GlassTexan, are you out there?

I came across this post on the Rick Ross Cult Education forum. Since this post was from 2006, it’s highly unlikely this person will find my answer, but in response to your question, “GlassTexan,” yes I’ve had a bad experience in Master’s Commission. Come find me and let’s talk!

“Has anyone had a bad experience with the Master’s Commission program(s)? It is generally based out of Assembly of God churches. I believe the “main” group is in Phoenix.
If led by the wrong sort, this group can be very dangerous. I had an awful experience and have heard others have as well.
The group I once attended was removed from the church after a change of pastors. The leader of the Master’s Commission left the state and many of the MC students–and even some of the church!–left with him. He is still running a MC group.
If anyone reading this went through something similar (in an MC group), I would appreciate hearing about it.
Once again, I don’t believe all MC groups are bad–but the wrong leader can do serious damage.
Thank you.”

Read the original post and respond to GlassTexan here: http://forum.rickross.com/read.php?12,17907

Leaving Master’s Commission: Practical Advice

A major problem for people leaving intense discipleship programs like Master’s Commission or Teen Mania (or any of a half dozen such programs) is that when they leave—whether it is good, bad or indifferent—they don’t know what to do. These programs gear you up for life in the program.

 

What happens when you leave?

If someone gets kicked out there are many feelings of guilt, inadequacies and failure that a person faces because they couldn’t “cut it.” They are often made to feel like an evil person, someone who had to be removed as a stain on the program. Many of these people have a difficult time adjusting to a normal life because of the sense that there is a stigma about them. If someone leaves at the end of the year and graduates, there are whole different sets of challenges that are faced.

 

The root of these roadblocks is that the programs are ill-equipped to equip people for life in the real world.

 

Too many leave to wander around trying to figure out what to do with the information they have learned and the experience of such an intense time frame. These programs often lead people to go in the opposite direction after they leave because it is impossible to replicate the same level of commitment in everyday life that is demanded of a person during the year.

 

So how does a person adjust to life and still maintain a relationship with God?

Establish Personal Convictions

First, establish personal convictions. This seems simple enough, however many of the “convictions” people have while in a program are not their own. Oftentimes, the rules of a program are adopted based on the relationship the director has with God. Because he wants to instill in his students the same ardent commitment to God that he has he projects these same convictions on to his students and expects them to adopt without question. These could be anything from types of movies or music to more serious life decisions. But most students don’t agree with everything. In fact some could argue that no student agrees with everything.

 

Our relationships with God are personal because God is personal. He approaches each person differently because he made each of us differently.  1 Corinthians 10:23, “Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible but not everything is constructive.”  Also in verse 29, “…For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience?” The freedom we have in Christ is total. The choices that are made are between the person and God and no one else.

 

Seasons of Life

Secondly, know that there are many seasons to life and not all of them will be like the one that was just left. Look at the history of any person and their life has peaks and valleys. The apostle Paul did many great things for God, but he was also thrown in prison and executed. No one does the same thing his or her whole life without some change. Praying for an hour everyday before you go to work may not be realistic if you have to be at work at four in the morning. The best way to have devotional time is when you are sharpest and most focused. The important thing to know is that God will not smite you if you only pray for 20 minutes one day and fall asleep reading your Bible. There may be another season in life with the opportunity to have the same or more of a devotional life is possible. When that happens jump on it. Just know that a continued relationship is one of commitment of heart and soul.

 

Marketable Skills

Finally, learn a marketable skill! This is something no discipleship program will teach. You cannot pay your bills or feed your family by doing human video’s and cool skits. A friend sent a text message the other day asking for prayer for him to find a job. He did not go to college, but spent years in Masters Commission and ministry. The funny thing about ministry is that it often fails to pay those who do it. That is why Paul made tents. This man is married with children and has to feed them, clothe them and keep the lights on. He was led to believe that if he stayed wholly devoted to God ministry would work out as his only occupation. This is not the case. The numbers of young people who enter a discipleship program with delusions of being employed full time in the ministry are grossly inordinate. Learning a trade, or getting an education is more important to future stability than is spending many years in a discipleship program. Some would say that this is a lack of faith. But 1 Timothy 5:8 says, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family he has denied the faith.”

 

Life outside of an intense discipleship program is not easy. But most of us will spend longer out of it than in it. If having a relationship with God is important to you then developing your own convictions, embracing new seasons and learning how to provide for a family are vital.

 

Former MC from TX Speaks Again

J told me Nathan could sense when she had sinned.  When I asked how that was possible, she could not give an answer.  She said, “He just sees it in my face.”

Nathan rarely needed to sense anything.  We were all desperate to please him, to please God.

We confessed our darkest sins and our imagined ones.

It was never enough.

By the time our group visited a small church in Corsicana, I felt alone and desperate.   I was trying to rectify Nathan’s teachings and actions with what I had been taught my whole life.  I could not pinpoint why I felt so guilty, so sinful when I tried so hard.

