A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Firsthand Witness to the Thinking of an Abusive Youth Pastor

ACFJ is regularly contacted by the wives of abusers who are pastors or missionaries. The thing is incredible, but true. Here stands a man in the pulpit or in some pastoral ministry in a church, admired by the flock, thought to be the holiest of the holy, a model husband and father. That is the public fiction. The truth is a private horror story. In most cases if the wife/victim exposed who or what her husband really is, the majority of the church members would not believe her and she would catch all kinds of blame.

Wake up, Christians. You who claim to know Christ are supposedly capable of hearing the Good Shepherd’s voice and refusing to follow a false one. You who claim to know Christ are said to have been taught by the Spirit so that you can discern the spirit of truth from the spirit of error. You are to test the spirits for MANY false prophets have gone out. You are supposed to know that the devil can appear as an angel of light and that his servants come in the garb of sons of righteousness.

So why aren’t you hearing? Why aren’t you discerning? Why aren’t you testing? Laziness? Ignorance? Or maybe, just maybe, you do not have the Spirit of Christ in you and therefore do not belong to him at all? One thing is certain. Something is gravely amiss.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Romans 8:9)

Want to hear from a firsthand witness what is really going on in the mind of a pastor (a youth pastor in this case) who later went on to be a full-blown pastor admired by the crowds? Well, let me take you right inside his mind and heart with the help of his ex-victim:

  • He used to imagine raping and killing young girls and how he would bury their bodies
  • He would say, when he saw girls as young as two years of age in bathing suits in the park that he was trying to prevent himself from stumbling in his lust for them
  • He would talk about how he found the young girls in the youth group sexually appealing, though they were no more than 14 or 15
  • He was into porn and would belittle me (his wife at that time) for my appearance

THIS was the youth pastor parents sent their kids to. THIS is the pastor now who the people still flock to.

Is this rare? Are we exaggerating the magnitude of this evil in the church? God’s Word doesn’t seem to think so:

These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. (Jude 1:12-13)

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26 Comments

  1. CeeKay

    Two things are abundantly evident in the present-day “church”:

    It is filled with Wolves in sheep’s clothing, and tended by shepherd’s who have no clue what Wolves look like.

    Where is God’s mandated discernment Fruit!? Neither pastors nor congregants, as a whole, have it. And it is my own considerd opinion that this definite and sweeping lacking is a clear indication of the absence of the Holy Spirit within these so-called Christians.

  2. Suzanne

    With people like this leading our congregations it’s no wonder that the church and the world are in the state they’re in.

  3. 3blossommom

    My first experience of abuse in the church was with an abusive youth pastor. Looking back, it was very apparent that he abused his wife, that he was fascinated with the girls in the youth group, and that he lied to and manipulated so many in the church. When a few of us pointed out some issues with him, we were driven out of the church and chastised for being “unforgiving” and for stirring up dissension. Just a year or so later he was caught with a youth group member (minor) by his wife.

    Though I think he is no longer in ministry, the denomination originally just “disciplined” him and moved him on to another church. The church protected itself and essentially turned a blind eye and the scandal never reached the public, so I am guessing they did not report it..

  4. Daughter of the King

    I used to be married to an abuser who was both a youth pastor and a para-church worker. He was bold, and would treat me with disrespect even in front of the youth and other youth workers. I have found that there is something within people that do not want to see the truth, and it is in this environment that the abuser thrives. It is a grievous situation that this is happening in the church, a place we think is a place of safety, but often is not. This is no surprise to God, though, based on the scripture you shared. God warns us to be wise as a serpent, and we should obey!

  5. curly

    I was abused by a bible study leader, prayer group leader, music minister and president of a youth group. He covered all basis in terms of fooling others. He verbally abused me, turned others against me, spread lies about me, tried to punch me in the face and overall hated me and wanted to destroy me. He also alluded to serious criminal activity that he got away with. I believe he belongs in jail. In spite of fraudulent financial investments where church folks were exploited, these church folks still choose to remain his allies. Birds of a feather flock together. I’m still in shock that these “c” hristians still fall for this evil.

    • Putting quote marks round the C in ‘c’hristian is appropriate for people like that. Those who fall for the abuser’s lies are certainly not hearing the Holy Spirit very well, and many of them are probably not Christians – not regenerate, not in Christ, not indwelt by Christ, not following Christ as their Lord and Savior. Many of them are probably unbelievers who are just nominal Christians. Both Jeff and I think that the visible church has an abundance of unbelievers within it.

      • Another possibility that might be true for those who fall for the abuser’s lies. They may be regenerate but spiritually very immature , having lived only on milk not solid food, and along with the milk have been fed a lot of unbiblical/sub-biblical notions about love, marriage, suffering, forgiveness, repentance, divorce, ESS, charismania, celebrity-pastor tripe, so they are untrained in discerning good from evil.

