I'm not sure how long we were at Wickwire's when John Wimber first came, but I think it was about one year. I do know the room was full, and crowded the night he first showed up. His wife, Carol had come several times, and Bob's wife Penny had been there for quite awhile. But John's arrival made a stir, as he had been known to resist this type of movement before. At this time no one had spoken in tongues in the meeting, but many were sharing that they had done so in private, We all knew, I think, that there was a definite rift possible because of the 'gifts'. In those days it was a pretty big deal if you spoke in tongues and many were afraid of it. Richard's wife Candy when asked one time if she did, said, "My mouth doesn't open that wide." I remember smiling to myself at that one, because while I did believe it was a gift of the Spirit for today, I did not think it right to make it a fad, or to ask someone such a question in that manner.
Apparently John liked what he saw even though he didn't attend again for a couple of months. Then he came several times. On one occasion I remember him bringing a long-time friend Gunther with him. It was a 'big deal' to a lot of people, I think because Gunther was the man who had discipled John and Carol, and he was greatly admired and respected. He was presented to us as a 'mighty man of God'. I don't remember the purpose of his visit, but I think it was a special trip he made from a distance to see what was going on in the meeting. We felt very honored that he had come, even though I cannot recall any substance to his being there other than as an observer. He did however share a little because he was introduced to us and asked to. I don't remember what he shared. (I wish I did!)
Shortly after this time, John and Carol made a move within the Friends church. Apparently Carole or John, I don't remember which or both, felt 'lead of the Lord' to teach the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues at the morning study. Rumors began to fly that anyone speaking in tongues would be asked to leave, that the church was splitting, and that Barney Shafer was told to calm this movement down or he would be fired. Barney, I believe was fired, or at least forced to 'retire'. I think he moved at that time to Lemon Grove CA. In a very short time, we were told we were going to have to leave. I have often wondered how things would have gone if John and Carol had not provoked the controversy.
The Beginnings of Sorrows
In February 1977, my husband (34 at the time) had a massive cerebral hemorrhage and was in intensive care not expected to live. We had three young children, and he had been in a coma and in ICU for weeks. I had a bookkeeping/Accounting service which I ran out of my home, my husband was a building contractor, and we ran that business out of our home as well. I was doing all of the work for both, spending time at the hospital and trying to take care of my family. Carol Wimber called to invite me to their cabin in Arrowhead in March of 1977. I was exhausted and needed the rest and my mother volunteered to watch the kids, my sister volunteered to stay at the hospital, and I took the opportunity to spend one night away (March 19, 1977) for a badly needed break. It didn't surprise me that a group of us from the Wickwire study were at the cabin, the joy and the fellowship were sorely needed, and we were all getting pretty used to each other.
The new element in our time together was definitely John, and his apparent change of heart about our group. Now here I was at his cabin....that was pretty strange as I look back on it now, but we were used to miraculous changes of heart so we weren't really looking for a problem with the scenario. As I recall the people in attendance were: John and Carol Wimber, Bob and Penny Fulton, Carl Tuttle, Dick and Lynn Heying, Richard Wickwire, Laura and Jim Campbell, Margie and Corky Morton, Bobbie Wright, Myself, Anna and Wayne Ahrens, Tim Evans and Bill Galion. Others I think were there but can't remember for sure were Bob and Sue Kehl, Robin and Harold Looney, Pam Evans, Candy Wickwire, Larry Tales, and maybe two or three more. The Wimbers had a lovely, large cabin, and we were all accommodated, albeit on the floor for some. I was relieved to sit in fellowship, sing songs, and worship and share the word as was customary among us. Later in the day, Don McClure from Calvary Chapel Twin Peaks came to visit the group. For lack of room he sat under the kitchen table, we all laughed and prayed, and sang, and laughed some more. It was so good to be saved, and Jesus was so good to us! During our time of fellowship and singing that day the song "Spirit Song" was begun as we worshipped. Many that day reported that they heard the 'angels join from above' as we sang our praise song.
Later that evening, in the afterglow time of night, John took the opportunity to speak. I'll never forget his words. 'Well I guess you all are wondering why I've asked you here.' he said, 'The Lord has put some things on my heart, and been talking to me about what He is doing...' He went on to explain some more, than he said'...The Lord has shown me this is a church, it is coming out (of the Friend's church), and I am the pastor...' I remember so clearly, because I immediately said to myself, 'Yes, this is a church, it is coming out (of the Friends church), but you are not the pastor!'.....I only wish and regretted so much later that I didn't immediately say that out loud, and make a protest to the takeover.....instead I kept silent, and trusted God to take control, and raise up the right man....I think at the time I really didn't believe the Lord would let anything touch the work He was doing, and that He would deal with John. Afterward a few of us were so upset about the announcement, that we went into a bedroom and prayed together, holding hands in a circle. We all felt that Richard, not John was the pastor. And yet to our shame within weeks, when the controversy surfaced at the Friends, and John had announced on a Sunday night that the next weekend we were going to start the new church in the park......we followed! Like sheep gone astray, we followed. I've had to laugh (and cry) many times for my stupidity and fear of man.
It was raining on the first day, so a friend of John's let us use the Masonic Lodge. I wish I had a picture of the two thrones, royal blue, ornate, and the pentagram in the royal blue carpet. I sat in the front row, Carl led worship, and John and Bob sat on thrones. I did not have a clue what a pentagram was, nor what the Masonic Lodge was, nor what the thrones portended.....just really rejoiced for being there.....Dumb sheep! This began a push-pull relationship with John, as he stood in the pulpit the first week. "I have good news for you." he said, "We are no longer illegitimate, we are not a bastard child, we have a name....". I remember thinking, "What's wrong with Jesus for a name?", "We're a Calvary Chapel" he continued with a grin as big as his throne. What a picture, and with that I sighed a great sigh of relief, because John was under authority, and I knew Chuck would take care of it all.
