Christianity, Church, Grace, Healthy Faith

Ummmm…Is That An Elephant in the Room?!?!?


It is time for me to stop ignoring the elephant in the room. For too long I have allowed a “no reply unless asked” about what happened a year ago to both me and my family which has in some instances created an “elephant in the room”. Now elephants cooped up will make a very large mess. It is time to set the elephant free and clean up some mess. I believe the only way to do this, at this point, is right here with some facts.  No naming names, if you know me you will know who I am talking about just like what was done to me publicly from the pulpit, emails and group meetings. See no names were named publicly by others but we became known as were “the people who left” and people did know who exactly whom was being talked about. This is in no way to “get back” or “get even”  it is only to set the record straight, tell my side, and just tell some what had happened (if I told every fact here it would be pages) for those that have been too afraid to ask me.

Everyone always wants to know how things got started, I usually have to point back seven years ago but for here we will start with…..

…back in November of 2014, the morning of Thanksgiving, the Lord began to reveal to me over the next three days something which changed my perspective of how I see God, which in turn radically changed my whole life and the life of my family. It wasn’t something really new but in fact very old. If you want you can read about it in this post It’s Time to Let Go of the Rules-Otherwise Known as the Law.   Through the last twenty years I had learned something very different from the churches I have attended. So, what the Lord began to reveal to me flew in the face of what most churches in America teach or adhere to. After the three days, on Saturday, I posted on Facebook: “The Lord has revealed something to me that has changed me and my family forever. I feel like my face is shining like Moses did.” My pastor (the lead pastor), at the time, had asked me the next day if I could send him what the Lord revealed to me and my husband, who was standing next to me, said yes. I wrote out three pages of notes for the lead pastor and my husband read them before I sent them. After the lead pastor read it he stated to me that the essence of what I wrote was that the enemy always tries to make us forget who we are. That statement was not the fullness of what I had written nor the summation of what had been revealed to me. A couple of days later the Lord answered my question, “What is the essence of what You showed me?”  He answered,

“The essence of what you wrote is that church leadership likes to put rules, regulations and standards on My sheep to “protect” them but what it actually does is put them in bondage-(you yourself have done this before-God had given me a very distinct open eyed vision of what I had done and what it looked like which helped me to “see”). This is a core value that I want pulled out of the church because it is based on fear not faith.”


I later posted this statement on Facebook and the next day is when I first got an email to consider the post from the co lead pastor at the church we had attended for almost nine years. By “consider” I knew the post needed to be taken down, because this was not the first time I was asked to “consider a post” I had on Facebook. I replied I would not take the post down because I thought it was true regarding the world wide church and needed to be said to bring freedom. Later, I received a text to call the co lead pastor. I called and was then accused of trying to hurt my church and them, the pastors. I said no, that I never intended to hurt them or the church. I related again it was truly meant for the world wide church as a whole and I had used myself as an example in the post, making it personal to me. It was then I was told, because of the post,there were people questioning my feelings about the church, pastors and leadership. I asked if they would please refer these people to me. I even referenced Matthew 18 and how it is biblical for the party to come to me first and ask me if they have questions about my feelings or thoughts in regards to the post. I was then told they would not refer the people questioning and I had to understand people prefer coming to their pastors instead of asking the people involved. The post remained up for several reasons: first I was not going to give away my free choice to follow God and not fear man anymore, second it is my Facebook page, third it was a true and accurate statement and fourth my heart intent was not to be malicious with the post, but to bring freedom.  Next, an associate pastor called a couple days later and requested we meet about the post. We met and the main question was, “When will you submit to the lead pastors?”. Actually four times that same question was asked. I told her I was doing what the Lord had asked me to do, my heart intent was never to harm but to bring freedom, even using myself as an example in the post. She asked me would I ask the Lord again and I agreed to. Later that night the Lord said, “It is finished…” So I deleted the post on a Thursday night and let all the pastors involved know the post was down.  I had also let one very close friend know the post was taken down, as she was praying for a peaceful resolution in all of this. My friends husband had seen the lead pastor the next day and asked him privately if they are making a habit of “policing Facebook”? That same morning, I got a phone call from the co lead pastor stating we needed to meet immediately. We did meet that same afternoon. Our conversation boiled down to the fact she was mad because she claimed she had never told me to take the post down and I believed she had asked me to take it down.

By now, I had also begun to blog again about what the Lord had revealed over the Thanksgiving weekend. I think it was the next week when Bryan (my husband) and I got called into the office with the lead pastor. He had said he wanted me to explain in more detail what the Lord had revealed in what I had sent him. I knew before we went that wasn’t exactly what he wanted and knew there were two things that were going to be required by the end of this meeting. Here is what it all came down to: He wanted me to write a post on FB that stated I was not talking about his church, the pastors or the leaders in the post I had deleted (this I didn’t expect and told him that would just dredge it all up again and didn’t think it was wise), I was to no longer blog against their doctrine or theology, if I did blog again he would have to authorize it and lastly “was there anything I would like for him to take back to his wife”, the co-lead pastor (I think they were fishing for an apology; but I am still not completely sure). I blogged again, fully aware that I would most likely be asked to step down from leadership, my family and I would be shunned, we would be pushed out of the church, my boys would lose friendships, and I would most likely be called Jezebel and probably worse. How did I know all of this would happen? Over the years puzzle pieces were taking on a form from questions that never were fully answered about others that had disappeared from this same church. All of what I thought might happen did indeed happen and more.

