Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Date: December 19, 2022 08:55AM
A few posts from September of 2015:
Posted by: slandjt
Date: September 17, 2015 09:45PM
I've been reading these posts for a couple of years and thought I would weigh in now. I came into the Walk as an impressionable young teenager in the late 60s. My parents actually came to a service and then told me I couldn't go any more. I was told by the church pastor and elders that I should lie to my parents so I could continue attending services, which I did. The regret I feel many years later is still with me, especially since the Walk also required that I break my bonds with my parents and family. I will always wonder what my relationship with my parents would have been like had I listened to them. Christmas was now "Saturnalia" and I hurt my parents over and over again by being absent from their home on December 25. I spent many years immersed in the Walk, attending services several nights per week, giving "until it hurts," waiting on the Lord, spending money I didn't have on my Living Word tape subscription, School of Prophets books, etc. Now all these years later I'm divorced, even though JRS checked out my marriage and declared "It's a marriage made in heaven." I regret the years wasted when I could have been completing college and establishing a career instead of screaming "death to the channel" in the LA churches. When I left the Walk soon after JRS died, it was as though I'd fallen into a black hole as I waited for judgment to fall on my head. I was, after all, no longer under the covering of the Walk and had disobeyed JRS and God. My brother is still in the Walk, obeying every command from Gary and Marilyn and the "authorities" at his church.
Posted by: changedagain
Date: September 18, 2015 09:11AM
Wonderfully written, slandjt--welcome to the board. I can relate to your experience, as I'm many that read these posts can as well. I dropped out of college (junior year), cut off all ties from my family for close to 20 years, I gave in a myriad of ways to the "Kingdom," my marriage was arranged etc.
Part of the function of this forum, I think, is to allow those who have suffered in the movement to have an outlet and share their experiences without fear of censorship/judgement (unless you get into preaching mode, of course).
BTW, since John's death, TLWF now seems to welcome Christmas--no longer referring to it as Saturnalia, as John used to. The parading of the Christmas truck is one of the big events of the year. Maybe John will return as Santa!
<I moved on from the Walk a long time ago, and although it will always be a part of my life, I now have a much quieter, peaceful life and a much greater understanding of the human condition.>
Posted by: larry bobo
Date: September 18, 2015 11:24AM
Welcome slandjt and thanks for posting! It’s interesting to me the common threads that all of us have shared that are categorically denied by TLWF. For example, being told to lie to your parents – the end justifies the means if your shepherds tell you to do it. Instead of the scriptures having the final say, they are ignored if it serves the purposes of the leader. Divorce has been another issue that has been twisted along these lines. God certainly can heal lives that have gone through divorce, but it is not the preferred path to the Kingdom as evidenced in lives of the leadership. Also, the breakup of families when families are outside TLWF, or leave the group. The real tragedy has been the kids. Gary’s refusal to relate to his own daughter from a previous marriage would be a red flag for most people – all the while encouraging members to call him and Marilyn, Dad and Mom. How can you be parents to someone else when you can’t even be a parent to your own kid? It really is a distorted view of family. JRS had the same problem with his daughters. What would it take for one of us to want to prophesy the death of our kids? That’s pretty sick – and John was the founder of the group! By the way, his prophesy never worked - it was all fantasy, not God.
The whole Christmas thing was new every year – depending on which local church you attended and who the current shepherds were. God was constantly changing his mind. One year it was no big deal, and the next you were banned from elders meetings if you had a tree at home. Then there was Rick, who was a complete law unto himself – the truth was always floating and could never really be known. Only those that worked in the Living Word building were free to do whatever they wanted – including trading wives. (Is Rick on number 4 now? The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.) At least they were getting John’s word out – perhaps more than they realized speaking of a living word – not just a printed word.
We all remember the many services – 17 per week for me at one time including morning and evening intercession. We were allowed to go to college, but the way it was expressed to me was college or the Kingdom – not both. Now they have Shiloh University. I supposed it’s a way to get a college education without finding out there is life beyond TLWF walls and losing control of members. We all faced the fear of reprisal from “God” by leaving – thinking He was going to destroy us. I guess we should have noticed what happened to Martha after all those many months of “Death to the Nephilim!” She was untouched and John died. If you can get to the point where you are not freaked out at the mention of God, He is so much more wonderful than anything we ever knew in TLWF. It really is spiritual abuse and a difficult thing to work through. “Call no man leader, teacher, father – you have one and it’s the Christ” is a scary place to start, but so worth the effort.