Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Date: October 21, 2018 01:42AM
Since Gary has announced he wants people to write letters so he can make his "new 360" evaluation, I decided to send him a letter. I don't have any illusions that he will do anything with this information but I at least wanted to take away his ability to say he had never heard of any of this stuff, as he lied about recently.
October 14, 2018
(Spelling & Grammar Corrections 10-17-18)
Sent by U.S. Mail to:
Gary Hargrave c/o Amy Sayer
Gary Hargrave c/o The Living Word
Sent by Email to:
Over the past two years I have been advised by many people who are no longer part of the TLW fellowship, by others who may continue to be part of the church but who are struggling, and from those they may still be in contact with, that there are several issues that undermine any trust people may have of TLWF leadership and ApCo. There are many sticking points that could hinder the future success of the churches if not addressed and repaired.
1. Rick Holbrook: According to information from many former and current TLWF members, Rick has established himself in everyone’s minds as a sexual predator. There are many victims of inappropriate sexual conduct perpetrated by Rick in various church locations and at his home. In his “work with young people” he tends to take advantage of young women, and in some cases young men. His conduct is often defined as “grooming” young girls and women using tactics such as bombarding his subject with flattery, gifts, promises of them becoming “family,” emphasizing how special they are and how great their life would be if they would be with Rick. He ramps up his seduction attempts based on his representations to these women and girls that as JRS’ true son, it is the will of God for these women and girls to have sex with him, and that JRS would want them to be with Rick. He apparently tells women that the way they can bring in the kingdom is by being in a sexually intimate relationship with him. Some women have resisted after being lied to, pursued intensely with gifts and alcohol, and in many instances, overt sexual touching of breasts and genitals. Rick has even physically picked up women in his arms and carried her. Those who firmly and completely deny him, suffer consequences such as shunning, having their reputations tarnished and they are called sluts and other demeaning names behind the scenes. Sadly some of these women/girls have said that it was hard to discover they weren’t special after all when the truth is they were always special and Rick was preying on them.
On many different occasions, Rick hosts “young people” at his house for a Jacuzzi party and shares pornographic material and discusses sexual content and asks sexually graphic questions to the group, some of whom are underage.
Many of these women have communicated with various shepherds, including those in leadership in Shiloh, TLW, and CLW and including you and Marilyn. Each communication has resulted in no action. In some cases, after communication the women were overtly shunned and shamed. In other cases the women were asked to never speak of it again and to not keep a record of their communication.
2. School Employees & Ministers Education in Reporting Abuse: Many people have reported that instances of abuse, underage drinking (with the alcohol furnished by teachers, administrators and ministries), assaults or evident abuse, have occurred and none of those who are required by law to report such abuse have done so. Several former teachers have related that while in public school, and many private schools, a detailed training class in mandatory reporting laws is given so all teachers and school employees learn to recognize the signs of abuse and how their suspicions must be reported. Nothing like that occurs in TLWF schools or churches. Girls have made reports only to be told they are overreacting.
3. Parenting Interruption: Many people bear emotional scars because of a pattern of separating parents and children because someone in authority in the school or the church places themselves in a position of “knowing better” how a child should be raised. Parents have sometimes been belittled, treated in a dismissive manner, or spoken about in a negative way to the child. Many adults who suffered under this type of behavior are still struggling with negative conditioning from the experience. Likewise, parents still suffer with guilt over allowing someone to usurp their parental role and allowing their children to be used in this way.
4. Lack of Financial Honesty or Transparency: People who have given their lives and their time and money to TLWF and “Kingdom Businesses” have nothing to show for their hard work and dedication. Many were supporting a vision presented by TLWF leaders that is either no longer focused on or represents an ideal that just lingers in the realm of unfulfilled dreams. Seeing money received from the sacrifice of the people making certain leaders’ lives very cushy while some of the congregants live from pay check to pay check is deeply hurtful. In addition, the enormity of funds (including funds saved by using volunteer labor for personal projects) used on projects like the party house on Rayen with its elegant horse facility, the various bars (multiple bars) set up in locations throughout the churches, personal home maintenance and remodeling, the Christmas truck and its grueling schedule of work, etc., is beginning to take a serious toll on the emotions and trust of many current congregants. The toll especially shows in those who couldn’t take it anymore and left. Volunteers are employees and yet have no benefit of their employment by TLWF except maybe an occasional shout out from the pulpit, as if that moment of attention will make up for weeks, months, years of labor.
5. Attitudes & Lack of Training in Shepherds: A refrain that is exactly the same from each and every individual who has spoken concerning their past or current experience as a member of TLWF is the harsh treatment of being casually dealt with by the leadership and those called shepherds. Recrimination for behavior that was previously praised is frequent. There is no follow up with the persons disciplined and if the person departs the fellowship, no one bothers to call to find out how the person is doing. A large number of these people were giving, dedicated members for as many as 40 years, or their entire lives. The dismissal of shepherds who disappear without the congregants understanding ANYthing is frequent. Some people have called this a pattern of getting rid of the people who know too much about Rick, financial improprieties, and other wrongdoings. That’s the way it appears to people who see it happen but are never told the truth.
6. Confidentiality. People generally do not feel that their privacy is respected or protected in any situation where they pour out their hearts to TLWF leadership. Some people were made aware that Rick has wired CLW for sound and for visual surveillance or recording so that he or others can record, listen to, or watch any meetings in any location at CLW, TLW, Shiloh and many other places.
I hope this is helpful to you in your review of church policies and procedures. Whether each fact stated is true is not for me to say. Independent investigation and transparency would be a solution.
If you wish to speak directly to any of the people I am quoting, some of them would be willing to participate in a meeting with you and others. Just let me know via email at: m-wyatt@ and I will do my best to coordinate this for you.
(Originals with signature will be sent to the USPS locations noted above.)
Mary L. Wyatt