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.

17 thoughts on “Wear Pink or Be Called Manly”

  1. This is absolutely deplorable and a text book case of cultism. Degrading someone and making them feel worthless in order exert absolute control over them is not how you run any church organization. The worst part is people pay a shit load of money to be in MC programs. They’re paying to be abused, overworked and verbally bludgeoned to death in public. At least when you join the military THEY pay you and give you room and board.

    I went to a church that had an MC program. I was not old enough to join it at the time, but I did a summer program for my age group. Sort of a mini MC thing. It was just as bad. I remember once I was told I couldn’t wear a shirt because it had a name of a band that was from my high school. I had to throw it away because they weren’t a Christian band.

    Another time I was told that my art was pornography. I was studying anatomy IN HIGH SCHOOL and it involved nudes. So, they said I should only paint pictures of Bible stuff and landscapes.

    Nothing was ever done in private it though, they just did it out loud. Hell, I remember I said “I love” some movie. I was lectured for a half an hour about how I can’t “love” anything except god and to only say I “like” other things.

    Fucking crazy people.

  2. I say this in the kindest of tone, please accept my appology for the way all the above people acted. They are out of line and in my opinion do not make correct representation of a true MC program or mini camp you were wronged, these things should not happen.

    If I may, here are a few strong qualities to look for in an M/C program, mini camp, church or frankly anyone you would work for in any type of leadership, management or supervisorship.

    I beleive anyone working in the above areas must strive to attain “compassionate leadership” dedicated to “correct practices” that “allow” and “encourage all” to:

    1. strengthen family ties and relationships…”NEVER” limiting their time with or for family.
    2. “freely” on their own learn to hear the voice of God.
    3. dream dreams and confidently pursue them, even when and if it’s “out of the box” and not in “your” area of conviction.
    4. “believe in themselves” to do “whatever” “they” feel “they” were bent for, thus freeing in them peaceful confidence to succeed in whatever school, walk of life, college, company they work for or business they start.

    If you find yourself in a situation that limits you in any of these areas seriously concider an alternative plan.
    If it is an MC call me…. 214-636-8688.

    Thanks for allowing me a voice.

    1. The problem I’m finding is that there is a wide-spread group of stories from MC to MC group with common denominators.

      I speak for myself and many others when I say that an apology is kindly appreciated, but it’s going to take more than an apology to fix the kind of teaching and near slavery that exists in more than one group. Some serious reformation needs to happen to ensure that everyone is getting paid minimum wage or above, and personal lives are not encroached upon as much as they are now.

    2. I am the one that was interviewed in this piece. Thank you Chris, that means a lot to me and I believe to all MC’s that were hurt.

      The tips that you put out are helpful. I believe that young students come in and are taken advantage of. I came in to MC when I was 18 years old. It was first time to leave home for that long. I was very impressionable at that time in my life as many young people are. Just something to keep in mind as well, young people right out of high school do not have the same thought process that someone my age does. Teens are very impulsive and do not always think things out.

      The problem is that young people come into a program like MC and they believe what they are told. They are just like me.

      Edwin was our Pastor. Pastor’s are supposed to assist people in their walk with God not treat them poorly for whatever reason he had. Edwin is charismatic when you first meet him. He would then intimidate the students. I heard him call himself people’s “spiritual father”.

      I believe that once you get into the program and start believing what you are told it is hard to think that you need to come up with another plan. You start to believe that this is just the way things are and the way they are supposed to be.
      I really thought that I was a terrible person because that is the way they made me feel.

      I believe that there are good programs out there, but there needs to be more checks and balances in the programs.

  3. The description of leadership that is given by Mrs. Zigler is not like anything I have EVER seen in any ministry that has a goal of discipleship. I was in ministry from the time I was a Jr. in high school until I was 26, the only single universal truth was that the vision of the leader is the only thrust of ministry that matters. If you pastor has a heart for missions, thats what should matter to you, if he wants discipleship then you had better want it as well. Someone told me one time that the closer I got to God the more of an individual I would become. This flies in the face of everything I was taught in MC. The idea there is that the closer a person gets to God the more like his pastor he becomes. Seeing how most pastors operate outside of the pulpit, this is not much of an incentive to grow closer to God.

  4. I remember being asked a question in my interview (by Chris and Wendy) upon being accepted into MC Austin that ties into the theme of CONTROL and MANIPULTION. They asked me how would I respond if I was told to do something I really didn’t want to do… I thought and still think my answer was acceptable. I said that I would ask for an explanation of why I would have to do what ever it was so that I would understand and even maybe gain the willingness to do it wholeheartedly. Well, they didn’t like this answer and their body language and facial expressions revealed that. In their mind it was rebellion if I question their commands. So they asked the question again giving me a chance to surrender my rights and show them that I would submit. I remember thinking that if I’m going to trust this program and leadership I must submit to them by giving them my life and everything within.

