One Oklahoma Woman's United Pentecostal Church Experience
I came to the UPC by quite extraordinary circumstances. If you had given me a choice between being a Pentecostal or belonging to the 'Manson gang', it would have been, "Hello, Charlie boy."
In order to explain the complexity of my situation, I really must give you the full story. I'll try to be brief.
I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma. My family practiced Christianity mixed with witchcraft. I always knew God was real, 'cause I had seen evil up close. I suffered sexual, mental, verbal and isolation types of abuse. I was a terrible wreck. I had little control over my temper or my life. I had searched and searched for God. I never felt any difference when asking Him to come into my heart. It's like there was no power there. I needed more, but thought it was sin to ask for more.
I studied and studied. Turned down scholarships to bigger colleges so that I could go to a Christian college. Met a nice boy, and got married. First thing I did was get out and away from Oklahoma and the bad memories. I refused to raise my children in that environment. I never wanted them to feel bad about themselves. Not like I did.
My marriage fell apart. He took the kids, because I had no job or way to take care of them. I had worked while he finished school. I tried to kill myself on several occasions. The last time was 7 years ago. I took enough muscle relaxers to kill a horse. About 30 or so. Have witnesses to that. I started to fall asleep, and I heard a voice say, "This is not what I've chosen for you, WAKE UP!!" I did. I became so angry I began to tear up the house. Crying and screaming at God to let me go.
Within a few days of that, I literally went into my closet to pray. Got on my knees, and asked God if there was more. Or was I just weak? Within 2-3 weeks of that I met my UPC neighbors. Didn't like them at all. Somehow got roped into a Bible study, and next thing I know my life was forever changed!
I had run ins with Pentecostals before, and I was not looking forward to this. Got to my neighbor's house, and they informed me that another couple from the church was coming too. I thought, "Just great, they're going to gang up on me!" I tried not to show how angry I was feeling, and just ride it out. When the other couple arrived and the door opened, I began to get sick at my stomach. I hated the woman in the couple, she was with her husband. I couldn't understand what was going on. All I knew was that I wanted to hit her, and couldn't understand why.
We all sat down at the kitchen table, and I was ready for debate. This woman seemed to lead the whole thing. She completely took me by surprise and didn't even try to give me a Bible study. We just sat and talked. Talked about me, mostly. Then, as soon as she reached for that Bible study, I wanted to run. I did not know what I was feeling, so I told her I had to go.
She said that was fine, and requested to pray with me. I was thinking, "Anything to get out of here!" So we sat across from one another, and she began to pray. She stopped suddenly and let go of my hands. Then she said, "In the name of Jesus, I command you to manifest!" My body went out of control. I have never been so scared in my life. All the bad nightmares. All the things I couldn't explain. I screamed at her, "It's not me!" I cried as my body shook and convulsed. I could think thoughts, but no longer use my mouth. I started screaming in my head for Jesus to come save me. Things were coming out of my mouth that I would never say. Then I passed out.
Don't know for how long. Woke up, and there they were, smiling. They gave me that Bible study, and even though I didn't agree with some things, they had something I didn't. I went to their church, got baptized in Jesus' name, and when I came up out of the water a heat hit me from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. Best day of my life. End of the nightmare, and the beginning to a new dream. I got the Holy Ghost! Everything great so far.
Then after some time in the church, I began to hear of 'the standards' and such. Thought it must be right, because God used them (The UPC) in His freeing me. I did question. Didn't get many answers.
That woman's name is Laura. She is wonderful, and she told me in confidence that 'the standards' are NOT a part of salvation, and that they weren't a Heaven or hell issue. Thing is, that's not what most of them think! Laura is different. She's something else! Laura is my spiritual mom, so to speak. She's always been there for me, and I really ask the hard questions.
There was so much trash in my mind after all the years of abuse that my Pastor felt as if it would be best if he counseled me. He felt that Jesus was prompting him to do this. I was thrilled to be getting the extra help.
I disclosed everything to this man. He was kind and courteous. Full of wisdom. He taught a class or two at the Bible College, but would fly back into town to meet with me. There was always someone else present, which I feel is wisdom. He really took the time. Thing is, all the things I told him really left me wide open. He demanded certain changes, or I would be asked to leave the church. That scared me to death! I really freaked out, and ended up backsliding.
I went back, and when the pressure was applied again, I backslid again. I have personally seen 29 people get the Holy Ghost, that I brought in. They were told to stay away from me. And, they did. This infuriated me. It was very hurtful. Nobody came near me. Nobody.
I felt like I was back where I started. I stayed out for a couple of years. Wanted to go back. Called my pastor. He said he would have to fast about it, and he would get back to me. He didn't. One evening I just showed up at service. I'll never forget the look on his face when I walked in. He called me the next day, and told me he would like to have a meeting. So, we did.
At the meeting he told me that he had really worked with me and done all he could. BUT, he would let me back in if I walked the straight and narrow. No more questioning. No more excuses. Said that soon he would walk up to me, and ask if I had done this and that. If I hadn't, I would be gone. Forever. Had to go to classes. Membership class, etc. At this class he teaches, he told the class that the church isn't a democracy, it's a dictatorship. Yes, he really said that. I have the worksheets he gave us. It's on there, too. See, the Word will judge us, so we have to line up with it. Thing is, just when I thought I was making some head way, I'd learn something else I was doing wrong. There's no end to it. You can take the 'standards' and go forever. Where's the line? Nobody can be that perfect.
Holiness comes from within. But being so afraid to rock the boat, I said nothing. When you do ask questions, they become defensive. Even when you are sincere. They don't have too many answers, so they just tell you that you're being rebellious. Having been brow beaten most of my life, I really thought they had me pegged. I was bad. My pastor saw through me. Can't even go to Laura with this. She would consider my questioning the pastor, a heresy. There is just so much more to this story.
Not sure what to do. I believe in Jesus' name. I'm still oneness. I just don't see Bible for all the other stuff. That leaves me right in the middle of nowhere. Yesterday, I prayed and sobbed before God. Asking Him to help me. Am I just rebellious? Am I bad? Will I never measure up? The church would say that satan lead me to your web site. That my rebellious spirit sought out other like spirits. My head is a mess. But I say, I was sincere in my cry to Jesus. I believe He led me to your site. Not sure what to do now. Praying this is right. Determined to live for Jesus. Just not sure where.
Posted March 16, 2002
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August 23, 1997
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