My Dear Linda... Just in a few words now... I'll be sending you more later... I wanted to express how much I have learned from this website... thank you for the apology... this too is one that I need to make...
All those years living in fear... make me understand how difficult your plight had become.
I'm so appreciative for you speaking out at this time.
I'm reminded of Esther... who "for such a time as this" stood with courage and threathed by death... but she still spoke up for the Jewish Nation.
You have stood up for all of us... who have been hurting, ashamed, confused and not knowing our standing with a wonderful God... whom we only met... after leaving Fundamentalism.
I have a Great Godly Love for YOU!... If you need me... I am here!
Love u my Dear Friend-ive always felt close to you-weve been like kindred spirits since grade school or Cousins that hardly ever see each -- LoL i like this Quote "Live for Today- Learn from Yesterday- look forward to tomorrow" how simply true is that- sometimes it takes getting slapped in the face to wake up-sometimes just a nudge
so if ya look in the mirror and see a big red welt -its time for a change-lol
This is your Uncle Earl. I am proud of you. I love you. So everyone will know, I was Pastor of Miller Road Baptist (1971-1981) before your Brother Dave. In 1981 I resigned to become President of Christian Law Association.
Linda...thanks for your words. I grew up at FBC since birth(1965) My parents Roger and Judy were a young family when they came to FBC in the early 60's. They were there when the chuch was small, but are still there after all the things that have happen. You said you went to Dallas in 83....what year did you work out in Thomas Road/Liberty?. Know the people you stayed with out there. my son goes to Liberty so they say hi....again thanks for your words.
Judy, please refresh my memory. I know I know who you are, but am having a difficult time placing you. Joyce
Linda - I am so happy to have found you and your website. Breaking free from the machine that is FBC results in being ostracized by friends in the church you have known and loved for years. We all want to share our stories to begin the healing process but no one understands. I do not want you to feel responsible in any way for not speaking up sooner. I don't think anyone would have listened. The machine is too powerful and swallows up any voice of reason.
Linda, I lived in Hammond in the 1950's. I saw the hearts of the Christians who laid the foundations of the churches in that era. They loved the Lord, and did not mean for all this to happen. I am so sorry that all this has come. I just want to say that I think you are a great lady with a beautiful heart. I don't think anyone could handle this mess better than you are doing. Blessings on you and your loved ones.
Since I was a bus kid, we came from very different back grounds. However we both lived in pain and suffering. Thank you for telling us your story and for becoming vulnerable in order to bring truth to many wounded. Thank you for creating a wave of healing. I can not wait to order your book tomorrow. Love Ya Lady!
We really appreciate your willingness to step forward now and share an insider's perspective on the FBC mess. My wife and I graduated from HAC in 1985. When we read Voyle's book as soon as it was published and did some research on our own, we were shocked and saddened at all the sin that we found. Having been closely associated with some of the "players" involved, we were easily able to put some of the missing pieces together from our own relationship with them. As soon as we realized that this was true, I immediately announced to our church that we would no longer have anything to do with FBC or HAC.
Here's another sad note. I spoke to some of the "leaders" of that movement including newspaper editors and well known pastors of other fundamental megachurches. All of them blew me off and told me there was no basis for the accusations. Of course, they continued to speak at Pastor's School and HAC while collecting those honorariums.
The reaction that we received from our college friends was not surprising either. The vast majority of them ceased all communication with us. One of my best college friends even told me that he "pitied" me.
When Joe Combs moved into our area, I warned the local Christian radio station to have nothing to do with him. Instead, they put him on the air in the evenings as a sort of Bible answer expert. Even after his horrible sin was exposed and he was imprisoned, I still had an old friend contact me recently and state that he didn't believe any of those charges. Sad.
We have never regretted leaving all that legalistic mess behind and are not surprised about Jack Schaap's sin. As you said, he moved from willing victim to predator. My heart still breaks for him, Cindy, his own children as well as the young victim and her family.
The great news is that this mess in no way reflects the holiness and purity of Jesus Christ or the truth of His Word. We still read it (not the KJV :-) and know that God is the sovereign God of the universe. Thanks again for your courage and resolve.
How interesting you mention Joe Combs. I worked at that radio station and also voiced my opposition to having him on the air. At the time, I knew nothing of his connection to Hyles/Anderson but the first time I met him there was something that did not seem right. Further, I sure was not all that impressed with his Bible knowledge. He spoke at a station banquet and that was the only time I ever saw Esther. Two of the boys did some part time work at the station during that time so I knew them. The heresy from this Hyles group of churches and Sword of the Lord always sent up red flags to me Ms. Murphrey has now confirmed what many have suspected all these years. Her willingness to speak out is much needed and appreciated. She is to be commended.
Thank you Linda for your willingness to being a guide... A truth teller. Thank you also for your willingness to be a "soul nurse" right now when so many need healing<3
Thank you Linda, it has been a long time since I left in 1982. I grew up with you since beginners class at fbc. I am so sorry for what you had to live through. I knew about the problems of your dad and your brother first hand. My family did not know I did not say any thing, for this I am sorry. I should have spoken up. Instead I left. I have great memories of school and church and friends. I learned to know God for my self, and thank him for every thing in my life. Thank you a burden has been lifted. Some things should not be kept secret. This is one of those. My God bless your ministry. And I pray God will rebuild FBC of hammond. Your friend Randy
Linda, thank you for what you have done in the past and what you continue to do. You are one amazing lady. I can hardly imagine what you have experienced, yet overcome.
On a personal note....I grew up in the same church with your TX pastor, Gene Getz. I knew his parents and siblings well, and our schools were fierce basketball rivals! :) I can't imagine a better, more prepared, person from whom to receive counsel. I have no doubt God caused your paths to cross!
Continued blessings to you! I'm sure your transparent "open letter" will encourage many.
My family was at FBC even before your family came. I am the same age as Cindy. I remember some good times....my dad even has some pictures of a mens softball game at a church picnic in the early 60's and in it your dad is at bat. I remember being in the auditorium immediately after the fire destroyed the original building and there being such a spirit of love. I remember Becky, knew Dave and as a kid always thought of you as the "quiet one." Little did I know why.
As a classmate of Cindy's at HBHS, I knew her but was not one of her friends. She and I married the same summer and have kids in the same age bracket. My heart goes out to her and her children...I thought of her through the holidays and wondered at how brokern her heart must be to face holidays....and life alone now.
My family and my husband's family to this day feel the effects of FBC. My husband and I left in 1981 after seeing too much and knowing in our hearts that it was a cult. Our families have endured years of disagreement, broken relationships and inaccurate Biblical belief because of loyalites to Brother Hyles and FBC. We were ostracized and criticized for leaving, even though we went on to another church. At one point my borther-in-law told us that he would not have any fellowship with us until we went to Brother Hyles, apologized for ever leaving and returned to "the church."
I was not abused there and have wonderful memories of many of the same people you mentioned in your letter. I still have friends in my life that I originally met there.
I am so glad that you escaped and I know I don't and certainly don't believe that you are in any way responsible for anything by not coming forward sooner. "It" was bigger than all of us. Even after all of this, there are still many, many people that either just don't believe it OR believe it to all be a conspiracy by people to destroy the ministry.
My prayer, too, is that the people of FBC wake up and realize that it is God they serve, not Jack Hyles or Jack Schaap or nor Wilkerson.
What most of us experienced pales in comparison to what your life was, and I believe it was all you say.
You were a kid and just as manipulated as everyone else.
Be at peace and have a clear conscience. Your revelations came at the time they were meant to.
You have my admiration and prayers.
I, like you, am so thankful for the dear ladies(and men) who had such a positive influence on my life. The Ruth Luther's, Mammie Brown's, Mr and Mrs Urbanski, and the list can go on and on. They were all havens in my time of great need and I know God placed me in FBC, at that time, for my survival. Hugs to you. God bless you and keep you.
I too am so thankful for those at FBC that were angels in my life during those years at FBC. The Isabel Ewings, Mammie Browns, Urbanski's and the beautiful singing voice of Beverly Hyles. I know our family was put there for a purpose and sometimes I wonder why. I no longer go to church every Sunday. Occasionally I go to a Unity Church where love just pours on to everyone. It isn't a cult like so many of the other churches. I feel at home there and their minister is a joy. I so look up to you Linda. You are a good soul, and are helping so many to get out of the deep well we climed into. Thankyou. And please keep on sharing. I hope some of these comments reach my daughter who was so wrongly violated at the youth center. Hugs, Joyce
“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.”
― Brennan Manning, Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging
Thank you for becoming a light, an illumination of truth, for me as well as thousands of people like me, to see a pathway out of this darkness.
Lots of memories coming to the surface with all these things coming out. I have a few good memories of growing up @ FBC, but mostly I am just thankful for having lived through it, having met & married my husband, moving away from Hammond/Munster & building a life away from here. We came back to Munster about 8 years ago, I want my son to know my folks before they pass. God has given us much healing, He has opened my heart & given me back to the church my family attended before we started @ FBC. I can go to Hessville, listen, learn & praise God for His love, for His care & for all the blessings He has given me each & every day.
I never got to know you as well as I would have liked to, but I always liked you, I always thought you were the one who had the tenderness & love within. At times I wondered if you would be able to withstand the garbage that was piled all about you, to escape the robot stage & be the wonderful woman you had hidden inside. I'm so pleased to see you have survived, healed & that you have learned how to be happy within yourself. With all the pain you suffered, you are the lucky one who has made it out the other side. I pray you are enjoying a happy relationship with our Father, that you have learned how much He loves us, how much He wants to know us & to bless us. I've learned no matter what happens, if I step back & let my Father lead me, He will give me more than my heart could have ever dreamed of. I wish you all the best, that you might have your life filled by Father, with His blessings, His love & His guidance.
Thank you for continuing to care about those of us who shared parts of your life growing up. We are blessed by our Father.
Linda, I didn't go to your church but I lived in that same culture. I am proud of you for speaking truth; it's never easy to do that. My father was also an IFB(ish) pastor and admired your dad. I'm still struck with the way that entire culture is about men who perform for other men's approval...that is what makes things "all right with the world." (Just not all right with the Lord!) Grace and peace on you and know that God has brought many, many of us out of that system to dance (oops!) in the joy of Jesus! :)
Class of '72 HBHS. Being a true outsider there I saw a lot that was not right there. Saw it when I visited the church(cult meeting hall). I admire your courage. I now understand why you acted like an introvert in high school. It was almost mandatory of you.
Linda, I was fortunate enough to meet you when you came to Garland, TX to visit w/Dave & Paula Hyles. I wish then that you would have told me some of the horrible things that I would encounter going to FBC/HAC because after Graduation Dave Hyles, my Pastor at the time sent me to HAC. I left one form of Abuse at the hands of my Family and headed straight for another. I regret wasting all that time in IN! Having my mind filled with lies. Now I am trying to clean the garbage out & fill my mind with new. It has been a long painful journey, but God is so GOOD! I must admit, I met some very good people who took me under their wings, your Mom was one of them. Once she found out I was from Miller Road & Dave was my "Pastor," she helped me thru somethings. Thank You for finally telling the truth, maybe now people and lives will change.
