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"Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:31).
That winter and the following year, we had our work cut out for us. I ‘disappeared’ below the foundations under heaps of grey subsoil. We systematically concreted sections, about three feet long, shuttering the sides and using a poker vibrator to make the concrete flow underneath the existing walls. The job seemed to Helena to last interminably, but it was finished by spring.
That winter was unusually mild, also with remarkably low rainfall! Had it been wet or below freezing, I would not have been able to get the task completed in the time. The following summer was a 'cruncher' which hit the nation, and would have caused our home to crack severely had we not underpinned it the winter before. 1976 was that exceptionally hot and dry summer which nearly crippled the nation. Daytime temperatures were invariably above 80 degrees F and even soared to 100 degrees F – something extreme in Britain. Day after day, week after week, clouds failed to drop any rain. Water reserves were nearly depleted. The drought lasted from June to September.
The heat was intolerable. Holidaymakers loved it by the sea, but for those who had to work, especially outdoor manual workers, it was dreadful. It must have been comparable to what our forebears had to put up with, building the pyramids in the Egyptian desert.
Roofing felt melted in the sun and the bitumen stuck to one's fingers. Tiles were too hot to handle. Brick mortar dried out to powder. And the heat was simply exhausting.
I was trying to build our garage that summer, but it was so hot the only tolerable times of the day were from after dark until about 8 a.m. I tried getting up at 4 a.m. to start work in the cool of the day. It was simply too much to try and work in that heat after 10 a.m.; nor was it cool enough even in the evening! Was I glad when it ended in September!
Helena and I worked like beavers that first year in our new home. We pulled down internal walls, ripped out windows, gutted rooms, re-plastered walls and ceilings and redecorated throughout. Richard, our eldest child, slept through most of those alterations. It's just as well he was that young. Had he been a year or two older it would have been much more difficult living in the same house and trying to keep him out of the rubble!
In 1977, as I became more involved in building home extensions for clients, it became clear that it was time to make best use of our property by also extending it.
Plans were drawn up and submitted for planning consent by the local council. But they decided our ideas were too ambitious! The first plan was refused. The design was to build an additional bedroom with bathroom next to it, demolish the existing 'lean to' bathroom, double the size of the kitchen, and build a dining room overlooking the rear garden. Upstairs, we proposed making use of the space by making additional rooms. This entailed creating a rear roof, similar to the existing one, only it would be higher and visible from the road at the front of the property.
I do not know why the council objected to the rear roof being higher than the existing by about two feet, but they made their objections known and refused the application. We had to settle on keeping the rear roof the same height as the existing. We built the downstairs rooms with an attic room above, but because of planning restraints and building regulations, we were not 'lawfully' permitted to use the additional space upstairs because of ceiling height. However, I used the area as an office, and gained access to it by means of a retractable loft ladder which I could pull up to prevent little children being too adventurous! It suited our purposes admirably.
Ironically, the building regulations were later relaxed, so all that we had created upstairs now became 'legal'. Man's regulations are often so restrictive and unnecessary.
In retrospect, there is a parallel between what we did in a physical way and what God was doing in a spiritual way. We lived almost 11 years in that house, during which time there were endless changes and improvements taking place. 11 is meaningful biblically, signifying inspired writings, and secondarily disintegration.
We finally sold the house and moved in 1986. It was in that year also that major changes began in the church organisation to which we 'belonged', after the death of its founder. Disintegration was setting in.
The alterations began with extensive laying of new foundations. That is also necessary spiritually for the Church. Without sure foundations, churches will crack. They will gradually crumble and fall. All sound teaching must be based on the sure foundation, the Rock, Jesus Christ, not on teaching that is effectively man's (even though it may sound like it is biblical).
See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed (Is 28:16).
He [Christ] will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure (Is 33:6).
When this humility and fear of God disappears from believers, the foundation for truth is gone. That is when churches fail.
Tonya, our elder daughter, was born the year we began to extend the rear of our property, 1977. While pregnant, Helena shovelled ballast and cement into the mixer and even carried roof tiles up onto the roof! Looking back, I often wonder at what we did. I do not think the strength was always our own.
For eleven years we laboured on that property and worked the garden. Helena grew as much of our produce as she could and kept chickens. She pruned the fruit trees, made her own wine, and in so many ways exemplified the wife of noble character of Proverbs 31.
All this put a great strain on her. There were times when we were both stretched to breaking point. I had to work as a self-employed builder, doing the physical chores at home in my 'spare' time, as well as find time for her and for the family. It was not easy. There were times when things were not ideal. It was a period of learning and of testing. There were times when she suffered for my neglect. Yet, God was with us, working out His inexorable purpose through it all.
At one time, she was at her wit's end, with the constant pressures of having small children, running the household and coping with the difficulties my work brought, on top of all that I ambitiously sought to do at home. She told me years later that at this desperate time she asked God, "Why? Why am I going through all this?" Why!? Why!? Why!?"
God spoke to her and said simply, "You are being tested."
At the time, the still small voice seemed unreal. She thought it was her own mind answering her. But God is Spirit; He is ever-present, and He will always comfort when we need comforting, if we have the faith to believe Him to receive that comfort. She later realised God was answering to her spirit, encouraging her to endure.
She passed the test, and we are where we are today, not because of just what we have done, but because of what God has been working out all along.
The two-bedroomed bungalow we were 'given' in 1975 ended up with six bedrooms and two bathrooms before we left it in 1986. It had tripled in size. How that came about I consider a series of miracles, not merely the result of our hard work.
In our final year there, work became slack towards winter, and I wondered what I was going to do with my time if I was not able to find any substantial work through that winter. In November I sat thinking. I looked out over the orchard at the back and as I did so a thought came into my mind. We could convert the roof space in the old part of the bungalow.
I was given a vision of the roof being higher than at present – not a spectacular vision like Daniel or some of the biblical prophets had. It was a vision of conception, of thought, of realising what was possible, which I had never noticed before. But it was nonetheless a thought implanted by God, as later events showed.
If the present roof was taken off and raised four feet, it would make a large floor space available upstairs for two more bedrooms and another bathroom.
I got plans drawn up and submitted immediately and planned to begin work as soon as possible after Christmas that year, 1985.
Planning permission had not yet been granted when I contracted a specially low price with a newly formed firm of scaffolders to erect a temporary roof over the bungalow. They were glad of the extra work at a slack time of the year, and wanted to begin more or less immediately. I phoned the planners to find out if approval had been granted for our loft conversion and was told that official approval had not yet been given but it looked as though there was no reason why approval would be denied. On the strength of that tentative approval, I gave a go-ahead to the scaffolders to start the following week. The official approval came from the council planning department the day before the scaffolders arrived!
They worked hard for about four days covering the entire house with scaffolding on which they secured corrugated iron sheeting for a temporary roof and hung tarpaulins and mesh fabric at the sides to shield it from the worst of the elements. It was finished just in time!
The next morning after the scaffolders finished, in early January 1986, the weather turned extremely cold. Snow fell thickly. It stayed for several weeks. God’s timing is impeccable!
Under that temporary cover, we stripped off our old tiled roof and opened up the loft, although not to the elements, certainly to the cold. That winter was so cold, the temperature barely rose above freezing for several weeks. Some days a bitterly cold east wind blew through the covers, freezing even the lagged pipes at night! But since most of the work we had to do was 'dry' construction, with timber and plasterboard, I was able to continue when most other builders had ground to a halt.
When we had to build up the gable walls at the side in brickwork to match the new, higher roof, the weather was temporarily sufficiently mild for me to be able to do this, before it reverted again to its freezing norm. We continued inside, plastering the internal partitions, fixing the stairs, flooring and finishing off. Helena papered the new rooms and I tiled the new bathroom. It really looked a treat!
Outside there was one thing remaining to be done. The external finish was a rough textured Tyrolean finish, applied wet like stucco, but with a hand-held and hand-operated machine. A good friend of ours in the church at that time, whom we had gone to visit frequently, came to visit us briefly. I had helped him from time to time by doing some building work on his home. I didn't mind 'busmen's' holidays; they were quite fulfilling! Jim had done a lot of Tyrolean work on his own house, and I knew he was very good at it. He had agreed to give me a hand with this final outside job. Once this was done, the scaffolding could come down.
However, the weather was mostly below freezing. Temperatures only rose by a few degrees in the day, and were back to zero by about 3.30 or 4 p.m.. I knew it was a dicey venture, but we had some screening from the wind and I thought if we could warm up the wall beforehand with a flame gun, and keep waving the flame gun over the quick-setting cement to prevent it freezing before we covered it up with sheeting, we might stand a chance of success.
Jim agreed, and we got to work. He applied the Tyrolean mix to the wall, covering the area several times with thousands of small white blobs of Cullamix as the product is called. He did an excellent job of matching the exact same size of particle with the existing render which was already on the lower parts of the walls.
The air temperature was dropping fast, and although we were warm from working with our thick jackets on, the wall was cold. I touched a couple of places with my finger and was amazed that it had gone hard already. It had only been applied about half an hour! My first thought was that it set amazingly fast. Then I realised it had not set, it had frozen! If we left it frozen, it would turn to powder and rub off the next day.
I quickly got hold of the flame gun and struck a match. The gun burst into life with a loud roar, and I lightly waved this menacing instrument over the area, warming it up. The fierce heat would have destroyed it if kept in the same place for too long, but there was quite a large area to cover, so by moving it around quickly it soon defrosted the Cullamix. It was now soft to the touch. We covered the wall with sheets to keep out the cold and left a heater behind the sheets to keep off the frost that night. In the morning, to my relief and surprise, it had set! Job done! (I wonder now, however, whether it was a miracle arranged by God, because I think it would have frozen overnight, despite what we did to try and keep it from being damaged.)
Buying A Field
"Wait for the Lord and keep His way. He will exalt you to possess the land."
I believe the year was 1981. One day in the spring as I was going to work, I noticed a 'For Sale' sign adjacent to a field in Great Kimble near our home. I was intrigued.
It was about an acre of permanent pasture which had suffered from neglect. The front of the field, near the road, was covered in nettles. The rest of the field was pleasantly undulating grassland which tapered upwards until it 'disappeared' into the densely wooded foothills that surrounded the Chequers estate. One huge, stately horse chestnut tree, which must have been a hundred years old, stood solidly near the middle of the field.
It was a picturesque spot almost opposite the village church. I had taken a photograph of the beautiful autumn tints in the trees surrounding this field only a few years previously. It was like the Garden in Eden.
