I launched my book Cult Survivor on Amazon Kindle in March 2021!
It started many years ago when someone close to me was told they could not be a deacon in the church if they stayed on medication for depression. They ended up leaving the church due to a total lack of understanding of mental health issues. Ironically today an elder’s wife and another elder on that same team are now getting master’s degrees and doctorates in mental health in order to help people. I think this is wonderful but too little too late for many many people under their care!
It makes you begin to question what else these mere mortal men have got wrong. when we are encouraged to blindly trust their autocratic leadership.
I left the church because of the repeated patterns of behavior that I saw and did not agree with. Many issues I tried to overcome and deal with over the years but was offered no apologies.
Simple things that could have been resolved
The first incident came when my 15-year-old Asperger’s son was working for a man from Church. There was a situation of miscommunication where my son didn’t come to work one Saturday due to him having one of his Aspergers-related meltdowns. I tried speaking to the man but got derailed (mostly because I am a woman). I prefer texting because I communicate better via text. I said he was showing discrimination against my son for having special needs, only for him to blatantly say that maybe he shouldn’t hire people with special needs. Then I tried my best to go about this as biblically as I could. We could not come to a resolution and as Mathew 18 suggests I asked for elders to intervene as mediators to which I was told by the elders NO!
It horrified my husband and I, and we met with 2 of the elders and we came to agree to disagree. My husband said they must take care of the new furniture, not only the old furniture. Meaning. This other man had been in the church longer, probably tithed more, and therefore, was protected by the powers that be. This man is also connected by family to a prominent man in leadership. Yet after this, we said we would let it go, and we did. But it came back to haunt us when this undealt issue reared its ugly head and this man attempted to sue me when I, a woman, dared to actually defend myself against his verbal abuse. His narcissistic ego could not handle the truthful comments I made and he retaliated in anger. It was messy but I had a good council. Not one of the church elders stepped in to offer help or support even then. Disgusting.
But many more such incidences occurred. Those with money are favoured over those who have none. We became deacons, and I thought that maybe now we could make some changes and help them see the error of their ways but no! All being a deacon in this church means is you get put on a WhatsApp group and told what to do by the ‘admin’. There is no real dialogue or conversation. To be a deacon is to serve the church by using their gifts, not being told what to do! See the difference?
Another thing that irritated me was we led a life group, but it had to be controlled. They handed us down material to use and encouraged us to not stray from the guided material. We had to regurgitate second-hand revelation. This is not what I signed up for. There is no room for God or the Holy Spirit. It also says the life group leaders cannot even hear God for themselves! That’s no good in my opinion! Then should they even be leaders?
Church Leaders that don’t hear God
Another incident occurred at a Deacon’s meeting. I home-school my children; I have for almost 15 years now! Successfully, I might add! When saying to a particular elder I had a strenuous day with the children, his response was. “Maybe you should put them in school” This was not only rude but completely insensitive. It revealed to me their hearts, that they are not FOR me, they are not hearing God but just pushing their selfish agenda! He didn’t know my background story of how I did not want to homeschool and how God spoke to me so clearly about it. It was not only rude and insensitive but showed He was speaking from his man-made perspective and not From God.
There are many things to list and mention. I think it is frustrating having a prophetic voice and gift and having man-made ceilings put on me and no room for God to move was the worst thing I felt. When there are preaches about “the method of hearing God” That is where I bow out! There ain’t no method, dude! This was bad theology in my eyes. That is the problem, we think we can fit God in our understanding and methods and ways, but his ways are higher! No, I couldn’t take it anymore!
No pastoral care
The final straw came more recently when my husband lost his job. We didn’t tell the elders at first because honestly; we have never truly felt their support. We know how to God directly and have other friends we are accountable to, anyway. Then some wonderful friends encouraged us to so they could cover us in prayer and thinking this a good idea, my husband phoned one elder.
