December 31, 2008 in Sovereign Grace Ministries
Tucked away in the “comments” section of the Share Your Story Here, Part II post, a reader going by the handle of “Noel” told us her story yesterday. What she wrote is so gripping, so incredible, and filled with so many details that give it the ring of truth, that I decided it needed to have its own post.
I would like to go on the record and say that while I personally find nothing in Noel’s story to disbelieve, it is nonetheless the testimony of one individual. If there is any detail in this story that needs to be corrected, I welcome anyone to either post a comment below, or email me with those additional details. Likewise, if anyone from Sovereign Grace Ministries would like to speak up and explain why SGM pastors would appear to have conducted themselves in the way Noel describes, I would dearly love to hear that explanation.
To the survivors,
I have a story to share. I’m afraid it’s rather long and so I plan to post it in smaller bites. I know that you are not likely to judge but as I think about our story I judge myself. I still struggle with how completely sold out I was to this group. I made many bad decisions that hurt our family and I accept that. I hope you all can understand. To SGM…yes it’s me and I’m talking.
We were reluctant care group leaders. My husband had been a group leader before we were married and continued to lead caregroups for 10 years. About the time our story begins I had come to realized what a toll cgl had taken on me. I was spiritually dry and depressed. I would vacuum and cry because I knew would couldn’t get out of leadership. They would confront us on the sin of ….pride, discontentment, laziness, selfishness…pick one, whatever. My husband didn’t know, he wouldn’t be allowed to leave leadership so it would just upset him.
One morning I was awakened by a phonecall from my pastor. My husband had left for work and I had been sleeping in. He sounded so strange as he asked me to find a sitter for our four children and come to the building for a meeting. He had already spoken to my husband and we’d all meet there. When we arrived all the pastors and two of the wives were there waiting for us. We were stunned, I was scared. I couldn’t figure out what I had done that was such a serious sin that all of them would be there to confront me. Several of the pastors were still on the phone with lawyers. When they came to the waiting area they realized/remembered that I was 7 months pregnant and I had driven myself 20 miles to the church. They told us to go home and they’s meet us at our house.
When all arrived, three pastors one pastors wife myself and my husband, they began their “meeting” by saying. “You are going to have an opportunity to forgive today.” After some flowery words they brought in one of my closest friends who lived up the street. She was separated from her husband at the time. Our pastors wife looked like she was physically holding her up. My friend looked nauseaus and she was physically shaking. She sat across from my husband and I and told us that her oldest son (15) had been “inappropriate” with my 3yo daughter. She assured us that my daughter was asleep and completely unaware. We of course asked for the details. She said that one evening, he was babysitting for us as he often did while we went to Homegroup Leaders and Wives meetings at the Pastors house (I hated those). That night our daughter had wet the bed and he was going to change it when he felt tempted and had “fingered” her. I apologize for being so direct. He said that she was completely asleep and didn’t wake up the entire time.
We were confused. She was wearing pull-ups. Even if she had wet, the bed would not be wet. How did she know the bed was wet if she was asleep? How could he change the sheets and her pullup without her waking up? What was wrong with this story? We asked and we were somewhat blown off.
(EDITED BY KRIS TO ADD: Noel made the following comment on 1/1/09, which I think gives a bit more background to the story. Here is what Noel wrote:
Someone somewhere asked why the boy confessed. I believe with all my heart that he thought we were about to piece it together. Remember how close I was to this mom. We talked like friends do. When I was worried about my daughter I stopped by her house and asked her what she thought.
We were told that there were not other incidents and that our child had been completely unaware. We were encouraged with scripture that no Christian should bring his brother to court but rather the church should mediate. I certainly didn’t want anyone else to know about this. I didn’t want her to be excluded from playing with her friends, I didn’t want people to treat her differently, I didn’t want to be dealing with this at all. I wanted the pastors to leave so that I could pretend this wasn’t happening. I think I would have agreed to anything just to make it all go away.
The pastors stayed all day. I sat in a chair and stared all day. That night, when I was finally able to sleep, I had a dream. This boy came into our home while we were all sleeping and shot us one by one. First my husband, then me, then each child as they lay safely sleeping in their bed. I woke with a start, furious. I decided I’d never let that happen then laid down and went back to sleep. I dreamt I was walking down our street toward their house. I rang their bell and the boy answered. Through the screen door I put a gun to his face and pulled the trigger. Again I woke with a start. This time I could not sleep. I knew I was in trouble. I went to the kitchen and read my bible. Psalms. It was so confusing. Was my best friends’ son my enemy? Who was my enemy? I didn’t want to think about this so I decided to clean instead. All night long I cleaned and told my thoughts to shut up. The pastors called in the morning. They were all leaving for a pastors conference in Virginia Beach the next day and they’d all be passing our house on their way down. I told them my dreams, I asked for the booklet “How to be free from bitterness”
The senior pastors wife stopped by with books and a printed packet she had put together entitled “Topical Quotes for Times of Suffering and Trial” Here’s a sample.