When I enquired of the price, I was shocked to learn that the vendors were asking more than £6,000! (Two to three times the going rate for agricultural land!) Surely an acre of neglected, overgrown grassland couldn't be worth that much? Yet it was in a serenely beautiful setting. Once again, the asking price reflected its uniqueness. It was a small acreage on its own, with road frontage, and in a highly scenic area not far from London.
I had often been frustrated by the fact that, as a builder, I had nowhere to store excess building materials after completing contracts. It was wasteful to just throw them away, and impractical to sell them. I paid a local landowner to store them in an old barn on his land, but it wasn’t ideal.
At the rear of our property was a mature orchard of apple, plum and some pear trees. It belonged to a neighbour, Rodney Barnard. That piece of land was very appealing, for several reasons. I had often thought how nice it would be to give our hens more of a scratching area. Although it was only a little more than half an acre, it would have been ideal to put a shed where I could store some of my excess materials and keep some useful animals. But the owner would not part with it. It was a family inheritance and he wanted it to stay in the family. He said he had bequeathed it to his grandson in his will.
My arrangement with the land-owner a mile away where I stored my materials was coming to an end, as the barn had been sold to developers for conversion into a dwelling.
I was 'tempted' to buy the field that had come up for sale in Great Kimble, raising the money by taking out a second mortgage on our home. It seemed far more sensible to put money into an investment that would be one's own at the end, than line somebody else's already well-lined pocket. Moreover, the children were growing, and I knew how much I had enjoyed the rural open spaces in my childhood.
After talking with Helena about it, I offered the agents £4,000, explaining that I thought their expectations of "in excess of £6,000" were a bit remote. They replied by telling me that they had already received a similar offer, which they had turned down. They were acting on instructions given by the vendors who happened to be the Church of England Commissioners. The field was part of long-held estate belonging to the Church of England.
I thought the price was steep, and when it was obvious the owners were not going to sell it for less, I put the idea of purchasing it out of my mind. What I failed to consider, however, was that land and house prices were constantly rising, and it would not be long before the asking price of the land was realised by market forces. A speculative factor also boosted its price; there was a rare possibility that it might be built upon in the future. There was a large property on each side of the field. So it might one day be considered “infill”.
Six months elapsed. In that time, I passed the land probably hundreds of times without giving it a second thought. Then one day, I noticed an advert in the paper for a similar plot of land, this time an acre and a half, four miles away, for sale by auction. It was not in such a beautiful situation, and although it was further away, it would still suit my purposes.
I went to the auction and joined in the bidding. I was horrified to find that within seconds, the price soared well above the £4,000 that I thought the land would fetch. But I was prepared to go higher, if need be, to clinch it. After all, they were asking £6,000 plus for only slightly more than an acre in Kimble.
There was one other apparently rich horse-owner bidding, who obviously wanted it as much as I did! The increments were of £500 each time. The bidding reached £6,000. Never did I think it would reach this price. I did not want to go higher. He had made the bid. What should I do, now?
I waited. The atmosphere was tense in the packed hall. It seemed most attended out of curiosity, not with a genuine intent to buy. You could have heard a pin drop. No-one wanted to get caught up inadvertently in the bidding.
The auctioneer said "£6,000. Do I have any advances on £6,000?" I plucked up courage to say "Six, One". He replied, "£6,001?" He must have known I had reached what I considered my limit!
"No. £6,100," I replied.
The response from the competition was swift. "£6,200!"
I went up to £6,500, at which point I said to myself, that was way too much already. I stayed silent after that. The land sold for £6,600, an astronomical price for an acre and a half of horse paddock with no water, not much fencing, only road frontage! As the auctioneer's hammer fell, everyone breathed a sigh of relief, except me. A hubbub of chatter filled the room.
I went home disappointed, but wiser. The price the agents were asking for the more convenient land in Great Kimble was not so pricey now after all! But I had no intentions of buying it. I had given up on it.
Time passed, and then one day I awoke with what I now know was a ‘word of knowledge’ to telephone the estate agent. It was a very strong prompting from somewhere that I should urgently phone the agents. So I did, and expressed again my interest in the acreage. They told me that they had already had another offer in excess of £6,000, but the Church Commissioners, who were selling the land, had not made a decision on it yet. A day later and I might have been too late. They were obviously seriously considering winding up the deal; it had already taken six months to get this far.
I offered £6,500 and awaited their response. The next day, I received a phone call to say they had considered my offer, but they had also contacted the other interested party, who had gone to £7,000. Without hesitation, I offered them £7,500.
During the following two days a similar procedure was repeated. The price was rocketing up by leaps and bounds! I commented that it was becoming like a slow auction. The agents were becoming embarrassed. The offers had soared to £9,000. I considered it was worth that much, because of its proximity to our home and the fact that it had future speculative potential.
In order to finalise the deal, they asked me what I wanted to use the land for. I had already given this some thought and, although I wanted to put up a storage shed, I also realised that the land would have to be grazed. I planned to keep a couple of sheep, a couple of goats and some geese. I explained this to them, and they seemed happy enough to let me have it.
I suspect the other interested party was a developer or another builder who had speculative interests only, as an investment, not agricultural.
Funds were raised by remortgaging our home. We then became the owners of a beautiful piece of land that later proved to be the key to acquiring the orchard behind our home. It would enable our house to be saleable when the time came, a few years later. Little did we know then that it would be essential to own the drive and orchard behind our house in order to fetch the price that we would need to move to where God intended us to be.
0We had never owned the gravel driveway at the side of our house. It led to the small orchard at the rear, and behind two other properties as well. The driveway, together with the orchard, had always been a family possession of the Barnards who lived nearby. Although I had approached Rodney Barnard on a couple of occasions about buying the land, he flatly refused to sell.
Because the driveway did not belong to us (we merely had a legal right of way over it), it would have been a major drawback when coming to sell our home. Not that I was thinking of that at the time. Moving was the farthest thing from my mind; but not from God's!
I forget the precise time, but about 1984 or 1985, we made Mr Barnard another proposition. We had now owned the field in Kimble a few years, and had done a lot of work on it! We had planted beautifying trees, built a huge shed, landscaped the front of the field, improved the grazing, re-fenced it, made a new entrance-way with dropped kerb, and connected to mains water and electricity which it didn't have previously.
We had some livestock at the field – sheep and goats and some geese. I was keeping goats in the shed in Kimble and it was inconvenient going backwards and forwards there twice a day to feed them. The geese had to be protected from foxes too, so I was incessantly tied down to a shuttle-service from home. It would have been so much more sensible to have the land behind our home.
We first asked him again whether he would sell the driveway and orchard. He refused. He was adamant. It meant a lot to him. Then the thought suddenly came into my head: "Would you consider swapping it for the field in Great Kimble opposite the church?"
He looked at me astonished! "What field?"
When I told him we owned that field opposite the church, beside the old rectory, he was even more astonished. His bottom jaw nearly hit the ground. He could not believe for a while that we could have got hold of such a prestigious parcel of land! That land meant more to him than the orchard. It had immense nostalgic value. He had walked and played there as a young boy growing up in the area, more than fifty years previously. Now he would consider parting with the drive and orchard!
Our relationship had never been very good until this point. He was 'landed gentry' who was always aloof and looked down on us manual workers. He had previously owned most of the land we and other neighbours had later bought. The bungalow we had bought as a dilapidated property in 1975 was built after the first world war for his mother and owned by her until she died. He then inherited it and sold it.
The house he and his wife lived in, until they moved away in the early eighties, had also been specially built for them on part of the land they owned. About ten years before we moved in to the bungalow, they obtained planning permission and sold off the three intermediate plots of land between his home and the bungalow. He must have lived very well off the proceeds. He also owned a villa in Cyprus. He retired early. But he probably still retained in his mind the inflated idea that he was the lord or landowner and we were merely serfs. English society is still very much riddled with class consciousness.
Although he hobnobbed with the more well-to-do neighbours next to us, he didn't introduce himself to us until we found a curt note through the door one day, ordering us to remove a pile of ballast we had tipped on the drive next to our property while we were underpinning it. There was no courtesy expressed in the note; it was very abrupt and cold. We felt ostracised and looked down upon. After all, to him we were only 'working class' because I was a manual worker.
We also had another drawback; we were young. He made life difficult for us on a couple of occasions when we tried to bring in materials while extending the house. We had nowhere to store them other than on his driveway – which he did not use – but he refused to let us use it for such a purpose, even though we were the ones who maintained it and paid for new shingle when it needed it. He didn't consider our difficulties. The relationship was consequently strained.
All that suddenly changed when he learned we owned that field in Great Kimble. We had somehow come up in the world in his estimation! Now he was willing to talk with us. He was civil and friendly and treated us with great respect.
It is strange how the tables turn.
God says to those who disregard Him that even "the alien who lives among you will rise above you higher and higher, but you will sink lower and lower... He will be the head and you will be the tail" (Deut 28:43,44). God is not mocked. What a man sows, he shall reap (Gal 6:7). Moreover, the arrogant will be brought down, and the humble shall be exalted (Isaiah 2:11,12, 17).
People shall be brought down. Each man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled. But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment... (Is 5:15,16, NKJV).
Love the Lord all His saints! The Lord preserves the faithful, but the proud He pays back in full (Ps 31:23).
God also promises those who are faithful to Him:
Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart (Ps 34:3,4). Those the Lord blesses will inherit the land (v 22). The meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace (v 11).
God is always faithful to His Word and looking for opportunities to bless those who submit themselves to Him (2 Chron 16:9). I don't claim that my wife and I have submitted ourselves to Him perfectly. But I do claim that God has blessed us for trying!
This chapter in our lives further illustrated to us that God's words in the Bible are not just nice platitudes; they are living words which come to pass.
"He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favour from the Lord."
I have not said much about my wife, Helena. I feel I should, before I go much further. ("Helena" means "bright one".)
During the almost eleven years we lived at the bungalow near Kimble, Helena did many good works. Almost every weekend after church she would invite some church members back home to provide them with a fine meal and socialise. She wanted to be supportive and helpful in any way she could, especially to the needy. We tried to get to know as many church members as we could. Opening up our home to them was an ideal way to do so.
The proverb states: "A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Prov 18:24, NKJV).
From time to time, she had elderly widows to stay for a few days and helped them whenever she could. She tried to bring light into their lives in practical ways. She is kind-hearted, generous, industrious and diligent. She is a practical person, raised on a farm in Poland.
I learned much from her, seeing the genuine way she has tried to live like Christ. Solomon lamented that he had been unable to find a faithful woman in a thousand. Poor man! Without even searching, I had found just the one! God brought us together for His purpose.
Helena was born in Poland in July 1947, the seventh of nine children, born to parents who farmed in SE Poland, close to the Russian border.
