Tag Archives: Leaving a Cult

Understanding the Word of Faith Fellowship Response to Recent Reports of “Slavery”

The text message telling me about the Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) press release from July 30, 2017 ended with “smh.” This is a new abbreviation for me, it left me wondering. I searched and found it means “scratching my head.” After I quit laughing about my temporary confusion, I pondered the answer to the obvious question- Why and how would Joshua Farmer and Jane Whaley consider their press release appropriate?

This post is my answer. First, the text of the release – source: www.wordoffaithfellowship.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Word of Faith Fellowship Responds to AP reports regarding “enslaved” members

Spindale, North Carolina – July 30, 2017 — We are appalled to learn of the allegations published by the Associated Press regarding foreign members of our church being “enslaved”. Many of these allegations are obviously preposterous on their face and they are all false. It is ludicrous that people now claim they were in an abusive environment at our church but admit that they traveled from Brazil to the United States many different times, returning repeatedly to their place of alleged enslavement. Clearly, there is a group of people determined to stop at nothing in their campaign to destroy our ministry. We are confident that the truth will ultimately prevail and we remain hopeful that the public will see through these fabrications and see them for what they are.

Next, the release includes a quotation of II Timothy 3:1-5 (Amplified Bible). The release is closed with acknowledgment of Sam and Jane Whaley and Attorney Joshua Farmer- Farmer and Morris Law (828) 286-3866.

The standard WOFF strategy is followed here by saying “Many of these allegations are obviously preposterous on their face and they are all false.” This is standard WOFF practice to deny accounts of wrong doing by calling the testimony of survivors of their group- lies and false.
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AP: US church goes to Brazil; instills fear, splits families

In light of the most recent Associated Press release- “US church goes to Brazil; instills fear, splits families – I believe it is appropriate to repost this review titled: “More Thoughts on WOFF and Brazil” from August of 2010. (click “back” button to return here)

The lead paragraph from this article:

SAO JOAQUIM DE BICAS, BRAZIL (AP) — At the Word of Faith Fellowship churches in the Brazilian cities of Sao Joaquim de Bicas and Franco da Rocha, the signs of broken families are everywhere: parents separated from their children, siblings who no longer speak, grandparents who wonder if they will ever know their grandchildren.

This AP release goes on to chronicle the process of WOFF taking the practice of destroying families from North Carolina to Brazil. The Brazilian churches have become a sad reflection of WOFF NC. Jane Whaley’s ministry of destruction and pain has indeed transferred its dark stain seen and felt in America to Brazil.

Read the post below and note the heartache and angst. The WOFF-effect on families is real. It is indeed an international travesty.

On a personal note, my daughter is expecting or has already delivered her child this month. I am one who wonders if I will ever know my grandson…

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Jane Whaley and her crew from Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) have been making trips to Brazil for many years. The first time I knew about the trips was in 1992. At that time, I heard about previous trips in previous years made by members of the Greenville church traveling with WOFF members to Brazil for seminars. There was always a certain mystique associated with the trips and the privilege of going to help the Brazilian church members. During the early years, those who did not go to Brazil would hear about shopping trips to rock shops and eating at Brazilian restaurants.  The seminars would also include many deliverance sessions and teachings about WOFF ways and WOFF life. Many of the teachings were about “hearing God” as Jane or certain others would speak, with Jane’s approval. For sure, the church members in Brazil would emulate WOFF members and end up copying many of the WOFF ways and in order to live in WOFFness.

   Since my time at WOFF ended in July of 2008, I have heard several accounts of WOFF doings that as a member inside of WOFF, we just did not learn about. Why would that be? A few months ago, someone began to let me know about things happening in Brazil. At first, I was shocked. But, as I considered what I knew has/had happened in America over the whole WOFF saga, it all began to make sense. What I will share here is from a translated email sent to me from Brazil. The names of the church members affected are not the key part of this story. The key thing about the scenario of events is to note the strange and sad similarity to previous events here in North Carolina and/or in other states caught in the WOFF-web.

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AP: Brazilians funneled as “slaves” by US church, ex-members say

For years, the smoke and mirrors used by Jane Whaley and her leadership at Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) has created an aura of deception, filled with misstatements and euphemistic renaming of their practices. Screaming is called prayer, verbal and physical abuse is called “love.” Private sexual relations between and husband and wife are not private, but are regulated by church leadership to “keep out the unclean.” Members are prohibited from free access to news sources including radio, television, newspapers and computers because they are “not able to hear God and stand against the devil.” Unpaid forced and coerced labor is called “volunteer work.” These highly restrictive church practices equate to “walking in God’s ways with God’s people.”

Now the individuals damaged from the years of chicanery are speaking out. The latest installment of the Associated Press’ ongoing in-depth investigation has been released. The long needed reporting of the secretive church practices is clearing the smoke of confusion and angst which hangs thick over Old Flynn Road. There, the church compound serves as the hub of the WOFF-kingdom in the sad ongoing saga of abuses revealed by the AP. The aim is not only for the souls of the members, but this report reveals the aim is to capture “slaves,” laborers- mostly unpaid to work at the church or school or for businesses owned by church leaders, as well as in their homes.

The AP report: This link has the full text, pictures and video. (click icons bottom right of image)

“When Andre Oliveira answered the call to leave his Word of Faith Fellowship congregation in Brazil to move to the mother church in North Carolina at the age of 18, his passport and money were confiscated by church leaders – for safekeeping, he said he was told.
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Who is rubbing her feet now?

