Wounded Pastor Unpacks Forgiveness

by Chris Brauns, Pastor of The Red Brick Church in Stillman Valley, Illinois

I wrote Unpacking Forgiveness after my family was deeply wounded at Harvest Bible Chapel. The thesis of that book is that biblical forgiveness can only truly be unpacked in a gospel-centered way — and biblical forgiveness certainly does not mean cheap forgiveness. If you take my forgiveness quiz you will gain an introduction to the direction of my book. Be assured that Christ is sufficient for whatever wounds you have received. 


In 2002, I was a church planting pastor for Harvest Bible Chapel. If memory serves correctly, ours was the fifth church plant. Our time with Harvest ended suddenly in 2004. Our departure was deeply painful for our family. Our Christmas card in 2004 featured a picture of our four children next to a roadside. It was where we were post-Harvest in the fall of 2004. We had invested everything we had in a church plant—only to see our lives turned upside down. We had little idea what was next. This is to say, to those who have suffered deep wounds at Harvest—we can relate!

Since then, I have served The Red Brick Church for 14 years. It’s been a wonderful time of building into lives at a small church. We love the lambs here. I have not spoken or written publicly about Harvest. We did our best to move forward in a way that honored Christ. That included meeting with James MacDonald and with another former leader to be sure we did our best to honor Christ. I’ve crossed paths with James a couple of times since then and our interaction has been cordial.

But obviously—since I left in 2004—Harvest was very much on my heart and mind when I wrote Unpacking Forgiveness in 2006-2007. My prayer for all those who are hurting because of the latest Harvest developments is that forgiveness would be unpacked in a Christ-centered way. Those who fear that biblical forgiveness minimizes sin don’t understand biblical forgiveness. If you have been deeply wounded, accept Jesus’ invitation to find rest in Him. His yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). For those who don’t want to buy another book, this page of forgiveness links offers many posts I’ve written.

As for our family, there have been many happy moments since we found ourselves at a crossroads in the Fall of 2004. One of those happy moments, shown below, is a family photograph from the 2017 wedding of our son Christopher and his lovely bride, Meredith.