Stories from the Message
The following are true stories that were experienced by ex-message believers while in the Message.
Testimonies of lies
The following true stories raise serious questions about the integrity of ministers in the message.
Covering up sexual abuse
One message pastor perfectly fits the definition of a sociopath. In many countries in the world, he would have gone to jail. He told several people in his church that he did not know about the sexual abuse of a minor which took place in the church he pastored, until after the boy was over twenty years old. But through the testimony of witnesses (in accordance with the Bible), the board of the church found that the pastor was lying.
He knew about the sexual abuse of the boy within a few months of the abuse beginning and while the boy was only 15 years old. He met with the boy and the abuser separately just two weeks after the boy's 16th birthday. BUT he never told the boy's parents and never told the abuser's husband of what was taking place. Furthermore, he demanded a code of silence from those few people that knew what had taken place. Because this was not handled in a Biblical way, the abuse continued for several more years and the illicit relationship continued for some 10 years.
Why would this pastor be willing to lie and cover up such blatant sexual abuse?
Was it because he had too much spiritual pride to admit that this was going on in his assembly?
Was it because he was afraid it would bring him bad publicity?
Was it because he didn't want to lose the financial support of the minor's family?
Was it because his own family member was the perpetrator?
He should have had enough integrity to do the right thing. His first allegiance should have been to God's Word. He should have cared enough about the souls of these two individuals to handle the situation Biblically. He should have seen to it that they got help rather than covering it up so that the abuses continued.
Are message pastors willing to lie because they are in a religion of lies? It certainly appears so.
Lies about a pastor
A pastor of a message church in the U.S. became aware that there were some serious issues with the teachings of William Branham. He had known for several years that William Branham was not under the cloud in Arizona, that there was no voice at the river, and that his bridge prophecy failed. He attempted to reason away these issues, but ultimately had to admit they were outright lies.
He recognized that preaching 'salvation through William Branham's teachings' was far from Biblical and that it undermined the true Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ alone. He also realized that William Branham had taken many Scriptures out of context to try and proclaim himself a modern-day "Elijah" the same way Alexander Dowie, Joseph Smith, and Herbert Armstrong did.
The fact that all William Branham's "prophecies" were told after the fact and that he had several failed prophecies was evidence that he did not fit the description of a Biblical prophet.
This pastor brought some of these issues before his deacons and associate ministers. Rather than look into any of the issues their pastor presented to them, these men were determined to immediately replace their pastor with someone who would continue exalting William Branham, making excuses for his lies and failed prophecies, and ignoring the Scriptures proving him wrong.
BUT... THAT'S NOT ALL.
To be certain that no one would ask their pastor (of over 30 years) any questions concerning his resignation, the preachers and deacons told the people that their pastor had a complete nervous breakdown and was not in his right mind. This was an outright lie and nothing could have been farther from the truth. If anyone had actually asked their former pastor how he was doing, he would have told them that he was "thinking more clearly than he ever had in his life." And if they had been willing to sit down and talk with him, he could have shared the truth with them.
By lying to the people about their pastor, the preachers and deacons could rest assured that everyone would discredit anything he might share with them, and hopefully avoid him altogether. What's interesting about this situation (and should be duly noted) is how quickly the congregation, who had looked to this man as their gentle shepherd for so many years, could so easily dismiss him without even asking him why he chose to resign. And the fact that they swiftly replaced him with a man who exalted Branham and man-handled the people is evidence that this is a man-movement and that people must be man-handled in order to feel spiritual.
Rather than enjoy the freedom that comes from the grace of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, they demand 'another gospel' that consists of law, condemnation, and self-imposed rules. Instead of exalting Jesus Christ, they insist that their man-idol be raised higher and higher.
It's truly heartbreaking to watch message people with their elitest attitude and self-righteous pride. As Christians we should be reflecting the beautiful grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Lies about a song leader
A song leader in a message church had become aware of the issues with William Branham's teachings and started asking questions about the message. He contacted his pastor via email and through text messages with his questions but never received a response. He ultimately left the church having received no answers to his questions.
When members of the congregation asked about the song leader, the pastor lied and claimed that this man had simply left the church and had never tried to contact him. Rather than engage in conversation with his worship leader, this pastor chose to avoid contact and spread lies about him. However, the song leader kept the texts and emails he sent to this pastor as proof that the pastor was lying about him. He showed them to the few people who actually took the time to contact him and they were shocked by the proof that the pastor had lied to them.
Lies about a deacon
A deacon in a message church realized there were issues which could not be ignored. His wife was the pianist. He went to his pastor with legitimate questions concerning the teachings of William Branham. When he brought the issues up with the pastor, he got no answers and his wife was immediately asked to step down from playing the piano. Then the lies began. The pastor contacted each member of the church and claimed that this man and his wife had a "jealous and competitive spirit." This was a blatant lie and deliberate defamation of character. He also accused this couple for 'running down the ministry', which they did not do.
Questions raised by this behaviour
Why are asking questions considered the equivalent of "running down the ministry???"