  5. Again, I say, shame shame shame on all of these MC leaders and those that were involved in this mistreatment! All of this makes me sick to hear and just reinforces what my gut feeling was about the whole “Master’s Commission” when I first met my husband, an ex-MC. A Cult, is a Cult, is a Cult. With a name like “Master’s Commission”, what else could it be – at least as a first impression, for those like me on the “outside” – it sure sounds that way. Sounds more like the days of slavery which are long gone. I think every one of you should speak up, LOUDLY, and not be afraid to put an end to this mess.

  6. As a lesbian who grew up in church, this just skeeves me out. And this is exactly why homosexual people don’t want to step foot into church. I have witnessed Jacob Aranza prance on stage and call homosexual men fairies. Disgusting. You want to “save us”? What’s our incentive?? To be like you?? No thanks. My relationship with Jesus is just fine and it always will be. The people that have said the ugliest things to me have been Christians…Christ followers should be better than that. This upsets me so much that I can’t even formulate a reply that makes sense. So, I guess I’ll just be done.

  7. I too am a female MC graduate from OSC in Broussard, LA and I will standup and say that although there were times when some of our leaders made mistakes and were human, as we all are, there were too many times when they led us in the right direction. I learned from MC rather than rebelling against it and I understood when the leadership made mistakes since I too made many mistakes.

    Prior to starting Master’s, I played around in the world looking for what I thought would bring comfort but all it brought was emptiness. When I went to masters I chose to do so myself because I saw those around me and where they were and I knew that I could continue life in that manner without destroying it. I just knew that there had to be more to life. At first when I joined Master’s Commission I struggled with the boundaries that were set and at times I did not agree with everything. However, like a child needs boundaries to teach them discipline and responsibility so does a new born Christian. I now see that it was these boundaries that helped form me and teach me to be the Child of God that I am today. I learned how to have self control, how to be selfless, how to be responsible, how to serve, and how to love God, others and myself. Master’s taught me how to save myself for my husband which I am so thankful for that today. Master’s was a turning point for me. I was at a fork in the road of my life journey with one path that was leading to the lifestyle and consequences that I saw my friends reaping and the other lead to the relationship that I have with Christ today. No one made me make that choice but they equipped me to do so. I am so thankful that I went to Master’s Commission because if I had not I would probably be addicted to drugs or alcohol or leading a life of complete emptiness.

    I say all these things while I live in Houston and away from OSC. I say these things with a clear mind. I can clearly see that I was fortunate to have such a caring family at OSC. In my opinion neither MC nor OSC displayed any of the characteristics of Cult but instead they were a place that I could call home and a place that I could learn how to live life without being tempted by my peers and many other influences in life. I can see that God had His hand in my life that entire time and because I was obedient to His will and followed the boundaries that were established in my life in Master’s He blessed me with a friend for life and a husband and family of my dreams.

    We all are met with difficulties in life but it is how we react to these difficulties that makes the difference in our lives.

    1. Heather,
      Would you mind telling my readers more about yourself, too, like how long you were in the program? Did you stay to become a staff member or were you there for a year, etc.?

      Also, drug and alcohol addictions are harmful and serious issues. I’m really happy that you were able to avoid those, though I’m not sure that would’ve been a guaranteed future for you without MC. There are many other ways to avoid becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol, besides attending an abusive church and ministry school.

      1. Sure. I was in MC for one year. I chose not to return after I met the man of my dreams who is now my husband and I received no condemnation for my actions. In fact I received encouragement from everyone. Me and my husband were married at OSC and we both chose to make that our home church. We remained there for 4 years before my husband was relocated with his job. We now attend a church that has no relation with OSC and we miss all of our OSC family.

        If I were to have returned to MC I would have followed the rules set in the program knowing that they were not meant to be abusive but rather a guide to help me learn discipline and self control.

        With regards to the last sarcastic comment that you made, you are missing the whole point of what I was saying and rather focusing in on the most negative thing you can find from what I have posted on your blog. The reality is not just that I avoided an extreme of drug addiction or alcohol addiction but rather I avoided a lifestyle that would have left me open to that and much more. And yes it was because of OSC and MC that I avoided this. I was given the tools to assist me in making the right decisions.

        For some reason I am also not following your comment about OSC and MC being abusive. I was in no manner ever abused, neither mentally, spiritually, nor physically. I was never belittled nor cut down. In fact it was the complete opposite. I was encouraged, uplifted, and loved. Even now when we travel home and attend OSC, me and my family are treated in the same manner.

