Some years ago, the Denver Rescue Mission fired me and here is why.
I Stayed at Denver Rescue Mission too Long
As I look back on my time at The Denver Rescue Mission, the person I feel worst for is not me. I accomplished the task I was there to and according to God’s Will.
However, I stayed three (3) years longer than I should have. Due to this disobedience to God, my employment was terminated. I don’t mind sharing this because as the next 12-18 months unfold, push-back will come.
Let’s get this out of the way first: yes, I was terminated from the company’s employ.
The reason was I uploaded a YouTube video and used the word ‘negro’ when referencing President Barack Obama.
After all which had happened, documented in my book “In Their Own Image,” mission leadership became indignant and fired me!
Although they had a EEOC complaints for blatant racism against African Americans, leadership was suddenly outraged at my racism against a Black President whom they openly despised.
I received a letter from Brad Meuli (CEO), Linda Brown, and Hugh Burns, declaring that because I used the term “negro,” and other violations, I was ‘persona non grata’ at the Denver Rescue Mission.
Persona non-grata is a Latin term used as the strongest form of rebuke. Its use indicates I was no longer welcome in their company and should immediately seek Jesus to forgive me for such a ghastly sin.
As you remember from the last few articles, they never sought forgives for the following “sins”:
Allowing Steve Walkup, VP of Operations, to threaten me with a false sexual assault allegation from a white woman. Steve was written up for this, eventually, but only after I approached a government organization about it.
I overheard Brad having an inappropriate conversation with his then PR Director “Greta.”
Brad was in a small closet with no windows, in my office, with a young woman named “Alexa.”
The Denver Rescue Mission paid white Directors thousands more than I earned although they had less real responsibility
The list could go on.
I Should Have Been Terminated
The question becomes: “was the Denver Rescue Mission right for terminating me? ”ABSOLUTLEY! I, above many my equal, understand that accountability is key to our Christian walks.
The only issue is Brad, Steve and the ‘fixer’ (Linda Brown) never held themselves to such high standards. For instance, Steve fired my African American assistant for being seen with a bag of marijuana.
This was righteous and I supported it!
The mission drug tested homeless Residents for illegal substances often. Any who fail the test are evicted. Steve’s decision stayed within policy. Truthfully, my assistant was not up to the task anyway.
However, the guy who reported this, a white man, admitted to getting drunk at the same “mission event"! He was drunk driving while taking my assistant home who had a bag of weed in his pocket.
The mission also evicted people who failed alcohol breathalyzer tests. The white guy who drove drunk had evicted people for being drunk as well.
He not only retained his employment with no consequences, but is now a Vice President in the company named Josh Geppelt. WOW!
This does not mean, however, that I could not be held to a standard white men aren’t. Right or wrong, leadership has the right to terminate with or without cause.
This behavior was commonplace. Another employee named Greta is another glaring example of inequality. I mentioned her in a previous post as having an inappropriate relationship with Brad Meuli.
I overheard their conversation in his office and it was clear something was going on. This special relationship protected Greta as well.
Someone reported back that she was with Denver Rescue Mission Interns, at a concert, smoking marijuana as well. She admitted it and nothing happened to her as with the African American. As these posts go on, you will learn of things much “seedier.”
Being “just”, as scripture commands, means either everyone should have been terminated or no one. However, African Americans know rules are different for us than for white followers of Jesus.
Why I Waited Seven Years to Write
After my termination, I waited 7 ½ years to tell this story which began more than 12 years ago. Walking in this mighty work could not be rushed and I needed to grow as well.
I also understood mission leadership was waiting for me to screw up.
Black folks who have been in my situation understand that I had humiliated these white men with truth. This is truth they claim to believe until it interferes with personal interests.
Their hatred toward me was many-fold but they simply didn’t believe Jesus Christ while claiming to do "His Work."
The Bible says: “how can a man say he loves God whom he has never seen and hate his brother who he sees every day?” It is worse than that though.
They do this to African Americans because they do not believe we are their brothers in Christ! Further, they felt I had forced them to do something they were not willing to. In their minds, I forced them to follow rules they’d written for everyone else but themselves had been exempt from.