I remember walking around the Corsicana church in a haze.  I was smiling and playing my part, but I was wondering if I had a chance to run away.  Could I walk to a bus station?  What would I do for money?  Could I call my parents?  These were idle daydreams because even thinking of defying Nathan scared me.

When the people of the church prayed over us,  the man praying for me was saying how much God loved me.  God valued me.  He had great things planned for me.  I cried my heart out, wishing it were true.

It was the most hope I  felt in months.

Then it came time for the Master’s Commission students to pray for the church.  Before I could step forward, Nathan called me to the back of the church.  Natalie stood off to the side.  While everyone else was praying, Nathan got down to eye-level with me and said, “God is very unhappy with you.  You are rebellious and keep pushing us away.  You either need to get things right or I’m kicking you out of the program.”

I should have been thrilled. I should have hit the ground running and never looked back.  Instead, it was like a physical blow. I began sobbing.  I had never been a bad kid.  I had never been kicked out of anything.  My parents, teachers and pastors had always taken pride in my eagerness to do the right thing.  Now, I was a failure.  I fully believed God was mad at me because Nathan was mad at me.  If God did not want me, who would?

I did not only beg to stay.  I wept, pleaded and groveled.  Nathan, so graciously, put me on probation.  I could stay if I began to be obedient. Though I had never defied an order to work, pray or study my motives were not pure.  I was disobedient and rebellious of spirit. If I made a marked change, I would be taken off probation and allowed to stay.  I felt a wave of gratitude.

Afterwards, the church members shared dishes they brought just for us.  When they all left the room, Nathan made rude comments about the taste and quality of the food.  I snapped out of my fog of relief and, for the first time, clearly saw Nathan was a bad guy.  This man who just lectured me about God’s love and “pure motives” treated strangers disrespectfully and his students terribly.

I resolved to fake my way through the rest of the year and get as far from MCA as I could.  I was already an outsider in the group, the other students knew I was considered a troublemaker.  Pretending would be easy since I was so alone.

Looking back, I’ve tried to decipher what reason Nathan could have given for kicking me out.  How would he tell my parents the three thousand dollars they had paid for my stay in Master’s Commission was rendered irrelevant by my rebellious heart?  Time and wisdom have reduced a lot of Nathan’s threats to ridiculous bluffs. 

That was why he “taught” young, inexperienced kids.

It is also why he will not talk with us now.

Former MC from Texas attended Master’s Commission of Austin under Nathan Davies.  She loves the Longhorns and Tex-Mex.

To contact Former MC from TX or to drop her a line, you can email her at: FormerMCTX@gmail.com

 

Creative Commons License
This work by Lisa Kerr is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. © Lisa Kerr and My Cult Life, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Kerr and My Cult Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Never Tell Lloyd Zeigler “No”: A Former Master’s Commission Member Story

My experience at Masters Commission, Phoenix, AZ, as told by a Former Master’s Commission Member.

Where to start?

Well I, like many, became interested and joined Master’s Commission after seeing them perform at one of the local churches where I lived. They seemed so energetic and were bursting with talent from their seams. I was a musician and singer, so the fact that they used the stage for everything from acting to singing really peaked my interest. I was in my last year of high school and after seeing them, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it. After I graduated high school I hit the road; destination Phoenix, AZ. There was a diverse group of us (first year students). It was exciting. I remember having a “commitment ceremony” where we, (1st year students) were given a ring to wear as our commitment to God not to date. This was not a problem for me because unbeknownst to everyone there…I was gay. Fast forward in time now… A girl who I will refer to as H, was kicked out of our Master’s Commission. She was also first year. She left and we were told she was demon possessed (because she was gay).
Side-note: I have to say how interesting that Master’s Commission’s BEST services were when they used songs by Ray Boltz. Talk about “annointed” music. When Master’s Commission did their “human videos” to his music; you’d think Jesus would physically show up. Interestingly enough, Ray Boltz just came out that he is gay not that long ago. I guess Master’s Commission didn’t feel the demon possession coming through his music. So hindsight; my privacy was important.

After all, I wasn’t there for any one of them.

I was there for me.

I was there to grow, to learn, to evolve and most important to know God and make him known. I’m so glad that I never confided in Lloyd Zeigler. He thrived to have intimate knowledge of those around him. He would use it to his advantage.

How so?

Well the saying, knowledge is power is exactly how he used his knowledge.  If you don’t believe what I’m saying, then I ask you this; what benefit is there to me or anyone else knowing that one of his subordinates had a struggle with bestiality? No, he didn’t say it to pray for them. It was a flippant bit of information he let roll off his tongue. It was a form of manipulation.

It made you feel that he was all-seeing and all-knowing.

Like a God.