I also was in Texas. I only recently (Dec. 2011) have learned what happened. If I only had been told the truth all those years ago. I was led to believe the issues were something else. I would probably not had gone to the college. Mrs. Hyles also helped me. I took her class. I'm unsure if she knew I had been at her sons church. I wonder how many times I've misspoken or kept quiet as a result. I have regrets now for actions I did or did not take because of not knowing the truth. I only can tell those affected that I truly only knew of my own experience and not anything else. I would have taken a stand in court when asked about another issue from that time if only I understood. I was also prevented probably to prevent me from learning the truth. So those affected I'm truly sorry.
TWO OF MY CHILDREN ATTENDED H A C, MIKE AND SHERRI STUCKEY. WE WERE GOOD FRIENDS WITH THE LIVELY'S.
GOOD LUCK TO YOU, THANKS FOR THE LETTER.
You took one step away from the IFB decades ago. You went to a counselor and took more steps that helped you become the person you are today. In getting the help that you needed, you have helped so many others. I can't imagine what would have happened to all the lies we were told if you had not come forward with your story. You have helped so many people by just telling the truth.
As we get older we realize everyone is human. My dad told us that before he passed. There are things I wish I could change, but we Just hope for the best ,move on, and live right. I remember all 4 of the Hyles kids were always nice.No matter what has happened yall are still in my heart. I got saved there in 1965. You never forget your childhood. There were 9 kids in my family, and I can say I was blessed to come from a good home.Take care Linda and all I wish for you is happiness.
I know we have not met but I was a bus kid and knew your father and your brother in law Jack Schaap. I just want to say I am so sorry that this has to follow you for the rest of your life. I wish I could take your place so that you don't have to hurt anymore. However, God knows that you are strong and thank God that you left when you did. You are strong by the grace of God.
My wife, and I are so very grateful for your open letter to First Baptist. You could not have written a more gracious, humble and honest letter. We were students at the college from 76 to 80. In so many ways, our days there are priceless. Yet, we too quickly came away and the pain we felt as the truth gradually came out through the years was difficult. We felt very close to your brother and were stunned when everything at Miller Road came to light. We worked with him in youth ministry at Hammond. I remember sitting with Ben Jordan in his office for a couple of hours, not long after it all came out. Overwhelming. For years, I have longed to hear your brother finally come out and apologize, seek forgiveness and show genuine repentance. I have forgiven him. I have no right not to. I have no stones to throw. I just ache for him and the huge influence he had in ministry to go un-resolved. Yet, I feel you have resolved so much of it in this letter. I saw your video months ago. It was wonderful. But reading this letter has caused me to sit and cry at my computer. YOU ARE SO VERY FORGIVEN!!!! You never were an offense but you and your entire family are forgiven and I want you to know it. I didn't know how much I needed to hear someone from your family say what you said, but wow! I really needed that. Thank you! God bless you!
I was touched by your letter and identified with the words you spoke concerning your sister and Jack Schaap, " I cannot delight in the ruin of someone’s life, even though he brought these circumstances on himself." Many years ago, I worked diligently to bring to light, many of the things your brother was involved with. You're most likely familiar with some of the things that were uncovered, and what we did with the information.
At first, I cared less about what happened to Dave, as he had hurt people I cared about and I just wanted to stop him from further damaging others. I also remember how angry I later became after meeting with Paul Ciolino in May of 1990, where Voyle and I viewed the file on little Brent Stevens. My attitude was, if Dave was ruined in the process, or shot by some jealous husband, oh well ! And besides, I had heard he was out to get me, so I figured I would just beat him to the punch. After all, he drew "first blood" was the way I saw it.
Then I realized my own pride and anger was becoming my downfall. The hatred I had for what he did, was slipping into a hatred for him. Like Dave and Jack Schaap, my sin was blinding me, to what I was becoming! It was easy to see how vile Dave was, but much more difficult to see how vile my anger and pride had become.
I remember reading verses about praying for your enemies and Prov. 24:17 " Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles." But I just kind of ignored these verses and would say, "well, I never claimed to be a good Christian," as if that would kind of magically resolve me from my own evil, that was hid, deep within.
I was fortunate as I did not grow up at FBC and came from an "Evangelical background" and not an Independent Fundamental one.
I came to the College around Aug. of 1975 and stayed untill 1981. I remember feeling that there was something not quite right about this place. It seemed like they would label everyone a "deeper lifer" if they studied the Bible in any depth at all. But with my background, I knew my own anger and pride were leading me to a place where I did not want to go.
Today, I can truthfully say that I do not hate your brother, Dad, or Jack Schaap. I hate the sin that they participated in and the many victims it produced. I hate the fact that they hurt a lot of people including their own families. I hate what happened to you, and the pain you had to go through. And yeah, I hate the pain my own sin has caused others, as well. I guess, if I was without sin, I could have cast the first stone at your brother; but such was not the case. So I realized that hating your brother, or anyone else for that matter, was not the answer.
I knew they were just men and did not equate them with God. I never placed my faith in any of them, so when they fell it did not make me doubt God one bit. I went to school with Jack, and to me he was just one of the guys I attended school with, and nothing more. Back then he was a pretty decent guy till pride got a hold of him and led him on a path of destruction. And your brother, watching your Dad live a double life kind of short circuited him, big time, and he was never able to recover from it. So I understand that in a way, they both were victims of your Dad. Although that does not excuse them for their actions; it does shed some light on what happened to them. He kind of guided them on a path of destruction but they chose to stay on that path! I'm so glad you chose a different way.
I remember you well in school while hanging out with Diane Peavey. Of course, you were "high profile" as they say, and hard to miss; as everybody knew who you were. Diane later told me what happened in Garland when the janitor found the briefcase and turned it over to her Dad.
I was also friends with Brenda Davis long before she married Dave. She was close to Ruth and Frank Felchlin (my best man). Back in those days she was one of the sweetest girls that I knew but things changed, and not for the better. So many things could have been
so different. You are making a difference Linda and I am thankful for that!
DAVID, I THINK YOUR THE DAVID THAT I REMEMBER BUT CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG. DID YOU USE TO BE IN DAVID HYLES SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS. AND LATER MARRIED A VERY CUTE LATINA GIRL FROM HYLES ANDERSON COLLEGE. I THINK AT THE TIME YOU HAD TWO SONS WHO WERE VERY SMALL AT THE TIME OF COURSE. I ALWAYS THOUGHT OF YOU AS A PERSON WHO WAS VERY INTELLIGENT AND YET A DOWN TO EARTH KIND OF GUY...........LOL. ANYWAY IF THIS IS YOU PLEASE WRITE ME AND I LIKE TO SAY HI..................HOLLA!
Linda, my heart aches for you. I sympathize, as well, since I also lived the lie of a perfect Christian family for several years. I have a blog that is specifically geared toward prayers for the church, since I've been close to many hurting pastors and churches. Thank you for being transparent, but don't blame yourself at all! You are a victim and God understands and loves you!
God Bless You for speaking out! I went to a Mini Hammond for 16 years..Your Father came many times to preach..I went to Pastors School in 1992 and witnessed many of the things you speak of here. The Holy Spirit always showed me that something did not ring true with Him or Your Brother in Law! I left that Church 8 years ago-it is very hard to leave one of these Churches and move on-God has to show you and give you the srength!
So sorry for all you went through. I always thought you were such a beautiful, well-dressed, poised young lady. I always dismissed the rumors because I thought "how could he (Jack Hyles) preach like he does if he was living the opposite way."
Talk about "strain at a gnat and swallow a camel," while all this was going on with Dave and Jack Hyles was doing his deeds, someone complained to "the preacher" that I wore my skirts too short (maybe the middle of or barely above my knee). "Bro. Hyles" had a lady staff member call me on the phone and tell me "the preacher has gotten several complaints about the length of your skirts." [SEVERAL COMPLAINTS - REALLY - people had nothing better to do than stand in that long line at his office door after church and complaint that my skirt was above my knee (possibly an entire inch). Never knew I was that important.] This staff lady wanted me to meet her in her office and she would show me how to kneel down and make sure my skirt was long enough. I NEVER SHOWED UP! Getting this out is therapeutic. Now I can laugh at the irony of it, but at the time I cried. At the time, I was too ashamed to even tell my family - after all, that might have been an ugly blot on the family's reputation. No one complains about my skirt length anymore - most of the time I wear "britches."
I always had the highest regard for you--and still do. You were a good role model for many girls--and still are. love ya
Nancy, I love your last sentence w/ the quotation marks around britches. You made me chuckle:D
Lida - I feel and am praying for you - even when typing this. I do not know any details - but do know you are hurting. I am getting ready to retire, and have recently left a church which though very small, has a pastor manipulating both the church and his family. I do believe that the enemy is using your past even today to hurt the church (Christ's body). You have a quote regarding fundamentalism by Sir Jonathon Sacks. I believe your including this quote hurts the church, particarly those that believe the Bible is God's Word and use it correctly. Please consider revamping your opinion on fundamentalism or eliminate the quote. Thank you.
I agree with Vic Christian. Leave the Truth off of your list of things you need to apologize for, Linda. But yours is not a path easily navigated and I applaud your higher road in some cases.
All though I was a member at FBC Hammond for only a handful of years, I quickly took on some responsible roles for a time under the dear Mrs. Shoaf and still have close family on staff. I also worked closely with Cindy Schaap many years ago when I recorded her book on tape for Sword of the Lord Publishers. I regarded Cindy Schaap as quite appropriate.
Many of these heavy weights and sin that are coming out in your posts and open letter are being received by me as almost completely new things, except that I had been told something very early on by someone who knew back then, and is at the highest position even now. And, the most difficult element is reaching for a meaningful justification between a new perspective of the ministry there, while at the same time knowing that so much good was done, and has come out from Hammond and Crown Point; all of the thousands saved, lives changed (for the good) etc. Bro. Hyles married my wife and I in 1984.
I am thankful that I do not have to weigh who is telling the entire truth these days, who is over reacting to what, and just how far is too far when one is reacting lawfully and properly after being hurt by a ministry or person in the ministry.
In the category of hard things, these are certainly at the top of the list. And, I am no judge. I simply acknowledge due support to those on both sides who are truly trying to serve the same sweet Master.
When we all end up in Glory some day, the addresses of our mansions might only be a digit or two down the golden avenue from someone whom our flesh wishes to attack while on Earth.
Linda, I loved and prayed for all of the Hyles many years ago and still do. I was friends early on with one of the inner circle families that are still there, and always marveled at their strength and ability to maintain proper perspective on The Bible, the true Work, while operating extremely successfully in a "corporate officer" position there; which meant to me that they would probably know or suspect most of everything. The dichotomy is mind boggling, if all I was told and that you reveal are true (since I am not a 1st hand witness to any of the darkest stuff, this makes me nothing more than a 3rd party).
I was fortunate to be mainly exposed to all that is good about fine folks doing the right thing for the right reasons in Hammond. My dear family is still on staff there, and I hope are allowed to stay and work and watch FBC Hammond recover and continue to win souls for Christ while leaving behind the most recent obvious darkness from Pastor Schaap.
There should somehow be a line drawn between the Bible Truth, good ethics and morals taught by FBC Hammond, and the errors and sin perpetrated by some individuals. I am not a person who knows enough to draw such a line for everybody, nor do I know how to point a finger to choose such a one. Also, I am not Family; I am not THAT close to the situation. It still amazes me to hear some folks talk, and more so, some folks write things on public forums who are hundreds and thousands of miles away from the situation, with extremely damaging results to The Gospel and The Main Thing, while still claiming to be involved in the fight for souls.
