Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Date: August 20, 2020 11:04PM
Comments that reference "designated relationships," everyone's favorite topic!:
Posted by: FCSLC
Date: January 16, 2015 06:04PM
I don’t ever remember getting life from submission to the designated shepherd. It was always on the level of trying to avoid their anger or disapproval. I was using my life/energy to keep the situation stable. What BS.
Posted by: paleface
Date: June 29, 2015 06:29AM
I think it is interesting that you mention getting professional help, poliscigrad. I too have been receiving professional help from a MFT therapist. I found someone with cult experience. It has been very beneficial in undoing the mind-f$*K I had done to me while in the fellowship.
I don't think we realize how broken we got while being in the LW fellowship. One of the big ones for me is the violation of my inner-self that was done during the practice of opening up and submitting my entire being to another person. I.e. my designated relationship. I've read a lot about this and talked about it with therapists. It is damaging and resets (or removes altogether) personal boundaries that we have in place. A person has an inner core that is a secret personal place. Another human being should not have access to that place. The Living Word's practice of opening up everything to your designated relationship allows another to enter that secret place. Not good.
Posted by: Saw enough
Date: September 11, 2015 01:31PM
The congregations were raised on a diet of being told what to think. Paul claimed to have the mind of Christ on many issues. Likewise, it was important for people in the Walk to strive to have John's thinking -- sometimes it may have been benign, as in looking at people with the same faith that he was perceived to have. Other times it was "Let me tell you how to think about ..." people who left, people who were under discipline, the elections, husband-wife relationships, raising your children, your finances, shutting down churches, Kingdom businesses, going to seminary, not going to seminary, unequal yokes, pretty much any aspect of a person's life came under the purview of "Let us tell you how to think about this." If you assumed that there was no difference between the leader and the mind of Christ, then you could feel that you were doing exactly what God would have you to do.
There were periods under John when there were weekly marriage checkouts, since an influx of young people had flooded the churches. Then there were other periods where very few marriages took place. Recently there seems to have been an unspoken directive to let as many of the young kids get married as possible lest they go outside the church to try finding a mate. Most of the young people would not think to leave anyway because 90% of their friends are the kids they've grown up with -- better to stay on good terms and be surrounded by your friends than step away to an uncertain world.
Either way, the shepherds still exercise a lot of control over the most personal decisions people can make -- where to live, who to spend your life with, minor things like that. The fact that many of the leaders have personal lives devoid of a healthy personal example does not matter as much as the submission of the sheep to their designated authorities.
Posted by: larry bobo
Date: November 13, 2015 08:23PM
I think all of us are hard-wired to want a sense of connection with others. In hindsight, it is interesting to observe how the leadership of TLWF first sought to eliminate our connection with “god in the sky” and replace it with themselves. Next, they broke up our connections with family and friends outside of TLWF and finally friends within TLWF. You don’t realize how subject your friendships within the group are to the leadership until you leave. They can be decades old and yet they will turn and go the other direction if they happen to run into you at the store – especially if you happen to use your real name on sites like this and are vocal about where you see errors. You are left with no solid ground.
You’re the same person, but somehow you’ve now crossed over to the dark side. I met with the new pastor in Palmer Lake who came after I left. He had no clue why I had left, yet was spreading lies about me, even before he moved here. (He probably would be surprised to find out I was getting updates from his elders meetings.) To my face he said that I was spiritually in a much better place than when he had last seen me, yet it was obvious he was lying. It became very evident by his angry outbursts about me behind my back to others – including my kids - who had also left and agreed to talk with him. On top of that, he wanted to take the place of being a father to my kids, since I was no longer suitable. That was the last straw for them. He boasted that no local ministries had a clue about shepherding except him – yet he is the one who is clueless. You can imagine what we thought about his new level of love. Fortunately he was moved out of the area before the church imploded from people leaving and G&M once again covered it up for the sake of “little people”.
Several of us who have left TLWF often joke about the “current word” and how it affects relationships with those who have left. One day you are the long lost friend and the next, they will not even make eye contact with you because you are so evil. It’s always changing. What’s sad is that there is not the freedom to just be yourself and form normal relationships based on common interests. Designated relationships are often ordered where there would be no relationship otherwise.
Posted by: light777 ()
Date: March 22, 2017 10:36PM
I appreciate the responses from everyone... clearly there has been a bit of a stir up here, but I think this is good!
By nature I am a very strong, take charge type of person, always have been. Interestingly, I was once told by one of my Shepherds, that I was one of the most rebellious people they had ever known... such an odd statement that came out of left field, particularly because I had literally given up my life for these people... I moved away from my God given family at a young age to be and live under their thumb and serve them. I guess what this Shepherd really meant to say, or should have said, if they were being authentic, was that I would not serve them unconditionally without questioning their motives. I could always see right through the B.S. control, however, with that being said, I do have a tender, compassionate heart, and will help and do for others, providing there is not a hidden agenda, i.e. self serving.
Puddington: To answer your question regarding the PTSD...
1. Rejection... feeling extremely inadequate at times
3. Insomnia... Difficulty falling asleep
4. My love and zest for life has / had diminished significantly... feeling very usurped, however my struggle with this, as with all of the other PTSD, is that only I can allow myself to own these feelings, or the circumstances that created this. When all is said and done, it is me that has to let go... easier said than done, but true.
5. Anger for what I allowed... why did I not follow my heart, my gut??? Why did I not leave sooner... why did allow them to "bully" me, or control me! etc...
