Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Date: January 30, 2022 01:27AM
A few posts from April of 2019:
Posted by: Onion
Date: April 26, 2019 06:22AM
If I had seen this earlier than when I first started reading and posting (one year ago) it would have hastened my departure from the cult.
The stories I have heard of the various ministers' ouster from the walk/cult have deeply imprinted on my heart a determination never to listen to someone's demand to shun or ignore another human being. The mean streak that developed in the leaders, the mean streak formed, fed and encouraged by Marilyn Hargrave and Gary Hargrave directly just appalls me. If the church had been allowed to continue on the course it was on, there is no telling where it would have taken people and apparently will take those who have determined to stay loyal at all costs. Horrifying.
The horror stories are too numerous to list -- and each of them should have been a huge signal to people to run for their lives. I hope more people see the signals and can yet escape into freedom.
Forgiveness. Always demanded but never shown. I watched "The Forgiven" a movie about Bishop Tutu in Africa at the end of Apartheid. It talks about amnesty, forgiveness and freedom. Bishop Tutu explains clearly the confession in detail for the wrongs done that is required before there can be amnesty and even then freedom from prison is not a guarantee. The leaders trying to keep congregants trapped on their sinking ships should watch that movie and take note. Much more is required of those who harmed people just because they could, before there should be any sermons on forgiveness.
Posted by: Reepicheep
Date: April 26, 2019 11:22PM
So true, Onion. No automatic forgiveness should be expected or demanded for leaders who have never so much as apologized. When have they cared for anyone who couldn't give them something? When have they repented for pieces of our souls stolen over time? It is too soon to forget. People are still being hurt and need to know the truth.
More about the pressure on victims to forgive from The Daily Beast
"One particularly troubling example of this pressure comes from the published guidelines of the Advanced Training Institute (a Christian curriculum TLC’s Duggar family used to homeschool their children) for addressing sexual abuse in the home. It explicitly requires child victims to forgive their abusers in a 10-step process that includes first looking for guilt in oneself (“Why did God let it happen? Result of defrauding by: immodest dress, indecent exposure, being out from protection of our parents, being with evil friends?”).
"The problem isn’t just that these manuals explicitly invite victims to blame themselves, the problem is that it creates a cavalier expectation of forgiveness. It is easy to see how a family reared on these manuals would urge its young women to publicly forgive their abuser. In a culture that values forgiveness, condemnation awaits those who refrain. Our language mirrors the subtle religious rhetoric: to be “unforgiving” is to be harsh, judgmental, and lacking in compassion. The common understanding of forgiveness fails to recognize how much work and time is involved in genuine forgiveness."
Good job, TLWF. After more than sixty years in existence, you have attained the same high level of teaching as the group mentioned above. True forgiveness is not automatic and should never be demanded from victims.
Posted by: changedagain
Date: April 27, 2019 12:56AM
Yes, we were groomed from the onset by John's "Word" to emphasize being forgiving and "broken"--and with that proper attitude God would work everything out for us. One of the go-to scriptures to back up this theme was Roman 8:28
It provided a cover for John and later G & M to never have to specifically acknowledge their wrongdoing before the congregation. In the 70's, under John's reign, rather than acknowledge his role in the mine debacle (in which members of the congregation lost hundred of thousands of dollars), or be honest about his womanizing, and assorted other things, he instead put the focus on the 'Pharisaical spirit' on those who attempted to call him to account. Many of his messages served to deflect. I recall specifically one that involved King David, his sleeping with a married woman (Bathsheba), and later arranging the death of her husband. After Nathan confronted him, David 'repented'...and although there were consequences to his actions (the death of the child he fathered through Bathsheba strangely being one of them), the bigger point (according to John) was that God looked with favor upon him because of his "broken spirit"
The other point John would make with this story was that this transgression happened when David should have been out fighting battles with his army. So that tied into avoiding sin since you're busy doing God's work. In John's case preaching the Word, and praying. To the congregation-- interceding for John, tithing, maintaining church facilities, cleaning the pastor's homes etc.
Anyway, it's no surprise that since the recent allegations of sexual abuse vs. Rick have gone public, there have been loyalists using the King David story in an attempt to create sympathy for him. "Hey, God forgave David, why can't you let this go? God can't bless you if you're not forgiving" I have no idea how Rick became conflated with this storied biblical figure, but I suppose that is beside the point. Perhaps if I read scripture more often I would be familiar with the verse about David & his shiny red golf cart going into battle.
Posted by: GSchaeff
For any new visitors to this forum, one thought I'd like to dispel is that this type of abuse being uncovered is unique to R Holbrook, or that it has not been prevalent in TLW from the very beginning. If anything, R Holbrook had a textbook example of sexual exploitation in his stepfather, JRS. There are numerous alleged accounts on this forum of JRS pervasively abusing the trust and devotion his congregants placed in him by influencing young women to have sexual affairs with him.
John's extremely selfish and abusive behavior likely dates back as far as 1967, when romantic letters exchanged between him and a deacon's wife corroborated claims that they were intimately involved. This is widely believed to have contributed to "the split of 1967" as documented in Woodrow Nichol's book on TLW. It's presumed that those letters have been destroyed, as TLWF has been known to do (Example: [thelivingwordfellowshipthewholetruth.org])
There is also considerable evidence that John began an affair with Marilyn Cleland in the 1960s. This would have been approximately 10 years before he finally divorced Martha Stevens, with whom he had two daughters.
Around 1975, John allegedly fathered a child with another Blix girl. There are numerous instances on this forum of posters individually corroborating this claim.
There are at least three other women JRS is believed to have had affairs with in the 1960s and 70s. There are dozens of accounts of him silencing individuals who would speak up about leaders who preyed on congregants.
These accounts are likely a surprise to many, but in the wake of recently discovering how easily this type of behavior from R Holbrook was covered up by numerous leaders for over two decades, it begs the question as to how accurate these other accounts were. Certainly they deserve a better answer than, "Don't ask those questions," or "You should repent for not having a revelation of John."
We know for certain that John Robert Stevens arranged numerous marriages between his congregants, consolidated millions of dollars worth of church assets solely under his name, dined almost exclusively at fancy restaurants with multiple credit cards from Kingdom Businesses, was involved in a silver mine Ponzi scheme, and, above all, JRS preached a toxic message of total submission and unquestioning loyalty to abusive deacons whom he placed over the lives of others. He demanded this of his congregants as they abandoned their jobs, joined communal homes, moved across the country, worked 80-hour weeks performing unskilled manual labor, and donated almost all of their earnings to the church. It's time that we stop deifying JRS and apply a little more scrutiny to what his true motivations often were: vanity and greed at the expense of those who trusted him.