Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Date: August 20, 2012 01:09PM
TRYING TO RECONCILE WITH C.J. MAHANEY
“CJ said he'd heard enough about my situation already from his "men" that he'd known, I believe he said, for 17 years. (These were his brothers-in-law, Gary and Grant). He included a long list of accusations about me that stunned me, and included telling me that he didn't want his men to waste their time on people like me. They had enough other people that really needed their care…
…When I told him that I wanted to discuss his dismissal of me from Covenant Life Church in 1994, he said very "sweetly", "Joyce I never dismissed you. I would never do anything like that. (I do have witnesses and letters, that he did dismiss me, if anyone would like to see them, which, so far, everyone has refused.) I told him that he had dismissed me, which he kept denying, as my daughter stood there with tears rolling down her cheeks. When I asked her later why she was crying, she said, "Because I knew he was lying." This is a child who knew very little about the situation, but, I believe, discerned in her spirit that CJ was lying…
…Almost all I was told during this time, if not all, before I was dismissed, was lies, and I was pretty convinced that those the leaders were claiming had said these things about me, would never say them in front of me as they knew they weren't true. I have my doubts that most if any of what I was told was ever said by the ones they said were saying it. The leaders kept refusing to allow me to meet with the ones they claimed were saying these things. They wouldn't even let me call them by phone in the leaders' presence. They did say they'd ask so and so, or so and so, just not the one they said was saying it, and I think I know why…
…I was told by Bob Kauflin that if I brought any witnesses, they would cancel the meeting (I have that in writing also- is this another Bible/Peacemaker principle? If they'd been right in what they'd done to me, why would they have had such a fear of my bringing witnesses?)…
…I am not at all surprised that Sovereign Grace Ministries is moving far from the DC area, as the truth has started to be shared a lot at Covenant Life Church and in the DC area, and I believe CJ knows it would be quite hard to start a church here where people are starting to hear about what he's really been doing…
…I suspect CJ feels trapped, maybe even longing for help to get out of the mess he has created. I don't think he has any idea how to get out of the huge lying mess he's made with the big reputation he's built…
…I was told that, because of CJ's position in the organization, his writing of many books, and his many speaking engagements, that he made it a practice of not meeting with people he had offended, but I could meet with other pastors…
…Why do so many of us still tremble when we hear CJ's name, or get close to Covenant Life Church, or maybe other Sovereign Grace Ministries churches? Is that how God designed his shepherds to affect their flock?...
…I began to notice that the SGM board kept changing, as had the pastors earlier at CLC. I used to wonder if they all could really have been in such sin to need to decide to step down, as so many seemed so very Godly. Or was someone else making them stand on stage, saying that they were in sin, and felt they needed to step down?”
"I feel I have, to the very best of my ability, over the past 18 years, finally completed all I can do with C.J. Mahaney from what Matthew 18 and 5 requires of us in resolving conflict with him. I don't know if I am Biblically accurate in this or not, but I feel I can now speak publicly about my situation with CJ, something I have not wanted to do until I completed all steps of Matthew 18 (and Matthew 5). Please bear with me, and try to believe me. This is the truth.
A question I asked the pastors who were present at my last meeting with them, was, "Have you read Ken Sande's Peacemaker book?," something we at Covenant Life Church were all told we had to complete and be practicing. Sadly, some admitted they'd only read parts. When I got to CJ, I was abruptly told by Bob Kauflin, I believe, not to ask him that question. CJ never did tell us whether he'd read any of the Peacemaker book. If he has read it, I strongly believe it is only since I asked him that question within the past couple of years, long after he insisted we have read it and we be practicing it, and long after he began speaking at Ken Sande's Peacemaker seminars, and was considered an expert it Peacemaking.
I will not claim that all I have written in this is exact quotes, but it is very close to what actually took place. I have many, many, many pages of phone transcripts, written down as best I could as the conversations took place, as well as letters and e-mails, mostly from the pastors involved, to prove what I am saying below, though I am not using them to write this.