Her father, Maciej (Matthew), was a blacksmith, who, with his brother, provided a much needed service for the whole village, Lubatowa, near Krakow. Like the majority in rural Poland, they were dependent upon the land for their survival and livelihood. The whole family worked; they knew where their food and prosperity came from – the land. There was only one way to get it: produce it yourself.
Helena's mother, Maria, was industrious and diligent. She had to work manually as hard as her husband. What her husband did not have time to do, she did. They milked their own cows, produced their own winter fodder, kept chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys, harvested their own grain, grew their own vegetables and fruit, built their own house and made their own road. Most labour was manual with the use of horse-drawn machinery where practicable. They were of peasant stock who worked on the land until they died.
Helena's father died in 1975, aged 74. I met Helena's mother in Poland in 1976 when she was 64. She lived a further ten years, until she also died aged 74. The family name is Zajac (pronounced Ziyunce; similar to Zion's).
This is all significant. God leaves nothing to chance in the lives of those He uses. He gives numeric pointers as indicators to us to confirm the purpose He is working out in our lives. He is called the Wonderful Numberer in the book of Daniel (Dan 8:13, Hebrew text). Even our lives are measured in a balance. He carries us and has all about us weighed precisely (Is 46:3,4).
74 is twice 37; 37 is the common denominator underlying the gematria (numeric values of the Greek letters of a word) of several Greek words describing the Godhead in the New Testament. Theotes, Greek for 'Godhead', has the gematria of 592, which is 2 x 8 x 37. Jesus has a numeric value in the Greek of 888, which is 3 x 8 x 37. Christ totals 1480, which is 5 x 8 x 37. And Son of Man is 2,960, which is 10 x 8 x 37.
Helena's parents both died at 74. “Foundation” in Hebrew has the gematria (numeric value) of 74, as does “witness”. If we have the eyes to perceive, I believe God is showing us how much He has influenced our origins. He is ultimately in control of all that takes place, although He permits free moral agency within His overall plan. Not only is He capable of bringing our parents together, but He does so in many instances so that certain progeny have the characteristics which can be used later to witness for Him.
Helena's parents had nine children but five died during the second world war due to outbreaks of disease. Two died in one week! Helena's mother was extremely distraught! Helena was the only surviving daughter in the family.
She came to England as a result of a request by her uncle, Gabriel Zajac. He was a Polish expatriate who remained behind after the war. He settled in Wembley, Middlesex, a suburb of London. His wife and son tragically left him and he became a lonely man. An inveterate worker, and a valued precision toolmaker for a jewellery factory, the demands on his time were so great that he felt he needed help and company. He appealed to his brother's family in Poland. 'Would one of the boys like to come and stay with him for a holiday?' But none of them wanted to come. Instead, Helena was the only one who was prepared to leave home and go to this faraway country for a summer holiday. She was only 16.
As it transpired, Gabriel found her most useful around the house. She was industrious like her mother, and capable, using her initiative. She could cook and clean and do all the necessary household chores, and was sociable. She also helped by making jewellery at home for the factory where Gabriel worked. Gabriel realised she was more help to him than any of the boys would have been, although that was not his original motive for inviting any of them.
God had His hand in all that transpired. The date she arrived was 30th June 1963. Precisely five years later, to the day, she was baptized. Five is significant in relation to God's preparation and His grace.
Realising he had a reliable helper and social companion, her uncle Gabriel offered to legally adopt her so she could stay in the country. Her mother was totally unselfish about the proposition. She encouraged Helena, saying: "You go. You will have a better life there than I can give you here." But it wasn't easy for Helena; she shed some tears for her mother and family.
She returned on visits to Poland on several occasions to see her family in Lubatowa and relatives in Warsaw. On one of those occasions in Warsaw, shortly after she had left, a gypsy fortune-teller came to her sister-in-law, also called Helena Zajac, and told her: "There is someone who has just left here who will one day become famous." Helena in Warsaw could only think that applied to her younger sister-in-law who had just gone to England. The devil knows much about God’s plans.
Helena struggled for three years to learn as much as she could at a comprehensive school in Hayes, managing to obtain some 'O' and 'A' levels. More importantly, she obtained a working use of English. She also took up a career in nursing and started at the London Hospital, Whitechapel, in 1967.
Like me, she heard The World Tomorrow on one of the ship stations, in 1966, and wrote away for the free magazine offered, The Plain Truth. In the years that followed, God opened her mind to an understanding of various biblical truths and she was baptized in 1968 and received the Holy Spirit. At 21, however, one truth disturbed her as much as it had also uncompromisingly invaded my life at age 16. She was led to realise the validity of the seventh-day Sabbath to Christians today, something of which comparatively few are aware.
God was working out His purpose and setting the stage for what lay ahead.
Her work as a nurse involved shift arrangements which encroached on the Sabbath. She asked to have that time off, but when permission was refused, she said she was leaving. The sister in charge responded quickly that she would have to give a month's written notice. There was no time for that. Helena regarded God's call as immediate and inviolable; man's law would have to take second place! So she just left. There were no repercussions.
God opened a door of employment for her through a friend, and also provided accommodation in her hour of need.
For the next year she kept herself busy, helping out where she could, and in 1969, she applied to, and entered Ambassador College.
Learning Through Sickness
"In all things God works for the good of those who love Him,
who have been called according to His purpose."
When I first met Helena in college in early 1972, she was bright, vivacious, and joy-filled. A year later she was at death's door.
Somehow, I knew from that first date with her that she wasto be my wife! Our relationship was electric. We were on fire for each other. Because of college rules, and also so not to create a stir or limit her freedom to benefit from other possible dating opportunities, I tried to keep our relationship secret. We mainly corresponded by phone or by letter. We were rarely seen together.
I had not got a secure future when I graduated in 1972. I had a job with the college agriculture department, which seemed pretty good at the time, but I had no financial backing, and did not really know where I was headed. I didn't consider it right to get married while Helena was still a student. She still had a year before she graduated. So, for more than a year, we tried to quench the fire that was within us for each other.
Whether that was a factor which contributed to her ill-health, I do not know. But she fell desperately ill. She developed an overactive thyroid. The gland swelled up to the size of an apple. She could not sleep at night and began to drastically lose weight. When we got married in June 1973 she was skin and bone, a frail vestige of her former self.
She had not lost much of her vivacity, but she had no stamina and tired very easily. She tried to avoid drugs, but because she was at death's door for lack of sleep, the college doctor prescribed sleeping tablets for her at night. Although they gave her much needed rest, they left her groggy and doped the following day. They were far from ideal. She was glad when she could eventually forget about them after we got married. It was not easy giving them up; she still suffered from poor sleep for some time to come, as she tried to find out the reasons for her body's imbalance.
God did not choose to heal her immediately or spectacularly. He could have done so. He is the Great Healer and has all power in His hands. He heals many people supernaturally, miraculously, suddenly. There is so much testimony from those healed at evangelistic campaigns, that it is hard to understand why so many choose to be ignorant of such evidence! Some only want to question and argue, than be willing to believe!
God DOES heal! (Explained in the book Faith And Healing.) We have experienced God's healing power in our family and seen it in the lives of countless others. However, in Helena's case, this time God was working out something else. Through it, there were things He wanted to convey to us.
God does not appear visibly and talk with us face to face, saying He wants us to do such and such, or learn such and such. Very occasionally He does. The people to whom He manifests Himself in such a way are rare cases. If He were to manifest Himself in this way to most people, they would probably have such a problem with pride that they would spiritually abort.
Most times when God wants us to learn something, He uses circumstances to teach us. He leads us gently, so as not to disturb our spiritual equilibrium too suddenly. That was what He was working out in this situation.
The sickness which weakened Helena prompted her to look into areas of natural remedy and natural prevention to see how she could do things to help herself. She obtained publications on nutrition and natural therapy. She read Adelle Davis's books on health through diet. She learned much about nutritional factors such as vitamins, minerals and nature's own benefits in herbs.
She read widely and inquisitively. She was not afraid to investigate anything which might have appeared unusual. She assessed everything on its own merits; she looked at all with an unbiased mind. She discovered much that is of great practical value to those who want to help themselves.
Most of all, she was searching to understand the cause of her predicament and the causes of others' health problems too. What God led her to is very interesting.
Chief among her findings was the discovery of a very underestimated factor to do with health: underground radiation. Most have heard about radon gas, emanating from underground sources, principally granite rocks. This can be a serious health hazard in certain areas of the British Isles.
That is not the form of radiation she discovered which affects most people – probably about 80% of us, to one degree or another. The phenomenon we are talking about is radiation which is more esoteric, because it is the result of a disturbance in the earth's magnetic fields. When first discovered by a German in the twenties, he described them as earth currents. It is known in some circles as telluric radiation, and clinically the effects are described as geopathic stress or geopathogenic stress.
She learned that the earth's magnetic field has a certain pattern with vertical bands of radiation every two metres or so apart. These bands can run north/south and east/west, and radiate upwards for a mile or more. Where these bands cross, there develops an intense zone which can be seriously harmful to the human body. This is known as a geopathic zone. Certain geological formations and mineral reserves underground, as well as underground streams can also contribute to the distortion (or intensification?) of the earth's magnetic field and give rise to geopathic zones.
The human body, if subjected to serious exposure over a geopathic zone, can develop abnormalities and maladies ranging from arthritis to cancer. Many of the mystery diseases, such as ME, MS, and cancers are directly attributable to this main causative factor. (There are, of course, other contributing factors. For example, cigarette smoke can induce lung cancer. However, the body has a certain ability to resist it if not subjected to geopathic influences. Smokers sleeping over a serious geopathic zone invariably develop cancer, whilst those who are geopathically free, do not.)
Because these zones or bands of electromagnetic energy radiate outwards from the core of the earth, they project upwards in relation to us. They can travel a mile or more into the sky. We all lie down at night to sleep horizontally. That is the most vulnerable time for us in this respect because we are spending a relatively long period of time in the same position. If we are sleeping on a geopathic zone, we will in time suffer the consequences.
Initially, these will be simple, apparently harmless side-effects, such as restlessness, sleeplessness, or difficulty in waking up in the morning. In extreme cases, over many years, intense exposure will lead to crippling or damage of the parts of the body so subjected.
Helena came to understand the main cause of her thyroid maladies. They had been mainly geopathically induced. Through time and research, God led her to discover that.
She was led to find a Health Society that is being run by a man who lost his son to cancer due to this very geopathic cause. Because of his love for humanity, he does not want to see others suffer similarly. He decided to do what he could to protect others in the way he knew.