The pain that your sister is going through must be devastating as Jack Schaap is being sentenced, with the whole theater involved. The scope is unimaginable to me. I am one of those who hurts for everyone involved and your words regarding Jack Schaap seem dead on. Love, time and God's Word are the only real things which will heal in these hardest of situations and I applaud you for taking this part of the high road. What a blessing.
Even being told to forsake FBC Hammond entirely by some who I have been close to; I look at those who say such things and feel that they are entirely over reacting. What do they expect the congregation to do? Just all leave over night and go to some other church because of two or three men's sins? Well, reality or not, that is my questioning view.
I have nothing but wonderful memories of my 5 years at First Baptist Church of Hammond. I came there after a rough time in my young life and my sister April and the folks at the church was such a blessing as I joined FBC Hammond and got involved in the ministry.
I remain close to many on both sides of the isle, mostly I'm sure because I do not live there and refuse to allow what one church does, govern how I make decisions. We all follow The Savior, not a man. And, it was always such while I was in Hammond. I didn’t know anyone who seemed strangely over-loyal to Bro Hyles to the exclusion of common sense, propriety and reasoning. Even today, my brother-in-law remains in a leadership position in the church as well as teaching at the college, and is loyal to his employer and the gospel; it IS possi
Linda, Growing up...you always "tolerated" Cindy and I as we were constantly bothering and annoying you...actually, we admired you and wanted to be like you! The childhood bonds of friendship are strong and bring comfort. May God bless and watch over you and my dear friend, Cindy.
I would love to reconnect. I'm sure you remember us at TRBC in the Single's Ministry. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's chat.
Thanks for taking a stand.
Linda: Thank you for your courage. I have spent a good share of ministry time trying to help people recover from the kind of abuse you have talked about -- I grew up fundamentalist -- and heard your father a few times. Some years ago I starting gathering material for a book about one of your dad's heroes -- J. FRANK NORRIS -- it came out a few years ago and the fundies savaged me -- but I think it explains a lot of where men like your dad learned their bad behaviors -- here's the link -- (though I'd be happy to send you a copy): http://www.amazon.com/The-Shooting-Salvationist-Captivated-ebook/dp/B004C43FZW/ref=tmm_kin_title_0
Thank you, thank you for your open letter. God is using you.
I am a pastor of an IFB church and was an avid follower of your dad. Went to 7 Pastor's Schools in a row; but left when he preached that it was normal to lust after a woman (we kick out students who don't desire to touch a beautiful woman like these usherettes; but we kick them out if they do touch one).
I have repented of my sin of following a man (men in our movement) & have come to realized the FBC of Hammond and others are cults.
Again, thanks for your gracious words. I pray that God will use you to help others not only leave a wrong movement; but that they may begin to experience the healing that God truly gives.
That was an excellent letter, Linda. I am not, and never was a member of First Baptist. But your letter, with all the honesty and all the struggles you faced, really touched my heart.
Thank you for your honesty and courage. You have put into words what many who have left IFB churches feel--the isolation, condemnation and lack of mercy, to name a few. You have suffered greatly, but you have come out on the other side the better for it. It has taken me decades to understand why my classmates from high school ostracized me when they want away to HAC (after my church fell into the Hyles craziness) and I stayed behind. I am sure you would know many of them. May God richly bless you for speaking the truth.
I admire your courage. Your letter to FBC touched me so much. I was never in the inner circle at FBC because I was a "bus kid" and the rest of my family did not attend the church. I went to HBHS on a scholarship that I later learned was paid for by my bus driver. I met wonderful people there, including my husband. I just realized that something was not right over the years. I went to a very small local Bible church before attending FBC the Summer before High School. I finally convinced my husband who grew up at FBC that we should leave. My husband and his family were attending FBC before your family arrived from TX. My in-laws still are members of FBC and refuse to believe that the things you speak of are true. I hope your honesty, courage and openness will help countless others heal. I never turned my back on God and His love and I am so glad you did not either. May God bless you and your family.
I wonder if sometimes people do believe--deep down--but just can't move from their friends and their life as they have know it. Love you-my friend.
I pray that the people who stay because they are afraid of change will wake up and see that there is life outside of FBC and the control of it's leadership. There are lots of Bible teaching churches in the area that don't focus on Man worship and man-made rules to follow. These churches teach from the Bible without screaming and pulpit pounding. They also encourage the membership to get involved with the surrounding community, not wall themselves off "from the world". Change can be hard for many, I understand, but it can be wonderful too. Jesus didn't stay in the temple and control his disciples and tell them to avoid the needy and sinners. I'm just so glad we got out when we did.
I love you too, my dear friend.
I've had some familial experience with prison time and while I understand Dr. Schaap's sentence is deserved, I believe 2-3 years would be sufficient. I also know that until someone goes through the imprisonmentof a family member, there is no way to comprehend the collateral damage. I can understand that part at least. Thank you for your letter. I graduated from HAC. I remember not always agreeing with everything that was taught but I also knew I didn't have to swallow everything blindly.
I hope you respond to my post. Also, I reached out to Cindy a few months ago on Facebook with no response. If you were willing to send her a note, I can understand her hell.
Thank you for your letter. Could not have been easy to write.
Carla: Only 2-3 years for Jack Schaap's rape/pedophilia of a 16-yr-old girl? You obviously don't get it. If it were your daughter, and/or you had some understanding of the vileness of his acts, you wouldn't have said that.
Hi Linda, I just finished the first chapter of your book. You have filled in the blanks, filled in the missing pieces of the puzzle, and confirmed what we had heard and read. We knew who you were but never really met you. You were one of the Hyles' kids and definitely a celebrity. My husband attended the college from 1972 to 1975, when he was advised to crawl out through a sewer hole for leaving Hyles-Anderson to join the Marines after numerous layoffs. We had one child at the time. My husband went on to pastor for many years and since his HA training was all he knew, that was how he tried to pastor. Our marriage almost did not survive. Now, years later, our eyes have been opened. Many of the feelings you have expressed about guilt, we have also experienced. What freedom there is in Christ and such bondage in men. Thank you for speaking the truth and telling your story. May the Lord continue to bless you and your family!
Your story has meant so much to me. Your braveness incredible. My story is that my stepfather tried to molest me as a child and then later went on to get his master's in theology. He became assistant pastor in our church and when the pastor wanted to step down he was a candidate for the pastorate and only lost to the pastor's son. Throughout all of this, I remained quiet. I was scared and just watched with horror and disbelief at the hypocrisy I faced on a daily basis. Every sermon I heard him preach was true hell as I sat there knowing his true self and the people around me oblivious. I later got sent away to finish out my teenage years. The magnitude of your story is so inspiring. Even though you are regretful that you didn't speak up sooner, just know that even in a situation like mine which is so much smaller, much less repercussions of speaking out, less people to think I'm lying, no one worshiping my father... that I still had no courage to speak out. I finally got the courage to demand he tell my mother and at times I regret that I even did that because of the pain she feels now. I can not imagine speaking out to their church. You are brave and strong and I'm so thankful for you.
Oh, dear Jennifer, I just had to respond to you. YOU are strong. YOU are courageous. Just the mere fact that you demanded he tell your mother took huge courage. Trust me, I know. Don't beat yourself up - your strength will increase. Each time you speak the words of truth to someone, that truth will begin losing its power over you and that death grip over your heart will loosen. It doesn't happen overnight. It takes time. You are delicate and wounded. But you have already shown your courage and I applaud you for that.
Someone wrote this yesterday in response to my apology in the Open Letter: "When a person is broken, frightened, and vulnerable, one cannot be held to heroic standards. It is heroic enough to actually leave." That meant so much to me and may resonate with you. Sometime the greatest courage comes in just walking away from the dishonesty and abuse. And the fragility just from doing THAT sent me reeling. I was a mess for quite a while. Sometimes still am. But that's okay, we're only human and doing the best we can.
If you can find a professional to help you, I strongly suggest that. It will make a HUGE difference to have a trained professional walking through this with you.
Thank you for reaching out and for aspiring to live in and deal with your truth. Be patient with yourself, and recognize the Strength that is already within you! ~ Linda
I don't know if you'll remember me or my family but we lived across the street from you in Munster on Ridgeway Ave. Thanks for putting your feelings in writing as it confirms everything I always expected was going on. I remember the day your family moved in on Greenwood. They had a small grey car. I remember playing baseball in your backyard with David and your Dad. David wasn't allowed to play at my house. I remember when you got the pool with the great wall of china around it so nobody could see in. I remember going to FBC with David several times and always thought it was very cultish and finally stopped at the request of my parents. Thanks again for sharing and good luck in your future endeavors.
I hope you remember me, I hope you all remember me as you should. As I and my family where one of the five notorious your father mad an example of for almost a year.
I have read everything I can find about your family because at the age of fourteen my family became yours. Growing up we were a normal, however strict, christian family. After two yeas of being subjected to the school, which I hated by the way, my dad thought it would be a great idea to start attending First Baptist which was the first step straight into hell.
I won't bore you will all the details because my story is just like everyone else's, only I had a mom who didn't give a rat's butt what your dad thought and left. I always saw through the lies, the deception,and hype that was your dad. I could never understand how the members of First Baptist could sit there week after week and listen to all that crap.
Then I married the son of John Penley, one of your dad's best friends and it all became crystal clear. Although I love and respected my in-laws till the day they died they gave me a glimpse into what brain washing was all about.
Linda I am so thankful that you survived and got out. In reading parts of your book I so felt your pain because I felt it to. I felt the betrayal, the hurt, and wanting to matter to a man that I called father, but Linda we DO matter to our real father. He loved us enough to die for us. We are his baby girls and to him we are precious.
I hope you have found happiness and peace, you so deserve it.
A kindred spirit with much prayers to you. A fellow survivor
Linda I so hope you were gone before those idiots sing the song about your dads hair and hackyou must have died of endearment
It's not you who caused her to be in pain. Please don't allow that to pull you down, ok? The whole scenario is due to his bad choices. Not yours for speaking up. You are brave, strong, and worthy.
Thank you so much for speaking out. You have validated the feelings and thoughts of countless people. May many more find the courage to get out and let the healing begin.
Thank you for all the comments posted in the last two days. Rather than responding to each one individually, I am leaving ONE response here as a thank you. I have read and digested every post. Your words mean so much, not only to me, but to others who read the site. This certainly isn't all about me. We ALL help each other heal and touch one another's lives in our own unique ways. Thank you for doing just that.
It's been a rough week, so I've been a bit silent. The day of sentencing was an extremely emotional day. Heartbreaking. Tragic. I think we all felt it. But it really got to me Wednesday, imaging what everyone in my family must be feeling and hurting for them. I kind of fell apart and cried and isolated from the world that day.
But I'm back and moving forward. And I want you to know that your words have touched me and strengthened me.
And I hope that my words will in turn do the same for you.
I attended Hyles-Anderson college in the fall of '87; found out I had cancer that same semester, and wasn't able to finish my degree. I must say that my family was well treated by the "family" at the college and our children would not have known a Christmas were it not for their blessing us. Later, when my wife decided to leave, your dad really helped my young daughter cope with the situation. For those things I'll always be grateful.
