Former atheist who almost became a female preacher recounts how her former Pentecostal assembly felt more like a concert that focused on feel-good experiences than on Christ, and how her insensitive leaders avoided her questions on the Bible.
Before joining the Charismatic movement, I was an atheist.
In 2016, I made the worst and deadliest mistake of my life. I murdered my unborn baby via abortion, which left me with unimaginable guilt, regret and despair. The weight of it became so unbearable that it left me traumatised and suicidal for the next 8 months, during which I was haunted by extreme demonic nightmares, visions and horrible thoughts. I kept thinking where my baby was and began to wonder if there was a heaven and if there was a god.
This was when I started to believe in the existence of a higher being.
Desperate for answers, I reached out to someone who was close to me. Through this person, I was introduced to a Pentecostal Charismatic “church” in my hometown. It was there that I “gave my heart to Christ” through the sinner’s prayer and I stayed there for 3 years.
During my time in the Charismatic movement, I hardly touched the Bible. The leaders became my guide and light that I believed everything they fed me without question. The assembly were staunch followers of celebrity Charismatic heavyweights like Rick Warren, Steven Furtick, Craig Groeschel, John Bevere, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Cane, Joyce Meyer, etc. I spent a lot of my own money purchasing many of these Charismatic preachers’ books, including study books written by Rick Warren. Being so enlightened in the movement, I took up a course in Christian ministry with the intention to become a female preacher.
While I was in the assembly, I was pressured and urged to speak in “tongues” many, many times. I never did as it somehow did not feel right to me. Yet, I believed something was wrong with me and I wondered why God never gave me “tongues”. Even when they spoke “tongues”, it just sounded nothing more than gibberish. There wasn’t any interpreter in the midst. However, I experienced being slain in the spirit, where I would lose full control of my mind and body.
Anytime I felt sad, depressed or expressed any type of negative emotion, it was me needing to be prayed over to “get the demons away”. I remembered 2 leaders and a few members who laid hands on me and prayed for me while I was in tears. They claimed that they could see demons around me, that one of them was holding a big dagger over me! Despite their attempts to “cast” these demons off me, the sickening visions of demons and nightmares continued to haunt me.
Sermons preached from the pulpit were typically man-centred, feel-good stories with 1 or 2 Bible verses being mentioned. Emphasis was on being popular and loved by the world rather than expository Bible teaching and loving God, so that they could lure more people into their congregation and fatten their weekly tithes and offerings. As me and my husband were struggling on a single income to support our family, we were unable to tithe. Instead of showing empathy or helping us, the leaders accused us of “lacking faith” and reasoned that that was why we were “cursed” with financial struggles!
The topic of sin was never taken seriously and it was seldom mentioned in the preaching. No wonder there was so much back-biting and gossip among the congregation! Moreover, salvation to them was to say the sinner’s prayer, give your heart to Jesus, have a quick baptismal dunk and do everything good. Nothing about faith alone in Christ and His finished work on the cross for all our sins.
Everything was about entertainment, getting people to laugh and to churn out positive vibes!
One day, I attended a big conference that I was serving at and instead of going to one of those raving “worship” concerts, my husband and I decided to sit at the beach and read the Bible. We read the whole book of Revelation, and that was when God opened my eyes. I felt terrified by its prophecies! I never really understood the fear of God as I was told that “it’s not that type of fear because our God is loving”.
I began to pour out my questions regarding Revelation to my leaders (one of whom was a female “pastor”). Instead of addressing my questions, they told me that “we don’t focus on that”. This was when I realised I was disillusioned with them. As leaders, their lack of interest in the Bible was ironic and appalling.
I knew I could not continue with the ministry course, so I informed one of the “pastors” that I was dropping out of it. He attempted to make me stay by remarking, “You don’t want to show your girls you’re failing.” That was when we decided to leave the assembly and we never heard from them again. No one from the congregation bothered to reach out to us.
Leaving the Charismatic movement was not easy.
At first, I was raging with shock, anger, betrayal, sadness and rejection at how we were deceived by their false teachings and being treated like nobodies after we left. I really felt alone. However, God replaced those feelings with comfort and peace, the more I read and studied my Bible. I came to the sound understanding that salvation is by faith alone in Christ Jesus, not by works, not by sign gifts and certainly not by the sinner’s prayer.
The moment I got reborn (this time, for real), the demonic dreams that haunted me for years had stopped. I am forgiven and cleansed from all my sins, guilt and shame by the blood of Christ, and I know that one day I will be reunited with my child in Heaven. I am now at peace and my journey with the Lord is wonderful. Rather than aspiring to be a female preacher, I am now fulfilling my role as a godly wife and mother, and homeschooling my children.
To Charismatic leaders out there – Shame on you for trying to shred the Word of God and leading many on the broad road to Hell! Repent and turn to the true Christ of the Bible!
For those who are still inside the Charismatic movement, I plead with you to put God’s Holy Word above any man’s word, always! Test everything you hear with Scripture (1 John 4:1), because broad is the road to destruction, and narrow is the way that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). I pray that you will be saved and come out of this deception.
*Name has been changed to protect the author’s identity.