A Note of Gratitude and Support for Plaintiffs of SGM Lawsuit

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Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.
Proverbs 31:8-9 NLT


It’s been a while since I have posted about the class action lawsuit involving pastors, churches, and school connected with Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM).  I noticed a couple of articles came out yesterday.  Peter Lumpkins has this article Sovereign Grace Ministries and C.J. Mahaney want lawsuit to end which links to this courier-journal.com article, Louisville-based Sovereign Grace Ministries wants lawsuit ended, says it’s shielded from abuse claims.

I’m not going to be discussing those articles here except to say Peter nails it, so if you read any, read that one.  But I think the Sovereign Grace Ministries leaders get far too much attention.  Of course we know CJ Mahaney gets to go gallivanting around the world speaking at conferences (he recently returned from a speaking trip in S. Africa), yahoo-ing with all of his BFFs, tweeting, blogging about sports, pastoring his church in Louisville, ya know, just having a good ol’ time.  But, you see, it’s been over SIX months since the original lawsuit was filed.  The lawsuit has been amended already adding more plaintiffs.  These are real people behind the lawsuit with real lives.  Let’s talk about the plaintiffs.

I’ve been reading/hearing rumblings of depositions taking place among other rumors circulating and have kept in contact with some of the plaintiffs over the months.   It  has struck me how different my case was from theirs.

When my case went viral, everybody could see my full name, some may have seen or heard me in an interview and could connect a face or voice with me.   They could read my personal words here and connect with me publicly on the blog or privately by e-mail.  It worked well for me because I could see and feel the support.  That has not been the case with the plaintiffs in this lawsuit.

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dark clouds

Dark Clouds, but the Sun is Shining

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When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them,

because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 9:36

Living life under the pressure of a lawsuit is no easy task.  For me, it meant my normal sleep pattern of 7-8 uninterrupted hours of sleep became 4-6 hours of interrupted sleep.   I mean really . . . . how many times can you interrupt 4 hours of sleep?  Well, that was my life.  I truly believe it was the prayers of the saints that sustained me.

You try to go about business as usual, but there is a dark cloud hanging over your head – a cloud of uncertainty, what-ifs, questions, concerns for the future, etc.   Over the past six months and several months before the lawsuit became public (yea, it’s been a long haul for these folks), SGM plaintiffs have dealt with illnesses, job uncertainties, babies, paying bills, raising children, car accidents, housing challenges, counseling appointments, weddings, dirty laundry, graduations, allergies, school, work, all with that dark cloud that seems to be tethered to them.

Let’s face it.  Life is challenging on its own.  Then add church corruption.   And Spiritual Abuse.  Forced restitution with perpetrator.  Let’s add physical and/or sex abuse to all of that.   Did I mention the lawsuit?  Where.Is.God.In.All.Of.This?    Is He there?  Did He abandon me, too?  Did I mention crises of faith?   Ok, did you combine this paragraph with the last one and get an idea of what some of these folks are going through?  I hope so.

To survive abuse is a feat all on its own, but to add the stress of a national lawsuit – – – – even when you yourself are nearly spent trying to cope/survive with the abuse, perhaps in ongoing therapy – takes a tremendous amount of energy and courage.  But somehow – –  – because somewhere deep inside you, you realized that if you did not SPEAK OUT, others would be walking the same horrific path – –   No.  NO.  NO MORE ABUSE, so help me GOD!!!!    THIS MUST BE STOPPED!

That is what the plaintiffs are doing for the Body of Christ.  That is love in action.

The plaintiffs are true heroes to me.  It might be because I have been through a lawsuit that this is really tugging at my heart, but I think we as a Church Body owe these folks a debt of gratitude for speaking the truth.  I would like to devote a whole post for that purpose.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation,

by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Phil. 4:6

We’ve talked a lot lately about what Christian love is – – what compassion is – – how Jesus demonstrated the kind of compassion that had shoes on.  You guys get it.  Some of you have represented the Body of Christ more to me than I have experienced in a church building filled with people.  Would you please join me in a visible show of support for these precious people by sending words of encouragement, verses, prayers, thoughts in the comment section below?  I will get word out to the plaintiffs so they can read this.  Thank you!  Let’s do this!

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24 comments on “A Note of Gratitude and Support for Plaintiffs of SGM Lawsuit

  1. I have never dealt with any of the things these courageous people are going through, and it shatters my heart to realize what a burden has been laid on all of these brothers and sisters. I honor them for their strength and determination. They themselves honor Christ by refusing to let evil continue to be done in His name. Thank you, Thank you!


