There is a large part of me that simply wants to drop things and move on. But it has been declared publicly that I have been found guilty of false teaching, so for those in my former circles who want to know what happened, I offer this. The hurt is deep and real, so I ask forgiveness if my tongue is sharp.
I am not hostile against my former denomination. There are many good people and good shepherds who seek to follow Christ. But they are also trying to make sense of what happened in the last few years.
I believe that it might be helpful to some to hear my perspective on what happened to me, and then I will let this go and leave my reputation in the hands of my loving Savior. I am not afraid of bearing his reproach.
If you are new to the workings of the internet or discussion groups, you might not be too familiar with some of the things I am going to talk about. On the other hand, if you have ever belonged to any kind of discussion group online with the word “Reformed” in the title, then you understand what I am about to say.
So for those who do not understand, go to any discussion group with the word “Reformed” or “Geneva” in the title. Look at the people who are the admins. Generally, they will be holding cigars and have long scruffy beards. But not always.
After you have entered the group, start a discussion. You can say,
“Have you read the latest by Aimee Byrd? Dynamite stuff. Really profound!”
“I don’t think that there was any hint of a hierarchy before the fall of man. Adam and Eve lived in perfect harmony as one flesh.”
or try this one:
“Genesis 3:16 doesn’t say anything about wives desiring to manipulate and control their husbands. I think that the ESV has that wrong.”
Notice that none of these statements have anything to do with the historic confessions of Reformed theology. All of them are modern discussions and have to do with secondary issues.
Try it, and see what happens. If you are like me, you will receive death threats, threats of church discipline, threats of violence. You will be reviled, insulted, cut off.
If you are not a pastor, like most of my friends, your pastor will receive notes demanding that church discipline be undertaken and that the vicious offender who dares to question the tenets of Whatever-New-Thing-Doug-Wilson-Whipped-Up be driven out of the church.
At first, these types of bullies were fringe. Most of them have , in the past, been viewed with suspicion by the leadership in the church, but church discipline against them was unfortunately very rare.
We considered them zealous, but not according to knowledge, and figured we could work with them.
Now, though, they have taken over most of the NAPARC congregations and they will not rest until anything that they interpret as even mildly woke, egalitarian, liberal or (gasp) feminist is destroyed, crushed and run out of the church. Their positions of white male dominance have been carefully defined as crucial to the Christian faith, and they will tolerate no dissent.
They are not nearly as zealous for actually confessional issues. For the most part they tolerate trinitarian heresy, denials of justification by faith alone, and the sufficiency of the blood of Christ to cleanse from all sin.
In the years that I have pastored, I have seen more and more truly ugly stuff. Church leaders convicted of sexual assault, domineering, and abuse. Pastors who physically abuse their children or their wives; I’ve seen women excommunicated for fleeing from godless homes. I have heard of officers in good standing publicly teach that it is sometimes necessary, or at least understandable, for men to rape their wives. I have seen young men and young women who have struggled with same sex attraction their whole lives being told that God hates them and that they are going to hell. I’ve seen toddlers scream and try to run away when they see the church building because they associate it with pain. I’ve seen preteen girls being forced to “reconcile” with the grown men who sexually assaulted them.
And hundreds of young people who associate the beautiful Heidelberg Catechism with pain, shame and suffering because of what they have endured in catechism classes.
One man reviled me as “unteachable” when he found out that I allow my wife to read “whatever she wants” without my permission.
I used to reserve for myself the luxury of thinking that these things were fringe. I suppose it is similar to the thinking of men like Martin Luther in the 16th century. Surely the organized church will listen and discuss these things. Surely they desire to bear witness to Christ and throw out this ungodly leaven.
And I’ve spoken out against it. I have sought to look at the errors in theology that lead to such heinous sins. Why is sexual assault tolerated? Why isn’t ONE instance of domestic violence enough to warrant church discipline or even divorce? Why is the position of women as co-heirs of eternal life so controversial in this age?