I felt horrible for the person who went to him in confidence, telling their darkest secrets, only to have them repeated. This is just one of many examples of confidentiality being broken. I remember going to a special luncheon with Lloyds wife Chris. It was the first and second year girls who attended.

The one thing that resonated in my mind was when Chris stressed to us to, “NEVER TELL LLOYD NO”.

If he wanted you to perform a part of a human video and you didn’t know the part; it didn’t matter…. You DON’T tell him no. If you are sick but he needs something, you don’t say no. Etc., etc.  I can remember all the second year girls who had already had this talk during their first year nodding their heads in agreement. That wouldn’t be the last time I heard that statement. “Never tell Lloyd no”, would be drilled into us from staff members as well. At that age, and at the place we were at to learn and grow, were were naive and shook our heads in agreement.

Let’s move on to Loyalty.

What emphasis they would put on loyalty.

Loyalty to Lloyd.

During one of our Prayer Sessions, Lloyd came in to a building that at that time was called Carmen Hall. When it was time for him to speak to all of us he began to speak about loyalty. This story I would never forget because it was so twisted. But God forbid I voice that opinion.

He gave an example about loyalty.

He said to us that Pastor Tommy Barnett was his pastor and that he was loyal to him. He said that he was so loyal to him, that if one day he saw Pastor Barnett running after a guy and shooting at them with a gun, that he wouldn’t try to stop Pastor Barnett from shooting that man, but that he would instead help him. Because, he said, for all he knew, maybe that person had tried to assault his wife, Maria Barnett. He stressed that he had trust and loyalty to his Pastor and would not question what he was doing, but trust him and help him.

This blew my mind. We as human beings are fallible.

We are not beings that should be trusted with blind faith and loyalty. But, regardless; his “tale” was a good roundabout way to instill in us, loyalty to our leaders.

Loyalty to [Lloyd.]

There were ex members of Master’s Commission that we were told never to associate with. We were told that they “hurt” Lloyd. And that was enough reason for us not to question any further and to shun whoever they were.

How dare they hurt him….What a load of crap!

We were so impressionable at that age. I feel for the people who came in to the program as children, like we did; but stayed into their adulthood and are still there. They dont know it, but they have blinders on. And at this point in their life… What are they going to do? Some of them have families now. Are they helping their family or hurting them? Are they giving their families the very best that they can? Or are they stuck in a program that dictates their finances, relationships and and the true order of priorities? Are they now the next generation of leadership that is brainwashing a group of young bright eyed kids as they used to be themselves?
I’m glad I’m not a part of it anymore. I’m glad I left when I did. I’m now known as one of those people who “hurt Lloyd”. (Who knows what the story is they’ve made up about that).

And you know what?

I just don’t care.

Here is to living life in the light of day.

Where Do I Stand? by Aaron Gates

 

Where do I stand?

A Guest Post by Aaron Gates 

After leaving a church group that I had been “professionally” affiliated with for five years I had a lot of questions to ask myself. I had to ask myself where to go to church; who my real friends were. Everyone I associated with on a regular basis I went to church with. When the dam finally broke I was engaged and about to start pre-marital counseling with the pastor. I was living with a family from the church. Two of the teenagers I worked closely with in the youth group lived in that house. It was a Thursday afternoon when I had finished up my extremely heated conversation with my pastor by telling him I was going to find somewhere else to go to church. When I got home I told the guys that I had a disagreement with Pastor S. and would not be going to church with them any more. When their Grandmother got home a little later I gave her the same vague description of why I was leaving. She said something very interesting to me. She said, and I quote, “You know what really happened is going to come out so you might as well tell me.” She was right and I knew it. So I responded, “You’re probably right but you aren’t going to hear it from me.” I promised myself I would not bad mouth the pastor to any of the church members or anyone affiliated with the church.

To this day I have not.

I have had more opportunities than I can count to tell people how badly I was treated. How violated I felt by people I trusted. I could have told the truth. I did not. Unfortunately I was not afforded the same courtesy.

The people at the church had always talked about our relationship as if we were family. So when I stopped attending that church I did not know what to expect.

Would they continue to treat me like family, or was I only family when I attended church with them?

So I was hurt when I realized that I was only a family member when I was a church member. I felt like I was mourning the death of myself; like part of who I was died, because part of me did. A huge part of my life was over, and I felt empty. I was stressed out by trying to live up to the expectations and standards that were set for me from the time I was 18. Then I felt broken and lost.

 

The conflict at the root of everything was that my relationship with God was founded on what I had been taught and told and made to experience. My relationship with God had been corralled in a direction that a pastor wanted me to go. I had a need to find out what I believed and needed to reconcile that with all that I had been taught for the past ten or so years.

I had to decide for myself where I stood.

What do I believe? That is a scary question.

I wanted to know if believing in God was even worth it. It took me a very long time to work everything out.

I wrote that like I have it all worked out. That’s funny. I don’t!