“Among the most wonderful of God’s works are His chastisements… No pen is like that of sorrow for writing indelibly upon the soul.” (Was this chastisement, is that why my baby was molested?)
“Suffereing teaches us to shrink from sin – even from the remotest and most indirect connection with it” (This happened because I was sinful? So if I suffer I won’t do it again? What did I do?)
“Riding out the storm is a lonely experience. You will never be more alone emotionally than when you are in the whirlwind of consequences (of sin). You will wish others could help you, but they can’t. They will want to be there, they will care, but for the most part, you have to ride out the storm alone.” (consequences of what? How much can a 3 year old sin to deserve these consequences??)
Never mind, I can’t even read through this packet any more. It’s 34 pages long. You get the gist.
Lou Gallow sat with this boy daily extracting more detail, which were relayed to Dave Hinders then to us by phone. It was by phone we heard of the “attempted penetration” which he stopped because she was crying so loud (As he told the pastors she was saying “ please stop, you are hurting me, my mommy and daddy don’t do this etc. etc.”) She was crying so loud that, although he was in an inner bathroom with no windows, upstairs in my isolated home in the dead of winter with all windows closed…. He was afraid that the neighbors, in their homes with windows closed, would hear and come to help her.
(God bless her she does have a good set of lungs!)
That night we decided to take her to our doctor. Before we could make the appointment the boy’s mother was on our doorstep asking us not to go. She said we wanted to punish him and we were just being mean and this is a quote “You KNOW ______would never hurt her!” Excuse me?? He did hurt her?? Mom’s on planet denial already. I understand I probably would be also. We were very patient with her. We didn’t raise our voice or throw her out of our home. We simply insisted that our child would be seen by a doctor. She said, “You KNOW that if you didn’t want to hurt my son you could find a doctor in the church that would examine your daughter and not report it!” Whoa.
We called our doctor who spoke with us and encouraged us to report it to social services personally, which we did. The police department contacted us and set up an appointment to interview all our children. That was so hard. We couldn’t be in the room with them but we could watch from a live lead in a private room. God bless the very godly man that interviewed my child. He was WONDERFUL and I am thankful. He was a Christian himself and the Grace of God was really with him. In that interview she described several incidents including one “in mommy and daddy’s bathroom because there is a bed in their room” . This becomes a very big deal later on. Our other children apparently were fine. We went to the doctor and proceeded to eat, sleep and breath for days on end. The detective interviewed the boy and called us two more times with more details, more events. Several times I had to get off the phone because I needed to throw up. What is important to note here is that the pastors did not hear these confessions, they didn’t hear what the detective knew, what we knew. The boy didn’t tell his mother what he had done and he didn’t tell the pastors. Guess what, the pastors didn’t want us to tell them what the boy had confessed to….. it would be gossip. We had been told of 5 incidents and one mysterious one that our daughter confessed to the police. It had been going on for 7 months that we now knew of.
Incidentally, the only reason I’m not saying the family’s or the boys name is for his poor poor wife, and because he now has at least one child. My heart goes out to them, and I wish the wife and child well.
Now, seven day’s after this boy confessed regarding our family, his maternal uncle currently living in the boy’s home confessed to molesting his nieces, the boy’s sisters. Guess what, the girls were supposedly asleep and had no idea what had happened to them. Mom was vomiting, her brother moved out. Social Services was called. The detective handling our case came to our home and gave us an update. Social Services came to our home and conducted a home study. Our daughter began professional counseling with weekly visits. The boy also attended counseling with a professional. One afternoon, on the phone with mom (I don’t know why I was on the phone with her) Mom told me that the counseling was not biblical and that she had to “undo” everything the counselor said during their sessions. She also said that she was helping him at home. She was teaching him not to be selfish since that was the underlying sin that led him to be “inappropriate” For example, she tells him not to leave bread crumbs on the kitchen counter because it is selfish. She also told me that he was sleeping on her bedroom floor at night because he was afraid to be by himself.
We told the pastors what we thought about the family was dealing with it but apparently they didn’t have any concerns. Okay, that’s the background. Soon the “counseling” begins.