Sheep Leading The Sheep
John began his somewhat 'sheepish' pastorate of a charismatic church by stating openly and candidly that he didn't know what he was doing, to which several of us looked over the tops of our glasses and nodded amen....it was very difficult not to take exception to much of what he taught. He took a philosophical and experimental attitude toward the subject matter being taught, sighted statistics of church growth, waxed eloquent on items of 'historical note', stated pros and cons of the authorship of books and biblical texts, commented on Ezekiel's rumored dementia, etc., and basically drove a few of us nuts with references to church growth, exegesis, and paradigm shifts....(yes he was using that even in the first year). I have to admit, as a personally compromised and ignorant sheep, I was only comparing what I'd heard from Chuck Smith, and J. Vernon McGee to John's teaching style, not basing my opinions on any astute scholarship on my part. During one service which was particularly dry, my friend leaned over and said to me, 'uummm, exegesis, it must be OK if it's got Jesus in it...' John indicated that he had not believed much in the 'supernatural', and spent great amounts of time expounding on biblical 'proof-texts' and other matters of seminary interest that frankly intimidated and confused some of us. We all 'forgave' him frequently because he openly admitted he didn't know what he was doing. It was all an "experiment" he said, and he had thwarted the work of God in his life in the past and didn't want to 'touch' it now...' So we tolerated Jonah's whale being most probably "according to experts", a dogfish, and Ruth's sons dying as a result of her disobedience to God when she followed her husband into Moab, and also the news that John now lived extended periods of time in his life without sinning, (and we could too)...pretty much like you tolerate your child saying one, two twee, sevn, six, nine. John 'appeared' to be sincere in his ideas and therefore, to us, a candidate for the Lord to change. Many of us were very concerned that John was not yet a baptized believer, he didn't really know which of the gifts of the spirit were applicable to today, and more ominously, he believed that eternal life was a qualitative not quantitative value, "according to the Greek". Needless to say, many of us rejoiced greatly the day Don McClure came to baptize John and Bob, and then John and Carl baptized all the rest of the first candidates in John's swimming pool. It seemed like progress to us. If now we could look back and see the 'laying on of hands suddenly' and recognize how backwards it all was, perhaps we could have avoided what was to happen. But in those days the Lord was truly working in mysterious ways His wonders to perform, so we all took the attitude of , "well, the Lord knows what He is doing".
The Weightier Matters of The Law
Some points I remember John emphasizing at the very beginning.
It wasn't long before John was categorizing methodologies for healing, laying on of hands, music ministry, leadership, outreach, evangelism, etc. All aspects of our body life became studies of method. Struggles in leadership began to take place. The first of note that I remember was
Richard had been working in the SS ministry, and on one memorable Sunday, they had a puppet show for the kids. Laura Campbell, a teacher, had to lean way over the top of the puppet stage to do something and Richards puppet 'looked' down the top of her sweater at her obvious cleavage. I saw it, and I have to admit I laughed, it was a very brief moment in time, most assuredly in bad taste for a childrens' Sunday School class, but I'm sure not one of the kids even noted it, and all of the adults chuckled. But it signaled the beginning of the end for Richard, who, we were told, "had returned to drinking". A very strong tension developed in the ministry, and Richard's wife made him leave. As I understood it later, she received support from the church. Richard was apparently devastated.
At this time a very prominent Christian musician replaced Carl Tuttle in music ministry at the church. Bob Fulton was reportedly pushed aside for Sam Thompson, a credentialed psychologist. Gloria Thompson, his wife, pretty much took over Margie Morton and Laura Campbell's work, etc. There were positional moves here in leadership that I was frankly not privy too. Some we had loved and trusted as friends and brothers and sisters, were isolated, exposed in some way as 'sinners' and through stories we heard from others, were asked to leave or simply left from the hurt. My husband was in a recovery period of rehabilitation therapy. We had a nurse living in our house to care for him. I still ran both businesses, and took care of the kids. I was getting extremely exhausted during this period, so others who were more able to see the details of these changes in position will have to share that. But the general feelings of resentment and insecurity were beginning to be felt by all of the original group. Nevertheless, the church was growing in numbers and had an outward appearance of a typical Calvary Chapel, and those who were new to the body were probably unaware of the changes.
Here Came The Demons
One night after a particularly difficult day of treatment for my husband, and a bad prognosis from his doctor, for his recovery, I called a friend and asked "Is there anywhere we could go tonight for fellowship?" She replied that there was a home group at the Bessermins at 7:30. So we went to the study. It was usual in all ways; fellowship, worship, prayer, etc. When we broke for coffee, some stayed in the living room, my friend and I went into the kitchen for a cup of coffee. We were busy laughing and sharing when suddenly, out of nowhere, came an extremely loud, harsh, excruciating and terrifying guttural and siren-shriek of a scream. (Words fail me here). A 'fog-horn' of a blast of noise went through the house, the air suddenly alight with tingly fear...we both wide eyed in horror, dropped to our knees simultaneously, and crawled as fast as it was possible to the back door, and out into the back yard. The screams were, long, loud, intense and chilling.. Shriek after shriek, after shriek of terror.....deep guttural voices and loud sounding exchanges between bass-deep male sounding voices.....we were shaking and others were running out of the house and you could hear people saying, 'what's going on?', 'what's happening'., 'what is that?' 'who is that', 'who are they?' etc, etc, etc, we were basically panicked, and getting the idea by now that we were OK, although at first I think we were not sure if we were or not....
