When it’s YOUR former church that makes headlines

It was an interesting week on Facebook since a passer-by snapped a pic of this church sign in my former community.

I promise you it’s not Photoshopped. It’s ambiguous, since there is no evidence of any candidate being a non-American. All we have to go on is the ongoing gossip about President Obama not being an American by birth. It is interesting to note that this particular church hears anti-gossip sermons on a regular basis and every year this church has a special event called “Honoring our Heroes” when they invite all government personnel to join them for service and a free lunch. The pastor, Tim Ruhl, has preached numerous times about how we are to respect the office of the Presidency and I have heard him ask for prayer for the President many times. I’ve also heard him preach about how his church has the “right bible” and how important he believes it is that people become members of churches that meet his qualifications of a church.

This pastor preaches about the importance of 

  • The King James Bible
  • Soul-winning (door knocking)
  • Faithful church attendance
  • Church membership
  • Tithing
  • Baptism
  • Being a Baptist
  • and the list goes on.

During the years of preaching, the members are also lead to believe that if you leave “the house of God” (meaning the IFB), then you run the risk of your children dying, your spouse cheating, getting addicted to drugs, and so on. So it stands to reason that he should be, by all his qualifications on being a good Christian, voting for an IFB pastor to be president. Since we know assume the pastor is a Republican (and much of his church), then it is up to us to assume his sign meant to not vote for Obama, and the only other choice in their Republican voting guide is a Mormon. (BTW, this church regularly hands out Republican voting guides before all elections).

  • Mormon’s believe in the King James Bible
  • They go door knocking
  • Faithful church attendance
  • Church membership
  • Tithing
  • Baptism

oh but they aren’t Baptists.

Well, I’m left wondering if they’re going to vote for Ron Paul. I doubt it.

Nevertheless, the media picked up on the image of the sign and went to investigate. One thing about the ChicoER is they don’t keep these articles posted for long, so I’m going to pull some quotes from it so we can keep it here. When asked if the sign was referring to Obama…

“Tim Ruhl, the church’s pastor, wouldn’t say, when the Enterprise-Record asked him Monday.

“You can take it a thousand ways,” he said, adding that it could mean “vote for the American way.”

Some people took it to be a recommendation to vote for Mitt Romney instead of President Obama — a reference to the notion that Obama was born outside America and is not actually an American.

Asked if the sign referred to Obama, Ruhl replied, “Thank you, sir,” and indicated the phone conversation was over.”

The journalist interviewed two other long standing pastors of the community about the sign, to which they were both disappointed. They know this kind of move is a huge risk for churches.  The article goes on to say;

“Pastor Ruhl told the E-R a new message is put up every week on the church’s sign. He said the “Vote for the American!” message was removed after a week.

Asked if the church had gotten any comments on the message, he said, “a couple.”

Ruhl said the church did not want to offend anyone and that he was sorry if some found the message offensive.”

I find this article and his responses very interesting. And in this video at just about 3 minutes in he begins talking about reasons to have a bad day and he says,

“your president being re-elected.”

First of all, this pastor shouts vehemently about standing firm for that you believe in. If he practiced what he preaches he would have been honest about the sign. In this church, nothing happens without the almighty “Pastor Ruhl Approval”. So regardless of whether or not the words on the sign might have been someone else’s idea (an assumption by some), nothing gets on that sign without his approval. So why not just state his beliefs honestly? Why hide behind..

“You can take it a thousand ways,” he said, adding that it could mean “vote for the American way.” ?

He also has a 20 year history of preaching offensive things and has frequently said that people are offended at his videos to which he tells them,

“If you don’t like it, don’t watch.”

His preaching style is uncannily similar to that of his mentor, Dr. Jack Hyles. Dr. Hyles was the former pastor at First Baptist Church of Hammond, where his son-in-law, Jack Schaap, was dismissed from his pastorate for violating a young girl. Tim Ruhl and Jack Schaap both were taught and mentored by Dr. Jack Hyles. I’ve seen both Jack Hyles and Jack Schaap preach in person. It’s like watching Tim Ruhl all over again.

I’ve seen these three men (and several others from among the IFB) preach til spit came from their mouths, punching their pulpits til the wood gave way, and stomp their feet like Billy Sunday.

