The Bully Pulpit and Jezebel Spirit of Rogue Independent-Fundamental Baptist Churches
This evil is causing tremendous damage to our Lord’s flock through spiritual abuse and perversion of Scripture to meet the agenda of nefarious leaders. Our desire is to shed light in this dark corner to dispel the evil and help heal wounded souls in fulfillment of Psalm 147:3 as we become the arms of Jesus, loving wounded souls back to Him.
Part One: Our Encounter with Bully Preachers and the Jezebel Spirit
Bully preachers. That seems like it would be an oxymoron to most people, but in today’s world within the confines of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church in America that label is becoming more and more accepted. As the description implies, the IFB is a movement of churches with no overseeing body to hold each church leader accountable. These entities are lead by men, almost exclusively by nature, who are very strong of opinion and most lead their congregations with a strong moral compass. They do not answer to a higher authority, though most do recognize and respect that God IS their higher authority and He will hold them accountable for their actions and lack of action.
Sadly, the lack of a higher governing body can be a recipe for disaster when a leader of nefarious character becomes drunk with his own power and ceases to operate according to Biblical mandate. The lack of oversight from a higher authority such as a strong deacon board, board of elders, or other nonpartisan entity enables a leader with a lack of ethic and/or a narcissistic personality issue to hijack a church for his own gain. These are the men we will focus on for this article, and from which our own family has survived what several professionals in the field of Spiritual Abuse Recovery have called the worst attack they have ever seen in their career.
When we left the Mennonite church a number of years back we knew we would have a difficult time finding where we fit given our conservative standards on several points. However, when we put our preteen child into a Christian school in our small city we thought we had also found our church home. The women professed to modest dress, the music consisted of the old hymns with only a piano accompanist or a couple of “good ol’ boys” occasionally providing a Blue Grass spin with guitar and mandolin. The sermons seemed on target, at least from the start, and we thought we had found our church home.
However over the next 2 years we began to note some problems, but we were so longsuffering from our experience at the Mennonite church that we just let it slide. Once our child moved up to junior high from the 5th grade we also began to see some very concerning issues with the classmates. It was becoming very obvious that these kids were coming from homes that did not observe the same conservative standards on TV and movie exposure as we did, for one thing. We were becoming increasingly concerned as we started having to deal with rubbish coming into our home that we had to help our child understand was indeed rubbish such as swearing, violence, etc. It turned out that at least 3 of the individuals in question were allowed at 11 and 12 years old to watch things I, as an adult would never expose myself to and I certainly would not expose my child to. Still, we chose to just deal with things from our own camp and not make a fuss.
One of the other things we were already picking up on was a very, very strong spirit of Jezebel from several of the staff women who bridged both the church staff and the school. It was very concerning to me to hear these women sitting around tearing everyone up who was not present but then smiling and gushing over them the next time they saw them, then back to cutting them up when they left. The Jezebel spirit was also evident in that these women do not like men who are of strong character and possessing strong, Biblical leadership standards. They also knew exactly how to manipulate the leader and his minions to get exactly what they wanted done accomplished. I watched several times as one of the Jezzie gang leaders would run her mouth in a highly emotionally charged manner approaching hysterical antics to the main leader just to get her way and get rid of someone she was jealous of or insecure around. She was definitely a pro at this skill.
After we were done in such a horrible manner, partially concocted by this Jezzie and her fellow Jezzies we began hearing tell of countless other families that had been done in over a 15-year period. Interestingly, that hyper-case Jezzie herself, and her family, had been done in years before by the same sort of evil. Sadly, she found that the only means to survival was to take up the same wicked behavior and perpetuate it herself. She and the head leader’s own wife are now the 2 most powerful Jezzies of the gang there and the damage they have wrought has shattered many a life and devastated several families.
In the attack on our family it would seem that this Jezzie and her superior Queen Jezzie, along with 6 others with the same lack of Godly character decided they were quite miffed with me for several reasons. One of these reasons was that our family employed several teens from the group to work for us after school in our family-owned business. We had a heart to give kids a start at work getting their foot in the door to learn leadership, planning, and other business skills. As a result of 3 of our adult employees alerting us to issues, we finally had to let go one of the girls because she was repeating inappropriate workplace behavior after having already been warned to stop such behavior earlier in the year. Shortly thereafter, she and her Jezzie mother conspired with the Youth Pastor’s wife, an associate pastor’s young wife, the lead Jezzie, and Queen Jezzie to viciously attack our family. The attack was wicked, dark, and severely devastated our child who looked up to the Youth Pastor like a big brother and whom we had counted he and his wife, brother, and his wife as extended family.