As the noise became more common and somewhat subdued someone came into the yard, Georgia Bessermin I think, and said 'it's OK there's a girl here who has a demon, and we are praying for her to be delivered'....it was the first time in my life ever that I had ever heard anything so awful, or had ever been confronted with the possibility of a demon possessed person, or that there was a need right now to participate in prayer. We were invited in to 'help'...after a bit we consented, and went into the living room. There were several people, probably six, standing around in a circle, a young girl around 16 or 17 I thought, lying on the floor. She had a scared, sweaty face. Her eyes were huge, and she was licking her lips as if they were dry and she couldn't get them wet. She attempted to speak and it appeared to me that she was so afraid that she couldn't speak. The people around her looking down, were all holding hands and commanding the demons, in the name of Jesus, to manifest, and to speak. I could hear the shrieks, and feel the extreme heaviness of the air in the room. I could hear the male voices and the screaming and was very confused as to what was happening. I got into the circle, holding hands with the others and started to pray like I had never prayed in my life. Taking my cues from the others, I commanded the demons to speak and to manifest themselves in the name of Jesus. A noise startled me as a vase fell off a shelf behind me and crashed to the floor (but I don't think it broke). Others were startled as well, the general consensus being the demons had knocked it off the shelf. The I looked over my left shoulder to see a plant stand raising off the floor about six or so inches (it was leaning to the right as if to fall over), then it went slowly down on the floor and did not fall. A woman who had not joined the circle, Helen Green, was near the plant stand and started screaming, and she was literally picked up and knocked backwards, perhaps I'm not describing this right, but it appeared as if she had been lifted up and thrown backwards. She was starting to scream, and once again there were deep, low, ugly, horrific male sounding screams and then shrieks. Several of the prayer warriors separated from the group, which now numbered approximately 16, and took her into another room where, from the sound of it, all 'hell' broke loose, including crashing and pounding and cursing etc.
Meantime back on the floor in front of me, with perhaps ten or more of us still in the circle around her was Robin Zorn. More and more details of what was supposedly going on were being made evident. She had a demon, we were told it had been 'discerned'. Robin was a new Christian, we were told, and had been delivered of a demon some weeks earlier, and now there was apparently 'another one'. She had first manifested demons at John Wimbers house, and he had not known how to handle it so he had, (according to his own statement to me later) 'thrown' her into the back of a van, and taken her to the Bessermins for deliverance. At any rate apparently another demon was manifesting, but there was a complication. Robin was pregnant they said, and she was not married, therefore she had no 'covering', and her baby had 'willed' to keep the demon. Therefore they were not going to be able to deliver Robin from it, and the baby would continue to be demon possessed as long as it 'willed' to keep it.
I do not, to this day, know the circumstances of Robins pregnancy, but I do know this...as we continued to pray over her for two or more hours that night, I asked over and over in my heart for the Lord to reveal to me what was going on, what He wanted me to do, and what on earth was what, and for Him to please help Robin and her baby....and once when I opened my eyes and looked down, there was the form of a man, lying above Robin. It smiled at me and it's eyes were glassy and weird. It was made of black vapor and yet had the appearance of a man and the features of a human face. It was the most frightening thing I had ever seen in my life. I screamed and broke away from the circle and ran out the back door this time! I was extremely shaken and shaking all over, so badly I could not speak. I started to cry as Georgia Bessermin came out into the yard and started to speak very slowly and carefully to me. '...Nancy, you are afraid because you have a demon in you too. We have seen it for some time, and it is afraid of the ministry here. It is afraid you will make it leave. That is why you are so afraid. That is not natural fear...... John and Carol and I have discussed this before, and we've been waiting for you to want deliverance...' I remember saying to her 'If I have a demon in me like that thing, I want it out now!' She said this was not the time because John and Carol would have to be there, I would have to wait'...I went in, got my purse, got into my car and drove to John and Carol's house. I rang the doorbell over and over, and I was still shaking so badly I couldn't stop. I think I was in shock or something close to it. When they finally woke up and got to the door in their robes, with sleepy eyes, I burst in I'm sure rambling off the story incoherently......Carol told me to be still and sit down and she went into the kitchen to make tea. John began to hear my story as I was best able to tell him. Carol brought in the tea, and I spilled most of it out into the saucer from the shakes I had. John's advice to me as I begged him to get the thing out of me then, and told him I did not want to go home with my kids with something like that 'thing' inside of me, I think I was nearly hysterical at this moment and John encouraged me to calm down, drink my tea, relax, and take a deep breath. He confirmed to me that they had indeed 'discerned' that I was demonized, and that in fact, he had first noted it 'manifesting' itself as I was worshipping the Lord. He said that he could clearly see it take over me as I worshipped, a 'religious' spirit of some sort, he thought. He consoled me that if I were embarrassed or worried about making a spectacle out of myself, that the Lord would help me in it. He said the time for deliverance was not now, that he and Carol would have to be "fasted and prayed up", and they would, as soon as they could, set aside the time with the Bessermin's for my 'deliverance'. I remember telling them I was afraid and did not want to go back to the Bessermin's. I told them that it was 'awful' there. John indicated that was the demon fighting deliverance. He told me that he had led the Bessermins to the Lord, that he had discipled them, and been in fellowship with them for a long while. He told me that he trusted them completely with this kind of situation, and that they were prepared and equipped to handle situations just like this. He and Carol prayed with me that I would not have a difficult and embarrassing time in deliverance and asked me to be fasting and praying as well for the appointed time.
Needless to say, I was less than comforted on my return home that night. (actually early am). The comfort I had sought in the fellowship of the saints had been replaced with a deep fear for my family, for my well being and for the body. A growing disgust for myself and my sin, and a pervasive sense of being alone in a 'middle place' somewhere between going to heaven and hell. I am amazed that I could have been so ignorant as to believe a Christian could be demon possessed. Because I had never taken time to study this, and because it had never been an issue, I was nevertheless looking forward with a great deal of dread to being 'delivered'.
