This is the third post in the series which explains the events and thoughts during the events which proceeded my leaving the Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). The previous post outlined a meeting held on church property in which several minsters tried to “help” me see the error of my ways. Jane Whaley’s “adopted” daughter presented several intense arguments that were warnings of my decadent, sinful condition. Once there appeared to be no progress, Jane Whaley was called in to deliver the “strong rebuke”. She screamed as she pointed her finger in my face- “You are full of wickedness and sin!”. Next, she screamed at the person next to me and told them- “And you let him be so!” Jane left and on cue, this person begins commanding me to give up my sin. This meeting had a profound affect on me. The shocker was the leadership in the meeting considered this a normal course of events. How do I know? Because they all supported each other and raised the bar of attempted behavior modification – together. I was evidently not the first person subject to such measures and I suspect not the last. These meetings were the WOFF modus operandi. Why should I think any different? Are there any former members who also went through such a meeting?
Regardless, at the end of the meeting, I was fired for not giving up my part-time work. (and not bowing to the group control efforts.) Incidently, at that time, I was in the middle of a three year contract with a website provider. My part-time work included support of this site. Buying out of the contract, would not have been feasible. In a few days after this meeting, I had found another contract for work and started working and providing for my family. But, in the days and weeks that followed; the attempts to modify my behavior would only intensify. Much of the efforts used are not appropriate to recount in this public forum. In the future, this consideration may change.
A side note, in the days after the meeting on April 9th, there was a scheduled meeting at the community college where the Holocaust teacher from the church, taught and still teaches. A Holocaust survivor was coming to give their testimony. It was directly related to the class I had taken over the Internet from that community college. I had completed the class but, after a fellow in leadership and the Holocaust teacher conferred; I was banned from the meeting. Yes, I was banned from a meeting where the featured speaker was a Holocaust survivor! Think of the deep irony in that scenario! The Holocaust teacher was a direct influence on that decision. Is that crazy or what? The lady who studied the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich- banned one of her students, who passed the class with a high grade, from a class meeting- why? Does this mean she mixed her classroom responsibilities with her perceived role at the church, and chose the administration of church doctrine or practice, over the student’s interests? Are there any readers from the community college- yet?
During April and May, there was much time spent in the “discipleship room”, For most services, I was not allowed to enter the main sanctuary. May 6, 2008 was a Tuesday. That is my best memory of when these next two thoughts came to me. The two thoughts were these: “This church (WOFF) is open to being called a cult because the members fear Jane Whaley more than God.” And – Look up “shepherding movement” on the Internet. The reason this stuck out to me was that I knew, I would have to keep these thoughts to myself until after the high school graduation on June 1, 2008. Otherwise, these thoughts would get me kicked out of WOFF and I would be banned from the graduation. In some ways, the weeks between May 6th and June 1st were some of the longest. The shunning from others was stunning! It took a toll on me to be treated in such a way. The treatment from WOFF members would not improve in any way shape or form, over the next few weeks.
The first statement could not be disputed in my mind. I had seen too much and witnessed too many folks cower to Jane Whaley. The next thought meant research. So, I searched the term and as I read, I discovered that in the shepherding movement, many of the same control measures were used as were being used at WOFF. (only WOFF is much worse in detailed comparison) This is a quote from Wikipedia- “The (shepherding) movement gained a reputation for controlling and abusive behaviour, with a great deal of emphasis placed upon the importance of obedience to one’s own shepherd. “ You can read the full article here- http://tiny.cc/jqena I had known a little about the movement – but not the details. Several folks were hurt coming out of that group. Does that sound familiar? This site also helped – http://tiny.cc/2zuxi Even after reading this and pondering these thoughts; it was VERY difficult to considering leaving WOFF and the ones in WOFF.
My best memory places this next event on June 6th. I called one of the people in leadership. The person that I had this conversation, claims it was another day and that we talked in person. But, the content of the conversation is not in dispute. I told this person my two thoughts. Right after I mentioned the first one – she said “Well, yea”. Then she backstroked and told me that “was not right”. It was the second one and the admission of Internet research, that got her attention. I am not sure she knew what the “shepherding movement” had been. I gave here a brief overview. Soon she ended the conversation. I knew she was calling Jane Whaley. Within two hours, she called me back. She began by saying she had talked to Jane about our conversation. Jane says- “You are out of the church”. You are not allowed in the services or the building. She said a few other things and we ended the conversation.
That night, I went walking at the church after telling my wife of my new status. The next day, I got another telphone call from this person saying I was not allowed to go walking or even be on church property. At this point, I knew things had gone to a whole different level. I was not even allowed to call in and listen to the services over the telephone. That meant I was to stay home and read my Bible during service times. A certain person would then ask me what I read and “What had God said?” “Are you allowing God to get to your heart?” “Have you found a place of repentance?” This scene last a few services and then I would just leave the house and go to my office in Marion, NC and hang out. These next few weeks were some of the strangest weeks of my life. I will share about them in another post or forum.
Finally, on July 10, 2008, I moved out of the house where I was living and moved to Marion, NC. Those were some strange times. I was struggling with the burdenous belief that since I left – I was “going to hell” and “had left God”. These struggles were compounded with the absolute lack of any regular communication with anyone at WOFF. There were some long term relationships there that immediately went to zero communication.
Two other thoughts helped me during this time. First- “the Pope could not ex-communicate me.” Why? Because I was not a Catholic. So, Jane Whaley could not direct my life any more, since I was not a member of WOFF any longer. Next, I was a man seeking God’s will before I had even heard of WOFF. Now, I am still a man seeking God’s will – post WOFF, shall we say. Nothing said or done by WOFF members or no one from WOFF; can take from me the desire to seek and know God. That is something no man can take from me. Any one had the same or similar struggles?
Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. It could very well save their life. There are readers at WOFF. Comments are invited from all readers, including present or former members. Polls are not scientific and no private information is gathered.