Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Date: November 19, 2018 11:22PM
I am a new user to this forum, but have been following the most recent comments since Shalom’s letters were made public. In time I would like to start reading from the beginning of the entire forum; I’m sure it will answer questions I cannot find elsewhere.
For days I’ve struggled with what to say, what not to say, and how to say it. I was born into the “church” (or as I refer to it, a business) in the early 1980’s. My parents both served under John + Marilyn, and my Mom is one of the Blix girls. Growing up I was always in my parent’s shadow, being referred to as “so-and-so’s child” at every church I visited/moved to. It wasn’t until I left the church 15 years ago, that I actually developed my own identity, separate from my parents. Many of my family members still attend various churches. Of my immediate family, I am the only one that “blew out”, and it has caused a rift in our relationship. Even prior to my departure, I felt like the Lone Wolf in my family.
I use social media like many and am following what’s being said on Facebook, although I have not shared any of my experiences publicly. My family members are watching the posts, too (some more than others), and they have been silent to my dismay. They do communicate with me still, but the words that come out of their mouths are still “walk talk”. They say what is happening is God’s will, and tell me a lot of bible stories as reinforcement. Occasionally they convey how heartbroken they are about the stories they read, but their actions don’t match their words. They are so deeply rooted in the church that I truly don’t think they would know how to lives their lives without it, and are trying everything they can to keep the church alive. I’m really trying to let love guide me in this process, but most days I feel hopeless knowing that I’ve lost my family to this cult.
When I “blew out”, it wasn’t because of disbelief in Gary & Marilyn, JRS, or the Living Word. I actually still believed that I was brought into something wonderful, that they truly loved me and my family, and I was lost for a long time after leaving. My first true moment of disbelief was listening to the word Gary brought just after Marilyn passed away. I was “allowed” to attend Marilyn’s funeral and was instructed to listen to it before the funeral. It’s been a couple years since I’ve heard it, so I’m going to point out the main points that really stuck out to me.
1. Gary saw the Lord huddled in a corner of his home, and he said it was the first time he’d seen him in his physical being. This happened a couple nights before Marilyn’s passing if I remember correctly.
2. He knew the Lord was there for Marilyn, thus he didn’t approach or speak to the Lord.
3. Not once in the word did Gary mention what the Lord physically looked like.
The reason these stuck out to me and really made me question the validity of Gary and TLWF, is the way in which he spoke. His tone was exactly the same as in all his words, and it felt very contrived and planned. What better way for him to continue to lead his people, than to making them believe that he has just seen Christ in the Flesh? Praise Gary, he has seen our Lord! Again, back to his tone. It definitely did not come across as someone who has just seen Christ. It sounded like someone reading a scripture from the bible, and he certainly didn’t fool me. When I saw Gary at the funeral to give my condolences, he told me that “Marilyn always prayed for me, and is continuing to pray for me.” I’m not entirely sure what that means, except that I was told that often by shepherds and elders during my time in the church. And no one actually told me why they were praying for me. Perhaps for me to put the blinders back on and submit to them?
On another note, myself and others have recently been contacted by pastors of the church we attended. Their intent is to “apologize” for their wrongdoings toward us. I have avoided any contact with the pastors and will not answer their text/calls. If they truly wanted to apologize, they wouldn’t have taken 15+ years to do so. I was shunned, alienated, and treated like an outsider ever since leaving. It certainly feels like this is just one step in their 12 Step Program to clear their conscious and revive the church.
Thank you all for being here, for speaking the truth, for making me feel like I’m not alone any longer. I seek answers from the early years of my parent’s involvement, that I feel they will not or cannot share because they’ve buried so many secrets inside themselves. Some of you were there with them, and I’ve been able to get some answers from your first-hand accounts. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.