First though, because I had blogged again, my husband and I got called in to meet with the lead pastor again. This time there was an associate pastor present. The meeting, probably at the most, took ten minutes. The Lord had told me I was to be silent as a sheep before a shearer fully knowing that I would be asked to step down from leadership. The only thing we were to say is: “That is your choice” and ask two questions for clarity. There was no reason given for asking me to step down. I was simply told that is what they decided. My husband said that is your choice. The two questions for clarity were about my husband and our boys regarding leadership duties. Bryan was to step down also but the boys could continue. We got up and left, civil and short. Yet, this became only the beginning of an almost year long nightmare.

Not only was my family targeted, but also any family that would ask questions about what was happening with us, question the statements made about us or try to bring restoration by hearing all sides and bring together a meeting. Next the same good friends of ours that had asked about “policing Facebook” were told by the co lead pastor and an associate pastor to ban us from their place of business. My friends said “no” and asked these pastors this very important question, “If Darlene is that deceived, shouldn’t we, like Jesus, leave the 99 and go after her, not shun her?”. This is when one by one each of their children were told they could no longer serve in any form of leadership position in the church and my friends business was shunned by all pastors and the leadership of the church followed suit. It went so far as people were being told my friend was a witch and she was practicing voodoo out of their business. I know it sounds CRAZY. Yet what is crazier is people believe it even to this day.  My friends lives became turned upside down all because they said they would allow me to come into their business and if all of what the pastors were saying about me were true they would do what Jesus did and go after me.  Next two other families were also targeted, one because she had stepped down from leadership because of the “gossip” that was happening in both the pastoral team and leadership about me and the co lead pastor wanted her to lie about why she was stepping down. The other family wanted to bring biblical restoration and was told by the lead pastor that will never occur. All of a sudden all four families were caught up in this same nightmare.

See, we never intended to leave our church. We loved the people. Yet when the preaching from the pulpit begins to be directly pointed at what you last blogged about; you are shunned and made to feel unwelcome; while at work, with children all around, two different associate pastors approach you separately, one female and one male, (the male being very angry, so angry spittle comes out of his mouth and his face is red as a beet) they accuse you of being deceived and the deception is over and when you ask what deception they don’t answer but continue to just say that same sentence over and over to you, you begin to not feel safe; young adults and adults you have known for years all of a sudden don’t know if they can talk to you and begin unfriending you on Facebook and Instagram; people literally run from you in the store; my boys youth pastors don’t even have the decency to text them back; you are being lied about; and you are then told to leave the church through an email. You decide it is best to leave. Even after leaving, the character assassination continues for months later: you are then likened to fallen angels; called Jezebel; a bible study is given out stating “those that have left” are rebellious like the sons of Korah; you are considered a hyper grace advocate(whatever that is or isn’t); the pastors/leadership are insinuating your children will fall away from God and so most of their friends that go to that church are too afraid to be friends with them anymore; it is stated you no longer follow God; it is said you wanted to control them; other church pastors in this area are “warned about us”; I am deceived and anyone that is close to me will become deceived also; and on and on. You then begin to understand why many people were thankful to move away from or simply disappear from these pastors themselves and the people they have influence with. Because quite honestly you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

There is so much more to this story…but what I have found is I am not the first that this has happened to. I would like to hope, I am the last. The cycle needs to stop. Not just in this church but in any church that in anyway thinks this behavior is okay. The “code of silence” calling it “gossip” if facts or truth is told needs to stop in the church. What I have seen is real gossip isn’t called gossip and non-gossip (fact telling of your story) is considered gossip-that is simply backwards. Others have said: God is your defender! And yes, why yes He is. But we also need to see ALL Jesus accomplished at the Cross. At the Cross Jesus gave us dominion of the earth back to us. He paid a mighty price for it. We have a part in all of this that must be done. Remember He called us His Hands and Feet and He had no problem calling things as they were. Why because of LOVE. REAL LOVE. This pattern of demonizing people, trying to control them with fear, and when they aren’t controlled we must shun them is unhealthy and not Christlike in any way. All that has been stated about me, my family, my friends and those this has happened to in the past has ALL been done in FEAR. I truly believe that His perfect love casts out ALL fear. If we do not rightly believe: that no matter what happens, God loves us…..then we can easily give place to fear. That fear spot is the ONLY way in the enemy has in our lives. He preys on that fear. I fully rest in Him knowing- I abide under the shadow of His wings; no weapon formed against me will prosper; He will never, ever, ever leave me nor forsake me; and I am fully forgiven because of what Christ did not what Darlene did, Thank God!!


Like I said I am not the first in a long list of people that this has happened to. Many on the long list I have met or reconnected with over the last year; yet I know there are many more out there I have never met. The personal stories over this last year have broken my heart to hear. A few of them I was a part of because I had believed the lies I was told about them and either never had an opportunity to see the person again or I chose not to contact the person and had to go seeking forgiveness for believing the lies and acting in those beliefs. Restoration has been the theme this year in so many areas. I will not be naming any of you in this post. I understand the desire for anonymity in these circumstances, it has not been easy. Though, if you see this and want, feel free to tag yourself and add your signature to mine to make the bold statement, “WE WILL NO LONGER BE SWEPT UNDER THE CARPET”.
Besides, the pile of names is getting too big to be able to be covered up anymore and healing can only come when the bandage is taken off and the wound cleaned out thoroughly and completely; so that healing can happen from the inside out.