In a video, I saw Tim Ruhl make mention of ‘things” happening in other IFB churches and while expressing his disappointment as appropriately as possible, in the same breath, he says, “Not all Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches are like that.” Except, his has suffered from inappropriate behavior by former assistant pastors, including his own son, Jesse Ruhl. (at Minutes 10-13 http://vimeo.com/48053212)

I’m sure some of you might wonder if I’m ecstatic about these indiscretions, to which I can shout from the roof tops, “Absolutely not!” You see, while I believe it’s all a part of God’s plan to reveal the “Elis” of today’s world, it is never enjoyable to hear that young girls are being violated.  It is never a celebration to hear that there are wives who are suffering the pain of spousal betrayal. These are all terribly painful situations to go through. However, it is in the church and community’s best interest that these things be revealed so people can make wise decisions about surrendering their children into ministries who are being sued for not handling molestation according to State requirements.

Not many church members know what to do when they hear of indiscretions in the church. It makes it even more difficult when they are living in a spiritually abusive environment and possibly suffering Spiritual Hostage Syndrome. Many times, the average church member who leaves and speaks up is accused of being bitter and divisive, but when Jack Hyles’ own daughter, Linda, spoke out, people started listening more intently. I watched her video and I can feel the hesitation of her disclosing such eye opening information. Her story affirmed what I, and millions of others, have lived through in the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement.

I received a letter today from someone from my former church. I believe his heart is deeply sincere and as he petitioned me for specifics about why we left. I thought about what Linda said and the courage it took for her to speak about it on such a public venue. I sent this gentleman a video of me being interviewed by a former IFB pastor who now goes by “The Unconventional Pastor”, Bob Greaves. In the video he asks me about specifics that my family and I experienced and I declined giving details about our story, but rather chose to discuss experiences many people go through in an assortment of churches world wide.

I can understand why this young man is asking me for our specific story. Especially given the amount of passion I have in protecting people from abusive churches. I’m sure people have wondered,

“Wow! What in the world did Sisterlisa go through in that place for it to have upset her so much?”

You see, my story is not only mine. It is also my husband’s, my three daughters’, and my son’s. We have all had difficult situations in the IFB movement. We arrived in that church when we only had 2 children and our lives were an absolute mess. We had come out of a drug lifestyle and for a long while my husband hadn’t left that ‘world’ when I did. We struggled immensely. I was resigned to sign up for welfare just to survive.  Over the years, I remained fiercely loyal to the church, the pastor, and his teachings. After my husband graduated from a recovery home, we both continued in the church with utmost vigilance. The church would often have promotions to give away free scholarships to their school for whoever brought the most visitors in a 6 week period, of which we won a couple of times. We were ardent soul-winners, pleading with everyone we knew in the community to come to the church. The structure of the program kept us out of trouble and we moved further and further away from that ol’ unhealthy lifestyle.

Over the years we began noticing things that we could no longer remain quiet on. The inconsistencies in the interpreting of the scriptures and the brazen behavior of leadership lead us to question deeper and deeper. I began looking back over the years we were there and remembering things that happened that I had not understood at the time. These memories started to make sense to me. It was then that I discovered something troubling, at the inquisitive heart of a wonderful deaf women who also attended the church. Together, she and I began digging deeper into the connections the leadership had with other organizations and the people they were doing business with.  I searched the county courthouse records and found more troubling information that we, as church members, had not been privy to.

Then our children began to share concerns with us that we simply could not ignore. All of our children had suffered from mistreatment by other kids (I know..kids will be kids), but we knew we had to be our children’s advocates. We attempted going to leadership, but we found it only made matters worse for our children. The oldest two were pressured continually about giving more money to the church, living up to unbelievable standards, and a host of other things that I do not have their permission to tell you. We had to face the idea of possibly calling the police, but decided it would be best at that point to simply begin distancing ourselves.

We began missing church services a little at a time before we finally decided enough was enough and it was time to never go back. I know I’m still being vague here, but you have to understand that this is not just my story. I share it with 5 other lives who do not want to be so open about their pain. I want to respect that. For those who think we didn’t have a good enough reason to leave, it really isn’t your business what deep pain and trauma our family went through. We describe our pain as a betrayal. The depth of that betrayal is our own business. We trusted the pastor like a dad. We adored him and his family. We still have a Christian love for them and we pray they will someday be free from the bondage they have themselves in with their legalistic rules and religious piety.