The scripture speaks of love as the mark of the disciple. And yet, Reformed Fundamentalism has changed the mark from love to fear. They fear being wrong about something. They fear women will take over. They fear that their wives will stop making their sandwiches. They fear that the wrong party will win. They fear anything that hints of humility and so they fear “beta males”. They fear the LGBTQ community and baking the wrong sort of cakes. They fear anything that they are told smacks of socialism. They fear minorities and immigrants. They fear progressive Christians. They fear social justice.
Mostly, to sum it up, they fear losing their place and their nation.
Something is wrong. The church is worshiping power, control and money and is desperately afraid of losing it.
I hate watching powerless people being driven away from Christ and left without hope, whether you are talking about men, women, children, LGBTQ people, liberals, foreigners, people with disabilities. When one is worshiping their own power and control, anyone who is viewed as a threat to that power must be crushed.
With that backdrop, let me ask you a question. Unless we are living in complete denial, we as Christians understand that we have a sinful nature that we must struggle with our whole lives. There is a part of us that we inherited from Adam that Paul calls “the flesh” and if we are born again, that part of us is at war with the “born again” part of us. “The flesh wars against the spirit.”
The part of us that is being renewed day by day greatly desires to love our neighbor as ourselves. But the flesh that still dwells in us challenges that desire every time the neighbor’s rooster crows at 2 AM, or we get cut off in traffic or count the number of items in our neighbor’s shopping cart in the express lane.
Do you have a sinful nature that you still struggle against? If you are a believer, then you know that you do.
So here is the question – do you have to have complete victory over that sin nature in order to be qualified to serve in the church of Jesus Christ?
Do you have to be free from all desire to strangle your neighbor’s chicken? Do you have to be free from every tendency to distrust, to fearfully withdraw from the duties of love? Do you have to be completely free from the temptation towards lust?
Do we struggle with our sinful nature our whole lives, or do we find complete victory over sin while still in these corrupt bodies?
If we already have what we hope for, then what value is hope? But we long for victory and see it by faith and strive towards it.
If you say that a minister of the gospel must be free from every form of concupiscence (our sinful tendencies, whether we act on them or not) in order to be qualified to serve God in the church, then I must confess to you that I am not righteous enough to serve Jesus. And neither are you.
As those who confess Christ, we hopefully agree on this. It is nothing more than the Christian faith which has been confessed by all ages. This doctrine was clarified by the church in the controversies with the Donatists who taught that there were SOME sins that we too big to ever be forgiven. The church added “I believe in the forgiveness of sins” to the creed to counter such foolishness. If there are some sins to great too be washed by the blood of Christ, then ALL sins are too great to be washed by the blood of Christ.
So nothing too controversial there. So let’s get personal.
Instead of sinful tendencies in the abstract, let’s put a name to them. Suppose, instead of speaking of our tendency to ungodly anger, racism, lust, greed, and failure to love, we are talking about exclusive same sex attraction? Does that change the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins?
Has Jesus promised to make everyone heterosexual and take away all forms of broken sexuality the moment we believe?
Or has he promised to wash us and cleanse us and make us holy, even in the midst of our struggles in this life?
As the Reformed Fundamentalist world began to single out “same sex attraction” as the unforgiveable sin, I naively thought that I could add my voice to the discussion, and bring it away from the culture wars and back to what the Gospel of Jesus is all about.
In my head were all the people who have been told their whole lives that God hates them and that they are not fit to ever serve the church because their particular sin is too icky to be spoken about. In my head were all who have suffered in silence because they didn’t dare speak the word out loud: “I’m gay”. And I truly hate the idea that Jesus, the Friend of Sinners, has no healing or help or welcome for one particular kind of sinner. Once we say that, we no longer have good news for anyone.
And so I wrote a blog on the subject. Some of the points could have been made clearer. There is a typo or two. I could have softened some of the language. But I stand by the theology. If God doesn’t forgive the sin of the “others”, then he doesn’t forgive anyone’s. When that happens, we might win some sort of culture war, but we no longer have any good news.