  2. Julie Anne, you soooo get it. My recovery from SGM took 7 years. In that time I gave birth to two children, moved 3 times, homeschooled (1 yr), financial issues and still had to deal with an emotionally abusive husband.

    To the saints involved in these SGM lawsuits: It took 7 years of praying “Vindicate me O God…” from Psalms for me. I will pray this for you. You will be vindicated and your courage and steadfastness will vindicate my family further and benefit many, many others. God Bless you!


  3. Let’s face it. Life is challenging on its own. Then add church corruption. And Spiritual Abuse. Forced restitution with perpetrator. Let’s add physical and/or sex abuse to all of that. Did I mention the lawsuit? Where.Is.God.In.All.Of.This? Is He there? Did He abandon me, too? Did I mention crises of faith? Ok, did you combine this paragraph with the last one and get an idea of what some of these folks are going through?

    Don’t forget watching your abusers and those who covered up the abuse strutting around oh-so-Spiritual, followed by their loyalists madly in love with the smell of the Great Man’s farts.


  4. A definition from The Merriam-Webster Dictionary on the word Brave

    courageous, valiant, valorous, intrepid, heroic, lionhearted, bold, fearless, gallant, daring, plucky, audacious; unflinching, unshrinking, unafraid, dauntless, doughty, mettlesome, stouthearted, spirited; informal game, gutsy, spunky
    Brave as a verb:
    endure, put up with, bear, withstand, weather, suffer, go through; face, confront, defy.

    I marvel at how brave you all are. Do you feel brave? Well, your brave actions speak louder than words to me.

    I cannot imagine what you are going through, though Julie Anne did give me a taste of your suffering: “Then add church corruption. And Spiritual Abuse. Forced restitution with perpetrator. Let’s add physical and/or sex abuse to all of that. Did I mention the lawsuit? Where.Is.God.In.All.Of.This? Is He there? Did He abandon me, too? Did I mention crises of faith?”

    Thank-You for bringing into the light what darkness wants to keep hidden. Thank-You for having the courage and integrity to take on these wicked people.

    I leave you with a couple of quotes that remind me of what you Dear Saints are accomplishing.

    “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
    Elie Wiesel

    “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
    Elie Wiesel


  5. Some quotes I have on my blog that I like to read to remind myself to keep on keeping on shining the light of truth and I hope these help you too:

    From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised. Psalm 113:3

    We’re not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we’re to drive a spoke into the wheel itself. -Bonhoeffer

    Churches that shame the vulnerable to protect the powerful have gotten the gospel backwards. – Rachel Held Evans

    Of course it’s the same old story. Truth usually is the same old story. – Margaret Thatcher


  6. Big hugs to you, SGMnot.

    Amy – Thanks for being a champion and speaking out for the abused. You get it, friend. I’m glad we connected and join together on these efforts.


  7. I’ve been MIA for a while, because life happens. I’m so glad I came over here to see this post. What HUG said is one of the things that really gets under my skin. While the abused struggle to overcome their trauma and still deal with life, the abusers carry on and prosper. Like Amy’s quote said, the abusers are indifferent to the hurt and pain they’ve caused.

    Well SGM plaintiffs, no matter what the outcome of this lawsuit, you will all be heroes to me. You were not afraid (well, maybe a little?) to stand up and make your voices heard. If SGM is like other abusive churches, you’ve probably had a hefty dose of mud thrown in your face for doing so. But, because of you, a bright light is shining on the abusive practices of not only SGM, but also other ministries who use the same tactics. I hope what you set in motion will only gain momentum.


  8. so many people are praying for all of you and fighting for you!
    Thank you for standing up and fighting for injustice. I know the Lord will bless you for speaking truth and bringing to light what others would prefer to keep in the dark.
    I do not know you personally but I walk with you in this fight. NEVER NEVER NEVER think any of you are alone for one minute.
    Be strong and courageous! We are standing with you ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  9. Thank you SGM plaintiffs for courageously speaking up. I am so sorry for all you’ve had to endure, so heartbreaking. Please know I pray for you daily and for justice to prevail. May you be strengthened and encouraged by all the prayers and love sent to you by so many of us.


  10. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it costs to speak up. It costs.
    Thank you for doing the right thing, for speaking up and out. This action on your part, this sacrifice, gives me hope. Up till recently, I’ve mostly watched people doing the cya dance, or out and out evil manipulations of others.

    I keep picturing the three monkeys, “I see nothing, I hear nothing, I say nothing!” That summarizes my impression of religious leadership (with the exception of one pastor.) This has caused me to question my faith to some degree and become distrusting.

    But to watch you, JulieAnne, Amy Smith, Dee&Deb and others speak out, does my heart good. THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart!


