Posted by: Damon Whitsell | July 21, 2010

Ex-Word of Faith Testimony of Mike and Pat Rodgers

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My wife Pat and I left the Defiance Ohio area and moved to Bellefontaine to start and build a church. That was six years ago, and now looking back I see that the whole time we were trying to build a church God was tearing us down. He was bringing us back to our foundational roots we didn’t even realize we had left. During the four years we pastured, a lot of the old convictions God had instilled in me as a young Christian, convictions I had let go, were resurfacing. This became a serious problem in our ministry as we were heavily influenced by Word of Faith ideology. Conflict began to rise up with our Ministry coverings. We were ordained by CMI (Calvary Ministries International) and Restoration Ministries. Frustration built within Pat and I over the lack of any real relational support and a constant pressure of supporting our coverings financially. To them we were indigenous, that is, on your own. Ultimately, we left both Ministries and became independent. Biblical conviction overruled, and we were left with some hard decisions. And almost immediately after withdrawing from the last covering God saw fit to place hard circumstances in our path that lead us to the decision to close the church.

I became very emotionally distraught, Pat and I decided to move to Georgia were we spent seven months before returning to the Defiance area. For me, I had watched my dreams turn to ashes. All I had worked for, all I had given up and all I had put into the ministry had now turned into dust. I was resolved never to return to the church again, and I had settled within myself that ministry was gone forever. There is a simple saying that I live by, “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” Little did I know I was now on the road to recovery. Psalms 66:8-12 says; “Oh, bless our God, you peoples! And make the voice of His praise to be heard. Who keeps our soul among the living, and does not allow our feet to be moved. For You O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs, You have caused men to ride over our heads. We went through fire and through water, but you brought us out to rich fulfillment.” These verses have taught me that trials are not always about whether or not we pass or fail a certain test as it is about the refining process. Pass or fail, God is still going to purge and refine us.
After returning to Ohio, we bought our old property back and just set our minds on work. Over the next year we tried a few churches but here in Defiance most pastors have formed a good boy network. It’s hard to attend one when the first thing they do is call your former pastor to get the latest scoop. So we decided to drop out of site, until I had a conversation with a family member who invited me to their church. We went only because this church was thirty miles away, and to me, it was really no different from anything I had seen before. I met the pastor, who I had been a little familiar with prior to our move as he had previously been a member of CMI. And actually, I entered into counsel with him and to my surprise he turned out to be the real deal. He had a passion for Christ, loved his people, was kind and patient. When I made it clear to him I had no real desire to reenter the church structure he gave me a book called, “So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore?” I thought it would be a book designed to assimilate someone like myself back into the church structure but on the contrary, it was really designed as an exceptional story that will cause you to be in awe of the love that our heavenly Father has for his children. It challenges you to rethink what church is all about, “people and building relationships.” After reading it we started to have a real sense that today’s institutional religious structure was just a machine which had to be feed and maintained rather than an outpost of the Gospel’s message of salvation.
The book set us free from the mindset of “got to go to church” every Sunday and Wednesday night, or you’re not a good Christian. But we still needed and wanted fellowship. However that was God’s first phase of our recovery. We still had a long ways to go and it didn’t take God long to move us into an area of discovery that we were clueless to, that being how terribly deceived we had been and didn’t even know it. The next step came from my wife picking up a book that our daughter had randomly brought home from the library. I say randomly because she told my wife that she didn’t even know why she had decided to bring it home. My wife read the book “The Other Side of The River” by Kevin Reeves, which is about a man and his wife’s discovery and journey out of charmania. Although my wife was thoroughly excited and disturbed at the same time, and for her that is possible I still wasn’t all that interested in listening to what she had to say, after all I thought “she was always more into “that” stuff then me. Well to make a long story short, she threw herself into researching everything and everybody that we had been exposed to and it didn’t take long for me to get on board, once the door cracked open and a little light shined on the concepts, doctrines, and agenda’s of those we had been involved with. Once the simplicity of the Word laid bare all the garbage that had been piled on our foundational beliefs, we were literally in a state of shock, grief, anger and oddly enough relief and a sense of peace mixed in.
Though we are not fully recovered, our confidence In Jesus Christ has escalated to the degree where we can now move forward shedding the debris of the Word of Faith ideology oppression. Our journey is not over, however with the help of the lord and His Word I have assurance He is faithful and will carry us through.


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