(Shown above is the only picture of the Minister who walked away from Alyssa Ramirez)
By now I am sure that more than a handful of you have watched the Youtube video of that sister from Elizabeth New Jersey USA. Alyssa Ramirez, a 25 year old who was expelled along with her parents. Whatever your stand is on this matter, most of you will probably agree that this is another sad instance in the history of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ) under this Administration. It is sad simply because another soul was expelled. Whatever you know or believe about Ms. Ramirez, it is another soul taking a hit.
I do not know her personally nor her family. I do know that it hurt me badly when people I know well were also expelled. The other sad part about this is that it is not the first time it has happened this way. I’m certain many will comment on Facebook on this way or that way. She was “emotional” or she was “rebellious” or whatever you want to label her, it took place. And I am sure everyone will have their opinion on it. It is painful because the way it was handled.
This is all I have to say about it:
1. Before a person is expelled or excommunicated, the Administration (as many have previously pointed out, that extends to the Ministers and officers) are supposed to talk to the people concerned. If the parents of Ms. Alyssa were spoken to and were warned, they should have also spoken to her. She is not a child that can simply be swept out with parents. It is not simply protocol; it is the ethical thing to do. It is a life changing moment and apparently she was never advised. Even if she was aware of her parents doings, she still deserved to be advised. From the video, no one could even say, “Yes we spoke to you! We told you. We warned you!” Not a peep. This is not just protocol or ethical, it is a COMMANDMENT: “Dear brothers, if a Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help him back onto the right path, remembering that next time it might be one of you who is in the wrong.” (Galatians 6) How much admonitions did they receive? If they had issues and questions, were they humbly guided and answered? What is the reply to her? “Go talk to your parents” WHAT?!?? Unheard of!!
What has happened to this Church? So trigger happy to shoot down anyone who questions. If you are “suspected” of being a “Defender”, you are now “on watch” and get ready for the Express Train of Expulsion. You will be run over very quickly. How many times did the officers admonish them? The deacon on the video said, “it’s been months”. Did he mean they have been admonishing them for months? How many times did the Resident Minister reach out to them and counsel them and show them their thinking was wrong? I am asking this because my friends were also on that “Express Train”. I can tell you, it comes and hits you fast.
2. Next, they were at that point already. She is standing there in front of them. What does the Minister do? He RUNS AND HIDES from her! Why?? Should it not be the Defender or the Expelled who will do the running? This was a key moment. This was a moment that the Minister could have advised her on what to do from then on. Isn’t that the duty of the Minister? (Ezekiel 33)
“Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for the people of Israel. Listen to what I say, and warn them for me. Suppose I say to a wicked person, ‘You wicked person, you will certainly die,’ and you say nothing to warn him to change his ways. That wicked person will die because of his sin, and I will hold you responsible for his death. But if you warn a wicked person to turn from his ways and he doesn’t turn from them, then he will die because of his sin. However, you will save yourself.”
So what if there’s a camera? If he would only speak the truth and say what is biblically accurate, what is there to fear? I remember my cousin getting expelled for impregnating a girl and marrying her outside the church. Two big No-No’s. What did the Minister do? He went to their house late at night, gently told him that he would be expelled and that his parents would be taken out of their duties. He was very upset too. He couldn’t understand why they would be affected. But the Minister continued; he advised him and consoled him that he should “fix” his situation and get back to the Church as soon as he can. He managed to get back after one year. That Minister? Brother Steven Kroll. He passed away years later and my cousin was even there at his funeral. Why? He felt the love and concern of the Minister even when he was being told he was recommending him to be expelled.
That’s the point of that verse isn’t it? To humbly help that person back onto the right path? But none of that was heard or felt. Why is it that there was that awkward silence when someone could have said, “Sister, you were expelled because of…” It was so painful not only for her, but for the officers who were tongue tied to her question “Why her too”? I am not saying whether she is innocent or not. I am not in the position to judge her. But all I am saying is that if there is a chance in preventing an expulsion and saving a soul, should that not be done?
3. It was painful and awkward to see everyone not being able to answer why she was also included in the expulsion of her parents. If her parents were expelled for being rebellious, does it now follow that the offsprings are automatically expelled? What is the biblical basis for that? The officers could not even utter anything because they know the doctrines as well. They know that “each person dies for his own sins”. How do you answer that?
4. And what is the rush in expelling these people? Express expulsions could be justified, I suppose, because there are those who could “affect” other brethren or families of believers. Perhaps in the olden days, there were those who were kicked out of the congregation, and they were never to be seen again. But in the 21st Century, one needs to understand, expelling someone does not make them disappear. With technology and social media, the Administration is simply creating more and more “Defenders”. Even after expulsion, whether they like it or not, brethren still have contact with those who were expelled. They have friends and family members who sympathise with them, especially when they see and feel that they were “railroaded”. So would it not be better to make every effort to try and save these brethren? (see previous post – Make Every Effort”) than to have ugly situations like these?
5. If some will say she should not have gone up to the pulpit area, I agree. But I must also ask what happened to all the officers whom she passed by? What happened to all those SCAN whom we also pray for because they are “willing to give their life for the Church” – no one even stopped to prevent her from doing that. Was it a surprise? She already screamed! That should have been a warning to all the officers that there was a problem brewing. But not one stopped her to correct her. All that is simply a representative and symbolic of the lack of guidance that she went through.
5. I am sure there will be those who will accuse her of setting this up because she took a video of the entire thing and uploaded it on Youtube. There will be a backlash from the so called “Faithful” ones who will defend the decision of the beloved Executive Minister. Someone will dig up stuff on her or her family or simply make up lies and bash them on Facebook. But tell me, would that really encourage a person to return? Would you want to be reinstated after your “fellow brethren” bash you on social media, drag your name through the mud and demonize you and your family? That’s what also makes this video painful to watch. You know that once brethren watch it, there will be some who will “attack” her for it. Remember the last part of that verse? “remembering that next time it might be one of you who is in the wrong.” Don’t tell me that no one else sins. We all need to remember that. Whatever Alyssa Ramirez was expelled for, remember the words of Jesus: “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”. Attacking someone who is expelled does not make us better Christians.
It is another sad day for the Church. Don’t make it any worse.