Oh and one last thing an update a year later: I and my husband are still walking with God; my boys have grown a deeper relationship with God then ever before and have grown deeper in true friendships; I am not Jezebel; I, my family or my friends did not cause a split in the church-people ALWAYS will have their own choices unless they give that freedom away; nor are any of us like fallen angels or sons of Korah; we never wanted to control anyone-we just wanted to walk freely with God and be who He called us to be and fully believed others could, would and should be able to do the same; we never forced anyone to listen to us or ask questions; we desired for biblical restoration but were never allowed the opportunity to do so.

As we walk into 2016, I am excited for even more revelation from my Father in Heaven…❤️ Darlene, Bryan, Taylor and Cameron Gaston

There has been such an overwhelming response to this post I would like to add something from a trusted Christ following counselor, Judy Friederich. Below, I have pasted what she wrote on my personal Facebook post regarding this and it is spot on. Early on my friends and I had gotten a hold of a book Toxic Faith and it helped us to heal. What Judy wrote was very similar to the book. Please take a look below. Also she said if anyone needs to ask further questions they can private message her on Facebook. With no further ado her post:

This discussion brings out the fire in my gut to help the Church become abuse-proof. In order to counter the enemy’s plan to blame God for the behavior of those who are abusive “in His name,” we need to be diligent to know and spread the truth about church-based manipulation and abuse. I am going to list some characteristics of controlling, narcissistic personalities as they can manifest in a church setting. Please comment and add other behaviors that you have seen so we can all have good radar to spot this behavior and not take part in it. Controllers are paranoid – they assume the worst about someone’s words or actions and assign evil motives to anyone who questions or disagrees with them. They are also defensive, recruiting others to back them up in their stance and to go on the offensive for them. They are protective, but the protection is about their own reputation, appearance, or the kingdom they have established for themselves, not about true righteousness. They must monitor everything that goes into or comes out of the church and paint themselves as the victims of other’s manipulation when they are the true manipulators. They may establish that they are superior to other churches, programs, or revelation and aim to recruit people of positive reputation to back them up. They are very charismatic and able to convince a person that you are just who they need to advance their plans using “you are the best thing that ever happened to me” types of flattery. Until you challenge them, then “you are the worst thing that ever happened to me.” This type of “I love you/I hate you” treatment tears down self-worth and creates confusion and weakness in their victims. You become dependent on what they think of you rather than what God thinks of you. They further promote these ideas by trying to isolate their minions so no one is able to challenge their authority. They promote the idea that they intend to rescue you out of the deception you have been under from inferior teaching. There becomes an “us and them” mentality and a violent resistance to correction or change, but others must change to meet their ideals and become like them. There often is great effort put into teaching and recruiting others so there is strength in numbers of those who follow them, strong peer pressure to follow their dictates, and multitudes of admirers to build up their egos. Slander and shunning are employed if there is any perceived straying from their control as this is seen as a threat to their existence. They will recruit witnesses to prove their side and to testify that they did everything they could to reconcile in a godly way. They will trap you into saying what you do not mean or twist your words, then turn around and lie about their manipulation of the situation. They call good evil and evil good (i.e. gossip – they are free to tell everyone how they are wronged by you and others and to defame your character, but you reporting how you have been wronged by them through Biblical channels is forbidden.) Focus is on punishment of what they perceive as a crime and not on loving discipline and reconciliation. They may go through the motions of reconciliation, but it ends up being an exercise in proving how wrong you are. If you disagree with them, you are rebellious and need to repent and be convinced of the errors of your ways. Apologies from them are only an attempt to appear righteous, but they cannot truly apologize because they are never wrong. They are invested so much in their behavior that their mindset is twisted into anything that will promote themselves as supreme. They refuse to think logically because that would destroy their primary beliefs to the point that they could feel as though they are dying. In order to change, they have to see a reason or need to change, and because of their belief in their superiority, they will never acknowledge that need. They will give you just enough hope that they will change to hold on to you, but it is all part of the manipulative process. How do you respond if you recognize yourself in these situations? Too many people, out of love and pure hearts, try to stay and change things. I have never seen this work. I must admit that all things are possible with God, but when Pharaoh’s heart did not change, God released Moses to leave. There are many other Biblical precedents that support a choice to flee unrighteousness. Find free, godly people to support you. Do not blame God; He has nothing to do with the behavior of these people. Heal. And become a person who brings freedom from abusive bondage to the Church so the Body can focus on Kingdom come and not dealing with fear and pain. Bless and be blessed!

25 thoughts on “Ummmm…Is That An Elephant in the Room?!?!?”

  1. I was just checking out your blog and saw this story and new from the title it had to be about H Church. Same pattern for my family and I. What I remember most after all the horrific verbal abuse and shunning by the lead and co lead pastors is that Pastor T once advised me, to never ever admit wrong doing. This was in regards to a family he had just asked to leave. My physical body changed when he spoke those words. Wow, a pastor that is never wrong?? Wouldnt that make him God?

