I've never been one for idolising people, hero-worship nor as an adult (and this is key) pedestalling people too highly. However in the last couple of weeks I've been greatly saddened to hear of the 'fall' of 2 men I'd looked up to in my early formative years as a Christian.
First off 'Paul' Yonggi Cho, founder of the worlds first mega-church and someone who made the concept of 24/7 prayer through prayer mountain. It wasn't these that impressed me, but the way in which a man of such humble beginnings learned to walk with God and saw Him move and honour what He'd spoken. Of all the things I'd read, the one that stuck with me the most was his way of approaching a time without food, and using it to fast & pray. It is so sad to hear that he and his son were found guilty of embezzling $12million from his church.
The second is a lot more subtle than that, but shook me far more.
As a teen who had been baptised in the Holy Spirit in the late 70s, I was strongly influenced by what might be called the Harvestime movement: Bryn and Kerry Jones, Dave Mansell, Arthur Wallace and Dave Tomlinson were the key players. As an adult I'd not kept up with what had happened with these guys (other than hearing of Arthur Wallace's death) and being aware that there were some heavy-shepherding issues in some churches, mostly (as I understood it from some involved in those churches) down to local leadership being afraid to stand up themselves & relying on every word from other leaders.
Reading in last months Christianity magazine about Dave Tomlinson, and his walking away from all the good things that had been going on and ending up a robe-wearing Anglican priest was such a disappointment. I'm not going to reproduce the article here, and it certainly isn't as simple as I've expressed above, but it seems to me he's exchanged one stream with personality-dependence for another (there's pride in the continuance of the Petrine ministry in an unbroken chain through the bishops, even though I doubt Peter would recognise any Bishop from the third century onwards as being connected to him).
Is he still a Christian, still serving?
Yes, but I wonder how different things might have been if he'd stayed where he was, sought to answer his questions and lead the churches he was responsible for through the difficult times instead of walking away. Easy for me to say, with a small life of mediocrity, I guess. But somehow I find this far more disappointing that Yonggi Cho's fall - not a big, hot sin, but increasingly inward circles of questioning and luke-warmness.