This page is dedicated to an open forum of personal experiences with TBS/GGWO -- the good and the bad, the rights and the wrongs, the humorous and the serious, the ups and the downs. We encourage both current members and former members to submit personal stories.
Here are some ideas to get you started: What drew you to TBS/GGWO in the first place? (Yes, God...but what were some other compelling factors?) What has motivated you to either leave or stay at GGWO? What wisdom lessons have you learned by leaving or by staying? What would you say to, let's say, a newspaper reporter or a potential future member of GGWO asking questions like this? By the way, you can also add your view of this entire web site.
As we all have seen by the various articles, open forums and personal stories over the years, personal experiences with TBS/GGWO tend to have a polarizing effect upon most anyone asked for an opinion -- one way or the other. We are asking for this forum to provide more light than heat; more reason than emotion.
Please understand that a specific posting may not actually be "fair and balanced". The overall genuine intent of this page (and the entire site) is to provide a forum for all views to be expressed. The casual reader will read it all and then can make up his or her own mind. To keep it simple, we will be publishing everything as an anonymous post.
A few simple ground rules:
1. Please keep it as short and as to-the-point as possible.
2. Please keep it clean and free from personal attacks. Do unto others as...
3. As you are writing, imagine yourself sitting across the table from someone holding an opposite view, trying to
share your story in such a manner that you may compel him or her to rethink his or her position.
4. Your post may be read by future potential members of GGWO who are trying to understand what is going on.
5. May none of us forget that eternity is a blink away. Could it be that some things matter more than others?
You will be surprised by our honest, fair and balanced approach to posting what is emailed for this page. We guarantee that anyone (from either perspective) will be published on this page. Will both sides be fairly represented? Good question. That will be determined by how both sides choose to respond to this "Open Forum". For instance, if only ex-members of TBS/GGWO choose to participate here, this page may be viewed with suspicion by some as a hit job -- an anti-GGWO site. If only GGWO members choose to post to this forum, this page may be viewed with suspicion by some as a subtle vehicle used by TBS/GGWO leadership to enhance their image. Choose you this day how fair and balanced this page will be...
Get a warm cup of coffee, sit down, take a deep breath and write. We will publish each post in the order it has been received. Let the postings begin:
When I was younger, one of my parents would drop me off at the church a few blocks away for Sunday School just about every Sunday and then would pick me up after it was over. They came to church only when our Sunday School class sang at the Easter or Christmas service or some other event.
I stopped going to church around 12 years of age. I started getting around with the wrong crowd. I started drinking and getting involved in things associated with that. Before long Jesus, the Bible and church were nothing but a distant memory. I got married in my early 20s. When our first child was born, it was a wake-up call for me. I still didn't act upon it.
A couple of years later, a man on my job invited us to a Bible Speaks church, where I heard the Word taught like I had never heard it taught before. That's when I got saved. My whole life turned around. I began to study the Word and I had a love for other people like never before. I got involved and ultimately went to Bible School.
I am still a member of Greater Grace. I have had my ups and my downs. I have known and respected Pastor Stevens and the other pastors and leaders at Greater Grace for years. I have read much of what is communicated on this web site. I am not a blind follower. I am not blind to the challenges that exist in this church or any church, anywhere in the world. There is no perfect ministry.
My heart breaks for all of the people who seem to be driven by bitterness to try to tear down a ministry that is winning souls and loves people unconditionally. The writer of Hebrews states that a root of bitterness can spring up in a person and end up defiling many people. That's my concern for the "anonymous" people who have created this web site and those who seem to be energized to destroy.
It's easy to say negative things about others when hiding behind the mask of anonymity. I am wondering what is accomplished by tearing down. Who has the time to dedicate to seeking to destroy? Why not focus time on more positive things? Why not build up the Kingdom of God in your own area?
Real POSITIVE stuff about TBS/GGWO and some OBJECTIVE insight for GGWOers. How to become a member of Greater Grace World Outreach (GGWO, formerly The Bible Speaks -- TBS). Here are the details how it works:
My background was in a dead religious denomination -- that's where I grew up. Then just after my teen years I met a born-again Christian who shared the Gospel with me and by the Grace of God I accepted Jesus Christ as my pesonal Savior who paid the debt that I couldn't pay. But that Christian church in which I got saved as a young adult was very legalistic with an emphasis on baptism and so on.
