Serving Me = Serving God

When Barry resigned and we finally left the church that caused us so much confusion…we were in a fog for quite a while afterwards.  I’m not kidding.  We were socially awkward and unsure of ourselves.  Everything we were taught was called into question by us, by our family and by our true friends.  We were in a process of undergoing a complete remake of our foundation.  Because as much as we studied the bible and sought after God…we served a group of like-minded individuals who taught us to think, act and talk like them.  And in the process of them making disciples out of us…our mindset got a little warped as well.

We were dependent on our leaders for so long…we had to learn to function without them.

In order to help you understand a bit about the history of our former church…I will name a few organizations on this post.  I tried really hard to write it without names, but it got very confusing.  I hope this timeline helps anyone who is still on the fence of trying to decide if these organizations and the people associated with them are harmful.  Below is a very brief summary of how they have continued to re-organize the same leaders under different ministries:

1972 – Maranatha is formed

1980 – Maranatha comes under fire for cult-like practices

1989 – Maranatha disbands

1990 – News of this reaches the media

1990 – Champions for Christ International is Incorporated – board members are former Maranatha members

1993— Victory Leadership Institute (VLI) begins in Manila, Philippines.

1994 – Morning Star International is established, merging Champions for Christ, Victory Churches and associated former-Maranatha ministries in the Philippines, and Los Angeles-based Morning Star Christian Church, Inc. (which includes Victory Campus Ministries).

2001 — Morning Star International adds http://www.everynation.org redirect to its website; actual URL remains http://www.morningstar2010.com.

2004 — Morning Star International announces at its annual conference that it is changing its name to Every Nation.

2005—Every Nation openly acknowledges a “reorganization” movement

To understand a bit more about why they reorganized you can read my post Questions.  Needless to say it was because the leadership was facing scandal and accusations of abusive behavior…yet again.

So, if you are tracking with me you have probably already figured out that the church we joined in 2003 was part of this organization of churches.  In 2006 the church in Louisiana disassociated itself on paper with Every Nation, however the senior pastor has kept the main leaders as overseers of his church plants and their ministry school Master’s Commission.  They are his “personal pastors.”

It can’t be denied that these leaders have a long history of abuse.  They have changed their names and formed new groups, but it’s many of the same people who were accused of cult-like practices in the 1980’s.  Many of the same people who were actively involved in the Shepherding movement.  Many of the same people who live lavish lifestyles…because for them…church is Big-Buisness baby.

My title may be a little risky, but during our time under these leaders I began to respect them more than I respected God.  I thought that serving them…was serving God.  I thought that if I said no to cleaning their house, attending all of the services,watching their children, working without pay…then I was saying no to God.

and… I NEVER wanted to hurt God.

These type of leaders are taking people down a very dangerous path of confusing teachings and false doctrine.  They make following Jesus and working in the ministry very hurtful and extremely confusing.

If you have been under their leadership or anything similar, please know that you are not crazy and you are not alone.

25 thoughts on “Serving Me = Serving God

  1. There is so much to this that rings true in my life. I am still trying not be weird. I think back on some of the things that I thought were perfectly normal and part of a “balanced” christian life and I don’t know why I wasn’t checked into a mental hospital. I have tried and tried to reconcile my feelings versus the former mindset, thinking that the truth has to be somewhere in the middle. But I always run from anything thoughts or feelings that resemble any of my thinking from my time spent in this ministry. The last pastor from this ministry that I had here in Gulfport left the church to start another church. When a friend told me he was leaving, my first thought was “GOOD! Let someone else deal with his $%&#!” But then I became sad thinking that he was going to hurt people in his new ministry just like he did to me. The week after he was no longer at that church I almost convinced myself that it would be ok to go back. If it wasn’t for my wife, who was labeled a Jezebel by this pastor, we would have. But she reminded me of the way the church operated and that it would continue to operate in the same way no matter who the pastor was. Needless to say we didn’t go back. I love the picture you have painted to express the seediness of this ministry. I also remember looking Morning Star up on the internet and seeing a lot of negative things about them. I was told that that was a different Morning Star ministry and that this was the good one, I had no need to worry. I had lots of need to worry!