[end of part 1]
Thinking about this made my blood pressure go through the rough, the baby wasn’t doing great. During the day I could control my thoughts alright but if I fell asleep my brain went on auto pilot. I would become nauseous, dizzy, and had pain in my abdomen. I couldn’t eat. My husband took a month off of work to stay home and made sure I ate and slept since I was so far along in the pregnancy. One month and 5 days after the boy’s confession the pastors wanted us to go to the boy’s house so that he could confess to us personally. Weeks prior to this meeting my husband and I had been studying forgivness. We met with one of the pastors and asked him a series of questions about forgivness. What did it mean, how did this look, what if I was still angry…I wanted to know what was the relation between anger and forgiveness, were they inseparable. What was righteous anger and was my anger sin or was it only sin if I acted on it or allowed it to become bitterness. Did feeling anger mean that I had not forgiven? What was the difference between not thinking about it (like so many told me) and stuffing it. I was angry that she suffered, unjustly and unnecessarily, that our family had been defiled, that it couldn’t be fixed. Was that sin? I was angry about his deceit and they way he tricked her into not telling. The pastors didn’t have many answers at all. As I can remember he said only God can experience righteous anger. Jonah 4:4 But the Lord replied, “Have you any right to be angry?” He encouraged us to read 2Cor 4 I meditated on my own sins. I viewed this boy as a child, an unconfessed victim of his own adopted father. His home life had certainly been a mess. I thought more about my own sins, my worst sins. Then I thought I forgave him. I don’t remember much about that day but we went, two pastors were there, the boy confessed in a very general way and we told him that we forgave him. (The very next time we said we had a problem with them the pastors said whoa now, you said you forgave him. As if it was a trap not a process, whatever.)
We were still part of the same homegroup and both families attending church. His family was required to sit in the balcony and we were allowed free roam of the church. My husband stepped down from leadership for a sabbatical and no one was told what was happening. One member in particular really liked playing 20 questions. She could just smell that there was sin involved. She would call on the phone when I had been crying and just couldn’t let it
The detective called routinely. He wanted us to take our daughter to Fairfax Hospital for a rape kit examination. They wanted to put my baby in stirrups, do an internal and take pictures both internally and externally. I was mortified. I cried, I pleaded with him not to do it. He made it clear that he needed the information to prosecute and that he had every right to order us to take her. I begged him to let her heal, to not traumatize her again. He agreed reluctantly.
Now our daughter’s counselor was very good. She heard our concerns that our child had been the victim and yet, all the kids were being isolated from their best friends and they were confused. My boy’s played with their boys, (not their oldest due to age difference) my daughter played with their daughter. Now the children were being isolated because of something they couldn’t understand. The counselor suggested a play date, excluding the offender of course, at a neutral playground. We tried to keep it normal and both mom’s expressed a desire to reconcile our relationship, certainly never to be the same but to come to a biblical place where both families could grow in the Lord peacefully.
Shortly after this our child was born, and due to all the stress during the pregnancy, went into NICU with complications. Shortly after the baby and I were home this boy had his first court date. I had heard nothing about it, we still don’t know what it was for. You see, because we were not the ones pressing charges, the county was, we weren’t included on the paperwork. The detective had promised to keep us in the loop but apparently the pastors had talked with the detective and told him that the church would keep us updated. The church was involved in every court date the boy had, but we were not. About a week later our 2 year old was diagnosed with Lymes Disease and between the baby, care of our daughter and now our 2yo we were distracted.
When we went to celebration in July she became furious with us because her room was not close the the homegroup. (Legally he couldn’t be near her) She blamed me personally. She also had made a series of very offensive comments to me.
“__________Is a good boy, Look at how he dresses.” (Seriously, she said this. He rapes babies but dresses nice.)
“Most of the men in our church should have their names on the central registry” (Normalizing)
“He was just experimenting.”
“You know ____________ would never hurt your daughter.”
7 months after the confession. “I’ve already worked through this whole think. Would you please consider me and let it go.” So in 7 months she’s over the fact that her son and her brother are pedofile and her daughters have been victims. Wow!
“My son couldn’t even enjoy molesting your daughter.”
And my personal favorite “My son didn’t even have an erection.”
So when we get home from Celebration the pastors decide (due to all my complaining about her offensive comments) that we’re not doing well and we need to have a meeting.