Then I met TBS missionaries who were much more relaxed and actually gracious, loving and kind, especially to new people. The TBS missionaries seemed genuine without the religious structures. And that's how you get interested in GGWO and that's how it works: you meet these nice folks who can quote the Bible eloquently and who are interested in the Word of God and so on.
Sure, there was always an emphasis on that great pastor (CHS / Carl H. Stevens) in Lenox who was the founder of that Bible college and so forth. And there was an emphasis that we need to be precise in the Word of God. So the Greek and Aramaic came in handy for the TBS missionaries as they appeared to be experts in the Word. And often the attitude was reflected that yes there are other churches, but they just don't know the Bible as well as "we" (TBS/GGWO) folks do, so talking a little down on others, because TBS had the "Grace" revelation.
Then you start listening to tapes (preached by CHS) and there you get the vision: a fast growing church with missionaries everywhere and apparently eloquent Bible teaching and so on. There's seemingly "life" there and it's apparently great. Then among the "grace" messages you hear these special "motivational" messages against sin when CHS lets it really rip as they say in GGWO. Geeez, and that was "motivating" and powerful, especially if you have a legalistic background, because there you go and your old thought patterns are stimulated. But you had "grace" there and now you can live a holy life -- at least that was imaginary idea.
So, as you listen to the tapes you get "hooked" on CHS as he begins to become the spiritual authority all along as the TBS missionaries applaud you in your new Christian "growth" -- actually in becoming "one with the ministry" and in becoming a "yes" person and in becoming a "true follower of TBS" etc., etc., etc.
Then perhaps you get a chance to visit Lenox back then and perhaps even during the International Convention and there you go and it's such a great time as you're accepted "unconditionally" as the new person that just came into the ministry in the missionfield or in a branch ministry. Let's go and shake Pastor's hand and perhaps let's have lunch with him. And all your human needs of friendship, acceptance and apparently of being loved "unconditionally" are met. Congrats! ... you're in! Of course, seemingly also your spiritual needs are met as they (CHS and all the members at TBS/GGWO) have a lot of Bible knowledge and so on.
As you listen to the tapes and as you meet the new friends, etc. everything seems to go so well and you're apparently "growing" in Christ. Of course, the ministry or lets call it serving God is becoming number one in your life -- and initially that sounds good too. But as this goes on you're manipulated and you're taken advantage of in the sense that you're being drawn into a cult. Everything CHS and the branch pastors say is absolutely true and faltless -- it's the absolute Word of God and it's accurate -- after all CHS and the other pastors are studying the Word of God for hours every day and often for many years.
The image in the mind is created that for a man in GGWO the goal is to become a pastor and for a woman the ultimate place of honor in GGWO is that she becomes a pastor's wife. Now, lets study and perhaps start taking Bible College classes as otherwise there isn't even a chance that a man can ever become a pastor.
And so on it goes. Your original family, like mom and dad and some brothers and sister won't understand that you've become so "religious" and soon they are alienated from you in some way. But you have new "friends" -- often many -- in GGWO, so that's a nice substitute. And the little legalistic messages, or excuse me they are called "challenges" or "motivational" messages or the "red hot" messages, they keep you in check and the psychological fear is established in your mind. Don't ever leave GGWO as otherwise your leaving may be a sign that you've never ever been genuinely saved. After all, GGWO and CHS are the only precise and true church and pastor/teacher here on earth. Sure, they praise other churches to get broader acceptance and to establish in the mind the general acceptance of all born-again Christians. But at the lunch raps and the different little sessions here and there, you hear the teachings about the differences of that group and this group.
Then when you study the Bible by yourself, especially on the more gracious subjects you notice that there's something wrong with the legalistic little hints and teachings here and there. Then we're not supposed to gossip and question anything, but at the same time other ministries are being criticized for this and that ... it's very subtle, but over time you're a complete Stevenite and you think that GGWO is actually the "best" church in the world and the most active "mission" organization in the world. Why would ever want to go anywhere else? Then suddenly all your friends are in GGWO and mentally it is established that e.g. CHS or some branch pastor is your pastor/teacher and that GGWO is the fulfillment of a New Testament church.
But the "little" legalistic doctrines that have been established in your mind become the mental hooks and the issue of confusion, the back-and-forth of am I now wrong or is Pastor (CHS) wrong. And as you're not as old as CHS and haven't studied the Bible as long as CHS, it must be you who is wrong. But the Bible says this and CHS says something opposite ... how can that be? It just doesn't feel right.