It grieves me deeply to hear of two teen girls, whom I adore, being taken advantage of. It grieves me that wives were faced with such tragedy and betrayal against themselves. It breaks my heart to see the pastor’s wife have to face what her own son has done. I pray for them to heal and discover what true grace really is. I pray they’ll  learn the importance of owning up instead of sweeping under the rug. Confession is good for the soul. Perhaps they’re afraid to be judged by the people. I know what that’s like. My husband and I were transparent about our former drug life and our very public testimony has always been looked down upon in the eyes of many people in that place. I know, because so many of them told me to my face.

Sometimes churches can be some of the toughest environments to be in.

Once we left, a few people inquired about why we left. We tried to be vague, but they were insistent. We shared a few things and sent a generic email to a few people about us leaving, but were met with hostility from church members. And even though we had officially withdrawn from the church roster, my husband got called to the pastor’s office. He took another local pastor with him (Ruhl didn’t know he was a pastor) and he was asked not to contact anyone from “his” church. There was much said in that office visit and that was the end of our communication with him.

Until about a year later when another ministry we were involved with began having deep difficulties with legalities that we couldn’t overlook. It was then that he got involved and supported those who were taking advantage of us, the clients, and the trust given to them from the community. It was a double betrayal. Those few years were incredibly stressful for our family and while we tried to move on, we were constantly met with hostile emails, intrusions on Facebook, assaulting comments on my blog, and uncomfortable encounters in public places. All by church members.

Even of those who knew some of this mess in detail, we did not gain any support from any of them. There was one or two people who remained friends with us, but refused to hear out our story and they remained faithful to their pastor even though they knew what was going on.

Rumors spread throughout the community about our family and it made it very difficult to move on. We did find support from other local pastors and that was comforting. One pastor said this to me,

“If only I could tell you just how many people have come to me for counseling after leaving that same church. You’re not alone.”

We did the best we could to pick ourselves up and move on. I dumped my old blog and started fresh with this one, yet harassment always seemed to find a way back to me. I’ve blocked several people on Facebook to avoid confrontations, only to see them open new accounts and intrude on my conversations again. I had to tighten my account numerous times and weed them out. It’s been four years and I still see them opening new accounts. I don’t frequent their walls with hostile remarks against them, but they always seem to find mine to dish out their latest disapproval for me, my husband, and our new life in Christ.

I do admit that when the IFB movement hits the news time and time again, I do speak up about it. Why? For the same reason good Catholics speak up about abusive priests. People need to know what abuse looks like in the church in order to Protect themselves and their children. Pretending the abuse doesn’t happen, doesn’t stop it from happening. It is of great concern to me that so many IFB pastors will assist one another when their family members violate children. Several have hushed the victims and their families into silence while allowing molesters to go free and serve in other IFB churches. They shift these men from one place to another, whisk many of the victims off to other churches (especially if their rapist got them pregnant)

I understand the desire to move on after making mistakes. My husband and I made mistakes early in life too. We owned up to our mistakes and faced them head on. We did what we needed to do to make peace with law enforcement and with our community. We turned around and gave our lives to assisting others with getting out of the drug lifestyle…for twelve years. Now we want to move on also. But when do the victims get to move on? When will these victims be able to speak about their stories, their pain, and how their truth has been silenced in order to protect the men who violated them? Assuming they want to… but will they be safe in doing so? Will they be met with the same hostility we faced? What kind of life is it to have to face the fact that someday people might mistreat these girls? I understand the fear of speaking up, especially if the parents keep these girls in those churches.

I would like to see the victims, including the wives who suffered betrayal, be able to move on. We can pray that law enforcement can put a stop to this unnecessary, and unethical way of handling abuse in their churches. But chances are these pastors will continue to do as they always have, therefore it’s up to us, the CHURCH, to speak out boldly and teach others how to avoid abusive leaders.

After 15 years in the IFB movement, it is my opinion that these pastors are unwise in handling the delicate lives of God’s little ones. This isn’t something we can just forget about and move on as if nothing happened. While they think their stories are totally unrelated, we know better.

There are many more victims of the IFB who haven’t come forward yet.

When will you speak up?

You can leave your review of the church on Google here. Others have.. (I promise I wasn’t the one who put that church sign photo on there. But it did get a chuckle out of me when I saw it.)



American Christians Can’t Claim Persecution

Stay up to date with articles and resources for your spiritual journey Subscribe by Email

Soul Liberty Faith

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Is it really a ‘Christian’ legal agency? Is the pastor a true minister of the Kingdom?