I know, in part, being the the "fishbowl" as a pastor's kid myself. Everyone judging, everyone watching to see if the pastor's kid was going to do anything wrong so they could attack my dad for not having control of his own children. However, I didn't have any idea that things were as bad as you've written. Had I known, I would have stood up for you, and consequently been "released" from the college. I am so sorry that you've had to bear the sorrow and anguish of the events of your childhood.
I know that you may never read these words; however, I am grateful to your for your open letter.
Since leaving the school, I have moved on and am now pastor of a little country church. I'll never forget Johnny and Elaine Colston for their help during my cancer (he visited me in the hospital) and her teaching me the "Song leading for Church" class at the college. There are and were some great people there.
I too am sorry for the events surrounding Jack Schaap and his sentencing. I don't know what to say except, I wish that your sister and nieces/nephews didn't have to go through it.
God bless you as you walk in His love and as we grow in His strength and grace.
Of course I read your words, Paul. Thank you. You are correct - there have been MANY good people at FBC through the years. I'm glad you had good experiences and I receive your gracious words with appreciation.
Not only has it taken courage for you to speak out in the TED Talk, but also to build this new site AND allow comments. When I started blogging about my journey, I got a lot of opposition. I got a lot of hate mail. *deep breath* I learned to hit the delete button. ;)
We moved to So Cal and are starting all over. *freedom*
I really can't express any more appreciation for your letter than has been expressed by many others. How do you ever find time to read all the comments? Since I was kicked out of the Do Right site for simply repeating something another well respected contributor to the site said, I have been happily out of the loop of all the dialogue. You know that my family and I were in the "inner circle" for all the years we were there and have many wonderful memories. I grew up with Becky and Tim and many other wonderful teens during the great early years of your dad's ministry there. I did witness the changes over the years but, like the frog that was put into the pan of cold water over heat, enjoyed the warming of the water until I was almost cooked to perfection. I recall how important I felt as my wife and I got close to and spent time with Paula and Dave. I remember vividly one of the last times I talked with your dad and he literally yelled at me for not taking a position he wanted me to fill because it would take more time from my young family. He said I wasn't being loyal to him and for the first time, I saw that he was trying to control me by intimidation. He was a master at that. We left FBC shortly after that and I spent the next couple years thinking I was out of God's (or I should say, Jack Hyles') will. We finally came to the conclusion that there is abundant life after FBC and have been happy ever since. I have read the horror stories of some of my former students who sat in my classes hiding the most awful secrets and wonder what I could have prevented if only I had known or if I heard their stories, would I have believed them. Let me join the long list of those who thank you for your courage and transparency and for your role in the healing process of so many damaged lives.
Don, I can't tell you how much your words meant to me when I read them last night.
The way my dad treated you is inexcusable. But I remember him treating us that way before we left there. He could be so wonderful at times....and then so horrible. And that was very confusing. The dance of an abuser.
I love it that you and Paula are so happy. I keep up with you two through Paula P. and am glad life is good. You deserve it.
Your family was a pillar of FBC and I thought highly of all of you. Thanks for communciating with me and sharing these thoughts. I sincerely appreciate that you took the time to do so.
HEY DON, MAN HOW YOU BEEN? GLAD TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE DOING FINE AND WOULD LIKE FOR YOU TO CONTACT ME ON MY E-MAIL ADDRESS................HOLLA!
Hi Don--not sure if you will remember me, as it has been many years! I too appreciate your post, and my heart is broken because of all the wonderful people from FBC that I'm sure have been hurt...I have never wanted to believe the many things I have heard and read, but I realize there comes a time when the 'evidence' becomes so overwhelming that certain things we have never wanted to believe and accept must be realized...I feel convicted that I never had more discernment, even though we were there during the 'hey days'...I think we will all have to share in the responsibility of allowing and participating in the 'idolotry', and I guess if I would be honest with myself, that is what it was--I join you also in publicly thanking Linda for her courage and honesty, and hope that much good may come from her efforts--she is a brave soul!
Linda, I can't thank you enough for your courage in speaking out. Your video and now your written words are opening the eyes of so many people and helping them to begin listening for our Father's voice for themselves. It's amazing and I will write to you more later about some of those I know you have touched. You reached out to me a few months ago in December, when I posted a frantic plea for prayer and help on the DRHA site - because I was so panicked at trying to attend a church program my daughter was directing. Your words, sharing your own experience in going to your daughter's church ministry were so encouraging to me - I wasn't weak or crazy! Thanks so much for your heart. We've never met, but I feel you are my soul sister.
Cindy, I remember you well and very much remember your fear of going into a church. Not many people "get" that, but I do. I have literally run out of churches before in a panic, so don't ever feel weird when that angst rushes over you. My therapist once said that, for me, going to church is like going back to the scene of a horrible crime...week after week after week. It's like being raped in an alley and then visiting that alley several times a week. Who does that?!
I have been able to embrace the concept of God rather easily and not blame Him for all that happened. But to be honest with you, church is never going to be a comfortable place for me. It's my crime scene, my alley....a huge trigger. I don't beat myself up for that.
But, like you, my daughter is very involved in church. She is music minister and her husband is pastor, and I want to occasionally be a part. So I sometimes wander inside their church, without a sedative even! And each time it is easier. Never easy. But I can do it for her sake at times.
I appreciated your sharing that trauma, because so many people relate to it. Kudos to you for being vulnerable and making it past such a big hurdle that night.
I graduated from HAC in '79. I thought I wanted to marry a preacher, and, at the time, I wished my father was a preacher. What can I say? I was drinking the koolaid:)
As I matured and learned from my Garland friends about Dave and then about Joe Combs (my Bible teacher), my eyes began to realize my dad was not so bad after all.
I don't remember all the sermons your dad preached, but I do remember a visual he gave us from the platform one Sunday night. He reached up to heaven and then reached out to others, and he repeated the movement. Ironically, I believe that is what you are doing. You are not just "taking", you are "giving" to others.
I admire your courage and your ability to be vulnerable. I'm a fan for life.
Hello Linda. I am not sure if you remember me, i was in your graduating class of 75. It was my first year at the school as my family had just moved to the area. I was not happy about being forced to go to a new school in a new state, my senior year. So i didnt really act to friendly to anyone. Mr. Paasch our principal was always so nice to me. I would do anything to try and get out of going to school, even rolling my skirts up so i would be sent home. When I barely graduated and moved out on my own i wanted nothing to do with church or the Bible. Over the years I realized that God wants a personal relationship with us. Not following man-made rules. I just wanted to let you know i have been following all the things that have happened and wanted to thank you for the dear letter you wrote to the church. I cried mostly through it because I realized why you were so quiet in High school. You had to be. I always thought you just thought you were better than the rest of us and I realize now I was wrong, so wrong., and for that I am so sorry. I can not imagine having to live a life as you did. But I am so happy for where you are now. It is so freeing when you realize that we are a child of the most High...that He loves us, sent His Son to die for us and nothing we could ever do could seperate us from that love. I didnt know your sister Cindy, but oh how my heart feels so bad for her.Ever since this whole Jack Schappe thing started i have been praying for her for her eyes to be opened. Anyway none of this is your fault, but i think the letters, all of this has been a big help to those who are hurting. I thank you for your honesty it means so much. You are in my prayers. You are a very special person to do what you are ..
There wre many times I wnated to get out of the church because of things Bro. Hyles said, but the I would think oh maybe I took him wrong, But as the time went on, I decided I would never step foot in a church, except for funerals, and weddings I have held myself to that truth. My huband and I both believe that if a person wants to pray or read his bible he can do that in his or her home. It hurts to see and hear the many things that go on in churches.First baptist church was always like a second home to us. We loved everyone there, so yes we were hurt when we heard everything. All of us siblings talk about the good things the we did as children and teenagers there. Our childhood memories will still be in our hearts.
I think about all the pain all 4 of you children went through and it breaks my heart., But at least you 4a are there for each other now, All 4 of us sisters are cose now, and it makes me so happy. It is the best feeling in the world to talk to now. I never thought thy'ever talk to me again. Ther are some wounds to th heart, but we wre finally sisters again. I really am sincerely glad. you, Cindy, David. and Becky are close again.
Thanks for your comment, Linda. I agree with you about the going to church thing. I do not think that: going to church = spirituality. Often to the contrary. Many people substitute religion or religious activities for spirituality. I do not believe it is at all a sin not to attend church. Personally, I rarely go to church because it's just too hard on me. When I sit in a pew, I suddenly feel like I am eight years old again, my stomach is a bundle of nerves, I'm suspicious of my surroundings and the pastor - and I tend to panic. I'm not sure I'll EVER get past what seems to be a measure of PTSD. I've tried and it hasn't worked for me. But I'm fine with that, because being inside a building is not necessary nor indicative of a spiritual relationship. For me personally , it is actually detrimental to my own spirituality, which the average person finds very difficult to understand. But I am not living my life to please them - so it doesn't matter who understands as long as I am happy and at peace with my spiritual path.
For many people, church is a wonderful thing where they learn and grow and develop a strong, supportive social network - those are great things. So I am thrilled for people whose various needs are met in church. It's just not for everyone, especially people who have been abused by church. Thank you for your honesty. People need to realize that they are not horrible people if they don't go to church. That does not define who you are, nor does it define your spirituality.
Isn't online church great? PTSD is a reality, not just for war veterans. Glad you mentioned this, Linda. I just heard you TEDx broadcast last night. We got out of HAC-situation b/c of the "KJV" issue--being raised in a Chicago home with parents who loved Moody Bible Institute and Billy Graham, my husband, myself, and the 4 other siblings that graduated from HAC KNEW that we did not agree w/ the KJV-only. I am grateful to God for Gene Getz's books, just breaking out in the tiny way (accepting all sorts of versions of the Bible) was the key, for me, then we would read an author, etc. I thank God for my cousin and husband (Moody graduates) who LOVED US through all our blind-fanaticism; the Holy Spirit keeps us connected. I had no idea what you were doing, I saw you in the halls at HAC and you always had a wonderful smile, but randomly, over the past 30 years, I would have a day where I could not get you out of my mind--I learned to use that as a sign to pray. In 2011 and early last year, I could not get Cindy out of my mind. We are the same age, she got enganged to Jack a few months after I got engaged, and our diamonds were huge--that was the one conversation I enjoyed having w/ her, somewhere she happened to be waiting for something, and I asked did it bug her b/c people bragged how big the diamond was, and she smiled and said 'yes' and I told her that I only wanted a gold ring w/ leafs on it, but my fiance grew up next to the town jeweler, and got a deal....(apologizing for it sounds so stupid today, but I had a long time worrying that I was not a good Christian b/c of a few nice things I had). ANYWAY, all this time, esp for Cindy, I have prayed. My brother finally told me about Jack--I am so far removed from any fundamentalism, that I only felt bad for the victim. My prayer for HAC (for over 20 years) has been to turn it into a non-denominational retreat center. In conclusion, this has been too long, I realize, after recognizing severl names in the comments, that I am so happy to hear of the few people I remember doing OK. And also that my siblings/family attends the following type of churches: Bible, So. Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Community and Episcopalian churches--I am so happy for all. My one brother turned away from God, but LOVE is the key, and we have good dialogue, you can learn so much from laying down any pre-conceived idea someone pounded into your head about evangelism, and embrace the Bible, and ask for Holy Spirit to give you the LOVE and WORDS--the lost are hungry for LOVE. THANK YOU LINDA, God's Blessing over, under, left, right, back, front as you give out your beautiful smile and good words--WELL DONE, of course, by God's Sweet Mercy. Your Friend Sue
Linda, the truth does set us free, indeed! I moved away in 1974 and because of the distance was able to shake off the blinders I wore while I grew up at FB. Fortunately, truth, even though taught by a pastor that is secretly living in sin, is still Truth. It was the scripture and truth that I learned from your father that brought me through my "dark night of the soul" in the '80s. The Lord used him in spite of himself. I know that it was truth that brought you out, too.