Probably for the same reason questioning William Branham is considered blasphemy.
Other people have had similar experiences when they asked questions or left the church. They were accused of:
Why is the message full of pastors who are so willing to lie? Perhaps it is the fruit of being in a religion whose very foundation is based on lies.
Stop your medication!
The preacher in a Message church felt particularly inspired, so he challenged the people in his congregation to trust the Lord for their healing, and stop taking their medication as a leap of faith. Shortly after, a woman in his church committed suicide after she stopped taking her anti-depression medication, and an elder had a stroke that put him in a wheelchair speechless for the rest of his life after he stopped taking his doctor-prescribed blood pressure medication.
What kind of results was he expecting when he began challenging his congregation to stop taking their medication?
Caring for the Poor
A Message Pastor stood up and asked his Church for approval to give the guitar player some money because he had pawned his guitar and couldn't afford to get it out again. No one raised a hand. Taking the silence as affirmation, the Pastor handed the guitarist $300 cash from the offering plate. Later, in hushed whispers, many express to one another their disapproval. Still, no one confronted the pastor about the folly of giving cash without asking for reasons behind a person’s financial distress. A short time later the guitarist stopped attending services because of alcoholism and drug use.
In another Message Church, a single mother of four approached the Pastor about her financial distress. She had been in an abusive situation and had attended the church for years. She needed diapers and food and was humiliated that she had to ask for help. The Pastor went to discuss the situation with a deacon, who gave the woman $20 with the instructions “Here is some money for diapers, but we don’t help charity cases here.”
A third message church had a lot of money that they had saved up. They were doing nothing to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19). The pastor wanted to invest some of the funds because the money was sitting in the bank earning a low rate of interest. So he found an "investment" that was going to provide a high rate of return and provided collateral to the church for the loan in the form of property. The deacons and trustees approved the transaction, subject to the church's lawyer ensuring the guarantee of the land was put in place.
A year later, it was discovered that the pastor had invested the money without the guarantee, he had never involved the lawyer, and the church took a $100,000 loss. The pastor stated he would repay the money as between his salary as a pastor, living expense allowance and the trucking business he owned on the side, he was earning close to $300,000 a year.
But instead of that, he worked to get the sympathies of many of the churchgoers on his side and it was finally decided that he did not need to repay the money that he had lost through his negligence.
What these stories teach us
The Message often claims that it has the ability to “write another book of Acts”, but the Book of Acts says that “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” (2:44-45 NIV). What is clear is that the Message is not a continuation of the book of Acts as it claims to be.
Dealing with tithes and offerings
The pastor's motives?
All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
The preacher in a Message church challenged his congregation that if they tithed regularly, God would bless them. One family in the church began to faithfully double-tithe. After a while, the Pastor purchased a nicer house and car. The family in his church continued to give, and continued to struggle financially for years.
In the Bible, Job’s status of righteousness did not depend on his earthly wealth, and his earthly wealth was not a status of his righteousness. A formula of wealth for worship is a works-based submission-for-prosperity gospel that the Devil preached to Jesus.
Was this pastor twisting the Bible's message for his own advantage? Is this the doctrine of devils? Was the motivation for the family's giving based on a desire to obey scripture or to receive blessings?
A child's story
As a small child I would get bored after church so I would sneak back in to the sanctuary. Sometimes there was an adult alone and they didn't know I was there. I vividly remember watching the pastor take all of the money from the three boxes in front – for tithes, offerings and missions - and stuff it into his pocket in one giant wad. Another time I watched a congregant collect a watch they put in the offering box while “dancing in the spirit” during the sermon. Both times I was confused because it seemed so dishonest. Later I would hear my parents complaining about not receiving receipts for their taxes. Now it all makes sense. It was all dishonest.
An adult's experience
The treasurer of the church called me into the Pastor's study to explain to me that I should never pay my tithes by check anymore, but only use cash.
"Did I bounce a check?" I asked.
“No”, he replied, “but the prophet warned the ministry of three things: money, women and popularity. The pastor has a revelation about a fourth one: the government.
This sent up a red flag in my mind, but at the time I didn't dare question the "anointed one" over the congregation.
What these stories teach us
There is no accountability for the spending of funds in most message churches and the misappropriation of funds is fairly common (as message pastors consider that they "own" all of the tithe funds, although there is NO scriptural support for this position).
Unfortunately some people don't realize that the 'Christian' thing to do is not to sit idly by and let abuses continue. But they think they are serving God and letting these wolves in sheep's clothing fleece them. It's sad, but the Bible told us it would happen.
Unanswered questions about the message
The sexual abuse of a child
The Pastor of a Message church showed his congregation a short video of a Catholic Priest preaching a fireball sermon to an evangelical audience. I was a teenager in the audience. The pastor stopped the video and told us that the Catholic Priest in the video was a pedophile. He then told us how the Catholic Church is spiritually bankrupt. Years later, I learned that the same Message Pastor was hiding ongoing sexual interaction between an adult and a minor in his congregation when he showed the video. I talked to the Pastor about this, and he lied about the events that happened. Realizing that the Pastor was spiritually bankrupt, many people in his congregation left to form a new Message Church.