        Hebrews 5:11b-14 …you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

      • Dr Liam Goligher’s sermon On Growing Up is an excellent sermon on Hebrews 5:11-14.

  6. Sandy

    Truly, truly I say to you unless one is born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel when I say to you you must be born again. (John 3:5-6)

    • Hi Sandy, welcome to the blog!
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    • Curly

      The abuser can do any one of these things and then go to sleep that night with no qualms of conviction whatsoever. He wil never apologize from his heart. Never. That seals the diagnosis you see. The abuser is a phoney baloney “Christian,” a wolf in wool.

  7. everydayBRAVE

    And once you look into the eyes of evil and see it in action you will never be the same nor will you view the church today the same way. It does grow you up. You will never read God’s word the same — as you see His heart for the oppressed and the wisdom he gives for discerning darkness from light. Yes, wake up church! Their capacity to do evil is beyond what your conscience-bearing soul could ever fathom. They are doing the work of the one who came to steal, kill and destroy and they are masters of it. There are no limits or boundaries and nothing is sacred.

    • Raped By Evil

      Beautifully put EverdayBRAVE! And your moniker fits so many of us here…….how brave we are everyday to still stand up to evil everyday but most important how brave we are to sweetly soothe our hearts, souls and minds through God’s word using his love for us to speak kindly and softly to ourselves….this is so important I now know after a lifetime of abuse.

      Yes, wake up church! Their capacity to do evil is beyond what your conscience-bearing soul could ever fathom. They are doing the work of the one who came to steal, kill and destroy and they are masters of it. There are no limits or boundaries and nothing is sacred.

      So true and SO BIBLICAL yet who is teaching this truth and who is weeding out the shepherd’s who feed only themselves…..?

    • BreatheAgain

      Conscience-bearing soul…these words help me. I have been flabbergasted so many times that h. does not seem to feel guilty for Anything. When I asked him about that once, honestly stunned that he did not feel bad about doing a particular thing, his only response was a nasty comeback at me, “YOU feel guilty for Everything!”

  8. I want to ask a question…..Barbara, you mentioned immature believers. Do you think it is possible for someone to be saved, yet remain immature, lazy, and eventually lose that salvation and return to their ways (anger, temper, abusive)? I really thought when we were young that my h. became a Christian, and he really seemed to try….even now sometimes I find him reading his bible, etc. Yet at the same time, after having been married to him for decades, I’ve seen so much now that I no longer doubt he is narcisstic and abusive. I think back to the early days and I wonder if he ever was really saved or not. He seemed to be. If I had to pick a time when things began to change I’d have to say it was after we had a couple of babies. Since then it’s been a roller coaster. I found ACFJ about 2 years ago and it has helped me so much. Maybe it does not really matter whether or not he was saved before. I seriously doubt he is now. I worry for his soul. At the same time, I doubt it would help him for me to tell him in love that I worry for him. He just absolutely glowers at me. More and more lately.

    • Hi BreatheAgain, I do not think it is possible for a person to be effectually saved (regenerate/ born again) and then lose their salvation. Both Jeff and I subscribe to the Baptist Confession of Faith (which is quite similar to the Westminster Confession of Faith). In those Confessions the term ‘effectual calling’ is use quite specifically — you can read about that in the Baptist Confession chapter 10 “Of Effectual Calling”. In paragraph 4 of chapter 10 it says:

      4._____ Others not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common
      operations of the Spirit, yet not being effectually drawn by the Father, they neither will nor can truly come to Christ,
      and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men that receive not the Christian religion be saved; be they never so
      diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature and the law of that religion they do profess.

      So people like your husband (my first husband was another example) are “called by the ministry of the Word, and have some common operations of the Spirit” so for a while it may appear that they are saved.

      In my husband’s case, he heard the Word preached, he responded to an altar call and said the sinner’s prayer and in the next days and weeks and months he had quite a few experiences of the Spirit speaking to him in dreams and in his waking mind. He told me that he had a dream in which Matthew 18:3 was highlighted — “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” In prayer one evening he received an image which showed how he had treated me in the marriage before then: he was a big tree overshadowing me the little plant and his shadow prevented me from getting enough light.

      And in the early weeks he loved reading the Bible, he was drawn to the Word and wanted to keep reading it… which is one of the marks of conversion.

      But it all fell away. bit by bit, gradually, he became more and more emotionally and verbally abusive to me. Once, many months after he had been supposedly ‘born again’ but was by that time regularly swearing at me and raging at me and manipulating me to feel guilty for anything and everything, he was at work one day and he heard God’s voice telling him that he was treating me very badly and God told him “When you go home you must apologise to Barbara and ask her forgiveness and ask her how she wants you to treat her.”