Blessings on you and your family!
I doubt that you will remember me, I was not of your church. I lived a few doors down from you on Greenwood Ave. Over the years you have always weighed on my mind , one day when walking home we had a short conversation I don't remember the words at all just that I came away with the feeling you were the sadist person I had ever met. My home was one in which anyone and everyone was welcome my folks took in foster children and our basement was full of troubled teens all needing mostly love. After our meeting I tried to convince my mother we needed to find a way to get you out of your home she of course thought I was nuts and shut me down. But my feelings never left me you have always been in my thoughts and prayers. How refreshing it was to know you found your way out and a way to reconcile your past and move past it. God always has a way to help us find a way out if we look and believe and trust. I am so glad you found yours.
I do remember a girl named April down the street. What your last name Pitts back then? I don't remember many kids in the neighborhood, because we were usually not allowed to play with kids who didn't attend our church. But I vaguely remember an "April" on Greenwood - same side of the street as our house, right?
Wow, your message really touched me profoundly. So many people have written to me telling me how sad I seemed in my childhood, which is interesting. We don't see ourselves as others see us. I was often quite sad and worried, but I didn't realize others saw it. I thought I was putting on a good front - oh well, guess not.
The fact that you cared so much back then touches me, as does the fact that you care enough to reach out to me now. You seem like a remarkable person. Thank you for expressing these beautiful thoughts.
the name back then was Gouwens and we were across the street and down a few houses. I knew you weren't allowed to see many kids because I tried and never got past who answered the door.
Linda, there are many things I wanted to get off my chest for many years, but me being the shy type person I,ve kept it to myself. When I went to the Hammond Baptist schools, I felt inferior, because My sister Kathie made 99% of my clothe´s on a sewing machine. I felt some of the kids looked down on me for that. I wish I could,ve wore new clothes too. I ended running away from home at 16,because I felt some thought they were better tha me. I did'nt run away from home because of my parents,because they were good parents. I still carry guilt for what I put my parents through. You just have to do your best and carry on. As a result of having hurt feelings at the school I started rebelling agaist my parents at 16 years old, I never told my parents. My mother asked me what was wrong and I said nothing. I wish I would've told them, then maybe I wouldn't carry around the guilt. At least I have a good husband who I can talk to about things. None of us are perfect, we live and we learn.
I commend you for your courage in speaking out against & apologizing for the spiritual abuse you have known of personally & your ongoing recovery from such horrors. While not a member of First Baptist Church of Hammond, I (almost literally) work "in its shadow" The similarities to a "cult following" are somewhat eerie. I can only begin to imagine what it must have been like growing up in such a household. Having grown up in a household with domestic violence, I can appreciate some of what you may have endured with "keeping the secret."
Thanks for your courage & forthrightness in speaking out.
I'm at work and not able to delve into this as much as I want to right now, but on your homepage, shouldn't paragraph 4 say "Through a truly..." instead of "Though a truly..."
Thanks for catching that, Jeff! Ugh, I hate it when I'm not perfect (which is always). Correction made.
OPPS......LOL.....ANOTHER MISTAKE,,,,,The fact that you cared so much back then touches me, as does the fact that you now care enough to (each) out to me.
Geesh, you people are brutal! :) Thanks, Troy.
Just wanted to say a big THANK YOU for taking care of my Chapter One purchase issue (mentioned earlier today) so quickly!
You are one of the most courageous and honest people I have come across in my life. I attended FBC when your father was at the helm. I watched it grow from the smaller building to the massive one it is today. I was in my early teens when I started, around 1964, and left the church in 1968. The things I saw and know to have happened during that time have "scarred" my life toward organized religion. I have tried, without any luck, to find a church home. Every church I have attended, I find myself looking for wrong doings. It is also difficult to "believe" in what the pastors are saying on the pulpit while seeing the "politics" of the church itself. I do have a strong relationship with God and try to live my life the way our Father has taught. I continue to search for my "church home" and know that one day I will find it.
I look forward to reading your book as I feel it is a small part of my life too. Mine do not in any way compare to the things you lived through, but I do have first hand knowledge of some "shady dealings" in FBC.
It was very difficult learning to trust again. My heart goes out to you.
Thank you so much for your courage to come forward, and "Just as I am", I will find my own courage to belong.
Your journey sounds a bit similar to mine, Terry, as does your angst about church. I struggle with those same feelings. Thank you for sharing.
I will get into so much "trouble" for commenting on your site. You see I am still very much "in" the cult. I am required to keep up appearances for the ministry's sake. I so want out...but have been so brainwashed into thinking that my children don't stand a chance any where else. Surely you remember the stories being told of all the tragedies suffered by folks who left FBC all of which could have been avoided if they had only stayed. I will tell you from first hand, current, experience....it's very convincing!
I was a very young child when you left FBC. All of the people mentioned in your letter who eventually left...I was taught to hate. (I remember the day my mom threw away the Lewis sister's tapes because they had "turned on Jack Hyles") I have a best friend from high school who I don't even speak to any more because she and her husband left "god's will" 8 years ago. ( I didn't capitalize god because now I realize it wasn't "God's will" but "Jack's will".) I was so withdrawn from her during a time when she was seeking healing. I grieve over my un-Christ-like behavior towards her and hope to reconnect in the future.
As a child, in 1989, my siblings and I were forbidden from reading any news articles or talking about anything that the "bad people" were saying about Jack Hyles. Still to this day my parents would have a heart attack if they knew I doubted Jack Hyles' morality.
I, like you, love the many dear people who made me who I am. I fear if I left they would think less of me and my family would bear the brunt of their disdain.
Ironically enough ...I am named after you. I may end up being the black sheep of my family too.
Lynn, I left FBC in 1987. I understand exactly where you are coming from. There are also "horror" stories of people who stayed in FBC but they of course do not tell about those. I now attend Bethel in Crown Point and have a closer walk with God than I have ever had. I would be glad to talk with you Confidentially if it would help you. NancySBall@hotail.com
Thank you. My younger sister has already reached out to me with support. She and her husband left years ago to pastor a like minded church. My parents have since moved to that church. But since I still have siblings, aunts and uncles here, some of whom are on staff, I don't think I can bring myself to hurt them. I am probably a lifer. But I long to have the courage of LInda. I does bless my heart to have someone extend kindness. Thank you
My parents threw away tapes of people who left too. But strangely, we had to listen to a guest speaker tell us he was going to read ALL of Jack Schaap's books again and we shouldn't get rid of them.
Linda's blog and letter will help so many current FBC members whether or not they will admit it out loud. Thank you for your stand.
Lynn, I have had you on my mind ever since I read your email yesterday and have been pondering how to respond. I think if you read your email back to yourself, you'll find answers to your questions. You have numerous red flags in your mind that you are desperately trying to ignore.
Think about your own words, "I was taught to hate." That statement alone is horrible - a church that teaches people to hate? And do you want your children to learn to hate? Do you want to pass down this type of religious fear and venom to them?
I DO understand your own fear about all this. I remember it well and even sometimes now feel a twinge of it. But if fear is what is keeping you there, that's not a good reason. Listen to your instincts -don't ignore them.
I also took note of your comment: "I...have been so brainwashed into thinking that my children don't stand a chance any where else." You admit you have been brainwashed - listen to your own words.
I also want to tell you, Lynn, that your children will THANK you for doing what is best for them. Last year my daughter said, "You know, Mom, I don't think I have ever really said this to you - but I want to thank you for not raising us in fundamentalism. I am so thankful my perspective of God is not what is taught in that environment." She's such an awesome girl and I have never regretted her not being a part of that world. Never. Nor has she.
I'm not telling you to leave. I'm just telling you to listen to yourself. Re-read your words out loud. They are alarming. No one should have that kind of angst about their church. Based on what you expressed, I think you already know what is best for you and for your family. I can't make that decision for you, but to be honest, Lynn - I think you've already made the decision in your heart. You've just been paralyzed by fear and haven't acted on it. But if it's the right thing to do, you CAN do it. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of you. It doesn't matter who rejects you. If they reject you for doing what is in your best interest and the best interest of your family - then they are not healthy people and you may have to create distance from them.
Oh, how my heart aches for you. All I am suggesting is that you listen to your own words and listen to your instincts. You already know what to do and I KNOW you have the inner strength to do it. My best to you, Lynn.
Linda, Wow, where to begin. I did not go to FBC, but I was your so called neighbor. I went to Fairhaven, during the so called "glory" years. I remember playing you all in sports, attending Pastors school, and so much more, until they kept us separated saying such horrible things. Sounds like life was not much different there. So sorry for what you have gone through, and will continue to go through. The only difference is that Roger Voegtlin is still on the throne. I attended Fairhaven from k-4 through college. I have since been "rescued" by my husband. Who came to college from Michigan. When he took me out I was afraid for many years. Thinking Roger Voegtlin was god, and was coming to find me. I have since been out since 1997, and have, what I call detoxed. I now know God is loving and caring. I do not have to be afraid. So glad you have found this peace too.. When I tell my story, many cannot comprehend its truth. I know we would be kindred spirits! Thank you for standing up for what you believe in. I too feel that sence of guilt, trying to know who could have been helped if I could have stood up sooner. There are many of us that have stood up against the staff of Fairhaven. They are still an empire, that has not fallen, but I believe God will not be mocked and some day it will fall also. I have babbled enough. Thank you for sharing, april
I am Andrea Murphrey's brother and attended HAC 1979-1983. Although I have never met you I can definitely relate to the pain and confusion you have experienced growing up in a legalistic church and family. My father was strongly influenced by your dad for many years. In fact, he required that Andrea and I attend HAC even though I was not called to go into the mininstry. In my 4 years @ FBC and HAC the one thing that I observed that was lacking the most was LOVE. Like Paul has said in I Corinthians if I have enough faith to move mountains and understand all mysteries but have not charity "I am nothing". Nevertheless, I am glad that Romans 8.28 is still in the Bible and God does work all things together for good. Even though the 4 years I spent @ HAC were the worst 4 years of my life "God meant it for good" in that I met my wife there in my senior year. She is a gift from God and made my time there worthwhile. I pray that God will give you spiritual healing and fill your life with love and joy and peace. "the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace..." There is still a lot of salt out there and a lot of good God fearing, Christ (not man) centered, loving churches out there that I am sure could be a help to you.
Hi, David. So good to hear from you. I remember you and, of course, Andrea. I mean, you're kind of like family, right?