Now add in that over a 10-month period I had been having some serious health issues that began in November 2013. That next April I was taken very ill and hospitalized for pneumonia and congestive heart failure. While I was hospitalized, the lead preacher and his Queen Jezzie came to visit my hubby and I in the hospital. I recalled something very odd from that meeting that I later confirmed I heard right with my husband. This leader was literally bragging about how little he paid the male staffers and how he paid the female staffers less than half of that because they “…are not breadwinners.” My hubby and I were literally stunned. These young staffers whom we had trusted to surround our son with to help him learn qualities of a Godly leader were making about $8,000 under the Federal poverty level, and their wives even less….or so we were told. From that moment we decided we would begin doing whatever we could to help these young leaders because of how much they were investing in our kids. We sincerely felt it was the very least we could do.
To say that the lead Jezzie and a couple of the others in her gang were unnerved by the fact that we were doing whatever we could to help is an understatement. Now add in that as I was having to deal with so many health issues piling up and the stress from not knowing what the root cause was, I was trying to reduce my stress load as much as possible to free up strength to cope with all of the medical problems plus the stress of running a business. I also found myself in the cardiac unit 12 times in 10 months as my cardiologists were trying to deal with the issues at hand. It was nothing for me to black out up to 7-10 times a week at the height of the summer from the cardiac issues.
We had to have a helper to do the driving for me that summer and it worked out nicely when the main leader suggested one of the school staffers who was young and needed work for the summer to make ends meet. We confirmed with he and his parents that driving myself to the deliveries and store inventories as well as any doctor appointments I had was not a problem. Again, this was a young person who was a grown adult, but we still felt the need to be extraordinarily cautious to avoid the appearance of any evil. This young man even said, when we asked what his parents said “….Ma’am, you’re nearly twice my age! We don’t think there’s anything at all to worry about!” Precisely what we thought too, in addition to my lack of strength due to my physical condition and also very obviously my commitment to my marriage of over 30 years and keeping my testimony pure. Sadly, the Jezebels decided to use that for fodder for their wicked ways.
At the same time that all of this was going on, another thing that I had decided to do to help alleviate stress was to talk weekly for a couple months with Queen Jezebel about my challenging youth years growing up. There were a lot of issues that had left me with major trust issues, and I wanted to overcome that so that as we were dealing with the health issues I did not have that impacting my response to the health challenges. This woman was supposed to be a lay-expert in this category due to having written a book about her own experiences as a young person. Working through things with her was incredibly difficult. I was also dealing with feeling very bad because of the health issues and the expense it was causing our family because I am uninsurable. I was very discouraged because I felt that I was dragging our family down. But I trusted her and was fully committed to healing from the past trauma so I could focus on healing physically, but trust was a major issue in my life. This woman very convincingly told me “…you don’t have to worry about anyone here hurting you. We love you and would never do anything to hurt you.”
As it turns out, the Youth Pastor who was so gracious and willing to help our family by keeping our son when I was hospitalized time and again did not tell us the truth that his wife was very displeased with them doing so. She was very jealous of the time our son spent with her husband and she made no bones about our boy seeing her disdain. The saddest thing is that I didn’t see it until long after the dust settled, even though I was picking up on something, but with the health issues and the brain fog that goes with this set of medical problems I couldn’t identify it for what it was. If I had, I would have done very, very differently and not trusted my son in her presence. We should have picked up on it the first 2 times she set up our son and tried to get him in trouble. Thankfully, both of those times God was watching over us and the truth came out.
The end of summer that young woman was fit to be tied with her jealousy. She was close with the young teen girl we had fired the week or so before, as well as with the lead Jezzie and Queen Jezzie. Early in August I had been told by one of the doctors that they knew that I have an underlying medical issue, likely a genetic issue, but they did not know what it was. They did feel though that because of my cardiac issues on top of everything else that likely I would not be around but for another 3-5 years at that time. I was stunned and devastated. The young adult we had driving for me asked me on our way home that day what was up because he knew it wasn’t good news, and I burst into tears. This young man had become like part of our family too and to have him ask at a time when I was trying to hold back tears was just more than I could bear. I told him the truth. With our daughter’s wedding just a couple weeks away I didn’t know what to do because I didn’t want to ruin her happy time, so my husband and I decided to hold off saying anything. But I was very worried about our family, our business, and our boy’s education and I started aligning things to ensure that he would be able to continue in school because my income was what paid his schooling. It was a very difficult time for us all.