I’ve noticed this term, ‘Christian’, has been debated a lot over the last few years. How does one describe what and who a Christian is?  Are they pastors of the true Kingdom, or simply false prophets setting up their own puny man made counterfeits? Do they lead the children of God to Jesus or do they lead them to the slaughter? Do they defend the true Church or are they only interested in their building that they call a ‘church’? The answer will depend on who you ask. Some would say a Christian is an abusive liar who cares only about their institutions than they do about the people, while others would say a Christian is one who cares more about the people than they do an institution. There are many institutions with clergy who claim to be advocates for those wounded by the world, but when one of their own staff members molests a child or embezzles tens of thousands of dollars, they rush to law organizations (who claim to be Christian) and get help to cover their tracks and offer no support to the victims. The victims are manipulated into silence.

So lets take a look at scripture and ask ourselves….what did Jesus do?

  • When the religious leaders were profiting off the people by turning the temple into a den of thieves, Jesus overthrew the tables and proclaimed that HIS temple shall be a house of prayer.
  • When the religious leaders condemned ‘sinners’and dragged them into the city square to stone them Jesus said, “he who is without sin cast the first stone”.
  • When the religious leaders threatened the death penalty and a shameful burning in the garbage dump, Gehenna, Jesus said, “oh ye hypocrites! You clean the outside of your vessel, but inside you are full of dead mens bones.”
  • When the pastors were misusing the temple tithes for themselves instead of providing for the widows, fatherless, and the poor God said, “you have robbed me, in tithes and offerings”

In the end, just as Jesus was saying “It is Finished” he declared the war to be over. Within that generation the temple was destroyed and the people were free to leave.

Somewhere along the way, religious leaders have set up more abusive organizations where modern day pharisees care more about their government sanctioned religious organizations than they do the victims who suffer abuse at their hands. They even have their own pharisee law brotherhood that will quickly come to the aid of the criminal and his organization to fight against the victim. Instead of tossing victims into Gehenna, they throw them under the church bus and run them right over.

From what I see in scripture, Jesus never defended the pharisees when the victims cried out for deliverance.

  1. God did not rebuke the Hebrews for crying out to him for freedom from Egypt.
  2. Jesus did not side with those who sought to kill him and his followers…he died in their place.
  3. Jesus sure seems to think highly of his children and has shown many times throughout the history of the bible that he stands for the victims.

We are all children of the Most High God, some just choose another path that leads to destruction. Those who walk a destructive path and who force others into slavery, bondage, abuse, and death are not representing Christ our Lord. They represent antichrist!

Jesus said back then that there were many in their world at the time. How much more, with the high population, we have in the world!

Yet, do not despair. True ministers side with the victims. There’s a time to minister to the criminal, but not while the victim is being further victimized and not until the criminal is brought to proper justice, or rather not by the same minister!

When a ‘pastor’ sees abuse in his organization and he chooses to protect the organization, he must also side with the abuser. If he doesn’t, the victim can win any court case he/she decides to go through against the organization, the leader, and the accused. And if the congregation is more concerned about the organization than their own fellow brothers and sisters who are being victimized, then you are in a den of wolves.

If a ‘pastor’ chooses a pharisee type of organization to save his ‘ministry’, protect the abuser, and silence the victim, then run out of that church as fast as your feet can carry you. Contact a lawyer and ask for assistance in getting your name OFF that organization’s roll. You are not safe there.

Why would anyone want to join forces with the work of evil that opposes helping victims?

An organization’s leader can not help both parties since it is a conflict of interest. So why does the congregation allow this?

Victims, cut off all ties you have to the organization and get help. A den of wolves is not going to help you get justice, they will either silence you, blame you, or shun you out. They are NOT your advocates.

I have seen first hand how a so called Christian legal assistance organization runs to the rescue. They rescue the institution, not the victims. Their job is to defend the organization and in turn they must defend the accused. A real Christian will not take such a court case unless they can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the accused is totally innocent. But this is RARELY the case. Instead, a real Christian will side with the victims and help them flee.

It grieves me deeply that so called legal agencies will give the same horrid advice to churches and clergy all over the country while leaving a path of destruction and bleeding sheep all over the land. They’re like poachers who slaughter to get what they want then discard their bodies, as if to dump them into Gehenna, without any care for their souls. These are NOT Christians, they are pharisees who attempt to murder the soul and bully the lambs into total submission to be further victimized.

gehenna by joeperrott, on Pix-O-Sphere
photo credit Joe

Jesus has set you totally free! Run out of there and don’t look back. He is your anchor in the storm, The Great Shepherd when the wolves surround us, the Savior of our souls! He is on your side! We are joint heirs of the Kingdom of God and Jesus said the kingdom is WITHIN you! The modern pharisees close off the kingdom and create a space that they claim is the kingdom, but it’s a facade. It’s bondage to control you.