I don't remember how long it was, but I think it was about a week, when the time had been set aside for my meeting. I arrived at the Bessermin's pale, weak, and tired from the endless preoccupation I'd had during that week with what I had seen and heard at the kinship group meeting. I had not enjoyed being in church that Sunday because I was aware that I might have a demon....somehow it seemed to me, through embarrassment and other emotions I cannot place, that I was out of place there somehow, and not quite what I'd had in mind the week before. From child of the Lord, His soon to be bride, full of expectation and hope, I had been reduced to a level of shame that I had never known before. Instead of head held high, and shoulders back, standing in the grace the Lord had offered, I was humiliated and defeated for being in such a beggarly condition. Having taken my eyes off of Him for a moment, and having them on myself, I could not wait to be rid of anything so hideous that might be in me.
I arrived hoping to be free at the end of the evening. I had fasted and prayed practically the entire week, seeking the Lord and asking Him to help me. I submitted to the laying on of hands and their ministrations with a quiet resignation that it would probably be 'awful' but at least it would be over. I've never felt such a strong sense of peace. The Lord seemed to have zipped me up in a cocoon of safety and peace and calmness. The Bessermin's and John and Carol prayed and prayed. They commanded demons to appear in the name of Jesus. They rebuked the demons. They commanded them to speak. I prayed with them the same things! Over an hour we prayed and prayed and prayed...and nothing happened. They all had remarks like, "I don't get it" or "what do you think?", or "I don't know". Finally Georgia Bessermin offered that it must be a deaf and dumb spirit. So for a long time they commanded the deaf and dumb spirit to "come out". Nothing happened. They were all getting pretty loud by then. Georgia was praying in tongues, Carol and John too, I was asking the Lord to please help me. About that time I looked up and before my eyes a line of type, white letters, all capitals, (impressed as a flash bulb would leave an impression of light when you reopened your eyes), about fifteen inches or so from my face. It read.....'NAUNDA'. At the same time I could hear Georgia saying that same word over and over again in her 'prayer language'. I said, "You guys, I don't know if this means anything or not, but the same word Georgia is praying, I am seeing." They agreed it must have something to do with the demon, and they began to pray fervently for an 'interpretation' of the 'word'. Georgia got the 'interpretation'. It meant , she said, "nothing". I had a spirit of 'nothing'. I asked what that was, and we were all very curious and offering ideas, finally settling on John's thinking that it was a "deaf and dumb spirit of suicide, intent on bringing me to 'nothing'." 'Nothing' was commanded to come out and within another half hour or so of very intense prayer, we all felt confident that 'nothing' had indeed, come out. I was extremely happy that it hadn't been the ordeal I had expected, and left that night fully persuaded that I had been delivered of 'nothing'. The next morning a woman of the church called first thing, and said, 'Tell me all about it'...I hung up on her and went directly to John and Carols where I told Carol how hurt I was, and embarrassed that the confidence I had placed in them to keep my sad state quiet, was breached and that by 8:00 am the next day the entire church was aware that I had had a demon. Unlike some, I did not consider it much to boast in. I'm sorry to say that it took me years to see the absolute humor in the situation regarding 'Nothing'.
The Flesh Warreth Against The Spirit
I began to see how many people were being told they had demons. I began to have an insatiable desire to find what was happening to us in the Word. I began to search the scriptures daily, (and nightly), to see 'if these things be so...' and I began to see the truth that we were all being victimized by a side-show mentally of 'have's' and 'have nots'. Those who lorded over us the authority God had given them to serve us. They were separating the church into the group that 'delivered' and the group that 'got delivered'. It was becoming obvious to me as the Lord opened my eyes to the truth, that some very precious, spirit filled and joyful babes in Christ were being attacked, and some nearly destroyed through these practices. What was most disturbing to me was an apparent predisposition to place each person in one group as opposed to the other. People of stature in the world, those with money, prestige, education, beauty, or other place of accomplishment, power or influence, were immediately absorbed into the body, and often raised quite quickly to positions of prominence and authority. Those who were the 'unlovely', compromised in personal sin, or who were experiencing an ongoing trial such as chronic disease, poverty, unemployment, family problems, or going through divorce were relegated immediately to a level of submission to those who were thought to be more 'mature', or 'spiritual'. (i.e. those who according to the standards of this world, had it all together.) The outward appearance of lifestyle and accomplishment became the standard and measurement of Christian character and maturity. The gulf between the two 'poles' became greater daily. The 'spiritual' abounding in grace and evidencing an abundance of 'giftings' and power, as opposed to those who were considered 'weak' and 'demonized'. Bypassing the sovereignty of God, and the finished work of Jesus Christ, a 'spirituality' of ourselves, and not of the righteousness imputed by faith, became the standard. There were many reports of deviant and gruesome 'deliverances'. Stories of butcher knives, and murder, stories of vomiting, and stories of vile obscenities. The foul display of 'power' that began to call itself the "ministry of the Holy Spirit", seemed dangerous to me as a hierarchical structure forming itself within the church. Any who opposed were called "demonized". Any who feared the 'truth' about themselves were said to be "divisive" or "rebellious" or "not submissive" to the leadership of the body. Any who dared speak out or suggest this wasn't of the Lord were asked to leave and find another fellowship. The once happy faces of joyful friendship and fellowship, became tight-jawed and grim. Where we had enjoyed our freedom in Christ, we now feared 'falling' into sin, demonization, or disobedience. Within a year of John assuming the pastorate of this hapless flock, we were struggling to maintain our places within an increasingly complicated power structure.
