One Woman's Apostolic Experience
I wish I would have found a site like this when I was at my old church. When I was wrapped up in legalism, I just couldn't find anyone who understood what I was going through.
I guess that I should start from the beginning. Like many people who end up in spiritually abusive churches, I was not saved and had a deep desire for God. I grew up being told that I was a Christian, but I didn't go to church or know anything about the Bible. I saw people who claimed to be Christians but did not act Godly at all. I knew that if I joined a church some day it could not be a hypocritical one.
Well, I felt that I just couldn't live my life without Jesus anymore, so I joined a small independent "Apostolic" church. They spoke the word of God to me and I just loved it. I really liked their zeal for the Lord and was exited just to be there. Looking back, I can think of times when I should have gotten up and left, but I assumed that since they had been doing this longer than me, they knew better than me.
I received the gift of the Holy Ghost one night during praise and worship time. I felt a cross between fire and wind that almost knocked me out. I saw a vision of heaven opening up and all of the sudden my pastor was tapping me on the shoulder telling me to get up and clap my hands.
They believe that you HAVE TO stand up and praise God by jumping, clapping, yelling and all that. I believe that true worship comes from the heart and comes out in different ways in different people. Well, I lost my concentration and because I didn't speak in tongues, nobody believed me. I didn't even tell my husband about it until later. Gifts of the Spirit were always acknowledged, but there wasn't much fruit, especially in leadership.
Slowly, I began to "fit in". Well, in some ways I felt like I never fit in, thank God!! I adopted the dress code and no make-up rule. I really began to feel bad about myself and felt like my individuality was gone.
As I tried to witness to my family and friends, they became concerned about me and the changes in my lifestyle. My husband discovered the calling on his life for ministry and he seemed to believe everything that was being taught to us.
One time I was called into the pastor's wife's office for wearing open toed shoes! It all started to seem so silly to me, but if I questioned them, I was labelled as "rebellious".
Everything was not bad. I began to develop a close relationship with the Lord. I also discovered that I had a teaching gift. I taught adult Sunday School and occasionally brought forth a message. I never taught legalism, just the Word. We became somewhat respected, even though nobody is put on a pedestal except the pastor and his wife.
After awhile, however, I began to feel once again that something was missing. I thought I could live like this and just serve God in my own little corner of the world. But I became so depressed. I started to feel such a heavy burden for souls who didn't yet know Jesus, and this church didn't share that feeling. Condemnation was constantly preached over the pulpit. Gossip was preached. The pastor preached on people who made him mad or who didn't agree with him.
On September 11th, instead of praying, my old pastor was yelling "None of you are ready for what is going to happen to this world!!!" He put fear in everybody but I wasn't buying it anymore. I believe that we must live a holy life before God, but he made it sound like it was such an impossible task.
Later I found out that he did many immoral things, such as flirt with other women. I believe you must first receive salvation in your heart and then God pricks our hearts and convicts us of things we should or shouldn't do.
I began to realize that I couldn't do this anymore. I especially didn't want my children growing up with this view of God. However, my husband was just chosen to be assistant pastor. He is a Godly man who fears the Lord. However, I could tell that he was getting tired of things, also.
I began to realize that we needed to leave. I could feel the hand of God trying to pull us out, but we were very fearful to leave. They made it sound like we would backslide or something awful would happen if we left. We even left one time and they talked us into coming back.
I just began to pray. I am here to tell you PRAYER WORKS!!!! One day my husband came up to me and told me, "we are leaving this church". I have been so happy ever since.
God led us to a great church. My husband and I are going to seminary (something that was discouraged at my old church). We are actively involved in things that uplift the body of Christ, instead of tearing people down.
I smile from ear to ear in church now. I never knew you could be so free in Christ. I'm free from sin and I'm free from spiritual abuse.
Posted August 31, 2002
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August 23, 1997
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