Jesus People USA Visitor Comments

"I am a teenager that grew up at Jesus People USA (JPUSA) in Chicago. JPUSA is not so much cultic as fanatical. For years they have stressed their beliefs as the only true beliefs, and have perhaps taken the bible too literally. The people of JPUSA are very moral people with good values for the most part, but also hypocritical extremists when it comes to some things. They have a very closed-minded approach to the world. For example Halloween was always considered Satanic and evil, but just this October 31st JPUSA held a Halloween party. Secular music, another thing that was sometimes frowned upon, is listened to all the time at JPUSA now, including some rap and other music with explicit lyrics. Perhaps these changes will help JPUSA leaders to be less extreme and controlling. Perhaps they can still be religious, but without controlling everything at JPUSA. Or maybe JPUSA will diminish even more than it already has due to the changes. So many people have already left. New people join, but then soon leave."

"I was at JPUSA. I read your main article about JPUSA and can't help, but agree. That means it's a pretty sad situation. I don't think JPUSA can function as a 'family'--it's too impersonal on many levels. They're probably losing sight after living so long in one place."

"The community is divided into family groups such as the Kaiser Family. Glenn Kaiser is an Elder unofficially known as the president. Mr. Kaiser's wife Wendy is the sister of Elder John Herrin, daughter of Elder Dawn Herrin Mortimer (the editor of Cornerstone Magazine) and also the sister-in law of Elder Victor Williams. I was once a member of the Chicago community and felt that I was answering God's call to full time Christian ministry. I met and married my spouse there and raised my children within the community, but later left. We did not submit to family planning JPUSA style--you must receive permission from the entire council to have a child. Some couples were deemed 'too troubled' and forbidden to have any children. Some were called 'traitors' if they did. At one point we were threatened to be moved into the community's homeless shelter. Thank you for posting information about Ron Enroth, and his stand for those of us who have left Jesus People USA. Mr. Enroth's book "Recovering From Churches That Abuse," which filtered through the community, helped us to have the courage to leave."

"I recently had the chance to look at your website about JPUSA, which exposes the other side of the story. I am one of the few that was actually raised in that community. I was lucky enough to get out. I have had a good chance to look back on my childhood and analyze it from a normal perspective. When I left the community I had a real hard time relating to other people my age. Thinking about a relationship with someone of the opposite sex almost seemed sinful. It has taken me years of pretty painful experiences and some awkward situations to become a normal, functioning adult. I have had to accept the fact that my childhood was so much different. I don't even like to discuss it."

"As a former 7 year member of Jesus People USA, I will vouch that much of what other former members have said about JP is true to the character of the ministry. The leadership in general has a great difficulty with admitting fault and as a group, they are extremely adept at damage control. The series on JP history in Cornerstone came right after Ron Enroth's book that included them. It was their way of trying to show who they thought they were. And it is all true, but not the whole truth. The seeds of these tendencies were there when I was new in the ministry, but they have blossomed into the strangling weeds that are now choking out justice, truth and mercy for the sake of control. As I had a struggle coming to terms with the ugly reality of a wonderful vision turning nightmare in order to justify leaving, so many there must maintain strong walls of denial in order to hold on to their own ideal dream of service to God. I think the whole community is a victim of its own myopia. Even now, seven years after leaving, I am still picking up the pieces of my dream."

"I want to thank [the people who have posted] so much for being brave enough to state [their] feelings towards JPUSA. I myself was a member of the community for [several months]. I too found myself questioning some of the very same things that have [been] mentioned. I can say that I am glad that I did not spend 10 years finding these things out. I like many other Christians wanted to serve God in a way that I could see an impact. My intentions were good, but after only a couple of months I began to see and experience things that I felt were not right. I had a hard time with some of the rules--not because I was a rule breaker, but when I saw others being reprimanded and asked to leave. It also seemed some were able to get away with a lot more than others. I went to my 'partner' on many occasions with problems that I was going through--believing that our conversations were private. But I found out that one of the elders/pastors knew everything I said. I also came from a church where hugging a sister was OK, but at JPUSA this was a sin. One [brother] got into my private email and gave this information to a pastor. I was asked to leave the community. The reason given was that they could not help me. I still love and listen to Glenn Kaiser's music, but the whole JPUSA experience was at best a bunch of bullshit run by paranoid people who got what they wanted in most cases--and to hell with the rest of us who were trying to do our best to serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

"Over the years we at Wellspring [Retreat] have received a number of inquiries about JPUSA from parents whose sons or daughters had joined the organization. Along with those inquiries we heard stories of abuse similar to those related by Enroth. At first, we tended to discount the stories as being, exaggerations of what we assumed to be JPUSA's legitimate exercise of biblical discipleship and discipline, or as the accounts of real abuse that had happened in the past (and which JPUSA has acknowledged) but no longer occurred. We were also reluctant to believe such things of men and women we regarded (and still regard) as friends and colleagues".

"The lack of sincere compassion for those ex-members of JPUSA who just might be telling the truth about their hurt is demonstrated over and over in the words and attitudes of the denominational leaders at ECC with whom I've interacted and corresponded. If one is in total denial about a problem situation, how can there be compassion for those who have been hurt"? -- Ronald Enroth, Ph.D. author of "Churches That Abuse"

"Thanks for the information. I'm glad you are putting this information out. It helps me to put things into perspective.

God Bless your work and I guess for JPUSA our prayers are needed. May God help them to see the areas out of balance--it would be a shame if things continue the way they are currently. I know of [many] couples that have left in [recent] years, a lot of them long-time members who are not exactly leaving with the best of feelings".

Copyright © Rick Ross

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