So I have been listening to your podcast from the beginning. My brother turned me on to it due to the fact that Mike Peters was going to be featured. Mike was my roommate and bus caption at Providence Baptist College. His wife and mine were also good friends in high school, so I was curious and listened. I also used to work at the Goodyear in Danville, VA, and my Paster from NC I found was Facebook friends with Brian. Small world some times…
But here is my story.
I grew up as a missionary’s kid in Alaska. My dad was an IFB pastor, my grandpa on his side was a pastor, my uncle now is, I have a cousin that is, my eldest brother was for a period, and my brother in law on my wife’s side currently is still in the IFB as a pastor. So obviously my family was deeply entrenched in it. It was all I knew growing up. My mom and sister would wear skirts in -40 temperatures, and to me that was just normal. As most kids in the cult do, I was “saved” at 4. It was due to high pressure and that was the age my older two brothers had done it as well. Then I was “saved” again at 10, after a long conversation about Revelations and hell. There was no turning from my sin, just fear of hell. During this time I found out what sex was by reading the ever present set of encyclopedias that it seemed every home schooler had. It formed an addiction to sex that would consume me for many years to come. Growing up we were the very typical hard line IFB. No movies, no pants on women, no sleeveless shirts for guys and so on. We played basketball for years in warm up pants. We Never learned to swim because we weren’t allowed to go to pools. We really weren’t allowed to even watch movies in Our home, unless it was on a cctv monitor that could get no tv signal. Of course as a teenager I rebelled against this. We moved to Iowa when I was 13, and were immediately thrown into the IFB youth group scene. This just fed into my rebellion and I soon was getting into trouble with girls, sneaking around to go to movies, and anything else I could do that I wasn’t supposed to. This happened all throughout the rest of the time I was at home. Once I graduated, I expressed the desire to go into the military, but was convinced to try Bible college for a year. I went to PBC, because both my older brothers had either graduated from there, or were currently there. Within a week, I met a girl that would eventually be my wife. She was in the process of finding out who she was as well, and we soon became pretty involved. Both my parents and her brother whom she had lived with said that we should wait and weren’t really for the relationship. So barely being there two months, we “ran” away together. After we had talked to everyone, the paster at NWBBC, Keith Gomez said that unless we went in front of the church and repented he was going to tell every church in the area that we couldn’t go to them. Thankfully, my dad extended grace, and we moved back to Iowa, and were married 4 months later. Just over a year later, we had our first child. We were very involved in the church, and were basically over the bus ministry for a few years. There was alway a feeling in me, that told me I was still just faking it. We would still do things that were against what was taught, and were invested but not 100%. Then we had a miscarriage, and growing up the way I did, I wasn’t able to understand, comprehend or even grieve right, much less comfort my wife. Shortly after this, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. He died the next year, three months before our second child, his first granddaughter, was born. Again, I didn’t know how to process this and became increasingly bitter at God, and all the people who had turned their backs on my dad at the end of his life. Church people who had left the church, and other pastors who had turned their backs on him because Gomez had. Gomez even came to his funeral; he blew in With his entourage, like nothing had ever happened. He had written my dad off because of his grace towards us, and because my dad had effectively ruined his hunting deer at a farmers’ property who went to our church. (Gomez likes to hunt without licenses, and my dad shut it down). Shortly after this, two of my brothers and I all enlisted in different branches of the military. I joined the army, and we moved to OK. We got into an IFB church there, but really never felt welcomed, which resulted in us drifting away. I then went to Iraq and became heavily involved in porn, which led to hurting my marriage of course. Eventually I got completely out of church, and didn’t go back until the Army took us to Korea. There my wife became involved with a non-denominational group of women, and eventually pulled me into going to church with her. It was a completely different experience for me. I had never been in church with drums and people raising their hands. I couldn’t help but few uneasy. While in Korea I continued to go further and further down the path that porn takes you; eventually leading to my wife and I pretty much calling it quits and me having an affair. Once we returned to the states, we kind of tried to go to church, and piece our marriage back together. I got out of the army, and continued to derail my marriage with porn. We would go to church, but I never felt right in there, and knew if I ever did get right, I would then have to tell all that I had done the last several years. Eventually, We had a fight so big that she told me she didn’t believe I was saved. There was no fruit. No desire for anything of God. She made a statement that rocked my world and shook me to my soul. “There is a difference between getting saved to escape hell, and getting saved because you repent of your sins”. I knew I wasn’t saved in that moment. I confessed everything to her, and told her I wasn’t saved. I held off making the decision to follow Christ for about a week, in my mind that would make it seem like I was taking from her pain and saying all was better, I’m saved now. A wise pastor friend of my brothers spoke truth into my life and said I couldn’t start working on my marriage until I worked on myself. I asked Jesus into my heart and life that night and everything began to change for me. We began to counsel with our pastor in NC, (who was SBC affiliated) and began to unpack all of the years of preferences and man made beliefs that had ruled our early lives, and led to me rejecting anything that had to do with church. I began to grow in my walk with God, and my relationship with my wife. There was so much healing that had to take place; both in me and my marriage. We moved to Arkansas, and immediately got into another SBC affiliated church, became involved in their marriage ministry, and continue to try and live for God. Even to this day there is still unpacking from the IFB that we are doing. Listening to your podcast and all of the others that are in your network is a very big part of my week; I learned there are others that have gone and are still going through IFB detox. Thank you for all that you are doing and keep bringing it!
(P.s. I did eventually learn to swim. Imagine being a 22 year old soldier whose wife is teaching him to swim by hanging on to the side of a public pool. I blame my parents. 😂)