6. Difficulty at times / in select situations having someone tell me what to do, or attempt to tell me what I am thinking... This is a HUGE issue for me, due to the fact that I had to submit for so many years to the shepherds...to G & M... i.e. "Designated Relationships", which in my opinion was a disaster and a complete and utter joke, as it was so one sided! I remember how a small group of us (secretly) would joke about asking our Shepherd, or DR "designated relationship" if we could buy toilet paper and if that was approved, what color should we buy!!! Seriously... the control was sick! The irony in using "toilet paper", was that it was a necessity in life... how could they say no! But, the color, now that was clearly up for debate! LOL...
When I have talked to family / friends about the control the church had on us, it was beyond perplexing for them to grasp and understand. The main reaction I get is, "but you were an adult, why did you allow it?" And of course, my answer, because I truly thought at the time that if I left, I would lose everything that I had come to know and mostly believed... including some of my own blood family who are still in the cult. I would also not be able to enter into the kingdom, so I guess that meant that I could have possibly gone to hell. WOW... what a mind _ _ _ _!!!
Posted by: changedagain
Date: March 24, 2017 10:00AM
In his teachings, John carefully cultivated an environment where he could control the minds of the congregants--and have them believe and do things they probably would have regarded as absolute lunacy before joining the Walk. Think of how many times he would warn the congregation of the dangers of being independent...& the futility of searching the scriptures, apart from authority, to find direction in one's life. References to the Sadducees and Pharisees missing out on God's moving were cited frequently...especially how they missed out on God's moving, because it manifested in a way that appeared contrary to scripture. The learned and wise were baffled, and became the enemies of God. Yes, John said that each person was to have a personal relationship/revelation of God, believe they could hear from God personally, but that statement was overwhelmingly countered by his constant emphasis on submission to the authority structure ('divine order'), later tweaked by G & M to a system of designated relationships, where everyone in the fellowship could experience the delight of having someone who personally dominated their lives, showing them the way. The fruit of this system was pure misery...at least for the submissive.
Posted by: puddington
Date: January 20, 2018 10:42AM
Mental health professionals will tell you there is an inner self that is deep and private. A normal person keeps this place secret and private. It is very unhealthy to expose this place to another human.
But the Living Word demands that you open it up and give it all. You are expected to tell your “designated relationship” everything. Including these secret places. This is very harmful IMO.
I’m sure the LW still has a file on me. I still have fear that they will use it against me.
Posted by: Reepicheep
Date: February 01, 2019 07:46PM
Boundaries. We learned not to have them. We were taught to "spill our guts" in a very inappropriate way meant to control us. Once when I was living with a family who was "shepherding" me through a very rough time, I was keeping a journal of my thoughts. Just for me. When the man of the house counseled me, he once repeated back a very specific phrase that I had written and I knew that my privacy had been invaded. I was a grown woman and they found my journal and read it so that they could "help" me. Such a violation.
Posted by: typer
Date: March 09, 2019 05:22PM
Hope I'm not typing too much, but I wanted to share feelings on "designated relationships." A little worried on revealing the person's name since he was related to my wife and still deeply involved in LA church. When we moved to Palmer Lake I was "assigned" a designated relationship which seemed OK at first. Then I wanted to share my heart on some concerns and things went sour. I tried to go to him after a service to make things right, because he was ignoring me (refused to answer me on purpose). He told me he ignored me on purpose to mature me. We started yelling at each other (loud conversation), and the effort by me to work things out blew up. John Sayer (the apostolic pastor at the time) sent a person over to me to tell me I was being assigned a new designated relationship. He didn't even have the guts to talk to me directly. Anyway I was told to meet this person at a restaurant and talk to him. He was a nice, kind person, but always had a notebook and took notes when I met and talked with him. The worst part was it was not natural, organic, or genuine, but instead an order from headquarters.
Posted by: Richard M.
Date: March 10, 2019 01:41PM
Being here in Texas for 14 years gives one a renewed vision of freedom that everyone should experience, not that California isn’t the hub of the Western Cultural World (read, joke). But never having had a leader try to “assign me a designated relationship,” I can’t imagine how any rational “leader” would, unless for some illegitimate reason.
“As far as giving our spirits to Marilyn?” Sorry, but from what little I know about it, why would anyone need a go-between to further a personal relationship with “God?” I’ve read through the Bible more than once, as well as other religions’ texts, and I can’t recall that the names Stevens, Marilyn or Hargrave were ever mentioned. If I’m wrong about that, just leave me satisfied in my over-educated ignorance . . . .
Posted by: kBOY
Date: February 03, 2020 03:23PM
This was just one more iteration of Elijah/Elisha, Paul/Timothy, DR (designated relationship) insanity that wreaked so much havoc across the TLW landscape.
Worse still, it helped to solidify a culture of perpetual dependency where maturity was held out just far enough as something that would never be attained; classic carrot & stick.
One could also characterize it as the human version of a surveillance environment, where actions were closely monitored for the sake of the 'greater cause'.
Posted by: Mined
Date: February 06, 2020 03:01PM
KBoy, you hit the nail on the head, and have put words to my experience in a way I haven't been able to. Perpetual dependency is painfully accurate. In my case, I had the added irony of my "replacement father" also being actively involved in removing my REAL father from a position of leadership in our local chapter. I was always told it was because he had a wrong spirit, along with a sprinkling of other BS - but really it was all a part of the great purge of those not loyal enough to MH. How ironic, my dad supposedly wasn't there for me...because they kicked him out. Years later I'm happy to report that my REAL dad has stood by me unconditionally, and the replacement dad has no active role in my life.
Posted by: Leahsmiles
Date: May 17, 2020 06:55PM
Yes. Apostles of greed, and addicted to power from my later research. Anyone with mansions, cooks... In Shiloh when I was working in the kitchen one lady said the Apostles had their own cook because they had to focus on spiritual things. Maybe a jet or access to a plane as well for traveling to all the churches? I thought that was weird. McDougal diet was hard to fix but to have a personal chef?