He 'stumbled upon' a device which will 'neutralise' or render harmless such telluric radiation. It is obvious to any who understand the circumstances behind his discovery and who know the greatness of God's love, that the knowledge was given to him by God for the benefit of others. He endured suffering in his family so that he can now help many others. He is an active Christian, and he seeks to help wherever he can.
We obtained one of his devices which effectively counters this unseen peril and found that our general level of health improved as a result. Whereas I used to be quite susceptible to colds previously, I am not so vulnerable now. It has helped others in different ways.
I maintain the conviction that when God made this world at the beginning, it was all as He said, "very good" (Gen 1:31). However, man's interference and Satan's influence has caused the earth to degenerate and contribute to mankind's ill-health. The earth became cursed because of man's disobedience to God and all that He originally intended for us (Gen 3:17; Is 24:5,6).
It’s not God’s ideal, but He has let man develop a highly technological society, in which he becomes victim of what he has created. God didn't want us to have polluting, environmentally destructive industries, providing menial, soul-destroying jobs for people who lose their individual identities in a far from ideal working environment.
We do not know the effects upon the earth of the underground nuclear testing of man's evil weapons of mass destruction. We do not know the full side-effects of nuclear power plants. We do not know all the side effects of electricity, or of electromagnetic pollution of all sorts. Man has created a system, under Satan's invisible influence, that is bent on destroying him, making him a puppet and a pauper in the end, under the delusion that such a system offers hope through science, a more abundant lifestyle, luxury, and prosperity. The system is self-destructive and will eventually implode on itself.
The devil is a liar and a deceiver. Man as a whole is paying the price for believing him instead of God ever since Eden (Gen 3).
Underground radiation is merely one side-effect of the disruption of the beautiful environment on earth that God originally made.
Invariably, unless we suffer, we do not believe God. He has to let us experience things for ourselves so we learn. Helena's suffering was not just for her own ultimate good; it was for the good of others, who would also be able to learn from her experiences. Hers was a trial that lasted about 13 years.
God helped her through each day as she endured that trial of ill-health. He succoured and supported her daily. Every day He gave her the strength to go on. There were times when she thought she could endure no more. Her home, for years, was disturbed by the ever-present rubble and dust of alterations. I had scarcely finished one part of the house, when we had to start on another. She longed to see the time when her constant cleaning would show permanent results! As if the stress of ill-health was not enough to cope with!
She learned daily, how to trust God through faith. He gave her just enough strength for each day.
He is always with us, whatever our circumstances. No matter what the trial or situation, we must believe the promises Jesus gives us in His Word. "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Heb 13:5). "Surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matt 28:20). For those who trust in Him, He is there helping us, even if it does not always seem like it.
Exposing The Yeast Of The Pharisees
"Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy.
There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed."
What Helena learned about the causes of ill-health were to have far-reaching repercussions within the church we were members of. We hadn’t got a clue what was coming. However, God was setting up a confrontation with those who controlled the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), in order to expose some of the corruption about which members were naively unaware.
When king David sinned with Bathsheba, he would never have dreamed that his mistake would be known to every generation until the very end. Who would have suspected that, more than 3,000 years later, he and his mistakes would be the subject of countless sermons given for the benefit of others!
Nor did the errant Worldwide ministers, who controlled the flock for their own gain, think that their sins would ever be exposed publicly. But what God purposes for the good of all, cannot be prevented. No man, nor group of men, however powerful, however 'impregnable', can ever halt the purpose of God.
The 'yeast' – prideful duplicity – of the Pharisees was exposed by Jesus (Luke 12:1). They suffered scathing condemnation from the man who was not only a prophet, but the Son of God as well. They must have smarted under his verbal 'attacks' (Matt 23). They did not escape in any area!
Nor will the leaders of the WCG escape – or the leadership of any church organisation that deliberately hides corruption. Corrupt leaders must be exposed for the spiritual benefit of God’s children. Otherwise the blind will follow their blind leaders to perdition.
Jesus declared: There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the housetops (Luke 12:2,3).
What I did not realise in 1988, 1989, or even 1990, was that God was setting up a situation which was to permanently disfigure the organisation to whom we had given our loyalties for about 20 years; and we were going to have to do most of the shaking!
If I had known then what God would require of us, I doubt if I would have responded in a Christian manner. We were consigning ourselves to abuse, victimisation, slander, rejection and face death. Jesus had to endure all these as a result of our sins. Now, we were going to have to endure them too, because of the sins of others in the church, who refused to repent.
Like Jesus, we were going to be accused of being of 'Beelzebub'.
He warned in Matthew 10:17-28: Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils [we were interrogated by the church ‘council’] and flog you in their synagogues [we were verbally flogged and excommunicated in front of the church]... At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death... All men will hate you because of Me... A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master... If the Head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more shall the members of His household! So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed... Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
We were attending the local meetings of the WCG regularly.
In 1988, it came to our attention that one of our friends in the church was suffering a distressing domestic situation. His life had been a catalogue of marital sadness for decades. Before he became a church member, his first wife had been unfaithful to him, which hurt him deeply. He had been happily remarried for some while when God began to use the WCG to draw him.
At that time (I believe it was in the sixties), the church had adopted a strict divorce and remarriage teaching which dictated against most of those who had remarried. It proposed that any who had remarried, while their former spouses were still living, would have to separate.
This man, whom I shall refer to as Peter, dutifully followed this teaching. He wanted to do what was right before God. He assumed that what the church administration recommended was always right. Peter separated from his second wife to whom he was happily married. They both endured emotional suffering which only they can accurately testify to.
More than a decade went by, and the church leadership was forced to learn from its mistakes seeing the catalogue of woe and suffering they had inflicted upon members by setting rules on divorce and remarriage. The teaching was changed, so that divorcees under certain circumstances could remarry, but only within the church. Seeking a mate ‘outside’ was discouraged.
In the course of time, Peter met another woman who was a church member whom he carefully considered marrying. He sought counsel from a ‘minister’ in the church, but the ‘minister’ advised him against marrying her. (Unbeknown to Peter, that minister was false – evil!) Peter took the advice, which was probably not sound! But because the ministry of the church were looked up to as if they were of superior wisdom and spirituality, members were strongly encouraged to take ministerial advice, even if members themselves could not see the sense in it. Peter dutifully followed this ministerial advice too. He did not marry this woman, although she reflected fruits of God's Spirit. She was a good woman, devoted to what she felt was right before God.
It’s a pity he didn’t know how to ask God for direction. The WCG didn’t teach reliance upon God in that regard. They taught a sickening reliance upon man – upon the church and upon church leaders.
In the mid eighties, Peter met another woman, also a church member. She had offspring by a previous marriage living with her. She was desperate financially and she looked to him for moral support. She leaned on him in several ways, and Peter wanted to help her. He sought ministerial advice again, and this time the ministers did not disapprove of the marriage. Perhaps they were glad someone would bear her burden so their church coffers were not depleted by the assistance they would otherwise have to give her.
Peter married her but over several years their relationship deteriorated. It reached the point of separation within the home. The wife was dilatory and not fulfilling her obligations. Peter had to cook and do other chores for his wife, while she pandered to her selfish interests and those of her offspring by previous marriage. It was obvious to Peter that she was only getting out of him what she wanted. She was not truly converted. She did not really love Peter.
The ministry were called in to try to help. Unfortunately, because they knew of Peter's poor marital record, he got the blame. But his previous separation was the church administration's fault; and he was the victim of his wife's unfaithfulness in his first marriage. However, church ministers believed lies which the wife told them. They disbelieved Peter about her behaviour. They did not get God's direction. As a result, Peter was further victimised.
Peter’s wife was committing adultery with another man outside the church. She became pregnant and was put out of the church. But Peter never received any apologies from those ministers who victimised him.
In a respectful way we confronted the minister responsible. We pointed out that the ministry had made an error of judgement by believing Peter's wife's story and not his. We were not liked for speaking out. This incident prompted a resentful response from the church ministry which ultimately led to our victimisation at their hands and expulsion from the church. (Hooray!)
A Near-Fatal Crash
"A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all."
Knowing the power which Worldwide ministers had, we were cautious about confronting one, but we felt it was our duty to do so over Peter's situation. It took a couple of days to decide how best to do this, but we determined to do so. I had decided to confront the minister in charge of the local congregation face to face at church the next weekend.
After I had made this decision, on the very next occasion when our family was in our car, the devil tried to kill us.
A friend of Richard's had been staying with us for a few days, and one October evening, we took him home. We all went together in our car; all that is, except one. Tonya just 'happened' to be staying with a friend that particular night, so she was not present. That was most unusual. It was the only time she had stayed anywhere else the whole year! It's just as well, or we would have had more passengers in the car than seat belts.
As we were travelling, another driver got really heated that I had overtaken him. He came storming up behind us with his lights flashing. I assumed he was in a hurry and slowed down a bit to let him pass. He did – and then suddenly jammed on his brakes in front of us. I realised then that he was out of his rational mind. We would not have a sensible ride following him!
So, I pulled past him and put my foot down to lose him. Like a madman, he gave chase at 80 mph. His behaviour was irrational and senseless. He was demon possessed. After about 10 miles we managed to lose him, and we were able to settle down to a more sensible speed, about 60 mph.
A strong urge then came over Richard to fasten the rear seat belts. The children were in the back seat and had forgotten to fasten them. Although the threat from the madman now seemed to be over, they all put on their seat belts and we continued up over the brow of a hill and round the bend. As we came along the next straight stretch of road, about thirty yards in front of us a car coming from the opposite direction suddenly made a right turn, right across our path! He did not indicate. Obviously he could not have seen us.
I hit the brakes as hard as I could. They were excellent power brakes and reduced our speed dramatically. But there was no way we could avoid a collision. I swung the wheel to the right to try to avoid him, but he stopped dead, right in front of us! I braced myself for the impact!
There was a loud thud, the windscreen burst and suddenly we were plunged into the October darkness. A fierce hissing noise came from under the bonnet. I thought the car was about to explode into flames. Like lightning, I undid my seat belt and flung open my door. I wrenched open the back door and was just about to grab the children and pull them out when... I stopped. Richard was sitting behind me. He was moaning, obviously in great pain, holding his neck; I realised it must have been damaged, so I didn't move him. Then I realised that the hissing was only the radiator. If the car was going to burst into flames it would have done so already, so I calmed down.
The other car had been hit on the wing over a wheel. It had been flung completely around by the force of the impact and was facing the opposite direction. It, too, had been totally immobilised; its lights were out. I went over to see who might be hurt in the other car and how I could help. Two passengers were in the back. It was a taxi; the driver was dazed but not seriously hurt. The passengers did not seem injured, but one of them later found out in hospital that he had a fractured elbow.
It was eight at night and we had been travelling with dipped headlights. Humanly, there was no way the taxi driver could not have seen us. Yet he didn't! He had been deliberately blinded – supernaturally – by demons!
The passengers in the taxi told us later that they saw our headlights and yelled to the driver to stop, which is why he stopped right in front of us. Had he carried on, we could possibly have veered around the back of him.
Our car was a complete write off; probably the taxi, too. It was a wonder the children were alive. Had they not fastened their seat belts a minute earlier they would have been seriously injured, and Zenya, who was sitting in the middle of the back seat, would probably have been killed! The impact would have thrown her right through the windscreen.
People minimise the influence of the devil and demonic powers. But they are constantly roaming around seeking trouble. They use human instruments to cause it. The consequences can be tragic and disastrous.
However, God also promises His children that His angels will ensure our protection (Ps 91). Notice how God protects. He does not cocoon His people, so they cannot be touched. He saves them through their troubles. David said: "A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all" (Ps 34:19). We often have the troubles; we are not totally shielded from them. But God delivers us from their most damaging effects.
God protected us from an attack of the devil who wanted to prevent us doing what we had to do. The devil is frequently numerically identified in the Bible by 13. The date was 26th October, 1988. [The digits of 1988 also add up to 26!] Richard, who was the one most seriously hurt, was then 13.
Division In The Local Church
"Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad,
for a tree is recognised by its fruit."
On 2nd December 1988, my 39th birthday, I had cause to write a letter to the pastor of the local congregation about the serious division Peter's wife was causing in the church by sowing seeds of discord. She was gossiping to other women in the church, telling them false stories about Peter – how harsh he was [which he wasn't], how dictatorial he was [which he wasn't] and how mean he was [which he wasn't].
She had abused the use of credit cards and cheques to get what she wanted out of her husband without any regard for their financial position. She made life very difficult for Peter. He had to clamp down on her irresponsible behaviour. That was interpreted by her as being dictatorial and mean.
She claimed she was being deprived her rights. She was miserably unfulfilled in life. So later she went out to work to get what she wanted for herself. She did not share what she earned with him. She did not really care about him. He had to prepare his own meals oftentimes, as well as go above and beyond what would normally be expected of a husband, merely to try and please her. He was being 'used'.
Peter was already providing all he could for her and for her offspring. He was hardworking and considerate. He was not stingy. But she wanted more. She 'looked after' herself and liked to have a wardrobe full of expensive clothes. She also caused trouble for Peter by turning the children against him wherever she could. She looked for every opportunity to criticise him.
She was strongly demon-influenced. The fruits of her life were evil, but the ministers of the church who were called in to help deal with this situation did not have spiritual discernment. Some of them were evil themselves. They mostly tried to handle issues such as this 'fairly', not wishing to show partiality to either 'side'. But they believed her blatant lies, and Peter became the victim.
We knew more than the 'men from the ministry' in this situation, because Peter often came to our home for emotional support. We were the only ones he could confide in. He would have gone insane, otherwise. He was not far from a nervous breakdown.
Helena did what she could for him, health-wise. She gave him natural remedies and palliatives which helped calm his nerves and, of course, we prayed for him. He managed to cope, despite the extremely tense situation, until his wife agreed to a separation and they parted.
The letter I wrote on 2nd December 1988 was intended to draw the minister's attention to the evil way other church women were being turned against Peter by his wife. Some actually refused to talk to him, and showed him hatred!
The response to my letter seeking justice for this persecuted man was not a swift expulsion of the evil wife from the church, but a visit to our home by the minister. We had dared to challenge him and he didn't like it! He came alone. His stance was not at all humble or apologetic. Nor was he concerned about the evil things which were being said about Peter. He exhibited a sort of cool, stand-offish aloofness; an unwillingness to face reality. At the time, his intent was not clear to us. But it soon did become clear – he was out to 'get' us! His authority had been challenged! We knew too much for his liking!
His visits became more numerous later as things progressed. He tried to pressurise us to 'let him get on with his job' and keep our noses out of 'his' affairs. It was clear he just wanted us to be quiet and look up to him as the 'wonderful' man in charge of the church congregation.
Then, over the following months, innuendoes were deliberately directed towards us in 'sermons' he gave in church. He made subtle, snidey, cutting remarks publicly, from the pulpit, and also in private conversation. Other church members, who were unaware of what had been going on behind the scenes, would not have noticed them or their significance, they were so cleverly camouflaged. We knew they were deliberately directed at us. They were 'put-downs'. They were politically engineered statements to try to make us mentally submit to his 'superiority'. He was the 'minister', we were only 'members', so he thought he had a right to insist on our submission to him!
This subtle imposition of ministerial control over the minds of the congregations of the Worldwide Church of God has been going on for decades, and largely goes unnoticed. The majority of members cannot see it for what it is. They think they are being loyal to God by being loyal to the 'church'. There is a clouding of issues in their minds; they cannot distinguish between the Church, which biblically is composed of all true disciples led by the Holy Spirit, and the leadership of the human organisation labelled 'the church'. Most of the ministers in the WCG exert this inordinate control, subtly imposing their wishes upon the members.
Without realising what they are doing, the members 'bow down' to men in ministerial positions. They do what the leaders want, not necessarily what God wants. Effectively, they worship and obey man, not God. It is all very subtle, but it is all very evil. It is rank idolatry in God's eyes.
I wrote to this man again on 29th April 1989, since Peter's wife was continuing to cause upset within the church, spreading slander about her husband, infecting others with her evil words. On the letter, as a footnote, I wrote that I didn't appreciate the subtle jabs that he, Harry Sullivan, had directed towards us in his sermons. We were not guilty of the things of which he accused us!
He had an accusing spirit, which is satanic. I did not take the matter that seriously at the time. However, subsequent events caused us to see the very serious nature of what we were dealing with.
Where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil work (Jas 3:16).
We were seeing this disorder with our own eyes and warning with our words, but no-one wanted to take any notice.
What we were perceiving were the devil's inroads within the church. He was dividing and conquering!
The Fateful Message
"They will go and fall backwards, be injured and snared and captured...
for [they] have made a lie [their] refuge and falsehood [their] hiding-place."
The number nine in the Bible depicts judgement. It is the last of the digits and signifies the conclusion of a matter. (For more information on this, consult E W Bullinger's, Number in Scripture.)
On the ninth day of the ninth month in 1989, the Director of Church Administration for the Worldwide Church of God in the UK appeared in our local congregation to once and for all pass judgement on us through a pointed 'sermon'. Or so he thought! God had different plans.
The local pastor had not been able to make us submit to 'his authority', so he had arranged for his superior to come to town to give us a dressing down and put us in our place once and for all!
The minister in charge of the local congregation was Harry Sullivan – ‘Mr’ Sullivan, to members! (In the Worldwide, it was strongly encouraged, indeed usually required, that all ministers were addressed as 'Mr', not by first names, as a mark of elevation and superiority.) Harry Sullivan was very subtle. His superior, in charge of Church Administration in this country was Paul Suckling. He was a bully.
In his unsolicited visits to see us, Harry Sullivan probed for anything incriminating which he could use to try to make out we were rebellious to church teaching, which would give him grounds to have us expelled from the church. He could not find any.
On one occasion, he brought up the subject of women's facial make-up, on which the church had recently officially changed its stand. Previously, women were discouraged from wearing make-up. At one time, it was taught that it was worldly to do so. My wife never did anyway; she was brought up in a culture where make-up was an irrelevant non-issue.
Because of pressure from certain ministers' wives within, the church then changed its tune and started to allow its women to wear make-up. [What they failed to see was that they should never have officially legislated for the members in the first place!] Harry Sullivan, when he found out that Helena did not personally approve of make-up [she has her own reasons], tried to accuse her of being against church teaching now that the church had changed its ruling! He wanted to accuse her of being disloyal to the church. He soon had to retract that sly accusation when Helena wagged her finger of correction at him for being devious!
All he could scrape up to try to find fault with us were some ideas we had about geopathic stress which he thought were strange.
Harry Sullivan arranged for Paul Suckling to come and speak to the local congregation. The date was 9/9/89. His subject: Alternative Medicine. Hardly a spiritual topic! (He was a most unspiritual man.)
What followed in that meeting was one of the most unbiblical, illogical, and ill-informed sermons, replete with liberal doses of personal opinion and prejudice. It was not based on anything the Bible teaches. It was political and highly opinionated. It was aimed at our views (what little they knew of them). Paul Suckling thought he would be able to shoot us down with his bombastic authoritarian bullying.
Harry Sullivan had found out from his clandestine inquiries with other members of the church that the 'box' we had found which had benefited us – the subtle energy device, or neutraliser – was also being used by several others in the church. He became alarmed. The merits of the device didn't seem to concern him. Nor was he concerned about protecting the individual human rights of the members – their prerogative to exercise their own freedom of choice. What concerned him was the rate at which this gadget seemed to be gaining acceptance by other members of the church. (There were probably not more than a dozen people who felt it worthwhile to have one, but that was sufficient to alarm him.)
He thought matters had gone too far. His position of control seemed to be in jeopardy. He felt threatened by our growing 'influence'. That was the reason for Paul Suckling being invited to redress the balance 'that fateful day'.
His message hammered geopathic stress. He ridiculed those who held such views or anything similar. 'Alternative' medicine was branded as foolish and without scientific basis. The truth and facts of the matter were, in several areas, the reverse of what he claimed.
There may be some aspects of alternative medicine that do not warrant our attention, but who was he to volunteer his opinions as if they were gospel? He branded some proven aspects of alternative therapy as mediaeval, quoting whatever source he could find (which was not much) to back up his empty thesis.
Anything he could not understand was relegated to be of the devil by suggestion. Thus, he passed judgement on most alternative therapies and decided for church members that they should not be so foolish as to involve themselves with such matters. He filled people's minds with suspicion and prejudice.
Ignorance leads to fear, suspicion and prejudice. He was ignorant on the issues he pontificated about, suspicious, and highly prejudiced!
Much damage was done that day to the freedom of individual church members. Many walked away after that message, bewildered, confused, totally at a loss as to why they had been subjected to two hours of such waffle.
I wish I could have told them! His aim was to undermine what God had shown us.
Paul Suckling spent half an hour pouring negative scorn and derision on dowsing. Yet most who were forced to sit and endure his diatribe did not know anything about dowsing at all! I talked to one member afterwards and he was totally ignorant on the subject. I didn't enlighten him. Why disturb his peace?
Helena had learned about dowsing some nine or ten years previously. She had used this skill to diagnose bodily deficiencies in a similar way that kinesiologists do. What was so hypocritical and farcical of the church administration was that they [in Pasadena HQ] had already publicly approved of kinesiology as a recognised diagnostic technique, but here [in the UK] they were condemning outright a sister technique, dowsing!