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  2. I was part of a church these people led about 18 years ago. My family had a very similar experience. They seem to be the common denominator throughout this history. I won’t comment about my experience because I don’t want them to know who I am, should they read this. Suffice to say, I am no longer part of any church and probably never will be due to how I, and my family, were treated by them. I believe they are both narcissists and have huge blind spots in relation to their own behavior. It took me many years to recover from being part of their church. I hope they’ll retire soon.


    1. I love the None Ya. Your courage to comment your truth has been on my mind as of late and feel it is time to let this comment be seen by others who have experienced the same. You are right they are completely narcissistic and have lied so often I believe they believe their lies. Such a sad state for them but it does leave a wake of destruction with real people’s lives. So many families and so many young adults that have been damaged. So much damage for weeks after I wrote this I wept with stories that came my way from so many states, not just here. So many feel the exact same way you do. You are not alone in these feelings. We are still dealing with people as they come out. If you ever want to connect with me personally please do. You can contact me over Facebook (not on my blog page but my personal page) no one sees that because they all have me blocked on FB or you can also personal message me. Thank you for letting me know our family isn’t alone. We can no longer go to church because if we do those peeps decide they need to go warn the pastors of that church and lie about us…..but what is really awesome now is that those other pastors are seeing how cray, cray they are. 😉


  3. Great word. It’s amazing to me how people are so quick to criticize or accuse someone on the word of another, but won’t even take the time to listen or read what the other person is saying .

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  4. Judy, I do not think I have met you, but your assessment and description of the leadership there is right on target. I have revised my original post to give more of the background truth of what happened to us. And yes, we pass the “Fact Finder Test”. It is not the full account. There would be chapters for that accounting. But it does make somethings a bit clearer and hopefully easier for people to understand.
    A decade ago our family gave our hearts, time and treasures to these pastors as they established their new church here, only to, in a very short time, be abused spiritually & relationally by these very same people that at first seemed spiritually solid, biblically knowledgeable, charismatic and very inviting in nature, and had a real vision to add to what the Lord was doing here in the Reno/Sparks area. Well, they have added to it alright, but in ways nobody thought possible or saw coming, our family included.
    The beginning of the end for us started when I stepped down from leadership of Her Way Women’s Bible Study. I say “Her” because there was no “His” Way about it. There was such anger that I resigned under her leadership because it was clear that our styles were causing more tension than good. The best thing, and the right thing, for me to do was step down, but that did not set well at all with them. They were angered and offended that I could do such a thing under their leadership. The majority of the abuse and backlash that started from that point was mostly directed at me.
    It really came tumbling down when I wanted to facilitate a Beth Moore video bible study over the summer while Her Way took a break. My husband and I had been in 20+ years of local church & community leadership at that time and the Lord had put it on my heart to facilitate a bible study for the women who wanted to continue to have fellowship over the summer. Many, many of the woman wanted to do this, and women from other churches that I knew wanted too as well because their church did not offer a bible study over the summer. There is just something beautiful and invigorating when women fellowship together. It helps hold us accountable and strengthens not only our friendships & families but our relationship and walk with the Lord as well.
    Well, if you have been reading the posts’ here and the description of abusive and controlling leadership, then you already know how this ended – and it was not pretty. It was emotionally brutal! I knew the Lord had asked me to do this summer bible study. My husband and family were 100% on board as well, (they asked my husband in front of me what he thought about me facilitating a summer bible and he told them he fully supported it) but the pastors and leadership were not! Since they could not control me, or the bible study, they wanted nothing to do with it, although I provided them with an outline of every aspect of it. They forbid me from talking anymore about it and made it clear to their people that they did not support it or want their women going to it. I had a choice to make at that point: did I obey them, or did I obey God? I obeyed God and the end for our family at Herizon was soon to follow, though I had no idea of what was to come in how they and others would treat us.
    Being a strong Christian woman, who knew the Word, was spiritually grounded, was gifted, and had a heart for people was so threatening to them, especially the women pastors/leadership. At first they welcomed and appreciated this, but then they became threatened by it, eventually telling my husband (mind you, not me, who they had the issue with – completely unbiblical) that if he didn’t straighten me out and get me under control that the next conversation would be them telling us to leave the church. The more my husband pressed the head male pastor for answers and examples the more threatened and angry he became, especially when my husband brought up biblically how things should be handled and their responsibility, especially as pastors, to follow clear biblical principles and practice what they preached if there really was an issue with me, as they had said, was causing dissension, division, and a possible split in the church. My husband knew that the pastor was lying about some things pertaining to this and called him out on it. Still, they would have nothing biblical to do with anything. We even asked them to meet with us and a 3rd objective Pastor couple who was not part of their church, to help bring clarity, understanding and resolution to this latest situation, but they refused this as well. In fact, the last Sunday we were there a book was placed under the pastor’s chair, right in front of where we sat, so I would be sure to see it. I saw it, and mused a bit, as I knew what their intent was, but I also knew that I did not operate in that spirit. A loving, caring pastor would have come to me/us in genuine concern if they say something this amiss, but they didn’t. They put a book under their chair hoping I would get their message! About 6 months ago I was relaying this story to a friend that had recently left that church, and found out that it was her book that the pastor had borrowed and put under their chair for me to see, even highlighting things in the book that supposedly supported their position pertaining to me. SMH!
    We did question and challenge them biblically about things; the Lord knows somebody needed to, but they would not hear of it. They were there to build their kingdom, not God’s, as demonstrated in their actions, words and behavior. We were not allowed to ask questions and whatever they said went, whether it was biblical or not. The more we asked the more threatened and meaner they became towards us, eventually shunning our family all together, as if we had never existed, and they encouraged others to do the same, which they did. We were part of the church leadership there as well, until they decided, without a conversation or meeting, that they had removed us. The way they went about it was against everything biblical and Christ-like, not to mention went against everything in their “church leadership handbook” that they had just released. But again, it was about them, it wasn’t about the Lord and doing things in a biblical way. And what made it all the worse was they and they alone, were the elder board so there was nowhere else for us to go with it. They lied to us, they lied about us, even after we left. The gossip and rumor mill ran amuck and they had people believing things that were just flat out lies. We were shocked about some of the things people have told us that they were told about us. Learning that their ways of handling people and situations has not changed since our experience with them 10 years ago leaves me speechless….all I can call it is evil! I, like many others who have left, especially women, were accused of wanting their position and having a “jezebel spirit” which needed to be counseled and prayed out. What I have come to realize over this past decade, and especially these past 6 months, is that there is a jezebel spirit (among others) that lives, and moves and has its being among the pastors and leadership of their church. Its ways are wicked and evil, and it leaves destruction wherever it goes or has been for the past 30+ years. There is one, only ONE common denominator in all of this, not only here is Sparks, but other places that they have pastored, and that one denominator is THEM! One of them makes a huge mess because what they profess and how they behave are two different things. Once the mess has reached mass proportions the other pastor/pastors are sent in to clean it up. If they can’t clean it up to their satisfaction, they just GET RID of “the mess”. Much easier to blame than take responsibility – because that takes true humility. Gosh, there is SO MUCH MORE that can be told of the deeds done there while we were there….. My shock has soared to new heights and my heart broken anew over these last 6 months I have been reunited with people and families that I served with, formed friendships with, loved and did life with, 10 years ago. Stories have been shared, tears have been shed, forgiveness asked for and given, long embraces exchanged and freedom celebrated. It truly has been a love fest that I never knew was possible or have ever experienced. Truly what the enemy meant for evil God has made oh so good!!!! My friends, and you know who you are, I love you more than before and am so grateful the LORD has brought us back together, for such a time as this!
    There is nothing coincidental about people sharing their experiences, hurt and pain at the hands of these people. The Lord want to bring healing, but first the spiritual cancer that has lurked around must be exposed before it can be eradicated. This is a very deliberate and timely move of the Lord in these similar situations that have affected and torn apart friendships and families for decades, not only here but in other cities and states where these people have pastored. The relational graveyard that they have amassed is astounding. The sleeping giant has awakened and said “no more!”
    The Lord is on the move here, in ways that I have never seen or experienced. I hope those who are not part of this move of God will just move on out of here and stop the damage and destruction they have caused and created, “in the name of God”. God has a heart for Reno/Sparks. This church, these people have brought great hurt and pain to the body of Christ here, and can no longer hide behind it, keep it covered, or keep their victims quiet. No weapon formed against us shall prosper!!!