The apostles came to spread the message of reconciliation, God reconciled us to himself through Christ! You are free and joint heirs. A joint heir does not join a puny man made kingdom. They enjoy the Kingdom of God and it’s not found in an institution. It’s outside the institution. Remember Caleb and how he courageously went into the land and saw the milk and honey? The Kingdom is already with you..the real Land of milk and honey! The calm fields to graze in next to the river of life is already yours!

Don’t remain in the antichrist kingdom any longer. Go roam free and be safe by HIS side. Many of us have left and walk with our Great Shepherd in the safety of his true fold. To escape a den is not difficult, but it does have pain in doing so. Like a woman in travail who is at her most pressured time, but the new birth coming will fade away the pain you experienced. The new life far outweighs that of the travail in getting there.

Blue Sky Reflecting on Stream by timothybyrne, on Pix-O-Sphere
photo credit Tim

Sisterlisa…your fellow freedom fighter

Soul Liberty Faith

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Hiding the Pain of the Victims

For two years I have prayed that the movement I departed from would have their eyes opened to the freedom we have in Christ and begin to really love the least, the last, and the lost. Last week when 20/20 aired their segment on the abuses that have happened in the IFB movement, the responses from many in the IFB has confirmed yet again, that I will never go back.

They had an opportunity to rise up and offer words of healing to victims of abuse, and yet they chose to defend their name instead. They could have openly rebuked those arrogant abusive ‘pastors’ and they could be teaching the people how to vote them out. They could be reiterating the fact that they cooperate with the law enforcement agencies in the prosecution of sex offenders from their groups.

They did not.

There are some matters that can be handled ‘in-house’ such as stealing food from the food locker, when a staff member’s child gets in a battle on the playground with another child, or even when a deacon has trouble with drinking. But when men in the church molest and rape young girls, it’s time to go outside the church for help. When the pastor tries to convince parents not to call the police, not push for a trial, and keep the child silent, it’s time to go to the local law enforcement for help.

Many independent churches don’t have accountability above the pastor. Many churches have submitted for so long that any amount of questioning about how the pastors are dealing with these matters is met with control, hostility, and banishment from their churches.

This is not a biblical church.

The elders, bishops, and deacons in the churches in the bible do not lord over the people.

Jesus said “It shall NOT BE SO AMONG YOU.”

We are all equal.

Yes, even the women.

Just prior to the 20/20 episode there was a blog post by a prominent youth pastor among the IFB who shared a letter he got from a female student from an IFB college. There were many comments on the article. Some were quite harsh, most were outpouring of love and understanding, and several who stood in agreement with the girl. There were some comments that flat out said that the legalism in their movement is a major hindrance in the lives of the people. But my comment was deleted.

Here are some of the other comments he allowed to remain on his blog:

Posted February 22, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Permalink
The young lady in the letter is sincerely asking Bro. Schmidt to help youth workers and parents, but what she may not realize is that, over the years, dozens of kids in his own youth group have turned their backs on God and have pointed their fingers at him saying the same thing, “Our parents and youth workers were not there for us.” Is it Bro. Schmidt’s fault? Did he not have the discernment or wisdom to help them with their struggles?
Maybe the heart issue that needs to be addressed is this propensity of young people to carry bitterness and point fingers. Young people watch dirty sitcoms because they enjoy them. They idolize pop culture heroes because they want to be like them. They listen to wild music because it feels good, and then they say, “If our parents and youth workers had done a better job, we would not be dealing with these issues.” Maybe as youth workers and parents we need to teach our young people to take responsibility for the bitterness and lack of forgiveness in their hearts. Maybe these are the vile, dirty sins of the heart that we are allowing to slip by unnoticed.
God is interested in the condition of our hearts, but every man is responsible for his own heart. I do not see in the Bible where teens and young adults are exempt from this responsibility.

Posted February 23, 2011 at 4:32 am
I believe this letter goes very much to the heart of the problem in our fundamental movement. I would add, though, that although we parents have used this supposed “pursuit of excellence” from an external perspective as we raised our children and often had to face serious negative results, if the policy of our churches do not change the emphasis likewise I see 2 things that will be perpetuated: the children will remain in a conflict situation where they hear a church leadership rhetoric emphasizing what the Lord did not; and the PARENTS will continue to be ‘raised’ to promote the externals and not the internal relationship with the Lord Jesus.