I sat down the next day and drafted a ten-page letter outlining my objections to this unfactual, inaccurate and damaging 'sermon'. Chief among my objections was that it was divisive. It caused those in the church who knew of some of our views which Paul Suckling condemned, to look down on us and judge us for holding those views. They would naturally tend to side with the minister. They would prefer to believe him than to believe that we could have any credibility.
To those not familiar with Worldwide thinking that may sound ridiculous or bizarre, but it is a fact. The very subtle impositions on the mind by leaders in the church tended to have that divisive and judgmental effect. Dictatorial control by the minister was the first thing to be protected. Members would almost unquestioningly follow a minister and his advice rather than that of an 'ordinary' member. If anything was promoted from the pulpit it carried double weight.
Countering something said from the pulpit and the authoritative machine that officially backed up the pulpit, was like trying to attack a battleship with a pistol. The system of government in the church was so strong it was unchallengeable! Anyone who was foolish enough to try, would end up ostracised, 'out on his ears', and totally helpless to do anything about it.
Over the years, many members fell victim by trying to seek equity.
On that day, however, an unusual peace descended over Helena.
I sat fuming, as I had to listen to the inaccuracies, errors, and false accusations that poured forth from the pulpit, but Helena sat there as cool as a cucumber. Oh, she knew of course, that there was a lot of error in what was being said. But it was as if she sat in a glass dome and all his arrows just bounced off this invisible bubble that surrounded her.
She had God's supernatural protection!
As Paul Suckling began to talk, God gave her a premonition that he was walking into a blind alley; he would get trapped. She also prophesied personally, a short time later, that the sermon would bring about Paul Suckling's downfall.
It took forty six months to occur, but it did! In July 1993, he was transferred to America to beguile some more poor unsuspecting souls.
The church never officially withdrew or corrected the damaging and prejudicial statements that were made. To do so now that we had made the issue fairly public would immediately reflect upon the leadership and undermine their control over the church members. Control is a principal matter in most denominations. If a denomination or church cannot maintain some cohesive control over the membership, it falls apart.
So, in cults like the WCG, justice, equity and objectivity are shelved for the sake of leadership expediency. Isaiah was not inspired to spout empty words when he said: "they which lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths" (Is 3:12, KJV).
God tells His people to "learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed" (Is 1:17). That admonition has been all too often flagrantly ignored in an organisation that has the gall to call itself a church of God! It is not a church of God when it behaves in the manner of Satan; it is a synagogue of Satan. You read about that in Revelation 2:9 and 3:9.
God foreknew of such rebellion. This behaviour was prophesied:
No-one calls for justice... they rely on empty arguments and speak lies, they conceive trouble and give birth to evil. They hatch the eggs of vipers and spin a spider's web... The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no-one who walks in them will know peace. So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter (Is 59:4,5,8,9,14).
The prophet goes on to lament that, as a result, truth disappears "and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey" (v 15).
That prophecy had found one more fulfilment!
Addressing The Issues
"These people come near to Me with their mouth and honour Me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from Me."
The battle with the hierarchy of the church had begun. They had attacked us without righteous justification.
Following his unbiblical 'sermon' on the 9th of September, I wrote to Paul Suckling the next day. My letter, which was respectful but firm, required several specific matters to be answered – matters which, he admitted in his guarded reply, needed addressing.
However, he did not address any of them in his reply. I expected him to contact us again. Weeks passed. No further letter came. I soon realised he had no intention of addressing the issues. He did not want to put right any of his errors. He had caused division within the church by what he had said; he had made unfactual statements, but he refused to correct them or put right his misdemeanours. This approach was not untypical for the WCG ministry. They felt they had a God-given right to have the final word, regardless of the truth in any situation. Psychologically, Paul Suckling wanted absolute control. He was not going to admit he had been wrong.
I wrote to his superior, the church's Regional Director for this area. In that six-page letter of 2nd November 1989, I addressed the relevant issues again. They had already been ignored by Paul Suckling. What would his superior, Frank Brown, do?
On a personal level, we were all amicable friends. All these ministers had been invited to our home on at least one occasion and had enjoyed a meal with us. We had no ill feelings toward any of the individuals we had to challenge. We did not like to confront those whom we respected and wanted to uphold in the church structure. But matters of principle took precedence over personal loyalty as far as I was concerned. Unfortunately, in the church leadership, the reverse occurred when the leadership itself was challenged or embarrassed. Matters of principle took second place to matters which threatened hierarchic control or pre-eminence. [Cf, 3 John 9 and Diotrephes.]
Paul Suckling's superior, Frank Brown, was a more pleasant and sensitive man. He arranged a personal visit to talk with us in our home. However, he was 'bitten' by the same 'bug'. His mental approach was one of trying to uphold the ministerial ascendancy. He could not see the relevance – or did not want to see the relevance – of our criticisms of Paul Suckling's 'sermon'. He came with a prejudicial mindset – he assumed that, because I had voiced criticisms of what a WCG minister had said in the pulpit, that I must be in a ‘wrong attitude’. His agenda in coming was to find the root of ‘my problem’. He insisted on bringing Paul Suckling with him when he visited us.
The two came together one evening and spent about two and a half hours talking with us. He brought with him the letter I had sent him, intending to go through it point by point, but after referring to the first point in the letter, he never returned to the issues. Somehow the conversation became so animated that he forgot about what the letter contained. We discussed many aspects which only touched upon the failings of the approach in Paul Suckling's notorious sermon, but the Regional Director did not come to terms with the issues we raised. He was not interested in seeing the failings of his colleague's approach. He was more interested in trying to analyse our motives and perceive what sort of attitude we were in. He seemed to think that my letter was written from some wrong, vindictive, negatively critical motive. It didn’t cross his mind that an ordained 'minister' of the Worldwide Church of God could have preached rubbish in a WCG pulpit. He was not coming to listen with an open mind to our objections to the serious flaws in Suckling's discourse, and DO something to rectify them. His agenda was merely to find fault with me for having questioned the man’s accuracy and integrity!
After he thought enough time had been spent discussing matters, he decided it was time to leave, and they went. He was much relieved that he had found us in a positive, pleasant and affable frame of mind, and said so quite openly. The thought that seemed to be in his mind which relieved him was that he did not feel he had to exert any disciplinary measures against us.
However, the issues still effectively remained unaddressed. No retractions or corrections were made from the pulpit. Paul Suckling continued unchallenged.
Several months passed. Meanwhile I contacted a scientifically minded friend in the church who had also had brushes with the ministry in the past, particularly Paul Suckling. When he had pointed out to him flagrantly unscientific statements, Paul Suckling had done nothing to correct the errors he had stated publicly.
My friend kindly wrote for me a plausible scientific explanation of the phenomenon which seemed to be causing the church hierarchy so much consternation. He explained from a technical standpoint how the subtle energy device probably worked to counter harmful geopathic energies. I wrote to Paul Suckling's superior again on 31st March 1990, enclosing the technical report, asking for a retraction of the scornful statements which had been made about the device without factual scientific support. They were made from the pulpit and I considered it only right that they were equally openly retracted. Paul Suckling’s claims were unfounded.
My suggestions were politely rebuffed.
Following this casual dismissal of our complaints, I wrote to the church headquarters in Pasadena, California. I addressed the man in charge, Joseph W Tkach. My eight page letter of 6th April 1990 was now somewhat different in tone. I was getting annoyed that seven months later, the church leadership were still unwilling to correct the division that had been caused in this unequal situation. This time, I used direct quotes from the Bible to show where they were in error.
They did not like it at all! My letter was returned to Frank Brown, the Regional Director here, for him to handle. They deliberately overlooked the fact that I had gone above Frank Brown’s head because of his failure to answer me adequately. This is one instance of how they treated members’ complaints against ministry with derision and disrespect. There were no equal rights in the church.
Frank Brown replied in a more defensive vein on 16th May. He took my letter personally and misinterpreted it as a farrago of accusations against all the ministers in the church. It was not. My disparaging, but true, comments were directed at those ones who, for political or personal reasons, had failed to seek justice and effect equity.
I replied to Frank Brown again on 25th May, setting the record straight, pointing out that I desired to support him (if he did what was right). I also desired to support the church, because I still believed at that time that it was an important instrument in God's hands. His reply of 1st June 1990 was not typed in the usual way by a secretary. It was typed by himself with no reference. (Perhaps he didn’t want anyone other than himself to know of how he was handling this situation. Was he passing the buck, like Pilate, and trying to hide the fact from others? I don’t know. Perhaps not, but he certainly didn’t enact justice!)
1st June 1990
You are about to have the dubious distinction of receiving probably the last letter I shall write as the Regional Director of the UK region!
Thank you for your letter of 25th May, 1990. I have read it carefully and noted the points you make in it. You are right. I do retain an open mind in the matter of geopathic stress and when I see enough evidence to warrant believing it, I will do so. In the meantime I have passed your file to Mr McCullough [the new incoming Regional Director] for whatever action he deems appropriate on the other points and it may be he will contact you. [He didn't!]
I appreciate your attitude, Malcolm, and was pleased to read your comments about your personal conviction about God's Church. That is a great relief to me. We have known each other for a number of years and my wife and I think very highly of you and Helena. You have contributed greatly to the welfare of the Church and your example of hard work and diligence is greatly admired by many members. I sincerely hope that whatever unresolved problems exist can be dealt with satisfactorily for all concerned and we can be in harmony again. Nothing is more precious than peace and love reigning in God's Church...
And there the saga was abandoned as far as he was concerned. He admitted things were left unresolved. He had left them unresolved. He admitted that peace and love are paramount. He also knew we were not the recipients of that peace and love! He knew the treatment we had received was one-sided in favour of the ministry in the church who were imposing their illicit rule over the members in defiance of the love of God. He knew we had received rough justice. But he did nothing about it, other than write sweet platitudes.
John tells us, "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and with truth" (1 John 3:18).
These politically motivated men are not prepared to rock the boat to obey the Word of God. Their power and control means more to them than the love of God. For this reason, the prophet was right when he said, "the way of peace they do not know" (Isaiah 59:8).
They know the importance of peace, but they are not prepared to go the way which will bring it when it does not suit them to do so.
God declared through the prophet Micah: "He has showed you, O man, what is good. [Yes, He has shown us! We are without excuse.] And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).
God has shown them, but they don't act justly. That is a tragedy of monumental proportions!
Campaigning For Justice!
"In His love and mercy He redeemed them... yet they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit.
So He turned and became their enemy and He Himself fought against them."