Thanks for your message. I agree with everything you said. You and Andrea never were HAC types and didn't quite fit in there - and I mean that as a compliment. You're welcome. :) I really liked and thought highly of you both. I'm glad you are doing well and appreciate your kind words.
My best to you and your family. And please give Andrea my love. Thanks, David.
WHAT CAN I SAY THAT HASN'T ALREADY BEEN SAID. WOW! I HAVE MIXED EMOTIONS. I COULD ONLY ADMIRE YOU FROM A DISTANCE BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW YOU BUT KNEW WHO YOU WERE. YOU WERE ALWAYS CLASSY IN MY EYES. YOUR BROTHER FOR SOME REASON WAS ALWAYS KIND TO ME AND BEFRIENDED ME. WE DIDN'T HANG OUT TOGETHER EXCEPT FOR ACTIVITIES IN SUNDAY SCHOOL. MY SISTER ANITA AND BROTHER BOBBY WERE ACTIVE IN THEIR EARLY YEARS AT FBC. I CAN HONESTLY SAY THAT I FELT IN MY SPIRIT SOMETHING WAS WRONG BUT I COULD NEVER PUT MY FINGER ON IT UNTIL I LEFT AND MOVED TO ARKANSAS. THEN ALL THESE RUMORS CAME OUT AND I WOULD HEAR ABOUT THEM AND IT SADDENED ME. HONESTLY I DID MANY TIMES RESENTED YOUR DAD CAUSE OF THE WAY I FELT HE CONTROLLED PEOPLE AND I ALWAYS FELT LIKE HE WANTED TO BE PRAISED AND WORSHIPED BUT KEPT IT TO MYSELF. HE HAD TO MUCH POWER AND I FELT HE WAS ABUSEING IT. BUT WHO WAS I TO SAY. I DIDN'T HAVE THE FACTS OR PROOF OF ANYTHING OTHER THAN A GUT FEELING THAT SOMETHING WAS NOT RIGHT. BUT WAS GLAD TO LEAVE AND MOVED TO ARKANSAS AND FELT FREE AS YOURSELF WHEN YOU LEFT. HEY DON OLSON WAS A GOOD PERSON THAT I REMEMBER FROM FBC. I'M GLAD TO KNOW THAT HE IS DOING GOOD. LINDA, THE HEALING HAS ALREADY BEGUN AND MANY WILL BE SET FREE BECAUSE OF WHAT YOU HAVE DONE BY BRING OUT THE TRUTH THAT NO ONE KNEW UNTIL NOW. WOW, YOUR AN AMAZING WOMAN! IS YOUR MOTHER STILL LIVING? IF SHE IS HOW IS SHE DOING? ANITA ALWAYS TALKED ABOUT HOW SWEET YOUR MOTHER WAS.
I currently live in Hammond and a couple of times, my children went to the FBC but I wasn't comfortable with it and they found they liked the smaller church in our neighborhood better. I grew up in Alabama in the Assembly of God faith but my cousin was a big Baptist preacher and I know he knew your dad. Unfortunately James passed away a few years ago as I would love to sit down with him and ask many questions. Linda, my heart really breaks for you and many others who were abused by people who should have cared the most. I've always heard rumors about FBC and so glad I never became a part of it.
Linda,Please look at Hedgewisch Baptist for Win Worleys books on Deliverance.I only visted the church and school for 3 days because I was sent to pray for the GARBAGE that was going on..tons of Jezebel.!! I have done warfare for 7 straight days and GOD is fixing everything..EVEN the idolitry..!!! Just uproot every evil seed planted and ask God to kill it at the roots.!!! DELIVERANCE USING GODS WORD AND THE HOLY SPIRIT..!!! Thank you for praying for GOD to fix the damage HE is and using us that are not even Baptist to help...when one in the body hurts we all hurt..GOD is on HIS throne and is the head of the church and HE IS coming to rescue many that have been hurt by the Catholic influeance that was used there at Hammond First Baptist... PS.107:19-20 THANK GOD FOR GRACE AND MERCY.!!!
my mom made me stop going. I was a "bus-kid" as well, and eveything I did revolved around FBC. I couldnt figure out why my mom was forcing me to stop going and I always found a way to sneak out of the house and go to church, I was really good at finding a way to church. I would cry when I was not allowed to go, I would do extreme things...when I cried to the point where I could no longer control my emotions, I would begin to cut myself. My life was hectic and I could not figure out why. Honestly, there is still a strong feeling deep inside of me to return to church. I have made plans to attend HAC in 2014...an to be honest, I can't figure out the horrors that you speak of. I become convinced of the horrors, I try to tell my "workers" about them and I feel better afterwards- They convince me that everything is okay, and that FBC is not a cult after all.Can we say confusion!? I'm not even 18 yet, I cannot even grasp the concept of it all.
Linda,we just buried my father in law, so things have been hectic lately. He was a good man. I believe with all my heart your dad was a good man as my father was. I also believe we had good moms too. Whatever happens in life we just have to move on. I am very thankful to have had the most wonderful parents ever. What is the project you are working on? Curiosity that's all. Linda We grew up in the same church,and for that I only hope the best for you. I really mean that from my heart. I guess it affects someone more if they grew up with people. Take care. Linda
Dear Linda, I was born in 1972 to David and Joan (Zwart) VanderHoogt. My grandparents Mezzo and Walter VanderHoogt and I know my grandmother Anna Zwart as well as my parents were members of FBC. Growing up I have always had nightmares about the Sunday school floor and around the nursery area. I am in therapy and coming to terms with sexual abuse I endured (from a few people whom I will not name) as a child. But those memories about that hallway have continued to haunt me over the years. I went to the Wikipedia website to read up on the church and your father today and it talks about a deacon who was charged for molestation. As soon as I seen his name fear flowed through me. I was too young to remember what happened to me but I know in my heart something did. I called my mom and told her about it and she told me not to dwell on it. I will not dwell on it but now I know and have my own confirmation that I am not crazy and with my therapy I have some more answers and can continue to move past the hurt I endured as a child. I do not blame you for not speaking up sooner. As children we are taught to respect our parents and obey them. I am so grateful that you have come forward with your story and I would like to say to anyone out there that has been abused physically or emotionally to continue pray to our wonderful Savior for peace and the ability to forgive those who have hurt us. I would also suggest counseling for those who can not deal with these issues on their own or try to mask them with drugs and or alcohol. PTSD and depression need treatment they don't go away on their own. I can testify to that because my brother suffered from depression and took his life on March 18th of this year. So I will pray everyday for those who have been hurt and I will pray for you everyday for you to continue to have the strength in your mission in truth. God Bless you and all of the true believers in Christ our Lord.
Crystal, I remember you mom, dad and grandparents well. Tell your mom hello for me. May God bring healing to you for what you have suffered. Feel free to contact me.
May the Lord continue to give you healing and joy in him as you continue to expose the cult that your father turned into. When I first heard your father speak, it was before he had people worshipping him, and God spoke to my heart. I thought he was a genuine man of God who had powerful gifts. I did not hear him for many years, until the mid 80's, again. It was then that I visited the church again and was shocked at the cult mentality, at the Pharasaical mindset that pervaded the whole place. I saw the eyes that looked glazed over and heard the people who were so enamored with Jack Hyles that they hardly knew God. My best friend at that time was a recent graduate. His life rose and fell on Jack Hyles' words. He would not make a move in life if he did not check with Dr. Hyles. He pastored little church after little church and ruined each one. His wife eventually found the courage to leave him. his daughters wouuld not speak to him once they got their heads on straight. But still he kept what he called his integrity. I was appalled. When his wife first left him, I called him and said "Friend, you have to let go of these stupid standards and ideas that you have oppressed your family with (You know it is far more than dress standards)." I told him that he needed to do anything to save his marriage. His response amazes me to this day. "If I can hold onto my standards through this divorce, I am a real man of God." He lost everything. Still to this day, he holds on. I called him and asked him, when Jack Schaap fell, what he thought. He said "I am praying for the family." And that is all. I have not given up on him, but my heart breaks for him.
Bob, I'm so sorry about your best friend. It's hard to watch someone you love gradually change like that. You doubt yourself, question the accuracy of your perception. You give them the benefit of the doubt, hoping the change is temporary. You occasionally see glimpses of who they used to be and cling to that person, not the new one. Then you wake up and realize they aren't going to go back to who they used to be. They are now THIS person, someone who is destructive toward others or controlling of others - someone you can't have a steady dose of in your life if you're going to be strong and healthy.
I agree with you. I believe my dad was sincere in the early days of FBC. I think the power was too much and he slowly changed until we didn't recognize who he was, who he had become, but felt guilty if we acknowledged what we saw.
I think that kind of power is too much for anyone. Did God really intend for churches to be what they've become? Are mega-churches what God had in mind? I have to wonder. I personally think not.
Thanks for your thought-provoking comments. I wish you well.
For years and years I felt so ashamed that I as a Mother put my children in a school and church where I thought they would be safe. I fell into this trap and didn't know how to get out. My daughter suffered and still is because of DH at the youth center. She was beautiful, bright and smart and only 13 when she was violated. A nightmare for her that is still there. I have learned over the years to let go of the shame I had for not bringing this out in the open. Now maybe she will read The Book and finally get some long needed peace.
Thankyou Linda for helping yourself because since you did that you have helped many to heal. I love you like a daughter.
Your courage can save a generation. Be bold, be brave, be truthful and you will have no regrets. There is great healing in truth. You lose nothing when you speak the truth, you gain everything when you seek to please our only King and Savior Jesus Christ. I am praying for you...
Thank you for publishing the open letter to FBC. I was a member there while attending HAC in the late 70's and early 80's. Although, I follow your rationale for issuing an apology in your letter, it should have been issued by any other member of your family but you - because you saw what was going on and left. Unexpectedly I cried when I read it. It has been so long since I was in the cult but my heart was touched.
While reading the comments in the guestbook I saw where you talked about not attending church often and I have to confess, I'm the same. I have tried and tried to find a comfortable church but eventually quit going. I become sick at my stomach when entering a church. For the past several years I've also sobbed during hymns being sung. I don't know why - it's very strange. People, of course, want to help but I don't know what to tell them. Going down to an altar makes it worse. There is no quick fix. I've gone to counselors and read books but I think it just takes a lot of time to heal from spiritual abuse. In my case, my whole life.
Sites like this help me. Over the years I've been on the FFF forum, SFL forum and the latest at Facebook on the DRHAC and DRFBC pages and here. I've met many former HACers who are going through the same thing and have envied them finding a church family. I just don't think I ever will. My husband thinks I'll never find a church because I simply cannot believe that any preacher is telling the truth.
I realize this is a pretty disjointed comment. Just wanted to tell you to keep up the good work! For me this is one more site to maybe make some sense of my spiritual life and the shambles I made of it by joining a cult many years ago.
My brother Gene attended HAC from 1975-1979. I attend HBHC during the same years. When my parents first attended the church we lived in Barrington, IL. They were so enamored with your dad and the church that we literally drove every weekend for an hour and a half one way - to attend services. Eventually my dad became a deacon, my brother preached and I sang in Sweet Sixteen.