No one spoke to me about it. No one called me. No one asked me to clarify anything. From my former brothers in the RCUS, the only thing I received was a notice of charges filed against me for false teaching. The Rev. Dr. Kevin Carroll and the Rev. Steven Carr brought charges against me, without once picking up the phone, sending a note, asking for clarification or even attempting to discuss with me what they thought was unbiblical. The excuse that they used was that my blog was public, so the rebuke should be public.
At the “trial” last fall, my counsel attempted to dismiss the charges on the grounds that the whole thing could have simply been talked about over coffee; that no one attempted to make anything right before jumping right to charges.
But those who were charged with hearing the complaint were also my accusers. Several of the delegates slandered me publicly by saying that I never listen, there is no point in trying to talk to me. They brought up discussions that they had in the hall during the breaks where former members complained that I don’t listen.
So because “I don’t listen”, the Classis determined that the constitutional and Biblical requirement of private admonition did not apply in my case.
Next, we attempted to get them to clarify exactly what I was being accused of. They did not seem to think that was important.
I asked, “You have accused me of false teaching. Can you answer this question for me so I know how to defend myself. ‘Sam Powell is a false teacher because he teaches…what?”
The same delegate that slandered me earlier got up and accused me of being a “hyperproceduralist”. He said, “This is what happened in the OPC. Every time there was a problem, the lawyers would come out with their procedures.”
So the trial proceeded without any specifications. Several of the delegates were also accusers. and they were out for blood. When I was dismissed so that the body could discuss the charges, there were many other accusations that were brought up. I was dismissed from the room and was not even told what those accusations were until later. Since I didn’t know about them until afterwards, I had no way of defending myself against them. (I wasn’t supposed to know about that, but it was so unjust that it is a part of the complaint going to the Synod.)
For hours, the same delegate filibustered with every accusation he could think of, and his voice was joined by others. The hostility and enmity of several were evident to many.
To this day, no one has clarified what that false teaching was. It really didn’t matter. I was guilty before I walked in. The trial followed none of the biblical or constitutional procedures. I was found guilty and ordered to, among other things, recant of my errors.
Several of the delegates fist bumped after the verdict.
I asked the executive committee to tell me what my error was that I was to recant. They were unable or unwilling to specify them to me, not wanting to “presume to elaborate on what was adopted by the body since it would be merely an opinion which could easily be misleading or incorrect and in addition, it would have no authority.” These are the words from our clerk of Classis.
Several good friends filed a complaint with the denomination which will be heard in May. I filed an appeal in order to gain a little time for my congregation to decide what to do.
About half the congregation left. When the shepherd is struck, the sheep scatter. First Reformed Church was no longer viable and voted to close the doors. Our last Sunday was February 26.
I asked Classis to remove my name from the rolls of ministers, which they did the first week are March, so I am finally free of the ridicule, contempt, and hostility that I endured at every meeting for years. My appeal, then, will not be heard, as I will not attend, but the complaint will still go forward.
In one last typical move, they noted that I resigned “under discipline” which was not true. But that is another story.
My family and I moved to Minnesota and are getting settled. We are excited about the next chapter of our lives.
I am so, so tired of the hostility, the accusations, the ridicule, and the exclusion that I endured every Classis meeting, while the rest of the delegates sit silently. The health of myself and my family is my first responsibility and the stress of continuous threats is taking its toll. The RCUS is not a safe place for me, which is sad, since my commitment to the Reformed confessions has never wavered.
I am tired of not being able to speak freely, or debate freely. The voice of God’s people is silenced and crushed in Reformed churches out of fear, and this should not be the case.
So after a lifetime of membership, and 33 years of continual service, I am no longer a part of the RCUS.
I just can’t do it anymore.