  11. I meant to add SGM plaintiffs, Thank you all for being so brave! And for continuing even on the days when you don’t feel brave.


  12. To all of the SGM plaintiffs…thank you for your grace, courage, and love. I started to experience a faith meltdown in 2008 and really hit bottom in 2009. There were times I thought I couldn’t hit any lower and I did. I was crushed and angry over a number of things; past church experiences and having followed “Biblical” advice and having it backfire. Also moving across country and taking a job while thinking I was following God’s will while being open about my demons and get burned for doing so. I looked up to John Piper at the time with a certain amount of respect and awe. Why….did I consider him a father figure? Especially with the love my own father showed me? At the time I was also crushed by doubts. One of the biggest doubts was the problem of evil.

    To those who knew me in person I phrased it like this…”Why would a loving God allow a 6 year old to be abducted, molested and murdered? How is a God like that good?” This issue of evil hollowed me out to the core and left me so numb. I considered myself an agnostic due to how my life fell apart and was trying to deal with all the doubts, church experiences, para ministry experiences, etc… I was in a full fledged faith crisis.

    However I have to credit the SGMnot’s, the Happymom’s, the Wallaces, and the Noels for fighting back and standing up to evil. In my night i wondered what one did with evil? How does a person respond to evil? As I read the stories on SGM Survivors I was horrified with what I read. There were times this 38 year old male wanted to weep for what he read. There were other times I wanted to explode at what I read. At first the blogs confirmed in my mind why Christianity was a cancer. Look at the harm that Christianity has caused? Then the pieces slowly started to fall in place. I saw Christians standing up to evil organizations like Sovereign Grace. You have in part helped me with some of my doubts and your faith and courage helped me build my faith when I thought I had none. To all the SGM plaintiffs my heart is with you.

    I’m still getting back on my feet after going through a faith crisis. And I am still consumed by doubt. For example I still struggle with what good is prayer and why should someone pray? However I so desperately want all you SGM Plaintiffs to find justice, peace and hope. So even while I struggle with pray when I go to the Fairfax County Rec Centers and do lap swimming I pray for you guys. I pray that you’ll find justice. I pray that you’ll find love and hope. I pray that you’ll finally have peace and this will all be behind you. I also have prayed that Sovereign Grace is destroyed and that is crawls back into the pit of hell it slithered out of. And I pray that blogs like this, Wartburg Watch, SSB, and SGM Survivors will go away because there will be no need for them. And I pray that all Sovereign Grace churches close their doors and not another person is abused, deceived, or harmed.

    That is my hope with all you guys. Know that I am standing in your corner and hoping for the best.

    Good luck and thank you for helping me solve the problem of evil. Maybe me slowly putting a faith together again is an example of Romans 8:28 at work. I don’t know….but one can hope.


  13. I have to say….there are too many good blogs. Internet Monk, Christian Monist, Julie Ann’s, Wartburg Watch, SGM Survivors, etc… I struggle with so many of them because they have good quality.


  14. Wow, Eagle, tell a girl to get Kleenex already, will ya? Wow, your comment really moved me. It’s the crisis-of-faith thing that has really gotten me lately – – – how these abusers mess with people’s heads and confuse who God is. I know a number of people who are struggling with this issue right now and it tears me up inside and reminds me that but by the grace of God, I could be there, too. Thank you for sharing your story. Your faith journey encourages me in my faith. Wow, we so need each other, don’t we? I’m not going to say if I go to the East coast, but I look forward to when we can meet and have a beer and chat one day. You make me smile!


  15. Wouldn’t that just be wonderful if the need for this type of blog was no longer needed. We can pray to that end but I don’t see things getting better anytime soon so I see the need for this and other blogs of this nature will be needed until Jesus returns.


  16. Eagle- You slay me.

    I know I am being redundant, but if it wasn’t for your voice at I.M. (& Hugs too) I would have never learned about TWW & SSB. Keep sharing please. I suspect that there are a lot of lost sheep out there that need your voice.

    it is so confusing & heart/faith crushing to be a victim of these celebrity experts.

    I struggle too staying connected with all the truth telling blogs.

    Yet, I am o so thankful for their voices, for making sense out of nonsense.


  17. To Katie and Eagle and all the Katie-s and Eagle-s out there: This is us, all standing up against evil, this is grassroots, a ground-swell, you, me, literally across the country and around the world — taking a stand against spiritual tyranny, which has disguised itself as Christian, named itself as “better than you” and attempted to squash us by various abuses. Educating ourselves by blogs like this, talking with each other about it all and trying to make sense of it, listening to each other’s stories and sharing each other’s pain–to me this is great fellowship and it is making us strong. The ultimate result is that we will know our gracious God better and deeper — the little people, the disenfranchised, the damaged, the hurt ones — we are the ones that Jesus came to bind up and heal and He is doing it!

