May 2002, by a former member
When I first started attending services at Victory Chapel in Guam, it all seemed so friendly. After I had made my decision to become a member, however, I discovered the truth about how this group really operates.
The first thing I was told to do, was to get rid of my television. When I questioned this, I was told that TV was possessed by “Satanic powers,” and that nothing was good about it. I didn’t want to do this. But if I wanted to room with the other single men that attended the church, my only choice was to give my television away.
The next thing that bothered me, was the church would openly attack any and all other church denominations, whether it was Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, Methodist, Assembly of God or whatever. The pastor would stand behind the pulpit and rant about other churches for absolutely no reason. Apparently he wanted to convince people that every other church was wrong and that true salvation could only be found at the Christian Fellowship Churches (CFC) and of course at his in particular. He even went so far as to say that if you were “saved” there, that you would be “out of God’s will” and “backslidden, ” if you left that church. Even if you left Guam to attend another CFC church elsewhere.
I questioned these things and was told that since God had saved me in Guam, I was forbidden to leave the church, which I now see was completely unbiblical at best, and blackmail at worst. Even though I knew this was wrong, I had married another church member by then and when I raised my concerns, she refused to even discuss it with me! She also called the pastor and dragged me into his office for “counseling.” But this counseling only consisted of me being accused of backsliding, murmuring against the headship of the church and of listening to “Satan’s lies.”
The truth of the matter, is that I was a prisoner of the church, since for me to leave and attend elsewhere, meant I would lose my wife. She told me this herself many times in the following four years that we were married. I want to make something very clear here, I loved my wife very much and even though I knew that what I was told was wrong, I stayed in anyway for her sake.
My wife also demanded that I throw away all my music and to dispose of all the art I had collected. Please understand, I’m not talking about “Satanic rock” here or pictures of upside down crosses, this was just whatever music and art the church somehow decided was “EVIL,” usually because it was produced by secular people and that nothing good could ever come from them. I was constantly told that evil spirits were behind all things that weren’t thought of as “Christian” by the church. In fact, this even included Christian rock groups like Petra, Whiteheart and Newsboys. If that doesn’t tell you how narrow-minded these people are, then what came next certainly will!
My next big attack came when I decided to attend college to get a degree in business management. I did this without asking permission. I knew that surely something bad would be said about it by the pastor, my wife and other members.
I went to school, but continued working at my regular job by day and attended classes at night. That was my schedule for almost two and a half years. Then I was personally attacked at a church service, during one of the pastor’s rants about “educated people.” In his sermon he stated flatly, “if you are going to school and miss Wednesday night service, then you are out of God’s will, and are in sin!” He then looked directly at me and said the same thing again, this time with more conviction. I couldn’t take it any longer, and broke down and cried, right there in the middle of the church. I just couldn’t understand why God would be so cruel and controlling, when all I wanted to do was to get a better job to support my family and tithe more.
Up until that time, I had been giving a tithe of 10% of my gross salary, which my pastor commanded me to do. But after that, I refused to give Victory Chapel any more money. I just couldn’t support an organization that was dumbing people down and then using their ignorance to con them out of time, money and spirit.
I saw many friends get “launched out” to start their own churches. But none of them came back the same. They all secretly told me that once they were out there, the pastor virtually cut them off. No financial support for food, church bills, nothing! And all the while, the congregation was drilled for more money to support these families! But If we gave all this money, where did it all go? Who knows. There was absolutely NO meaningful accountability for where the money went at Victory Chapel. Some group of people that the pastor claimed he was accountable to, called ”The Council,” was really just a group hand-picked by the pastor himself.
Doesn’t this sound like some cult dictatorship?
This is the real reason I believe they call some of the CFC churches “The Door.” They brainwash you so that you can’t go anywhere else without “God’s wrath” being poured out on you. Then they convince you that any other church is flawed and only they are really serving God. So “the door” is there, but you are so afraid to use it. It becomes like a painted door on the wall!
I begged my wife for about two years to allow me to attend church elsewhere. She flatly refused. She threatened to leave me if I did. By this time, I had been going to the doctor’s office and was receiving a prescribed anti-depressant to help me deal with all my stress, pain and suffering. Amazingly, my wife seemed totally insensitive to it all, even when I told her about the drugs I was taking and why!
Finally, I left the church and filed for divorce. I want people who read this to understand. There was no immorality involved here. No cheating, no fooling around, just a desire to be able to live a free life. I want to have children who attend college and have a better chance at being successful in life than I did. I want to attend a church that teaches about the love of Christ and what he did for humanity on the cross. And I want a chance to find a real woman who loves me for myself. Not because I act “just like the pastor.”
I never want to go back to that place again. In fact, I left my home, my truck and everything I own in Guam and moved back to the States.
I’ve found a new church now. I cannot begin to say what a blessing it is! The preaching is fantastic! And most importantly, the pastor teaches about the love of Christ, instead of a punitive God in heaven waiting to hammer or slam people when they fail! At my new church we are encouraged to pray not only for ourselves and our church, but for all Christians and all churches. I have never heard my new pastor say anything against another church since I’ve been attending. And though he does point out the evils of television, he doesn’t demand that we destroy them!
All in all, I’m happy now. I may have lost everything I own, but what I’ve gained is far more important than the things I left behind. Now I have freedom, a real life and most importantly my salvation!