However, there are some things I know. I know that God loves me and He sent His Son to the world for that reason. I know that I chose to live for God before I went to Masters or to the church. I know that my relationship with Him is based on our mutual experience with each other. I believe that He is the way the truth and the life and no one can go to the Father except through Him. I also know that everyone has a different reaction to difficult situations and I don’t expect everyone to believe that. I know that in the church that God wants to see in the world there is room for everyone and room for different opinions and different convictions.

Some will say that there is only one way to be a Christian. I know that God made every person on earth different. Based on that, there are roughly six billion ways to have a relationship with God and it is not my place or anyone else’s to determine what that should look like for anyone. I also know that I lost sight of God because I was more concerned with what a group of people thought about me than what God thought about me. I know that I will never be in ministry in any capacity again, by choice.

But most importantly, I know God.

 

My name is Aaron Gates I live in Gulfport, MS with my wife Jenny and brand new daughter Rebecca. I have been blogging about my experience as a Christian and a new dad since August 2010. If anyone wants to contact me to talk about your experience in Master’s Commission, ministry, or anything else, I’d love to hear from you: aaron.p.gates@gmail.com.

Check out my blog.

Former MC from TX Tells Her Story

Written by a Former MC from TX

It was said that Pastor Nathan was accountable to the pastor of the church, but I quickly learned, Pastor Nathan was the end of the line.

There would be an hour of morning prayer, daily devotionals, cleaning, working, Bible reading, and a strict ban on dating.  There was even a ban on “emotional dating” that I eventually understood to mean “don’t be good friends with members of the opposite sex.”

(Pastor Nathan even gave a sermon on how girls who had mostly/only male friends were emotionally damaged.  Oddly, the reverse was not stressed.)

What more could a seventeen year old girl want?

Unfortunately, the idea of being really holy appealed to me at the time.  Also, like most crazy religious organizations, this program showed the world one side while promoting an entirely different world once you were involved in the program.

See, the only preview I got of this program was when I saw them lead a youth service.  They seemed (as the Evangelicals like to say) “on fire” for God.  They did music videos (acting out Christian rock songs), they quoted scripture with trembling passion, and they lit the auditorium with an emotional blaze that got everyone pumped.  I wanted to be inspiring like that.

What did I learn about those shows?  (I call them “shows” now instead of “services”.)  We practiced our asses off for those shows.  We practiced the tears, we practiced the emotive quoting of scripture, and if it was not reaching the emotional highs Pastor Nathan needed we were lectured and ordered to practice more.

The really insidious part of it all?  He did not call it practice.

I remember a girl named R.  She was called an intern because she was in her second ten-month stint in the program.  She quoted the same scripture at every show.  She was, like most of the other kids in the program, a genuine believer.  She joined the program to be closer to God, to learn to inspire others to come to God.

She would stand on the stage half-weeping/half-yelling her memorized scripture, trembling and making the crowds wish they could feel something as deeply as R.

They did not see how Pastor Nathan told her she was “doing things for her own glory” during one practice.  He told her to go pray and come back when she was doing things for the right reasons.  R, like the rest of us, was so eager to please God, all Pastor Nathan had to do was claim she was doing something displeasing to Him and she would break.

She went to a corner and prayed earnestly and then came back and delivered the more emotionally reactive quotation that Pastor Nathan had really wanted.  Pastor Nathan said she had done better, but to “watch herself.”

Apparently, Satan was itching to infiltrate our group and one weak leak would bring us all down.

In fact, we were increasingly encouraged to cease looking at ourselves as individuals.  We were a unit.  The sin of one was the sin of all.

When the boys made the error of renting “Meet Joe Black” it created an uproar.  Now, we girls, being kept well away from the boys’ quarters, had no idea that the boys had rented this movie.  We never would have known.

We found out.  Pastor Nathan marched it into devotion time.  It was the only time during the day we saw Pastor Nathan unless he made special time to reprimand us or suddenly change our schedules.  It was generally the time when we found out what we were doing to annoy him.

This devotion time was special.  There was a TV in the room.  It was paused on some part of a movie with Brad Pitt kissing some chick.

The boys had rented a movie with a sex scene in it.  Did they watch the sex scene?  No, they either fast-forwarded through it or stopped watching completely.  Did that matter?  Not a bit.

Since those boys had so defiled our group, we girls were unknowingly defiled too.  So, Pastor Nathan said we would all have to watch the sex scene together.  He hit play and stared at all of us like we were about to drop into Hell.

No one moved.  No one looked at the screen.  The fear of Nathan was a powerful thing because he had made himself God’s emissary.  He was our own, personal Jesus Christ.

Then, from the back of the room, a boy named jumped up and ran to the TV.  He turned it off while shaking and crying.  Then he turned to us, addressing the girls with, “Don’t you know some of us are tormented by lust?!”