A few years later, the Pastor of the new Message church showed his congregation a short video of a Catholic Priest preaching a fireball sermon to an evangelistic audience. I was an adult in the audience. The pastor stopped the video and told us that the Catholic Priest in the video was a pedophile. He then told us how the Catholic Church is spiritually bankrupt. He never mentioned that the same issues exist in Message Churches. I began to think about why we would call the Catholic Church the Mother Whore when our Message Churches were acting like her daughters?
I realized that I had seen this all before, and decided not to let my children too far out of my sight. Very soon after I left the Message.
Love in the message
The following are examples of love being displayed in the message.
Notice to Visitors
There was a man in a message church in Wisconsin who proudly handed out a framed witnessing tool in the form of a declaration of their faith. It was meant for fellow message believers to hang on the wall in their homes. The gist of it was this:
Disregard for those that are ill
There was a young boy in our congregation who had bad allergies. Throughout the service, he was blowing his nose. Halfway through very long sermon, the pastor looked down and said, "Would someone get him out of the sanctuary?!" He said it in an accusatory tone, not a gentle one. No offer to pray for the poor kid. Just an angry demand. The family of the child left less than a year later. The man had been a deacon in the church.
No regard for grieving parents
When our baby died, our first service back at church was completely directed at us. The pastor rebuked and accused us of ridiculous and petty things as being the cause of God taking our baby's life. Then, that evening, he sent the deacons over to rebuke my husband for chuckling during the song service (he played guitar), because he was having trouble getting the timing right with the other musicians. Our baby hadn't been in the ground for more than 3 days!
Blamed for childrens' death
A pastor blamed my dad for the death of my two brothers because he did not believe the doctrine of the church. A deacon told us there was a curse on our family. When my husband and I starting to have a family, the same deacon told me to make sure we had a lot of children just in case some were taken away.
Years later the pastor was electrocuted and died.
Ridiculed for grieving
When our son died, we were rebuked for grieving. We were told that we should be rejoicing, because our baby was in heaven.
I tried for years to reach my pastor after being abandoned by my husband. He was "unavailable" each time I called either his office or his home. I was passed to other pastors, who told me I needed to talk with him... Endless loop.
Finally I gave up. When I left the church/message, no one even noticed that I wasn't going any more. I suppose that was the most hurtful thing - that I was so irrelevant after 12 years attendance, solo singing and piano playing, no one even noticed when I wasn't there and neither were my two children.
My former husband, now on his 5th wife, is still welcome in many message churches, because every time he wants to dump one wife and marry someone else, he "backslides". Then after a period of time, he returns and "repents" with new wife at his side.
You have to take sides!
When our church split up, I was the treasurer and a trustee. Eventually one of the ministers put the question to me as to which of the two pastors I was going to support. I naively replied that maybe I would attend both churches.
It was then that the minister I was talking to appeared to prophesy to me. He said, "You will be shot in the legs for being a Yankee... shot in the back for being a rebel".
And so I left the message. What they did not know was that this was the perfect timing for my Messiah to begin revealing himself to me.
Having died to the message, I began to wake up and see the glory, power and honour of the Lamb of God. It is an exciting chapter in the epistle of my life, I call it, The Great Escape.
You need to move!
We had always been persecuted because we did not move close to a message church and "be at our post of duty". The worst came directly from a big name preacher. We had attended his church, as often as we could for several months. He had never spoken to us, until one day before service we were standing in the vestibule, and he came up to us and asked us when we were going to move. My husband said " We have jobs, property and a home up there" upon which he said , "I don't care, you move!" Every time my husband tried to speak he simply said "YOU MOVE" over and over, louder and louder...each time felt like a stab to my heart.
He finally just walked away, and when we went in to the service I was so shaken I did not hear one word of the sermon. We had been planning to attend a couples banquet, and were called the next day and told there was "no room " for us. Needless to say, we never did go back to that church again. The shock and pure hate I felt is still with me, years later, as I write this.
My brother was nicer before he got saved
My brother and his wife are in the message and have no regard for other christians who are suffering nor will reach out and help anyone who is not in the message, which includes me. I have needed help and they would help others but seem to have no compassion or love for me. I don't understand it. My brother was very compassionate before he got in the message. He acted nicer when he was not saved than he does now. His thinking is so messed up. He is not the same person.
Persecution for liking our Facebook page
Dear people and Believe the Sign, for the first time since coming out of the Message I was personally told by a cousin and friend that she had deleted me because I had supported this site. She said when I talked about the message I blasphemed the Holy Ghost. My mom has been harassed by family as well but this was the first time I'd experience it myself.
Although I want to be afraid and it was a shock in my heart, I know I'm doing what's right. I am happier, more at peace, and have more faith since this journey or exodus began. I was always afraid of missing the Rapture because of things Branham said, but now I feel I am ready and Jesus is the only one I need to be part of the carrying away of the Bride. Thank God!