From my personal experiences with C.J. Mahaney over the past 30 + years, I believe he is an extremely intelligent, very clever man, who should have rested and prospered in who he was in Christ, (if indeed he ever made a true commitment to Christ- which I had hoped he had, but am no longer sure of), who, I believe, has been living a lifestyle of major, major lying, for at least the last 18 years I have watched and experienced him, and covers up by good sounding Christian speech and writing, and by attaching himself to top name Christian leaders who have no idea who this man really is, and other much younger leaders, who feel it an honor to be asked to serve with him, but who are all too ready to cover his tracks, though I suspect it is unknowingly for many of them.
From what I've seen, CJ seems to have started early on with Ken Sande, soon after (or maybe before???) CJ began leading Covenant Life Church in place of Larry Tomczak. He insisted his church all read Ken's excellent book, The Peacemaker. Then when church members tried to put it into practice, some were falsely accused and dismissed from the church with little or no say in the matter at all, while CJ proceeded to teach at Ken's Peacemaking seminars, all the while refusing to practice what he was teaching, and having his church listed as a Peacemaking church. We were trapped, as Covenant Life Church was the church Peacemaker's referred us to to get help resolving conflict, but when they heard my conflict was with a leader at Covenant Life Church, they wouldn't believe it.
I believe CJ knew who he would need on his side to do the evil he was doing, and he has gathered sooo many big name Christian leaders to his aide over the years. Sadly, unbeknownst to them, I suspect, their reputations are all being tainted badly, while those who have been in far closer connection to CJ and his churches watch in amazement at how well flattery and money can buy off even many of the top name Christian leaders we thought we could really trust. (How many of you leaders have been encouraged by CJ that you just had to write a book, or were flattered incredibly by CJ, and/or were given big donations of money because he supposedly thought so well of your ministry? If you talked with each other, you might be surprised that the tactics used on each of you were quite similar.) We stopped giving to Ken Sande's ministry long ago, when we saw Ken's great allegiance to CJ, and kept hearing of CJ's involvement with Peacemakers and Ken.
We didn't join a seemingly very good church because we found out what fans they were of CJ, and found it necessary to have members read and study his books, not realizing what deep pain the suggestion alone could bring to some of us. Psalm 37:35, sadly always reminds me of CJ these days: "I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree." The enemy has successfully deceived us all, I think, greatly weakening the church as so many of us were told that we were in deception, and found ourselves backing away from God, because we were told the relationship we had with Him was not truth.
In reality, we are starting to wake up and to realize that we weren't the ones who were deceived, and that we weren't the only ones who had this happen to them, as I thought from 1994 until I first was directed to the SGM Survivors website and wept at so many other stories that sounded just like mine. Reading these is what motivated me to try again, and harder, to complete Matthew 18 regarding my situation with CJ. I wondered if more of us had stood up more firmly to try to complete Matthew 18 with CJ, if the harm and isolation he was causing might have stopped spreading to so many people and churches. Sadly, Brent's story and so many others on "the websites" sound too much like what I experienced. I believe every word Brent spoke, as I've experienced most of it myself, from CJ himself, but I was never more than an assistant Care Group leader.
The men CJ has surrounded himself with have been great at protecting him from taking responsibility for what he's done, and, I believe, is still doing. (I began to notice that the SGM board kept changing, as had the pastors earlier at CLC. I used to wonder if they all could really have been in such sin to need to decide to step down, as so many seemed so very Godly. Or was someone else making them stand on stage, saying that they were in sin, and felt they needed to step down? Years later I mentioned this to someone at a memorial service, and they said that was exactly what had happened to them and someone else who had worked in one of the offices there. They had been forced to go on stage and lie about their feeling they were in sin and needing to step down.
The last time I personally spoke with CJ about what he did to me, (shortly before Brent's information came out) he straight out lied about what happened, as he had the time before that in front of Jeff Purswell and the office staff at Sovereign Grace Ministries. This time, when he kept insisting he hadn't done what he'd done, I found myself (not at all planned) telling CJ he was lying, as he continued to state that he wasn't, and then I read him Scripture from Revelations about where liars go in the end. (I think we ought to be taking a much deeper look at God's perspective on lying, and maybe make this the issue to bring up in CJ's "courtroom".) I was told by one of the pastors that I didn't need to read Scripture (as I had been told before, as a 14 year member at Covenant Life Church, when trying to say why I was speaking truth, even though I was being accused of not), and I continued until I had finished the passage.