Because the church leadership refused to receive correction when it was warranted, in actuality they rebelled against God. Now He turned and fought them!
After Frank Brown's transfer to another country, I persisted in my campaign for a fair hearing. Harry Sullivan persisted in trying to find fault with us so he could get rid of us! He knew of some of our views on 'alternative' medicine. Not having a scientific mind himself, he apparently thought some of these a little peculiar. He concluded that was his best course for attack. He thought it would be our Achilles' heel.
He telephoned me one evening to make an appointment to come to discuss certain "church matters" with us. It sounded 'fishy'. I inquired what those church matters might be. He refused to be explicit, and evaded the question.
I responded that I was busy and didn't want to be involved in any more discussions. I was running a business as a builder and had enough on my 'plate' at that time, as well as completing an extension to our present home. The church had wasted a lot of my time already. I had been forced to spend many hours writing long detailed letters covering the issues which the church leadership was so carelessly violating or ignoring. I was fed up with their failure to come to grips with the real problems they had caused. However, I offered to discuss whatever points he had in mind, there and then over the phone. Why waste all the time and travel expense of coming 25 miles each way to discuss matters which he should be able to cover by phone?
Expense did not seem to concern him. He was unmoved. He persisted. I told him I did not have any time for more worthless discussions. I told him that if he wasn't prepared to be specific telling me what he wanted to discuss then I wasn't prepared to open my door to him. Then he did get specific! He blurted out that he needed to come and discuss health matters with us.
I quickly replied that under no circumstances was I going to allow him in my home to discuss our personal views on health and therapies. I had told him that on a previous occasion. But he had meddled nonetheless, and had grossly offended Helena by his fault-finding approach and accusative remarks. I considered such views our personal affairs, and he was not going to pry. I told him very firmly but politely that it was out of the question. He was not coming!
At that he exploded, although he tried to keep his cool in the manner of his delivery. There and then, he suspended me from attending any meetings of the Worldwide Church of God. He authoritatively told me that I was not to attend any services of the church until further notice.
He had no biblical authority to do this. Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses (2 Cor 13:1). I knew this was unbiblical and I told him so, but that did not concern him. He had church 'authority' to suspend me, so he thought, because he was the minister!
I immediately phoned to complain to the new Regional Director, Les McCullough, who had only been in England a matter of weeks. He immediately sided with Harry Sullivan without considering the truth of my input. However, afterwards, he obviously contacted another minister, the former pastor of our local congregation, because I received a concerned phone call from him the next day. He told me also not to attend until the matter was resolved. I wrote to him that day – 25th July – outlining, in yet another long letter (12 pages), what had transpired and who was at fault. I attended church regardless of the threats I had received. I was innocent and was going to behave accordingly regardless of what these Hitlers commanded.
In state law, a man is innocent until he is proven guilty. In the Worldwide Church of God, a member is guilty if the hierarchy say so! In most cases he is unable to prove his innocence because he is not given fair opportunity. Whatever the ministry say, goes – or you go!
When I turned up at the next weekly gathering, a couple of days' later, intent on getting a letter to the Pastor General of the church who was passing through from America that day, the ministers who had banned me from attending noticed me. They also saw me personally hand my letter to the human head of the church. There were noticeable glares. The ire of those ministers was now rising because of the gall I had, to stand up to them and flout their 'authority'!
Despite the fact that about 1,000 people were milling around talking after that service, Harry Sullivan must have kept a close eye on me. When he saw our family leave, he sauntered up to a side entrance which we were walking past and, with obvious body language, wanted to make sure I noticed his presence, asserting his authority by his presence. I pretended I did not see and walked past, continuing our conversation.
Shortly before this incident, my letter of the 25th July to the former local pastor had proved more fruitful. Harry Sullivan must have been reprimanded by his superiors for the mess that he was causing! On 26th July a quick letter was worded by Sullivan, saying he wanted to resolve this matter at the earliest, and make up for the offence he had caused Helena on a previous visit now several months prior. She had previously expressed to him how much she had been hurt by his approach, but he had casually walked away ignoring what she said. It was not as though he did not hear. He heard her clearly enough. He knew! He just did not care to do anything about it.
In his letter, there was no mention of the fundamental issues which I had raised about the illicit imposition of ideas upon the membership by Messrs Sullivan and Suckling. There was a total absence of any reference to what I had been campaigning for for months. His letter was an obvious attempt to save face in the eyes of his superiors. He had made a gross error in judgement in trying to ride roughshod over me. He was already trained in Paul Suckling's bully-boy tactics.
I replied, not to him, but to the man who was the former local pastor, pointing out that I was willing to forgive Harry Sullivan for his misdemeanours, but that was not the point. The real issues had not been addressed. Sullivan knew better, but he was consumed by the leaven of the Pharisees. I spelled it out:
1. 'Pharisees' do not practice what they preach.
2. They teach for doctrines the ideas of men in the guise of teaching from God.
3. They want the praise and approbation of men.
4. They do not have a sincere desire for service.
I was not able to accept his disingenuous apology until I saw fruits which reflected a sincere desire to redress the errors preached from the pulpit.
I received no reply.
Because my letter was completely ignored, a further exchange of correspondence then took place between myself and staff at the church's Pasadena headquarters. But there was no real desire evidenced on their behalf to do what was right.
They falsely accused me of going on a crusade of vindictiveness against the church. They misinterpreted my zealous desire for equity as bitterness. I was now accused falsely of unwarranted criticism "against the ministry of God's Church."
The mindset of those in the Worldwide Church of God was to regard themselves as the one and only true Church. The physical organisation has been regarded internally as the totality of the Body of Christ. Although 'official' statements now appear to have tempered this exclusivist leaning, bent attitudes / approaches / concepts still prevail [written 1994]. This thinking was part of the legacy of strong prejudicial indoctrination that occurred in the days when Herbert W Armstrong led the church. He was regarded by most in the church, until his death in 1986, as 'God's apostle'. He certainly set himself up as the one to be followed by members! He also established a hierarchic ministerial chain of authority in the church which is unbiblical.
To dare to challenge or criticise the ministry of the church was tantamount to blasphemy. The membership as a whole so firmly believes that the ministry are direct representatives of God that their judgements are always regarded as superior to those of the members. WCG philosophy has traditionally said that the Worldwide ministry should always be looked up to, highly respected, and listened to, regardless of your views or assessments to the contrary. They were so elevated or looked up to that it effectively became veneration or worship. The approach is idolatrous, but most people are blind to that!
Deceived people don't know they are deceived. They can be well meaning, sincere. But they cannot see where their approach is wrong in God's estimation. They are blind, spiritually (Rev 3:17,18).
This organisational myopia had blinded the American Director of Church Administration who wrote to me on 24th August 1990 in reply to my previous letters of 1st and 17th June to him and also my letters of 6th April and 24th July to the Pastor General of the church, Joseph W Tkach. (It was impossible to receive a reply from Mr Tkach, as he was surrounded by impenetrable defences. My letters were ignored by him; merely passed on to an 'underling' to handle.)
Telegrams and personal telephoning to try to reach him made no difference. He was ensconced in his ivory tower!
The Director of Church Administration in WCG Pasadena HQ USA was Larry Salyer. When I telephoned him to try to resolve the impasse, the 40 minute phone call – international, at my expense – ended up a total waste of time. He didn't objectively listen to me; instead he gave me a dressing down on the importance of obedience to "church authority"! As if I needed that! I had been in the church for 22 years. I had submitted willingly to church authority all that time, thinking I was doing the right thing before God. What I was trying to alert him to was the danger of men in ministerial capacities who were acting outside their 'jurisdiction': men who, one could see by their fruits, were tools of Satan, not true ministers of Jesus Christ.
He didn't want to know.
Below is his reply of 24th August 1990. It was full of false accusations against me: [My comments are in square brackets.]
In your letters you have some very serious accusations against God's Church and His ministers. [Blind exclusivist mindset.]
Your initial cause of offence seems to stem from Mr Suckling's sermon. Mr Heap, this sermon was given for the benefit of the brethren in the United Kingdom. [Rubbish! It was given for the benefit of ministers who wanted to retain absolute control within the church.] Members of my staff have reviewed the sermon tape and cannot see the error that you claim it has. [Because they are organisationally blind too.] It was a balanced sermon [how does he know? He didn't listen to it!] that was needed to help the membership use wisdom in seeking medical treatment. [What rubbish! They treat the members like children.] The sermon was not aimed at you specifically and was not a personal attack against you. [He is parroting the lies he was told by Paul Suckling.]
Frankly, many of the statements you make in your letters are judgemental, undeserved and completely out of place. [Members are not permitted to point out the mistakes of a minister even when he is wrong. The truth is, it was the sermon which was judgemental, undeserved and completely out of place!] In reading your approach and attitude that you take in your letters, I am most concerned about your spiritual welfare. [A judgemental statement itself, 'supported' hypocritically. Anyone who questioned a minister in the church was regarded as being "in a bad attitude".] You must guard yourself diligently against developing a root of bitterness. [We were accused of that by the ministry whom we confronted about their misdemeanours.] I say this also because you seem completely unwilling to accept counsel given you by the ministry. [He accuses me of the very thing they are guilty of!] This is something you need to be extremely careful about...
Also you speak of humility, yet you are standing in judgement of the entire Church... [Deliberate blurring of the definition of the Church to make it appear that I am implicating innocent people; another false accusation.] Ask God for a genuinely teachable and repentant spirit, truly surrendered and submissive to God's will. [More duplicity! A teachable and repentant spirit is what the administration needed to exhibit! They preached about it but didn’t have it themselves.]
Also be patient [in other words, go away and in time we can all forget about it] as God instructs us so often. Many times a person expects a problem to be solved his way, not realising that God may not see things in the same way he does. [I wanted it solved God's way, but they ignored what the Bible says so they could 'solve' it their own way.] God tells us to trust Him, to wait on Him. [The Pharisees also said, but didn't do what was right.] We have to look carefully at ourselves, to seek out where we may be wrong and need to change. [Imputing the blame to me; accusing me of being the one who is wrong and who needs to change.]
Realise that the United Kingdom ministry really does have your best interest at heart. [That's why they drive 'posh' cars and have good salaries and kick you out of the church if you criticise them – even when your criticisms are justifiable!] Keep firmly in mind that God and Christ appoint servants of their choosing to the various offices of the ministry [He overlooks the fact that Christ allows false ministers to usurp office too – 2 Cor 11:1-15] for the purpose of perfecting the saints. [In the WCG it is for the subjugation of the saints.] And God, in His Word, commands each of us to know and highly respect and esteem His ministers and servants. [Worldwide leaders are good at misusing the Bible to consolidate their power.] You need to have confidence in God to lead them as His ministers to give you the instruction that you will need for your future spiritual growth... [What does he take me for, a wally? I alerted them to rubbish being preached, and they come back with this crap!]