      He came home that evening, aplogized, asked how I wanted him to treat me, and I told him “Don’t swear around the house. And treat me with respect.” …. Needless to say, his abuse of me moderated for a little while, but it crept back up to where it was before and eventually escalated even higher…

      I now look back on that and I think he was NEVER saved. He had ‘some common operations of the Spirit’ but he was never saved. The Spirit was calling him, pricking his conscience, pointing him to the need to humble himself… and he in his own sin resisted the Spirit. I marvelled at how God gave him so many opportunities. It was clear that God was urging him to change. And my husband was declining to follow God’s urgings.

      Simon the Sorcerer is another example of a person who appeared to be saved initially but was not saved… and it became apparent when his besetting sin of covetousness was spotlighted (Acts 8:9-25).

      When I was speaking of immature believers, I was thinking more of the bystanders in the church who are not abusers themselves. The people the abuse victims turn to for help, but these people are so spiritually immature that they are clueless about how to help abuse victims. They are so clueless that they can’t even identify abuse when it is happening or when it is reported by the victims. And they give lots of very unhelpful counsel to victims.

      • Song of Joy

        Wise words…
        Jesus’ parable of the sower comes to mind…some people really do seem to receive the Word with “joy” and change for awhile…but then fall away when their old nature figures out it is *not getting any worldly advantage* from the “conversion” and wants to reassert itself (they want to avoid having cares, responsibilities, challenges and go back to their pursuit of materialism and domination).

        Matthew 13:20-21 (NASB)
        20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

      • freeing hope

        I completely agree with this line of thought. My ex-husband fits this description in every way. He’s now divorced from wife #3 (3rd divorce in 7 years). Every time he gets divorced, because his wife won’t let him abuse her, he goes back to church, probably to look for a new victim. He is apparently going to a men’s Bible study to share the gospel with them. That kind of misuse of church makes me feel sick.

  9. Raped By Evil

    Another example is Simon the sorcerer In Acts 8. He had been a well-known sorcerer in Samaria, but when the apostles came to town he was amazed by them and, “Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.” Acts 8″13.

    A few snippets from Barn’s and also from Gill’s comments on the bible verse Acts 8:23 (“…For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”) describing Simon’s true heart: http://biblehub.com/commentaries/acts/8-23.htm

    “For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness,…. Alluding to Deuteronomy 29:18 with which compare Hebrews 12:15 and signifying, that he was in a state of nature and unregeneracy; under the power and dominion of covetousness, ambition, and hypocrisy; and in a way pernicious to himself, infectious to others, and ungrateful to God, and to good men; and that instead of the root of the matter, the truth of grace being in him, there was nothing in him but the bitter root of sin; which bore gall and wormwood, and everything that was nauseous and disagreeable: ”

    “Bond of iniquity – Or, that thou art “bound by” iniquity. That is, that it has the rule over you, and “binds” you as a captive. Sin is often thus represented as “bondage” and “captivity,” Psalm 116:16; Proverbs 5:22, “He shall be holden with the cords of his sins”; Romans 7:23-24. These expressions prove conclusively that Simon was a stranger to religion.’

    We will know them by their fruits…and even though there are times where they appear to “get it;” Pastor Crippen points out often that their TRUE nature is the one that is evil because good people don’t pretend to be evil, but evil people do pretend / put on the mask, of being good in order to fool us and to keep us falsely hoping that they will permanently change to the good person they act like sometimes. (Less and less as time goes by though.)

  10. healinginhim

    THANK YOU for this post!

  11. Joanna

    Wow! I can appreciate the honesty and have know people who fell victim to this kind of behavior. Thank God there are people who are willing to uncover the Truth!!! My sister sent this to me. She was a victim. I am leading a Bible study tonight and I am led to believe that this should become a topic. Thanks

    • Hi — we changed your screen name to protect your sister’s identity and guard her safety. Welcome to the blog 🙂

  12. Tee3

    When I left my pastor husband last year, his pastor friends came one after the other to see me. While explaining why I left him and I got to the part where I said God led me out of the marriage, they would look at me in shock and disbelief and would say ‘no, God can never tell you to leave your marriage!’. And when I asked them ‘would God prefer I stayed and got killed instead?’, they would keep quiet because they had pledged their allegiance to their friend.

    • Jeff Crippen

      They are of the same band as the Pharisees, of whom Jesus said:

      John 8:44  “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

      In so many of these cases involving abusers who are pastors, their churches and their clergy buddies just let them keep right on “pastoring.” That is a clear and blatant rebellion against God’s Word.

      Enjoy your freedom!!

  13. MarkQ

    I think we have a completely flawed model of the church, which, instead of bringing the sheep together isolates them and makes them easy pickings for wolves. This authoritarian/flawed model has been refined and perfected to the point where members are completely blind to their need to hold their leaders accountable. In fact, members who call out the leaders are called troublemakers and sinners.

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