CJ soon after implied that it was coming back to him, and acknowledged he actually had had a meeting with me, which he had denied repeatedly earlier in this meeting. He still denied having said any of the things he had said to me, including having "non-disciplinarily" dismissed me (is that Biblical and in keeping with Peacemakers???) from Covenant Life Church on March 6, 1994, a day I will probably never forget as I was in such shock at this CJ I had never seen before. He was not willing to hear my story, and said when I asked to talk with him after the last service I was at as a member, (after having been advised to do so by my unbelieving, but wise father), that "It will be brief" something I'd been shocked before at when I had some other seemingly Godly CLC leaders say to me earlier-had they learned this from CJ?
CJ said he'd heard enough about my situation already from his "men" that he'd known, I believe he said, for 17 years. (These were his brothers-in-law, Gary and Grant). He included a long list of accusations about me that stunned me, and included telling me that he didn't want his men to waste their time on people like me. They had enough other people that really needed their care.
When I tried to tell him I hadn't done what he was accusing me of, he stopped me and said something like, "You interrupted me. I don't interrupt you and I don't expect you to interrupt me. You interrupt all the guys. (Especially when I'm falsely accused.) Granted, interrupting is not polite, but I'm not sure God is as considered about interrupting as he is about false accusations, lying, pride, sowing discord among brethren. Proverbs 6:16-19 says the Lord hates them, that they are an abomination unto Him. I believe the Lord hates and finds abominable CJ's repeated lies, false accusations and sowing discord among the brethren. That's what I think needs to be tried in the Sovereign Grace Ministries court for CJ. And I am convinced he is very, very guilty of all three.
When I returned home after my non-disciplinary dismissal from Covenant Life Church (I have this in writing also), in shock, and in many, many tears, and trembling (which continued for many months and years; We're to tremble at God's word, not at CJ Mahaney. Why do so many of us still tremble when we hear CJ's name, or get close to Covenant Life Church, or maybe other Sovereign Grace Ministries churches? Is that how God designed his shepherds to affect their flock?), I wrote down what CJ had said to me when he dismissed me, as I was still trying to seek God on my deception, and felt I needed to write it down to remember what I was being accused of so that I could pray through it and see if God would be gracious to show me the truth of the deception I was being accused of and apparently was blind to, as deception usually has it.
Four years after my dismissal, after having lived in incredible condemnation and loneliness, having lost many wonderful church friendships developed over my 14 years at Covenant Life Church (the single's pastor apparently visited my care group to tell them why I was no longer a member of the church or care group), two of the pastors involved admitted that they had made a mistake, that they had been presumptuous in my situation, that things had been exactly as I'd told them it was when I was accused of being presumptuous. So I hadn't been in deception after all? One said he didn't see why I couldn't return to fellowship with them.
However, CJ would never admit he'd dismissed me, so he couldn't invite me back. All he could say, only 4 years later, was "I can't recall," even though I have copies of a letter he sent to a former member of Covenant Life Church, discussing my situation, only shortly before he told me he "couldn't recall" (something another well known leader said in almost exactly the same time period.) However, 17 years later, CJ finally "recalled" a little more. I had gradually been able to follow through on each step of Matt. 18, (all of which was fought quite strongly over the years by CJ and the CLC leaders.)
Regarding trying to arrange my most recent meeting (where I was told there was no need or use for any more meetings when I was told the meeting was over and I asked if we could meet again. I had felt we were finally making progress in CJ's eventually having admitted tiny bits of truth for the first time in 17 years, admitting he had met with me, and as I sensed he was perhaps soooo longing for someone to love him enough to help him end his lying, evil lifestyle), I was told that, because of CJ's position in the organization, his writing of many books, and his many speaking engagements, that he made it a practice of not meeting with people he had offended, but I could meet with other pastors (Is that another Biblical/Peacemaker principle?). I was stunned initially, and then realized it fit in with my previous experiences over the years before and after my dismissal.