49 responses to “Here’s what happened…”
I’m deeply sorry that you are being disrespected and mistreated. God is LOVE. Their behavior is NOT loving. Personally, I only know you from FB and the blog, but I have found much encouragement in your ministry. You have a unique, standout voice amongst preachers/pastors. I have divorced from a 40 year abusive marriage. Your writings on this subject have been a soothing balm to my battered soul. To use a trendy catchphrase, I have been on a journey of “deconstruction” from my first 45 years of dramatic, legalistic Pentecostal (AoG) teachings and my last 15 years of “reformed” teachings by folks like Piper, Driscoll, Chandler etc. Although, some of your opinions don’t sit easy with me, I’m learning to open my mind to the thought that I don’t have the corner on the truth. I also believe it is the blood of Christ that saves our soul, not our perfect theology. God is a god of deep mysteries. We should always learn and change, as led by the Spirit. Please know, I look forward to your further ministry and encouragement. You are very valuable to many of us.
According not Ephesians, God ordained who is a pastor. And from the fruit that I have witnessed, you are a pastor. Your concern God’s sheep has been very clear and comforting. Anyone that has gone to you with a care or a concern can attest to that. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, it is truly a loss for the RCUS to have allowed a man of God to be railroaded in the manner such as you were. Not only because you seek after the will of the Lord, but also because prior to this situation you were a huge proponent of the RCUS and its processes. While I ache for your loss and the betrayal by your peers, friends and loved ones, I also am relieved that God has removed this “thorn” from your side and you no longer have to be burden with the weight of the RCUS and it’s worldly system. Also as a side note, knowing what I know about the RCUS you didn’t even have to mention Steve Carr’s name, I figured he was a part of it from the moment I heard it. Maybe if he spent more time being a pastor and less time on the internet, persecuting brothers and sisters in the Lord his congregation would grow more than the handful of families and he could stop sucking of the teat of the RCUS. Oops, looks like the Holy Spirit still has some work to do in me.
I am sorry for you and your family and all of the other victims out there. Losing your church community brings a deep pain. It is baffling what has happened to reformed circles. Thank you for protecting the flock as much as you were able.
Good grief, Sam. Appalled to read thus. I guess “due process,” a good legal term I’m familiar with, doesn’t apply in your former denomination. Neither does Matthew 18, for that matter.
This was very well written and explained the confusi
My heart is broken that this has been done to you!! The pride, arrogance and self-righteousness of your persecutors will be to their destruction if they do not repent. They have also deprived God’s people, in their churches, of a faithful shepherd. I’m up in Canada, and haven’t realized how pervasive the influence of some people has been. It shocked me actually as I read this email. And it saddens me, too. As a woman of 60+ years, I was hopeful that these ‘old’ ways were on their way out. But now I realize why they aren’t. I see it in our denomination too, but naively thought it was ‘old’. Now I’m even more concerned for the future of other faithful churches….thank you, for once again helping me to learn.
I am so thankful for the godly pastoring I have received from afar, through your truly biblical writings. The truths you laid out for us have pointed me to our only Hope, and I sincerely thank you for doing that in the midst of all your struggles. I will continue to pray that the Lord surrounds you and your loved ones, as the mountains around Jerusalem, with His provision and protection, as you heal, and settle, in the place He has prepared for all of you in Minnesota. I hope you continue to write/publish, and I look forward to learning and being encouraged. But if you don’t, or take a break, I know why and I respect that completely. I know that I can go back and read your previous work again. The truth doesn’t grow old. Nor irrelevant.
May our faithful Father continue to shower all of you with His good and perfect gifts.
Always, and only, for His glory.
AnnetteT>Sikkema, Arthur, Ontario
Dear Sam I’m so sorry to hear about all of what happened to you. I just want to say that your posts have been a breath of fresh air to me over the past many years since I stumbled upon your blog. Please keep writing to us – we need a sane voice in the wilderness of hateful power hungry people. Thank you Kathryn Annis
I’m so sorry for the injustice, Sam. Lifting you up in prayer and asking the Lord to send comfort and fill you with His peace and wisdom.
Congratulations on the move. I am excited about your next chapter, too.
