LETTER TO CHURCH FAMILY

This isn't a letter of condemnation or even anger…..it is about a person who has lived with pain since childhood, how you added to it, instead of having compassion, and how what you did, affected me. I still struggle with nightmares and pain. It will be worth it, if even one person has their eyes opened. I prayed that perhaps one person would have been authentic enough to question the process, and ask the questions I had.

From the book: MORE JESUSCLESS RELIGION
(Be Set Free from Man-Made Rules, Churchianity, and Legalistic Religion)

Healthy churches share an unspoken practice. Their members are so committed to reaching out to hurting people, that if you are in to much trouble to show up, if you are too ashamed to come, the people of a healthy church will come to you. They will find you and reach you, and help you no matter where you are. This practice sets them apart from others. It indicates that these believers are committed to loving you.

I desire mercy, not sacrifice,....relationships, not rules should take precedence in our lives. LOVE, not legalism should reign....Jesus was so authentic and real that the masses were naturally drawn to him.

In a HEALTHY FAITH SYSTEM, our relationship with God will manifest itself in a compassion for hurt individuals....our ability to empathize allows our relationships to deepen and become intimate. Mercy, grace, encouragement, along with personal presence and helping hands, replace the shaming, intolerant condemnation.....so often present in a TOXIC SYSTEM.

As far as we know, Christ never knocked anyone else to the ground with a blinding bright light from heaven and an audible voice that sounded like thunder. Yet, that's what it took to reach Saul. How did he or HOW WILL HE-------REACH YOU?

We who experience suffering and hurt, and then feel the comfort of Christ are the ones BEST QUALIFIED to administer first aid to others. We become wounded healers, just like Jesus. I am one of those wounded healers. I have been helping others regarding abuse for the past 10 years. I tried to start a support group at church, but to no avail.

Lack of accountability in any leadership structure is a clear warning that ought to flash before our eyes: DANGER! DANGER! In red neon letters. It also indicates a lack of faith in God and the presence of a faith built on self-assertion and ego.

Healthy believers reflect their savior, and therefore are full of love. Their love heals and helps them bear up under every trial. Where love is present, faith grows, and people are attracted to God. Healthy believers allow a person to be different and to make mistakes without being SHAMED.


What I Have to Say:

What a grave injustice was done to me. According to God, I was still married, so voting me out of membership was bizarre. Memberships and voting……legalistic….

You believe you were doing God's will. I believe someday you will be told you were not. God's will was for you to love me, reach out to me. Not only did you not love, me, you rejected me, without one word. You didn't even speak to me about what had happened in my life. You waited one week----never contacting me, and without question, voted me out of membership. My membership is with God. HE is my shepherd, and he knows my voice. He heard it as I cried out in anguish to him. HE is in the process of healing me from what you did.

I could never do what you did. I could never kick someone out without asking questions and speaking to the person whom it affected.

Is the church a sanctuary for saints, or a hospital for sinners?! Since we all sin every day, by virtue of that, none of us could be members.

One positive thing came out of this : My pain came out in poetry----over 130 poems, and a story of how I was spiritually abused by the very people I expected to love me, and should have cared about me, more than anyone else. These poems are on a website to help heal others. A pastor told me that he was convinced that God was helping me write these poems.


QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELVES:

1. If your child was accused of something, would you wait 7 days, not ask them one question, and then throw them out of the house? Of course not, but that is exactly what you did to me.

2. In order to serve in that church, you must be a member. Membership requires agreeing to a whole list of rules and regulations. There is a word for that LEGALISM. Jesus wouldn't be able to be a member----he drank wine, spent all of his time with prostitutes, thieves, drunks, and all of the outcasts. By your standards, Jesus wouldn't have allowed the apostles to serve him. All that Jesus required (requires) is to believe on Him, love and follow him. That was and IS his ONLY requirement. If you follow all of the rules and regulations (legalism), and have not LOVE well, you know the rest.

Someone from that church sent me a letter, and signed it 'a friend'-----Friends don't send anonymous letters. Paranoia-------What was this person afraid of?!

I was told by a woman that she knew what had been happening to me for years, and was praying for me. I didn't know whether to cry or laugh. Praying isn't enough. What if the good samaritan had looked at the injured man, and said, "I'll be praying for you." Our faith calls us to be active….."Faith without works is dead."

I was told by many people in that church (who left), that it was judgmental, and I couldn't see it, and didn't want to believe it---I was blind. The majority of people who need Christ are not in churches----they are everywhere else. Jesus would be going into bars, talking to homosexuals, the homeless; all of those in need of Him, all those in pain-----divorced, alcoholics, drug addicts, single parents, etc., etc., etc........If these people went to that church----would you welcome them with open arms, or just avoid them? That's not what Jesus did. I speak the truth-----it's messy and painfulCbut that's what people's lives are about. I get the feeling, that in that church, everyone is afraid to be authentic and open-----afraid others might see them for who they really are, and reject and judge them. Something Jesus never did. Are you capable of hearing the truth? Can you hear it? If you can, what will you do about it?