Posted February 23, 2011 at 6:59 am
I agree that “Rules without Relationship breeds rebellion”. It is sad when parents miss the mark and think that their rules and consequences of breaking those rules are the end all. You have to have rules, but you have to have the right Relationship (with Christ)! Parents, we’re not being all we can if we don’t get this point!
But I’d like to say that too many teenagers are looking for excuses and too many people parents and youth workers are catoring to that! Teenagers, do you really think that you’re going to stand before God and blame your parents? If you’ve been taught the Bible, than you know right from wrong, the consequences of disobedience and the blessings of obedience! Great lessons all of us can learn from this!

Stephen Nissley
Posted February 23, 2011 at 8:39 am
I guess by the looks of things I pretty much stand alone here. I think this is a joke! Dad gets the blame for the girls rebellion. I have seen this happen many times in my 35 years of preaching but when it does there is something wrong at home. The home is NOT a “good” fundamental godly christian home. The home is a mess! The family is one way at church and another at home, in other words they are phonies! This kind of stuff sells books but all it really needs is strong preaching. My wife and I raised 8 kids in church. We have two full time preachers and one missionary. The rest are serving the Lord in Ind. Fund. KJV Baptist churches. There are many many many just like our family.

Posted February 23, 2011 at 10:13 am
I wanted to say thank you to the young girl who wrote this to Bro. Schmidt. It must have taken a lot of courage to share that not knowing the response that it would bring. Thank you for allowing God to use you to remind all of us what is important as parents. I’ve been married over 11 years with two young children at home, one with the Lord and one on the way. Every day I try to do what the Bible says I should do as a father, and every day I feel like I fall short. My earnest desire is that no matter who they become or what they do in life, that they will have a heart for God. When I mess up everything else, I always try to share my heart with my kids. I want them to see how much I depend on God and how much I need him in everything that I do. I hope that even though they may not know every Bible story and and may not be able to quote much scripture, that they will have a heart for God. If God has our children’s hearts; He can help with all the areas where we fall short. Thank you again for sharing; it has made a difference in my life and that of others. God bless!

Amanda Rene’e
Posted February 23, 2011 at 12:39 pm
I definitely understand where this younglady is coming from… My dad is an independent fundamental baptist preacher… And I attended Bible College. But I can remember my parents not having time for us because they were so busy as were we with ministry that I think we all lost sight of God’s first institution- FAMILY. I can actually recall setting up a “pastoral” appointment to tell my dad somthing… I was having trouble and needed his guidance and I set up an appointment. When he asked why I did that I replied that it was the only way I knew he would definitely talk to me… If it was on the church books. Needless to say none of my parents 6 children attend church regularly. I know of 4 at least that have very lil if anything to do with God. My brother said that my parents “religion” left a bad taste in his mouth. I guess I wish someone would have emphasized that christian teens have struggles and that sending a kid to camp is not a cure all for lacking parental guidance and love. I am not bitter I would like my testimony to inspire other parents out there to take the extra time…. My dad helped other families with their relationships while all of them in our family fell apart.

And here was my response, that was deleted:

“Dear Brother Schmidt,
I echo the writers words loud and clear. I am UTTERLY thankful that you have HEARD her soul in this and have shared this publicly.

I was in the IFB movement for almost 15 years and the rigid rules almost destroyed my family. We did everything the preacher said we should do to turn out good kids. He promised that his teachings would work every time. But time and time again we saw kids from good homes fly straight into the face of drugs, alcohol, jail, and various other torments. But it’s not just the rigid rules, it’s the hypocrisy of the leaders. (not all of them) but a good number of them who insist their way is the only right way. And when those leaders put their own families on the pedestal, and even their own daughters are highlighted as THE example and the other teens KNOW BETTER.

