Our Savior’s Church Pastor Minimalized a Family Death

How Pastor Jacob Aranza, Senior Pastor of Our Savior’s Church in Lafayette, Louisiana, treated me as his staff member when my grandmother died, was beyond terrible.

The story of how Master’s Commission treated it’s staff members in relation to family and vacation was terrible and there is much more to it than what I’ve started to write. How Pastor Daniel Jones, Senior Pastor of Our Savior’s Church in Lafayette, Louisiana, treated me as his staff member when my grandmother died, was beyond terrible.

After a long summer of depression, burn-out from overwork and little sleep, and suicidal thoughts, I contemplated quitting Master’s Commission for good and heading back to California to live near my family. I found it difficult to view my life outside of Master’s Commission: I had no degree, no career, little professional skills, and no assets or savings. I also had little identity outside the group.

Pastor Daniel Jones got a hold of me after that summer and offered me a job with him. I’d be his wife’s personal ministry assistant, and would have nothing to do with Master’s Commission. He was appalled when he found out Nathan was only paying me $150 a month, and he offered me $500 a month. He said it’d be mostly part-time and I could do any ministry I wanted.

It was a dream come true for me, at the time. I had wanted to be a missionary for years, and had liked working with the women’s ministry.

None of what he promised came true, except that I made $500 a month and that I was his wife’s assistant. The $500 a month wasn’t fair compensation for the full-time hours I pulled at his house, and for being on call every weekend day and night of the week. I was his wife’s assistant, but what I mainly did was home-school their middle son, clean their house, do laundry, and clean their entire house after every major dinner or holiday party they had at their house. So, I was a live-in slave, as I affectionately call it.

Fast forward to October of 2004. My mom’s mother got really sick and ended up in the ICU. My parents paid for my flight home (of course, my paycheck couldn’t cover even part of a flight home) and I grabbed the next one (after asking permission, to which I want to throw up over how stupid I was to do that).

I spent the next day or two at the ICU with my mom, dad, brother and sister. I was filled with a terrible amount of guilt, because I’d rarely seen my grandma over the past few years. I worked in a cult. I wasn’t allowed much time off for the holidays to see my family and never a vacation.

My grandma passed away that weekend. It was awful. I was so sad, and my mother just lost her own mother. We had a funeral to plan, and after that was done, we had to take care of bills, her condo, and all the other paperwork type of stuff that you just don’t think of (when you’re young) and don’t realize you have to do so suddenly after a sudden death.

To top it all off, we’re a very close family and I just felt terrible that my mom was grieving. All I wanted to do was to be there for her, but after the funeral, there was this looming feeling that I had to call Pastor Daniel  to see when I had to come back.

I called.

I explained that I needed to help my mom take care of my grandma’s condo, deal with her mail and bills, and all the other stuff I had no idea was such a big job. I told him Daniel Jones that I couldn’t leave my mom alone here without my help while she was grieving over her mom. I had to help her. I was a grown woman, and it was just right for me to stay to help her. I wanted a week there to stay with my mom.

After that week, I also wanted to go to a long-time friend’s wedding. It was on a weekend in nearby Texas. He had been in Master’s Commission with me, and we had developed such a great friendship. Actually, he was the kind of person everyone loved. He was always laughing and joking and making people feel great about themselves.

Pastor Daniel  said no to me staying to help my mom and he said no to me attending the wedding of a long-time friend.

Like a robot, I headed back to the airport. I was heartbroken. I felt like a horrible daughter. I felt trapped.

My years of friendships and everything my life was all about was in Louisiana. I couldn’t just tell the senior pastor to eff off and stay in California and jeopardize every friendship and relationship I’d come to love. I knew what happened to those kind of people. I knew what awful things were said about them. I knew the Scarlet Letter they wore for life after they did something like that.

Looking back, of course I feel disgusted with myself. I should’ve been stronger. I should’ve left Our Savior’s Church at that moment. I should’ve woken up from the brainwashing. I should’ve shooken off the pixy dust that was covering my eyes making me walk under Daniel Jones’s spell.

I should’ve put my mother first, and I should’ve put my friend’s wedding first.

When I returned, Daniel  didn’t feel any remorse for telling me to leave my mom behind grieving. There was barely a word spoken about it. In fact, we just went back to work and every day I laundered his dirty underwear and washed his dirty coffee cups, I began to resent the fact that I’d come back for something so unimportant and something that I was over-qualified to do.