    Aaron

  2. Found this quote and thought it was appropriate
    “For evil to flourish, all that is needed is for good people to do nothing.”
    Edmund Burke

  3. I am so proud of you.You have stood up and stood fast. You and Lisa have fought the good fight. Wow all the research and hard work you are helping so many. God bless you sweet Jana. I love you.

  4. That weirdness is called “post tramatic stress” like what soldiers deal with after service and war, it’s also very similar to coming out of a cult!! We were programed, they were right and the bible and us were wrong! Yes, no more hard drive, no more trusting God with your life, because they speak for God, who you are, what you believe, how you think all comes into question post cult, you walk around asking “what in the world happened??” and until you talk to someone who’s gone through it you feel very alone, out of sink, question everything you believed, question yourself,your spouse,and God… yes even God.
    For me, once in the fold…(in the special pasture)…I
    saw it immediatly,but my husband disagreed with me…and when I spoke up to the pastor, sited scripture etc,he disagreed… what was I to do? I put on my gold necklace and earrings and began to graze along with the other sheep! Till the grass was so sour I could not stomach any more, my heart was so heavy from hearing the gossip in the meetings, seeing the people who had been “kindly asked to leave”..hearing the unbiblical teaching… that I started pointing it out over and over again to my husband (and the pastor) till he(my husband) finally had to speak up…and then we too were “released” I was labeled a Jezebel, which the definition to me is: a women who has the audasity to speak out. People who had no idea who I was,my heart for God,anything about me, were told I was a Jezebel(how was that not gossip?)In the world this is called deframation of character and you can sue for it!! I came out going what did I do? how did this happen? How in the world did I come from wanting to serve God and His church to questioning spiritual authority from a biblical view, submiting and trying to understand, to being called a Jezebel? For all you gals out there who know how I feel, we are not Jezebels we are Gods beautifully created women, who He loves and adores, and has set us up to be helpmates to our husbands… which sometimes is reminding him who he is in Christ, not who the pastor says he is!!!! We took off the gold, and headed out of the pasture….thanks you Jesus!!!

  5. I’m with mike on the new blog theme…and with everyone else on the awesomeness of this post 🙂

    As always, great job and THANK YOU once again for what you are doing here. I know I can never thank you enough.

    Love you Jana!

  6. Rachel has kept me up on all that has been going on, your blog, and I read your blog for the first time today. I think I’ll continue to read them.

    In light of all that has happened and is continuing to happen there, I fully support the exposure and rebuke of that group. I’m glad to see that you and Barry have come so far and have taken the boldness to expose them.

    Hopefully many more will be saved and rescued from their abuse.

    1. Travis!! Thanks so much for reading and leaving your support. I really do appreciate it and it means a lot since you and Rachel have known us for so long. I love you both and look forward to seeing you sometime when I visit the great state of TEXAS!!

  7. i don’t think you’ll ever know what a relief it is for me to read this and be reminded that i wasn’t out of place when i thought back then something was wrong. i knew NOTHING of that churches history when i decided to go. if i had, i don’t think i would have gone. if ANYONE in my family knew, they would have never let me go.

    i actually remember the “newest of leaders” who went to their first every nation conference. i remember them coming back with the strangest, most brain washed thinking and ideas, and then sharing them with us students as though it were the only way. they were very different after that trip. i seriously spent most of that year completely confused and out of my element. it wasn’t me, and i know that’s why i was so miserable (i guess it wasn’t the bugs, snakes and neutra-rats).

    thank you jana for all your research, time, energy and prayers into the healing of all our hearts and minds. the Lord is using you in the continued healing of my heart and mind. i am, again, eternally grateful for you.

    much love.