I found a tremendous joy once again in the sure knowledge that I was not, nor had I ever been 'demonized'. I went to John and Carol on several occasions to try to communicate my misgivings about the 'deliverance' of demons from Christian brothers and sisters. I tried to communicate to them the grace I had found in Christ. John indicated that I had a "false pride" and wasn't "coming clean" about my sin. I told him my position in Christ didn't have anything to do with what I saw or anyone saw, or for that matter, what I was. He asked me to just "show up in the flesh for once", and not be so "spiritual" about everything. He told me they could handle my flesh, but "superficial spirituality" was something he couldn't handle. I told him that I felt that looking at my sin nature, and all of my weaknesses wasn't doing any good. He tried to explain his position, referring to Helen Green. "For instance", he said, they "went back a long way", I think twelve years or so, and had always "Fought and made up". He said that she would come over occasionally, and "cuss him out" with great vigor, but that was "alright", he could relate to that and deal with it. But my "praise the Lord" and quoting scripture left him nothing to "work with". I assured him that he would not enjoy me showing up "in the flesh"! I left feeling frustrated for the lack of a frame of reference for my position in Christ.
It occurred to me one day that a "picture is better than a thousand words" and so to illustrate the point, a friend and I took a dummy figure, in a battered house dress, with fuzzy slippers, a cigarette hanging out of her mouth, gaudy make-up, curlers in her hair, and a beer bottle in her hand. We posed her in a chaise lounge on the Wimber's front lawn, with a small table next to her covered with "True Story" magazines, empty potato chip bags, candy bar wrappers, ashtrays full of cigarette butts, and other apparent paraphernalia of the 'flesh'. We drove a stake into the lawn with a poster on it that proclaimed. 'That which is born of the flesh is flesh, That which is born of the spirit is spirit. ' At the bottom we signed it, and wrote, "Dear John, Praise God for the Spirit."
John woke the next morning and as is his custom, he went to the front door, opened it, leaned down to pick up the paper, and as he straightened up he beheld the 'scene'. He called and invited us to have a talk. We were excited to go, thinking we might have accomplished something. The meeting seemed to go well as we discussed 'working' on our faults, sin being called 'demonization' and more. It seemed we were having a real dialogue until at the end of meeting, when he told us that "this was the way" the Lord was working in the body, and had "led" the leadership to minister, and that we should find another place to fellowship if we couldn't abide by their leadership.
Hope of Glory
During this time I was still occasionally a phone counselor at TBN. I had shared the early years with Jan and Paul, and had seen this ministry grow from the earliest beginnings. I was watching one night when Kenneth Hagin spoke about casting a demon out of a Christian! Since by this time I had seen this in a clearer light, I was sick to see this dangerous and unscriptural teaching on TBN. I sat down at my kitchen table, tearfully penned the letter to them that I have attached to this document. Upon receiving this letter Jan wrote me a note and then called me to explain what had been happening. I shared with her on the phone and she promised to talk to Paul about it.
Sometime during these events, I got a call one night from my friend. She said that Robin Zorn was in the hospital not expected to live through the night. We agreed to meet and go to the hospital. When we arrived we went up in the elevator, and when the door opened we started to step out. We both 'bounced' backwards as if we had walked into a rubber wall or something. There was a literal bouncing back that happened. She and I looked at each other and began to pray for the Lord to please help us. The next step we took was perfectly normal and we proceeded to the door of the Intensive Care Unit. It was around midnight I think when we arrived. When the nurse answered we asked to see Robin, and she asked if we were family. We said we had just come to pray for her. We had the privilege of whispering to her that Jesus loved her, that she was a special child of our Lord, and that He was with her. We sang songs very quietly, held her hand when she was afraid. We read scripture to her, the Psalms and beautiful passages of the hope of the believer in Christ. We wiped her brow, and soothed her hair back from her face and comforted her when she tried to reach out. It was one of the most sacred moments of my life. A number of times I excused myself and called the Wimber's house and left messages for John to come soon, that she was dying. Finally around seven in the morning he answered the phone and asked why I wanted him to come. I said John, if she was a believer, we hurt her and offended her, and you and I need her forgiveness. If she was not a Christian, we failed to lead her to Christ, pointed fingers at her, railed against her, called her baby demon-possessed, and did essential harm not only to her but the cause of Christ. She had looked to us, and we had failed her.' He said, "I don't know what I could say to her," I said, "How about, Christ in you, your hope of glory?" He was there within an hour, and we prayed a prayer as her monitors indicated that her heart was losing it's ability to keep a beat. John left, and after an hour or so more, a little after ten in the morning my friend and I left. Within minutes she was gone. Her Grandmother told me later, "Ever since those people at that church got ahold of her", Robin had gone "straight downhill". I do not know who raised Robin's child, I believe a son who had been born just two months earlier. I do pray that her Grandmother was able to keep "those" people away from him, and that he has never heard such gruesome and unfitting things as were ministered to his mother in the name of our Lord.
It was Robin's death and the graphic realization of my personal failure to her that caused me to double my efforts to help anyone who was being told they had demons. I remembered seeing that apparition hovering over Robin. It seemed very important to me that it was over her, not in her. The manifestations, noises and voices and palpable fear present in the room, were, I began to believe a result of this presence being there, one we had clearly demanded to 'manifest' and 'speak' in the name of Jesus! I began to think we had called it forth, and set it up as a demonstration of our power in the name of Jesus, rather than her having it in her. Poor thing! And to think this was the best we could offer her that comes with the salvation, freedom and refuge she had eagerly sought in Jesus. I began to feel a deep shame for having ministered such lies and hatred toward her. While participating in what I later became convinced was nothing more than 'charismatic witchcraft', we forgot to tell her about her that she was hidden in Christ, that in Him was no demon, that He had ascended and was seated at the right hand of the Father. That he had 'disarmed' principalities, and made a show of them openly, and that He had conquered the final enemy, death. We forgot to tell her that she was seated with Christ in heavenly places, and that because of His work on the cross, she had been imputed the very righteousness of Christ. Oh how we had failed to present the entire gospel to her. Having begun in the spirit, we now told her she must work the rest out in the flesh! We had become foolish Galatians!