The person who told me this said they would see CJ the next day and double check on this. When I called back 3 weeks later, after not having heard back from this person as I thought I'd been led to believe I would, they confirmed having asked CJ if this was still true, and that he had said it was. I repeated all three of the above reasonings for his not meeting with people he had offended, and asked if that was what he had said again. This person again said it was. I had never experienced this particular person lying before, and have a strong feeling they were telling me the truth. However, when I decided I'd better hear it from CJ myself, I e-mailed him, where he denied it, and had the person e-mail me and apologize for misleading me. CJ added, "Nevertheless, the case is closed" (indicating there was no need for further discussion).
I first, early on, in 1994, tried to go in private to CJ, but I was told my sin was far too serious to even consider discussing with them, then tried to get a conciliator to help me (Ron Zabel), but Covenant Life Church refused to allow him to meet with us. I eventually went with my daughter and husband, only after, unbeknownst to me, Ken Sande had just spoken at Covenant Life Church and encouraged leaders to be willing to meet with those who had felt offended by them.
After months of being promised they'd call me back, and hearing nothing, I finally received a phone call wanting to set up an appointment. It was at this meeting when the two pastors admitted they'd made a mistake, , though CJ could only say he "couldn't recall." I finally went to the church, where I asked Josh Harris to be present, and when he said he couldn't, I tried to convince him that he might want to hear what I had to say. Initially he said he wouldn't be able to, as he was busy writing a book (sound familiar?).
My husband and I were then advised by a local pastor (a fan of CJ's , whose church we'd been attending and had hoped to join until we started hearing more and more about CJ and having free CJ books delivered from the pulpit during the service), to just go up to the church to see if we could catch CJ, even though he'd told us he wouldn't meet with us. We were told to go the next day, and we did. God was amazing in arranging what happened next.
I believe we asked if we could speak with CJ, and were told he wasn't in. My daughter and I went to the restroom, and as we were returning, CJ and Jeff Purswell entered the building. My husband stood up and went up to CJ and told him that his wife would like to speak to him. CJ came over to me in very friendly fashion (he hadn't seen me in close to 10 years, so I strongly suspect he didn't recognize me as the one he'd been getting messages from and had been e-mailing). I introduced myself. (Keep in mind he had just been e-mailing with me about this shortly before our visit.)
When I told him that I wanted to discuss his dismissal of me from Covenant Life Church in 1994, he said very "sweetly", "Joyce I never dismissed you. I would never do anything like that. (I do have witnesses and letters, that he did dismiss me, if anyone would like to see them, which, so far, everyone has refused.) I told him that he had dismissed me, which he kept denying, as my daughter stood there with tears rolling down her cheeks. When I asked her later why she was crying, she said, "Because I knew he was lying." This is a child who knew very little about the situation, but, I believe, discerned in her spirit that CJ was lying.
The office staff was present. CJ left, other pastors came to talk with us. We decided to go to try to speak with Josh Harris in the Covenant Life Church office side of the building, where the Sovereign Grace Ministries office staff told us he was when we asked for him. When we asked at the Covenant Life Church desk for Josh, the office manager, ?Corey?, hemmed and hawed a bit (I think they may have been warned we were coming??) and went to the back, and returned and then said, as I believe Josh was walking out right beside us, "Josh isn't here. He's at the Sovereign Grace Ministries office for a finance meeting." We were surprised and told him that we'd been told he was not in the Sovereign Grace Ministries part of the building, but was in the Covenant Life Church part of the building. I also couldn't believe he was telling me he wasn't there, as what I am almost positive was Josh, walked by. (We think there may be some "secret passageways" between the two sections, so that they can play the seeming "cat and mouse game" they appeared to be playing this day. ) We went back down to the Sovereign Grace Ministries office and asked for Josh, were told again he wasn't there. We told them we'd been told at Covenant Life Church that he was there for a finance meeting. They didn't seem to know anything about a finance meeting either. The office staff said they were going to check, and came back and said he wasn't there, but that he was in the Covenant Life Church office. We went back to the Covenant Life Church office again and were told that Josh had had an emergency and had to go home to his wife, that he would not be back in the building for the rest of the day, that we were welcome to call him another time.