Looking back, I laugh quite heartily at that.  It was an odd thing for an eighteen year-old boy to be screaming in an extremely tense situation.  Furthermore, I wasn’t sure why he thought it was our job to prevent his lust.

Pastor Nathan was pleased. Well, sort of.

“It’s about time someone did that.  I’m ashamed none of you did it sooner!”  He said.  Then he made the male staff members (you had to be a three or more year member of the program to be staff) apologize to the group.  We all had to spend extra time in prayer that day.

Then there was the time another female student informed me should would be politely confronted Nathan about our scheduling—or lack thereof.  As students, we never knew what was happening days or only hours down the road.  Our schedule could change in an instant and we would not know until the last minute.  This bothered many of us, not just T.

A couple of days after T informed me she would be speaking to Nathan about this, we had a particularly stern message from him in the morning devotional.  It centered on the selfishness of worrying about temporal things like time management.  Nathan said we needed to trust the leadership with our time.  It sounded eerily pointed.

I scribbled a quick note to T during Nathan’s message, “Did you talk to him yesterday about our schedule?”

She looked at me and mouthed, “How did you know?”  To this day I’m not sure if she was joking or not.

Many of Nathan’s messages seemed to be pointed at anyone who disagreed. I believe I might have inspired a couple on rebelliousness with my concerns.  In the later one he went through a list of types of rebellion.  He informed us no true Christian makes claims on “rights.”  We give-up “rights” when we surrender to God. He also reiterated, as he did often, the need for complete trust in the leadership (though they were known to share all secrets with Nathan).  He even said that because he and the leadership were appointed by God, we would not need to worry if the leadership “inadvertently” asked us to do something wrong.  We would only be following Nathan’s instructions, so God would only hold Nathan accountable.  Free-will was never mentioned.

That message was probably the closest Nathan ever came to being honest about his motives.

Former MC from Texas attended Master’s Commission of Austin under Nathan Davies.  She loves the Longhorns and Tex-Mex.

 

To contact Former MC from TX or to drop her a line, you can email her at: FormerMCTX@gmail.com

Creative Commons License
This work by Lisa Kerr is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. © Lisa Kerr and My Cult Life, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Kerr and My Cult Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

No More Excuses by Daniel Venie

My name is Daniel Venie, and it was MY cult life, too.

I’ve been a christian for thirteen years here in Wasilla, AK. During those years I’ve done just about everything a good christian should do. I’ve done missionary work in China and went through two years of ministry school training, as well as becoming heavily involved in my local church. Through that ministry school I received a License to Preach with the Assemblies of God denomination, although I decided last year to let my credentials lapse so I am no longer affiliated with the A/G. I’ve also worked extensively at a church where I live. For about six years I served as the Assistant Youth Pastor at that church. From there my wife and I had a desire to be more involved in worship so I added that to my repertoire. After a few years of serving in both ministries my wife and I decided to pursue worship ministry as our sole focus and served as my church’s main worship leaders for the last two or three years we were there.

Currently I still live in Wasilla with my wife and two kids. We stopped attending church and have not been in well over a year now. I enjoy being a husband and father and most importantly, having a life. I also play video games instead of reading my bible. I have a deep love for people and enjoy seeing others set free to live life as God intended it.

***

So I’ve been reading and commenting on a few of the posts on this website for the last
several weeks. I, like many others, have found it to be very eye opening to the spiritual
abuse that takes place in these Master’s Commission programs which have become a
staple program for most healthy and “cutting edge” churches to have.

It’s opened my eyes up to the reality and severity of the problem as well as it’s depth.

It goes well beyond the borders of MC programs and takes place in churches across the nation. While I attended a
young adult ministry training program, which was modeled after an MC program but not
affiliated, I didn’t experience much spiritual abuse until after I had graduated and moved
into full time ministry at my church. I’ll save the telling of that personal story for another
article so for now, this will have to suffice. One of the things that surprised me when I
first found this blog was how easily I could relate to what Lisa had experienced, along
with many others who have commented and testified of their own experiences of being
spiritually abused. For me it has really blown the door wide open on all the shit that my
wife and I experienced and caused me to face a lot of hard and difficult truths. So I have
decided that I can no longer sit idly by and continue to ignore or make excuses for those
who manipulate and abuse others for their own gain.

I left my church over a year ago now and haven’t been attending anywhere since then.
After leaving I’ve had many talks and meetings with people that I was close with. These
weren’t strangers or casual acquaintances but people that I have known for years and done
lots of ministry along side of. People I trusted my own children with and vice versa.
Usually these meetings would be about how much they miss us and how badly they want
us to come back; and they would say it in the most sincere and genuine way possible. I
then would explain to them why I could never come back and be apart of the church
again, the main reason being because of how much the pastors controlled peoples lives.