What I went through for 18 months was a horrific nightmare.....meetings, physical problems, nightmares, GROSSLY INAPPROPRIATE questions, phone calls. I almost lost my job because of taking so much time off, because of the physical problems brought on by the mental abuse/stress.


SPIRITUAL ABUSE

Until I experienced it, I had never even heard of the term......the meaning: "The mistreatment of a person who is in need of help, support or greater spiritual empowerment, with the result of weakening, undermining or decreasing that person's spiritual empowerment."

Spiritual Abuse causes a part of a community to hurt acutely. When one part hurts, we are all hurt. Many who have been spiritually abused, find it difficult-----even impossible to trust any worshipping congregation -----ever again. I went to a conference on spiritual abuse, and met these people, who are so broken, sad, mistrusting, and angry. There are thousands and thousands.....how incredibly shocking to me.

Perhaps worse than the lack of recognition is the attitude of denial that spiritual abuse even exists in the first place.

Victims feel damaged, disoriented, isolated----leading to a very painful recovery process.

Spiritual abuse is a well-documented phenomenon. It doesn't just occur in cults, but also in Bible-believing churches.

The irony is that I went for help to the church many years ago (9), and I was not helped. The church accepted no accountability at all!---- A Lack of accountability in any leadership structure is a clear warning that ought to flash before our eyes: DANGER! DANGER! In red neon letters. It also indicates a lack of faith in God and the presence of a faith built on self-assertion and ego.

It is not true that this situation 'wasn't about divorce'-------From the beginning it WAS! I was told that if I got the divorce, I would be subjected to church discipline. I was told the purpose was to 'make an example of me.' This is NOT what Jesus would have said or done. I asked what was the difference between me and any other divorced woman in choir. The answer: "Because if people see you, they will think it is okay." That makes no sense….no one thinks divorce is okay. It isn't about "it" being okay. Divorce is a death, a painful process, and something no one takes lightly. It was an excruciating experience. How sad that the thought process wouldn't be: She has gotten a divorce….how painful that must be; I wonder what I can do to help….would that be your first thought or would it be: (I heard a woman state over someone else's divorce): "I wonder whose fault it is"……how sad, how judgemental

I had a man verbally attack me, and say "why didn't I just leave?!" How is that Christ-like? No one cared. This is NOT what Jesus would have said. Except for "my" deacon, none even spoke to me, sent a note of encouragement, tried to help or support me; that is certainly NOT "bearing one another's burdens." No words of compassion, support were ever spoken. In fact, not one word was spoken to me, except in the deacon's meeting, where I was NOT ALLOWED to take a woman member with me, but was allowed to take my therapist (which, incidentally, is why I went to him----because of what the church was doing to me). Non-members are not allowed, so what was that about? This was wrong. I faced 15 men, with not one woman present. I was asked unbelievably inappropriate questions. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. You have one person on one side of the table, with an array of men on the other side. A domineering person is telling you you are wrong, why you are wrong, that you need to repent, and then, one by one, all the rest of them agree wholeheartedly. The targeted person has a tremendous psychological onslaught to deal with. This is exactly what happened to me!

You added to my pain I had experienced for a lifetime. Jesus wouldn't have done that. Christians crucifying their wounded?!


Come to me, all ye who are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. You gave me no rest. How could you do this----you didn't even SPEAK to me?! Jesus would have never sat me before a congregation, put my name up on a screen, and asked people to vote me out of membership…..legalism….

Talk about God's grace.......while the pastor was handing out the ballots, he was joking, and laughing, and you laughed. I felt like someone had stabbed me in the heart with an ice-pick. How in the world could you be laughing when you were about to do what you did?! My precious friend, sitting next to me, was shocked. When my name was put up on a screen, my friend was by then, crying, and I was appalled. When people hear this story, they cannot believe it. Talk about evidence of God's grace!! I was smiling, laughing and hugging people afterwards. Some of you were crying. Those tears were not for me, but for yourselves, I believe.

I requested withdrawing my membership quietly, but was not allowed to do so. Why not?! This was about punishment.

When I left, not one person contacted me. God didn't abandon me, but you did?! Where are you now? What happened to restoration…this is Biblical…..I KNOW where God is ...He walks with me, and He talks with me, and tells me that I am his own. I was part of your family. Families are supposed to stick together. Why didn't this happen?

I've known Jesus all of my life, and I thought I knew you were wrong.

Jesus never stopped loving me. Why did you

It's not enough to attend church. What are you doing to heal the broken-hearted, the hurting, the wounded....those broken in spirit, and desperate for a kind word, for someone to notice them, and care......that is what Jesus did and still does.

God uses broken people ----he understands my pain, because he experienced it. I am a wounded healer, and have been helping others all of my life. Jesus gave me a tender heart and incredible sensitivity, for hurting people.....in other words, He gave me part of who HE is.


When Dorothy spoke of making a covenant/commitment to a person as a member in the body of Christ, no matter what that person does, the church is supposed to remain committed. The people who authorized that Sunday school lesson and the people who heard it, obviously did not believe it.