I rewrote the letter I had sent to Paul and Jan Crouch into a less personally directed message, and began to distribute it to any who had been told they had demons. I felt a personal responsibility to communicate the message to anyone who needed to hear it. I have attached a copy of this letter as well to the end of this document. It was at this point that during a Sunday service, John made some very thinly veiled comments, from the pulpit, about "certain women", in the body, who felt it was their duty to "run the church" and who "opposed" the work they were doing. My friend and I were stunned as it was fairly known who was doing what in our church at that time. In the past John had taught a seminar on communication techniques. One powerful illustration he used to explain the problems in communicating, was that a person might intend to communicate the word 'apple'. But through faulty recollection, or ability to express his thoughts, he manages to communicate the word 'pears'. The listener, due to faulty communication techniques, and due to social, educational, and environmental 'filters', manages to hear the word 'bears'. Thus John taught, one could be simply trying to say something as innocent as 'apples', and the listener manages to hear 'bears'. He called this hearing "bears". And so, he taught, we shouldn't jump to conclusions when we "hear bears", because it might be that the person was in fact saying "apples".
My friend and I were so stunned that we got together to pray. We were hurt and distraught to be singled out as "troublemakers" and "divisive". We felt we had been patiently (to an extreme) trying to tolerate the most fantastic harm. I tried to get an appointment with John and he was unavailable, and that went on for some time. It was beginning to be very difficult to get time to see him. While in another town one day, I drove past a taxidermy shop. The 'prize' figure, a great American brown bear was posed in the window as an advertisement. In a split second the entire theme hit me. I stopped, turned around and went into the shop to inquiry if it could be rented. The owner, reluctant at first, agreed to rent it to me. I drove home in my VW bus, with the windows rolled down, the face of the bear outside, his fur blowing in the wind. It was quite life-like and many honked, stared, dropped open their mouths, drove alongside, and tried to get a better look. My friend and I draped a chain of apples and pears from it's mouth. We knew John and Carol would be home from a trip the next day, and they had a huge foyer in their house. Their son, Chris greeted us at the door and helped us set it up to greet them as they came home. Our note this time read: "John, we need to see you."
I have to admit, we laughed a lot about that bear, and it did seem to be a rather clever way of getting an appointment. You might classify that as desperate, but under the circumstances it seemed the right thing to do. The word says if you have ought against a brother you should go to him, and we were trying! At 7:30 this next morning John called, and said, 'You need to see me?'. We were there in an hour. Unfortunately, it turned out, their son had played a trick on them. After we left, he thought it would be even better if he put it in their bedroom. Coming home in the middle of the night Carol , ahead of John, not wanting to wake the family, tiptoed down a dark hall and into their bedroom. Carol reached out her hand, and feeling the fur brush against her skin, fell back into John with a gasp of fear...John pushing by her said, "Oh, for crying out loud Carol,..." turned on the lights and found himself face to face with a great American brown bear! I find it to their credit that they were willing to have us over for breakfast and to talk. I remember leaving their house so sad not to have resolved anything, but just to have been encouraged that our church body was an 'experiment' and that they would not touch it in any way. They would not take any position for or against demonization of Christians, and therefore they could not, and would not stop the practices. More and more, I felt myself developing a 'me against them' mentality. It became fairly uncomfortable to stay in the church.
Meantime Back at Costa Mesa
Lonnie Frisbee had returned to Calvary Costa Mesa after several years of being involved with Bob Mumford in Santa Clara, CA. Lonnie had suffered a very painful divorce, and had fallen prey to their shepherding doctrines. Chuck had reinstated him at CCCM and among other things, he had agreed to do a home bible study at my house in Yorba Linda. Lonnie had long been known for his signs and wonders, miracles, and prophecies. I remember feeling better that Lonnie would be coming, not realizing that he was not as free from his aberrant teachings as we had believed. But since I was being singled out at Calvary Yorba Linda as 'divisive' and weird, and to be 'avoided, I was glad to have a CCCM staff doing a fellowship in my home. I thought perhaps Lonnie would 'discern' what was going on, and that perhaps the Lord had 'sent' him to help us. I had known Lonnie way back in the beginning, and as most who ever knew him would say, he was a very lovable and extremely 'charismatic' person. I was so glad he was back on track (I thought) and I welcomed his time in my home. My husband was in a very reactive and abusive stage of his recovery from the stroke, and as many do who find themselves dependent on someone, he began to accuse me of trying to kill him, to be obsessed with the idea that someone had tried to poison him, etc. I had tremendously difficult situations to deal with at home, and tremendously difficult situations to deal with at church, and Lonnie at the time seemed to be a blessing and the Lord's light in so much darkness. Unlike his former days, Lonnie seemed somewhat subdued and stayed fairly on track during the months he was at my house. He began to be preoccupied though, with ministry outreach to Africa, and came late frequently to the studies, and seemed disinterested at times with what he was teaching. Another friend and I remarked that we'd have to "wear African masks and shake beads" to get his undivided attention. (To our credit, we never did it.) One time, Lonnie brought a friend named John who later was a co-worker with him in his African crusades, and he also brought 'Lucy', the first person he had 'delivered' of a demon. Costa Mesa pastors who were there the day that happened will still tell you about it. Anyway, I can remember feeling rather grieved at this point, that this was her introduction to me and her 'identity' in the body of Christ; that she had been delivered of demons. I was necessarily pretty 'sore' on the subject myself at the time, and prayed for her and with her that she would find her new identity in the Lord's finished work for her life. I don't know where Lucy is today. She had been a witch, and had to start a whole new life away from the death threats and attempts that had been plaguing her since her conversion.
