I have been inundated with requests to set up a Legal Defense fund. That blesses my socks off. Thank you for your support in this practical way.
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I’ve got a Twitter account now: Follow @DefendTheSheep
I’ll probably need some hand holding. If anyone can refer me to quick and easy tutorial, I’d appreciate it. Twitter definitely helped to publicize this story.
Now this is funny. I laughed and laughed some more. This came in my mail (and I have permission to share it). It comes from Pastor Ken Garrett from Portland:
We found out about your situation when our church (Grace Bible Church, Portland) began receiving tons of hits on our website–accidental visits from people who were actually looking for your old church. Also, we’ve received a nasty phone call, and a couple of nasty/scolding emails that were intended for Beaverton GBC! Strange world! Actually got my attention, since on a very heavy traffic day, our church website gets about 8 hits! No worries, it was fun to think for a few nanoseconds that our site was going to go viral! 🙂
So people, please be careful not to send dear Pastor Ken Garrett nasty notes or phone calls. He’s on our side. In fact, he along with his family has suffered spiritual abuse. He tells me there are others in his church who are also on the road to healing. Pastor Ken wrote about false teachers in his article The Fingerprints of a False Teacher. It’s good and it’s from Jude. Love that book.
This is the really good part of his e-mail right here – from a pastor who gets it:
The main reason I’ve written is to share with you that my wife and I were involved in an abusive “bible-based” church for 12 years. We did the whole thing: “discipleship training,” high-pressure evangelism, spiritual elitism, criticism and disdain for other “backslidden” local churches, etc. What dark hole! What a painful exit it was for us, and our poor daughters! It was here in Portland, is still in existence, although they’ve changed their name.Now, we’re at Grace Bible Church in downtown Portland, where I’m the pastor. The main reason I wanted to write to you is to tell you that you are certainly not alone, the phenomena of abusive bible-based churches is not only real, it is largely unrecognized, and unappreciated by the church at large (just my opinion, here!). Of course, we are still, as a family, processing and healing from the whole experience, although we’ve been free for over 15 years now. I think the healing goes on until we finally see our tender-hearted Lord face to face! But, I just wanted to reach out and encourage you to hang in there, keep praying, and trusting in God.
Don’t you feel the compassion? And look how long this takes – it’s a process. People who have walked our path understand it can be such a wonderful resource for us. Now Ken is using his pain for God’s glory by helping others.
A strange thing I’ve noticed along the way of healing is that once people leave spiritually abusive churches they (most of the time) will never again subject themselves to another one (assuming that they left because of the abuse). The problem is, many of them simply will never step into another church again, either!
Julie Anne’s comment: Yes, this is so true! Go to the msnbc.com or katu.com articles (referenced in my sidebar at the top right) and scroll through the thousands of commenters who say this is why they left the church and won’t go back. Many have left comments on my blog to that effect as well.
An abusive church rarely grows (numerically) beyond the size that the narcissistic pastor is able to control. Ours never grew beyond 50 adults, and that’s about as many as our guy could effectively control and bully. More than that, and he felt out of control, and would find a way to drive the “fringe” people away. As these leaders get older, their ministries often begin to shrink, because of their diminished abilities to control effectively…. Fun, huh?
Ouch!! nailed it.
Now, Ken, I don’t know if you saw this, but when I told Hannah about your sweet e-mail to me, she was multi-tasking on her computer and looked up your church’s Google reviews and look what she found:
How funny is that! At least no one mistakenly left you a negative one!
So anyway, friends, there really are some decent pastors around – ones who understand what we have gone through, will guide us, and not lord over us.
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And last, but not least, here’s a public shout-out to Rachel, my massage therapist – – – – I got my first complete night of sleep in some time. Thanks, sweet thang! Woohoo! zzzzzzzzzz