Then you study the Word of God on a subject that bothers you and you discover after much emotional tumult, that the true Grace teaching in the Bible about a particular subject is contrary to what CHS teaches. GGWO doctrines, for instance, puts fear in your hear on the intrepetation of such and such a subject, while the Bible liberates you in this regard. And in John 8:31,32,36 we read that the Truth shall set us free and if the Son will set us free, we're free indeed.
While CHS and GGWO doctrine puts us under a yoke, the Word of God sets us free. The whole GGWO process is very subtle, and perhaps not even intentional on the part of CHS -- I don't know and I don't know his heart -- but nevertheless as sincere as CHS may be, I personally don't want to be sincerely deceived. Why should I live in bondage, when the Word of God by His Grace offers me freedom?
Looking at GGWO from the outside by someone who once was inside for many, many years with GGWO, you can see it very easily that there's a personality cult in GGWO and GGWO is very exclusive and there's twisting of Scriptures with personal interpretation. It also shows that CHS is very insecure as he constantly tries to manipulate and control the minds of people with his undue influence by using his Bible knowledge.
Well, it is obvious that a lot is going on in GGWO as otherwise there wouldn't be masses of people fleeing the "ministry." Over the years, many intelligent people left GGWO starting with P. Joe Swiader and many, many others. And there were always some emotional attachments, which is normal when you spent 5, 10, 20 even 30 years with the same group, and now you're out alone somewhere and everybody from the group looks at you as if you were devil himself -- an enemy, although you didn't even do anything other than just distance yourself a little bit before you leave the GGWO pack completely. Of course, nobody will talk to you anymore and you "lost" all your "friends."
Right now there are thousands of former TBS/GGWO folks out there and they've gone on with their lives. Some are in great true Christian ministries and their Christian experience has never been better -- they are happy and they have healthy marriages and families. Others were so burnt out and went back into the world -- which is the sad part of the story.
Anyway, this contribution was about how every person becomes a GGWO member and how it works psychologically in layman terms -- how someone gets hooked in GGWO and in any cult. There are many other hooks like perhaps a physical healing which came through a prayer by CHS or a financial blessing and so on -- but these are only outward signs. The key is, to you have the peace of God that passes all understanding. Are you enjoying the Abundant Life to its fullest? Is the Christian life easy for you? Is the burden to follow Christ light? Or is there fear in your life -- fear of losing something or fear of whatever? Are there emotional attachments that are above the Word of God? Is the "ministry" more important than your closest relationships with your wife and children?
Then it's time for a reality check!
May God bless you! HE is truly gracious and God loves you more than you can imagine and He really, really cares for each individual so much, especially if you're a child of God. HE wants to bless you! HE wants to set you free indeed! HE wants you to experience the true Grace of God so that you'll soar like an eagle and so that you grow with joy in the Grace and Knowledge of Jesus Christ and so that you experience the Abundant Life every moment of the day in your life here on earth.
A number of people have been with GGWO for 10, 20 and even more years. They considered GGWO their "final" destination for a local church here on earth. In the beginning everything looks so good at GGWO and you feel "home" so to speak -- seemingly a true evangelical Christian Church. No doubt, there are many, many people in GGWO that are very loving, kind and have the same intentions like we had: to study the Word of God to get to know Jesus Christ and to share Him with others and being in a fellowship of like-minded folks -- simply put our desire was genuine Christianity. We appreciated the acceptance, the friendships, the apparent sincere concerns and encouragements, and the hoped-for teaching of the pure Word of God.
Think about how shocking and devastating it was when certain odd things happened and the true colors of GGWO were shown. And as we were indoctrinated to give "Grace" in every situation and to just keep quiet, pray and let God take care of situations, lots of things were never mentioned again, because we obeyed our "leaders" which were CHS (Carl H. Stevens) and other influential pastors. And they used the Word of God to condition our minds to be obedient. And when something happened once that might have been alright and we'll let it go as there's no perfect church -- we give "Grace." Then if something happens twice, alright then, lets give "Grace" again, but if it's an ongoing thing for over 35+ years and it's not hearsay, but fact and absolute reality and it goes on and on and on, then people start to ask questions, and that's exactly what thousands of former GGWO/TBS people have done over the years. Remember, that key GGWO/TBS folks have left GGWO over last few years -- these people were pillars of the church and have been with GGWO for some 20-30 years. It's a gigantic step to leave GGWO after such a very long time.
