Coming Out Of The Darkness And Into The Light!
By Shirley Hamilton
After my initial elation at having been chosen to work at this ministry I commenced working for “˜Life In The Word’, as it was known then (Joyce Meyers Ministry). A few days after starting it was my birthday when I was given gifts (personal items and ministry gifts), and then a few week’s later at Christmas time I was given more gifts, along with other employees too, and I was overwhelmed with such generosity. However, what I had not realised at that time was that this had “˜birthed’ jealousy in other work colleagues. This then lead to continual intimidation during my working days at this ministry to the ultimate detriment of my health.
There were continual “˜mixed messages’ coming through, e.g. the choices I made during my 1 hour lunch break. I chose to have a brisk walk (which also gave me an opportunity to pray), including shopping errands to avoid weekend trips, and also to have lunch. After a 40 hour week seated at a desk I believed it was healthy to enjoy the fresh air and return to work for the afternoon refreshed. In fact, it was to become an essential time for my “˜survival’. However, I was constantly made to feel I had made the “˜wrong choice’, even though other members of staff did the same without any repercussions.
Another example of “˜mixed messages’ was when I was sick and unable to get to work. There was no sick pay, but I was made to feel guilty or even intimidated to return to work when still sick. Also, the reverse was true, that on one occasion I went to work sick and was humiliated in front of all members of staff and then sent home! This only served to “˜add fuel’ to the confusion!
Despite being conscientious and hardworking, there were many times of fault-finding and non-constructive criticism that would make me confused and introvert, and which ate away at my confidence, instead of helpful criticism that would build confidence.
There was also pressure on the way we dressed, which greatly increased when preparing to attend a conference. Before the first conference I assisted with I became so concerned about what I should wear, whether it would be acceptable or not, that I even had suicidal thoughts. When encouraged to confess these thoughts to management there was firstly a sharp reprimand, and then prayer!
On commencing employment with JMM, all employees were told that the ministry was based on integrity, excellence and no strife. If anyone caused strife they could lose their job. Therefore, if anyone did dare to speak about intimidation by another member of staff to management, as I did, then the response would often be to be accused of causing strife and discord among work colleagues! We all know that the Bible does say that strife is forbidden, however, Proverbs 3 v30, speaks of not striving with a man without cause. The reverse is, therefore, also the truth that if a man gives you “˜cause’ you have the right to speak out, especially when you have given a man no cause to intimidate you.
The “˜fruit’ of the fault-finding, non-constructive criticism, the undercurrent of control by intimidation created an atmosphere of fear, and continual “˜mixed messages’ caused spiritual confusion as the demands of integrity, excellence and no strife did not match up with how some employees were treated by management and by some members of staff.
My husband also joined the ministry 2 years after I had commenced employment with them. I hadn’t told him about the “˜control’ factor, as I was fearful of any repercussions with management about my causing “˜strife’ in the workplace!
Little did I know at that time that this was the beginning of a 2 year period that caused me to suffer many symptoms of physical stress, e.g. irritable bowel syndrome, a skin condition causing severe irritation, severe back pain, oppressive headaches, and high blood pressure (when normally my blood pressure was low), and culminating in a very great risk of my having a stroke!
As soon as my husband started work there was a very strong “˜control’ factor by colleagues in his department. It was about 3 months before I spoke to my husband about this, which he then recognised and acknowledged, as the purpose was to cause problems between us, i.e. strife. My husband then stood up to this control and the result was, once again, more intimidation, and indeed, he was continually humiliated and some times even threatened!
However, despite a lack of training and support, my husband was able to learn the tasks put before him, but when it was discovered he was dyslexic there was an increased effort of intimidation to relieve him of his job. They finally accomplished this during our house move at Christmas time ““ the time of goodwill!
