Sonja Evans' Charismatic Experience
I thank God for discovering your web site and to know I am not alone in what appears to be an epidemic of Bible/authority abuse in churches of all sorts. I believe yours is a much needed ministry in times such as these. As a writer, and one who is a victim of Bible/church abuse, I have met countless others who have suffered the same problems and am considering starting a support group and writing a book about this matter (I am also a writer).
I was saved at a young age, but not really serious about my commitment to the Lord until my early 20's, where I searched for a church home. I found a church, non-denominational and charismatic, for the most part. It seemed like the most wonderful place, and full of young people my age.
As time went on however, I noticed that the pastor began to dictate into our lives, based on Levitical Law, teaching that if we ate shellfish, etc., we would be under a curse. He taught that if we didn't obey his every command and listen to him, we were rebellious and witches (Using the scripture that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.).
Speakers came in frequently teaching on these same principles. There was even one who had anybody who ever said anything bad or thought anything bad about the pastor to come up and apologize to him, and there was this long line around the church to come up to him and apologize.
After a while I began to become disillusioned. I had struggles in my life, and needed support, but all I got when I approached people was this, "Just confess and believe the word of God" sort of answer. The church itself was very cliquish, and I never seemed to fit into these tightly knit cliques. Our pastor began to teach that we needed to break up into small groups (because the church was growing too large). The purpose of these groups was to love and submit to each other. I heard stories of people going up to others and commenting on their clothes, and out of submission, the other person would change their clothing style. Something was just starting to not feel right, so I left.
I quickly found another church that a friend (Who also left this other ministry.) told me about. The pastor was a prophet. I went and was so encouraged by the message I began to go on a regular basis. I noticed that he had many prophets that came to conduct revivals (almost every other week). Many of these people were supposed to operate in healing and deliverance. (Interestingly enough, it seemed the same people were going up to be healed and delivered over and over.)
My pastor would make you stand up and say things about you, expose your sins, etc. in front of the whole congregation. Very rarely were there altar calls to receive Christ, and the gospel was rarely preached. It was all about prospering. Many times I was called out in prophecy and accused of doing things I was not doing, but to question him was to question the Lord. People began to come up to me, assuming what he said about me was true, and give "advice" on how to be delivered from the sin I was involved in. It was humiliating and horrible. I left there in 1997.
Since then I have not been a member of any church, nor do I go to any church on a regular basis. I have not backslidden, though I have slipped and slid a little, but during this time, the Lord has used my experiences to teach me to trust him and depend on him, and not man. My understanding of God, as his love and grace pertains to me personally, has grown more in 4 churchless years then in all of the time I spent going to church, learning the opinions of fallible people about who God is, than going to God myself. It has been wonderful, really.
I hope my story will bless others. Take care and God bless.
Posted March 3, 2002
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August 23, 1997
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