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    1. I have known the pastors you speak of for 20 years. I’ve served w them, been in leadership w them, a prayer partner, socialized w them, etc. Your account as well as Cheryl S.’s account of what happened to you is untrue and slanderous! Lies! Having observed your behavior over the years, Darlene,
      I do not believe you. In fact you have built a faction of many and are further
      Slandering this church and leadership
      Because they reproofed you for spreading unsound doctrine into the church. And now you’ve drawn Cheryl S. Into your web of lies. You both may want to read Proverbs 6:16-19. ‘There are six things the Lord hates……
      A false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among the brethren.’ You will be held accountable for this, by God.

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      1. Becky, Yes, ALL will stand before the Lord and give an account, ALL!(Romans 14:10) My conscience is clear before the Lord. I will not reply again to any more of your snide remarks. Thanks for reading my blog.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Haha you’re funny Rebecca. All of the testimonials from these people are true, the truth is that what you are saying is a lie, because Darlene has not created a “web of lies,” in fact, she has helped so many people that have been hurt by these pastors and this leadership heal and move on with life. Cheryl made her own choices and observations about these pastors, its not Darlene’s fault that their stories are similar, and that the pastors lied to other people about Cheryl. I read Cheryl’s blog and the behavior from these pastors is consistent with what I’ve seen over the years. Unnecessarily harsh discipline, twisted words, mind games, manipulation, abusive control, the list goes on. I ministered and served under these pastors for many years. You have no idea how many people have left long before Darlene because of these pastors behavior. These pastors have left a trail of destruction across 3 states, I’ve spoken with many people from their last 3 churches who ALL have very similar stories, you can’t refute evidence like that, a large number of people who don’t know each other all experiencing the same abusive treatment from these same pastors. This is a pattern for them. Be blind all you want, but don’t come in here discounting someones experience that has supported evidence from countless people across 3 states. And I am another eye witness who has been manipulated, beat down, and treated like trash by these pastors. They have spread so many false rumors about me to various people around town its insane, and I didn’t do anything to them but serve and do what they say, I gave my life to them and all of my effort, all just to be slandered and mocked. Just because it hasn’t happened to you, doesn’t mean it never happened to someone else. I don’t see anywhere in the bible where we are instructed to take abuse from leadership and sweep it under the rug instead of bring it to the light, we are supposed to expose behavior like this so that the bad behavior will not continue. Ephesians 5:7 says: “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Manipulation, mind games, lying, spreading false doctrine, all of this is darkness, well hidden and expertly disguised too. So don’t get mad at people for doing what the bible says to do. You may think you know these pastors, but you don’t. I hope these pastors realize their errors and stop doing things like this, and I hope that we will be friends again someday. I still love them, and I do not regret the time I spent with them, I’m glad they chastised me, now I can help others who have experienced the same thing. People are getting spiritually abused out there and they are afraid to speak up and end up never going back to church, and they lose faith in God because of the actions of His people. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes, but behavior like this has to be stopped. I realize that these pastors think that their actions are necessary and correct, they have good intentions a lot of the time, but that is their dangerous grand delusion, they will not see the error in their ways because they think they are right. But they are wrong. Open your eyes.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Becky-

