The Character of Matt Harrison – He will Go to the Brink for the Gospel, Literally, by Pr. Joel Brondos

January 27th, 2010 Post by

(Editor’s Note: This comment was left on our “Haiti Relief Efforts” post. You can see the post and all the comments by clicking here.)

January 27th, 2010 at 00:48 | #16, by Pastor Joel Brondos

Too dangerous for Kieschnick to go to Haiti?

During the January thaw about 12 years ago, water was streaming into my office on the second floor. Papers were getting soaked. Books were being ruined. It was being caused by ice clogging the gutter two stories up. Something had to be done.

Soon after this discovery had been made, I cautiously climbed onto the roof and made my way over to the side of the building where my office was located. There I found the senior pastor, four stories up, sitting on the parapet with one leg over the side, kicking away at the ice-jammed gutter. That pastor was the Rev. Matthew C. Harrison.

I had the privilege of serving with Pastor Harrison for several years in a neighborhood that wasn’t very safe. Perhaps he had gotten such a work ethic from his upbringing in rural Iowa. Perhaps he gained it from braving previous winters in northern Canada working with the Lutheran Association of Missionary Pilots (LAMP).

Whatever the case may be, it is no doubt the same attitude towards pastoral leadership which moved him to deliver aid personally to Haitians at a time when our synodical president deemed it too dangerous to go himself as was published in the synod’s official news media, The Reporter.

I suppose I shouldn’t fault Dr. Kieschnick. I wasn’t prepared to approach the edge of the roof on that wintry day any more than he appears ready to go to Haiti. But I do want to commend Pastor Harrison for representing us personally to the Haitians with pastoral care and much-needed aid.


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  1. Anthony Bertram
    January 27th, 2010 at 09:06 | #1

    I am no fan of President Kieschnick, BUT…

    This whole line of comments is based an inaccurate description of Pres. Kieschnick’s reason for not going to Haiti. He did not say it was “too dangerous” to go. He said the situation was very “chaotic”. I listened to the video, twice. How many times did the commentors listen before comparing Pres. Kieschnick to Matt Harrison?

    I think President Kieschnick made a good decision in not going, and it is being used against him for political reasons. For him to go would have been “disaster tourism” and he realized he would have gotten in the way of those best able to bring relief. That’s how I understood his comments, as I think he intended them.

    I wonder if some people might want to take back some of their comments in this matter.

  2. Henry Bimpage
    January 27th, 2010 at 09:38 | #2

    @Anthony Bertram #1

    “For him to go would have been “disaster tourism” and he realized he would have gotten in the way of those best able to bring relief.”

    I disagree that it would have to be ‘disaster tourism’ for a pastor or layman to go to Haiti to share the love of Christ and Gospel with suffering people. It would be ‘disaster tourism’ for a politician to go and look at the calamity from afar, but to hold the hands of and pray with suffering souls is not ‘disaster tourism’.

    It may be best that President Kieschnick not to go if he is unable able to work in their languages or if he is too frail. I don’t fault him for not going, but there would be nothing wrong with an LCMS President going to help the Haitian people.

  3. rogue Lutheran
    January 27th, 2010 at 10:18 | #3

    @ “I am no fan of President Kieschnick, BUT…”

    He has to give a Deposition in 6 days regarding that Oakland Case with the 4 Widows.

    “President Gerald Kieschnick, of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is scheduled to give a deposition on Ground Hog Day, February 2, 2010, in the law offices of legal counsel to the LCMS Board of Directors, Attorney Sherri Strand, at One US Bank Plaza, downtown Saint Louis.”
    —–Reclaim newsletter

  4. January 27th, 2010 at 11:51 | #4

    Anthony,

    To praise one is not to diminish the other. The only reason President K got brought into this is because he publicly toyed with the idea of going – and then changed his mind. Sort of like how Pastor Brondos went out to see what he might do with that ice problem.

    Please reread what Pastor Brondos wrote:

    “I suppose I shouldn’t fault Dr. Kieschnick. I wasn’t prepared to approach the edge of the roof on that wintry day any more than he appears ready to go to Haiti. But I do want to commend Pastor Harrison for representing us personally to the Haitians with pastoral care and much-needed aid.”

    What is wrong with saying that?

  5. Anon
    January 27th, 2010 at 12:35 | #5

    Given the prior statement that he didn’t go because it is too dangerous, there’s a lot wrong with that. And it is wrong to say:

    “Too dangerous for Kieschnick to go to Haiti?” and,

    “…which moved him to deliver aid personally to Haitians at a time when our synodical president deemed it too dangerous to go himself…” and,

    “… as was published in the synod’s official news media, The Reporter.”

    unless one can show where the “too dangerous” language is used by President Kieschnick. If not, then the repeating of such a phrase is misleading at best and perhaps blatant, intentional defamation.

  6. January 27th, 2010 at 13:23 | #6

    Anthony and Anon,

    Please see the post that I just put up on the homepage clarifying this situation. Thank you for your suggestion that the site more clearly reflect what President Kieschnick said.

    TR

  7. January 27th, 2010 at 15:05 | #7

    So chaos is not dangerous?

    I think you are over-reaching. Clearly a chaotic Third World country in the aftermath of an earthquake is dangerous. It is a common sense conclusion, not a quote.

    Would you want to go there? I know I would be afraid.

    I don’t think not going there diminishes SPK in the least. I have no expectation that a synodical president should go to natural disasters.

    Anyway, change the word from “dangerous” to “chaotic”. It would say the same thing. Would you still be offended? If so – as I suspect you might – then there really is something else motivating you here, isn’t there?

    I scratch my head.

    @Anon #5

  8. January 27th, 2010 at 19:05 | #8

    Matt Harrison and Jacob Fiene just got back from Haiti and were interviewed on KMOX radio here in St. Louis this afternoon. You can listen to the interview at this link:

    http://www.kmox.com/topic/play_window.php?audioType=Episode&audioId=4346003

  9. January 27th, 2010 at 21:37 | #9

    I will be happy to amend my words from “too dangerous” to “too chaotic.” I posted an informal response to another part of this blog and didn’t mean for my post to be headline news.

    I think it is good for people to take me to task if I have been uncharitable, whether it’s by someone who uses his own name like Anthony or anonymously like Anon. It makes no difference to me who is doing the admonishing or how the admonishing is being done if I in fact need to be admonished.

    Still, I would much rather have people commend the work that Pastor Harrison has done rather than focus on Dr. Kieschnick’s explanation for not going, chaotic, dangerous, or otherwise.

    It’s no secret that I don’t have a high view of Dr. Kieschnick’s leadership, his theology, and his practice. I have told him that directly. And he has made it clear that he has a different opinion of me than I have of myself. But that by no means gives me a right to be uncharitable.

    I hope that people can distinguish between words which are uncharitable and words which are consistent with Biblical rebuke and reproof. I don’t doubt that rebuke seems uncharitable. Rebuke, however, is meant to lead to repentance, not to destruction.

    I ask forgiveness publically where I have offended publically, even though rarely will anyone grant public absolution for public confessions.

  10. jan the walther
    January 28th, 2010 at 10:09 | #10

    apropos Rev. Hendricksen’s post, the duo were also featured on Fox 2 News last night.

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