8 thoughts on “Our Savior’s Church Pastor Minimalized a Family Death”

  1. I sure seem to be familiar with this Aranza fellow even though I have never met him…HHhmmm.

    First off, based on my own cult experience I have little doubt that in his mind he twisted some hard to understand scripture like, “Let the dead bury their dead” to justify his irrelevant status that only really applies in his little, insignificant cultish kingdom. Jesus hardly felt colhearted when facing the death of his friend, and only delayed because certain were waiting to kill him(as best as I recall). If He happened to not be able to show forth a once in all of history answer as He did, He IMO would have understood mourning and care for the bereaved!

    I’m glad you are back with your family Lisa!

    I wish More parents, especially the faithful in “Our Savior’s Church” woke up to the fact that this douchebag is not someone to entrust their children to.

    1. Jeff,
      I agree. Jesus would have understood and as I’ve understood historical mourning practices, especially in a Biblical time, they were taught to mourn loudly and long–sometimes for an entire month. Grieving is natural and healthy. Our families need us sometimes, too. It’s not a bad thing. We should never feel guilty for wanting to grieve over the loss of a family member or take care of things at home. There’s a great divide in that understanding with this pastor. He simply doesn’t understand what a horrible impression he made on me during that time.

  2. That is so sad. You should not feel bad about what happened. You were trying to obey what you were told to do. It is sad that a person that is a pastor and leads other is unable to be sensitive to others needs.

    I remember when I was in MCA and I came down with pneumonia. We were coming back from Phoenix (from working hard and way too many hour in one day and sleeping on the floor in a cold room)and people were mad at me for sleeping the whole way home. When we got back to the dorm, I feel asleep again. My brother was in MCA and he was the only one willing to take me to the doctor. When I came back with all my medications and the diagnosis of pneumonia, I was told that I did not have to work the next day. My mom found out how sick I was and that NO ONE had checked on me at all that next day she wanted me to come home. A staff came to me and said that I could go, but when my mom showed up they were mad because I had not told anyone that my mom was coming. I told the staff that I had left a voice mail on their office phone and I was told that was not true. My mom took me home where I slept for the next three days.

    Keep up the good work. The more I read your stories the more I believe it is a cult.

    1. Leah,
      That’s terrible! Pneumonia is a really awful thing and I know someone who passed away from it. Most people have to be hospitalized from pneumonia and if they’re not, serious complications can occur.

      You’re not the first person who’s experienced major illness in Master’s Commission. I have a friend who was in Metroplex Master’s Commission who came down with some serious illness and nearly died. Nearly died! He still deals with some health issues to this day, from not being allowed (or having resources) to take care of his illness when he needed to.

      From lack of sleep, I developed migraines. Another girl in Master’s Commission developed migraines around the same time. She went to get an MRI and came back with some medication, but her doctor said it was her environment (lack of sleep, poor nutrition, stress, etc.). My doctor said my migraines were from the same thing (lack of sleep, poor diet, etc.). Later, I was really fatigued and stressed and my doctor stressed that I should take better care of myself by sleeping more. I told him it wasn’t an option. When I came back to tell people that, they laughed. We all knew that in Master’s Commission, you don’t get to sleep. All-nighters are very common, and so is stress and poor diet. Wrap that up in a package and see if anyone can make it out without some health issue. It can’t be done.

  3. I’m so sorry this happened, Lisa. Once again, I am so glad you are sharing your experiences. Though they are heartbreaking and remind me of my own very similar stories, it may help others in the future. I know I’ve said it too much already, but you’re so strong!

    1. I still feel awful and guilty for going back to Louisiana after the death of my grandma, but I hope that by us sharing with others, it’ll help prevent others from going through it in the future–or perhaps help them to recognize the signs earlier. 🙂

  4. i know the church and the people im not a member tho, i have family there. i have to say u sound like a mad exemployee who has there side to the story. i work hard full time all week for less than your 500.00 a week by the way..i know people as myself ,who not out of anger or disagreement with the church ,go somewhere else besides osc and im treated just fine when i visited..ive seen first hand how they treat people and give people a second chance even a third chance at life..they def model the church Christ talks about in the bible..i know ministers there personally that give there life to people not because the have to but because they realize thats there call to love thy neighbors as thy self..could it be maybe u just thought u deserved more then what u thought u was worth and maybe it ended badly and now as a angry x employee u r airing your frustrations in exagerations and tearing down people who the own city leaders of lafayette appreciate and call upon when needed..someone who gives his time and money to help people..it sounds as if they was trying to help you but it jusst wasnt what u wanted..i pray u still see the mesg of the cross, 2 love your neighbor to not repay evil for evil but spread peace and to love God above all things and if this is a cult then count me as a cult member..peace

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