Looking Back: Calvary Chapel Hanford

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” –2 Corinthians 11:13-14

978be3fea76a729f87d50722db78f2acMy last communication with Pastor Gene Pensiero and Calvary Chapel Hanford was approximately six years ago. It was a heart breaking revelation where many of the things I had come to believe about that wicked place were confirmed; and I was vindicated.

Recently I was contacted by a friend who was leaving that cult of personality due to mistreatment and the disgusting display of discrimination she faced because of her disability. Graciously she allowed me to share her story here.

To date, her story has received over 200 views, and I couldn’t be more grateful that her experience has been heard -and the supportive comments for her filled my heart with a tremendous joy.

When called out, Pensiero did what he seems to be best at, hide and remain silent. He even went as far as blocking me on Twitter when I shared the story and mentioned him by name.

81bf73bc03c777ebc7caa30fc622f671This recent encounter has had me reflecting on the deep emotional and spiritual wounds this den of vipers has left in me.  Truly, it was by God’s grace alone that I made it out of that place alive; for it was that cult which pushed me to the edge of suicide on numerous occasions.

It was as if growing up, in what should have been a haven, I was surrounded by snakes and wolves on every front; left to my own to figure out how to fight. I wandered truly dark places with no light to guide my steps. I made many horrible mistakes along the way, but I did the best I could. When I emerged from the dark I found myself being put to shame.

I didn’t look like those around me. I couldn’t fit the mold that was presented to me. In appearance, in behavior, in style and methodology, I was roughly hewn together. If those around me were as silk, I was sandpaper in need of much work. Instead of help, however, I found callousness and was simply cast aside.

tumblr_mt77gaiRED1r6ja9oo1_500I understand I was difficult to love, but why -instead of despising- did anyone not put their arms around me and point me to Christ? Especially in light of the knowledge that I did not have a godly man in my home to show me the way.

What I learned under their cruel tutelage was Christianity had very little to do with Christ. It had very little to do with striving to be Christ-like. Christianity, I learned by their wicked actions, cruel words, and accepted attitudes, was about gaining the approval of the right people through blind follower-ship, ego fucking, submission, and doing everything possible to reinforce unrealistic world views.

I saw the phrase love covers a multitude of sins become the banner under which victims were blamed (and shamed) and sin allowed to run rampant and unchecked. It put victims at fault and gave free reign to perpetrators, as demonstrated clearly by my friend’s story.

img-thingYears after leaving that place, I couldn’t so much as look at a cross without feeling sick to my stomach. I didn’t see Christ in it. I saw a cruel god who was always disappointed in me for failing to please the right people. I had to wear a Celtic Pentacle as used by some early Christians for almost two years when I finally no longer saw them in the cross, but Jesus.

During this time I explored other Protestant denominations, studied theology and Church History, until finally finding myself (as of very recent) converting to Catholicism.

The journey has been painful, and it –in many places– still hurts, but I see so much progress in my life. I have found the strength to get help for my depression, anxiety, and PTSD stemming from a horrific home life compounded by the spiritual and emotional abuses of Calvary Chapel Hanford.

Most importantly, I have grown. I am moving forward to become a better person. I know this would not have been possible if I had stayed connected with the Christless Christianity of Pastor Gene Pensiero and Calvary Chapel Hanford.

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” –2 Corinthians 11:13-14

 

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About Z.

Poetic pipe and cigar enthusiast rifling through the haunted memories of a not so distant past while openly wrestling with faith and God. A rambling writer with the misguided notion that he has something to say. His only redeeming qualities are his wife and children.
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