        It’s all true 😦
        I have been with them for the same 20 years you have and have been on staff with them and understand the inner workings of their leadership.
        Here is a short version of what happened to me:

        I was only 12 or 13 when I meet the leadership at that church and quickly became not only their sidekick but part of their family. I innocently mistook, misheard, and misunderstood the heart of God and joined them in shunning and hurting others that choose to not submit to their authority. I didn’t understand until it happened to me. I had been entering into a new season in my life one I knew I had the Lords blessing for, when the leadership began to try to force me into a different way. I was kind, understanding and submissive for weeks and they kept at it- trying to convince me that I needed mental help and that the man I was in love with was dangerous. They stripped everything away from me, policed my Facebook page, stocked my house, and twisted innocent situations with good explanations to destroy my character. Eventually I disappeared after the nightmare became more and more intense day after day as the entire church began to delete me off social media, some would call to harass me and tell me how evil I had become to leave the church. What they didn’t know is that I was forced out and told to never talk to the church people again… For 15+ years of my life these church people were my best friends, my family, and my community without them I felt so lost and abandoned.
        After about 3 years of being out of that community I could see clearly… I could see that what they were doing was causing people to be “led” to believe that the pastors are the physical representation of God and that they hold His final word. Anyone who opposed them would be cut off and shunned or beat down to submit again… These vicious cycles I had watch them do in city after city and I followed them from Oregon to California and then finally to Nevada.

        I am glad I am out of it but so sad that the people I have loved, the ones that have gone from one city to another with them, are still stuck and working as part of their army. I pray that the blinders come off hearts are released and freedom is restored.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Becky,
        Your comment saddens me. I have not been drawn in by lies. I completely submit to Proverbs 6:16-19. I completely submit to Him holding me accountable. What I have written is in no way a false witness. If this has not happened to you, then praise God.But just because it did not happen to you,does not make it false. I hate the fact that what I experienced is true. It is true whether you believe me or not. I have seen this happen to others and when I received this blog via private message from someone that both you and I know, I knew who she was writing about because of experience. I did not know Darlene and have never met her. She didn’t come to me, her blog was brought to me. I disappeared for over 8 years and didn’t go public with any of this. I spent hours fighting myself as to my thoughts. I had hoped and figured it was just me. But when I read the blog, and all the stories, I knew it was not just me. This issue is in many other churches, I have spoken with many people affected by this very thing. I cannot share their stories, but I can share mine. I have not shared anything that is not true. There is so much more I could share but I don’t feel it necessary. There is much that you do not know and I hope that you can see that attacking the victims is not a wise choice. My writing was to help the victims to discover that they were a victim, forgive, and get their journey with the Lord back on track. If you read my writing from that perspective you will see it. I have done and written what the Lord wanted me to write. If you think that it was easy, you are very mistaken…

