Sunday, December 9, 2007

Discipleship


at this time, in the mid 1970s to early 80s, there were lots of excess in some ways, and from this came a call for discipleship....there are many websites explaining and giving examples of the discipleship or shepherding movement. Unfortunately, or fortunately as it may be, I destroyed all my notes, tapes, etc. that we had after we got out so I personally can't quote directly....but if you do a Google search, there are many who have chronicled the teaching and times....in some ways, it started out very good....learning from older members of a church can be a good thing for a new Christian......however, it can also lead to abuse and control which is what happened.
The name of the church was The Chapel of the Redeemer...although everyone referred to it as "the property".
All the married older Christians that were in leadership, were given a few couples to disciple...you could choose in the beginning which leader you wanted to be "under"...we had 4 couples under us. We met once a week for Bible study, and prayer with our group...then we had a leadership meeting once a week with the other leaders to report any problems, prayers and concerns....everything worked fine for a while..but as time went on, we started suspecting things were not as they should be.

We were also getting a lot of flak because we had been married for several years and had no children....according to Bev. women were saved through childbirth ..if you couldn't or wouldn't have children, you were in sin or God was judging you for some sin in your lives. We went up for prayer many times, went to several doctors, and tried for many years to have a baby....spent lots of times in tears every month when nothing happened....nasty things were said to us. Bev studied and became a midwife..delivering several of the babies that were born.
(In fact, years later, I went to the funeral of Mike, and there was a couple there that were on their 19th child...all single births. The mother who was close to 40 said she didn't know what she would do if she couldn't have children..).that was just one of the teachings we were dealing with. Mike, Bev and some of the deacons became more and more controlling, to the point, a father had to come to them if he wanted to buy something for his family like a new TV or car..several arranged marriages happened too....all the singles in the church were matched up.

Both of us had grown up in denominational churches with good Biblical backgrounds.Many of the others had not and were able to be swayed into this falsehood. Alan tried many times to talk to Mike about his concerns, but always got turned away or argued with.
We were criticized for not going to some of the larger meetings that were held with other like-minded churches...we finally went to one where one of the big names in the movement spoke....when he came on stage, the whole congregation started praising him and lifting their hands to him, like worship....it sickened me and I feel a spiritual oppression I had never experienced before or since.
this went on for some time, we really loved all of these people and didn't want to leave, were truly concerned for the welfare of them...
our good friends, Kay and Joseph had wisely left earlier and encouraged us to leave but something just kept us there.
Finally, it came down to a big meeting...Mike and the other deacons wanted to get a large loan and build a church building, school and meeting hall...it would have cost
close to a million dollars...looking at the finances, Alan knew it wasn't possible and he voted against the loan. His was the only no vote.....after the meeting, there were actual physical threats made toward him. One of the deacons said if Mike had given the ok...he would have killed Alan. Looking back on this whole ugly mess, I am still shocked by it.
That Sunday, Mike got up in front of the whole congregation and gave a message..at the end, he formally asked us to leave. That was the last time we ever saw him.

We were shell shocked for some time afterwards.....we started driving up to Van Nuys to the Church on the Way...walking into the church there was like arriving at an oasis in the midst of a very dry desert.....I sat in the pew, the sweet worship, music and ministry flowed over me and I was in tears...it was so nice to be home. We went there for most of the summer and then found another Foursquare church much closer to home.

That was one of the most difficult times in my/our lives...sometimes I feel like 10 years were taken from us for that is how long we stayed there. The Chapel of the Redemer is now gone...Mike and Bev have passed away (cancer). They never built their million dollar church...the property was sold and is no more...I think condos were built where the house was and the orange groves, garden, fruit stand are gone.
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