The ones who left had good reasons to leave and it often takes years to come to the final decision to leave as usually God will provide a way of escape. Meaning, many don't get up and leave GGWO just like that overnight, but they pray and ask God to do something in their lives regarding the issues at hand for many years as they continue to believe the best. And then God comes in and provides the way of escape -- in many cases God is gracious and takes these people out of the "church/ministry" somehow as He answers their prayers.
Many who left GGWO never talk about GGWO in public or even privately -- they've been hurt and so on. They don't want to be reminded of the many painful years at GGWO. And also, at GGWO we all have been conditioned not to talk about things because it has been taught us that no matter if a matter is true or not, you don't tell it to others as supposedly you violate 35 major Bible doctrines and the judgement which should the guilty party should receive, will in turn supposedly fall on you if you tell and even if you utter your concerns. Don't say that these kinds of threats which are established in the mind over many years, and that this kind of fear is not abuse and cultic behavior? If GGWO didn't have anything to hide, then such weird out-of-context doctrines would never be emphasized.
True, the Bible teaches against gossip, maligning, backbiting and so forth, but this is forum is not about that at all, even though some posters do that. But there are hundreds of dear people in GGWO right now who are hurting and who have mixed feelings because they think they themselves are deceived because they have the thought to leave GGWO, because they also see what is going on in GGWO and what it really is. But these folks are still afraid to leave GGWO because then they may step out of the geographical will of God or out of the perfect will of God, and perhaps their salvation years ago may have not been genuine after all if they leave the "ministry", and of course they supposedly will lose all rewards throughout the many years they've been with GGWO.
THESE ARE THE FEAR-FILLED AND FALSE DOCTRINES OF GGWO, which by these doctrines alone identifies GGWO as a cult. Because there's mind control in a very subtle way. Many probably don't know much of the details of what goes on behind the scenes in GGWO, because the average GGWOer is never there when there are "special" discussions and "certain" arrangements made. I was there at many such "meetings" and I know for a fact how it works. And whatever CHS says is final and it is "applauded" and "agreed" to by the Yes-crowd who are mesmerized by their leader as he supposedly has all the ultimate truth and as he is supposedly "anointed" regarding everything he says and does.
And there are many, many issues that haven't even been discussed on this or any other forum, which would shock you right out of your infatuation with GGWO. Many critics of this web site display the obvious signs of being a GGWO mind-control victim. Children have been abused and when it was brought to the attention of P. Baker (principal of GGCA) he just laughed his head off and said the typical GGWO statement that he could do nothing right now, but we'll be praying about it, and give Grace and let God take care of it. And the same happened when it came to money issues in GGWO -- people never got their money back and I'm not talking about a few hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars in the various cases although these disputed amounts are more frequent, but we've seen where the issue were tens of thousands of dollars and even hundreds of thousands of dollars, and then you had the $7 million in Lenox in 1987 (there's an official court documentation about that whole case and there's extensive evidence). CHS was accused and found guilty of undue influence. There are also many issues in GGWO we will never hear about, because of the hush-hush policy and the typical secrecy about this and that which creates mistrust.
If, for instance, somebody in the leadership had a one-night stand and repented of it and it was an isolated case, nobody should bring it up again and it's completely forgotten. But if someone had an ongoing affair and the particulars of Paul Stevens' affair are very disturbing to say the least, and even if he repented, for a while this "pastor" needs to take a break and get some issues cleared up with God, and not take the next plane to the next conference and preach the Word of God there. And he shouldn't be on radio and not a pastor for a while just for the purpose of getting some healing and to deal with the issues. Because otherwise he'll be a repeat offender and the whole Lang incident shows the pattern of a potential repeat offender, if he hasn't been washed with the Word of God in that particular problem/sin area. Sexual sins are always devastating and Proverbs tells us that these sins destroy the soul.
But GGWO is filled with cover ups, because of their supposed "Grace" application in daily life. It sounds so good and it's usually perfectly fine if it's a minor case here or there, but if it's repetitive behavior over many, many decades then something isn't working right.
