Thank you so much for this ministry. My story is a little different in that I wasn’t raised in IFB but did stay in an IFB church for about 8 years. I was saved in a Non-denominational church in Aug 2009 in Seymour, TN. My life has always had a lot of brokenness. I was born in NY to alcoholic parents. My mom was Catholic-ish, practiced Santeria ( voodoo) and we even had Buddhist missionaries in our home every year. So imagine my home with a statue of St Mary, Buddha and a bowl or apples covered in honey and glitter with a lit cigar all next to each other. Pretty confusing as a child. But the Lord saw it fit for me to know who Jesus was. I was about 5 when I was playing outside when 3 men came to me and asked me if I wanted to feel Jesus in my heart. I said yes. I literally felt Jesus squeeze my little heart. I opened my eyes and maybe they just walked down the street or they disappeared. But they were gone. I just kept playing.
Throughout my life, I suffered a lot of hurt and pain. I even entered a gang. Now tell me if this sounds familiar…. In the gang, you are taken in like family. You have new brothers and sisters. There are a bunch of rules you must follow to be a part of this “family” and I even had weekly meetings where offerings were given so that we can continue the upkeep. But it quickly goes awry when you have these “universal meetings” where the gangs come from everywhere to gather together and get everyone riled up about how to keep the rules, new chapters opening and other things pertaining to the gang. By the grace of God, I was miraculously let go of this gang without the usual beatings that everyone had to endure to leave a gang. Fast forward to about 2006, I left an abusive husband, my life was in shambles. All during the abuse, I grasped onto Christian songs like Barlow girl- Never alone and other contemporary songs like that. I watched Joyce Meyer and yes, even Joel Osteen. These things started introducing me to who Jesus was. I was seeking God. When I was saved, I was reading my NKJV bible. I started to hunger for it. So much of that book came to life and I felt the Holy Spirit moving in my life. I remarried and still had a lot of issues. I moved from TN back north to NJ, where I found myself in an IFB church for the first time. They greeted me and welcomed me quickly. They were the “friendliest church in the universe”. Though I was already saved, they showed me how I should be reading a KJV bible and how the other translations were wrong. How I should be wearing skirts and soul winning door to door. How I should only listen to certain type of music and never enter a movie theater. We got rid of TV all together. I even punished my daughter for wearing pants to school. The kids were expected to go to Hyles or another Christian college. I lived my life around church. Everything we did revolved around it. I felt like I had such a strong relationship with God and it was amazing to see all the miracles He did in my life. Too many to even mention. But now I wonder if any of it was real or if I can even trust my own thoughts or feelings. This church was my family. My Bible was with me 24/7. I constantly listened to sermons and one of the preachers I often bought CDs or DVD’s from was Jeff Owens. Yes hell is hot, and kids should be able to mind, and girls should be wearing skirts, etc, etc, etc. I was trying to program myself and my kids to be like these people. How they dressed, spoke, did, ate, everything. I served in every ministry there was. My poor kids and not to mention my husband, what they had to endure because of all of the rules I was shoving down their throats. My husband wanted to move back to TN. I refused for a while, until I lost my job and things seemed bleak in NJ. After speaking to my Pastor and seeking God, I saw a lot of things move in my life that pointed me back to TN. A Pastor from Powell, TN would preach at our meetings so I decided to start attending his church. It is a huge church and It had a Christian school and a Christian college. I thought it was an answer to prayer. My children attended the school for a couple of years. While there, I started noticing things I didn’t notice about IFB before. Things started to seem off and I could almost sense that there was an agenda here other than loving people and loving God. My husband started working at the college and would tell me about things going on. Certain situations would come up and if you were an Alumni, you were pretty much untouchable. The kicker was when Ken Ham came to talk at the church and said we are all ONE race but the college wouldn’t let the kids date people out of their own race. I went soul winning and one person would constantly quote what the pastor said more than what the Bible said. Now, there are a lot of good people there, I think they were trying to do only what they believe to be right. But the more I saw it for what it was, the more confused I became. I even remember my old Pastor drawing a timeline and saying how “IFB” was the only “true” religion that came directly from Jesus and the apostles and every other religion was a “reformed religion” because they didn’t continue the teachings of Jesus like IFB does. There is political pull, and business and etc that are affiliated with this, it is almost scary to think about it. Now, I did learn a lot about the Bible. It’s just now… I can’t trust the Bible, people or church. I feel lost, isolated and betrayed. I am attending a church-Non denominational. And I do believe that God is using this time of my life but how??? I don’t even care to know. I started homeschooling my kids, took them out of Christian school once I started feeling uncomfortable with certain things and I was still scared of Public school. I have a daughter who had the knottiest hair in the world, (exaggerated of course but it does get really knotty) We cut her hair and shaved the sides of her head. A pixie cut. We are under this church’s umbrella for homeschooling. Soo, when my kids wanted to join the soccer team with the school, i said of course. I told them my daughter cut her hair, sent them a picture of how short ( because they asked) and then they told me she couldn’t be apart of the team bc her hair was too short. My daughter can tell you all about the Bible, she can quote scripture and is a kind and gentle child. She loves God and loves to serve. But they have deemed her unfit to play soccer due to her hair. It’s so dumb. They have older female teachers with hair just as short as she has it. But whatever. I went to the office to pick up something and I had just dreaded my hair, was wearing pants and put a nose ring in. When I turned around to leave, the secretary turned to another in the office and said that they need to pray for me. I chuckled a bit because appearance is a big thing there. I appreciate your podcast because it helps me to know I am not crazy( well maybe a little) and I am not alone. I was trying so hard to do what they told me was right to do and now I am looking for God’s voice and what he wants me to do. It’s kinda muffled because of trying to decipher between Him and the old sermons stuck in my head. I can’t wait to hear about the Bible translations as I have started doing research for myself but it is quite daunting. I will leave you with this. One of my kids told me of this joke she heard in school from her Christian school teacher. A man went to heaven and was getting a tour by Michael. Michael said, here are the Pentecostals, loud and dancing. Here are the Catholics, humming AHHHHmen. But shhhhh, be really quiet here. Why ?, said this man. Michael said, here are the IFB, they think they are the only ones here.
I can’t thank you all enough for what you are doing for people trying to recover and find the narrow way. Matt 7:13-14. God Bless.