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

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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.

22 thoughts on “Former MC from TX Tells Her Story”

  1. WOW.

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s so appalling! I never knew Edwin to such a degree of control in my own life, more trickling down the fountain of leaders. But, that is truly a terrifying story.

  2. I would like to start off by saying that I am a long time reader, but this is the first time I have spoken out. I would like to stay anonymous and I hope this doesn’t bother anyone. Maybe one day I will share my story, but I would like to add to the above post. I was there when this happened and I would like to give a view from the guys side of things on this.
    The night before this happened I believe was when the movie was rented. It was rented by a 2nd year student, a STAFF member, and another adult male that lived in the dorm with us but was not associated with MCA but rather was a long time friend of PE and a former student.
    Not all of the guys watched the movie. I was trying to get my laundry done with some other first year guys because we were left when a 2nd year student was upset and refused to take us.
    When we got back to the dorm, the now famous sex scene was being fast forwarded through. I don’t honestly recall anyone wanting to watch it. We all really wanted to live for God…that was why we were there. So not wanting to watch the last half of a movie, some of us went to the end of the hall to continue cleaning out a junk room to try and turn into a small dining room/kitchen area to make more room in our dorm.
    The rest of the night went on, and early the next morning we got up, ready and went downstairs for the usual morning prayer and slave labor. As we were praying, I remember hearing stuff upstairs being thrown around the room. It sounded like someone was throwing a fit, and I knew it was PE, but I had no idea why. I tried to continue to pray, but I was terrified. He was so strict on us about everything. Our beds had to me made a certain way, out little pantry closets had to be organized a certain way. It was so hard to do with the little personal time we had, and I was terrified it was my stuff being broken upstairs.
    After a bit, PE came into the room and walked straight to the front and put the movie in. I cant recall if any words were said, I just remember the movie on the sex scene. I remember him telling some of us to not look down and to watch. To be honest, the sex scene wasn’t that bad, it was just very strange to watch in the class like that with the girls around and PE’s attitude and temper on the edge. After a while, B came to the front crying and turned it off.
    When we got back upstairs later that day, all of our stuff had been messed up. All of our stuff had been gone through. All of our clothes were thrown around the room. Our dressers were overturned and some books had been ripped in the violent outburst. Not anything like I expected. Not the way a leader should treat students at all.
    That night, the guys were called up to a room out of the blue for what PE called a “donkey roast.” If I recall, it was a counseling room of some sorts or prayer room or something like that. When we got there, PE was there along with W and K and Elizabeth. I can not explain how scared we were. I am assuming Elizabeth was there to calm PE down. In the end she was the only one that showed any love towards us that night.
    He talked to each of us one on one, in front of the others. He grilled us on every sin we could ever have commited. He asked us how many times we had ever masturbated, and if and when we had since we had been in MCA. He asked us about our sex lives in the past and wanted details. Not just “yes i’ve had sex” he wanted details. He would stop us sometimes and hold his stomach and his hand towards us in a “hang on for a second” gesture, then make us continue.
    I didn’t want to discuss certain things in front of females, but in order to stay in MCA, we had no choice so I did. It was to this day the most uncofortable I have ever felt. I was embarresed beyond words.
    It came time for our punishment, which is crap since I didn’t even watch the movie, but since I didn’t take a stand and stop the others as PE put it, I was still in sin. We had to decide our own punishment over the next few days until PR came back from Houston. We were told that if the punishment wasn’t good enough we would be sent home.
    In the end I came out with no tv for the rest of the year which was ok because rarely did I have time to watch it anyways.

    The thing that really gets me is how hard it is to talk about this still. This was in 1998 and I still feel the terror of hearing him in our room. I didn’t want him disappointed in me, but there was no pleasing him. I loved PE with my whole heart, and really still do even though he has completely turned his back on me. Once an MC always and MC? Not in my case.

    1. Can’t Say,
      I appreciate your comment, more than anything. I don’t have any problem with you remaining completely anonymous, and I want this blog to continue to remain safe for those of you who’d like to comment without getting the brunt of any attacks.

      I honestly have no words for what you’ve shared with us. Between the girls perspective and the guys perspective, I’ve been brought to tears with each half of the story. In all honesty, I’ve blocked a lot of things out–I have a rough time remembering events that happened or details around those events during my time as a student and even staff member at Master’s. That’s why I mostly write about things that require my opinion, not my memory. When I am forced back into those moments of pain, it’s just really hard to deal with. I think a lot of us feel that way–at least 75% of people who’ve left Edwin’s group feel that way.

      As for fear, Edwin struck fear into most of us, most of the time. He just had a way of doing that. We had an event transpire the year I was there that brought his wrath and anger out to this degree. (Maybe he was infamous for doing this every year?) Something happened within the boys group that Edwin felt they weren’t “manning up” enough. He called them pussies and wimps. Then, he said it was the girls’ fault and we were jezebels, running around with evil, controlling spirits trying to control the men. He said there was one jezebel leading our group of ladies and she needed to come forward to confess. I think “God had told him” who it was, but he wanted a confession. It’s all hard to remember, honestly, as that was the most devestating night of my life.

