I’ve been following your podcast for a few months now. My Uncle showed it to me over the summer when I went to work for him in Tennessee, and it has helped me so much in my faith. But I’m not writing to you now to tell you my story, but the story of my church and one of my friends. I will not be naming names. I am attending PCC as a sophomore currently, along with my friend, Heather (name has been changed). Heather is an incoming freshman and a good friend, we attended the same IFB church growing up together. We are trying to cut ties. She was involved in a sexual abuse situation. She was groomed by a friend of her family’s. Before Heather was given a chance to speak about it, the man’s wife came to her legal guardians, and told them “Heather is a whore and seduced my husband, we are never coming back to this church.”
In the beginning, they did not believe Heather. It took a few months before she could open up and they sent her to therapy. It was a mess. It still is a mess. This all happened in March, right as quarantine began to hit.
I had been sent home from PCC during this time, and I was not attending this church. I, like the rest of the congregation, had no idea what had gone on. I think they assumed the family would not be coming back because of the pandemic and the falling out.
Flash-forward to last night, I had driven back home over the weekend to celebrate my boyfriend’s birthday. I went over to my grandparents house like I normally do when I come home, to visit and fellowship. My grandfather is a deacon of the church. Him and my grandmother sat me down and told me that Heather was manipulative, she had played the family (of the man who groomed her) and her legal guardians. They told me she couldn’t be trusted and that I shouldn’t affiliate with her. I told them the truth. That the story my grandparents heard was twisted. She was groomed by that man, and they left because she had enough evidence to press charges. They refused to believe me.
Heather was dating the son of the assistant pastor, who told her that “You need to be careful around Jillian, her boyfriend’s father (who is a pastor of a non-denominational church in the area) isn’t biblically sound. She’s probably not either.” Heather has since broken up with him, and we have both agreed to cut ties to the IFB church.
Heather doesn’t know what my grandparents told me, and I won’t let her find out. I can’t bring myself to let her suffer anymore because of this. Although we don’t agree with everything at PCC, we both are safe here. We are far away from the people at that church.
It hurt me to hear that my grandparents had taken their side instead of Heather’s. They also pressed my beliefs as well, and we had to have “The Talk” I didn’t do very well, I admit. I’m still learning so much and was caught so off guard. But I’m praying the strife there is minimal.
My main concern is for Heather. The members of the congregation finding out the wrong story. I’m scared when we go back we both will be outcasts. As we both have people who have told us separately to “mark” one another. We both have been pitted against each other, for one reason or another. And it’s kind of humorous, because we are both here, happy, serving Jesus.
There is an underlying spiritual warfare taking place in our town right now, two churches down the road from each other. Once my boyfriend’s dad (who pastors a non-denominational church in the area) released a podcast stating his beliefs, my church was quick to address it and speak blasphemy from the pulpit about him. Calling his church out and dragging his name through the mud. And I feel caught in the middle, because I grew up in that IFB church, have chosen to walk away, and currently dating the “wrong” church down the road pastor’s son. After hearing Heather’s story, I want nothing to do with the IFB church. It is sickening. The pastor is your typical IFB pastor. I didn’t grow in my relationship with Christ until I left that church. But my family refuses to see it that way. I had my own spiritual issues from breaking away, but this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back
I am at PCC now, with Heather. We are safe. Far away from the drama. There are ties still there that I can’t cut because of family. But I am hurting because of my friend, and the twisted story my family has chosen to believe.
My story with the IFB is a complicated mess. It is so messy. This is only a recent issue that has occurred over the past 5 years of recurring issues. I am caught in between two churches. Two families. It feels like two religions. I know we both believe in the same God and have the same beliefs. But the IFB side refuses to believe that. I love my boyfriend, and his family has been so kind to me. His father is a wonderful pastor, and has no ill-will.
I am laying here in bed right now, writing this as my online chapel video is playing. I am looking at this situation from the outside looking in. I am caught in the middle of this war, and I am trying to cling to Jesus. I know He is here with me and will walk me through this storm. I heard Him speak to me for the first over the summer during a church service. I know He’s with me. But this situation is bigger than me. I am praying, but I don’t know exactly what to pray for and how. I need some spiritual guidance, someone from the outside on how to handle this situation because I don’t want to act from a fleshly point of view. And I need prayer. I have my own issues, on top of all of this. I understand you guys have so many of these stories on top of your own churches and congregations. All I ask is for your prayers over this situation, and that God will bring someone into my life who can give me some spiritual guidance.
Thanks for all you do.