What is sad to me is how often these people agreed with what I shared in regards to the
spiritual abuse we experienced. As I’m talking they will nod their heads as if they really
understood and knew what I was talking about. They would even share stories of how
they too have been hurt and abused by the church.

Without fail they then will take an about face and begin to make excuses for those doing the abusing.

WHAT!!!??!!!

To go from agreeing with me to excusing the spiritual abuse doesn’t even compute in my mind!
The excuses I have heard range from: “Their intentions are not to hurt you Daniel or even
to control you,” or “They don’t realize how their actions are affecting people,” or “They
just don’t know any better.” I can’t think of a more offensive response to my pain. First of
all, by excusing the pastor’s behavior they are instantly disqualifying what I experienced,
things they supposedly understood and even agreed with. Second of all, if these people
were really my friends, why are they not standing up for me? And most importantly they
are sticking their heads in the sand and ignoring what their own heart is telling them
about their current situation!
I’ve often asked myself if I was justified in how upset and angry I am at what my wife
and I experienced at our church.

What if they really didn’t know any better?

What if it all was some big mistake or misunderstanding on their part?

Shouldn’t I give them the benefit of doubt?

Shouldn’t I too excuse their behavior?

The answer that I have come to is no. For years while I was involved in ministry I made excuses.

I ignored my own heart and feelings and hoped for the best. I’d tell myself over and over that they just don’t know
any better or that this is how it is and I have to accept it. The truth is that it isn’t how it’s
supposed to be, it isn’t okay, and most importantly it is not something you can excuse away.
Whether someones intentions are to NOT hurt and control people is besides the point. If a
person accidentally kills another person they are still held responsible.
It’s called
involuntary manslaughter and doesn’t change the fact that someones life was destroyed.

The truth is that there are thousands of people every day that are being torn to pieces by

spiritual abuse. It is a HUGE problem in churches and Masters Commission programs

around the nation. I can no longer pretend that nothing bad happened to me. It’s got to

stop and for me, it stops right here. I will never excuse away spiritual abuse, or cover it

up, or be silenced for fear of speaking against the supposed men of God. My own heart

compels me to speak up, and that I can no longer ignore.

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STAND

Lisa,

It takes a lot of bravery to stand up for oneself when the opposition is not just one person; but hundreds. And what I don’t think some understand is that you are not just moved to do this for yourself, but also for those that suffered before you; and in hopes to prevent any more destruction to those in the future. We are to follow with blind faith, yes… But not an organization, not a man made hierarchy, and definitely not a human being who is just flesh and blood. We are to follow God with blind faith and no other.

Our loyalty should be to God, not an organization or man.

I’m proud of you for standing and looking injustice in the eye, instead of turning a blind one. I pray for your success and want you to know that you have an ally in me. When I stood up for what was right, I was ostracized but I have NO regrets. I’d do it all over again. I sleep well at night knowing that I didn’t fall/break under pressure. It would have been the easier route…But it would have been the wrong one.

What I witnessed the last month that I was at Phoenix MC was truly heartbreaking.

I wrote a song about that experience. I hope that it conveys to all before us and anyone who is going through it now that they are not alone.

-Audrey Gossett

Wear Pink or Be Called Manly

A Former MCA Student tells her very personal story about spiritual abuse and discrimination that happened to her during her years in Master’s Commission of Austin.

MCL: Year you were in Master’s Commission?

 

Former MCA Student: 1998-2000, 2000-2001 Intern under MCA

MCL: City you were in Master’s Commission?

 

FS: Austin

MCL: What were you doing before Master’s Commission?

 

FS: Working and I was a youth leader at my church assisting the youth pastor

MCL: What first introduced you to Master’s Commission?

 

FS: I met people from Master’s Commission in Dallas

MCL: Why did you decide to join Master’s Commission?

 

FS: Thought it would be a great place for me to go since I did not plan on going to college (went to college in the Fall of 2001)

MCL: Who were your Directors at the time?

 

FS: Nathan Davies

MCL: Once you entered MC, what was your impression of the rules that were presented to you?  Can you remember any specific rules? Please describe them.

 

FS: I remember how we had to keep our rooms really really neat!!!!  Nathan could come in anytime and check our rooms.  If he did not like what he saw he would take everything that was “out of place” and throw it in a pile in the middle of the floor.  I remember felling like I was in the military.  I remember one girl stating that everyone should have matching bedding so it would look nicer.  I remember thinking that I did not want to look like everyone else

We had lights out at a certain time.  I really do not remember what time it was, but I do remember that if we as students broke the lights out, we would be in trouble.  If lights out was broken because we were up late working on a project that was fine.

We also had to ask permission from our staff leader before we went anywhere.  I understand that they wanted to know where we were, but if you were not able to find this one person you were not supposed to leave.  I went to the laundry mat with another girl because we were out of clean clothes.  Tim and Victoria came running into the laundry mat and said we did not know where you were and they chewed me out for leaving without permission.  Funny thing is they must have know where I was or they would not have found me.  It was quite embarrassing that it all took place in public, how weird did that look.