Then the second week of September came. Through all of this difficult time we were also enduring little attacks we knew were coming from the young person we had let go of, including one of the lights on my car being smashed, our outside dogs being set loose, and so on. They would set the dog free and then anonymously call the animal control reporting the dog being set free. Thankfully we had a friend who worked on the force who tipped us off. He set it up that the next call would not be accepted unless the individual calling would identify themselves, to which they promptly hung up. Lovely.
With the wedding coming up quickly and the health issues flaring more intensely, life became very challenging. It was specifically difficult when the young adult delivery driver told us that he had to break his commitment to work with us 2 Saturdays each month. Without his help on such short notice we stood to lose everything we had worked over 10 years for at that point. My health issues were becoming more and more obvious to others now too. I had 2 episodes of blacking out in public which was very, very difficult for me to endure. I also was having a lot of problems with memory, joint pain, and balance along with constant issues of congestive heart failure crisis and serious cardiac rhythm issues. During this time I attended church faithfully whenever the doors were open. I found peace and solace there, especially in the music. I loved being part of the choir and learning the songs. It was important to feel that I had a purpose serving God in some small way that I could still do. Queen Jezebel and 4 other Jezzies were also in the choir with me.
On an appropriate date of 9/11 our lives were shattered with a very rude, hateful, evil phone call from the main leader. That day quite literally nearly killed me. Our family was completely devastated. What the Jezebels had done to our family was a deliberate, evil, wicked, and calculated plan to take us down at a time we were already reeling from the devastating medical news just a week before our only daughter’s wedding. That Sunday evening a couple days later we were lured into the head leader’s office under false pretenses. That man and his immediate underling, along with the Jezzie mother of the one we had fired issued the most heartbreaking attack on specifically me in that room that evening. The main leader 3 days before had already shattered my son with verbal and emotional abuse and now he was unleashing the same on me. I was so ill physically that my head was spinning and I went into complete shock. I sat utterly stunned as did my husband for nearly an hour as this bully verbally assaulted and dismantled me. We walked out of that room in sheer devastation. He informed us that he was immediately instating what we would know from seeing done in the Mennonite church as a shunning so, as he said “….no one else will believe us…” if we tried to tell “our side”, aka the truth. He was very clear that he would not allow ANYTHING to destroy “his ministry.”
Over the coming months we were lead to believe that this season would not last long and if we apologized and asked forgiveness…for what we did not know….of “pastor”, we would be reconciled and reinstated. Trouble was, because we did not know what we had been done, we could not begin to apologize. By December my husband had tried several times to communicate with the leader. That man refused to return phone calls or emails, yet he told others that he was waiting for us to come to him and “make things right.” A total lie.
My husband asked me to text the leader and let him know that my husband was trying to reach him. I still have the texts that show him stating he had received no texts, no emails, and no notes from his secretary on his door that my husband had called. Sadly, we knew none of this was true because we had the texts date and time stamped by Verizon, we had Verizon time and date stamps showing when my husband had left voice mails, and we know his then-secretary was posting sticky notes on his door with messages to return my husband’s call. This man, a supposed preacher, in text format guaranteed me that my husband was lying to me about texting. What he didn’t realize was that I sat and watched my husband doing the texts and gave him the same number I was reaching him by and we have all the copies of these. All this did was serve to infuriate the man toward our efforts of reconciliation. But he still stood before his dwindling congregation and lied about us.
One day in December my husband got with a friend who is a true pastor, who specializes in reconciliation and helping parties resolve this sort of thing. They both went down first thing in the morning and asked to speak with the leader, who was not yet at work. The second in command called the leader to come straight in, which he did. They proceeded to try to work with this man through pure Scripture toward genuine reconciliation. Our friend asked the leader if he had come to us in a spirit of Matthew 18 to address any problems. That leader responded with “What’s Matthew 18?” when he was asked. The man was mandating Scriptural reconciliation but didn’t know what Matthew 18 was. Lovely. For almost 2 hours the men went round and round trying to get to the bottom of things. The only thing that was clear was the fact that they had no true grounds against us at all and they admitted that. But they refused to follow true Biblical reconciliation and refused to be held accountable for what they had done to our family. We were advised to walk away and consider ourselves as being saved and protected from tremendous evil and a very strong Jezebel spirit at that location.