In the Bible we still read about David as he had an affair with Bathsheba and we still read that David arranged the murder of Uriah, and yes we read the David was a man after God's own heart, but we don't hear God say in His Word after He told us about the things which David did: now let's forget about it. Instead it's on record for all eternity as the Word of God will stand forever. So deal with that if you're so excited about not uncovering certain devastating issues. And there are many more instances in the Bible that tell us what so and so did. So why don't you ask God why He didn't keep this and that thing of a biblical character quiet, but shared it with everybody. We of course know, it's to explain His Mercy and Grace and the miracle Grace can perform in a person as a result if we as His people simply receive His Grace as a free gift.
And although there are many beautiful people in GGWO and there's no doubt about it, and there are a number of really honest upright godly Pastors in Greater Grace and its branch ministries, it doesn't change the practice and certain doctrines of GGWO which is absolutely fully-fledged cultic -- the obvious signs of a cult. A true Grace Church based on the prinicples of the Bible does not instill fear in its members, and it will never invade the believer's privacy between that believer and God, but GGWO does. A true Grace Church will build people up as the leadership at such a church shares the pure Word of God. And such a true Grace Church will provide the ability to the believers to grow in the Grace and Knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There will be no threats or fearful doctrines in a true church of God.
Like some stated, they said that CHS most likely started out with sincerity and with the best intentions. But perhaps he jumped into the ministry too early without the proper education and without the proper checks and balances. It can be exciting to start a new little church or work of God and then have a certain measure of success as the crowds came, and then in a desire to keep them coming and bring "fresh" gems from the Word it's very easy to get off track. CHS himself said that in his early years as a preacher he at times went too far to the left and then too far to the right, and it's alright because it's a process of growing.
As you know CHS is extremely paranoid and in his case his paranoia started at a very young age. His dad died when he was only three years old, which is a terrible experience, then when he went to school and even into his early teenage years the Stevens family with the hard-working widow-mom was very, very poor and the other kids laughed at young Carl because of that. Needless to say that CHS went through a lot as a little boy in Maine and he has been scarred, and my heart goes really out to him. And it was such a privilege when he met the Savior and was earnest in studying the Word of God and in sharing it with others. But we also know how psychologically success works and it often cannot be comprehended by the person who is blessed with the early success in life. It's the prosperity test which so many desire and most people fail it. And as a young pastor your church is growing and then you don't want to lose what you have and you work on extending your success and controlling your success or you could call it blessing instead of success if you like, and you try desperately to keep it and to even create more momentum.
The result is that self-preservation is a driving force. There's nothing better than to taste success and receive a load of blessings, but there's also God who wants to draw us closer to Him and in the midst of success we often withdraw and then God does something about it. Anyway, to keep the success going, there's a tendency to begin controlling people and since CHS has had never real training in the Word of God, but only his own studies, although he consulted commentaries, etc., and then he had no real quality checks and balances in the beginning, the wheel of deception just began spinning and over the years you end up with the cultic doctrines that you find today in GGWO and which have been in GGWO/TBS for decades.
Then add a few "fanatics" to it who elevate the person (in this case CHS) like in the case of every celebrity to a pedestal and you got the whole package of cultic behavior. And as people often don't have a genuine identiy in Christ, they fall for a human leader or an organization who/which apparently provides a type of identiy they can take on and relate to, instead of deriving a genuine identity from Christ. Let's not forget that many in GGWO or the former TBS around the late 60s and early 70s came out of the Flower-Power era, the Jesus movement, who were drug addicts, and who were eagerly searching for an identity. Jesus said that, if He (Jesus) be lifted up, He will draw all men unto Him.
Just something to think about and to see things objectively. Nobody should be trashing GGWO or CHS, but instead look at the facts and how things really are.
I happened to land on this site by "accident". Part of it is what CRI report was referring to as lost potential to become REALLY big, (inter)national christian influence. In my spirit I really feel loss of something precious that could have grown larger AND healthier.
Reading the CRI report now for the first time I must say that it rings so true. The superior mentality&seclusiveness, sensitiveness to criticism, confusing exegesis (private interpetation!) on the negative side, great enthusiasm, sincerety and love on the positive side. Also in Finland the GGWO has typically not been much involved with the rest of evangelical community.