It was at this time my doctor advised me that I was at serious risk of a stroke if I stayed in this work environment. With my husband unemployed and us having financial responsibilities, it was a step of faith to leave and trust God to keep us, but I did leave and have absolutely no regrets. I enjoyed my job there, but the disillusionment I had from the treatment I, and my husband, had received from management and other members of staff only brought us a Scriptural conflict between what the ministry was based on, what the Word of God actually says, and how we were treated. I felt we had been deceived, and that this dishonoured the Name of Jesus, who stands for Justice, Righteousness and Peace.
Proverbs 15 v14 says that a person who speaks deceitful things brings depression and bruising to the spirit. As a result of working in this ministry my husband and I have certainly struggled with bruising to our spirits. BUT GOD says: “A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench: He shall bring forth judgment unto truth.” (Isaiah 42 v3).
Although management changes were frequent there was always an undercurrent of fear, due to harsh words and treatment. Sometimes, gifts would be given afterwards to relieve the atmosphere! I believe that the cause of control by intimidation was due to the insecurity of some and, also, to a lack of trust from others.
There seemed to be no “˜fear of the Lord’ and as a result no conviction by the Holy Spirit as to the way some of the employees were being treated. Therefore, there was a serious contradiction between the Word of God and this Christian-run ministry. The Word of God says that God’s people will be known by their “˜fruit’ as they “˜love one another’, and indeed this is the way that non-believers will believe that Jesus is who He says He is, but the “˜fruit’ tasted by some employees was not “˜sweet to the taste’, and it was certainly not a good witness to my family, who stood by my husband and myself during this time.
Proverbs also tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom and the “˜fruit’ of having God’s Wisdom, as opposed to worldly wisdom, is: purity, peacefulness which leads to righteousness, gentleness, fullness of mercy and good fruits, easy to be entreated, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Wisdom that lies against the truth is earthly, sensual and devilish, (James 3 v13-18). Proverbs 3 v3 tells us not to forsake mercy and truth, but to bind them around our neck, for this will bring us favour with God and man.
If we’re truly walking with Jesus we have to walk in truth, for Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and the truth cannot be compromised. Therefore, when working in a ministry where the “˜fruit’ does not match up with what is being represented there is DECEPTION, and SPIRITUAL DARKNESS.
Ephesians 6 v12 tells us that spiritual darkness represents principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness in high places, because the devil wants to keep people ignorant and deceived ““ i.e. to keep them in the dark and not knowing THE TRUTH. But God’s plan is to make the dark LIGHT, and the crooked places straight. God has held His peace for a long time but, I believe, is now stirring up His zeal like a man of war to prevail against the deceptions and darkness that has flooded His church. (Isaiah 42 v13-16).
Because of God’s loving-kindness toward us He wants to bring all of us out of darkness and break the bondage of deception apart, to sever us from lies and deceits that are holding us back from HIS TRUTH. (Psalm 107 v14-16). The TURNING POINT comes when we cry out to God for help, and then He will deliver us. (Psalm 107 v28).
Therefore, having come through a period of spiritual confusion, physical and mental stress to the detriment of my health and well-being, it is now a time to come back to the simplicity of the Gospel and the Biblical foundations of my faith in Jesus Christ, i.e. coming back to the reality of the one true Gospel.
After an initial period of being swept away by the promise of financial prosperity as we gave money, and almost believing, yes, we did deserve to have more and more, it is now a time of having “˜little with the fear of the Lord rather than great treasures and trouble that accompany them.’ (Proverbs 15 v14). With the fear of the Lord comes the beginning of Godly Wisdom which Proverbs tells us is far better than gold, silver and earthly treasures.
I can now rest in the truth of God’s Word that He will execute righteousness and judgment for all who are oppressed, (Psalm 103 v6). We are taught not to judge, as God has appointed Jesus, in His time, to judge the oppressors, but Jesus, Himself, will ultimately bring His Justice and put things right.
God’s Wisdom in His Word will show me how to live and walk with Him to avoid being lead astray again. Knowing God, knowing Jesus and living God’s way will protect me from being DECEIVED and enable me to walk a straight path with Him!