A pastor comes to our house to discuss justice, mercy and vengeance. He tells us that he’s concerned we are vengeful and we need to pray. We did pray, we didn’t want to be vengeful, we wanted to be whole. We didn’t see it but we prayed all the same. My husband asked the pastor about the next court date and expressed his disappointment that no one had told us there had been one. Pastoral reply, “Why are you so interested in the court dates??? Do you have a carnal desire to see ___________ suffer???” “You need to stop thinking about it and stop talking about it and make a list of your own sins.” We then had another meeting with the offending family to try to resolve these issues. It was an unsuccessful meeting, however it slipped that there was another court date coming up.
There were several subsequent phone calls about that court date. We were essentially bullied, maligned and forbidden to come. A week later the detective called to tell us that was the final date. His sentence had been assigned, he’d be on the central registry and he would have probation. I cannot describe my rage.
Within weeks my children had whooping cough. They had been immunized but got it any way. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. After two months of whooping cough my son was coughing up blood and had to be hospitalized for very serious complications. This is when I finally pitched a fit. I was tired, I was soo sad, I was lost and none of our friends knew what had happened to our family, we were isolated and I was furious. I screamed and pitched a two year old hissy fit on the phone with my pastors wife. I screamed that I was mad at God, at you, your husband, the offender, his mother, and the lady and the check out counter. This got us more meetings.
We met with the pastors regarding the accuracy of his confession. The pastors insisted that we were making a big deal of out it. That is wasn’t as serious as we were making it out to be. Now remember, they didn’t hear the whole confession and the boy wasn’t ever going to tell his mother or the pastors the whole confession. Because of our daughter’s quote we don’t believe he even told the police the whole truth. We expressed this concern to the pastoral team. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from that time. “I don’t know any specifics about what __________ did or about any part of his confession and I don’t think I need to know to care for you. But I can say this, it wasn’t rape.” “___________ and mom have always been honest and forthcoming with us.” Oh but we are explaining to you that they clearly weren’t honest. So they agreed to call the mom and ask if we could sit down with the boy and clear this up. Mom say, “No.” And so that’s that. We are over exaggerating and they are truthful.
After this we had another meeting. The purpose was to ask the pastors to please tell the homegroup since there was an obvious detrimental effect on the group. (I had been called by one member who was pregnant and wanted me to throw the mom a party to cheer her up because she’s been sad lately.) (I was also asked to host a baby shower). In the meeting my husband also brought up mom’s inability to deal with the reality of what had happened and how that may affect her son’s progress. Our dear pastor said, “I know mom and she simply will not deal with it so why try.”
We had another meeting. I tried to explain how it was unacceptable to me to have my pastor, my covering, the one on my side minimize what happened to my child. I feld that I was not believed. That was not resolved.
Coming up on one year we finally tell two of our friends without the blessings of the pastors. The pastors subsequently tell one family in our homegroup that the boy had been “inappropriate” that no penetration had occurred. That we were having a hard time and making out to be much worse than it was.
I had officially checked out of the process that this time. Why bother. Our pastor had counseled my husband to let love cover a multitude of sins and stop coming to them with minor offenses. We had another meeting close to the one year mark. The pastor asked how we were and we said we were fine. (This becomes a big deal)
[end of part 2]
Okay, at this point the boy’s father committed suicide one year to the date of his confession. The day the police officer showed up at the mom’s door she called me and asked me to come and comfort her. I stopped in and expressed my true sorrow, I was truly sorry. I could not however be there for her the way she wanted. It was very tragic. There’s nothing else to say.
Now one month before the suicide we welcomed a new and improved pastor at our church. He could walk on water and all that jazz. Our pastoral team informed him of the situation and let him know that my family wouldn’t be any problem cuz we were swell people. We’d do whatever they said. Hummm.
That was in March, that December my husband let our pastor know that we had tried with all our strength to let love cover this but we still were not doing well. We had unresolved issues but this was the first time we told them our issues were with the pastoral team. Looks like more meetings. Now this time it was about them and surprisingly the meeting wasn’t arranged as quickly. While we were waiting for this meeting to be scheduled we passed a children’s ministry classroom one Sunday morning and saw the boy served the the 2 year old class. We let them know we would not be quiet about it, it couldn’t ever happen, it wasn’t ever acceptable. They had created this problem by telling people that this boy had done anything truly wrong. So why would the organizers keep him out of the class if they truly needed his help.
My husband met alone with our pastor for lunch. He expressed again that we felt they were minimizing it. They simply said “We’re not minimizing.” Well there you go. At the end of their lunch the pastor asked my husband to pray about supporting overturning the charges against the boy with a letter to the commonwealth attorney or a signature on a form. My husband told him on the spot. No! My husband came back to him 2 weeks later at a Sunday meeting and told him that we would in no way ever support overturning the charges and that if we found out that anyone had tried we would stop it immediately and hire a lawyer.