Is it true? A good foot rub takes the stress away from aching feet. Surely it does. Consider this from two survivors of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) talking about their experience rubbing Jane Whaley’s feet.

A few years ago, a survivor told me in casual conversation that they rubbed Jane Whaley’s feet at her beck and call. I just listened and asked few questions. Looking back, I should have asked better questions. This individual did not present their participation in rubbing Jane’s feet as voluntary. Like many things inside WOFF, this was “ministry.” Who cares if you want to or that is late at night and you are tired? This person gave me the idea they just did it because they had to. It did not seem truly voluntary.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago and I am talking to another survivor. Out of the blue, they tell me they were also commissioned to rub Jane’s feet. At any time, they were subject to a call for foot ministry. To the point, they had blisters on their hands. Yikes! I also detected a forced submission – no genuine willingness- just duty.

The names of these two survivors is not important or my focus. My point is the attitude in common with both- each not knowing the other had told me their foot ministry story. There was no pre-planned coordination. Knowing that part of the scene brings more clarity for me. The glaring common trait in both cases was the feigned forced affection to give the illusion of willingness to perform the task. If this task was glamorized as “ministry,” then what else inside WOFF is classified as ministry? What other “labors” are classified as ministry and require an appearance of submission, all the while the member is churning inside?
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MISTRIAL: The wounds are still open…

Superior Court in Rutherford County

Tuesday morning began with a buzz of expectancy. Conversations were filled with exchanges of opinions and speculations about what the next few hours held. Could this be the day that Brooke Covington of the Word of Faith fellowship (WOFF) is convicted of simple assault and/or second-degree kidnapping? Or will the huge grin from last week return to her face as she is found not guilty on both counts?

Will Matthew Fenner return to his life in college with some satisfaction knowing the legal system in North Carolina has meted out justice in response to the five indictments surrounding the events of January 27, 2013 occurring inside the sanctuary of WOFF? Brooke Covington is the first trial as four others; Sarah Anderson, Justin Covington, Robert Lewis Walker, Jr. and Adam Bartley were also charged and await their fate. Who could have predicted the events that would unfold?

The jury assembled at 9:00AM and returned to deliberations shortly thereafter. When I entered to courtroom, the atmosphere was different from days previous. The witness sequestration was over and more people were in the room including media, supporters of Matthew and a crowd from WOFF. The number of media representatives was larger than days past. I took a seat and began speaking with an investigative reporter from another city.

Soon, I learned of an incident from earlier in the morning. A young man had made some negative comments to a jury member in the hallway, and after the bailiff consulted with the Judge, the man was arrested. The man was to be charged with harassment of a juror and Judge Gavenus had requested the young man appear before him for arraignment and bond. This was only a foretaste of things to come.
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Brooke the Bounty Hunter?

Rose in Low Light
Rose of the Day

Have you heard the saying, “Old habits die hard”? Friday afternoon we saw evidence of that very thing. At the end of Danielle Cordes’ testimony on re-cross, Attorney David Teddy appeared to be done with his questions. Before he acknowledged his ending to the court; he turned to Brooke to check to see if she had any further questions. After all, if he had missed some elusive jewel of knowledge which may help his client, he did not want to waste the moment.

The questions offered by Brooke appeared as simple questions to the unlearned. What was the most important thing on Brooke’s mind during a trial in which the verdict could alter her future in ways unknown? What was most pressing to take up court time during a day when the secrets of what happens behind the lily white doors had been revealed during sworn testimony? What was at the forefront of her cortex?

The questions she passed to Teddy were about Danielle’s brother, Steven. Do you know where your brother Steven lives? Danielle answered, “No, Sir.” Have you talked to your brother other than when he left a few weeks ago? “No, Sir”, she answered again.

Knowing the backstory reveals possible motive for Brooke to ask “bounty hunter” questions. Danielle’s younger brother, Steven, did leave Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) a few weeks ago. Then he returned. Turns out, he was in a WOFF-relationship with a young lady church member whose father has been head of the not so friendly security team. Let’s just say his performance on that team has been “electrifying.”

Friday afternoon, Steven was “in his place” at WOFF. However, there must have been some doubts in Brooke’s mind. Being a practiced retriever of members who try to escape, the questions she had Teddy ask Danielle were assessing potential exit routes should Steven and his lady friend make a break for freedom. Right she was.
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Fenner Case Update- Three Witnesses Testify for the State

At the close of Friday’s session, Judge Gary Gavenus announced with a smile that the jury was excused for the weekend recess. After two full days of witness testimony on behalf of the prosecution in the Matthew Fenner case, he ended with the often repeated precautions for the jury to not expose themselves to outside sources of information including news media, Internet or social media. He added they were not to talk to each other, family or anyone else about the case in any manner. His instructions were firm, but laced with an underlying tone of respect and consideration for the fourteen individuals who answered the call for this jury session.

This has been a full week as several Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) members, former church members, press correspondents and supporters endured two full days to select the needed jurors. After the last alternate juror was selected and the Judge gave the jury instructions; Matthew Fenner was the first witness called for the State on Thursday. He testified the rest of the day. As a result of each potential witness being sequestered (not present in the courtroom during any testimony of other witnesses), the gallery was less full than in the previous two days.

In an attempt to time my arrival, I missed the first part of Matthew’s testimony which included his description of the events of January 27, 2013. I was told by one who heard it; they believed it was emotional and impactful. I have not doubt. The part of Matthew’s testimony outlining the events leading up to his escape is where my notes start.
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