Steve and Kathy called our house a couple hours before service was supposed to start.
It was a serious phone call, all of us were “shushed” and my dad spoke in grave tones, saying, “yes sir. I understand. yes sir.” – the next thing I knew, I was sat down.
My parents sat across me and said, “Steve has asked that you get up and speak tonight. You’re to say how much you love him and how much he’s done for you. Do you understand? You love him, right? What are you going to say, what has he done for you?”
I felt ENORMOUS pressure. I wracked my brain. Answers like, “He has given us this place where we can love God. He has brought us revival.”
They kept pushing me, like that wasn’t enough or not what they were looking for.
They said, “yes, but what about things he’s done for you personally, what has he done, how has your life changed?”
I could only think of how chaotic and scary life had become. But I said, “We can save Israel now, and I’m empowered to change the world and not be worldly.”
They fed me some more phrases and kept trying to get me to say things that didn’t feel right. Eventually, I think we landed on saying, “I love pastor Steve and he’s been so kind to my family and made a great place where kids can be empowered.”
They told me how serious it was, because there were 4 teenagers who were worldly and I was told they were on a path to hell. I was told their parents were allowing their children to live in darkness and that this is what we had to do to save them.
They told me the names of the kids, and to look right at them when I gave my testimony. Apparently, other families had been asked to do the same with their kids.
When the time came, I made the GRAVE mistake of starting my testimony with: “Pastor Steve asked me to say how much I love him and how thankful I am for…etc. etc.”
The look on my parents faces was as if I had just confessed to premeditated murder.
That night, I was reprimanded and told, “NEVER EVER SAY, ‘pastor Steve SAID’ – if he tells you anything, you share it as if it’s FROM YOU! How could you do that?! You left Steve unprotected! It’s our job to protect him!”
I found out later that the kids were all in families that had expressed concern about Steve’s methods; Steve had told the kids they were worldly and going to hell, and had asked them to write down the names of their friends who were going to hell.
Their parents’ concerns were dismissed and Steve had told them, “No other parent has a problem with me. In fact, they all love me,” and that’s why all of us had to get up and say we loved him.