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Hi Becky, I may or may not know you, I do not know. But in reading your response post one thing is crystal clear – we are all talking about the very same people, pastors and leadership – and they have 2 very different and distinct sides to them! It is unquestionably clear that they are double minded in their thinking and behavior. That is what is the saddest. They have a public self – and a private self – that are worlds apart from one another given the situation or people involved. When doing God’s Will God’s Way you can see the resemblance of Christ in them. When they are doing God’s Will THEIR WAY, you see the enemy of Christ in them and this is what so many people have experienced as you have read their accounts and testimonies. The enemy is like a roaring lion who devours! I am grateful you have not seen or experienced the part of them controlled by self-will that devours and destroys. I can understand how hard it would be for you to believe all of these different people’s stories, since, by the grace of God, you have not experienced this side of them, but it doesn’t make it any less REAL or TRUE!
        Darlene has built no faction here, as you have suggested. If you had experienced what she and her family went through, and the scores of others, some of which you have read about, you would have a completely different opinion and view of Darlene and what the LORD has done in and through her about exposing the enemy in our midst. She has displayed great humility, honesty, boldness and courage in creating a safe place for her brothers & sisters in Christ to share, to cry, to forgive, to be reconciled and restored in relationship, and to heal. This is what the body of Christ truly looks like and it is an example that should be followed. The Lord has used her, and turned what was meant for evil, into good for so many, myself and my family included, as well as many others in in our local area and in other cities who have been crushed by them. It is the LORD who is behind, before and in the very midst of exposing the works of darkness that have followed them for 30 years, and continue to operate in their lives and leadership. God is breaking down and exposing the idolatry that exists within them. As the Lord continues to expose and dismantle the works of darkness, there are still some who will refuse to believe. I would suggest the reason being is that these people are just as blind and deceived. Of course you wouldn’t see it for what it truly is, because they have fashioned you into THEIR likeness and not that of Christ.
        Becky, do you, and the others who I am sure are reading this, find it just a mere coincidence that there is ONLY ONE common denominator in all of this, going back 30 years, that tell of very similar personal stories and experiences that they have had at the hands of these pastors/leadership? Could it really be that they are just the unluckiest pastors in all the world that attract such “trouble makers” to their churches? Ummm, I think not! That One Common Denominator is NOT the vast and growing numbers of people who are finding their voice and courage to speak up, tell their story, and say, “No More – Enough-is-Enough! No, the One Common Denominator is the pastors/leadership at whose hands this heartless behavior has come from.
        Peoples own selfish pride (which the Lord hates) will prevent any humility and honesty in asking, “could all these people, who all have very similar stories about their experience under this leadership, be right?” “And if they are, if indeed these stories are true, then what does that say about me who so loyally and without question align with them?” For some people it is just too hard to do the hard work of laying down their pride and asking the Lord the hard questions, and being able to see and acknowledge the truth of what is revealed and exposed. Satan keeps us in a place that we cannot bare the truth, so we have nothing left but to believe the lies.
        God’s Word is true, whether others choose to believe it or not. Not believing it does not change the reality of its truth. Same here……these many similar experiences and stories that have created such hurt and heartache for so many, is true, whether you or others choose to believe it or not. You not believing it does not change the facts or the reality that it did and does continue to happen.
        I find it interesting that you would quote this scripture here – Proverbs 6:16-19. ‘There are six things the Lord hates……A false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among the brethren.’ You will be held accountable for this, by God…
        Yes, we are ALL held accountable to God and by God. It would be well for them and others to be knowledgeable of the whole counsel of God in this and how it relates to them and the history that has followed them and that they continue to create.
        Proverbs 6:16-19New Living Translation (NLT)
        16 There are six things the LORD hates—
        no, seven things he detests:
        17 haughty eyes,
        a lying tongue,
        hands that kill the innocent,
        18 a heart that plots evil,
        feet that race to do wrong,
        19 a false witness who pours out lies,
        a person who sows discord in a family.
        Question: “What does the Bible mean when it speaks against haughty eyes?”

        Answer: The word haughty is defined by Merriam-Webster as “blatantly and disdainfully proud.” The word is always used in the Bible in the evil sense of “arrogant, disdainful and setting oneself above others”; it is often set in contrast to being humble.

        In Proverbs 6:16-19 is a list of “six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to Him.” The first one listed is “haughty eyes,” followed by such things as a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a false witness, and feet quick to run to evil. Haughty eyes are said to be sin in Proverbs 21:4, along with a proud heart. To have haughty eyes is to have an arrogant demeanor; it’s an overall attitude of one’s heart that causes one to scorn or “look down on” others. The haughty person sets himself above others, and ultimately above God.

        When we are haughty, we become the center of our universe; everything revolves around us. There is little, if any, concern for what others think and no consideration of the will of God. Pride, haughtiness, is the trunk of the tree from which all other sins sprout. When we are at the center of our world, then nothing that we want is unlawful to us.

        God is resistant to haughtiness. Over and over in Scripture, we read that God brings down the haughty and the proud (2 Samuel 2:28; Psalm 18:27; Isaiah 2:11, 5:15; Ezekiel 16:50). Twice in Proverbs, we read that haughtiness precedes destruction (16:18, 18:12). The New Testament is clear on the dangers of arrogance, warning repeatedly against it. Both James and Peter warn that God actively opposes the proud (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5).

        None of us are immune to pride. The Bible tells us of otherwise good people who were brought down in one way or another by pride. The godly king Uzziah was struck with leprosy because, in arrogance, he tried to take the place of the priest and burn incense before the Lord (2 Chronicles 26:16). Similarly, Hezekiah’s pride in his possessions eventually brought the discipline of God on him (2 Chronicles 32:25). Peter’s prideful statement that he would never forsake Jesus (Matthew 26:33-35) was found to be false when he denied Him (Matthew 26:69-75).

        The danger of pride is the reason for the many exhortations to humility in Scripture. Meditation on some key passages can fight the tendency we all have toward pride. First Corinthians 4:7 tells us that all we have is a gift, for which we should be thankful. Both 1 Peter 5:6 and James 4:6 encourage humility by saying that God gives grace to the humble. Isaiah 66:2 goes so far as to say that humility in the heart of a person actually draws God’s attention. Humility of heart gives us a proper perspective. A proud heart – haughty eyes, if you will – renders a person intractable. Such a person is resisted by God.

        The Lord commands us in 1 John 4 to “test the spirits”
        Question: “What does it mean to test the spirits?”

        Answer: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

        In this verse believers are commanded to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” This same command is echoed in other parts of Scripture as well. For example, in 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 we find Paul exhorting the Christians to not “despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.”