The letter I had been scattering throughout the body, and the contention it was creating prompted John to call me and ask me to see him. When I met with him he had a copy of it in his hand. He said it was "pretty good", but certainly not the letter he "would have written". He told me that his position on demon possession of Christians was not solidified, and that by my distributing this paper I was being "divisive and usurping authority not given to me from God". He told me repeatedly that he and Carol loved me, and they didn't want to see me have to leave the church, but that if I couldn't stop producing and distributing the letter, and stop teaching others a doctrinal stand that he and the leadership of the body were not ready to make, that I would have to leave. I told John that I was very sorry for the problem it was creating, but that I felt I had to, and that I couldn't wait until they made up their minds about the doctrine. He told me that he had always known I would present a problem to him, and that he had a list that he'd had from the beginning of his association with the bible study at Richard's of all who he knew would not be submitted to him. He asked me if I would like to see the list. I regret to this day that I told him no. I left John's fairly shaken to realize I was disfellowshipped. Unless a person has been in this situation it would be difficult to know how it feels.
Finding myself at odds with a Calvary Chapel pastor was a very worrisome and painful experience for me. I called and made an appointment with Chuck Smith. My friend and I went to see him. He was, as always, extremely gracious, kind and loving toward us. He smiled and listened intently to what we had to say. I fear for lack of better knowledge about the subject at the time, I may have seemed rather 'strange' on the subject. He assured me that he would look into the situation, and I have been told that he did. He comforted me with the agreement that a Christian cannot be demon possessed, and he noted that this very morning he'd had a phone call from someone else, I believe it was Mike Patterson, about the same problem. So at least I wasn't the only one who was beginning to let Chuck know about it. I left thinking that he couldn't possibly know how bad things were, and I prayed the Lord would open his eyes. I know that unless a person is subjected to this monstrosity that calls itself the 'holy spirit', they cannot possibly fathom the inferences of those who try to communicate it. A dose of this in reality, is about what it takes to wake a person up to what is really going on. Reports seem exaggerated, fabricated, and hysterical to those who have not experienced this phenomena. That was the end of my official ties to the Calvary Chapel church that eventually became the Vineyard Ministries International.
In typing these thoughts I have been aware that there were many, many times when I seriously questioned things that were happening. Yet, I did not have a clear understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I did not realize that His work was complete. Nor did I understand the vision, the canon, through the book of The Revelation of Jesus Christ" was complete. I did not have the foggiest idea of what I had gained as a believer outside of the fact that I was saved, and that God loved me. I do praise the Lord that I knew that. I was a 'target' from the beginning. It was this lack of understanding that left me vulnerable to false teaching. Not realizing that God had freely given me everything in Christ Jesus, and that He had secured my salvation, redemption, sanctification, and deliverance, once for all, through the shedding of His blood for me, I had been made everything in Him and for Him that I will ever be. What "more" could I want than He had freely given? If I'd had the knowledge of the word that I have today, and an elder in the body to whom I could have gone to ask questions, who wouldn't tell me a lie in response, I could have dealt with these things so much better than I did. When it got just too scary to go one more step without the knowledge I needed, the Lord was faithful to supply me with all that I needed, by referring back to scripture. I'm afraid for too many years, I had taken Him and His precious Word and Salvation for granted. I can't speak for others but I know I am ashamed even today at how often I see things from a human and earthly perspective as opposed to a biblical and eternal point of view.
Here are some insights I have gained:
This is copyrighted material (All rights reserved) not to be used for any other purposes but educational reading. It was written in 2/16/1995 by Nancy (Blankmeyer) Flynt for CRI (they are not easy)
PART II Nancy's letter to Paul and Jan Crouch, of TBN, in 1978
1st Letter to Paul and Jan Crouch, Trinity Broadcasting Network, from Nancy Blankmeier (now Flint), dated 12-7-78:
Dear Jan and Paul,
I love you - I really do --and I weep for you -- and I weep for channel 40. I am writing to not to criticize or condemn but rather to warn you of a very dangerous teaching that is rampant in the Body of Christ -- and is especially making in-roads here in Orange County.
I pray right now that you will be given a sensitivity to and discernment of spirits about this doctrine. It is a teaching which was taught over Channel 40 last Saturday by Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland. It is when they said "I cast that demon out of him" or "I told that demon in the name of Jesus -- to come out." In both of the instances they sighted they were referring to BORN AGAIN CHRISTIANS!
Now, Jan, you know I have no argument with these brothers -- In fact I have given you books by both of them. And in many occasions I have been built up in my faith by their teachings - But in the case of this particular teaching they are wrong -- dead wrong!
Some people who are in the "deliverance" ministry say they are not teaching demon possession but oppression. If this is so then why do they command the demons to come OUT? It has been my unfortunate experience to have been subjected to some of this ministry myself and the people who were praying for me looked into my eyes and said they saw a demon of suicide there and commanded it to come out --
Jan and Paul -- my eye is the window of my body (Matt. 6:22) and my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19) I am hidden in Christ
(Col. 3:3) and I am seated in Heavenly places (Eph. 2:6) and Jesus is in me (1 John 1:5)
Therefore when this minister looked into my eyes he saw JESUS -- but nevertheless called Him a demon of suicide. That is dangerously close to blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. I praise the Lord that His Word was hidden in my heart and His Spirit was in me and there was no harm to me from this ministry.
However some of our brethren have not been so fortunate and there have been persuasive powers displayed around them so that they are deceived into thinking that they have had demons. These powers of darkness are indeed demons but they do not come out of born-again Christians -- These are powers of vain and haughty display such as the false prophets used in Matthew 7:15-23. These evil powers are very real and are often seen and felt very strongly at these meetings. Frequently these ministers command these demons to appear (or manifest themselves). Jesus never did this and we should not either! He gave us the power and authority to deal with any spirit He reveals to us and tells us to rebuke or cast out. But to stand in a room full of Christians and command demons to appear is Witchcraft. We must not rejoice in that spirits are subject to us -- but rather to rejoice in that our names are written in Heaven (Luke 10:20).