I was involved with the Helsinki church from 1977 to about 1995. I had heard about the Martin report but never saw it. Instead I heard some heavy criticism of him. As I read the report now I pondered on the dynamics which Stevens' inability to face and discuss difficult issues (as mentioned by CRI) created downstream in branch ministries. It was manifested at least in my case in that when I raised a doctrinal issue, it was soon interpreted by a leading brother to be conspiracy. Probably also related to this avoidant attitude toward difficult personal issues is the peculiar reluctance in the GGWO (I speak of time 7-8 yrs ago) to accept the need of psychotherapy and many forms of counseling. I'm sure some were badly hurt because they did not have the freedom to seek psychological/psychiatrical help but were just advised to "receive the word" from the pulpet.
I felt I wanted to say something on these pages, perhaps only for the sake of clearing my own impressions on TBS/GGWO. 18yrs in a ministry is a long time, most of it was good for me, some bad. May God bless all who read this, especially those I learned to know in the TBS/GGWO.
P.L, Psychiatrist (Espoo, Finland)
The previous post has clearly identified one of the great tragedies, not only of TBS/GGWO, but also of the Christian Church as a whole. That is, the tremendous difficulty we human beings seem to have respecting the giftedness and dignity of others, especially when these others represent a challenge to our positions of privilege or our carefully protected egos. Why, oh why are we so frightened by those who differ from us? Why do we feel threatened by them, and why do we so often wish their downfall if not their destruction?
I cannot help but believe that it is because we are so fundamentally insecure. Regardless of how loudly we speak about eternal security with respect to salvation, or unconditional love with respect to Godís nature, an unwillingness to accept or at least tolerate those who differ from us betrays a deep insecurity and sense of being unloved. I believe that the stronger and more impregnable we seek to make our theological and ecclesiological fortresses, the more we evidence our own fear and faithlessness.
What exactly is it that we fear when we become inflexibly doctrinaire? Are we afraid of being wrong? Well of course we are going to be wrong sometimes. What is so dreadful about that? Are we afraid that the TRUTH is on the line and will be corrupted? Isnít that just absurd? As if we puny and fallible human beings could somehow corrupt that which is eternal and immutable. (Of course we should seek Truth, but God help us if we think we own it.) Or are we simply afraid that people will notice that we are human and therefore, sinful. How liberating it is to confess my sinfulness! How freeing to acknowledge that I have erred! What joy there is in being corrected! When we deny our humanity, our sinfulness, our errors, do we really think we are fooling anyone?
So much potential has been lost to the church over the ages because those in positions of leadership held the mistaken belief that their leadership would be weakened by a frank acknowledgement of their humanity. As I read my Bible, one characteristic of the great leaders of the faith stands out above others. They were all - to a man (or to a woman) flawed people who did not deny their humanity, but let God use it. As far as I can tell, God asks little more of us than this: to be and revel in being at once sinners and saints. Such a posture may yet allow us to both see and appreciate the value of those around us who are graced by God in ways different than ourselves.
I feel as though I could write a book on The Bible Speaks. I spent two years at the school in Lennox from 1980-82.
I was a Christian before I got there, which helped me to finally see my way out.
Fear was the predominant vibe running through that place. Everyone was afraid of "being deceived." This was actually an entire doctrine built essentially around one verse of scripture. Stevens taught that in the "End Times" people would fall away and be "deceived."
Anyone who left the ministry, for whatever reason, was said to have been deceived and lost. The only way to keep yourself from not being deceived was to always be in line with Pastor Stevens.
Anyone outside our church that claimed to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ was still suspect and not to be really trusted. Other Christian organizations were always somehow inferior to The Bible Speaks
Only our pastor had "the anointing" and therefore the direct link to God. Stevens also taught that he had the apostleship of Paul.
The doctrine of "Spiritual Delegated Authority" was preeminent and everyone was included in a kind of pecking order.
New people were always put in the basement rooms until they could be trusted.
We were encouraged to check every decision through our "spiritual head."
Members of the Bible Speaks believed in always getting confirmation from "the body," which meant other believers. And I'm talking about basic decisions such as going home for the weekend to visit parents. People were encouraged not to trust themselves, but always to confirm through the body.
This was taken to such an extreme that I personally knew more than one person who got married based on "confirmation of the body" to someone they felt no love for. Some were married in a matter of weeks.
Women were encouraged to hang around "team Lennox," hoping to be put together with a husband.
Any of us that expressed a desire to go to an accredited regular four year college, or do anything with our lives other then full time ministry, were mocked for "seeking after worldly goods."
There didn't seem to be a drop of humility in Carl Stevens. He constantly referred to himself as God's man and made reference to his supposed "persecution."