I’ve watched a lot of good pastors struggle with the institution of church, churchian cultures and hierarchies, and actually those struggles have really ministered to me, healed my broken heart. I honestly don’t know how to follow Jesus and follow the church overall at the same time, because they are often conflicting paths that just won’t mesh. I can say that choosing to simply follow Jesus is a great blessing, a real adventure, and something that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
Wow! So completely heinous! Though sadly through my own journey, I have found this so horribly common. It was because of those religious attitudes that I am no longer able step inside of a church after all the spiritual abuse. (with the exception of weddings and funerals) Frankly, you are a breath of fresh air to hear about a PASTOR who actually thinks below the surface. Their are so many of us here in the online world who may no longer have a building to worship in but have been able heal and grow so much more than we ever were allowed to in a building. Thank you for doing the hard thing and standing firm in the Truth!
You and other genuine believers have been and are being abused by the Pharisees of our day…it’s a real thing. I can’t unsee it. …I just thank God for you and your genuine love of Jesus and to His.
May He comfort and strengthen you as you
comfort and strengthen
His loving, imperfect believers..of which I am one by His mercy.
I am so sorry, Sam, for all you have endured. I thank God for the comfort that I have received from you, and I know many others would thank God for the same. I pray that he blesses you in all ways in Minnesota. Such sadness takes a toll on our bodies as well as our souls, so I pray you and your dear wife will be generous with yourselves as you heal, looking to God to bring fuller peace and dissipate the deep grief and loss in his perfect time.
“I asked the executive committee to tell me what my error was that I was to recant. They were unable or unwilling to specify them to me …”
Mr. Kafka, call your office …
Dear Pastor Powell,
Thank you for your candid opinion and thoughts about this.
When my father was removed from the RCUS, you and your family were among the few kind to me and siblings. You did not see us through the light of our parents struggles. Thank you for being that instrument to hurting children.
While I am truly sad to hear that you have left, I can empathize the grief that you have felt leaving this denomination as I have also made that decision after seeing and experiencing many of the issues that their legalism has pushed them into. Thank you for your thoughts and your heart. It is so comforting to me to know that someone who knows the RCUS believes me when I talk about my experiences there.
I wish you and your family the healing and comfort of the Spirit of God. I hope He comforts you with the greater plan that he has for you and your family.
I was in the process of moving, and didn’t see this. I am so happy that I was a blessing to you in your hard struggles. I pray you are well and thriving, although, if you are who I think you are, it appears as if God is truly blessing you!
Fist bump, a sign the ” good Ole boys” are alive a well.
They are not really well. They are afraid of losing control, of losing their pension plans.
I also stumbled across your blog and have been so blessed by your writings. So, you are being judged/persecuted/disciplined for standing up for the marginalized of society. So was Jesus. You are in good company.
Praying for you and your family.
Thank you for your kind words
I am so so saddened to hear this. Our family had to leave our church of 21 years due to domineering/bullying church leadership. It began as a situation that as you said, “could have simply been talked about over coffee; that no one attempted to make anything right before jumping right to charges.”
My daughter and son-in-law (who love Jesus) were erased unjustly and without warning.
Unbelievable. This was in the PCA where it seems, at times, the BCO is held in higher regard than Jesus’ own words. Absolutely heartbreaking.
I’m sorry for your pain and hurt.
Well, you’re in good company, Sam. Seems to me that Jesus had a very unfair “trial”, too. Not that it makes it easier to bear.
All of this terrible, heretical, harmful teaching came from Doug Wilson et al. I used to think he was brilliant. I read his Credenda Agenda and read Piper, and Phil Johnson and MacArthur and Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard and so many others…including Jay Adams…that harmed me and my family in devastating ways. I’m so thankful to have found you and your refreshing, simple and clear teaching of the gospel. It’s changed my life.
I’m so glad you are free from all of the persecution and pain. I look forward to your future teachings.
And to the lady from Arthur, Ontario…I am not far from you. I live in Huron County. Maybe some day we can meet.
They are all very good at sucking people in with attractive words. They get you in and then the poison hits.