    Child sex abuse and cover-up are literal crimes and are being dealt with, as such, in cases like the SGM one — but emotional and spiritual abuse can be just as life crushing and faith destroying. Eagle, thank you for praying for us, picturing you swimming laps and praying for us brought me to tears. What a beautiful, tangible way to intercede in the midst of your life. I feel deeply moved and honored that so many people like yourself are praying for us and linking arms with us, even as they struggle with their own doubts and struggles to heal.

    When I realized that child sex abuse and pastoral cover-up was rampant in SGM and that my family had been betrayed by the very men who should have protected us, my “Momma Bear inside” rose up and shouted “Enough!” For years, SGM had that “drop photo with ripples” for a logo (like this — http://soulmemorydiscovery.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/MP900399620.jpg ) How ironic. As regular folks like you and me stand up against wicked abusers, corruption and spiritual tyranny and Money-Changers-in-God’s-House and say “Enough!” we are all being that drop that causes a thousand ripples.

    Just as in Genesis it poetically says “The Spirit hovered over the waters…” I want to share a word of comfort and encouragement to all touched by our case — God’s spirit, the Holy God, The Comforter, gentle to the brokenhearted and tender to the crushed in spirit — He is hovering over all of these ripples, that are extending out from the SGM fiasco and now this lawsuit and all the trauma that we are grieving over together as a community. He is here with us, with you and me, hovering over all of us — as more traumas are made public through our lawsuit, I want all of you to know that His comfort is here — and whether you feel him or not — He has never left. Evil will not win.


  18. Apologies to everyone for being out of touch for so long. As with BeenThereDoneThat above, life has been happening to me lately, and in a big way. Checking in has been difficult, but I hope to use the next few days off to catch up.

    According to the banner at TWW, things will be moving in the SGM case very soon. I want to thank Sgmnot and so many others for having the courage and integrity to stand with each other, and against the corruption in Sovereign Grace. Your strength and patience are inspiring, and I will be praying for you and for everyone hurt by SGM as depositions begin. Stay strong!


  19. All of the people that have been brave enough to stand up in this lawsuit, I applaud you. You, and the untold others who can’t yet speak out, are in my prayers. I wish you all of the best in your healing and growth.

    I’ve found a quote from my favorite blogger to be very useful when I’m making an appraisal of a preacher or church leader. “When you hear a person say that they love God more than people they are preparing to hurt someone.” – Richard Beck


  20. Sgmnot (a plaintiff’s mom)

    Your words give me chills, what an inspiration you are. Every word you wrote touched me deeply. I am tongue tied, because tears are choking me, just wanted to say I ache for the victims and I long for justice to be served. Sending you love & prayers.


  21. “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” -Desmond Tutu

    Thank you SGMnot and any other plaintiffs and families who may be reading for having the courage to speak up and push back against injustice.

    You all being brave enough to challenge some of the overwhelming, systemic injustices within SGM gave me courage to finally leave. I honestly think that I (and probably countless others) would not have left if these things hadn’t been brought to light.

    I had no idea how deep the wounds were and how long this abuse of power had been going on, nor how widespread it was until the infamous wikileaks documents came to light. All I knew was what I observed, which was a tightly run ship in which the top down leadership style felt increasingly uncomfortable over time. Things got more blatantly cultish when I started openly discussing with people that I was considering leaving, and I quickly realized that even considering such a thing was a cardinal sin in SGM. I started remembering how everyone who had left previously was looked at and talked about as though they were in sin for simply choosing to worship elsewhere. Finally it became apparent that I wasn’t going to be “allowed” to leave and it became crystal clear that I was to follow God, not man.

    It had been a slow process of de-programming and healing, one that so many others are also experiencing. But I am on the right track and am hopeful, knowing I was spared of potentially years and years of living under the oppressive leadership and lack of thinking for myself. I am so sad for all that the plaintiffs went through, and that it had take the lawsuit to wake so many people up. But this is one example of how God works all things together for good. If the numbers of churches leaving SGM are any indication, one very good thing coming from all of this is that many of us will be spared from further spiritual abuse and will instead experience journeys of healing and vibrant communities in healthier churches where we can be free and safe and ourselves.


  22. Praying that justice will be done, leaders will change their harmful ways, and that God will bring comfort and peace to all who have sufferred at the hands of reckless leaders. Thanks to all the men and women who have come forward to stop injustice and shed light on the hidden behaviors and actions that devestated many. You are brave.


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