Members of the church were almost always poor. Scraping together tuition, while Stevens would often be whisked away in a black limousine with tined windows after finishing a sermon. At times accompanied by some young woman.
In 1982 "cult watcher" Walter Martin of the Christian Research Institute filed a critical report abut the church that raised some serious questions. Around this time there were also major defections at Lennox. People were disillusioned and fell away, while many others were wounded.
I was very young then and eventually left myself.
The bottom line was that people were taught not to trust themselves and only trust in the chain of authority.
My name is Pastor Tom Mitchell. I went to ggwo for about 7 yrs. Upon.my release from prison, many years ago a group on outreach down on baltimores Block led me to Christ. After my release my daughter was attending a Bible club named Noah's Ark in our neighborhood and when i went to check it out, I found that the people were from GGWO. At the time of my arrival from prison, my wife, was doing about $200.00 a day worth of herion. A lady in the church offered to take my wife in for as long as necessary to help her cold turkey. Well a miracle happened that night, and I don't say this lightly, but for me, I layed on the floor of Central Booking for 9 days throwing up and convulsing and didn't sleep over 5 mins for 42 days. This lady told me that my wife would be supernaturally delivered that night and you know what? She was absolutley right. After 5 hours my wife was delivered and in the noon rap that day after falling asleep for a few hours before she went. When i came home from prison I was asked to give my testimony in front of about 2000 people. After the service many came up to myself and my wife and hugged us and welcomed us, but there was still that crowd that even after years when we would go to sit by them would lock their purse and move to the next row.
Pastor Stevens was always nice to me, called me on a few occasions even as busy of a man that he was. One year my wife and i really wanted to go to Convention but couldn't afford it. Well about 2 hrs before convention started that year we received a call from Pastor's secretary stating that we had two tickets waiting for us to attend convention for free. THey gave us money for our rent that we have yet til today been able to pay. We met many great people a GGWO. I preached down at the Salvation Army for years and was given pretty much free reign, in other words I wasn't micromanaged. I received my liscense to preach in June of 2002, but went to another church that I was called to and received my ordination.
Now let's get down to bussiness. Many of the reports that I have read, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize that whoever is writing these things has been wounded in one way or the other by the ministry. But let me ask you, was that all the fault of the ministry? Come on let's be real, people followed Pastor Stevens around like he was the Messiah. There was so much Pastor worship going on at GGWO it was ridiculous.I never shook Pastors hand to much , but if you wanted to it felt many times as if you were involved in the Running of the Bulls in Pompona Italy.( I believe it is.) I hate to break your bubble , but Pator Stevens was not and is not GOD!
The Bible tells us to clearly test the Spirits and also in 1 Jn 2:27 " you have no need that anyone should insruct you.That's the Holy Spirits job. But you got lazy and took a man at his word and believe me much was true what he said and some was off, but now your mad because you feel deceived, when if you would have been about your bussiness and studied out the things he was teaching you would have found what I have found in almost every ministry in the world and that is, that man is not perfect though you desired perfection from Pastor Stevens. Look when I go to any assembly i have learned to eat the chicken and throw out the bones and that's how it is. And about all these indiscresions at ggwo, get over it, they happen in almost every church. Unless your looking for that church that practices sinless perfection, and from what I heard somewhere, that place is yet to come.Instead of knocking people and kicking them when their down, (if they are) that's God's job to deal with them, not yours, listen to the words in Phil 4:8
Look when I attended ggwo I went looking for the Life of the Lord. I went expecting from God Himself, not a man. And you know what there are some wonderful people there who are actually experiencing that very LIFE. Her i will make a constructive suggestion for GGWO. I beleive that the Body there should be broke down into many, many small home groups, because the Lord really makes Himself availible to those who gather together in His name, where there are 2 or 3, but I'd say no more than 16.Instead of saying things to tear down, lets say something that might help this ministry that has truly helped so many others like myself.
You know the 6 no seventh thing that God hates, someone who sows discord among the brethren. I now live in PA and am looking for a Pastor's job wherever the Lord leads. Instead of fault finding, which is real easy especially for those of you who thrive on it, instead I think I'll be praying for those at GGWO, from Pastor Stevens to the guy who sweeps the parking lot. And if your one of the one's who beleive that you have been really wronged by the ministry, here is a suggestion from a guy i know named Jesus; " pray for those who dispitefully use you" What a concept, pray for GGWO.
What is your personal story?