      Edwin’s anger caused him to tell the guys to shave off all their facial hair. I think they could keep their eyebrows. They had to shave their facial hair because it was a sign of “manhood” and they weren’t acting like men. They were letting the women control them. I also think they had to shave off their hair on their head, but I don’t remember at this point.

      When the men got done shaving, with the GIRLS’ razors, they had to come forward and stand on the stage and face us women. They had to repent for “not manning up.”

      Then, Edwin yelled at and rebuked all of us girls.

      But, Edwin had a worse surprise. He had his long-time ministry friend John Bates drive in from wherever he lived and ministered out of “That Church” and really rail us. I have NEVER cried so hard in my life. John gave us a “prophesy/sermon” about how we women were Jezebels and we were operating in a spirit of witchcraft. We were controlling the men and suppressing their manhood and Satan had us controlled and we were operating in Satan’s power.

      We had to go pray in some of the church Sunday School classrooms, and repent before God. Of course we all went. I remember sobbing harder than I’d ever sobbed before. I just was so afraid that Satan had gotten a hold of my soul. I thought I was the leader of the Jezebel group, because everything that was said that night was pointed at all of us in the same way. There was no way to know he was singling someone out. That night, I remember seriously being convinced that no matter what I did that was good or “right living” up til that point, it was all in vain because Satan had destroyed me and I was evil. I was rebellious.

      I went back in the room, where Edwin and John Bates were and the rest of the MC’s and Edwin called up any girl who wanted to confess to being a Jezebel. I think there were 3 or 4 girls who went up to confess. I was one of them. Although, I had no idea what was going on in the group at the time, I had been convinced that I was evil and beyond repair. I remember confessing and Edwin said, “It’s not you, Lisa.” I was still sobbing. Really hard. Uncontrollably.

      I went back down to join everyone, but the damage was done. I was so emotionally and spiritually damaged that night.

      I know that of the 3 or 4 other girls who went up there to confess, not one of them was “evil.” Not one of them was a “Jezebel” or operating under “Satan’s powers.” It was fear and Edwin’s anger. Edwin took his anger out on us and used God as a scapegoat to make us feel terrible.

      I can only hope that with each of us reading and writing, we might all realize that we’re not alone, and we’re all going to help each other recover.

    2. Can’t Say,
      You will never know how much your post means to me. I never knew the full story of this incident until I read your post. I am horrified. I am so sorry for what you went through. I appreciate that you shared this. Being on this site has taught me I wasn’t the only one hurt by MCA, and I’m not the only one still dealing with my time there. I hope we can all overcome the grip Edwin had/has on us. — GlassTexan

  3. WOW. thats all I can say really. I don’t know why stories like this still surprise me. Things were pretty screwed up. Times Like this is when we realized that the family that they claimed we were never existed.

  4. This happened the year before I first went to Austin. But it was already on a legendary scale of the wrath of PE. The level of unbiblical control and lack of love shown by this and many other angry outbursts displayed by Edwin are mind boggling. The Bible, the same book Edwin wanted us to learn, says that a “bruised reed I will not break, and a smoldering wick I will not snuff out”. Edwin never corrected us in love, often it seemed his goal was to break us emotionally so that we could never be whole again. He would never say that, he always said he was hard on us because we had to learn to take correction. The major theme of my time in Austin was fear that I would get in trouble for some sin I didn’t know about that I had allowed to creep into my life and control me like puppet. This tactic was used as a way to keep us in line. Edwin told me multiple times that If I ever chose to leave OCS God would not be able to use me. As if the creator of the entire universe was limited in His ability to use me because of the church I went to. At the time it was effective to keep me there, looking back on it I wonder how I was so weak minded and easily manipulated.

    1. Aaron,
      I want you to know you were not weak minded–ever. Edwin was and is a skilled manipulator and we were just kids. Even as Edwin was playing mind games, you knew something was wrong. You’re strong and, thankfully, free.

  5. I remember going to MCA for a conference and thinking man I got it made at my MC group… Y’all always got yelled at and everyone had the devil in them. Then I felt called there and was apart of the first group to go to Louisiana with PE. My previous director felt like I would be in good hands. I have pretty much blocked out anything that hurt me but I do remember once during a personal meeting one of my leaders told me that god told her my future children would struggle with depression and one would try to commit suicide…. To this day I am haunted by that meeting. I was told it would be a tie that I gave my children due to all my past sins… That it was my generational curse…. Why would she tell me that? I couldn’t even date yet and she already knows about my children? …. Shoot if that’s the case ask God who “he” is tell me something good… Pour some positivity my way not tell me my child is going to die!!!! I wish I would have said something then… But I was so mad at myself… After all it was my fault right? No! I refuse! I do not accept that fate for my offspring. I’m sorry these people hurt us. And God will judge them for every action and word that was spoken.