After the continual refusals to meet with me, I was eventually allowed to come for my requested meeting with CJ and Gary and Josh, though they wouldn't let Grant, my singles' pastor who had been directly over me, and a part of all of this, come. I was told that Bob Kauflin, who had never met me (but apparently was being told their story about me) would be there. I had to go through a preliminary long phone call with Bob where he tried to get me to speak about CJ without CJ being present. I told them I wanted no part of this, as they had done it to me repeatedly earlier on in my situation, pitting different ones of us against the other, but refusing to allow us to be together to hear what we were being told from the Covenant Life Church leaders they were saying about us. My care group leader said to me once earlier on, "Isn't this something? They're all talking about us, but no one will talk to us, and we're the only ones that were involved to know what really happened."
Almost all I was told during this time, if not all, before I was dismissed, was lies, and I was pretty convinced that those the leaders were claiming had said these things about me, would never say them in front of me as they knew they weren't true. I have my doubts that most if any of what I was told was ever said by the ones they said were saying it. The leaders kept refusing to allow me to meet with the ones they claimed were saying these things. They wouldn't even let me call them by phone in the leaders' presence. They did say they'd ask so and so, or so and so, just not the one they said was saying it, and I think I know why.
Before my last allowed meeting, in a very recent year, I was told by Bob Kauflin that if I brought any witnesses, they would cancel the meeting (I have that in writing also- is this another Bible/Peacemaker principle? If they'd been right in what they'd done to me, why would they have had such a fear of my bringing witnesses?). This was told to me repeatedly. I was allowed only to bring my family. I again, was not allowed to bring Ron Zabel, conciliator. (I think he would also be willing to attest to these two times they wouldn't allow him to meet with us, unless he feels threatened in some way???)
When I finally arrived for the meeting, and shared some of my story, Josh, (seemingly possibly well trained by CJ, as he used some of the same techniques of quick accusation, so unlike the grace CJ preached about publicly) asked my husband if he didn't think I was quite bitter. My husband very graciously stated that he thought we might all have a bit of bitterness in us, but that he thought CJ and I really needed to work this out. When I read the Scripture passage about liars, CJ finally admitted he had met with me, but denied all else he did. Gary Ricucci shared more of what had actually happened in my situation, and I believe, spoke total truth now. Thank you, Gary.
The truth really does set men free, and lies have put very, very many of us into chaos and bondage, and I believe has very greatly weakened far too many very Godly believers in the SGM churches. I strongly suspect this may well continue if CJ doesn't come out and start acknowledging the truth of what so many of us are claiming we have been through as a result of him.
I am not at all surprised that Sovereign Grace Ministries is moving far from the DC area, as the truth has started to be shared a lot at Covenant Life Church and in the DC area, and I believe CJ knows it would be quite hard to start a church here where people are starting to hear about what he's really been doing. I suspect CJ feels trapped, maybe even longing for help to get out of the mess he has created. I don't think he has any idea how to get out of the huge lying mess he's made with the big reputation he's built.
We were taught really well not to gossip, which I believe has greatly helped to protect the evil going on in Sovereign Grace Ministries and Covenant Life Church, etc., as many of us felt we could not tell anyone what had happened to us, so we lived with it basically in silence and alone for way too many years, while the evil proceeded to person after person, with no one else knowing what was going on.
I'd love to know how many of those affected in this way may have developed cancer, heart disease, other major diseases, even died, or committed suicide, how many families became dysfuntional as its loved ones tried to resolve conflicts that weren't allowed to be resolved, and started believing the lies that were pronounced about them, as they were isolated from their support systems and sometimes even family systems, and were living alone with false accusations, and lies and hypocrisy, and scared to trust any other church again, let alone God, since they were often told they were in deception, so couldn't even trust themselves to hear from God and discern His truth.
Until you leaders, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Covenant Life Church, and top name Christian leaders from Together for the Gospel, the Louisville Baptist Seminary, even Family Life. and any others CJ has tried to link himself with, Ken Sande, Jerry Bridges, etc., start believing the truth that you've been hearing from those who have been badly harmed by CJ, you are contributing to the continuation of all CJ has been doing, and I believe is going to continue to do (and I don't think we've heard the half of it yet), and worse yet, all I believe that Satan has been trying to do for decades now to greatly weaken the church, through CJ and the Sovereign Grace Ministries movement."