Leaving and walking on has been one of the hardest things we have ever known. Time and again I felt as though I was outside the massive walls of a castle city crying at the gate because I missed my friends and the ones we counted as family. So many emotions of hurt, devastation, rejection, anger, bitterness, and so much more were steps that we were going to face as we turned away from that lost city. It broke my heart to start hearing more and more as days and weeks went on of what was done to us, who was involved, and so on. We were terribly disappointed in young people-adults-we had thought so highly of as Biblical leaders. To know that so many of our friends were behind the walls. Some were unaware of what they are stuck in, while others are aware but are held captive because of paychecks, contracts, students in the school, and threat of social, fiscal, and spiritual ostracizement that they are afraid to be the next target if they say anything or have any contact with us or some of the other targets that have been done the same as us.
In the end, the only means to find peace in this situation has been to release those friends and leave them for God to rescue according to His plan. We have also had to turn crazy “King Saul” and his accomplices and enablers over to God to handle and hold accountable. They are His problem, not ours. But our desire is to account each level of recovery that we have had to traverse in order to find peace and wholeness again so to help others who are encountering the same evil in their walk. So many souls are walking wounded by similar other leaders and groups.
Spiritual Abuse is a very evil, devastating, destructive problem that all barriers of denomination. It can be found in most every spiritual group known to man. Most often though, spiritual abusers are found in church groups that are totally independent and have no strong overseeing group of deacons, brethren, or such to keep the leader in check much like the three branches of our government are intended to keep our president from leading without controls to prevent a dictatorship wheedling it’s way in.
In Part 2 of Bully Preachers and Jezebels we will take a look at the identifying features of a spiritually abusive church. We hope to begin to shed light on these evildoers so they are more easily recognizable and warning signs are more visible.
In Part 3 we will address the first 5 steps to recovering from spiritual and emotional abuse. Recovery is a very slow, tedious, and individual process. No two people recovering even from the same group will take the same recovery path, the same length of time, nor the same specific steps. Each person’s path will be different and each recovery time span will be different because each of us comes into this experience with very different past histories that have impacted us and how we react. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to recover….every wounded sheep must travel the path God is guiding them along in order to heal completely and become whole again. The danger is that many sheep will be guilted into “stuffing” their emotions and pain rather than dealing with it in the time God has planned for them to do so. Each one must recover at the pace God has for them because they each have something different to learn from the experience and to heal through given their wholeness state they were in at the time the attacks began.
In Part 4 we will continue on with the last 5 steps of recovery and how to work through those steps toward full and complete recovery. We will continue looking at Scripture to understand why it takes varying time limits for each soul to recover and return to wholeness and full service to Him.
In Part 5 we will look at how we can begin to regain our security in worship and trust of our Lord. We will discuss how Spiritual and Emotional abuse impacts how we relate to God and Christ. We will examine trust of others, especially those in leadership over His sheep, as well as trusting in God. We will also discuss the importance of learning to discern “wrong” leadership and teachings based upon learning to read and understand Scripture as God intended us to do. As Christians, we are called to be wise, stay in our reading of Scripture so when we encounter false teachers, abusive leaders, and perverted doctrine we can recognize it for what it is, and turn away before we become ensnared in it. This will help prevent us from becoming caught up in another cult, false, or abusive doctrine going forward.
Finally, in Part 6 we will look forward to what it means to be involved in a healthy organization, serving the Lord and our community. We will learn how to be sure that we are serving from a pure heart to help others and be the arms of Jesus here in this lifetime. We will also learn what Christ taught us about taking healthy time to care for our own souls in daily fellowship with Him, and how to be sure we are not sacrificing our families as we serve. The most important thing we will learn with and close on will being certain we are aware of warning signs that we are doing too much and burning out. Christ gave us a very clear example of how not to burn out, and we will take a very close look at these points so we can remain spiritually, physically, emotionally, and socially safe, strong, and whole as we find our place under His wings.
We hope that sharing our story will help others know that they are not alone, there are many of us who are wounded sheep hurt at the hands of false or careless shepherds. As we say on our FB Page for His Wounded Sheep…Psalm 147:3 “He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.” Our mission is to meet wounded sheep where they are and show them that what has been done to them is not of God. He loves them and grieves over what His shepherds have done to so many of His sheep. He loves YOU, He cares for YOU, and regardless of what you are being told, you are His child and He has not left you. Hang in there, and know you are His precious child and He will lead you through the dark forest of healing. He will never leave or forsake you. You are loved, dear one!
Until next time, trust in Him.
Love in His name, by His grace
Josh, Connie, and Zeke.