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
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