    1. I honestly believe that whatever was told to you was a total lie that stems from false spirituality. We were taught to be uber spiritual, to speak in tongues at all times, to “hear” the voice of God in a prophetic manner–as if we got more props from God for that. Not only is what was said to you supremely damaging, but it’s wrong.

      I struggle with depression. It’s not a “generational” thing. Nor does it stem from ANYONE’S sin. It’s a biological lack or deficit of seratonin levels in my brain. I take Effexor for it, and I am not suicidal, nor have I attempted suicide ever. What is true of depression is that it’s a very treatable condition, and it’s biological and an illness comparable to diabetes. Medication improves diabetic patients and medication can help depression patients. If this “leader” had any understanding of biology or anatomy, or even psychology she would know that she’s feeding you total b.s. Medical conditions just aren’t based on our “sin.” God doesn’t punish us or our babies for “our sin.” That line of thinking is so faulty and unbiblical. I’m so happy you’re not accepting that! 🙂 You’re right for refusing it.

      Also, we all had that condition of thinking it was our fault–no matter what we didn’t do. Soozie, you weren’t bad or sinful while in Master’s. You were good, loving, happy and creative. Remember that about yourself and walk with your head held high. You aren’t bad. You don’t need to feel guilt. Your babies are going to be darlings.

  6. Totally, utterly despicable and completely believable. Yuck.

    I am so glad my daughter was “rebellious” and dressed all goth and would NEVER have been accepted into any of these programs, like MC and Honor Academy, etc. because as a mom it would have seemed like a dream come true. I am ashamed to write that, because loving God has nothing to do with allowing yourself to be spiritually abused, but the system is set up to make us all think like that.

    If you REALLY love Jesus, you’ll devote yourself to full-time discipleship in preparation for full-time ministry, unlike all those other lukewarm believers out there who really, let’s be honest, aren’t trying hard enough. Of course as a home school mom, I was allowed to consider myself in full-time ministry, but what’s a teen to do? Sign up for one of these training programs, or just admit you don’t really love God, not like you should.

    Ugh. Repulsive. Serving organized religion and the men who run it is NOT the same as serving and loving God.

    I wonder how much damage my generation has done to yours. I apologize for the part I played in it all, handing over my ten per cent to fund this sort of thing without question. It all looks so good on the shiny color brochure, you know? 🙁

    1. shadowspring,
      You’re completely correct. The message we were sent and that was reinforced was that every teen who didn’t enter a discipleship program like this was lukewarm, or even backslidden. It’s ironic, now in retrospect.

      The sad thing is that these programs have been catching on over the years and exploding in popularity. I hope over the years this site and others like it can be helpful to offering an inside look for those considering entering these programs.

  7. i remember we sould not even watch toy story or monsters inc cause they were demonic accoring to edwin ….cause on of his kids had a bad dream about it ……and kids were more spritually sensitive than we were

    1. Josh S,
      You have a really good point. Many of the Disney films were disallowed because Edwin felt his kids shouldn’t watch them. Anything that had magic or a variety of arbitrary characteristics were called demonic and witchcraft. We weren’t allowed to watch Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter. Harry Potter would’ve definitely sent us straight to hell. ;P

      1. I was a member of the youth group during this same time frame and many of the same leaders were also in charge of the youth. I remember feeling the environment there to even be oppressive (specifically on things like Harry Potter, as you mentioned, and hiding secret sin) but had no idea what was going on behind closed doors. As I grew older I recognized more and more things as legalistic rulings from the church leadership that were un-Biblical and just the leaders’ way of controlling the lives of those under them. There was never room for discussion or difference of opinion, in fact, this was discouraged.

        Thank you all for sharing your stories and getting all of this out in the open.

  8. Reading this account made me sick to my stomach and brought back some unpleasant feelings. Even though this wasn’t during my year, I can see it all happening. It’s interesting that we were encouraged to keep nothing from the staff and Edwin and yet at the same time not to talk about what went on with “outsiders” aka “sinners”.
    I’m just so sorry that this all happened and that we were fed such a false view of God and the church. I still battle those teachings even today.
    I think if I saw Edwin today I would avoid him/run the other way. There is still this part of me that is terrified of seeing him and having him tell me all the ways I’m secretly sinning, even though I’m more spiritually level headed now, than I’ve ever been.

    1. Stephanie,
      I know how you feel. I was always afraid Edwin would turn my own family against me. He saw evil in me that I never did and I was sure he’d convince my own parents I was bad.
      I am so glad you are out of the program, but very sorry you experienced what you did. You are a strong person and I appreciate you sharing this. I’m still afraid of Edwin, too. Luckily, this site is helping me realize I don’t stand alone! 🙂

    2. Stephanie,
      Do you ever have nightmares? I often have dreams about Edwin and the others. They’re not always horrific, but they’re sort of terrifying or leave me feeling as if I live there again.

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