We hope and pray that you will soon come to an attitude of repentance [I will not repent of what is right. They need to repent of their duplicity.] and reconciliation with the Church. ['The organisation is always right' approach again.] Any further communication and counsel should be directed toward the local ministry [where the problem began], and secondarily the regional director. [Hierarchic structure is impenetrable when Satan is in control.] Mr McCullough is an evangelist [you could have fooled me; he doesn't evangelise at all! He merely preaches at the church] with many years of experience [of consolidating hierarchic control.] He too has your best interest at heart and certainly is very qualified to help you. [More hypocritical lip!] ... Larry Salyer
As a lone member, I was powerless to penetrate such a one-sided, duplicitous regime. What my wife and I suffered, many other members suffered before us. The issues regarding their victimisation may have been different, but the results were the same. The oppressed and powerless member is helplessly isolated against a hierarchic wall of power that is defended at all costs. Blame is transferred to the 'underling' who dares to stand up for what is right.
With such clever twisting and shifting of the blame, the downtrodden member cannot find justice. Black is made to look white, and white look black. The corruption in the system is so cleverly camouflaged that other church members are convinced the member who is pushed out is in the wrong.
There have been many men masquerading as ministers of Jesus Christ in the Worldwide Church of God, but who are tools of Satan, feeding themselves on the flock (Ezek 34:1-6). They are paid fat salaries, and drive expensive cars, but have little regard for the spiritual welfare of the flock.
Not all ministers in the church are that way, but tragically even the good ones are tainted by the blinkered philosophy and support the unchallengeable hierarchic structure which permits false ministers to continue to bear illicit rule.
Paul says of such individuals who penetrate every church organisation:
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness (2 Cor 11:13-15).
When prophets are raised up by God to challenge the structure and to correct those guilty of sin, they are thrust out. The prophet is told by God to "Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to My people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sin" (Is 58:1).
Not surprisingly, prophets are accused of being the troublemakers!
Letter After Letter!
"At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking,
but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you."
The battle we had to fight in the WCG to try to obtain justice was endless. Letter followed letter to try to prompt an equitable response. But it was all to no avail. The leadership was defiant in its stance; it refused to publicly correct the misdemeanours of its ministry. It protected corrupt ministers at the expense of the membership. It refused to even concede there had been any impropriety!
It would be tiresome to reproduce all the letters which I wrote to the church administration. This book would be as big as the Bible! Pasadena H Q commented at one time about the mountain of letters I had sent them. Indeed! Because they failed to address the issues time and time again.
I will merely reproduce here the salient portions of my reply to Larry Salyer's false accusations in his letter of 24th August 1990.
2nd September 1990
Dear Mr Salyer,
Thank you for your letter of August 24th which I received yesterday.
I'm afraid that it is necessary for me to reply to your letter since you have obviously totally misjudged us and our intent.
I have not gone on a crusade of vindictiveness and incrimination against God's ministers and His Church. [At that time I was still governed by the false notion that the WCG was God’s church. In 1991 God gave us the vision to see through that fallacy.] I am a loyal and supportive member of God's Church and I will continue to be as long as I draw breath. If you want confirmation of this fact, ask any minister who has known us long enough such as (five Worldwide ministers listed). Or, closer to home ask Xxxxx Xxxxxx and his wife, Xxxx, they knew me and my wife Helena in college and should be able to vouch for my loyalty to God's Church.
If, as you erroneously conclude, I have developed a root of bitterness, why then do I still attend church even though the local minister there is not on talking terms with us and has tried to get me put out of the church? Why do I still care enough about God's Church to spend days writing letters to try and alert you and others to what is going on behind the scenes? Why do I get upset at division within the Church? Why do I still faithfully tithe and pray for God's Church and His faithful, loyal ministers? Why do I still support and help needy members of God's Church in whatever way I can? Why do I pray for those who have been persecuting us in this regard?
If you think I am in a wrong attitude, I implore you to think again and find out from others who know us better as to our spiritual state! Ask Xxxxx Xxxxxx, he knows us better than anyone else over here. He visits us regularly and he knows what makes us tick. I can assure you it is God and His Church's interests we have at heart in all that we have said.
Yes, I have made some serious and bold accusations against certain people, as you say. But if you read my letters carefully, those accusations are not made against all God's ministers, nor against God's Church as a whole.
Much of what I wrote in that long letter to Mr Tkach of 6th April was rhetorical. If you notice carefully, I am not bluntly accusing God's ministry of all the character flaws listed, but suggesting introspection on the part of all those whose job it is to feed the flock and take care of them spiritually. If it convicts any who read, then God has achieved His desired end, for much of that letter was not my wording but God's!
I am not "standing in judgement of the entire Church" as you claim, I'm sorry if my letters gave that impression. It was certainly not my intent. God is our Judge. But I have been trying to point out the fallacies and unconstitutional nature of that fateful sermon of Mr Suckling's of 9th September 1989.
I note that you have not listened to it yourself, nor, I deduce has Mr Tkach... But I have not spent days writing letters to Mr Brown, yourself, and Mr Tkach because I enjoy creating uproar. My wife and I have made ourselves extremely unpopular by trying to highlight certain problems. It has not been pleasant at times, and for my wife it has been most upsetting as she is a very sensitive and discerning person. She has had many a sleepless night as a result, and we have both been shunned and persecuted by others who should be Christian, simply because we have been prepared to take a stand for what is right.
I am not becoming bitter, as you presume, but I am becoming annoyed that we have taken many hours to try to expose a very serious problem, simply to have our letters and their contents dismissed so readily.
I do not wish to cast aspersions on your members of staff who listened to Mr Suckling's sermon, but what is their grounding in the Church? What is their spiritual discernment like? Have they had any previous experience in connection with false ministers within God's Church? And vital in assessing this case, do they know the background leading up to the sermon?
I must apologize, for I believe I may not have provided you with sufficient information concerning the latter point. I enclose a copy of a letter my wife wrote to Mrs Xxxxx which is relevant here, and which should provide you with the necessary background information you will need.
Also enclosed is a copy of Frank Brown's last letter to me before he left for Canada. It should help confirm the fact that I am not a dissident by nature.
You say that I am completely unwilling to accept counsel given to me by the ministry. Yes, I am, if that advice cannot be supported biblically. But if it can be substantiated from the Bible, then I will readily accept it.
The problem with Mr Suckling's sermon, and one reason we have kicked up so much fuss about it, is that his viewpoint cannot be substantiated from the Bible. God does not uphold surgery or mainstream medicine as opposed to the employment of herbs, natural remedies, Bach flower remedies, vitamin and mineral supplements, etc. Neither approach can be biblically supported as I'm sure you are well aware. (Although I would interject that the latter has commendable points from the point of view that it is preventative, whereas medicine on the whole tends to be curative, and there is biblical support for a preventative approach.) But why could not your staff discern his emphasis that he was subtly persuading people to beware of these so-called fringe approaches or remedies, implying that they are either worthless or the 'thin end of the wedge' in leading one into the occult!? (Which is mere conjecture, nothing but absolute rubbish!)
Surely they noticed what Mr Suckling was implying? If they failed to catch this, then they need to listen again! [They lacked spiritual depth!]
Moreover, he rejected the phenomenon of Geopathic Stress as having no relevance. He did not prove that the phenomenon was irrelevant, he just dismissed it. This point needs to be publicly corrected, for by saying such he is misleading people. There is sufficient evidence to support belief in such a phenomenon. There is far more invisible influence on us in this physical world than most people are generally aware of. You only have to read a few scientific books or papers to realise this. Read, for example, Playfair and Hill's, The Cycles of Heaven, (Pan books, 1978). It is an eye-opener. The Germans are far more aware than we want to be of these invisible influences. "In addition to such artificial EM (electromagnetic) hazards, the ground under our feet has its own anomalies, places where the natural magnetic field seems to go haywire. The Germans call these geopathogenic or geopathic zones. Some buildings, they claim, are veritable 'kranken Hauser' (sick houses) in which natural vibrations fall into the uncomfortable range for both animals and humans" (Pg 94, Cycles of Heaven).
Do you not agree that if something is said from the pulpit which is factually incorrect or even if the implication is incorrect, it should be corrected? I hope you do... Then why has nothing been corrected now – a year later? [Because he was a false minister also, who didn’t care for truth.]
The unfortunate result of just this one statement (about G S) Mr Suckling made, will be to deter some people from finding help to alleviate acute Geopathic Stress. He has no right to persuade or deter people from following any course of therapy as Mr Tkach states so plainly in the healing booklet. Mr Suckling therefore inadvertently could be contributing to the person's suffering, sickness, and in extreme case, even death!
That is not an overstatement, as I know personally of many that have suffered and some who have even died as a result of interfered electromagnetic fields. Several in the church are suffering from electromagnetically induced cancer and some will die. But God reveals to us an alternative if we are willing to learn. (Yet Mr Suckling implied that counteracting the effect of this harmful GS is delving into demonism! I challenge him for his PROOF!)
God never leaves mankind in the lurch! He will always provide us with answers if we are willing to look (Matt 7:7). God wants us to be in health (3 Jn 2)...
Mr Suckling did not disprove the validity of geopathic stress, nor prove the worthlessness of herbs, Bach flower remedies, etc., which he subtly condemned. He did not prove his hypothesis that these areas gravitate towards the undesirable or the occult! He provided no proof whatsoever for his comments. They were merely his views and therefore they must be retracted!
The main gist of the sermon does, on the surface, seem fine. But look deeper. When you understand the background to it you may begin to grasp just what his real intent and motivation was! We're not fooled.
I have not casually accused him of being a wolf in sheep's clothing. Events of the past years have contributed to my wife and I coming to this conclusion. I realise the gravity of that statement. But I stand by it and I would encourage both you and Mr Tkach to read again what I have written and consider carefully Mr Suckling's phraseology. It behoves you not to reject our input, for the sake of the unity and stability of church membership, particularly here in this country.
He is not the only one in a 'pin-striped suit' masquerading as a minister of Jesus Christ. There are several others, possibly many...
Little did I realise at the time that I was addressing yet another wolf in sheep's clothing! The Worldwide Church of God is riddled with them! Jesus warned us to beware of such men. We would know them by their fruits. The Bible defines for us what those fruits are.
Many more letters were still to follow. It's just as well I didn't know at that time! The prospect would have weakened my resolve.
 This vital subject is comprehensively explained with full biblical exegesis in God’s Church – Whose Authority? avaiable from Midnight Ministries.
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