What Happened To Me At Simpson: Listen to Hope Podcast #5

Friends,

This is God’s timing.  Just this morning, a podcast telling my story was released.

After you hear Lina Abujamra’s Hope Podcast Episode 5, you may wonder where things stand in the Simpson saga right now, today.

So let me try to explain.  Most private colleges and universities in America were founded as Christian institutions.  But over time, they secularized as status, money, power became the lived priorities of the board.

Little did I know that when I took a job at Simpson University in January 2010, the forces of secularization had already pulled the board into significant mission drift.

To the shock of my thick layers of naivete, when the president of the school willfully violated Simpson policy by violating my contract, the board stood with the president while I myself was urged by a number of key constituents, please, to stay at the school while the SU faculty united to confront the board.  When approximately one year later,  the Simpson board allowed my contracts to be breached yet again, a number of key constituents urged me, please, to sue the school.

After praying, seeking counsel, and studying I Corinthians 6, my husband and I decided that suing was the right course of action given all the details, even though some people who are not apprised of the facts have judged our careful judgment without taking time themselves to consider all the factors we reviewed.

Soon after I filed a lawsuit against Simpson University on October 2, 2012, Simpson’s insurance lawyer appealed to Religious Defenses in attempt to get my case thrown out of court.  The irony of this story is that Simpson tried to use religious freedom to establish Simpson’s “right” to not at all exercise SU’s espoused religion.

Simpson University (SU) openly refused to engage its own written grievance policy that is part of every faculty contract and that starts with Matthew 18:15-17.  In 2012, both the Provost of the University and the H.R. Director alike said that Matthew 18 applies to the church, and since “Simpson is not a church,” then Matthew 18 does not apply to the SU workplace.

To add to the irony, Simpson University’s #1 stated Value that is part of my Simpson contract is “The Supremacy of Jesus Christ,” and yet heeding the words of Christ in Matthew 18:15-17 is something that Simpson officials have ever refused to do.  Simpson’s lawyer, in fact, chided me and tried to make it sound as though I would not comply with any authority at all simply because I chose to put Christ first.

No one in power at Simpson was there to protect me as the dean of Simpson’s  seminary.  No board member.  No one with power in the religious corporation expressed any willingness to stand up for what is right in truth.  I simply had no venue in Simpson University for voicing a response to Simpson’s false accusations, even though it was put in both of my written contracts that I am entitled to “due process.”

But God gave me a venue through prayer, and God raised up other prayer warriors to stand in the gap with me and beseech God for God’s help.

By God’s grace, I was able physically to stand in the courtroom in Sacramento at the Third District Court Of Appeal before three Justices (Blease, Butz, and Renner) and argue my case myself as my own lawyer.

I am not a lawyer, but I stood up and argued as a very prepared non-lawyer who bet on God and counted on God’s power to be perfected in my vulnerable weakness.  In God’s immeasurable kindness, God blessed me because my doctoral level training in theology enabled me to think theologically about my case, which helped me to prevail in court.

To God’s glory, this week on September 18, 2018 a great reversal happened:  The legal validity of my Simpson employment contracts was revived by the appellate court in Sacramento.

To put it analogously, by doing these three things, Simpson University killed its own contracts that it voluntarily issued to me:  1) by violating the terms of my two employment contracts instead of honoring the terms of what Simpson itself drafted into the agreement;  2) by looking to its lawyer to protect the board’s desire to dishonor the very terms that Simpson itself wrote into the contracts; 3) by abusing the First Amendment as if “freedom of religion” gives Christian schools a license to do the very opposite of what genuine Christianity requires.

Tragically Simpson succeeded in Shasta County in June 2014 in divesting Simpson contracts of their legal validity.  Simpson killed its own contracts, so both contracts sat there dead.  But after I appealed, God used the Court of Appeal in Sacramento in 2018 to resurrect both contracts.  God is a God of resurrections!  God’s power is greater than the power of death.

Yes, I rejoice, but I don’t want to spike the football.  My involvement in this battle primarily pertains to a cause that is greater than just winning a personal lawsuit (which I have not won yet overall).  To be very clear:  My goal in fighting this battle is to build integrity in the Church.  I am suing for several reasons, and one of those reasons is because we are not going to have integrity in Christian organizations unless we also have accountability.

Unaccountable power, especially unaccountable institutional power in the hands of people who do not fear God enough to honor the very policies that they themselves establish is destructive.  That is why God established the Romans 13 government:  to keep us from destroying ourselves.  It is suicidal for Christian organizations to attack their own self-drafted employment contracts.

I will close on a personal note.  Going through this trial of being in such conflict with a secularizing school is something God is using to transform me.  It has been challenging to give myself law school as I act as my own lawyer and still get my other work done.  But it has grown my faith because I believe that God Who delivered King David through every tribulation will, likewise, in due time, deliver me.  

Psalm 34, a Psalm of David:

1 I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul will make its boast in the Lord;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
3 O magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

4 I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.

8 O taste and see that the Lord is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
9 O fear the Lord, you His saints;
For to those who fear Him there is no want.
10 The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;
But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.
11 Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Who is the man who desires life
And loves length of days that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
And your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
And His ears are open to their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against evildoers,
To cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry, and the Lord hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are [d]crushed in spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones,
Not one of them is broken.
21 Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

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