Thank you for the comment
Sam, I read each word. I stand with you. You were clearly wronged. And how easy it is for powerful people to attack our imperfections. Fortunately I’ve never undergone such a thing as a teacher, but I know that if you do the wrong thing in education, and a thousand things you’ve done in perfectly and are overlooked can be the thousand cuts by which they let you bleed. Sinful powerful men are merciless as sin itself.
Sam, I read each word. I stand with you. You were clearly wronged. And how easy it is for powerful people to attack our imperfections. Fortunately I’ve never undergone such a thing as a teacher, but I know that if you do the wrong thing in education, and a thousand things you’ve done in perfectly and are overlooked can be the thousand cuts by which they let you bleed. Sinful powerful men are merciless as sin itself. Thank God for His mercies to us and his judgements. Psalm 37.
Thank you for sharing your story. The western church has deep, deep idols that are flexing very hard at the moment.
You’re describing my tribe, our people. It’s heart-breaking. And yes, the church is full of sinners, of which I am chief. Come Lord Jesus.
Blessings to you from Australia.
I had no idea. I’m so sorry to have burned you with our own trials.
I quit church about 26 yrs ago. Not sure.
I see that the noose that was tightening around your neck has been cut off. You jumped down off those gallows, grabbed your family in the crowd and declared were outta here!
As your accusers stand gaping.
Wipe that dust off your sandals , get a pair of warm boots and walk freely, my friend.
You have been a voice of love and kindness despite the noose cutting off your airways and your head getting red and your brain struggling for oxygen.
Breathe deeply, rest, enjoy Gods wonderful creation.
Know this. Where you live now it would be safe to assume nobody will bat an eye if you leave up your Christmas lights all year. You’ll fit right in.
Thank you for all you courage and counsel.
Sorry for the late reply! Things have been hectic, to say the least. Helping and praying for others – including you and yours – have been a welcome respite in the whirlwind. It kept reminding me what was truly important – love for neighbor, and bearing one another’s burdens. Its what we do (-:
After experiencing something similar on a much smaller scale (an authoritarian pastor and two cooperative elders), your posts, among others,’ helped ground me, including your articles about nouthetic counseling. Your respect of and compassion for others is in the tone of your writing, and it ministered to my heart.
In my experience, like yours, there was much vague and general condemnation before they would try to answer my question, how am I sinning against God? Their fudgy ways, as in your story, reminds me of how the enemy of my soul condemns. It is unlike God, who taps His finger right on a thing and says, Here, Helen. This.
If they were to do things decently and in proper order, there would be nothing to fist-bump about at the end of the day. There should be sorrow, if they truly believed there has been wrong-doing. But there was a mob feel to the situation. Where is the love?
At one point in my post-discipline journey, I came across a 2021 article by pastor John W. Mahaffy about the OPC trial process (https://mahaffynet.net/?page_id=462). I was astounded at the careful procedure. I imagine Machen and his fellows writing it to protect those after them from wrecklesss men. Even with procedure, as we saw with the trial I think Mahaffy’s article anticipated, there are no guarantees of integrity. Lord, come quickly.
Dear pastor Powell, I am very sad reading your letter. I do sincerely hope that you will continue your blog and write all that is inside your heart, about all the abuse and etc. that perturbs the sons and daughters of God.
May our God bless you and comfort you as he always does.
I will certainly continue
Very happy to hear that.
I am so sorry PASTOR Powell. I am getting divorced after 3 decades of spiritual and emotional abuse. My “pastor” confronted and allowed my husband to leave with no “discipline”. I have moved to another state, they refuse to remove me from the rolls upon my resignation (which was BEFORE I filed for divorce) and have put me on a 9Marks style “care list”. I have gotten borderline harassment so far. I am in another state with a supportive reformed confessional pastor. But they are still holding me hostage with threats of “discipline” Your ministry, unholy charade, and others gave me clarity and courage. Your love for the sheep and faithfulness is not in vain and the Lord will judge between us and “them” on the day our Great King is vindicated. I was crushed when i found the ones that claimed to love and support me turn like wildcats when the D word happened. And they do not have a uniform standard to release people from the roles as others go with no hinderance and yet I am illegally (from a US civil code) held hostage. Someone here said “shake off the dust” but a broken heart takes time to heal. May God abundantly bless you in the way you have supported those of us unseen and hopeless and yet KNOWING God has made a way of escape. In love
Sam, “Blessed are you … Matthew 5:11-12.
