the donor up. I lied about the beach house. None of it is true.” My head was spinning. I felt a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Here, at the time, our small church was putting everything on the table to build a building of epic proportions. Our board was together, our staff was together, our church was together, and I was talking to a betrayer, evil incarnate.
And I found myself saying, “You know, thank you for being honest with me. We want to help you because you are sick.” And then I said, “I forgive you and hung up the phone.” I have never seen this guy or talked to him since. And here is what is so wacky about it. Our accountants came in the next day—and we worked with one of the major accounting firms around—not one dime was missing.