I remember that we had a strict dress code.  We had to dress up for prayer and class in the morning, but then we had to change to work.  If you had to go into the church office you could not go in your work clothes.  I spoke with an MC student from a different church and they stated that they have never seen people change clothes so much.

MCL: What was your impression of “20/10?” Did you ever have a hard time staying awake reading your bible? Please explain.

FS: I do not remember the 20/10.  That might have been after I left.  I do remember being required to read a lot.  I could never keep up.  It was not for a lack of effort.  I even remember having to turn in book reports. It was so hard keeping up with all the reading while we were building the coffee shop, cleaning the youth room, and working on many other projects all day long.  On the books that I could not read in time I just skimmed.  I was so afraid that if I did not finish I was going to get in trouble.


MCL: What was your impression of the “no dating” policy? Did you ever have a personal instance where you asked to avoid someone that you had feelings for? Please explain.

 

FS: I thought the dating policy was a little odd, but I just figured that it was because we were all in such tight quarters.  I figured that they did not want a girl getting knocked up and causing problems.
MCL: Did you ever have a conflict with the leadership or directors? Please explain.

FS: I had plenty of conflict, but I never really said anything.  I was actually told by a staff member at one point that I had not grown enough over the time that I had been there (first year) so I was not allowed to go to Royal Family Kids Camp. She told me that God woke her up at 3 am to tell her this.  My thought was that she was not listening to God or he would have told her sooner and when she was awake. I was so sad.  I really wanted to go and work with the kids.  I found it funny that I was good enough to work in the nursery just about every Sunday, but I was not good enough to go to Royal Family Kids Camp.  I was allowed to go the next year and I cam back from San Antonio for four years after that to go to the camp.

MCL: Was there ever a time you were put on the spot and completely embarrassed? Were you ever made to be “an example?”

FS: I was made as an example.  We were working on the set for Hell’s Alternative and I was assigned the task of pinning an extra piece of fabric to the curtain to make it longer.  The curtain did not touch the floor.  I was given a pile of black fabric that did not match the black curtain.  I wanted it to be perfect because I was afraid that Nathan would make a big deal about how bad of a job I did  if it was not perfect.  I asked two people that were not doing anything to assist me because it was hard to pin it with all the extra fabric and making sure the safety pins did not show on the outside.  After we had pinned up a good portion I went to the front pew where Nathan was sitting.  I stood there by him not saying anything (MC students had to wait until they were acknowledged to speak if a staff person looked busy).  I stood there for almost a 1/2 hour and he never even looked at me, so I went back and finished up the curtain.  We ran out of fabric before curtain, that is when I found out that the so called “extensions” were not made for the curtains specifically as I had thought.  Nathan had us all come into the youth room and gave us icecream to thank us for all our hard work.  I took a seat in an armchair.  One of the other girls wanted to sit in the same seat, but I had beat her so she sat on the arm of the chair and put her legs across to the other arm.  He then tore into another MC student and then into me.  I had wasted several hours and many people’s time.  He could not believe how bad of a job I had done and it would have to be done all over again.  I was then called into one of the offices in the youth room with Tim, Victoria, Kathie, and Nathan.  Nathan told me how I made him sick to his stomach.  He told me that I always walked around with another girl hanging on my arm.  I was shocked.  Many of the MC girls held hands, played with each others hair, and rubbed each others backs.  I did not like doing that stuff.  I was getting in trouble because someone came up to me and hooked arms with me while we skipped like in the Wizard of Oz and because another girls decided to sit on the arm of a chair that I was in (we were not even touching).  They told me that I was too manly.  They were calling me a lesbian without coming out and saying it. When the meeting was over I went to one of the Sunday School rooms and I cried for two hours.  I just imagined what things would be like if I was dead.  Then I thought it is time to leave and I thought about walking/hitchhiking back home (which was 5 hours or more away) did not tell anyone what happened.  I wondered if anyone would miss me.

 

I was able to deal with what had been set before me.  I found that they wanted me to wear pink to look more like a girl.  What a joke!!  I loved pink, never had a problem with it, but I just never found anything that I liked in pink.   I was also told that I needed to be more open with Kathie.  She set up nightly meeting with me so we could talk about what happened that day.  I informed her that I was an open book, ask and I will tell.  I was told that I knew what I needed to tell them and they expected me to come to them.  This did not last long because she did not have time to meet with me.  I was also told that I needed to stop hanging out with certain people that I had a strong friendship with and make a friend ship with another certain person.  I did not like speaking with this person because things that were said went back to staff.  I attempted, but all my attempts were ignored.