Now this is interesting. We told them we had problems with them.. The pastoral team was causing us to stumble. No meeting was scheduled but, they did think that this was a good time to put my husband into a leadership class and pastors discipleship group so that he could come back into homegroup leadership. Wow, really?
Now we have been explaining over and over that the situation was far worse than the pastors knew. They never believed us but finally agreed that they would come to the courthouse with us and read the police report personally so that they could understand how we were not minimizing it. I called our detective to ask how this could be arranged. We were shocked to learn that we were not allowed to see our daughter’s testimony. Since we had not pressed charges, the county had, we were not eligible to view those records. We would have to have the mom of the offender sign a paper giving us permission to view the records. So we have another meeting. Mom says “No, she doesn’t want anything to jeopardize her June 6 court date.” Okay, we are not surprised she said no not at all, however we had been promised over and over that the pastoral team would tell us of any court dates. When we ask what it is for the whole room becomes mute. Finally mom agrees to let us ask her boy about his confession with the pastors there. Peachy, another meeting and with the liar. This should go well.
Nothing really important here the boy lied the pastors were satisfied and told us again “Mom and son have always been forthcoming and honest with us.”
So mom approaches me and asks me if I’ll sign a paper overturning the charges. My God what is wrong with these people. No No and a thousand NOs. She said her son wanted to serve in the military ever since he was young. Now he would never be allowed and he could be a teacher either. She let us know the Commonwealth Attorney would call and talk to us about it. We waited but he never called so my husband contacted him and went to his office. The CWA told my husband the court date on the 6th was to overturn the charges, the date had been sent and all the paperwork had gone through. We made another apt with the CWA. Scrambled to prepare a 6 page document outlining where we felt the boy was in his progress. We read it to the CWA and asked for the charges to not be overturned.
I talked with mom on the phone about our meeting with CWA. Mom lied through her teeth about it over and over. Finally she confessed and let us know that Pastor so and so counseled her to pursue reversal of charges without informing us. The pastors were on retreat again at the time of that call. We called the retreat and asked for the pastor to speak with us immediately. He was angry we bothered him and that we were accusing him. He said that yes had told her to go ahead with overturing the charges behind our back. He also said that we should have been fine with it. My husband told him we were desperately trying to let love cover a multitude of sins as he had counseled us and then he said something quite amazing. He said, “That’s your fault for following my counsel.” When I had a chance to speak with him I made it clear that I felt I no longer had a church. He had made it very clear that though he was our pastor assigned to us in this case and another pastor had been assigned to the boy’s family, it was clear that our pastor was working for them. We were not believed, we were not supported, we were alone without a pastor and without a church.
Okay, we had another meeting. We had told Lou Gallow that we felt we needed Mark Mullery involved. (Let’s see the confession was March 16th, this was May 23/24th two years later) That’s right, the senior pastor had not met with us once yet up to this point. These next two quote mark two of my favorite. I’m so glad I can laugh about this now. When we told Lou we needed Mark to attend the meeting he said, “Mark? That’s serious, how about Vince instead?” And when the meeting began sweet Mark came in the room and his first words were….”Now are you confident that this can be resolved, now that I’m getting involved?” Isn’t that cute. I don’t think he liked my response. It was something like, “I don’t know let’s see how you handle this.” Though I’m not sure about my response I’m sure about my attitude and he didn’t like it. It was a grueling meeting with mom lying like a rug for over an hour until she finally yelled ALRIGHT and admitted to the whole scam. She then looked to the pastor we had talked on the phone and my husband talked to at lunch and she said, “You encouraged me to do it, back me up on this.” The pastor looked at her square in the eye and said, “No I wont back you up on that.” The pastors’s denied knowing that she even had a lawyer even though they had been to court with them. She left the room, escorted by her pastor and Mark asked if we were satisfied. I started to scream, very loud, mom heard me from the other room. I understand the office staff downstairs heard me as well. No I’m not satisfied! I can’t remember all that I yelled at the man but really what did he expect? He told me we couldn’t expect much from that mom because she wasn’t that smart. I told him he was seriously mistaken and I couldn’t believe he had put me in a position that I had to defend her. Not the first time in this.
So June 6th comes around and we show up. We were surprised the CWA handed a copy of our paper to the judge, to the offending family and read it word for word. It was wonderful and we were pleased, the pastors were furious; some couldn’t even look at us. Now I’ll give the gist of it, obviously all 6 pages can’t go here and wow are the SGM people going to be pissed about this. You wouldn’t believe the ruckus this caused.