The most ironic thing of all is that, if I had never gone to the church for help 10 years ago, this nightmare never would have happened.

If you want to know what spiritual abuse consists of, you can read the Spiritually Abusive book by Jeff Van Vonderen….there are many excellent resources out there, if you wish to become knowledgeable and know the truth. It will set you free.

These 2 incredibly powerful books can and should change your lives:

Messy Spirituality by: Michael Yaconelli
When Bad Christians Happen to Good People by: Dave Burchett
The book by Dave Burchett will have you laughing out loud on nearly every page

These are quotes from Ministers:

"Yours is a classic example of spiritual abuse and abandonment"
(Christ did not abuse nor abandon his own)

"Has your spirit been broken or closed by what the church has done to you?"
"Why did you seek to vilify her when she was oppressed--- One of her spiritual gifts was the ministry of music, and her spirit grieves at the loss of this"
(From the chaplain at Focus on the Family)

AI have been a minister for 25 years, and I have never told anyone
this, but you need to GET OUT of that church"

"Your church is guilty of dereliction of duty!"

"I am so sorry for all the pain that you have suffered, and for the added injury of feeling
judged and sidelined by the Body of Christ in which you have been involved"


"If your abusive leadership removes your membership, I thank God they don't speak
for Jesus"

"I would not have done what your pastor did to you, I/we would spoken with
your husband (confronted him) and then we would have
prayed for you; cried with you and hoped things worked out but
left you alone to try to work things out----you are married in
God's eyes I can't believe what the pastor and deacons asked you"


"I am so sorry to learn of how your church handled your situation,
sadly, many uninformed churches shoot their wounded"

I welcome any loving responses I will not respond to any
abusive, negative, cruel or judmental e-mails

I have already experienced that

A thank you to the few who refused to vote me out of membership
I would love to hear from you


I am still in therapy for what I was forced to experience

Leaders who practice spiritual abuse give themselves over to self-blindness and hardness without allowing themselves or others to see what is happening. If one is in a position of power over others and we fail to place controls on ourselves, we subtly and unknowingly start to control others. Power that elevates a leader beyond contradiction………..The longer the process continues, the harder repentence becomes. Church bosses must be spotted and rescued early, or they may never be rescued at all…..exceed the bounds of legitimate authority and often intrude into the personal lives of members (this is exactly what happened to me)…A major challenge facing the evangelical church is that they are independent, and not part of a denomination or network that could provide checks and balances or ANY KIND OF ACCOUNTABILITY. If leaders are accountable to no one and resist any outside scrutiny, How can such independent groups themselves be disciplined or investigated?

….Rules and legalism abound….people are dealt with harshly. Excommunication is common. For those who leave, the road back to normalcy is difficult. Those who cannot bear up under the harsh treatment, simply wander away. "They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them." Where was/is restoration? Ezekial was identyifing a form of mistreatment, which was spiritual in nature, because it mistreated people by hindering their relationship with God. It was, and is, characterized by oppression and neglect.

Spiritual abusers kill people through character assasination. They crucify their victims in public humiliation sessions. There are long-term effects, ranging from spiritual confusion to complete spiritual, emotional and psychological devastation.

The Bible is very clear on the existence of spiritual abuse: Legalism, authoritarianism, spiritual intimidation, manipulation, excessive discipline, to name a few, in short: the abuse of power in the context of christian fellowship.

One of the rewards of legalism, is the control which it offers. By performing according to the rules, we can control how we feel about ourselves. Obey the rules, feel good. Disobey the rules,feel bad. In some forms of christian legalism we can even control God. Obey the rules, God is happy, disobey the rules, God is sad.

We impose legalistic restrictions on ourselves and on others as a way of proving our goodness to others, and to God, all the time forgetting the rule that is most important, the rule of LOVE. The Bible is relentless, however, in calling us out of bondage to religious rules. It calls us to leave legalism and to follow the way of love. We prefer following rules, rather than loving our neighbor.

"You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.


Judgmentalism is a powerful form of spiritual abuse and a source of spiritual discouragement. It is, unfortunately, very common. We use it often as a weapon against ourselves and others. Sometimes it comes wrapped in the language of lofty moral crusades, sometimes it is a simple,unadorned rejection. But, whenever and however it comes, it does damage to the emotional and spiritual core of our person.

"Do not judged or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure YOU use, it will be measured to you…….etc. ….carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Except for 4 angels, after the fact, no one carried my burdens……no one even spoke to me.

Finally: If a person is willing to follow a person (no matter who it is), without
question, that is cult-thinking....that is how we got Jim Jones
and Hitler (no, I am not comparing them to the pastor) It's one thing
to trust a 'leader'----but to follow without question can be a disaster only
little children follow without question

I was horrified that there were some people willing to vote
when they had no information on what they were voting
on.

It has been said that "every man's death diminishes me"
I wonder if anyone felt diminished by my "death"

Jesus said you will be judged the way you
have judged.

You judged me: without ONE QUESTION

I Forgive You