I was told that not wearing make up made me look like I was not presentable. I had put on some make up, but it was not enough.  A certain person chewed my butt  for 15 min telling me how I needed to wear make up.  Other students were walking by and could hear what was going on.  I tried to explain how I had on make up.  I was then quizzed on what I had on.  I responded that I was wearing what they had told me I needed to wear.  I was then told that I needed to wear more.  I explained that I ran out of and I was told to borrow the make up from someone else.  Borrowing others make up is gross, there are diseases that are transmitted that way.  Me being rebellious did not borrow anyone’s make up and I did not put anymore on.

Just an FYI to all those that thought I was too manly, I have been married for almost 5 years to the love of my life, and I love to get dressed up when I want too not when I am told.  I still wear blue jeans and t-shirts and I do not look sloppy.  I still don’t wear make up and my skin looks great!!  It has taken me a long time to realize that God has made me a beautiful woman and that I don’t need anything else to make me look better especially make up.

MCL: What was the most difficult thing you faced once you were back in “the real world?”

FS: I went to a church that had an MC program in San Antonio.  I never thought I would have problems because I was in MCA.  People that were in their MC group knew my name before I introduced myself to anyone.  At the new church their MC group had a meeting about me.  They thought that I was a spy from MCA that was coming to see what they were doing.  Their MC pastor had some problems and went to Nathan.  I had to explain myself over and over again that I was not in MC anymore and that I was not there to spy on them.

Being alone with the opposite sex was really hard for me when I left MC.  It was terrible to be in a car or anything without a second person to be a witness to make sure that we did not start making out randomly.  It took me a long time to get over this issue.

MCL: What were the circumstances surrounding you leaving?

FS: I just kind of disappeared.  I did not have any really tight relationships with anyone. I was made fun of for my car that had a bad fan belt, for being Native American, and for growing up in Holliday, TX (yes 2 “L’s”).  A few of the MC’s said good-bye to me.

MCL: What year did you leave?

 

FS: 2001

MCL: What was your position at the time (example: 1st year student, 2nd year student, Staff, etc.)?

FS: I did two years as an MC and then I was a part of the trial program of interns, it was not really under MC

MCL: Were you blessed when you left? Were you humiliated when you left?

 

FS: No one really cared that I was leaving.  They did not talk to me when I was an intern.  I left just about everyone my phone number and email address so they could contact me.

MCL: How many hours did you work on average during a week?

FS: I never really counted the hours that we worked, but it was sometimes around the clock.  I got really sick from the lack of sleep.

Gardner at Our Savior’s Church, or Live-In Slave?

Wow Lisa… I guess I never really knew any part of your story or why you left MC. I was only there for 4 months and during that time I was so wrapped in my own person hell and misery that I couldn’t really see that anyone else was going through the same thing. I was convinced that it was just me and my “discipleship leader” liked to reinforce that belief. I know just how you feel when you sat there contemplating how to escape and toying with the idea of ending it all. It may seem a bit crazy now but at the time, questioning everything you’ve been taught for the last 5 or more years is really scary. I remember fighting with myself and trying to convince myself that somehow everything my body and mind were telling me was wrong. It was demons, my own selfishness, or Satan himself. But it wasn’t any of those things. It was a simple case of manipulation. It was really hard on me when I came to that conclusion because at that point I had no idea who the hell I was or what the hell to believe in. I had been lied to and manipulated for a long time and accepted those lies as the truth and let that consume my life. The next several years became a very trying time of rediscovering who I am. It took me a long time to come to the conclusion that Jacob [Thomas] mentioned earlier. Maybe God created me exactly the way I was. But I’ve got to say I am thankful for that. I now know who I am because of what they put me through.

I don’t know if you knew this or not but Thai Guidry, TJ Guidry, Jordan Belt and I all worked at Our Savior’s Church the summer before Master’s Commission 3D started in Broussard. I didn’t realize it at the time but we were basically live-in slaves. We worked 8 hours a day for 5 days a week maintaining the 30 acres of land that the church sits on. That meant mowing the grass, edging, weed eating, blowing the leaves, maintaining the pool, cleaning the Lodge, prep work for any special services, and basically anything else they asked. Thai and I were pretty much the ones responsible for weeding and edging which is a never-ending task. As soon as you finish edging 30 acres it’s time to start over. I remember one of the pastors telling us he wanted the place to look like a golf course. We did all of this for absolutely NO PAY! We lived in the little pool house in front of the dorms, which flooded any time it rained and we were allowed $50 a week for food.

No not each… $50 in total.

When we finally asked for more money for food we had the same thing told to us. We were ungrateful for what we had and out of line for asking for me. I felt like Oliver Twist. Can I have some more sir?? That should’ve been my first sign of what was to come next.

But at the time it made sense because that’s how the church operated. No one was paid and everyone was supposed to be grateful for “serving the kingdom.” More like serving the money generating machine that is OSC with unpaid labor.

Told by Ryan Baudoin

www.ryanbaudoin.wordpress.com