I’d love your response to this, Sam …
Sam, I am so sorry and appalled to hear that this happened to you. I know that those who did this will be accountable to God, and there will be justice, but I feel angry and outraged now all the same. I believe you have served God faithfully in the ministry. Your writings have helped many, including me. This is not what you deserve.
However, I know that God will reward you for everything you have done, and that in eternity this injustice will no longer matter and you will be happy you wrote that blog post about same-sex marriage and forgiveness last June.
I completely agreed with that post. It shouldn’t be controversial in any way, in my view. Your motivation was good and the actions of these RCUS leaders (false shepherds in my view) were completely wrong.
Looking forward to seeing what God has for you next. I have prayed for you and your family.
Hi Pastor Sam. I’m not part of the Reformed church and only know you from Facebook posts on various DV survivor and advocate pages. I can only imagine how painful this is. On the other hand I think that God is tearing down and rooting up so he can build and plant through you and me and anybody else willing to stand up to this kind of horrific misrepresentation of God and His heart as revealed in His Word. There’s no shortage of abuses and atrocities done in the name of religion and this is no different. These men are not Shepherds. They are at then best hirelings and at the worst wolves. Keep speaking out. The rooting up and the tearing down is never fun but has to happen before the building and planting. God please bring down these ugly people and organizations to make way for Your new work. Help us to follow hard after You and continue to reflect Your heart for the abused, hurting and marginalized. Praying for you and your family Sam for a healing and restorative season of peace.
I am so so very sorry that y out and your beloved family have to go through this persecution. A sham trial/hearing that has no intention of searching for the truth.
I don’t know much about the Reformed denomination but I do know too much about spiritual abuses. I have stopped even hoping to find a church I feel safe attending.
But I always felt safe interacting with you. You represent what a true shepherd should be. You have validated my horrific abuses by my former family and relatives in their cult which ostracized me for exposing the abuses I suffered well into my adulthood. Your words of kindness and hope in Jesus one Day making all things right were what my shattered heart needed whenever I commented here. Your heart and Jesus-following spirit were always evident to me. Flesh and blood pastors of churches I attended were so dismissive and even perturbed that I told them about the wolves in their midst and churches. Never did they even consider disciplining the abusers. Even with physical evidence of the injuries. They don’t want their smooth operations they’ve got going on being in any way upset by having to act like a true shepherd. It’s all about the number of butts in their pews, the weekly money guaranteed, the perks often provided by those very abusers reported to them who groom and bribe and wink at the leadership in the churches and gain their “favor” at the expense of the brokenness of the ignored victims. Victims don’t bribe or groom or wear sheep masks and costumes. We come with the truth. But that, as you have sadly found, is not enough. It is not what they want. They want their slick apple cart empires to be left alone.
I will pray for you and your family. May the God Who sees your heart provide and direct you to better things.
I am so glad you will keep writing your blog! Your voice is needed.
Thank you for your kind words. I am sorry for everything you have endured. Through much tribulation we enter the kingdom of heaven.
Pastor Sam,So saddened to hear about the mistreatment and oppression you experienced.Your blog posts have been a means of grace to me many times.May the comfort of the Holy Spirit wrap you and your precious family in His warm embrace as you heal from the wounds of the wolves…our Good Shepherd has rescued you and is carrying you close to Himself.There are so many here that are blessed by your wise words and Godly manner.Praying for you.
Thank you for your kind words. Sorry for the late reply. I appreciate it!
