I am posting a letter I received from a young woman who left the mission trip called The World Race sponsored by Adventures in Missions early. What she describes is very disturbing. She could have died from negligence (and the arrogance of staff leaders). The letter speaks for itself. If Rick Ross or anyone else who reads this knows of anything that can be done--please let me know. Here's Imelda's letter:
I actually heard of you/about your book from Alex Compton, who was on my squad. He left the World Race shortly after I did, the following month.
I'm a missionary and a firm bible believer. I'm 32 years old and had a little more life experience and bible literacy under my belt than did the average bear on my squad. (The average age was 23 and most could be described from my personal interactions as luke-warm college kids whose parents were ecstatic to ship them off on any mission adventure to get their child back on track with Jesus.) 4 people amongst my World Race squad were saved (born-again) not rededicated and then baptized because a hand full of us were diligent to preach the Gospel (which is not necessarily encouraged by WR culture) and to rightly divide the Word of Truth amongst our peers.
I noticed red flags immediately at training camp with no mention of the name of Jesus for the first few hours of orientation and an immensely secularized worship session to get the kids pumped up. But in all honesty, I felt called to this mission by God and plenty of word of confirmation after having had a vision of this particular route.
I'm actually a youth leader at my church, Calvary Chapel Mountain View, and I have been in the ministry of discipling young women in bible studies. Never in a million years would I ever want any of our students to experience or be exposed to what I went through on the World Race. I fear, that the majority of the young people who go on this trip, are lured away from the faith via emotionalism and a "do what feels good, God loves you no matter what" approach to experiencing freedom in Christ. People start going around after a while saying "I'm Jesus" or "I'm perfect." Speaking all sorts of nonsense "into existence" and considering themselves supernatural royalty, because "our Dad is a big deal, and so are we."
This was my last blog:
After a very traumatic experience being exposed to NAR/Dominion theology and the likes of occultic practices through AIM, it's been very hard to debrief since returning home to California in mid-March. I believe fully that God is on the throne and that He definitely hand-crafted this experience for me. I consider it a sacred gift to have been made aware of the very dangerous reality of false prophets and false teachers encroaching boldly into the church and targeting this generation of young believers. Most of all, I am DEVASTATED and broken hearted having had to witness those who swallowed this up hook, line and sinker in the face of being told the Truth repeatedly by those of us who stand on biblical truth, in love and in grace.
I made enemies of the leadership and was put in my place several times, even from the squad coordinator who flew in from Gainesville, GA and another coach who came to do "damage control." I was repeatedly bullied and told that I was not there to preach the Gospel, or teach the bible, or concern myself with other people's spiritual growth -- I was there to learn how to hear the voice of God. I was being told that I made things too theological and this was infecting others. When I asked for answers, I was always referred to Seth Barne's "Kingdom Journeys" and "the process."
Not only was the teaching false and the spiritual environment very unhealthy, from a practical point of view AIM is a negligent business (nevermind that is poses as a Christian ministry) but absolves itself by putting forth it's "no expectations" policy.
I was hospitalized twice and suffered immensely and unnecessarily because of terrible leadership and a lack of compassion. I was essentially overlooked repeatedly the second time I got sick from acute gastroenteritis due to parasites on a 30 hour train ride from Hyderabad to Agra, where I had asked my 23 year old team leader to please get me medical care ASAP. By the time I boarded the train, my whole team and leader were well aware of my condition -- it was hard to miss with hives covering my body, the fact that I had projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea the entire time and became so dehydrated I could not move without pain. I'm not lying when I say that Alex (whom you've interviewed) was the only one who continuously checked up on me, and ended up carrying my backpack/luggage when the rest of my team just departed off the train to make their way to the Taj Mahal.
I asked several times to please go to the hospital -- I was given excuses that the sim card was expired in the cell phone, that I was going to have to wait, it was a travel day, when we'd get to the next airport after the group outing then I could go, and finally, exasperated my leader buckled under peer pressure when another person just stepped in and said "We're just going to keep praying and keep on, keepin' on..."
And that's exactly what happened. Now this was my second time, second month in a row getting sick this severely. (I was hospitalized the month previous for parasites for 4 days, after I'd asked for medical care and was left to sleep it off instead until they realized I was fever spiking beyond 103 and hallucinating about snakes in my bed. It was again a lack of leadership and compassion and poor decision making...)
...and so I literally got dragged along to the Taj Mahal, and no one was appointed to stay behind with me or care for me, and I could barely walk. This cult mentality of fear that had been cultivated made it possible for young Christians to overlook the obviously smelly, disheveled, dehydrated, half-asleep sick person who had been like this for more than 2 days.
Needless to say, fast forward, and I landed in the hospital in Romania after extensive travel. I had squawked my way up the ladder to the squad leader, and praise God, somehow found the strength to account for all the sick people on our squad. I took a firm stand against all these young people being neglected and delegated caregivers to remain with them, demanded that team leaders buy proper nourishment/water supply, and sectioned off the front of our bus to the next debrief location where I isolated the sick. In my own state, I prayed for, and tended to the needs of the sick which numbered to nearly 1 dozen. All displayed signs of dehydration and stomach problems.
