LAST WEEK in NO REGRETS 2/2 – Leroy and Kathy Dusek converted to Christianity at a Catholic charismatic renewal meeting but unanswered questions left them disillusioned with the Catholic Church. They joined an Independent Church and Leroy enrolled in Bible College. Financial miracles kept Leroy in school until he obtained his degree. An agnostic Jew’s recommendation led him the pastorate at Venture Church.
“By the time the church elected me as their pastor, I was very institutionalized and convinced I was on the right path. The congregation consisted of fifty people including children. But God started healing people and all of a sudden we were drawing a crowd,” said Leroy.
During the late 1980’s Venture Church averaged 1,800 visitors per year with a 1,000 conversions. The influx of new converts created a variety of problems. Leroy discovered a practicing witch praying for people in the church. A group of young men only wanted to pray over young girls. False prophets arose. Pedophiles caught lurking near the nursery were run out of the church.
One morning, the Lord told Leroy there was sexual sin in the church and until it was resolved the church would be frozen in place. Leroy cried through Sunday School embarrassed to repeat the revelation. An elder saw Leroy’s distress and said, “I don’t know what you are going to say, but if the Lord told you to say it, then say it.”
Leroy turned his back to the congregation and said, “This is hard for me to say, but I want you to listen carefully, and when I’m finished, I want you to leave. The Lord told me there is sexual immorality in this church, fornication, masturbation, pornography. homosexuality. We are not going to grow any further unless people deal with these sins. Church is dismissed.” Leroy knelt to pray. When he stood, he was the only person in the church. On his way home, he told Kathy, “They are going to vote me out tonight.”
Leroy arrived early for the Sunday evening service. As he was praying, he heard the worship team’s music. He turned around to the largest Sunday night attendance the church had ever experienced. No one said a word. The congregation stood, walked to the altar and joined him in prayer.
As the church grew, the congregation split over conflicting ideologies. One Sunday morning, a man stood to give a word from the Lord. He read from the book of Isaiah and gave a stern admonition to get right or be left behind. Immediately after he spoke, a young woman contradicted his message.
After the service, Kathy asked her why she contradicted the message. The woman said, “The message was too harsh. We had friends visiting, and I just didn’t think that message was right.”
“A struggle began between two groups that I called “Holiness” and the “Nicer-Than-God”. Instead of praying to discern what God wanted done human wisdom tainted everything we did. The church continued to grow but became two churches struggling with each other. The “Nicer-Than-God” group had their own Bible studies and cell group meetings but the “Holiness” group remained in power,” said Leroy. “The people were hungry for the things of God and easy to lead. Even with the struggle between the two groups, everything was good. We prospered financially and paid off the church’s debt. Our business meetings were a piece of cake. But I never assumed I was where God wanted me to be.”
Everyday Leroy rode his bike on the levee and prayed. One morning, he felt the time had come to leave Venture Church. He had been involved in a lot of missionary work and initially thought God was calling him to missions. He told Kathy and she encouraged him to consult three men he trusted before he resigned.
Reluctant to act rashly or prematurely he called friends in Oregon, Texas and New Orleans. He shared the burden on his heart and asked them to pray and call him back with their thoughts. Each one stated that he should resign.
At the epitome of Venture Church’s success, Leroy notified the church elders of his intent to leave. He promised to stay as long as a year as they searched for a new pastor. The elders meet on Wednesday and fired him on Thursday.
“I know they were hurt and behaved emotionally,” said Leroy, “but I was shocked. They only gave us thirty days to vacate the church’s parsonage. I had no idea where to go. They also refused to let me explain to the congregation why I wanted to leave. I wasn’t bitter or angry, just trying to obey God, but I was naïve. The congregation objected to the way the elders treated me so, I was allowed to return for a going away party. Later, they extended the time I could stay in the parsonage. ”
Leroy continued the radio broadcast he had started before he resigned but missionary work never came to fruition. As Leroy filled his time praying and studying the Bible his thoughts about serving God transformed. He had called his church a family friendly church, yet he separated the family by providing services geared to specific age groups. Children were thirteen before they ever sat in a service with their parents. He regretted holding Vacation Bible School, which took children away from their parents to learn about God.
Leroy questioned other pastors about the methods used in the institutional church. They didn’t like his questions or the direction he was leaning and told him he was stupid for resigning. Undaunted by their rejection he continued his research until he had enough information to launch a relationship based church, which kept the family together during meetings.
The early church met in homes, so he reasoned church meetings belonged in the home removing the formality of worshiping God. In a home, Christians could be more like a family. To protect the homeowner meetings were comprised of Christians only with occasional open meetings unsaved friends could attend. “The transition was bumpy and painful and we found ourselves back where we were in Bible College – totally dependent on the Lord for finances,” said Leroy.
Leroy started his first house church in his home. He gave a radio invitation and six people came. Then they planted a house church in Houma, Thibodeaux, two on the Northshore and one in East Texas. Eventually, Leroy and Kathy were attending house church meetings in five locations every week.
Leroy didn’t ask for an offering but provided a bucket for people who desired to contribute to his ministry. He supplemented his income with a recruiting and consulting business for executives in engineering and construction, which he operated out of his home.
“I am very comfortable with what the Lord did in our lives. My fellowship is much richer now than when I was a pastor. I have no regrets,” said Leroy.