We outlined mom’s denial, boy’s comments, mom normalizing it. We outlined mom’s history, boy’s adoptive fathers history, the uncle molesting the children, boy molesting our child. We outlined how much people thought of boy, how he was honored as scout of the year, how he studied Sin and Temptation by John Own, how boy confronted others on their sexual sin and pornography while he was steeped in it. We outlined his lack of total confession and truthfulness. Here is the only quote from it I will post.
“Boy says that while he was raping my daughter he was scared. Too scared to enjoy himself. When we asked him directly about his fear and what he was afraid of he said, “I was afraid God was going to do something terrible to me.” He was afraid of being caught, he was afraid of consequences. Boy said that he stopped raping my baby because she was screaming and he was afraid of being caught yet he told us that he kept her in the bathroom about a half an hour longer and continued molesting and fondling her. He was afraid of being caught because she was screaming out in pain as he forcefully pinned her down and hurt her but that commotion and desperate plea from our three year old little girl was not enough to keep him from continuing to hold her and molest her while she continued to cry in pan and fear. Boy was afraid of the consequences, but not afraid enough to stop him from pursuing it further and further. And now you want to remove those consequences.” This makes me want to puke, my hands are shaking.
The judge listened to us but the pastors looked like they were ready to spit on us. I know this is offensive to read. But we were desperate to make our point. We had been lied to and deceived, someone had to listen to what happened to her.
Outside the courtroom the boy got right in my face and said “How dare you upset my mother like that” The pastors agreed with him. Everyone coddled the mom and Mark took us aside to tell us “Now the bridges are burned. We may not be able to reconcile now.” Mom went to the pastor that was supposed to be overseeing us and spent the evening at their house. They refused to talk to us about the paper. The day after the court date mom met with the pastor that had been assigned to her. My husband and I had a prescheduled meeting with our pastor and with Mark to tell them what had happened to our daughter. That night we were told not to go to homegroup. The pastor that was supposed to be working with us took mom to our homegroup and gave her an evening to talk and the whole homegroup honored her. Remember the homegroup had not been told what had happened to us yet. Every person in the room was told to take a moment to honor and encourage mom.
Every phone call to our pastors was met with I can’t talk to you it would be gossip. When we asked how it would be gossip if we wrote the paper we were told it just was.
One week later we had another meeting. This one was for mom to confront us on the outline. If this hadn’t been at my house I wouldn’t have been there. The only thing we got to was mom asking for forgiveness for deceiving and we explained the impact that had on us for the rest of the time.
Wow, it’s about to get really ugly.
Okay, so now it is June 20th. We had another meeting. All the time at the meetings we were not with our wounded family, I was just cooked at this point, just cooked. I was sick of beating our head against a brick wall. They clearly decided not to hear the confession about what happened to our child. They clearly believed the mom and thought that we were dramatizing this.
So the 20th meeting. Set up for us to express our concerns to the pastors. We told them that we felt over confronted at the expense of being walked through. We were careful to express that we value correction and still wanted correction but had been beaten down. We had been told the question of how to balance justice and mercy was pride. We were told we were sinfully vengeful although no one had asked questions to know our hearts. We were referred to Romans 7:12. We had extended mercy, we were aware of our sin tendency but we wanted help in rightly carrying a burden for justice that is very human for us as parents and a reflection of God’s character. We were told our desire for justice was rooted in the sin nature. Our desire to be in court was carnal. When trying to resolve our conflict with mom we were told our presentation was self-righteous. It felt to us like mom could get away with anything and we were getting slammed for everything. In this conversation she said “I wasn’t angry, I was hurt.(not biblical language, we’d have been slammed) then she said but “if” I sinned please forgive me. She covered all her bases, how were we supposed to respond? We could have used some help here. We thought the pastors had come that day to help resolve conflict yet everyone sat there and no one interjected to help. To have no one step in and correct this or help resolve it more completely and then to be confronted left us wondering what happened.
We told them we felt it was minimized. We felt counsel was that thinking about this, talking about this and even our concerns about the honesty of the confession were simply not helpful for us. This was said directly to us. It was important because we wanted their hearts and we weren’t feeling we had any advocates. When we expressed our concerns regarding the confession we kept hearing the recorded line” Boy has always been honest and forth coming with us.” If we come to the pastors and express that we don’t believe the confession was complete or truthful and the pastors respond by saying well of course it is truthful, then we are not being covered, heard, or believed. If we come to the pastors and say that we are concerned about mom’s inability to accept what happened because of the impact this will have onn boy’s ability to deal with it properly and the pastors say”leave her alone she’s going though a hard time (before her husband died) then mom is covered and we are not. None of our concerns were satisfied, none of them were pursued aggressively, none of them were answered. We had someone who would solely believe boy and mom as our covering.