They see those kids with the pastors and deacons aren’t looking. So I wanted to share with you that it’s not just the rules. It’s the lies. The sweeping under the rug. The constant suspicions of “sin” in others. It’s all these things that take place in many churches, not just those of the IFB movement. It would really really help if pastors would say very clearly, they do NOT have all the answers, that’s why we walk by FAITH. I can’t tell you how many nights we spent crying, sobbing, with our teen daughters when we left the IFB churches. Our family was so crushed by everything, it piles up year after year. The weight of the Law crushes people. We can’t live up to the Law and we aren’t supposed to. Not the OT Law and certainly not the church’s made up laws. We need GRACE. Good old fashioned

RADICAL lavishing GRACE. We need to know that we will all fall at some time or another and that doing all these church activities and scripture memorization is NOT our foundation, our foundation and only Savior is Christ. Preaching at people about sin doesn’t free them from it. Christ does that. Preach grace, please preach grace. Guidelines and boundaries in life is great, it’s part of discipleship..but lets make sure not to allow those guidelines and rules deceive us into thinking we won’t fall.

And lets not be so blind to think that life is all roses and lolly pops. Building our lives around the church isn’t what gets us through life, it’s building our lives on the foundation that does that. Because as hard as we try to build our homes on the rock, the storm still comes and it’s the foundation that stands the firmest. All our brick and mortar, wood, hay and stubble crashes hard. Just like we see in Japan..the foundations of the homes are still there, but the homes aren’t. We are One with our Foundation, One with Christ our Lord. And one last thought..the ones who just may have it the hardest, are your Pastor’s Wives and daughters.”

My plea for help was deleted. He did not email me. I was hidden and swept under the rug. I am not surprised, but I am disappointed. I had tried reaching out to other IFB pastors for help before. This is the third time I got this kind of brush off.

When Jack Schaap first aired his public opinion from his pulpit on the episode of 20/20 he made sure everyone knew how he felt…he stated that his words were ‘the word of God’ and defended  his opinions as ‘standing where God stands’. He was quite sure of himself that what 20/20 showed about him was something to be proud of. But a couple days later the video clips of him stating these things were removed from YouTube as a complaint of a ‘copyright violation’. A copyright violation? For a 2 minute video clip of something he said from a pulpit with a 501c3 PUBLIC ministry? Why delete the video if it’s something he’s so proud of? Then a new series of videos were posted on YouTube with the very misleading title “Jack Schaap’s response to 20/20″ which is a 5 part series on “how great Jack’s ministry is”

Deleting and covering up.

Isn’t this exactly what 20/20 revealed was happening in the IFB movement?

Their responses prove that what 20/20 revealed is true.

“Be sure, your sin will find you out”

A real minister, when shown to be wrong, unkind, lacking compassion, would openly admit it, in humility and love, and seek public forgiveness.

A real minister of the Gospel of peace would offer condolences to the victims and their families.

You see, when tragedy strikes and children are abused, the answer isn’t the church. The answer isn’t the church program of getting donned in a suit and tie, or getting a floor length dress and nylons. The answer is not found in arrogantly shouting about how your low opinion of women is somehow God’s opinion of women. The answer is not found in degrading women with weight issues and making fun of their weaknesses.

The answer is Christ. The response of Christ’s people is love and humility.

Usually the reason someone deletes messages, videos, and comments is due to pride. It’s easier for them to delete, than it is to apologize and admit they are wrong. They think that by hiding what they did and trying to move on as if it never happened will work.

But the victims know better.

It’s easier for them to not address your pain, than it is to examine what the problem is and offer compassion.

It’s easier for them to delete videos, hide their own sin, and keep pointing out everyone else’s sins, than it is for them to humble themselves so Christ can lift them up.

Standing higher on their platforms and shouting louder about how they think their opinions are right is not the way of Christ.

Christ is humble. He came to serve, to love, to embrace the oppressed abused and worn. He came to wash feet. He came to lower himself to the lowest possible place.

I think it’s obvious what a real leader is.

Be wise before you submit yourself to abusive, arrogant, lofty, bull horn shouting bullies.

Find a place of grace where being transparent is welcomed and where the wounded are lifted up and the leaders are humbling themselves to ‘wash your feet’ and tend to your wounds.

I had hoped that someone with a high profile among the IFB, like Jack Schaap, might take this as an opportunity to address the many abuses happening in the IFB and BE A LEADER and stand up WITH these victims and proclaim that all IFB preachers (at least the ones who came from his college) would humble themselves and address this growing epidemic and make the necessary changes to be sure matters like these are dealt with swiftly by local law enforcement.

I have yet to see this happen. And I am free to never step foot in an IFB church ever again.

