Chris's United Pentecostal Church Experience
I have been reading your website on spiritual abuse and want to share my story with you. My family were only involved in the UPC church for about a year but it was quite an experience!!
I grew up in an Anglican church and that's where my husband, myself and our 2 sons attended until about 4 years ago. We never really "felt" comfortable in the church but it was all I knew and I guess it was better than not going to church at all.
After we had been out of the church for a few years, one of my husband's co-workers invited him to go to his church. He talked about the end times and the 7 trumpets and if we weren't "saved" we would be left behind when the rapture happened.
Our church never taught about the rapture or the end times so that was all new to us. We went to the new church and somehow found ourselves going back week after week. They slowly began to show us the things that were wrong in our life. I began to wear dresses only and let my hair grow long. I never wore make-up or jewelry so they weren't issues for me. The Pastor began to teach us about oneness and Jesus name baptism. We were being taught the fear of God not the love of God. Looking back now, I don't know how we could've possibly become caught up in this teaching but we did.
The church family welcomed us in, they were a wonderful group of people, they still are. Even though we've left the church I still feel love for them and I have no bad feelings towards them. My husband's co-worker and wife did a Bible study with us, week after week they welcomed us into their home. They taught us to have a personal relationship with God - something I will always be grateful to them for. They also taught us that if we heard something that didn't line up with the Word of God we should seek God for answers, pray and search the Bible for ourselves.
The reason I left the church is because I realized there was something not quite right with the teachings. I realized that they never really talked about the love of God - it was always the fear of God. We were also taught that if a person didn't believe in oneness and the UPC's form of salvation that person wasn't saved. Well that really bothered me because it meant most "Christians" weren't saved. I couldn't handle that, this wasn't the loving God I grew up knowing.
I began to share my doubts with my husband and our "mentors" but I was told I was wrong. Finally I did what our mentors said to do and turned my confusion over to God and searched for answers - God led to me to the book of Romans and Galatians, and Colossians and John 1, 2 and 3 and I soon realized that maybe, just maybe the UPC were the ones teaching false doctrine.
There was an incident that happened that finally made me realize I had to leave the church. Our older son was being pressured to get the Holy Ghost - if he didn't have the Holy Ghost he couldn't go to heaven, so we were told - he had to speak in tongues in order to have the Holy Ghost. I knew he had the Holy Ghost -God revealed it to me one night when our son was up at the altar being prayed over, his best friend and two other friends of his started speaking in tongues but he didn't. I cried out to God, "Why Lord, why won't you give it to him, he is trying so hard, he loves you Lord." The response God gave me was that he couldn't give him something he already had. I went up to the altar to pray and I heard the Youth Pastor - who was also our mentor - tell our son "If you are ever going to get the Holy Ghost now is the time" - I was angry, I felt that he was pressuring our son - my son couldn't make God give it to him.
A week later, we were at a youth conference, my son went up to the altar to pray. About 10 minutes later he came back to me and told me he had the Holy Ghost -I asked him if he spoke in tongues - he told me no, but God revealed to him he already had the Holy Ghost. We found the Youth Pastor and told him, he asked him if he spoke in tongues, my son said no, the Youth Pastor told him to keep praying and he and his wife would pray with him - I walked away, heart broken, my son was being told to listen to man instead of God.
I left the church shortly after that. My husband and sons continued to go to the UPC. One day I told my husband I was looking for a new church and I asked him if he would go with me, to just one service so I wouldn't have to go alone but I would go by myself after that. My husband agreed. I prayed about it and God led us to a church I didn't even know existed. It is another Pentecostal church but not UPC. During the first service in the new church, God confirmed over and over again that it was the right church for us. On the way home from church my husband told me that he felt God talking to him during the service but he still wasn't quite sure about leaving the UPC. That week, my husband prayed and asked God to reveal the truth to him. God led him to John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. That's all my husband needed, there was no turning back.
Our sons continued to go to the other church but have also left now. I finally feel free in Christ - to be who God wants me to be. There are no restrictions - I can lead a righteous life without having long hair and wearing dresses. I praise God every day for revealing His truth to me and to my family. It took our older son over 8 months to finally leave the church - my husband and I kept our faith in God. We knew it would happen in His timing. We could've pushed our beliefs on our sons - we could've made our 12 year old leave with us BUT we were confident that GOD would reveal the truth to them and of course he did. Praise God for His mercy and His grace.
We run into members of the UPC church most Sunday evenings after church - they go to the same coffee shop as us. Most of them have been very nice to us -some look at us with pity but most of them will talk to us and and are quite friendly. I still think of them as family. I pray that God will help them to see the love of God in us and reveal His truth to them.
Posted October 29, 2004
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August 23, 1997
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