When we said we wanted them to refer to it as rape the pastor replied. “SIN IS SIN”. When specific families were being told to expand our support it was present as a minimal event. When we said that the first incident could not have happened the way it was told to us nothing was done to investigate that further. When we met with Lou it was clear that our records of the confession and Lou’s records of the confession were different. Mom didn’t want us to discuss it with boy and this was never resolved. When we were concerned about the effectiveness of boy’s covering since mom was minimizing the pastor didn’t even know if the boy was still in professional counseling or not. When we relayed comments mom made that indicated minimization and normalization (Boy was just experiementing, he would never hurt your daughter, most men at the church should be on the central registry, undoing all the counselor said, comparing the outward appearance of other boys to her son etc) we were told the Mom was simply not going to deal with it so why try. The meeting the mom admitted to lying about the court date was concluded by telling us that mom and boy have always been honest with us. The boy’s confession could at this point been changed and summarized to something like this.
I molested her but I didn’t enjoy it, I didn’t have an erection, she never woke up and I didn’t hurt her. Why wasn’t anyone concerned about this boy’s condition.
The meeting concluded with an agreement that it was time to let boy confess to the homegroup.
June 26th Special homegroup for boy. The pastors came and my husband and I met with them in the back room. The pastors handed us a piece of paper contain the notes boy would use in the confession. We were asked to read the note then tell the pastors if we were satisfied. We said no. They’re so unhappy with us. It was again minimized. He read it to the group and the the meeting was over. While members mingled in the kitchen boy came upon the left side of a tall man, not knowing I was on the right side. Boy said, “I guess that will shut them up for a while.” He was twofaced, accusing and rude to us and meek and submissive to the team.
The next day we went to Jacksonville Fl. My sister, in another team related church had been through an experience at their Ga. Church and asked us to come down and speak to her no nonsense pastor, the one who had help to expose the, well the missing piece, the really big story that people on this post are still asking about. I need to look through my files and find the legally safe wording.
[end of part 4]
We’re in Jacksonville talking to the pastor that had just come from Georgia, before he went on the Georgia church plant he had been a member of our church. So we meet with this Jax pastor and tell him our story. He was very sympathetic. He encouraged us to go to the apostle and gave us a motivating story about how supportive apostolic leadership would be.
Okay, this is the “Story” it’s a second hand story. No names.
The story he told was of a man who had been part of SGM VERY early on. This in crowd guy had a son with the same problem as boy. This kid’s problem started at his home church and the vicitm’s family had apparently been paid well to keep their mouth shut and told that if they blew the whistle that the kid’s family would make the victim out to be, well lets just say they’d discredit the family. This in crowd family was moved to another SGM church then went on a church plant. At their church plant the kid had more problems. This time the whistle was blown and SGM had a problem. How could this guy disappear? How could they hide it again. They whitewashed it and let him slip out quietly. He hasn’t been forgotten.
Okay I forgot to say that this happened Celebration weekend. We were supposed to go to Celebration and we just couldn’t do it. The car wouldn’t go that way. We just never showed up. When we returned home and the pastors returned home we contacted them. My husband had lunch with Mark and told him that we had been to Jax and we agreed with that Jax pastor that we neede apostolic oversight here. That night we got a phone call from Mark, he was desperate for us to no call John Loftness. He said, “If you have any confidence in my ability to pastor at all, please do not call John yet.” We agreed (I know, I know, what was wrong with us?? Too much Koolaid) So we agreed to examine our hearts and wait for the next meeting. One week later. . . . .
This time the pastors were all there and very stern looking. They said, “You are now the problem.” “This is now a discipline issue” What were we being disciplined for, well lying of course. The pastoral team was EXTREMELY worried about my husband’s “chronic” lying problem. I truly lost it here. I slammed both hands on the table and put my pointy little finger in the face of each and every humble and godly man there, looked them square in the eye and told the individually, you are the problem, and you are the problem, and you are the problem. My dear senior pastor looked at my husband and (again one of my favorite quotes of all time) said, “GET YOUR WIFE UNDER CONTROL.” Don’t you like that. I thought it was priceless. I did calm down so my husband could defend himself. He asked the team if they would please give him an example. One of the pastors said, Bro, I’ve got an example, it greives me bro because I really think we could have helped you. Well the way I remember it you were here, at the building for a Royal Ranger Scout meeting, we were standing outside talking. Do you remember that man, do you remember the night. I asked you how you were doing and you said fine. But you weren’t fine were you, you weren’t fine and that wasn’t the truth.