My salvation has nothing to do with which church I go to. It has everything to do with Christ my Lord. The Savior of all.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Related Article:

Help When Leaving a Cult

Finding Help When Leaving a Cult

There certainly are many online forums where you can go and talk with others about your experiences. It helps to know you’re not alone and to hear about the experiences of other people provides some validation for what you’ve been through. I have participated in many online groups over the years and have found many that were very productive and supportive and then there have been some that ended up furthering the damage I had already suffered. Thankfully, I know certified counselors who have helped walk me through various tragedies I have been through, but not everyone has certified counselors as friends.

I do not recommend using ONLY online forums for help when you have suffered from trauma of any kind. I also do not recommend that you speak to clergy (pastors, bishops etc) unless they are certified as trauma counselors. Some Christians have asked about secular counselors and expressed their concern about that since many cults openly refute going outside the church for counseling much less a secular counselor. Since religion has the track record of having trauma issues with victims of various abuses, I hesitate having counseling within their systems while you are vulnerable.

A victim of trauma, whether it’s physical, sexual, or spiritual, can suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I recommend that victims find a counselor who is certified in PTSD, relationships, and spirituality to help you.

In addition to talking to a counselor, I recommend that you do not attempt to attack your oppressor/abuser in any way whatsoever. Do not attempt to contact them, do not follow them on the Internet, and only contact the government authorities when there is physical or sexual abuse, or if you are being harassed by repeated and excessive unsolicited phone calls, mail, or the visits to your home or work place.

When you decide to join a support group, select one that has certified counselors there to moderate so you can be protected as you begin to share your story. If you’re seeing a counselor on your own, I would ask for recommendations from them to make sure you are in a legitimate support group. Many times the online forums are mainly other victims who may not be equipped to handle moderating such a sensitive group of victims. Use caution before sharing private information with them.

If you decide to blog your journey out, talk to an attorney first so you know what you can and can’t say in public., Anything you post on your blog can be potentially used against you and incite hostility among the group’s loyal members and that could backfire on you and your family. Consider using a pseudonym and avoid naming the abuser and the church name or it’s address. You can specify which movement you came out of, but avoid using a broad brush to accuse them all of such abuses. You can disagree with their church politics system and doctrines, explain how you feel the teachings are mentally, emotionally, or spiritually abusive. Your story is more likely to be listened to if you are as tactful and respectful as possible in what you’re writing.

Discussions on Facebook or other social networks can be tricky and you want to make sure your account is as private as possible to avoid hate mail or false friend requests from people posing as mutual friends of people you might know. Hostile cult members might stalk you online to read what you’re saying and that will only provoke them to be more aggressive. NEVER share information about an ongoing, unsettled case.

I began blogging about my journey a while ago, but only recently mentioned the denomination due to the fact that it ended up on 20/20. But I am careful not to name which specific church I am from. The only people who will know are those from my area who happen to find my blog and connect the dots. I do not share information that can be viewed as slander or that would incriminate those in that group. I do share the teachings and how they conduct their church politics with my disagreement on those issues. The only situations that were specific, that I shared, were situations that happened publicly and what is already on the county’s public Superior Court website.

I recently joined a cult “support” group on Facebook only to discover that the leader was provoking these tender, wounded victims to call all their local law enforcement, District Attorney’s, and social services to make generalized reports against the entire church movement. This is so grossly beyond unwise that I am shaking my head. No victim who is under this kind of duress should EVER be told and provoked to get involved in trying to be a vigilante to take the law into their own hands. A real support leader who wants to pursue a legal matter would hire a lawyer and an investigative team to handle these kinds of issues. If anyone ever puts you in a position to attempt to handle legal matters on your own, USE CAUTION and consider leaving the group so you won’t be taken advantage of.

Many times victims are passionate about informing others about false doctrines and potentially put them in dangerous positions. Sometimes that passion can manifest in ways and with words that could actually hinder their cause, rather than help them. Their best course of action is to hire lawyers and let them handle it professionally.

Raising awareness to an issue that you feel is needed in our society should be done professionally and as peacefully as possible. Consult a lawyer, or another Awareness Campaign Manager that has a good reputation in their own causes, for guidelines to help make your campaign a powerful one that is respected by the listening and watching audience.

If you have any questions let me know.

*Disclaimer: I am NOT a lawyer. I am, however,  a certified PTSD counselor, Addictions and Recovery Counselor, Assistant to an Interventionist, and have 17 years experience in spiritual matters and abusive relationships through ministry.

If you have questions about legal matters I recommend you call a lawyer. Many lawyers will meet with you for free for a consultation.