Meet Jackie. She was a student of Master’s Commission in Phoenix ’98-’99 and in Springfield, MO ’99-2000 for her 2nd year. MC has a tendency to suck in vulnerable teenagers, right out of high-school with high hopes of travel, ministry and some “college” that can get them a license to minister. Unfortunately, most programs charge more for the “college” part and it’s hardly a sufficient education. Most students are better off attending an actual college or university.
I got saved when I was 17 after my parents were hit with sickness that left my step-dad unemployed. Through a series of unfortunate events, my mom decided to turn to a church up the street for help. We started going out of gratitude for their help even though we were only nominal Christians. After we had been there a few months and I had gotten saved, the church hired a new youth pastor. He was an on-fire fella. He was also a hard core proponent for Master’s Commission and claimed to be a personal friend of Lloyd Ziegler. He eventually got a team to come to our church. I fell in love with them immediately. I idolized them. How amazing would it be to ditch college and go serve God instead?! Keep in mind that I was a very new Christian on top of being seriously damaged as it was. My mom was very emotionally and verbally abusive and my step-father sexually abused me for years. I was one fucked up little girl looking for an escape. If I went to college, I would be stuck at home in an abusive situation because I would probably have to stay close to home due to finances. I wanted to get as far away as possible but at the same time, a program that would allow me to grow closer to God sounded like a win-win. I talked to my youth pastor, then my mom. Everybody agreed it would be a great opportunity for me. My parents and I didn’t have the $5000 for tuition. So, the my church raised money for me. They raised about half my tuition and the church planned on giving me $150 a month in living expenses. I could pay the other half of tuition later in the year so we planned on more fund raising. Sounded great, right? Well, I never got the monthly $150 because they gave it to my mom who never sent it to me. I also went without a car, which royally sucked. Of all the things I will mention about Master’s Commission, nothing sucked more than not having a car. So, off to Phoenix I went. The first day was so exhilarating. I had no idea how big the church was. I came from a 150 member church so 10,000 people was huge! Master’s Commission kids were like celebrities there. This was exciting. I always wanted to do theater but wasn’t good enough for high school- maybe I would be good enough here. I couldn’t sing either but I could be in the choir. The thing that excited me the most was the travel. I had never been outside the state of Oklahoma after the age of 2 so getting to travel to other states and countries was a bonus!
After about a couple of months I realized there were cliques just like in high-school. I thought I had left that behind me. I then realized that not being a part of these cliques was damaging any chance I had of what I’ll call “moving up”. Basically, if you don’t get into the inner circle you pretty much don’t mean shit to the leaders no matter how hard you try. “Jackie who?” I heard someone day… in the middle of the year! I found myself hanging out with the group that was considered outcasts. Fine with me. I was all about being “real”… just like everyone else.
Since I didn’t have a car, I failed the discipleship portion. It’s the part where you have to “save” and “disciple” 2 or 3 people (preferably youths). I was required to bring this person to church and church functions. I did get a girl saved. I’m pretty sure she had a mental disability, though. I didn’t like this portion one bit. MC’s idea of getting people saved is pretty much a sales pitch. First of all I was not fond of talking to complete strangers let alone telling said strangers that they were going to hell if they didn’t believe this set of doctrines and perform a “sinner’s prayer.” If that would have ever have happened to me, I would have kicked that person’s ass, especially if I was a Christian of another denomination. We were made to believe that even other Christians like Catholics and Baptists were going to hell because they were not filled with the spirit and the followed “religion” and didn’t have a “relationship”. Needless to say, I got this person to church one time. I tried to tell my leaders that this wasn’t working for me and I needed some advice. Their advice? I could make a little money here and there cleaning the church and save up money for a car. I swear, either these people were fucking with me or just plain clueless! The church did have a bus that went through town picking up random people to come to church so that was another option. I was smarter than that. The church picked up homeless people and people from really bad parts of town. I’m from the suburbs. That just sounded really unsafe for me to ride on alone and/ or with a 14 year old girl also alone. Back to working for a car: First of all, we weren’t allowed to hold a job so I would only be able to clean the church around special events, which was maybe once a month. We normally only got paid $5 and hour and were there for about 2-3 hours. Since my mom wasn’t sending me my money, I really had to use this to pay for toothpaste and the tampons my roommates stole. My last option was to pray about it. Yeah, I did that all year. I saw person after person get “blessed” financially. I realized quickly how this happened. They begged for it! They whined and bitched until someone felt “called by God” to provide for them. All I asked for was one of my 3 roommates (who all had cars) to help me out. They all had better things to do and refused to help. Now, my neighbor was a sweetheart, but she really did fill her car with kids and had no room for me. I didn’t get blessed with nice roommates. That spring they had a festival/outreach event. I ended up being part of the team that sought out donations and I alone did about half the work out of a team of six. I also took responsibility for the production part and organized the lighting team.That’s when I realized that I wasn’t really cut out for the stage but I was definitely cut out for organizing. I received zero credit. Not even a “nice job!” (This all played a big part of my disappointment at being rejected at the end of the year) Now, I understood that this would happen because a good Christian would not expect recognition or credit. But, people were getting credit all the time… where it wasn’t due.
One of my favorite moments in Phoenix was at retreat. They split the girls and guys up like 5th graders for a sex talk. One of the leaders got up during a very emotional time and claimed that God was speaking to her. Now, don’t fall off your chair when you read this but she claimed that God himself, told her that someone was masturbating. (Obviously not there, but on their own time) It took everything within me to not either crack up laughing or run out of the building crying. I was guilty… just like every other human being. We needed to be cut some slack. Really, a young hormonal human can only have so much restraint against what comes naturally. So, now began a complete guilt trip over everything sexual. I already had issues from being molested so the last thing I needed was someone telling me my own body was evil. I was so filled with anger and guilt. I don’t remember anyone talking about that discussion. My other fave moment was when one of the 2nd year students led the morning prayer with a short sermon. He flat out told the students that if they weren’t jumping up and down and acting like a crazy person when they prayed that they didn’t love Jesus and God wouldn’t hear their prayers. We were like dumb sheep and listened to every word that dripped from leadership’s lips. We looked up to these people like they were next to being demi gods. We counted on them to mold us and guide us. Not one person in the staff stopped this idiot’s rampage nor did they follow up with a “this is what he believes, but you may believe differently and that’s OK.” Nope, none of that. This was brainwashing at it’s finest!