Wojcik, Rick & Sara (Sally)

Dear Friends and Workers,

The past 10 months have been distressing and stressful for many of us. Along with others, I have experienced months of anguish, soul searching, and earnest prayers for clarity and understanding of truth and reality. I have been professing for 58 years, since I was 12 years old. My entire life has been built around this fellowship and ministry. I have loved meetings, conventions, and friends and workers. A powerful personal relationship with God has sustained me, all of my life.

I had always believed that our workers, while human and fallible, had a calling from God to share His love and to care for others, in the Spirit of Jesus. I believed that they prayed daily for the aid of the Holy Spirit, to help them accomplish God’s work on the Earth. I have experienced many wonderfully positive effects of this fellowship in my life; and had believed that, in its core, the fellowship and ministry were Godly and wholesome.

Because I have always needed to base my beliefs and choices on facts and reality, I did investigate, after the initial disturbing disclosures about Dean Bruer. I read that many more situations of abuse were being revealed, and I read the information as it became public. It was truly shocking and horrifying to learn of hundreds of situations of abuse; sexual, physical, emotional and spiritual in nature, by workers and members of the fellowship, in multiple countries around the world, having taken place over decades of time, concealed and sometimes denied by overseers for all those years.

Since the initial revelations about Dean Bruer and other abuse cases, the advice from workers has been to stay off the internet, with explanations that the information there is posted by people who are angry and bitter, and that it’s mostly fabrications and lies. It has also been said that what you read will disturb your peace, and yes, it is very disturbing!  God would expect us to be disturbed upon learning of abuse and dishonesty among people claiming to be under the control of His Spirit.

However, I have read on the “Connected and Concerned Friends” site where people are honest, respectful, loving and supportive of each other. There are wonderful discussions of scripture, and sharing of the love of God, and support for people who have been wounded by abuse and other life experiences. I have found much that is instructional and inspirational, along with beautiful fellowship and thoughtful discussions about painful topics, in addition to the sharing of survivor stories on this website. The site can be found by Googling its name.

I’ve heard this site discredited, by saying that the individuals who established the site have, themselves, been known to engage in immoral behaviors. This claim is unfounded, and even if it were true, it would not negate the truth of the multitude of first-hand, personal accounts of abuse, suffered at the hands of members of this church which have been shared on this site.

The founders of this site are a group of parents, who were concerned about the lack of transparency of some overseers, when they moved abusers from one area of the country/world to another, without informing parents and others in the new area of the history of the perpetrator. These parents established the site as a means of sharing information about abusers, so that people could be proactive in protecting themselves and their children.

The site has since grown to be much, much more than was ever imagined by its founders. It is now a place of worldwide fellowship of God-loving people. Most of the participants on the site are either currently attending meetings or have in the past, been in long-term fellowship in the church.

Since March 2023, I have seen that some appropriate steps have been taken to help prevent further abuses, and in some areas of the country, to provide support and care for victims. However, there remains much undone, which needs response. Thousands of adults and children were gravely harmed by abuses of many kinds, and then were RE-traumatized by being disbelieved and silenced and punished by overseers, for speaking about their abuse.

Overseers knew about these abuses, and they used lies and deceit and manipulation to keep them concealed for many decades. They also moved perpetrators around, (rather than removing them from the work or fellowship) without informing people in the new field, about the abuser’s history. Children and unsuspecting adults were, thus, left vulnerable to abusers in their midst, enabling the abuse to continue.  

The way a great many people were disrespected and mistreated is simply not compatible with anything that God supports or that Jesus taught. From reports to a hotline, there have now been identified, over 700 people, within this fellowship and ministry, in 22 countries, worldwide, with allegations of abuse. Some of these were identified by 1 or 2 reporters, and others have allegations from multiple reporters. There are undoubtedly many more because many victims never find the courage to report their abuse. Of those 700 alleged abusers, 40% were workers, and the rest were others in the fellowship. This number of abusers means, statistically, that there are likely thousands of victims/survivors worldwide in our church.   

The longevity and the scope of abuse were extremely painful for me to believe. I felt months of horror and anguish, that overseers I had always trusted to be Godly, could have enabled this massive crisis by denying and concealing the abuse, not reporting abuse to the authorities, and failing to promptly and decisively remove abusers from the work and from meetings, resulting in continued abuse of vulnerable people.

I cannot reconcile this abuse and concealment of such, with the claims of these overseers to be led by the Spirit of God. The decades of dishonesty and deception by leadership are as concerning as the decades of abuse!  Additionally, many of the overseers have never acknowledged or apologized for the terrible harm they caused so many people, by RE-traumatizing them. If you do not believe that these things have really happened, I beseech you, “Read the accounts for yourself!”

I feel sorrow and great pain for the thousands of wounded people in our fellowship, who have not been supported or even acknowledged for life-long trauma they suffered from people within our own church. Healing cannot occur until there is validation and acknowledgement that the abuse should not have happened. Yes, some of these victim/survivors have “acted out” in unhealthy behaviors and life choices, and have subsequently been criticized, shunned and discounted by workers and church members as immoral and mentally unstable. To be clear, this behavior, in victims, is very common, as a direct result of the long-term effects of their abuse.

I have a close family member, and three close friends who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and I have witnessed the long-term devastation and dysfunction caused by such abuse. I have also read accounts of honorable professing people who found it in their hearts to advocate for individual victims and were then castigated and excommunicated for their efforts to support the victim.

I am heartbroken to have learned that men I had believed to be loving servants of God are, in reality, men who have, sadly, lost their connection with the Holy Spirit. On three different occasions, I wrote to Ray and/or Barry in anguish, pleading for assurances that our fellowship can be healed and made whole, and asking for clarification of things that were said. I received not one word of response from either man. A true shepherd does not ignore the bleating of the sheep!

I have stopped attending meetings, because I no longer felt fellowship with people who do not know the enormous scope of the abuses, or the concealment of them; and who feel no connection with the thousands of wounded people who are our brothers and sisters. Not knowing the truth, the facts about a situation, causes people to live in an alternative reality in which they cannot respond to the true reality.  Every human being is God’s creature, and Jesus’ commandment is that we love God, and we love our neighbor as ourselves. I feel compelled to know the true reality, so I can respond supportively, to those who are wounded and suffering in our Body of Christ.

I acknowledge that there are many honest, sincere and loving workers. I do not see them in the same light as those who abuse and deny and conceal injurious/wrong behaviors, and those who distort the scriptures to support their own doctrine. “When an honest man discovers he is mistaken, he will either cease to be mistaken, or cease to be honest.”  

In my many years of relationship with God, I have discovered that He is pleased to see growth and spiritual maturity in us, and that He entrusts us with more of His work when He sees development of responsibility. I have often prayed that God would show me places of need, where I could serve.  Trust in God does not necessarily imply that we should always remain passive and wait for God to do all the work. Trust in God encompasses being sensitive to the leading of His Spirit when He directs us to help ourselves, and when He moves us to defend the vulnerable, comfort the wounded, and speak the truth about evil.

Rick and I have not “turned our backs on God” or “left God’s Way,” and we are not bitter. We simply cannot be part of a church whose leadership displays such absence of love and care for people, and lack of honesty and accountability; and which distorts the real teachings of Jesus, to imply that we must earn salvation by attending meetings and adhering to a set of traditions which promote uniformity in appearance and conduct, but do not define Godliness. We have NO high priest, but Jesus!  Jesus said that His gift of eternal life, is for everyone who takes His life within himself. (John 5:24, and John 6:51, 54). JESUS is the Way, the Truth and the Life! God’s Way is not defined by, or limited to, meetings and workers.

We have great peace and joy because we know we are loved and blessed by God. Some would say that our peace is temporary, and it is because we have ceased the “struggle” to be Godly. However, when we are inhabited by the God of Love, it’s not a terrible struggle to hand over the reins to Him. It’s a relationship in which we say, “God, you understand this better than we. Please show us the way!”

We continue to invite the Mind and Spirit of Christ into our beings. We love reading His words, and observing how He sought out the sick and sinful, the ignored and the despised, and He gave love and light and life to all. Our purpose in life is to share God’s love with all whom we touch, and we simply stand for kindness and justice and the love of Christ to be shown to all people. Micah 6:8 “What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God.” We find fellowship with any who live in the Light and Truth of Jesus. We continue to cherish all our friends, and welcome interaction. We are still Rick and Sally!

With love to all,

Rick & Sara (Sally) (Nelson) Wojcik
Buffalo, New York
February 9, 2024