I myself, collapsed in exhaustion after nearly 5 days of travel since the date we departed from Hyderabad via train and my episode of sickness began. That didn't last long, and no one seemed to notice that I was passed out, so when I awoke to the sharp stabbing pain of needles in my back and stomach and a hellishly hot fever again -- I was alone. I ended up falling down some stairs making it to the hostel bathroom in time to rainbow diarrhea and forceful vomit in both trash can and toilet.
Literally, my squad leader and team leader, were standing outside, wondering what to do next.
Finally, someone intervened without leadership's authority, two other people just stepped in, picked me up and hailed a cab. I ended up in the emergency where I was then taken via ambulance to an infectious disease isolation ward and pumped full of meds to flush out the parasites again, and re-hydrate me. I was so dehydrated that when you pinched my skin, it remained folded.
I was now isolated and resting -- and guess what? Leadership never once came to check up after my admission - not from the squad. Not from headquarters (who by the way were there to debrief us in month 7 and do damage control because of our "process being disrupted.")
At the end of the last day in the hospital, then, finally my team leader came to stay overnight in my room but then just plugged into some headphones and fell asleep in the comfortable bed provided for us. There was a coldness of having had to "deal with me."
The fruits of such New Age introspective self-discovery journeys posing as Christian missions is evident -- and the fruit is not love. It's not anything that resembles Jesus.
I was the bold one of the squad who would repeatedly stand up, and boldly before everyone to witness point out scripture twisting, ask for the answers to such teachings in accordance to the bible, and instead of giving the grace they were always preaching about ("grace upon grace") I'd get told that I am a bitter, unforgiving, and judgmental Christian. I was going to discover that my judgments regarding their teachings were going to hit me like a boomerang right in the head.
When I approached the squad coordinator about the lack of safety and the negligence to health and compassion for the sick, her response was again that I was bitter, unforgiving and judgmental, and perhaps too wounded for such an elite program as the World Race. (Bully tactics, shaming, and condemnation -- they're great at it.) I began to ask more pressing questions about how they formulate their process.
Again, I was told I make things too theological. They went so far as to say that I make the word of God an idol. I got under the coordinator's collar enough that she slipped up in evident frustration/anger and explained to me that the church spiritual formation is according to Ephesians 4, and that Seth Barnes is an Apostle. I could see immediately a look of regret flash across her face, she became tight-lipped after that, literally. And dismissed me.
It goes without saying, this was one day after I was released from the hospital. When I shared my experience, I was told there was nothing differently that could have been done for me. I needed to be an adult and be accountable for not letting myself get dehydrated and/or sick. (Little did they know, I was the lady with 3 first aid kits, CPR/first-aid, village health-caregiver trained, and I had packed over 8 liters of water with electrolyte packets for myself.) I was normally the one tending to the sick!
God is sovereign, they claimed. I was judging leadership and being a Pharisee by thinking I could have done things differently. And that God was teaching me what forgiveness looked like, and I needed to go back to my team and get vulnerable and give feedback and ask them "Why didn't you guys take better care of me?"
So when it came to asking about teachings, I was too theological. When it came to pointing out their blatant bad customer service (how they treated their missionaries) they pulled the faith card. You're made to feel like a loser, no matter what.
The crazy thing about these leader types from headquarters is that they won't address you or answer your questions without always pre-facing with, "Ok, so what's your Myers-Briggs personality and your spiritual gifting?"
I'd laugh and answer "Truth is truth. You don't need to formulate a response based on psychology, which isn't biblical, by the way. The bible tells me that I am uniquely made in God's image and therefore, the only label that applies to me by which you can approach me is that I belong to Jesus."
My experience with the World Race has inspired me to want to write a book about it, potentially. The leader's tactics with me went from diminishing what they recognized in me as bible literacy, they slandered me, they bullied me, when that didn't work they tried flattering my ego and declaring me to be the "rock star prophetess" of the squad hoping to win me over to them, and finally, by grossly neglecting my basic human needs.
I'm going to honestly admit to you, that I was in BAD shape emotionally, spiritually and mentally by the time my pastor Skyped me to check in on me the morning of March 15th. I woke up, crying, and having been fasting from food for days, wondering one thing: God, am I really saved?
That was my spiritual condition after taking hit after hard hit after more hard hit for standing on God's word in my squad. I was actually quite popular and many would come to me for counsel, especially the women, as I taught them about their identities in Christ.
My last hoorah had been teaching an evangelism workshop the week before I departed. Many had fallen for AIM's approach to acts of service as being enough to show the world Jesus -- never once was it encouraged to preach the Gospel. I left and made sure that those who attended understood the difference, and the importance of both, but the need to share the Good News as missionaries as being preeminent in fulfilling the Great Commission in the nations.
I've been having trouble debriefing and suffering from panic attacks since the World Race. I was literally rescued by my church, even though I had been fully funded, I came home March 18th and never looked back.
It's taken me about 2 months to re-integrate and I'm finally getting back to "normal" with a job, and slowly opening up our home to women's discipleship again. I haven't been able to speak much about this experience.
It would get me too fired up and I couldn't go back and unpack the emotions it would trigger. I made many enemies after I left, but many others also followed my example and left too.
Half my team unfriended me, and I have received some less than pleasant phone calls and messages.
I would appreciate your prayers. And I'm open to sharing my experience some more.
In His grip,