The other day, I posted some trivial update. I think it was a reprint of one of my Duke Divinity School assignments, a book or article review. The next day, I had a bunch of hits that I attributed to some weird internet linking system or spam bots or something. Then I got an email from a dear friend back in Hawaii asking if I had heard the news about my old pastor, Mike Stangel. I am still getting a lot of hits, so I figured I would clarify a bit of my history with Pastor Mike.
In the spring of 2006, I was in the Army at Schofield Barracks, HI, going through the process of applying to be a noncombatant conscientious objector. Mike was the pastor at North Shore Christian Fellowship, where I was attending, since I lived in Hale’iwa and the location was convenient. It was a great experience, and I was grateful for Mike’s leadership there. Unfortunately, when it came time to share my packet with Pastor Mike, my pacifist convictions were not received well (THIS LINK is the same content I gave to Mike for his reflections). I remember attending one Bible study at his house during the process and seeing a decorative item hanging in his kitchen that read something like
Strengthen my heart, Oh Lord, that others might know me by my love
But hobble my enemy’s feet, that I might know him by his limp.
Needless to say, we had different interpretations of the Christian imperative to love one’s enemies.
Nonetheless, Mike was an honest and forthright man who went on to give me some of the most useful advice I’ve ever received. The news about his son is absolutely heartbreaking, and certainly not anything that could have been predicted or understood. My heart goes out to the Stangel family and the NSCF. In the Sunday worship service after the incident, I was heartened to hear that they found it in their hearts to pray for Toby despite the crimes he is accused of committing. This great tragedy is not something I would wish on even my worst enemy. Strengthen the hearts of those affected by this event, Oh Lord, don’t hobble anyone’s feet.