        1. I completely agree heather! I am also a former student of MCID in Broussard, La. I attended there one year and one year only because I got engaged the following summer and married my husband Sean a year later. Although the leaders were not perfect, as expected because no one is perfect, I have learned so much from them and the program. If I can recall the rules were clearly stated before even committing to the program and no one was forced to stay in the program, therefore it was a choice to be a part of MCID. We were taught to be servants as Jesus was when he walked the earth not slaves. Servant hood is a choice but for those who do not have the right intentions when joining will probably feel as though they are being treated as slaves, only because their heart is not in the program. A slave is forced to do something they do not want to do, we signed up for the program knowing that we were going to be under strict rules only to teach us and lead us in the right direction just as a parent teaches a child. I know that when I joined MCID I knew that our purpose as students was to serve others and show them the heart of Christ. Is that not what Christianity is all about? Serving others and loving others more then you love yourself. MCID taught me to give up myself for the sake of others just as Christ gave his life for us. My husband Sean also attended MCID and he had his share of arguments with the leaders only because he did not join the program with the right intensions to begin with but in the end he became a better man. He was delivered from the chains of alcoholism and drug abuse. In fact, he learned how a husband should treat a wife, something his father did not teach him and something he would not have learned without the MCID program. Because of OSC and the leaders there my husband is serving God today. I do not know what has happened to to you Lisa but I do know that it sounds like you left the church with unforgiveness in your heart. You must understand that no one is perfect and if anyone has hurt you then you should address the issue with that person one on one. As a student I must say I looked up to you I do not understand why you have gone to these extremes. OSC is not at all what you are portraying it to be. In fact, OSC has changed my life and my family for the best.

        2. Heather,
          Please read through the blog in it’s entirety before you say you’re not “following my comment about OSC and MC being abusive.” Each post points out many abusive and cult-like practices that go on there. Additionally, one of the characteristics of a cult is that their leaders are charasmatic and friendly, so of course because you’re entering church as a Sunday morning patron and weren’t on staff with MC, you wouldn’t see the dark side. They’re trying to coax you in with their friendliness and then grab you with their talons and suck the life out of you.

          But I hope you don’t have that same experience at OSC, because it can be devestating when your FAMILY leaves you in the dust and won’t call you or speak to you–even BEFORE you write a blog. 😉 Not that I know anything about OSC or anything.

      2. I think the difference between those who felt abuse and those who did not came with the amount of time spent with the program and in direct contact through occupation with the leaders in the church. There were probably some differing attitudes going into the whole thing, too.

  8. Well I would hope a pastor or leader would be charismatic and friendly. Lord knows I wouldn’t want to attend a church where they were mean and distant. What kind of church do you attend or do you even attend one at all? My goodness Lisa get over it and move on. Stop trying to ruin the lives of so many wonderful people just so you can feel good about your self. You are deeply troubled and consumed with this so called cult life you so say have lived. OSC is not the same church you attended. I have been there for years as a volunteer and staff. I have never ever been treated the way you so say have. My family and I are loved by each and every Pastor and staff member. I am so blessed to have the support that I receive here at OSC. I understand that there may have been a few who feel they were unheard or offended. But I ask what about the hundreds of others who have thrived because of OSC and Masters Commission. I don’t know who your inside person it but “Our School” seriously I think that the wonderful people at OSC can come up with a better name than that.

  9. There was one time Edwin humilated me infront of all the youth leaders and the assistant youth pastor. We were at a restaurant eating together while the youth and others were at other tables. Out of nowhere, he SERIOUSLY, rips me on that fact that I am tan and like being in the sun. I have always tanned really easily. Well, he began condemning me on how I am selfish and not thinking about my future husband. How I was damaging my skin, and my future husband would end up with a wife who was all wrinkled and aged (those may not be the exact words…they may have been worse.) I was devastated . I held my own and would not allow myself to shed a tear. The other leaders just sat around the table with serious looks on their face like, “is this really happening?” As soon as I got a chance, I went out to the vans. One leader came up to me and asked if I were okay. I felt totally disgraced and humiliated. I told this leader that maybe just maybe that was all a test. For any of you all that might know, he also had that test about passing the salt/pepper shaker at the table when asked.

    I have been happily married for many years now. My husband has no problems with the condition or not of my skin. When told about this and asked what he thought, “He said it was none of Edwin’s business!” There are many other stories like this. I have forgiven all and I won’t dwell b/c those feelings will come back up and offense will set in if allowed. You all are children of the Most High God. We are all servants and none is greater than the other.

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