Me, the ni**er” whom they had been so charitable to - how dare I!
Humiliating White Christians is Deadly
Did the United States nuke Japan because 3,000 U.S. service people were killed at Pearl Harbor in 1941? No! Japanese, as evident in American pop culture of the time, were thought to be nothing more than monkeys.
These less intelligent human beings had the gravitas to spit in the face of ‘good white Christians.’ These are the same ‘christians’ who had put Japanese American citizens in concentration camps during World War II with no charges other than skin color.
After the demotion of Steve Walkup, which was a result of my stand three (3) years prior to being terminated, I would have to a price eventually. I further waited so long because I needed perspective on both the mission’s wrongs and my own as well.
I was truly hurt after being terminated, of course, and wondered why I wasn’t shown the same amount of mercy that I had shown them by not suing. I had also refused Brad Meuli’s and Linda Brown’s offer to have Steve ‘fired’ as the price of dropping my EEOC complaint.
Several other black mission employees were angry when I didn’t go public to embarrass the mission. They were also hostile that I could have had a $150,000 payday. However, I couldn’t be bought because truth is not for sale.
At least not from me.
Too often, Black folk with legitimate grievances have the opportunity to change the landscape others who follow but “cash out.” One of the benefits of standing against Steve’s wicked race bigotry was half of his responsibility was stripped from him by Brad.
It just so happened the responsibility lost was the department with the most African American employees. Although those who followed had to deal with struggles as well, most were “safe” from Steve.
His replacement was Hugh Burns and he was a good guy. My major regret is putting him in the position of having to terminate me. The reason he was promoted to Vice President was because of my stand.
It is my prayer that he reads this someday and understands I am so sorry for putting him in such an awkward position.
I Could’ve Had $150K and Left With $15K
When I was terminated, the Denver Rescue Mission gave me $15,000 to remain silent. I could have received $150,000 a few years prior and left with a mere $15,000 and in disgrace.
It would be untruth to declare I didn’t feel foolish for not taking the $150,000.
On many an occasion afterward I thought: “I should have followed through with the complaint, gotten a higher amount, and been done with it”!
Realizing what Brad, Steve and Linda Brown truly were, I felt not taking the larger amount was the biggest mistake of my life. However, time brings perspective when one allows God’s wisdom to reign and not anger.
Looking back through my documentation, something stood out. My Pastor worked at the same place as did I. What I didn’t know is Steve had seduced him with an offer of replacing me as Facility Director.
This would mean more money and prestige. It would have been a personal disaster for him, however. While an awesome preacher, that size business would have totally overwhelmed him.
The man I had followed for years, trusted, and confided in was found to have been working against me.
My documentation indicates Pastor said: “Brother, these white people think you are dangerous. They offered to fire Steve if you dropped the complaint and you said no, Steve needed to be shown grace. You could receive a large amount of money because Linda (Brown) asked how much you want, and you said ‘truth’ was the price. Now you are indicating you will not even settle an EEOC complaint either”?
Not only was Steve and Brad trying to destroy me, my Pastor was in league with them. When I confronted him about this, his smugness answered my inquiry in a way words never could.
Any statute of limitations for a lawsuit has long passed. Further, my termination was righteous although they do not hold non-Black people to the same standard.
My read of Pastor’s and I’s conversation reminds me of this one thing: what I did, I did for Holy reasons.
Due to my refusal to sell truth, Steve was demoted, had a whole operating division stripped away, and Black employees whom he victimized, finally found a small bit of justice. Hugh Burns was promoted and was someone African Americans could trust to do what was righteous.
As I was God’s sword against the injustices of Steve Walkup, Hugh Burns would turn out to be the sword against me. God’s Word is true: “Judge not, lest you also will be judged. For the same judgment you hold others to, you yourself will be held to as well” (Matthew 7:1-2).
I value accountability even when it hurts. God’s Word is true, and God will use even the UNJUST, to deliver JUSTICE to those of His people who act unrighteous!
Header Image Courtesy of Anthony Chiado @ Unsplash
Japanese Artwork Courtesy of the University of Missouri