I remember sitting in services hearing the messages about purity and shaking with fear because I knew I was already used up and dirty (I had been molested as a child). I knew there was no hope for me and believed my life was over before it began. When I graduated high school I became involved with a young man - when the church leaders found out I had lost my virginity that summer, I was called into your dads office and told I would not be attending HAC in the fall. At the time it was the deepest shame I could've put my parents through. I was put on a plane and sent to Liberty (the liberal school) for college. I spent years as an outcast in my family. My brother would not speak to me for years when he found out I was no longer pure.
I have spent a lifetime seeking a relationship with God. He is much more forgiving than His people. I listen to all the talk about those days in Hammond. I new about your brother - rumors spread... At the end of the day...I can only answer for myself. I have a relationship with God these days - hard to imagine because....I wear pants and I listen to contemporary music. I have also been through intense therapy with a Christian therapist. I share all this to say. You did good girl. Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. HE is good and faithful and merciful and has shown himself to be a God of unconditional love and forgiveness. Blessings - Judy
I really wasn't apart of everything at FBC or HBHS. My dad was a deacon there, I was forcex to attend so I made the best of it. You were always kinda quite. I hope everything can heal it time. My heart goes out to you Linda. TY for the letter. Stay Strong!
Were your parents there in the 60's? Was Todd Cunningham related to you. I think I remember your family.
Thank you for your Freedom, Truth, and Courage. You are a truly inspiring message! Thank you for inspiring me and others! May God bless your true Soul Winning!
I will try to remember you and those involved in this ongoing situation of pain in my prayers!
I appreciate the fact that you have mentioned a couple times, that before Jack Hyles came to FBC that it was a good church. Many times through the years, he would bring up in sermons that before he came the church was not nearly what he made it to be. Even when I was a "gung ho" follower, I always resented those unkind remarks about the "pre-Hyles FBC." I was 15 when he came and had been in that church since birth. It was a good church and I came to know the Lord through what I learned in those early years and what my parents taught me at home. It was a soul-winning church before he came. So thank you for that. We did wear pants and have beach parties and what great memories of those good times I have.
I am a survivor at 60 year old. I have been in the IBF churches all my life and even been in full-time ministry with a graduate and former staff member of FBC. It has been long uphill trail but there is hope.....in living in freedom everyday. I am glad that the Lord was gracious to me and lead me out to people that really cared for me and my soul and not just about what I wore, my attitude, outward appearance.
Just wanted to say Happy Mother's Day. Can't thank you enough for sticking yourself out there like this with truth that sets free! I read your first and second chapter and it's so well done. We are cousins of Jeremy Lape. We had some more cousins visit a few weeks ago and they asked us how do we spell faith? They said R-I-S-K. Thank you for taking the risk of telling the truth. Truth really does set us free, but it does cost, and quite a high price,... like your very self! No greater love than this! That's what we felt after reading your open letter, loved, and great love for you.
I went to H.B.H.S. in the middle of my freshman yr. Cindy was a junior. It was shortly after my mom 42, sister 9, and cousin 7, had all been killed in a car accident. I was very vulnerable and insecure and had several checks in my spirit to so many things at FBC after coming out of a little Bible church. But everything looked so perfect and there were sooo many people, I thought I must be wrong. Your open letter brings healing! Even after finding much healing - your openness heals places we didn't realize were still unresolved. My husband Ben and I met at Hyles-Anderson and he went through many years of depression. It was so hard to leave for fear of leaving the "perfect will of God", but we finally had to because the depression became severe. It's taken many years of searching to find the real Jesus, As Erik Metexas described at the Presidential prayer breakfast, A real Person with a capital P. Who has a real personality not made up by a man, and is more than wonderful! This journey we have been on together with you, only apart, has still been worth it. I wonder if we hadn't experienced the legalism to the point of being very hurt by it, if we would have embarked on the very effort-full journey to find The Truth. I wonder if we would have stuck with religion our whole lives! So like your thankfulness we are thankful too, even for process. I often ask myself, What kind of God makes beauty out of ashes? Ours! And why wouldn't He just make beauty out of beauty? Because No flesh can Glory in His presence, takes away all comparison! You are sparkling some pretty awesome beauty out of all of the ashes! Your words paint a beautiful picture revealing your sweet heart, the risk even now you take, is amazing. It reminds me of this amazing Jesus of ours, who laid down himself even unto death, for the joy set before Him... us! Thank you, even if you, for this lifetime, are the only one of your family, to help set people free! I love that verse in John 17.... And THIS is eternal life, that we might Know Him! Thanks for pulling down the curtain, like in the wizard of Oz, so we can finally turn and find the real Jesus! Where we become Complete - in Him!
I sure relate on your trauma of going back into church. For many years after our car accident after waking up in intensive care, both legs broken, and still have an empty grave next to my mom and sister, 1/2 my family gone, and staying there several weeks, hospital's did that to me too! The smells, sounds, and memories made me shake. But with all this healing, I'm free now to go in and out in joy! taking back all the territory the enemy has stolen from us. With such a great price Jesus paid for our freedom, I've been seeking Him for ways to take back everything He died for. You making yourself this vulnerable is giving me courage to write this. I was so intimidated by your family, I would never risk writing you. My step-mom and dad took me to see your dad after they married because I was really not wanting to talk to her, let alone live with her, or ...live at all. But in those dark days, your dad was very kind to me. And there began the idolatry for me. I've struggled with idolatry in other area's since leaving there, and one day I heard the Lord say to me in that still small voice and a sparkle in His eye....."It's my hearts desire ... to be your hearts desire".... Me???? Never feeling good enough Me??? Never in a billion years would I have thought, the beautiful you, would be suffering as intensely. When the whole reason for our being, is simply to Love Him! The war goes on for our hearts... In Satin's own words.... I will be like the most High God... what desire can he use today, to prevent us from our reason to exist .... desiring The One who made us for Himself! Your dad sure stole my heart that day in his office, feeling understood,...... and so many things since then have stole my heart, and they all fall so short, that they keep me running back into those Ever Lasting Arms only seen through Risking to use Faith eyes. I wish I could hug you and someday share with you the hidden pretty awfulness of my own family, just to say you are not alone! My niece told me about a chapel service she went to at Olivet College where a very courageous former homosexual shared his story how he met and married a former lesbi
continued ...a former lesbian had 2 children and then felt God was calling him to be a youth pastor. When the church he attended soon needed a youth pastor he went to the pastor and said he felt called. The pastor told him if he was to do that he would have to meet with ALL the parents and tell them his full past, so he agreed to risk it all, got up in front of them and told all the details of his past, ... as a large red faced, red haired father stood in the back with his arms tightly crossed. After he finished speaking in his trembling voice, reminding me of your first Ted talk, who should be the first one to raise his hand, but that father! .... He said in his strong southern voice, son, I recon if each one of us, had to stand up there and give an account for all the sins in our lives, we couldn't have done a better job than you just did, I think you will do just fine! That reminded me of an illustration in the book, Radical, picturing Jesus like a toothpick and all the sins of the world like Niagara Falls, poured out on Him, and He bore the whole thing, all of it on Himself!! For our freedom! That we can connect wholly with Him, what Radical Love. Reminds me of the song...".And when I think, that God his son not sparing, sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in, that on the cross, my burden, gladly baring He bled and died to take away my sin, then sings my soul.." Thank you for risking to stand alone against the throngs of Religious Spirits. For us, it can feel like a lonely place looking at their numbers, but Jesus out shines them all and He alone is worthy. Thank you for letting His courage flow through you, for such a time as this! We are looking forward to reading the rest of your amazing story! Way too many things I want to share with you, but the double life explanation was so helpful! We felt that so deep when Ben and I would sing together for the young couples class, knowing we were struggling terribly in every area of our lives but trying to look like it was all good, never feeling safe to be real! Always feeling like the outside was so much more important than the inside. We took some awesome Freedom Classes with Bob Hamp, a licenced clinical Pshychologist they put on staff at Gateway Church in Dallas, Tx. They offer them free online and wow are they helpful! It's free to get free, amazing! Your chapters make me want to talk way too much so I will try to end with, a very big Thank you! After listening to your radio interview, You sure remind me of the Velveteen Rabbit! A little fur rubbed off but real! Have you considered doing an audio of your chapters? You have such a nice speaking voice and so pleasant to listen to! Loved your Mother's Day post today, so true. Big warm hugs to you.
Supporting all those who expose this massive problem of child abuse in our communities , from all your friends Tom Thumb and friends. Thank you.
Hey, Linda! Just finished reading Chapter 3 and crying again! Reading this chapters is like visiting my past life, and there are times I'm still shaken by how painful those visits can be. Someone asked me once how I would feel if something happened to my ex-husband (we've been divorced over 20 years). I thought about it, then realized it would be like it happened to someone I used to know. Of course, I would hurt for my daughter coping with her feelings about her father; but personally, all those feelings were gone for me. Little by little, as I experience more and more of living without the guilt and shame of my IFB years, it's like shedding layer after layer of weight. Looking forward to a point when I can look back or talk about those experiences without the overwhelming pain. But I don't know that I ever want it ALL to go away. You've no doubt realized that it's memory of our own pain that makes us empathetic to the pain of others coming out of it. Thanks for sharing your memories and journey. There is definite healing in knowing that others walked this path and are coming out of it recovered and happy and free. Your pain is being turned into encouragement to me and many others.
Always supporting all those who expose this massive problem of "Domestic Violence" in all our communities. From all your friends at Tom Thumb and friends. Thank you.
Thank you so much, David.
You are a truly inspiring message! Thank you for inspiring me and others! May God bless your true Soul Winning!
You don't know me, and to be honest, I had never heard of you. I was a "preacherboy" at HAC from 2001 to 2006. I was a fervent follower of your brother-in-law and tried my best to study your father and his ministry. They regularly showed sermons by your father in classes and chapel and set up a museum on campus. I struggled there for many years because nothing made sense, but it was all I had ever known. It wasn't until years later after getting out of the "system" that I was able to grow. Thank you so much for your courage! I saw your Tedx talks about a year ago and it really helped me on my journey. I'm sorry for the path you were forced to take, but THANK YOU for shining a light of hope into the dark shadowy world where many of us still live and letting us know there is a way out.
Always supporting all those who expose conspiracies. From all your friends at Tom Thumb. Thank you.
Linda, I was there at HAC from 78-82 and although I may not have fit in the mold of most of the HACers, I certainly tried. These were the days when David was banished. It was not until my 4th year and having been chastised for wrongdoing, per the rule book, and my insider (college staff kids) friends who received none was I able to realize the falsity of it all. I guess it was not how holy you lived, it was who you knew. I soon left, nearly ran, away from it all. I believe I remember you but as with most, we were required to devote our allegiance to God, Jack Hyles and the College instead of getting too close to others. I am glad you were finally able to break away and start living your life. God Bless.
. I wanted to express how much I have learned from this website... thank you for the apology... this too is one that I need to make..