After Covid 19
One of the elder’s wives who has never messaged me a day in her life sent me a generic message asking to contribute to food parcels they were putting together for people in the church. At this point, I realised that all the elders did not know our particular situation and were NOT praying for us. I replied to her, “I have R2 in the bank, where would you like me to send it?…”
This was 100%true at the time because I had just put together food parcels for someone, I had to pay my mom’s money for Tafta and I had paid my domestic worker so that she would be OK during the lockdown. I truly believe we need to give from a place of nothing. So I was not mad because she asked me to give, I was mad because she had no clue about our situation and showed no sensitivity to it.
I was mad because yet again it revealed that AGENDA I keep talking about. It may look like helping the poor but it is hiding the selfish ambition of wanting to look good! Where is the Holy Spirit? Where is the spirit of wisdom and discernment? Nothing!
They turned my special needs son away
Then my son wanted to join their internship program as his brother had done before him and they turned him away because I had a voice now. I was too outspoken as a woman for their liking and so they penalized my son for it. The Church attempted to use my son to manipulate me. Read that again! This is what I was dealing with every day.
No Dialogue or communication
Look I know this seems small but you must remember it had been 5 years of these types of things and me just keeping quiet each time! So This was the straw that broke the camel’s back and I just decided I cannot do this anymore! To make matters worse, no one ever called to apologise for anything. The next day I received food parcels and a voucher as if that was the solution. Still no dialogue or communication. Just a lot of gossip and assumption! The assumption I was in the wrong and they are all perfectly justified on their thrones!
What happens after 20 years of silence
I am a writer so I vented on social media as respectfully as I could and even had 3 other pastor friends reach out to me with compassion and understanding and apologise that this happened to me. I posted one thing that got their attention and It broke the silence. Not to see if we were OK, No! But a call was made to my husband, in an effort to silence me. Well, no more silence! Maybe if they were more concerned with their sheep than themselves and how they look there could be some kind of reconciliation but no, none of that!
Now, hear me! I did not leave because I am offended. I left because there were serious deep-rooted issues that I could no longer be a part of.
7 reasons I left the church
- The patriarchal institution Where women are non-entities. Where your own pastor refuses to phone and speak to you just because you are a woman! Jesus didn’t even do that. He spoke to women all the time.
- Manipulation and thought control. Trying to control the church through behaviour modification instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to work
- Man-led meetings instead of Holy Spirit-led meetings. Churches are so afraid of the counterfeit supernatural that they block anything the Holy Spirit is doing.
- Favouritism- Not because I felt left out but because there are many people in the church with gifts that God wants to use that are being overlooked. They overlook God. The same people are used to serving every Sunday to the point of burnout.
- Fake appearance vs Real authenticity. There are those who have whole other personalities when at church than in the workplace. They hide who they really are. They shouldn’t have to. They should feel free to be who they are.
- Self Righteous Piety. Too many people in the church just think they are better than everyone else and they are not, they just sin differently.
- Gossip and Lies- Now they want to make sense of why I left so the story is I’m a backslider, a rebellious woman who goes out partying! All versions of half-truths! Yes, I do go to many events because of my work but I am still a believer and I walk closely with God daily! I am just real about it. I don’t hide my dark days.
To this day I have had no apologies for any of this behaviour. Not even one phone call! When they stood by the man who was sending me lawyers’ letters. For using my son the way they did. Or for not seeing me as a person because I am a woman.
I still believe in the church
In me is a slither of hope the church can be all God intends her to be but for now, it’s not something I can be a part of. Ultimately, we are the Church and I have surrounded myself with people who love to worship God and I still share my God stories with anyone who will listen. I write this letter, not to be a ‘difficult emotional woman’ but just an honest one! I write this letter in the hopes to bring understanding and bring change.
I share this story with you to be heard. To share my side that I never got to tell. I share my story because I know others have gone through similar experiences. I share my story so that hopefully my pain can be someone else’s freedom. I share my story to break small-minded thinking. I have still had NO contact in the 18 months that I left. (Only proving my point all the more) I am invisible to the Church and you know what it is fine. I am NOT invisible to God. He sees me. I have left and I am not going back there ever again! They refused to listen. So I dust my feet.
There have been a couple of pastors from other churches who have reached out to me apologising on behalf of these crappy ones I had. I so appreciated that. It has been a long, lonely and painful journey. I have had a few discussions with them and they seem more open to seeing change and growth in their churches which gives me hope.