I have only recently come across your blog and your writing. I rejoiced to find someone who speaks the truth humbly, boldly, and with love. It is indeed love for the body of Christ that compels us to call that body back to the truth of the Word of God and away from doctrines of man that diverge from it. Thank you for being faithful in your charge from the Lord to do so. Thank you for having the courage to speak up where others remain silent.
Operating in that prophetic role, calling people to repentance and reminding them of the truth of God’s Word, is always costly and painful. Painful, because our heart weeps at the condition of the Body that should not be so. Costly, because challenging enemy strongholds always results in pushback, and some of the enemy’s greatest and most violently defended strongholds are those he has established within the church. Those of us called to do so suffer much abuse, lose much, are often misunderstood, and can feel that we are standing alone.
Please know that I am praying for you and for your family. May our faithful God, Who is near to the brokenhearted, Who encourages the discouraged, and Who comforts those who mourn, minister to your hearts as only He can. May our God of justice ultimately bring justice. May He strengthen you to remain faithful. May He renew your strength as you wait on Him and do what is right. May He continue to be glorified in and through you. May He bring abundant fruit from every seed you have sown. Nothing that you have done for Him is ever in vain.
My words are inadequate, but my heart and my prayers are with you and your family. Dianne Goulet
Thank you so much for the encouragement and the prayers
Dear Pastor Powell, I am so sorry you and your family have been betrayed by your brothers? You don’t deserve any of the rubbish they have served you-all I can say is, I am very grateful for your wisdom, kindness and deep understanding of Jesus and scripture
Sam, I just heard about the Yuba City church being closed. Now you’re living in Minnesota! I am sorry that your family was uprooted in this way. I hope that you have found a satisfying new job or will find one soon. It’s scary and hard to give up one’s ideas about the future and to start over. I pray that the Lord will continue to uphold and care for your family just as He has heretofore.
Dear Pastor Powell,
I’ve been waiting on the right words, ever since I first read this post … usually that works.
But they refuse to come.
Instead grief has knocked.
Anger has burned.
Despair has beckoned.
Sadness has clouded over….
Oh church!! When we are no longer moved by love, compassion, gentleness, words of exhortation clothed in winsomeness and bathed in gospel truth, what do we have left?
Politics? Power? A religion of men?
I can’t be sorry that the dust no longer clings to your sandals Pastor Powell. But I grieve deeply over what this means about the hearts and souls of the ones who claim to represent our Lord and Saviour.
All I see across the desert, are dry bones once again.
Pastor Powell, may the place you have transplanted to bloom under your shepherd‘s heart and may the living water you’ve given us to drink run freely and birth new life in another life, a different piece of land.
May you always know that it wasn’t you. It was Him they rejected.
I bid you a sad but grateful welcome to life outside the camp.
You are loved.
Thank you so much for these words. What a tremendous blessing to me!
Sam, I’ve been so out of the loop I only just heard about this a few days ago. It is so shocking to me.
I mean, I know that more and more bullies are coming out of the quarters of the likes of John MacArthur and Doug Wilson, pushing out those who disagree. But the way they treated you is just shocking.
I’m so very grieved that in so many churches “agreement” on these peripheral doctrines seems to now trump fidelity to Christ and the desire to give a cup of cool water in His Name. Who are these people? What does this mean for the church of Jesus Christ in this nation?
For you and I pray that the Lord will open doors of opportunity for you and Susan in new and beautiful ways. I pray that the wounds of abuse will heal quickly as His light shines in you and through you and for you on the path ahead.
Your voice is needed. I’m thankful you’re continuing to speak.
Thank you so much, Rebecca. It’s been a hard year, but the Lord has blessed us with a new home in Minnesota.
I’m working as a breakfast cook and unpacking all of my computer and video equipment to begin ministering in a different way.
It’s tough enduring a public beating and shaming in a group that you thought were friends. But I’m so glad to be free.
Such an unbelievable nightmare. But I’m glad too, and I’m trusting the Lord will open opportunities of ministry in ways you never expected.
Amen to Rebecca’s comment.
Prayers for you again now..