Other times there are names given such as Spirit of Anger or demon of lust, and these are called out. We might well ask if these are not spirits in us then what is the awful stuff we see in ourselves? We are all still in flesh bodies and the works of the flesh are in all of us. the list is terrible -- read all about in Galatians 5:19-21. None of us who love the Lord like our flesh very much. I'm sure most of us would love to be "delivered" of our flesh if it were possible -- And someday Jesus will do that for us (1 Cor 3 [?] ). But right now we're stuck with it and with our deceitful and wicked hearts too (Matt. 15:19 and Jer. 17:9-10) God has not told us to exorcise our flesh but rather to mortify it and reckon it dead (Romans [?] ) For to God it is! Let's be Christ minded about our flesh - God has abolished the enmity between my flesh and himself through Christ (Eph. 2:15).
Romans 8:6 says: "For to be carnally minded is death [;] but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. [vs.7] Because the carnal mind is enmity against God [:] for it is not subject to the law of God [,] neither [indeed] can be. [vs.8] So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. [vs.9a] BUT [emphasis added] ye are not in the flesh, but [in] the [S]pirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwells in you." [emphasis added]
Galatians 2:20 says: "I am crucified with Christ [:] nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me[:] And the life which I now live in the flesh [emphasis added] I live by faith in the Son of God [,] - who loved me and gave Himself for me."
I could go on and on about the awful things which have been ministered at these meetings but would rather not. I would rather just pray that we would be healed of looking on one anothers' flesh -- and begin to see our brothers and sisters though the eyes of Christ - to see the new creature in our brethren -- to see the Spirit of the Lord in them and if need be to be used of the Holy Spirit to help them mortify their flesh and its' works. But certainly never to attempt to exorcise their flesh or call them demon possessed. We must hold out to them the TRUTH and the REALITY that they have:
1. The mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16)
2. Their body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19)
3. That His Spirit dwells in their hearts (II Cor. 1:22 and Gal. 4:6)
4. Their souls have received Salvation (1 Peter 1:9)
That which is born of the spirit is spirit! (John 3:6[b] ). There is just no room in a Christian for a demon or a spirit. I don't care what we see, or experience. If it is not in agreement with God's Word it is not the truth -- It is a lie and we are deceived. I am praying for Channel 40 that no one will ever speak this false word again. I do love you both and write this only because I do. Your sister - Nancy Blankmeier.
Nancy's general letter "to whom it may concern" re: Vineyard, etc.
Dear Brother and Sister in Christ,
I am writing this letter to warn you of a very dangerous teaching that is rampant in the Body of Christ. I pray right now that you will be given a sensitivity to and a discerning of spirits about this doctrine.
It is a doctrine that teaches a BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN can be "oppressed" or possessed of a demon, a spirit or a devil in either his flesh, spirit, Heart, Soul, Mind or Body. I have no personal argument with anyone teaching this doctrine which has become known as the "deliverance" ministry -- But nevertheless it is wrong -- DEAD WRONG!
The people who are in the "deliverance ministry" say they are not teaching demon possession but oppression, but when they pray they command the demons to come OUT. It has been my unfortunate experience to have been subjected to some of this ministry myself and the people who were praying for me looked into my eyes and said they saw a demon of suicide in there and commanded it to COME OUT.
The Bible says my eye is the window of my body (Matt. 6:22) and my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19), I am hidden in Christ (Col. 3:3); and I am seated in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6); and Jesus is in me (John 17:21); and in Him there is no darkness (I John 1:5).
Therefore when these people looked into my eyes they saw JESUS but nevertheless called Him a demon of suicide! That is dangerously close to blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. I praise the Lord that His Word was hidden in my heart and His Spirit was with me and there was no harm to me from this ministry.
However, some of our brethren have not been so fortunate and there have been persuasive powers displayed around them so that they are deceived into thinking they have had demons. These powers of darkness are indeed demons but THEY DO NOT COME OUT OF BORN AGAIN CHRISTIANS. These are powers of vain and haughty display such as the false prophets boast in Matt. 7:15-23. These are evil powers--they are real and are often seen and felt very strongly at these meetings. Frequently these ministers command these demons to appear (or manifest themselves). Jesus never did this and we should not either! He gave us the power and authority to deal with any spirit He reveals to us and tells us to rebuke or cast out. But to stand in a room full of Christians and command demons to appear is Witchcraft. We must not rejoice in that spirits are subject to us--but rather to rejoice in that our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).
Other times there are names given such as spirit of anger or demon of lust and these are called out. If these are not spirits than what are they? We are all still in flesh bodies and the works of the flesh are in all of us. The list is terrible--read all about it in Galatians 5:19-21. None of us who love the Lord like our flesh very much. I'm sure most of us would love to be "delivered" of our flesh if it were possible--and someday Jesus will do that for us (I Cor. 5). But right now we're stuck with it, and with our deceitful and wicked hearts too (Matt.15:19 and Jer. 17:9-10). God has not told us to exorcise our flesh but rather to mortify it and reckon it dead (Romans 8). For to God it is dead! Let's be Christ-minded about our flesh. God has abolished the enmity between my flesh and Himself through Christ (Eph. 2:15).
Romans 8:6 says "For to be carnally minded is death but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God for it is not subject to the Law of God neither can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. BUT ye are not in the flesh, but the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you."
Galatians 2:20 says "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me."
I John 4:2 says an interesting thing in light of what you've just read; it is "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God. Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God."
I could go on and on about the sinful things which have been ministered at these meetings but would rather not. I would rather just pray that we would be healed of looking on one anothers' flesh and begin to see each other through the eyes of Christ. To see the new creature in our brethren--to see the Spirit of the Lord in them. And, if need be, to be used of the Holy Spirit to help them mortify their flesh and its works. But certainly never to attempt to exorcise their flesh or call them demon possessed. We must hold out to them the TRUTH and the BEAUTY that they have:
== end of general letter == == start of "Other Scripture to Help," by Nancy Blankmeyer ==
Regarding your flesh and sin nature: