My name is Frank Smith (names have been changed for privacy). This is my account of the destructive abuse my family encountered with an organization we trusted. The "Bible Speaks" church and ministry was founded in the early 1970's by Pastor Carl H. Stevens along with "Stevens School of the Bible". The bible school was a non-accredited college, which later moved and became Maryland Bible College and seminary after a 1987 bankruptcy, court-case and scandal. "The Bible Speaks" was also renamed "Greater Grace World Outreach" or sometimes referred to as GGWO. I began attending a Bible Speaks branch church in 1983. I later attended its headquarters bible school in Lenox, Massachusetts, named "Stevens School of the Bible", when I graduated, then married my wife, Tricia, who was also a student at the time. From the time I came to this church, I was an active participant in many of its functions, such as bible studies, evangelistic outreaches, bus ministry, and other volunteer positions, in addition to attending church services three times a week. My participation took place in addition to holding down a full-time job and attending the bible school classes. During the church's scandal in 1987, we moved with the church and its bible school to Baltimore MD. We lived there and continued participating in the church life while attending church services three times a week till 1992. Things didn't really change too much after I moved with my wife & child to a branch church. We attended a Greater Grace branch ministry church for about ten months until a split took place among the local membership. We eventually left its branch church as the fallout of personality clashes, side-taking and accusations of certain members and pastors not being loyal to Pastor Stevens became a distraction from our intention to worship, serve God in winning the lost to Christ, hear His word expressed from the pulpit, and to maintain and make friends within the local church.
As in other Greater Grace World Outreach splits among some of its branch affiliates, the issue often become one of who is most loyal to Pastor Stevens and his teaching or in the coded language of the church: "who was really one with Baltimore".
While we began attending another church that was not affiliated with GGWO we still considered ourselves a part of Greater Grace ("GGWO") since we had a few close friends within "the ministry" as it's often referred to. In addition we had many friendly acquaintances whom we cultivated as I often assisted my wife in a part-time position at GGWO, under Paul Stevens as her boss. We left quietly, since it was not our intention to burn bridges. It had been often strongly implied by Pastor Stevens that anyone who removed themselves from connection with GGWO was losing fulfillment of Gods greater plan for their lives. My wife in particular stayed in closer touch by phone with occasional visits to Baltimore headquarters during the next six years, accompanied by myself on two occasions. Paul Stevens also had GGWO cassette taped messages of the three weekly services sent to my wife, beginning in 1994, though she never displayed any interest in listening to them. On infrequent occasion I would listen to one of these tapes, hoping to gain spiritual edification.
On the surface, things at the bible school, now known as Maryland Bible College & Seminary (or MBC&S in short) have always appeared just right, from the doctrinal statement on the weekly church bulletin, to the buzz of activity taking place. Behind the scenes things were different. Pastor Steven's son Paul maintained contact with my wife by phone, a few times during the year, and in between my wife's visits to GGWO headquarters in Baltimore, in addition to sending her birthday cards. In 1998 we went online. Paul continued contacting my wife now by e-mail. My wife and I were friendly with Paul. He was more so friendlier with her. I made the mistake of overlooking this, since he was a pastor and Pastor Steven's son. Also, Paul and my wife had known each other previous to our marriage, and Paul was already married to a quiet, attractive Christian woman named Barbara.
Years before, Tricia and I engaged in many casual conversations with Paul during our work at the school. Back then I began to observe his unsolicited mention of behind the scenes church gossip in detail. Included were items such as who was getting married, splitting up and why, plus who had an affair and also who was an "enemy of the ministry". Paul tended to portray former members as fornicators, alcoholics, gay, or "just arrogant to walk away from the geographical call (meaning GGWO in Baltimore) of God on their lives."
He was privy to all this since his Dad appointed him as church marriage counselor. On occasion I questioned his matter of fact style of preaching the personal confidence of several church members, former members, and even more personal gossip about his sister in law Marcy, his brothers Steve, Bruce, and his Brother-in-law Shawn Redgate. Paul seemed to find amusement in letting the personal details of others slip from his tongue. I told Paul that I'm not sure my wife and I need to know others' personal business and marital problems. He became defensive replying "Pastors are human too and need someone to vent with" as if that explained his smugness, while pondering out loud what other people would say if they knew what he knew about several ministry members. He appeared to take pride in this small measure of power to influence the lives of church members.
On occasion my wife relayed to me careless remarks and observations that Paul made about me. She did not readily challenge these occasional comments since he was her boss, but she felt obligated to mention them to me. I ignored these comments as insignificant, and since I did not want to confront our pastor's son, and my wife's boss and friend.
After we moved and when I was aware of Paul's communication with my wife I would casually ask her what he had to say. Occasionally my wife would mention the suggestion by Paul that we belonged back in Baltimore at "home base" as it was sometimes referred to. Tricia diplomatically indicated to him that where we live was where God called us to for this time.
After such phone calls, Tricia would often say how glad she was to live where we lived. She indicated that the thought of going back there made her sick, and that she was certain that we were where God had led us as a married couple. Paul's reply often contained a carefully worded suggestion "as a Pastor I never tell anyone what to do" but would add in an undertone "but I know what I would do if it were me".
In my later review of Paul's e-mail communications to Tricia I noticed he began to question my loyalty to "the ministry".
As a marriage counselor and pastor, Paul took advantage of at least 5 factors: (1) Tricia's emotional vulnerability, (2) their past friendship, (3) my questioning of Pastor Stevens' twisting of the scriptures, (4) Paul's own mid-life crisis along with his stated need for a "true friend", and (5) his bizarre anticipation of his own wife's demise as she struggled with radiation treatments. In September '98 Paul told my wife that she belonged back in Baltimore and invited her to come for a few days by herself just before her thirty-second birthday. Birthdays were always difficult for Tricia emotionally. Paul told Tricia that she "needed to get to Baltimore" referring to the church there and that he "wanted to help you get your life back". In this context, Paul's counsel was in direct conflict with what Jesus told his disciples that "whoever attempts to save their life in such a manner shall lose it... " Luke 17:33.
Paul told her of an upcoming Woman's Seminar within a few weeks at GGWO. Paul mentioned that he would be speaking at the seminar. Paul also mentioned he could arrange a free motel room for her four-day stay at the Suisse Chalet off the Baltimore Beltway at exit 34. This motel arrangement proved later to be an occasion for sin among many which I discovered later. He also posed the question to my wife as to whether I as her husband really loved and cared for her spiritual welfare. Tricia sounded out his question to me at this time. In frustration, I responded that I considered his questions strange, unfounded and of insincere motive. She suggested that we seek marriage counseling from him.
I suggested looking elsewhere more locally for counseling and expressed my doubts of Paul's ability to remain objective and hold anything we said in confidence. She thought this to be crazy, since he was Pastor Steven's son. I told her that while I respected Pastor Stevens, I did not consider "every word" he preached as infallible since he occasionally interjected his personal opinion as God's word, along with his veiled attacks on anyone who left GGWO during the messages he preached. I also objected because of his questionable use of the biblical text of Hebrews 13:17 in which he used this verse to uphold his teaching that we as "believers are given from God one pastor/teacher for life" on earth directly implying himself in our case. I objected to his teachings which heavily implied that the Pastor/Teacher has absolute authority in a Christians life.
My belief was that while we as Christians are given pastors and teachers for our perfecting and edification (Ephesians 4:11), it may not always be the same Pastor/Teacher as God brings us as Christians and Pastors into new seasons and phases in life. I believe this to be a matter of personal discernment and prayer between a Christian and God.
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As my further study of the scriptures did not support his particular teaching, I thought out loud that Pastor Stevens was taking personal license with the text. Not only this but much less did I consider Paul's opinion credible when it came to our marriage, since he had no professional counseling certifications or credentials, but was placed in that position by his dad when the position was vacated years before by someone who parted with the church. It wasn't until months later when I discovered copies of about 100 plus e-mail letters between Paul and my wife, that I saw how Paul took this as a personal "attack against the ministry". Being considered now as an "enemy of the ministry" whenever I would later visit my wife and kids at Greater Grace World Outreach, I was to be viewed as a "spy in the camp" according to Paul's twist of a biblical term.
On Monday morning November 2nd, 1998, I experienced this treatment as I arrived at GGWO headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland.
As I will explain briefly later, my wife left our house with Paul Stevens shortly after midnight on Halloween, Oct. 31, 1998. I was not aware that he had come for her. My two children explained to me what they saw happen. They both describe being awakened that night to find Paul Stevens helping their mother load her car. One daughter also described the "laughing and joking" between Paul and my wife during the ride to Baltimore as they thought she was sleeping. I stopped by our house that morning Sunday Nov. 1st to find a brief goodbye note from her saying she was moving to Baltimore. I was shocked, but had to maintain composure in order to return to work for the next two shifts. I left for Baltimore at 2:30 am immediately after getting home from work Nov. 2nd. I arrived at GGWO at 10:00 am after driving through the night, stopping to rest when I could no longer hold my eyes open after twenty-five hours without sleep the previous day.
As I drove onto the GGWO property I looked to see if my wife's car was in view. It was parked near Paul Steven's car at the rear of the building. My wife later admitted to me at this point that I was being observed on the security camera which scanned the rear of property where I parked. I then noticed some children playing on a small bare asphalt patch of property, enclosed by a ten-foot high chain-link fence which gave it a distinct compound look of the Waco, Texas, David Koresh type. My youngest daughter yelled "Hi Dad!" and waved at me, as she pressed up against the fence from the other side. As I approached the fence to meet her a woman worker saw me and immediately took her by the hand inside the building closing the door as I stood speechless. I rang the buzzer at the rear entrance of the former shopping plaza type building which now housed GGWO. In a plain looking hallway I was greeted by Paul Stevens. He was smiling appearing to act friendly and concerned. He said my wife "was around somewhere" and excused himself to "try to find her". The moment he left, my oldest daughter told me "Mom's in Pastor Paul's office" as she came to greet me from another direction.
Paul returned in ten minutes saying "she's a little upset right now, I'll see if she will come out to talk with you." Fifteen more minutes elapsed before Paul re-appeared saying we could meet in his office. I followed him to a door around the corner about fifteen feet away. There she was seated in a chair across from Paul's desk where he sat, with reddened eyes as if she had been crying a lot. I said nothing. I walked up to her and kissed her on the forehead as she didn't move or look at me.
She then glared at me and said defiantly "I am never moving back with you, I'm living here and have never been happier in my life!" I sat down silent for a few seconds taking it all in. She maintained a stiff posture of arms folded and legs crossed in her chair. I started to weep. I said "I tried to be a good husband, a good dad, a good provider and worker but don't understand what you want." "I'm sorry you're hurt but this is where I belong and I am never moving back!" she replied in an angry tone.
Ten days previous to this Paul called me in late October and offered to take us to lunch and offer his counseling for our marriage. I considered it a strange offer but not wanting to offend my wife, I went along in order to make her happy and since I wasn't aware of their blossoming affair. Paul Stevens came on Thursday Oct. 29th, 1998, and brought two pastors with him (Scott Robinson & David Duff). Paul acted warm, friendly, and concerned to help us. Months later as I read an e-mail letter dated Oct. 23rd, I read that he came with the intention to question me about my differences with the ministry and to attempt to get me to react for his own amusement in front of my wife, and to "plant a kiss on your lips in front of Frank" as he wrote teasingly to Tricia much different from what he so nicely told me by phone previous to his visit when he sounded as just an old friend who had been asked to help us work things out. While the two pastors Scott, Dave and I chatted in my home, my wife offered to show Paul around. While in another room, Paul initiated an intimate kiss on the lips, including embrace of my wife to which she submitted. This was later bragged about on one of the e-mail letters dated Oct.30, 1998, by Paul.
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The e-mails exchanged between my wife and Paul revealed an ongoing questioning of my wife's purpose in Gods plan for her life. Among those things questioned by Paul was whether or not I as her husband was "fully one with the ministry". He told her I was "off” which according to the coded language of Greater Grace World Outreach implied I was deceived by differing with some of Pastor Stevens' teachings. More than once Paul questioned Tricia as to whether I as her husband really loved her. I treasured her and sought to express this by spending time with her daily amidst our busy lives, to tell her I loved her daily, to ask how she was doing, to exchange kisses and intimacy, to surprise her with flowers, to cook her a meal two and three times a week to give her a break, to support her by changing my work schedule so she could go to school, to baby-sit our youngest while she practiced for her profession, and to challenge her when she seemed to be hiding what she wanted to say at times when we could amicably disagree. On the contrary Paul implied to my wife of 11 years that she had good cause to leave me. While I always knew I was far from perfect, and that marriage itself is a full time occupation, I felt ambushed.
Because I may have been "a great father, and a great provider", I was considered to be "a poor husband" she told me Halloween Day before I left for work. Tricia told me this in a very cold distant tone with glazed eyes. Her personality was completely different from the one I had known for the past 12 years. I wept while saying "I'm so sorry". That was the last time we ever sat together in that house as husband and wife. In past years, I frequently attempted to persuade my wife to open up with me if she appeared to keep things in and to herself. This sudden definition of me as a poor husband was then and only then defined to me in terms that I discovered Paul Stevens coaching my wife in her vulnerability to articulate in their e-mail communications. At the time, not aware of the Deception taking place I assumed ownership for what happened.
Just after midnight on Halloween, Oct 31, 1998, Paul Stevens had driven from Baltimore MD., with two other individuals to our home, to "rescue" my wife because she "threatened to kill herself” if they did not come. I was at work this night, and not home. There had never been physical, mental or verbal abuse exchanged between Tricia and I, but as she was caught in the emotional mindset of this burgeoning affair all they both needed was a reason to steal away. They had two reasons: she was "suicidal" according to their agreed plan, and I was "a poor husband" with no chance to openly deal with or challenge this unless of course Paul Stevens himself could act as our marriage counselor. She and Paul had known each other prior to our marriage and often acted chummy in the past reducing any objectivity he might have. Secondly but not least, Paul had no formal training or professional certification as a counselor of any type. He was put in position by his dad who founded and directed the church they represented. But then I had expressed these reservations to Tricia previously. We discussed seeking marriage counseling that summer. She wanted Paul to counsel us. I suggested seeking someone who knew neither of us as friends, who may offer some objectivity. I was told take it or leave it. So, not yet knowing about the already ongoing affair between them, I began to take all the blame for our sudden failed marriage, not knowing I was being set up. I began to visit my wife and two children in Baltimore once a week. With the intention of moving to Baltimore, I gave immediate notice to my employers that I was quitting my job within two weeks. I put our house up for sale, and my brother bought it two months later.
At the end of November 1998 I was visiting my wife and daughters for 3 & 4 days at a time, still unaware of the affair between her and Paul. At first I had no permanent place to stay until I temporarily moved in with my wife and some relatives. Others appeared to think we were working through a separation in our marriage and treated us kindly. She let me know that Paul Stevens was covering the tuition of our kids at the Greater Grace Academy elementary school. My wife had become uncharacteristically hostile in her language and manner toward me. In my 12 years of knowing her, I had never seen a hint of this distinct personality change. She displayed a major personality overhaul towards me, saying things she appeared scripted to say such as "this is the Church God has called me to and if you don't like it you can f--- off' and "take our two girls and leave, this is where God has called me". Saddened by it all, I refused to split up our family and leave, I continued to go to church services with her and even accept "counsel" from Paul Stevens and his Dad, Pastor Stevens. I found out later, when I discovered the e-mail copies that Paul Stevens would tell my wife everything I said though he assured me it was confidential between he and I as counselor & counselee.
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One day my curiosity got the better of me as never before, as I opened up her e-mail past and present. There it was in over 120 e-mail letters between her and Paul Stevens between August 1998 and Jan 1999, including dates, motels, and an illicit encounter in Paul's motel room on Nov. 7th, ' 98 during a fundraising trip to Dover Plains, New York, where Paul preached. I learned that in May of 1998 Paul invited Tricia to a fundraising banquet in Baltimore for the church radio broadcast. When she accepted that's when he told her he loved her and needed her back in his life as he just had marked his 41st birthday and wasn't handling it too well.
During summer 1998 they went on-line together exchanging phone calls late on Friday nights, and engaged in flirtatious banter and teasing while critiquing their spouses. At the time Paul's wife Barbara was undergoing a series of radiation treatments for a thyroid problem which left her feeling sick, and Paul suggested that she (his wife) may not live anyway, and that "God has a way of bringing people together" alluding to he and Tricia. Of course Paul's wife and I remained as an obstacle to their perceived fulfillment of "Gods plan". Paul also suggested that after his 40th birthday the year before, he began to realize how difficult it was to stay married to the same person for 20 years as he had. Months later it was revealed that they discussed the strategy of having a Protection From Abuse order (PFA) filed against me if they could bait me into hitting my wife or threatening her in some manner. They tried hard, Tricia reverted back to her uncharacteristic cursing at me and attempting to berate me. Much of what she said did not sound like the person I had known for 12 years. Instead it was coming from the premise that she had to "resist Satan even when he is influencing your husband" as she would later rebuke me. I kept this information to myself as I felt deeply betrayed and hurt by the person I love the most and by two people who stood in a place of spiritual authority and seemed willing accomplices in separating Tricia and I further apart. Pastor Stevens even looked at me and said a week before that "every marriage which God hasn't planted will be plucked up", paraphrasing but misusing a well-known scripture verse but ignoring the biblical injunction: " What God has joined together let no on tear apart" Mark 10:9.
When Pastor Stevens and his son Paul would offer me counsel separately they seemed to say the same thing as if they quietly conferred with each other between sessions. Never once did either of them inquire how my two small daughters were doing, though I brought this to their attention as one of my concerns. My six-year old daughter developed the nervous habit of pulling on her hair gradually opening up a balding spot on top of her head of three inches. She was quiet and clinging towards me a lot during this time, climbing in bed beside me at night since my wife slept alone during these months. My wife refused sexual intimacy with me for the most part during this time and ignored our children for most of the time we spent as a family. My oldest, our 10 year old daughter, and firstborn was torn in her emotional response towards both Tricia and I as parents since in some way she seemed to feel responsible for our arguments, but desperately wanted to keep us together as a family. A friend of mine who had seen his parents split up when he was a child told me this was a typical response especially for a first-born child. At times I could only hold her, as she sobbed not wanting anyone to know. I watched the woman I love change from an emotionally stable, loving, caring, nurturing person, who treasured her family and loved God by every expression to someone who was caustic, angry, short tempered and depressed most of her day. She could put on a cool pleasant face in front of others but not the children and I.
My prayers became more specific as I became more desperate. I prayed that God would show me someone whom I could trust to talk to within the church about this mess we were in. That day (Jan.20th, 1999), while picking my kids up at school, I saw a long time friend, named Barbara Evans. Barbara and her husband Dave were also friends and financial supporter of Pastor Stevens. Sensing that we were having problems she mentioned that if Tricia & I ever needed to have someone to talk with she and her husband Dave were available.
I hesitated at first but then took her up on the offer only if they could meet with me alone that evening as I told her what I wanted to discuss was rather serious. They invited me to dinner at their home that night a Wednesday before church service.
I left sensing our meeting was more than chance, but an answer to my prayer. I found hope in recalling the scriptural text of Matthew 18:16,17 about church members who constantly commit the same offense: "if he will not listen to you, take one or two witnesses along. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would an unbeliever". As I had found Paul to be this untruthful, I knew it was time to find the 1 or 2 witnesses that Jesus suggested.
I stopped at our apartment briefly, saw Tricia, who by this time was sensing I knew something, was very defensive, threatened to leave me and the kids and kill herself if I didn't tell her what I was up to. Not trusting her at this point, and without telling her after arguing back & forth on this for about 45 minutes, I attempted to talk her out of her suicidal intentions, but she left in her car. I went to the Evans' home. They knew what I wanted to tell them was of a serious nature but were shocked as I told them everything I could remember. I then produced copies of the 100 plus e-mail letters between Paul & Tricia. They sat quietly for then another 45 minutes reading each letter, shaking their heads in disbelief at times. The letters mentioned dates, motels, his car or office for "coffee". The letters also contained descriptive reminiscing of the previous night's affair, in addition to a critique of both their spouses, among other banter. As Barbara and Dave finished reading they both said that something must be done. Barbara sped down to the church were service was already going on and approached Pastor Stevens as soon as he finished preaching, told him there was a serious problem he had to deal with about Frank and Tricia Smith at her house, and that he should bring his son Paul. They showed up about 9:30 PM, about a half-hour after service ended and about as long as the drive from the church.
Pastor Stevens appeared nervous when I told him briefly what I knew and pointed to the copies of the e-mail letters on the table. Paul broke down weeping, falling to his knees before us while admitting to his dad this was true, saying he was "so sorry" to me, and then to his dad. Pastor Stevens asked me if I wanted his son Paul to step down as a Pastor. Sidestepping the question I said all I wanted was my wife back, and for Paul to cooperate by honoring our marriage, and staying away from my wife completely. As much as I wanted to trust Pastor Stevens' apparent good will, I quietly doubted that he had the fortitude to have his son step down as a pastor and marriage counselor. Though he insisted he wanted to advise me "as your pastor", my instincts suggested that he was Paul's dad first. He asked me if we could keep this from being known, from Paul's wife, and causing scandal in his church. I restated that Paul and Tricia should cease all contact with each other for the sake of my marriage and family. Pastor Stevens agreed, while complementing me profusely for what he considered the biblical and private manner in which I handled this. Pastor Stevens suggested that we would make a covenant before God for this to be. David & Barbara, Pastor Stevens, Paul and I stood together and briefly prayed such before leaving.
I took Paul with me to help find my wife, we made phone calls, drove around familiar places, then received a call from Paul's wife on his cell phone, saying that Tricia had called for him. We found her at a gas station near Paul's house in Bel Air, MD about a half hour away. She refused to see me, and would only talk to Paul. They talked for about 10 minutes before she would come over to my car. She refused to look at me. The three of us sat in his car as Paul talked. Paul admitted to Tricia in my presence that he was wrong, but was now glad that his dad knew so that he could get on with his life. Paul also expressed that he often wondered if the message he heard from the church pulpit was real and now he believed it was. I had read in two previous e-mails of Paul voicing the same question about the validity of what he heard from the pulpit at times. This admission surprised me that he could occasionally say things from the pulpit that he didn't truly believe but act as if he did when given the chance to preach by his dad. My wife refused to come home with me as she was silent but sullen. Paul left to go home. She left, I later learned to a motel room at the Ramada Inn in Towson, MD., a half-hour away. The next morning, Jan 21st, Pastor Stevens & Paul left for a three-day church conference in Las Vegas, where they both preached.
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Tricia came back to our apartment at 5:00 pm the next day. When I didn't hear from her earlier, I called her parents. Her dad said she had just called him. He was unaware of what was going on except that his daughter was upset.
That being a father's concern for his child's immediate safety he didn't ask questions and I didn't explain. He said he was paying to have her fly and visit them for three weeks. I was relieved that she was safe and left it between them as a father-daughter matter if they chose to discuss it. Tricia left for Florida after three days of barely talking to me.
On Sunday morning January 24th, 1999 at 1:00 am, I was awakened by a phone call from Pastor Stevens in Las Vegas. He apologized for calling late, explaining that he just finished preaching and wanted to see how I was. I briefly replied that I now had more hope for my wife and family after our meeting at the Evans' home a few nights before. He interrupted to tell me "God does speak to you", and " you handled this matter as a gentleman and so biblically" and "I want you to consider being a pastor", and "you're like a son to me", and "you can trust me as your pastor, because I refuse to be sentimental with him (Paul). I'll pull his ordination papers in a second if I ever hear he's done this again," finally "let's both agree to quietly keep an eye out for how they (his son & my wife) conduct themselves and let each other know so you have the peace to know this is over." I agreed, thanked him for the call, checked my notes as I had written down his verbatim comments in my notebook next to the phone, during our conversation.
Much later that same Sunday, after evening church service at 9:30 pm, Pastor Stevens called from Las Vegas to speak with Tricia. She answered and spoke with him. She said to me after hanging up "Pastor said that since this (the affair) is over, in God's eyes it's as if it never happened. Your husband should have never involved the Evans in this. Your husband violated bible doctrine by uncovering you and Paul, like Ham uncovered Noah after the flood. We both know that Barbara Evans is a talker. If she (Barbara) ever tells anyone about this, we can agree before God, by telling others that she's a liar!
"Because in God's eyes this never happened, since God doesn't even see our sins once he's forgiven us." Tricia repeated this to me immediately after hanging up with Pastor Stevens. This appeared to me to be Pastor Stevens taking license with the scriptures to say what he wanted them to mean. I hid my disappointment with what appeared to be a questionable approach to my wife on the matter by Pastor Stevens. At 6:00 am the next morning, I drove my wife to the airport to catch her plane.
I wondered why Pastor Stevens would give such instructions to my wife but say nothing like that to me. Strangely though, it was not the last time he gave us each conflicting advice, as I'll illustrate in a moment. It did appear after a few more incidents of giving conflicting advice that Pastor Stevens was attempting to keep us both second guessing and doubting each other, while pretending and insisting "I'm your pastor, you can trust me, I refuse to be sentimental with my son". Clearly his mode of operating was to confuse by dividing a married couple's already wounded affections for each other.
There was a phone conversation of Monday February 15th. Pastor Stevens called me after Tricia went to work as he arranged. After the usual "hi how are you?" he said "I want to ask you a question. Don't be mad!" "OK go ahead" I told him. He said "Didn't you think that the gown your wife wore to the banquet the other night was rather revealing with that slit up the side?" I said "No Pastor, I didn't even think of that". He went on to imply that she was asking for trouble by wearing a black nylon gown that came down to her ankles yet had a slit on one side that came up just past her knee. He also said it looked "too Hollywood". I replied, that since he is our pastor, that she would consider this pastoral observation more readily coming from him, due to our strained relations, and that he should feel free to suggest this to her attention when he calls her in the next day. He appeared not to hear this and changed the subject. Days later, I asked Tricia if Pastor Stevens said anything to her about this, she said "No not at all" offended by his failing to mention this to her personally, but more so because she considered her style of dress modest and formal for a church Valentines night banquet. On at least two occasions, when I suggested to Pastor Stevens that "blood is thicker than water" and that even with his years of experience it may be difficult for him to remain objective as a counselor involving the issues of adultery between his son and my wife, he dismissed this thought as being "from Satan" and that "I'll be the intermediary in your marriage". As the weeks went on it became apparent that the more frequently I gave him power to act as liaison between my wife and I, the more frequently I sensed we were being manipulated and betrayed.
Also during many of our private conversations Pastor Stevens said he was aware that Tricia had been molested as a young teenager during a baby-sitting job. He said to me that "her problems began way before she moved away, or even Bible School. Her habit is a result of operating with damaged goods in her emotions, that's what I think." Pastor Stevens often used the term "damaged goods" to refer to confused and sick emotions. His veiled attempt to place the blame primarily on Tricia led me to realize he was willing to discredit her to protect Paul's reputation within the church.
There was a face to face conversation I had with Pastor Stevens on Tuesday March 9th, 1999 before his lunch time address to church members at the ministry dining area, known as "The lunch rap". I remember this date also as I recorded it on my calendar after returning from a job interview. I approached Pastor Stevens with my concerns about catching Paul with my wife behind the school the previous week while he was away. Pastor Stevens turned the subject immediately to my wife's responsibility for this. I told him as our pastor he should talk to both Paul and Tricia. I related that when I attempted to discuss this with her she became sullen, threatening to kill herself storming off refusing to heed any thing concerning this. He reacted "Let her kill herself! She's a great manipulator. I doubt she's even saved. I'm going to ask her if she's ever been saved? She won't give me any of her mouth!" He told me again that he would take care of the matter and talk to her.
He also insisted as far as he knew his son was no longer meeting with her and believed Paul when he insisted his "heart is pure on the matter". He ignored the subject of their being caught a few days before by me behind the school. According to a later conversation with my wife, he never brought this up, again she was offended and upset at him for this but hesitated to confront him for fear of offending Paul, by questioning his dad.
During that three weeks Tricia was away, from Jan 26th to Feb 13th 1999, I worked part time so to care for our daughters as I had been accustomed to while we lived in Baltimore the last few months. Our children seemed quiet. They were very concerned about why their mom left us, but accepted my assurances that we would all be back together in three weeks.
One morning in the second week of February I received a phone call from Pastor Stevens. After the usual reassurance that he is my pastor calling to see how I was he asked the question. "You haven't told anyone else about things now have you?" After I assured him that I didn't. I told him I was still grieving over the matter. He attempted to solicit a heroic response from me by suggesting that "if others find out, thousands of lives associated with this ministry will be affected, souls that could be saved will go to hell. It's vital that you tell no one, not a soul!" I didn't say much except that "I understand".
During this time I was keeping a journal of thoughts, feelings, names and dates of the events surrounding my life. I wrote down our conversation soon after we hung up.
Tricia returned on Feb.13h. During that time I later discovered that she and Paul began to communicate on e-mail once again. Trusting Paul at his word once again I believed him to be ceasing all communication with Tricia. That was not the case as they talked daily, often for an hour at a time, while she was on her parent's computer. I learned that she had signed on-line by another name on her dad's AOL membership, which she much later confessed and showed me when I proved to her I knew. When I suspected this may be going on I asked Paul openly three times if he was still communicating, he looked me in the eye and denied it, reassuring me that its natural for me to suspect him after all he admitted to doing, but it just wasn't the case. I brought my suspicions to his dad Pastor Stevens who asked me if I had proof and wanted to know why I had such suspicions anymore. I did not feel safe revealing to him what I knew as I felt Paul and my wife were both becoming only sneakier, and Pastor Stevens was covering for them with or without knowing of which I wasn't sure.
I approached Pastor Stevens with my suspicions at least 10 times in the next month. He assured me he would check into it. On 4 occasions he even said he would insist that Paul step down as a pastor if he found out any of this was true. Often he would just hear me out then say "I'll take care of it" as if to humor me in a fatherly manner. He insisted that he is my pastor and would act objectively on my behalf, but also interrupting our conversations each time to ask if I had spoken to anyone of this matter, stressing that we had a covenant before God to not let this be known. He would neglect to mention each time his own son's part in the covenant of agreeing to cut off his relationship with my wife. Yes, she was a consenting adult but within the boundaries of their persuasion and influence. It was obvious they were coaching her with some scripted but twisted bible verses that she, Pastor Stevens, and Paul Stevens used on a number of occasions in our conversations as follows: "Jesus never followed the woman caught in adultery around to check on her" forgetting to mention that Jesus told her to go and sin no more, but even more so neither was Jesus a party to her further temptation as the gospel story shows. Or a favorite response: "David fell into adultery in the Bible, but he was God's man" failing to mention the process of repentance and accountability David owned up to in the same passage of scripture. For someone who was comparing himself to David, Paul ran to his dad often for intervention, unlike the character of King David.
Or from Genesis: "Ham uncovered Noah in the Bible and was cursed, so be careful that you don't uncover anyone" failing to mention the context in which Ham did this in order to mock Noah, while Pastor Stevens and Paul continued to avoid using any concrete process of accountability letting the affair continue in a more deceptive manner.
In late February 1999 Pastor Stevens called me and chewed me out for not forgiving and forgetting, being much more concerned about my inability to process the hurt and betrayal immediately and "forget it ever happened", as a mature believer apparently would according to his reasoning. Pastor Stevens would dismiss my concerns with something like "God forgets what we did and doesn't even look at our sins once we repent" failing to see that his son Paul may have apologized but he did not yet repent.
Paul did not repent to the extent that he forsook any involvement with my wife as agreed but became more adept at undermining our marriage. Jesus stated in such matters "If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you... " Matthew 5:30. Christ gave no room for error saying such things. It can be clearly understood that for the sake of the sacred covenant of marriage such a "friendly" relationship has no place and should be cut off. Whenever I reminded them of these obvious commands from the scriptures they represented Paul would rationalize them away citing the strong bonds of "friendship", while Pastor Stevens would appear a little slighted that I was quoting the bible to him in his position as pastor. Earlier in the sequence of events I empathized with Pastor Stevens. I reminded him that even though he insists that he wants to work through this with me, that I know that blood is thicker than water. I suggested that for me to ask of him to advocate on my behalf as a church member in regards to his son was not something I was totally comfortable with. He dismissed this saying "that's from Satan!" assuring me that I could trust him on this whole matter and tell him anything, all the while reminding me "you haven't discussed this with anyone have you?" During this time I had an ambivalent sense of my relation to Pastor Stevens. I was torn emotionally by my love for Tricia, and valued his attentiveness and concern as a pastor but wrestled with the possibility that his primary motive was to protect his own interests and Paul's since he himself denied this suggesting such thinking was "from Satan".
Part 6 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
By March 1999 I was feeling manipulated, managed and avoided by Pastor Stevens on this whole matter. A friend, by the name of Tony Selph who is also head of the Greater Grace Ministry Security, approached me and confided that he knew what was going on. We sounded each other out for what the other knew, and was willing to tell. Tony stated some observations he made as head of GGWO security, and by the instincts he developed after 25 years in security work. Tony felt betrayed himself by Paul Stevens for the manner in which Paul had sabotaged Tony's position as head of Security on a particular occasion in the past, when former V.P. Dan Quayle came to speak at the church. Paul apparently attempted to steal the spotlight as head of security escorting Mr. Quayle around during his visit while dismissing Tony to a lesser position. Tony felt slighted. During our conversations in November and December 1998, Paul frequently attempted to portray Tony in an unfavorable light, referring to him as "that bastard who keeps hitting on your wife when your not around." After Paul sanctimoniously asked me on one occasion if I wanted him to "fire him (Tony)" or "at least tell his wife" I reminded Paul that I already confronted Tony privately on Nov. 8th. I also reminded Paul that I felt Tony was now acting honorably towards my wife as she confirmed this. Paul insisted that he had enough he could say to Tony's wife about Tony's past indiscretions "to bring him down". In short, Paul was using Tony as a decoy to cover his own actions.
The day after Tony and I talked, Tony told me he approached Paul with some of his long held-in concerns. Paul must have called his dad to say we were talking about him, since Pastor Stevens called me that afternoon to chew me out, telling me I was "violating several biblical doctrines" by talking with Tony and instructing me to call Tony and "say everything I said was a lie, I was just not thinking right, forget everything I said". Before hanging up, Pastor Stevens said "I have 5 pages of notes in my file on that guy (Tony) and can bring him down in a second if he ever spreads any of this." Pastor Stevens called me back the next morning to make sure I called and said this to Tony. I did, though Tony saw right through it.
Also on or about Thursday March 4th, 1999 Pastor Stevens went on vacation for a few days. My wife offered to take the kids to school indicating she would be back to say bye to me before leaving for work. When she didn't come back within the usual time frame, I decided to look for her and came upon Paul and her talking alone behind the Greater Grace Academy school as if they did not want an audience. As soon as they both saw my car, they stopped talking immediately, as if caught. Tricia began to ask me what I doing following her. She said she felt as if I had hired a detective to monitor her every move. I did not respond to that. Instead I asked Paul, who was looking rather sheepish, if his wife had any male friends whom she confided with regularly, and if he minded. Paul mumbled "no" but his wife "had women friends that she talks to". Paul started to claim "my heart is pure - we're just talking - we're just friends". I told him that his own Bible tells him to "abstain from all appearance of evil" quoting first Thessalonians 5:22. Then I asked "if this is not wrong why are you hiding behind the school?" Also, "didn't we have some kind of "Covenant" we both agreed to?" He said nothing and left. My wife began to curse at me for embarrassing them and for not trusting her. I left shaking my head in disbelief. I waited till Pastor Stevens came back from his weekend to tell him about this incident, He assured me he would "take care it".
At some point around this time, Paul must have complained to his Dad that he felt as if I was picking on him. He felt as if he was still on trial, and that his heart was pure, and that he would leave the ministry (which was a veiled threat to his Dad) if this didn't stop. This began to spill out in an emotional conversation Pastor Stevens had with me in his car on or about Tuesday March 9th after lunch. The next month contained four other such incidents. Paul was directly observed by me initiating conversation with my wife when we weren't together in the crowded church gatherings, before and after service, and among the crowd of parents picking up their kids after school.
During church services, which were held three times a week, Tricia insisted that we sit in the front row of seats directly in front of the platform where several of the pastors, including Paul Stevens sat while Pastor Stevens preached. As I sat beside my wife I often noticed Paul Stevens making direct eye contact with her often grinning. When I brought this to his and her attention, I was met with responses such as "you're paranoid, we're just friends, our hearts are pure before God". When I brought this up to Pastor Stevens on those each of those occasions, he would humor me again with "I'll handle it". I told my wife we need to sit somewhere other than in direct contact with Paul Stevens on the preaching platform if our true intention was to hear God's word preached in an undistracted fashion. She vehemently opposed this insisting I was paranoid repeating the same script of their "hearts are pure and that we are just friends". She began to add to her scripted replies that as a husband I was just "insecure".
As we frequently argued about such things, I would notice the same line of reasoning in her arguments as voiced by Paul Stevens. Paul would state similar types of examples of "insecure spouses" in his teaching when I would sit in on some of his Monday evening marriage classes. Pastor Stevens also found opportunity to call me and ask me what I thought of the previous days sermon/message. He did this in a very deliberate manner after speaking on such topics like `leaving skeletons locked in the closet and throwing away the key' during a Wednesday night service in early February 1999 and "true forgiveness is forgetting and never bringing it up again".
The first two weeks in April 1999 were stormier than before between my wife and I. My futile attempts to persuade her to let go of this relationship, its unhealthy attachment from her end, and consider moving away with me were met with angry and hostile comments along with her very cold disposition. While claiming all along that this was God's will for her life, she told me she felt she was "brainwashed" by me, and that if she could do it over "I wouldn't have married or had kids until I was 28". On at least five occasions during this time she told me "take the girls if you want, this is where Gods called me, I could use the time alone". While the sexual part of the affair continued in a much sneakier and careful manner since first confronted on Jan. 20th, 1999 what pushed me to give up my desire to keep us together as a family was my discovery that Paul and Tricia had one last sexual fling of many since our so called "Covenant" in January.
This last known fling took place in Oregon State Park north of Baltimore on the Thursday afternoon April 8th, 1999. Whether anything occurred after I'm not sure.
I stopped my personal surveillance that I employed and began to ponder with deep sorrow what I would tell my kids. How could they make sense of all they heard and learned the past few months. I attempted to downplay it and explain it in palatable terms that children could handle though they indicated that they knew more and were very confused. I was angry that two innocent children of mine were tormented with their own questions to me, that I attempted to answer about the conduct of a pastor and their mom. Both children told me they observed Paul Stevens and my wife speaking together quietly on those days in which my wife would pick them up after school. They didn't understand why they were so friendly with each other while my wife and I often argued about him. My wife confessed to me later about something called a "P.F.A.". Adding insult to injury, on April 13th, before his final scheme to arrange a PFA (Protection From Abuse) order against me, Paul Stevens told me he didn't like feeling guilty every time he saw me and that his `heart was pure" and that "souls are being saved in this church" and that he didn't feel right encouraging my wife to leave his church and "her calling". I interpreted what came across as a defensive tirade from him, reminding him that marriage is considered a high and sacred calling, and not second to membership in his particular church. I then reminded him that my two small daughters also have a "calling of God" on their lives which was no less important than the all the members of his church, citing the passage from Luke 15 in which the shepherd considered one lost sheep as valuable as the other ninety-nine. He went to his car mumbling "I don't know what you want me to do".
When I awoke the next morning on Wednesday April 14th, my wife said in a very cold tone that she needed time by herself. She said she wanted a separation. She told me to "take our two daughters and leave" if I wanted, and that she was staying with Greater Grace Church "because this is where God wanted her". She then left for work about 7:30 A.M., saying "I'll see you guys off when I get home from work". I lost no time in packing my car, awoke my children, and told Tricia’s mother what was really going on named names. Tricia’s mother was grieved, and stated that "they" (Pastor Stevens and Paul) "are wolves in sheep's clothing". Tricia's family appeared stunned in their own way. Her mom is not affiliated with GGWO but previously knew some of the details of our marital problems to now understand the whole account.
Paul once told two pastors that he became involved in helping Tricia while she was threatening to kill herself on Halloween night 1998 failing to mention his previous pattern of solicitation with e-mail correspondence and phone calls. He attempted to portray himself as a fallen friend who was just trying to help another friend who was suicidal and then fell into sin twice, instead admitting his previous contacts with phone calls and e-mails which began months before, plus the forty plus times I discovered during my investigation. I stood momentarily speechless, as Paul apologized again to me and then quickly dismissed himself to join the church service already in progress. I again sensed there was a difference here between a dramatic apology and true biblical repentance.
This was another attempt to deny responsibility on Paul's part as he changed his story from his original confession back in January. Paul displayed a habit of lying by downplaying his actions if he could not effectively deny them outright. This was obvious in one particular e-mail communication dated November 1998 to Tricia in which he joked about losing his qualifications to marriage-counsel if they kept up their affair. It wasn't clear to him that he had disqualified himself when first initiating the affair months earlier.
Part 7 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Another instance of his ongoing deception was plain to see through during January 1999, when I discovered the e-mail evidence, but had yet not told anyone due to my shock and disbelief. I knew that he was having an affair with my wife, but had not yet decided on a way to confront the matter, as I witnessed the following: At 10:30 each morning, Paul would join his dad, Pastor Stevens on the church's radio broadcast. When the subject of President Clinton's impeachment came up, Paul spoke up emphatically that "Clinton should resign, he's a hypocrite". I sat in disbelief as I watched and listened from the small audience of people who viewed the live broadcast how easy for both Pastor Stevens and Paul to sit in judgment of the obvious ways of the President but fail to examine their own ministry.
Among my many personal self-examinations, feelings and questions during this time, I asked Almighty God for strength I did not possess. During one such moment the face of my late father, bless his memory, flashed into my mind. He loved my mother for fifty-two years before his death in 1997.
My daughters and I stopped to say a prayer on the porch of our apartment before we left. They sobbed out loud for several minutes as we huddled each other. Along the way my daughters speculated out loud how to keep Pastor Stevens or Paul from contacting us again. They said things such as make sure and tell everyone to not let them know where we live or our phone number. They also speculated as to how we could persuade their mom to come home. Into my thoughts flashed a scripture verse from Matthew 18: "Whoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and drowned in the depths of the sea....offenses such as this will happen, but woe to that man by whom the offenses come!" My wife phoned the next day very distraught. She sounded as if she had been coached to suggest the following comments: "What were you doing telling other people what happened?" "If others find out about this, thousands of people will be affected, many souls will die and go to hell because of you" I perceived in this further coaching and manipulation of the scriptural text as I encountered before with Pastor Stevens and Paul. I wasn't buying it.
She called again an hour later, now more composed, saying she wanted to come home. I asked her if she needed Pastor Steven's permission to do so. She said the decision was hers, but admitted he told it was better for her to leave, as if he was thinking of her welfare first, and of course not his own reputation or possible scandal. Three words summarized his technique with Tricia: Use, confuse and dismiss. In a parting shot from Pastor Stevens, Tricia told me he said he "didn't believe we were called by God to move home because the sentimental attachments of your husband with his family will keep you from God's call." Two weeks before, (on March 30th) in a phone call with Pastor Stevens, he told me he agreed with me that we should move back home and separate ourselves from the ongoing situation, and would suggest this to my wife when he counseled her. We began the difficult task of reconciliation and rebuilding our marriage. Considering her state of mind and emotions Tricia refused to accept any form of professional counseling with a Christian association, or from a Christian counselor. It was too obvious even to her that this fierce struggle within her wouldn't go away. She could not openly admit this for fear of offending God by acknowledging that she was taken advantage of by 2 pastors. To openly express this to anyone would be to "uncover God's man" according to the inbred twisted teaching of Pastor Stevens.
On April 28th, 1999, during a very despondent episode and through suppressed sobs she added "I know I'm not supposed to, but sometimes I really hate them for what they did". She wondered out loud whether or not she was "saved". From our conversation it was apparent that Pastor Stevens made God's salvation to appear conditioned upon her compliance with his intentions. From the days I had met Tricia years before, I had known her to be a confident person assured of relationship with God. In my curiosity, I began to research for other cases of abuse associated with GGWO. Most poignant was the phone conversation I had with Mrs. Ruth Fisher of Waltham, Massachusetts. I identified myself, stated the reason for my call, and briefly related part of my own experience. She then willingly related her own account of grief. Her son Bobby was an active member of "The Bible Speaks" from 1984 to his death in 1987. Mrs. Fisher told me that her son put his heart and soul into serving "The Bible Speaks" while they encouraged him to exclude his natural family and friends from his sphere of influence. Mrs. Fisher's family witnessed a drastic personality change in Bobby during those few years, from a loving, popular, giving person into a scared, nervous withdrawn shell of his former self. He committed suicide on Feb. 17th, 1987, leaving a pregnant wife Joanne who later remarried within "the ministry" and a son Kyle. Mrs. Fisher loves her former daughter-in-law, and cherishes her grandchildren. Yet Mrs. Fisher to this day considers Carl Stevens "an evil man", largely responsible for the influence which pushed her son over the edge. (See the Wakefield Daily Item)
I also spoke by phone with Jack Leonard of Boston, Massachusetts. Jack was the former president of "Stevens School of the Bible". The school closed its doors in 1987, and was renamed Maryland Bible College & Seminary during a publicized scandal involving Pastor Stevens. Jack and his wife along with twenty plus other administrators left their association with the church in 1987. Wanting to believe the best, Jack indicated that he hoped that the years since then would prove that Pastor Stevens had stopped "his usual shenanigans and dodging accountability by covering things up". He said that Pastor Stevens learned long ago to appoint only family and close friends in administrative positions. Jack related some of his own experience. He told of Pastor Stevens' trafficking in church gossip in order to always have the goods on "anyone who may go against the ministry". Jack described this method of discrediting others by Pastor Stevens who would invoke but misuse the biblical text of Romans 16:17 which read "mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine you have learned and avoid them". Jack mentioned that Pastor Stevens often employed this phrase to "mark and avoid certain people" when advising his staff of those on Pastor Stevens' enemy list. Jack grew disappointed with the practice of having an enemies list, the use of church gossip for retaliation, and "marking and avoiding" people he was not sure were wrong, but were viewed as a threat by Pastor Stevens.
A related incident I witnessed with Pastor Stevens is as follows: I was seated in his office one morning as he wanted to speak with me. Just as we were beginning to talk, the phone rang. I got up to leave and let him speak privately. He signaled for me to stay. After several moments of letting the caller speak, he said "this is not gossip, I'm your pastor, you can tell me anything". Before and after this he would occasionally preach against this method of redefining gossip or calling it by another name, unless it was something he considered detrimental to GGWO.
This next incident was then consistent with his thinking. On March 23rd,1999 Pastor Stevens called me and gently chided me for not informing him as our Pastor that Tricia and I went away the weekend that just passed. After not hearing from me for a few days he asked how things were going. I mentioned that I was job searching. He warned about a certain man whose name I recognized as a former member and pastor at GGWO. He immediately began to tell me that this man had an alcohol problem with a promiscuous wife who left him for an ex-criminal. On top of this he added they left the ministry. He said he just wanted me to be aware of that "in case that guy says anything against the ministry".
Prior to this a stranger incident during this time took place on March 13th, 1999. I received a long distance phone call from Pastor Stevens' secretary, Chantal Zeitler. They were in the country of Hungary at a GGWO conference. His secretary asked me to call Pastor Stevens immediately. She said they would pay for my phone bill. He said it was 1:00 am in the morning there and he couldn't sleep. He said he had been wondering how Tricia and I were doing. I told him I was thankful for his concern.
He said that he had to take sleeping pills to help him sleep because of the time-zone change when I mentioned that he sounded tired and his voice was a little slurred. What took me by surprise were his next questions. He asked if we have had sexual relations recently. Then what sounded like a strange attempt to sound clinical Pastor Stevens asked me "Is she having orgasms when you have sex?". I was speechless for several moments and said with a hint of surprise "Pastor, I'm not really comfortable talking about this". He changed the subject, saying he wanted to meet with me when he came back to the States in a few days. This brief long distance phone call had me wondering about his state of mind as he once again called me the next day long distance to say "forget what we talked about last night" as he "didn't know what (he) was saying".
A different scheme consistent with the usual style of behavior took place before and during my family's move to Baltimore as follows. Paul suggested to Tricia that he wanted to replace his current secretary, Jennifer Lynch, with my wife. This way she would have a job "safe within the ministry". Paul was unhappy that his dad had a say in picking his current secretary and appeared to resent his lack of choice. Paul led Tricia along implying he was going to act on this. Part of the rationale was that Jennifer was pregnant at the time and wasn't up to the demands, and that her personality was a little too subdued for someone to represent what he wanted to project. As I read a little of this on e-mail, I heard it also discussed in my presence during "counseling sessions" with Paul. During these months while I lived in Baltimore attempting to win my family back another scheme was at play. Pastor Stevens and Paul knowing I had sold our house often asked me how the house hunting was coming along. Paul urged me on two occasions acting as a counselor "just buy her a house first then say let's talk about our relationship". I told Paul that I believed he had things in the wrong order. First, I didn't have a full time job yet to support this, and I quoted the scripture that it was better to "establish your business before building your house" from Proverbs 24:27. More important I believed our relationship was something we needed as a married couple to reconcile before making a major decision like buying a house. Paul dismissed this with "there is a balance. You can't be too legalistic in interpreting the bible when you have the chance to do something like this". Paul even arranged to have real estate agent and church member Jim Turner call me to help us start looking. With the manner in which Paul showed interest in my buying a house for my wife along with her mood and personality swings I considered his motive suspect. He suggested I use our whole savings and equity to buy a house free and clear without a mortgage.
My experience with GGWO began 16 years earlier, like hundreds of others seeking Christian spiritual direction for our lives. It has concluded in a very strange manner. I set out enthusiastically wanting to align myself with God's work of reaching others with the message of my savior Jesus Christ. Part of my reluctance to come to terms with my own experience has been my desire of wanting to believe the best of other Christians and give others the benefit of the doubt in accordance with the biblical teachings from Philippians 4:8. Only later did I did I remember that the scripture says to "... believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God" 1 John 4:1. I recalled that Christ received much opposition for challenging the accepted spiritual authorities of his day.
Christ saw through much of what they taught though some of it was good, to point out their error, and the evil effect it had on others. The words from the psalmist came back to me again "not a word from their mouth can be trusted, their heart is filled with destruction, their throat is an open grave, with their tongue they speak deceit" Psalm 5:9. If the end justified the means then Christ would have never gone to the cross. He could have taken advantage of people to establish his kingdom.
Instead He chose the cross. If my salvation depended upon my relationship with Carl and Paul Stevens I would have none since they have treated me as an enemy though I was a willing friend despite our initial differences. Thank GOD it does not. To a certain measure I recognize that my wife was a consenting adult. In a much larger measure she was their victim. She was seduced and taken advantage of at an extremely vulnerable time in her life and our marriage by Paul Stevens with his dad's attempts to cover up if not weakly intervene for nothing else than to protect his own interests. It was done in an insidious evil manner, under the guise of spiritual authority. Christ reserved his severest criticism for such spiritual leaders: "Whoever shall offend one of these little ones who believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck and drowned in the depths of the sea...offenses such as this will happen, but woe to that man by whom the offenses come" (Mt.18). They both frequently and slightly misquoted the scriptures to support their own persuasions. This is strictly pointed out as evil in the old as well as the new testament (Deuteronomy 12:32 and Revelation 21:18,19). Jesus rebuked the one who attempted to misuse the scriptures while tempting Him in Matthew 4:6,7.
After we returned home in April 1999, as I mentioned earlier I continued to wonder how people fell prey to such deceit, and how widespread this was. I began to ask questions of people. In the past we were admonished by Pastor Stevens to consider any newspaper reports about him as an "an evil report from the pit of hell". We were warned that to read such reports was "to give place to Satan". We were also warned against reading the 62 page