        These two passages are just a few of the many that warn Christians to test the message that people or spirits proclaim. This is true in all situations but most importantly when a person or spirit is claiming to speak for God. Christians are to be discerning hearers and readers of all messages. The reason for the admonition to “test the spirits” or “test all things” is that there are “many false prophets” or “wolves in sheep’s clothing” that try to lead Christians astray. Sadly, there are many people who claim to speak for God who are presenting a false gospel that is powerless to save. Such errant teaching leaves people with a false hope of salvation and, in a way, inoculates them from the true message. People who are deceived into thinking everything is fine will be more resistant to the truth.

        Second Corinthians 11:13-15 warns us that “such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” So the reason for testing the spirits, for testing all religious teaching, is to see if it is truly from God or if it is a lie from Satan and his servants.

        The test is to compare what is being taught with the clear teaching of the Bible. The Bible alone is the Word of God; it alone is inspired and inerrant. Therefore, the way to test the spirits is to see if what is being taught is in line with the clear teaching of Scripture. In Acts 17:10-11 the Berean Jews were commended because, after they heard the teachings of Paul and Silas, they “examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” The Bereans were called “noble” for doing so.

        Testing the spirits means that one must know how to “examine the Scriptures.” Rather than accept every teaching, discerning Christians diligently study the Scriptures. Then they know what the Bible says and therefore can “test all things and hold fast to what is true.” In order to do this, a Christian must “be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The Word of God is to be “a lamp” and “a light” to our path (Psalm 119:105). We must let its light shine on the teachings and doctrines of the day; the Bible alone is the standard by which all truth must be judged.
        The peoples whose similar experiences and stories that are intertwined here, and the scores of untold stories yet to be told, have all done what the Lord commanded us to do:” test the spirits”
        Through the hurt, pain, heartache and brokenness of “testing the spirits” the LORD has moved many out from underneath their leadership, and many more will come as others honestly and earnestly “test the spirits” to see if they are saying, teaching and behaving like are truly from the Lord. If we say we are led by the Holy Spirit our thoughts towards others, our words towards others, our actions towards others, our mindset towards others and our behavior towards others MUST look like and live like that of the Holy Spirit. And pastors, of all people, are held to a higher standard and bare more responsibility by God and should exemplify the characteristics of the Holy Spirit. Anything short of this is not of God. It is that plain & simple!
        My prayer for them, and others still caught in their web, is sincere, and two-fold:
        1: That the Lord will truly breakthrough in their hearts and minds. That they will examine themselves in every part of their being; words, actions, deeds, behaviors, thoughts, mindset, and see if there is anything that does not look like and live like The Holy Spirit, and have the humility to acknowledge it and repent; have a change of heart, turn around and pursue the True workings of Holy Spirit.
        2: The Lord knows the future. This is my prayer for them, but if it is not to be I pray that the LORD will move them out of our area so hearts can continue to heal, the carnage will stop, and we can move on in the Power of The Holy Spirit and be the true representation of Jesus to the 1000,s in our area that so desperately need Him!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. So true and very hurtful. This hurt so many people and so many people have struggled with this for so long and carried this. I’m glad the TRUTH can come out about the disgusting treatment by this church towards people who have left. I’m glad to say that all of us are still walking strong with Jesus; we aren’t fallen angels and we aren’t decieved just because we left that church.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your heart. I love what Terri said above about Pharisees, as I read your testimony the first thing that came to mind was the Pharisees and how they persecuted Jesus. Fear is a terrible thing and a tool of the enemy and your courage to push past fear and lies to reveal the truth is not only Godly but it is inspiring and uplifting! I would love to have a chance to get to know you better Darlene, from what my daughter tells me you and I would be great friends! God bless you, your family and your walk.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Dear Darlene, I love you, your family, your Heart for Him, your courage & your honesty. Your story is so very similar to ours, though ours was a decade ago. It is heartbreaking to know that we were not the first family that this has happened to nor were you the last. There is a 30+ year history of ungodly behavior at the hands of the “pastors & co-pastors” that currently run Herizon & Her Way. Though it was the most painful thing our family has ever experienced and walked through, and no less at the hands of “Christians” we are so grateful the Lord’s favor was (and STILL IS) upon us and that He moved us out of the den of wolves. Pharisees are Pharisees! They existed back in Jesus’ day, and they exist today. It is the religious Pharisees that persecuted and crucified Jesus for Who He was and Who He represented, and it is NO DIFFERENT TODAY. I say that all that have been persecuted at their hands are in good company, the company of Jesus. I would much rather keep company with Him than the Pharisees. Religious people make up and follow their own rules, and woe to anyone who questions and doesn’t! They are devoid of Truth, because Truth sets people FREE to be whom and all that God created them to be. Religious rulers need to control and are threatened by freedom because they are not building God’s Kingdom, they are building their own, and you must bow down!

    I wonder how they will answer the Lord for all of the deception & relational devastation that have caused & created….I sincerely hope they meet and embrace Grace & Truth before it is too late. Saddest words in the Bible:” get away from Me, I never knew you”. I do not wish that for anyone, even those who have painfully persecuted me, and those I love.

    So grateful for humility & restoration! May it continue to wash over us and set the captives FREE!

    Liked by 1 person

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