Re: Sovereign Grace Ministries
Date: August 23, 2012 04:53AM
STORM TOSSED’S STORY
I wanted to share my story because I think the structure of Sovereign Grace Ministry and the abuse our family experienced led to where we are now. And, let me tell you, we are a mess. It is only 36 hours since I recommitted my life to Jesus. While I know I made the choice to renounce Jesus, I believe I never would have been in that position if it weren’t for Sovereign Grace Ministries.
Quick necessary background: I was born Jewish, and grew up in and out of foster care due to abuse. I was literally collecting the items necessary to kill myself when a staff worker at my group home told me his story and offered to take me to a local youth group meeting. I got saved at that meeting 26 years ago.
Within two years I was out on my own, at college and invited to a Sovereign Grace Ministries church. I was only there a few months before transferring to another college, but it was right near another Sovereign Grace Ministries church, so that is where I attended. It was Robin Boisvert’s church, LCC. I was the ultimate people pleaser, involved in cg and any ministry I could find time for. Three years later when my non-SGM boyfriend proposed to me (and I said yes), my cg leader told me I should have spoken to Robin first, because as an “unparented” woman, he was my authority.
When I met with Robin he told me I shouldn’t marry my boyfriend unless he was planning to come to LCC. He wasn’t. We were planning to go to his church, and then to seminary for him to study to be a pastor. Robin could not point out any reason (sins, etc) to justify his position and we told him we would continue with our plans. Within a few weeks I was totally “excommunicated” from the church, and no one from LCC came to our wedding. We were stunned that any pastor or church could be so controlling, but we chalked it up to one bad experience.
Multiple times we have moved, etc. and ended up returning to a Sovereign Grace Ministries church. Why???? Because, 1- we didn’t experience the control in all the churches (either because we weren’t there long enough or didn’t “cross any lines” while there), and 2-we longed for close, caring relationships that caregroups seemed to foster.
Our final Sovereign Grace Ministries church was in Cary, NC and run by Phil Sasser. We were there for seven years. At the end we were co-leaders of our caregroup, ran the bookstore, we oversaw the Children’s Ministry program, et., etc., etc. We were the definition of involved. My biggest problem was that I had been regularly corrected for not submitting to my husband’s leadership.
A new family came and when they found out I had a Jewish background, invited us to visit a Messianic congregation they attended. (Please do not flame me.) We went to one service, with the agreement (my husband and I) that it would be the only one. Fine. It was nice, but on the way home my husband told me he wanted to return the following week for a holiday event. Before I knew it we were going to both the Messianic cong. and Sovereign Grace Ministries. We knew this could not last and my husband wanted us to attend the messianic cong. not Sovereign Grace Ministries. We fought about it and finally I thought that this was another situation where I had to submit, so I agreed.
My husband set up a meeting with Phil to discuss our plans. He was very concerned and wanted to meet a few times with my husband to discuss it. Fine. In the meantime my father died. We informed Phil and our caregroup leaders, asking them to pray for us. We returned late Saturday night and came to church on Sunday. Neither Phil nor our cg leaders said anything to me about my father. I wrote an email to Phil telling that I felt hurt that he had not remembered my father had died, and asking to meet with him for some help dealing with some issues that came up at the funeral, which I specified.
Instead of emailing me back, Phil forwarded my email to one of the other pastor, Daniel Baker, without even asking permission. When Daniel contacted me I told him that my email was private, and I did not wish to discuss it with him. I re-emailed Phil to set up an appointment for both my husband and I to meet with him. Although Phil emailed me that I had no right to expect him to ask about me or show “my version” of pastoral care, we still had no idea what was waiting for us.
When we arrived both Phil and Daniel were there waiting for us. I had come prepared to discuss the issues about pastoral care. I presented many verses about pastor’s responsibilities to be a caring shepherd, Christian responsibilities to show love and mercy, etc.- all to be told that I was twisting the Scriptures, that those verses only tell me what I as a Christian should do, not what I should expect of others, etc. As for my email, he said that by becoming a member of the (Sovereign Grace Ministries) church I had agreed that he could share any email with any pastor, and had no right to privacy.
He then went on to “discuss” the topic of our choice to leave. He blamed me for judaizing my husband. Even when my husband disagreed and told him that he was the one who wanted to leave, not me, Phil told him to stop protecting me. I was the jew and it was my fault we were leaving for a messianic congregation. I was proud, I was arrogant, etc, etc. Sound familiar??
The night we left there (New Year’s Eve 2003) was the first time since I got saved that I thought about suicide. I couldn’t believe the leadership was treating us this way, I thought Christians were different, etc.. I felt betrayed to the core of being. But again, I thought the worst had happened.
We planned to attend one more homegroup to say goodbye. But we were informed by Phil not to attend. We called our leaders, who also happened to be our best friends. They informed us we could not come to the meeting, as a matter of fact we weren’t allowed into their home again. We then discovered that all the cg leaders were sharing the same information with all the members that night- we were heretics and for the protection of their souls and their children’s souls, they should stay away from us. We lost every friendship and connection we had that night, leaving us out in the cold as we started from scratch at the messianic congregation.
We attended that congregation for eight months before my husband told me he no longer believed in Jesus. I went to the leader, who told me it was a phase, just be patient and loving. They met with my husband multiple times until he refused to meet any longer. All the while he was sending me articles and “showing” me every night how “Christians had misinterpreted” or twisted certain passages. I had no one to go to for help or support because we had been ostracized from the only church family we had. I was weak. I was terrified he would leave us and I had no way to support myself or my children. And, I was becoming more and more confused with each “proof” he presented.
Yes, I turned my back on Jesus because I was afraid of being abandoned by the only person left in my life. I wished I had some other choice, someone to help me, but I didn’t, and I wimped out. If Sovereign Grace Ministries hadn’t been so hateful and controlling, but full of the loving, encouraging relationships I thought, I could have gone back there, but as you all know too well, that isn’t the case. Additionally, the messianic leaders took the same approach, holding a meeting to inform the congregation that we were heretics. In the space of one year we were completely rejected twice by our religious “homes”.
So where are we 5+ years later? My husband has converted to Orthodox Judaism. The rest of us have tried, but cannot live this life. I cannot live without Jesus and as I said recommitted my life just Sunday morning, the first time I have been in a church since 2003. I am still confused about the Scriptures, but I cannot live wanting to die, which is where I have been for more than three years now.
I am still scared. I don’t know what will happen to my family. My husband says he won’t divorce me, but he is under orders from the Rabbis not to discuss religion with me. My daughter wants to try Christianity, and my son, I don’t know. He says he doesn’t believe in a personal God (he’s 18), but when he heard that I had a good experience at this church he said he might try it. He’s been burnt and he’s old enough to remember it.
I know this has been long, and included non-SGM stuff, but I truly believe that the abuses of Sovereign Grace Ministries are at the core of these issues. And, I believe that God will hold them accountable for what has happened to my family.