Now the interesting thing is that one looked a little sick at this meeting. We still considered him to have a bit of a conscience. We found it very interesting that although he was not assigned to us, he did write is one of our nasty notes as we were leaving. It was as if he was being made tow the line. It was sad.
Now my husband emailed Mark and asked how we could now be the problem and Mark replied. “Your question, “Why are we now the problem?” is a good one. The issues we raised with you and your wife at our last meeting regarding truthfulness and unforgiveness aren’t new and, in fact, did not emerge in the past few weeks. These are issues which have been active for some time. When I got involved in May I didn’t bring them up to due to the nature of the original crimes against your daughter, the nature of your complaints about mom and boy and the nature of your complaints about the pastoral team. What has changed over the past few weeks is that, as we’ve worked hard to clear out other obstacles to progress, your sins in these areas have persistently remained, and have now become the chief hindrance to progress. This is what we sought to explain at your last meeting.
Please let me seek to clarify a second point. Several times you’ve said you don’t see where you were fundamentally a liar. I agree with that. What we’ve tried to point out to you is that you have regularly said things which you later contradict. This makes it difficult to know how to respond to you and the effect is one of deceit. NO one has accused you of being “fundamentally a liar. However, as we said last week, you must take responsibility for all your words.”
I wonder if when Mark reads this blog if he will take responsibility for all of his words.
So we went to John Loftness. We met with him at CLC. We told him that we came to our pastors and told them we had problems. Mom’s deceit exasperated the problem. Coming to the team to resolve the issues we gained more information which lead to deeper problems. When Mark became involved he made it clear by tone and words that he did not believe us, that we felt we were in sin yet would not tell us how and that he considered us the problem.
We told him that misinformation, miscommunication and deliberate exclusion from the justice process, deception from the pastors about the court dates, lack of follow through on our significant concerns and a lack of general care had damaged our relationship with our pastoral team. They refused to talk to us about vital issues, like the 6 page document. As we approached the pastors in an effort to resolve these issues we found them to be defensive, proud, discounting our input, and mired in “Why didn’t you say this before?”
John Loftness wanted to encourage us. I asked whether CLC had ever delt with such a problem. A fair question if he was supposed to help us. He said yes, a worship leader’s family had a problem (perps not vic) (This is quite pervasive it seems. I am recalling a second situation of this sort that happened at our church while we were still working this out. The one in the Ga church, the one that preceded it, and one we were aware of in the Jax church.)
In another conversations with Mark I had said that the communication had been one sided. We didn’t know what any of the pastors thought of us, our input, our state of mind. We weren’t reconciled to them but they were trying to lead us through reconciliation with Mom. When we asked for input they wouldn’t give it. Mark replied sarcastically “But you don’t want to be confronted.”
Being excluded from the justice system, we wanted to know why, what was behind that. Mark wanted to know why we were asking. I said, first to help the pastors grow (I’m sure he loved that) Second when mom asked one of the pastors to back her up that pastor said no. Yet is was obvious from his own recounting that he was not clear. I wasn’t willing to let mom take the rap for that. It seemed like the pastors were blameshifting. Mark replied, “This is not a conspiracy”
Mark said, “If everyone doesn’t agree with you you won’t be happy.”
Mark explained that talking about the 6 page document was gossip because “If the paper had come to the pastors first we would have talked to you about it. But now that mom has seen it it would be gossip to discuss it with us.” But the pastors talked to mom about it and not to us. The pastors were giving mom counsel on the outline and arranging meetings to have her confront us without ever asking us if they understood it correctly, if that was all we had to say, etc.
I liked this one.
Mark…”Do you remember my question at the courthouse.”
I asked “What question?”
Mark replied ”Isn’t that interesting that you don’t remember my questions?”
“What was the questions Mark?”
“I asked, Why is this coming out now?”
“Well Mark, I had answered that many, many times for you. Do you remember my answer? You asked us that an average of four times a meeting so which is it do you not like our answer or do you flat our just not believe us?”
“Mom and boy have always been honest with us.”
John came, the pastors were all good and apologized. I left and never came back. There were more little issues, we reported a child abuse case and they demanded that we apologize. It was ridiculous. We sent a letter saying we were leaving, they replied saying we couldn’t because mom still wanted to confront us on the 6 page document. They also said they’d find out what church we go to and tell the pastors all about us.
What ever guys. What ever.