Dear JC, Brian, and Nathan,
I write this communication to you with tears. Mainly, because I am at a breaking point. I also write this, pouring out a tremendous amount of trust in the three of you. I cannot have my story shared publicly right now, and I am risking much talking to the three of you. However, after listening to every podcast, and some of the episodes multiple times, I have come to trust you.
There is only one other person outside of my family that I have shared some of my frustrations and situations with, and that is with Brian’s Dad Craig. Even at that, it has not been at a great depth. I contacted him probably 4-5 years ago via Facebook and asked him to pray for me. I realized today that I have been in misery for that long, and I guess in my heart I have said “enough is enough.”
As I type this, I have really no idea what I want to say. If nothing else, I just need prayer, specifically for direction.
So, I know you guys interact with a lot of people on twitter and it is impossible to keep up and remember everyone. We have interacted briefly here and there. I am @JohnnotJohn542, yes incognito, but a very real person. Today I am revealing who I am to you three, and I am desperately seeking prayer.
My name is Jimmy Barrett. (I know…Jimmy who???) While I am not extremely well known, the ministry in which I have been at for almost 20 years is very known among the IFB. That ministry is none other than “The Sword of the Lord”. My wife and I both have been employed there since 2002 and I have served on the “executive staff” since 2008. I am also a Pastor.
A wise man once said, “Once you see truth, you can not unsee it.” I have been observing the truth of the IFB for years. I have sat and ate with “The Giants of the Faith.” I have been to every Sword Conference since 2008. I even got to witness Nathan Rager live and in person this year at the Conference held at the Sword. All I can say is….wow. Meeting him was interesting to say the least. I did not shake his hand though. He strikes me as someone who sticks his finger in his belly button then sniffs his finger. (Sorry. I say crazy things sometimes.)
For years I have seen the corruption. I have been privy to the coverups. I have witnessed good men torn down because they changed some things. They did things a little different. I have seen the hypocrisy. OH MY WORD, THE HYPOCRISY. I know a lot. A lot. I mean, a lot. Many things I will take to my grave, because my goal is not to tear down people for sake of tearing them down. However, there is some truth that one day I pray I can share, because it needs to be exposed. People are trapped. I am trapped.
Like many other stories, I began questioning things years ago. The usual things you know, KJV Onlyism, dress, music, etc and etc. The “better than thou” attitude began to repulse me. More than anything, I looked within myself and at myself and saw all the hypocrisy that was present because I was attempting to conform to how the IFB machine demanded I conform to.
I weep when I think of how I hurt people as a young pastor, because I would not let a lady visit her bus route because she had pants on, or because I would not let someone sing because their soundtrack had light percussion. These are two of many examples. I need the “sorry for what I said when I was a fundamentalist” shirt. Lol.
I am at a place where I have no problem or hesitation in leaving the “IFB world.” I say that, knowing I am probably not fully prepared for the thrashing I will receive. I am prepared to lose friends, because honestly, I have very few. Oh, I have acquaintances, but not deep friendships. I am very lonely to tell the truth. Twitter and the RFP has been a source of comfort as strange as that may sound. It is a reminder that I truly am not alone in this journey.
My wife and I have taken some baby steps, but I know major steps are soon required. I pastored a church for 5 years that met at the Sword. Thankfully, God opened a door for me to Pastor an independent church 45 minutes away from Murfreesboro. The church is baptistic, and independent, but not fundy. So as of now, the church I attend, and Pastor is not the issue. They know of the Sword, but most do not know anything about it. I plan to keep it that way!
We also moved 45 minutes away and it is a blessing to go to Walmart and not run into fellow Sword workers. My wife was always required to wear a skirt of course while living in Murfreesboro, but we tossed that crap out back once we moved to another county. 😊
I would like to resign from the Sword today, however I need an income. While the church gives me a housing allowance, that is all they can do right now. The church had declined over the last two years because they were without a Pastor. They sincerely desire to do more, and I believe they will as they can. Now I know, God can and will take care of our needs. I will also say I am not at the Sword for the money by any means. My wife has significant health issues, and health insurance is a major importance. I also have three kids.
My career has been the Sword/ministry for most of my adult life. The same with my wife. I have pastored a couple of part time churches, but my experience is all concentrated with the Sword. I do have some skills and experience because of my years there. My prayer is for God to open a door of employment/income other than the Sword. I want away from it. I honestly hate working there. Every morning I get in the car and want to throw up because I must drive there. I often times struggle with depression. Today was one of those days the depression is deep.
Even if you set aside all of the fundy ties and beliefs, the Sword is a dying ministry that is REALLY struggling. We are always short staffed, it has become an abyss of nepotism, terrible decisions are consistently made, and I just feel like I am wasting my time and life there. Who reads a newspaper anymore anyhow? Again, a dying ministry. May I also say it is not a very spiritual place to work. I have heard so many dirty jokes. My wife has had lewd, inappropriate comments made toward her. It has been years since we as an executive team have even prayed together. Seriously. I could go on, but probably should not.
Things have been really strained between me and the other leadership for the last couple of years, particularly over the last few months. It is not getting any better. My wife is also MISERABLE working there. She mostly works from home now due to COVID-19 and with us also having a little one, but even that has not helped to tolerate being an employee there.
Guys I am miserable. I know sometimes God has us at a place that is not ideal or desirable. However, I also know sometimes we need to walk away from some things. I want to walk, I just do not know where to walk to.
Brothers, I ask you to pray that God would give me wisdom and direction as to where to go and what to do. If I need to go get a secular job, I will. If God wants to totally uproot us and move us, I will go. I just do not know where to go.
Pray for me. This is such an emotional roller coaster. It is scary, I am not gonna lie. I know once I leave, it is over. Done. The bridge will be burned. Blown up. Destroyed. Gone. Bye bye. However I look at my 40 year old self and realize half or more of my life is gone, and I do not want to wallow in the shallowness of fundamentalism anymore. When I hear the IFB preacher clips, I cringe. I can not relate any longer. I must be true to myself, and more than that, true unto the Lord.
Thank you for doing what God has called you to do. Words are inadequate to express the appreciation I have for all three of you.
Thank you for your friendship.