Thank You for your courage on speaking out. I was a Chicago Area Bus Kid during my time @ FBC. I can't say that all my time @ FBC was bad, but what I can say is that some bad memories still lives with me today. I attended City Baptist School for a short time, then moved away just to come back and see myself attend HAC. I was excited to see friends but reality set in quickly with all the rules. I was getting so depressed, and finally I said that I'm leaving college. Everyone was belittling me and tried to talk me out from leaving HAC. As you know there wasn't many African Americans going to HAC, which presented a whole lot of other challenges especially when it came to dating. The taboo about interracial dating was not happening there. I felt alone a lot, and often out of place because of such rules. Some high power staff members tried per swaying to stay, but when I wouldn't budge to their demands, they started to belittle me, but I packed my stuff and headed for the military. They laughed at me when I said I'm joining the Marines and leaving this place. There was no I hope you do well and succeed, but more or less saying that going into the military was not in the will of God for me. Well I'm a survivor and have visited 19 different countries and seen the whole United States. I'm free. When I visited FBC about 3 years ago its as if I didn't fit in. That same ole attitude that thy have as if your nothing but the scum of the earth. As a young child I witness open racism within FBC especially when it came to African American bus kids. There was a time when the bus workers weren't allowed to come visit me or any black kids at there homes. That broke my heart but yet I would walk 3-4 blocks to my friends home to ride the church bus anyway. That memory will always be with me forever. I'm sure we have some friends in common like Eddie and Jamie Lapina. Whom has always been very nice to me.
Have been reading your book chapter by chapter and I must say, it is a story that absolutely needed to be told, but which should never have had to be told. It is also apparent that this is a very, very costly endeavor to you. You have and will pay a horrific price for this, but I know that God loves truth and God honors those who stand for truth. Thus, God stands on your side, not the side of your critics. Keep standing. Keep writing.
The chapter on Pastor's School should (but probably will not) bring a tear to even your critics, the one's whose brains were put in neutral by your dad and whose allegiance turned from God to a man, and whose loyalties are not to the truth, but to a distorted version of truth that they've become impregnated with over time, by your father.
I say to you and your stand for truth against a man you loved and love dearly, WELL DONE.
This is just to you, but you can edit and post if you want.
First, I would like to know if you are able to sell a hard copy of your book? I'd like to purchase a copy. Buying a chapter at a time isn't the way I prefer to read it.
Secondly, and most importantly, I want you to know that I am one more person who can relate to everything you have spoken and written. I was a young man in the early 1980's who went to Tennessee Temple and simply wanted to be the best Christian I could be. While it is true, I have had good friends who have been misled and still in IBF churches, I find them less than genuine and mostly comprised of mindless followers. I have not abandoned my faith. I attend a very good SBC church close to my home.
As a licensed mental health counselor, I do a good number of initial intakes and assessment each month. One of the questions I on the diagnostic form is "Is religion or faith important to you?" The answers I get are so interesting! I often hear "I don't go to church, but I believe and consider myself a Christian." If I give them enough time, they go onto tell me about the hypocrisy and abuse they have experienced in church or from "religious" folk. And .. .. when I ask about coping skills, over 90% of the people tell me they pray. Anyway, I appreciate you. I also noticed online that a former acquaintance of yours seems to be jealous or angry that her early life was defined by poverty. She has her own website. I don't think she likes you.
Linda, we were incredibly poor growing up. One pair of pants to wear to school all week ... I won't bore you. It was BAD. I am not ashamed or proud of it. It was just a fact. Life is good now and I feel incredibly blessed. Good for you that you have a fulfilling career and that you can sell books and get paid to do what you like!! It isn't a sin to be attractive and to have a few nice things. What I consider to be admirable is that you have not abandoned your faith and that you are not petty or over critical. It would be easy to become bitter and resentful and question the value of Christianity. Instead, you take the high road and mention many, many people at HFBC who have been good friends and who are upstanding people. That type of measured judgment is fair.
Keep up the good work!
Thank you sooooo much for sharing your personal life. The world needed so much to hear your voice. Because of your willingness, a great deal of healing can take place I know that for sure. What a huge demonstration of love to read your heartfelt letter to the church family & friends. My dad was friends with your dad, they were only ONE DAY apart in age! James K. Norton, missionary to Japan since 1952 was born 9/26/26. There were five of us kids all raised in the IFB environment like you. Our family was close to the Malone family in Pontiac Michigan, where I still live. I know you are SWAMPED with hundreds of emails etc but would LOVE to correspond with you more!
Good Evening Linda, thank you for publishing your story. I know that it'll help a lot of people.
I was one of your father's 52 security guards, and a student at HAC. I transferred from HAC to finish my education at an East Coast School for my senior year. I have a lot of fond memories of HAC and First Baptist Church, and also had a lot of questions while there.
I know that it must have been very difficult on your family, and I understand somewhat, being reared in an Independent Baptist pastor's home. I'm so glad that you have been able to work through the maze to such a great extent. I know that others need to hear and read your what you have to say.
May Our Lord Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit continue to guide and bless you all of the days of your life my friend.
Have a wonderful weekend Linda, Robert
Dear Linda, i was in the class of 1977, so I'm a little younger than you; consequently, you probably don't remember me. However, I will never forget how genuinely kind you were to me at "Soul winning." I looked up to you because you were different-you seemed more like "us." You drove that old Gremlin not a flashy new car! More importantly, you seemed genuine-not fake in your beliefs. I really liked you-and still do. I am sorry for what you suffered. You weren't the only one who should have spoken up back then-but honestly, no one would have believed you, if you had. It would have been swept under the rug. You don't owe anyone an apology because you really have nothing to be sorry for. I do hope some day you and your mom and siblings can begin to rebuild a relationship because your nieces and nephews deserve to know what an amazing woman their aunt really is. I wish you the best, and I hope you have a great birthday.
Donna, what a sweet message. Thank you so much. I well remember that Gremlin - I actually loved that car! :) I sincerely appreciate your kind words and also the birthday wishes today. How nice of you to remember. ~ Linda
I continue to be so proud of your stand. God bless you, Linda!
Thank you so much, Laurel. That means a lot to me.
I came across this webpage quite by accident, and while I ma not working often become distracted reading stories on the web.
While I do not know Linda or the church in which you all speak, I wish to send out my heartfelt prayers and sympathy to the victims of religious "crimes."
I was raised in the greater Oakland, CA area and was very screwed up religiously speaking.
My parents divorced when I was young, I lived primarily with my father and before my formative years were complete, I had at various times been a Catholic, a Mormon and a Nazarene. But churches were forced on me by circumstance. Then I was exposed to born again, fundamentalist church - one that I chose! This was a religion that wanted me for myself, irrespective of who my mother happened to be.
Because of all the people I lived with, I had a checkered religious upbringing. Then, when I was in high school, I had a serious born-again experience,' A great group of people ran a church near where I lived, and they provided a safe, nurturing atmosphere at a time there wasn't much else I could count on.
'The beliefs I embraced at that time don't mean the same thing to me now. When you're young and idealistic you tend to view things in absolute terms, and the absolutes didn't pan out, even within the confines of that place. You begin to see the contradictions without looking too closely.'
It was a while though, before I started looking back to the secular world. But during that period of my life, I was enjoying my own, contradictory rebellion. While other kids my age were straining at the leash, growing long hair, pubescent mustaches, playing hookie from church, and testing authority, I was joining the congregation youth group and choir and faithfully attending both the morning and afternoon Sunday services at the Oakland church that had become my second home. In time, I wasn't just joining Bible readings, I was leading them.
I was 'a Jesus freak', the sort of boy who would approach other students in the hallways at school and invite them to my house after class to discuss passages from the Bible. This began when I was about 14 ... Apart from the church, the other main influence on Tom's life was film...and you know the rest of the story.
May we all pray for one another as we journey through this life and uphold all who have been victim to illegitimate religious authority. I read all of your stories. My heart breaks for you. But our future is bright and our God is gracious. My prayer for you is that you can lean hard into God;s amazing strength and trust His love and guidance.
Blessings to Linda, as well as all of you who have spoken out openly and began the healing process of knowing Him and His resurrection.
Tom, how truly interesting to hear this from you. I will follow the story of your life from here on with great interest.
My born-again experience took place on the edge of my bed when I was ten (in the early 70s), after I'd disobeyed my mother. A visiting cousin "led me to Christ" as I prayed a prayer that I knew would put me back in the graces of my mother. Around this time, my folks moved us to Linda's father's church because the new principal in our school district was gay and they wanted us out of that "sinful environment." First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana had a large Christian school at the time and my folks felt we'd be safe there.
It wasn't safe. I was sexually propositioned by Linda's brother, who was the youth pastor, and humiliated by him in public on several occasions because I worked for him as a pianist of his music group. Literally scores of girls -- my friends -- were molested and repeatedly raped by him. This went on for over ten years even though we reported it to the elders. My best friend's mother was the church secretary, with whom Linda's father -- the pastor -- was having an affair. Judy's growing up years were so darkly colored because they had to pretend, day in, day out. Linda's brother-in-law then became pastor when her father passed, over a decade ago, and Jack Schaap is now in federal prison for molesting a teenager. So much more gore.
If you'd like to benefit the world, help us find a way to tell this horrendous and ugly story. A way to dismantle the church that still exists in Hammond, that demeans children and especially girls and women. And then we can pivot to the redemptive stories, too. Those would be about the human spirit and its capability to dig into one's soul to find truthful answers and ways out of a cult.
Last week I watched "Spotlight" about the Boston Globe journalist who ousted molesters in the Catholic church. I shuddered at the part where the protagonist bemoaned the utter loss of his faith. Just as happened to him, my ability to believe in a superior being was stripped. And to this day, I ache for the loss of that belief.
I'm sure you're booked the next decade or so! Maybe after that?!?
Thank you, Tom, for uplifting us.
I hate that fear was so instilled in everyone that nobody talked.
When Sherre and family left, he took on other victims.
Thank you for your bravery and insight. You are a blessing to many without even knowing it.
I was raised in a home that was all about whatever Jack Hyles said was right. Anyone who didn't go by his teachings was living in sin (the whole cult thing) I was also forced to go to Joe Boyds camp in West Virginia as well. Every sermon was the same thing. Yelling and vocal changes the same as Hitler did. In the last few years my parents once again tried to go to Joe Boyds camp (Randy Taylor now runs it) and they still have signs out saying women are not allowed to wear pants. This strikes me as odd that Jesus isn't interested in helping or saving women if they are wearing pants. The whole cult has seriously enraged me over the years. My dad has passed but my mom does nothing but talk about religion and it still drives me crazy.
I know, WD. After being away from it all for so many years, it's all just so bizarre to me. I had to limit my time with people who talked about it all the time - it was too unhealthy for me to engage with that kind of toxicity. Remove yourself as much as possible. I could not heal until I was removed from all reminders and conversations. Too destructive. My best to you as you continue to find peace and healing from it all.
Where you ever made to go to these "summer camps" in WV? Where they brainwash you into submission for an entire week. Two sermons per day every day. ridiculous! I was also stuck in a Christian school my entire school life. Every day after lunch it was bible class all afternoon. This really helped a lot when I graduated and tried to go to a real college that was accredited.
Yes, WD, I went to all kinds of camps - you name it, I did it or attended it! Have you ever considered finding a good therapist? I would never have been able to sort through all the mixed-up, confusing thoughts and emotions without my therapist. I went to her for many, many years. Left to my own thoughts, I would likely still be a mess and angry. I needed to seek healthy, objective perspectives to re-train my mind. It was a life saver for me. Just a thought.
Thank you for sharing. Although it may not be possible to respond to every post or email, please know every word submitted will be read.