    1. Amber, your kind words mean the world to me. Thank you for standing up years ago and not following what everyone else was telling you to do. You are so brave and I see it even more now…

      I must admit, we would have never gone if we knew their history either. 🙂

  8. So good! Just want to thank you for the time you put into this. It is so crucial for people to be able to see this information. And, in case you didn’t know, I am incredibly grateful that you are putting into words the mentality of the sheep. I struggle so much with the embarrassment of having been a weirdo, but you articulate the journey of how we got there beautifully!

    1. We struggled too…we were so embarrassed and unsure of how to live apart from that control. But the weirdness passed…hopefully ;)…and now we are so happy to be reunited with such beautiful friends who understand the journey as well!! Love you Lynde!!

  9. Jana,
    Not in a million years would I have ever imagined those two words in such close proximity! But they absolutely couldn’t be more fitting! “Consummate” comes to mind when I think of your title: perfect & complete in every respect; having all the necessary qualifications. You mentioned that your mindset “got a little warped as well.” I would say “a little warped” is perhaps a gross understatement!! It took years to “de-program” some of the spiritual spinning & gobbledygook that we were fed at this church! I clicked on the “here” above to read the entire timeline of the Maranatha/Morning Star/Every Nation churches. It is a tedious read but well worth the time! It reads like a snake pit! Same men mentioned again and again – on boards – off boards – pastoring in one state – then in another state -pastors stepping down – others stepping up – some stepping over – money moving from one state to another – money raised for new church construction – no construction – names of churches changing faster than I tie my shoes – media reports of wrongdoing and impropriety – articles of incorporation being filed – then refiled – then refiled again….. Lots of men focused on lots of money and land and buildings and titles and businesses and stock and big houses!!! Did I say big houses?!! It’s no wonder your former senior pastor hit it off so well with these men. We may never know the real reason why OSC broke off from the Morning Star/Every Nation group. My guess is the senior pastor wanted to remain a big fish in a smaller pond, lacking local accountability (and ‘distant’ for that matter) that could hold him responsible for day-to-day lapses in judgment/integrity/character/honesty, all the while remaining financially accountable to no “real” governing committee, free to direct and collect at will. Although I’m not surprised (I Tim 3 and I Tim 6 and Matthew 7:15-23), it is a sad day to see these kinds of characters roaming the fields. Thanks for the information and for being so bold on behalf of the sheep!

    1. Hahaha…okay…very warped. Did you like how I said we were weird…so true huh! I want to start a page on my blog called Sue’s Corner and let you post all about your experiences…I know you could write a book.
      Thanks for being so supportive and truly understanding what I am saying…it means a LOT to me.

  10. Amen, amen & amen!

    This is so true, and I can relate 200% to everything you are saying. That was the catch-all for me . . . I NEVER wanted to hurt God either.

    What is it about these men that they are able to exploit our innocent and wholehearted desire to serve God, and turn it into serving them instead? Or rather, convincing us to believe that to serve them IS to serve God, therefore to say “no” to them is also saying “no” to God.

    How does that happen? I did it for almost 30 years, and I’m still trying to figure it out, because I don’t want it to happen again!

    No worries about that in the near future . . . I won’t go near anything organized that even smacks of God or Christianity, simply because I can’t stomach the thought of it happening again. I don’t trust ANYBODY who is a Christian leader at the moment, pimp or not. Even though I know there are still wonderful people in the ministry, the possibility for corruption is SOOOOOO great, that I don’t trust them even before any corruption happens. I know that’s extreme, and I hope those feelings settle down sometime in the future. But for now, I’m keeping my distance.

    Thanks Jana, for putting into words what so many of us have also walked through. To be able to articulate it is a great gift and you are really helping people by violating one of the greatest rules of the abusive system – the no-talk rule. Keep talking. God bless you.

    1. Thank you Pennythoughts. I have really enjoyed hearing from you…your story is so close to my heart…it’s so familiar. I understand what you mean when you say you are avoiding Christian leaders…it’s so hard to trust again. You have such a beautiful heart…I know the Lord must be so proud that you even made it out alive and that you still love Him. That says so much about you.

      I appreciate you sharing on my blog…I know it takes guts. Together we will disband that “no talk rule”.

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