Leaving the NAR Church: Jonathan’s story

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“The overall ambiance and feel of the services left me feeling confused. How come I wasn’t experiencing these gifts? Why couldn’t I speak in tongues? Why couldn’t I receive these visions and prophecies? Why wasn’t the Holy Spirit talking to me like he was to these people? And then it came to me: How could I learn to become like them?

Jonathan soon did become like them, as he absorbed many New Apostolic Reformation teachings and practices. In this series, I want to take readers beyond the textbook What is the New Apostolic Reformation Movement explanation, into the personal experiences from those who have been there, and what happened when God opened their eyes to the truth.

This is Jonathan’s story in his own words:

I haven’t always been the best Christian in regards to bringing what I hear, whom I have looked up to, or whom I place myself under for guidance and teaching. That is the precise problem with why I fell into the trappings of NAR and experiential/signs and wonders heresies.

After I dropped out of college I found myself chasing pleasures to make myself feel better – namely sex and alcohol. I hurt friends and family and abused too many that cared for me in the process, compromising their trust in me. During my pursuits, I found myself dating a pastor’s daughter for a number of years off and on. Illicit details aside, the only thing worth mentioning was her dad had taught me how to go about reading the Bible, verse-by-verse and not topically as I was accustomed to. That was the only light in a dark spiritual climate for me for roughly the next 5 or so years.

Barista
I left the church her dad pastored after our relationship ended and I formed a relationship with a local coffee-shop barista, whom I’ll simply call Barista for anonymity’s sake. Barista was a Christian and I found her to be a very good listener, I looked up to her seemingly endless spiritual knowledge and her storytelling and passion for Jesus. She would tell me of how she spoke in tongues, how to beat wiccans in spiritual battle, how to interpret dreams and visions, and about her own personal visions.

She claimed to have seen Jesus face-to-face, and his eyes were burning fire, I mean, it sounded biblical, and why couldn’t Jesus reveal himself like that if he truly was God, right?! Such was my thinking at the time.

At any rate, Barista decided to teach me how to talk to the Holy Spirit and make requests for “miracles” to happen. I distinctly remember our phone conversation that day in which she told me to just close my eyes and ask the Holy Spirit to tell me what color shirt she was wearing. It wasn’t surprising when I couldn’t give her the correct answer looking back on it. However, she was able to guess what color hangar was holding my favorite shirt, so I was impressed by her ability and closeness to God! She also claimed to have prayed for so long, so faithfully that anyone entering her apartment immediately fell to their knees in worship.

Over the course of our friendship, Barista took me to a local church called Freedom Christian Center. This church was very charismatic and very NAR-affiliated as I came to find out later. Worship consisted of flag waving, slain in the spirit moments, EVERYONE speaking in tongues during worship, frequent visits by associate pastors from Bethel-Redding. The leaders made many references to modern-day prophets and such as Rick Joyner, Kim Clement, Bill Johnson, etc.

The overall ambiance and feel of the services left me feeling confused. How come I wasn’t experiencing these gifts? Why couldn’t I speak in tongues? Why couldn’t I receive these visions and prophecies? Why wasn’t the Holy Spirit talking to me like he was to these people? And then it came to me: How could I learn to become like them?

That’s how it is I suppose, when you look blindly to a group of people, you desire to become like they are, no matter how deceived they really are!

At any rate, Barista would later tell me of how local witch covens had tried to curse the church but failed, how the witches’ sacrifices of dead animals on the steps proved the church was authentic, and how witches could tell who was a Christian by the “fire” emblazoned around their diaphragm or something poetic like that..

WHY DID THE BIBLE NEVER SAY THESE THINGS!? That should have been the “let’s get out of here immediately and end this friendship” flag.

But we continue further into the depravity.

I forget the exact year, but I traveled as a chaperone with Freedom’s youth group to a place called The Ramp in Hamilton, Alabama. I do not recommend going here, period. It was at The Ramp I got to experience what the NAR is all about…signs and wonders…the experience being above God’s revealed and inerrant Word.

The Ramp

The Ramp was lead by a Karen Wheaton, pastored by Damon Thompson. At The Ramp, each of the few days I was there was filled with various dramatic performances, teachings, prophesying, tongues, slaying in the Spirit, fire tunnels, screaming, moaning, maniacal laughing…you get the picture.

The worship team deemed themselves the Chosen and were very gifted at leading the entire audience into any state of frenzy or tears they so chose with emotional pleas and hypnotic music from the stage. I remember kneeling with everyone else, eyes closed arms up and sobbing as the girl on stage sang a song. During the praise section that opened each day, if you didn’t jump and scream and go CRAZY, the singers on stage would call you out for not being “energized enough for God” and keep harassing you to do better until you were jumping around like everyone else. Now I’m 6’6’’ and easy to pick out in a crowd. I don’t like to dance. I bore this one time only and decided it was better to go with the flow from there-on out until I got out of there.

I wish I kept the notes of that trip on what was preached about, however I cannot remember the passage. What I clearly remember is the entire congregation lining up (400 people easy) and running through a fire-tunnel lead by the Chosen. If you are unaware of a fire tunnel, you aren’t missing out. The Chosen formed 2 rows and “anointed” their hands with oil. They then proceeded to “pray in tongues” for as long as it took to allow everyone in the auditorium to pass through and receive their prayers, healing, blessing…whatever. I had the “privilege” of being pulled out at the end of the tunnel by Damon Thompson and prayed over by him in tongues. EVERY person before me that he pulled out fell down slain in the spirit and had to be carried off the stage. I did not, which seemed to surprise this man because he then proceeded to BLOW IN MY FACE and scream a prayer over me…that wasn’t ok with me and I walked off of the stage. Had I not driven there as a group I would have driven back home to Florida. Nevertheless, I had to endure the insanity.

After my group came off the stage, some slain and some “drunk” in the spirit, Barista encouraged the girls of the group to begin prophesying and praying over those “drunk” in order to slay them. One of them happened to be her own mother was was already very weary of the ordeal.

Continuing On

The insanity began to die down when Barista decided to move home, coincidentally to Alabama – she had apparently “become a Christian” at The Ramp when called out by Karen Wheaton years prior to my meeting her. I have had very little, if any, contact with Barista since this time and have severed ties completely upon meeting my wife back in 2012. Before leaving, she gifted a few of us with a book called Final Quest. I read 2 pages and threw it in the trashcan. It was written by none other than Rick Joyner.

I pray for Barista often. Her testimony is a long and dark one filled with experiences such as theses, homosexuality, family tragedies, the pursuit of spiritual power, etc. Without Jesus, she is lost to this movement and fully embracing the heresy of “LOVE WINS” instead of obedience to the cross.

I look back at what I believed and how easy it was to fall into and just simply shake my head, praise the Lord Almighty for his grace to bring me out of that mess and continue on with my day. I thank you for the opportunity to share my experiences, whether used or not, I pray they are of help with your research to expose this dark plague among Christendom.


Author’s Note:  You can read the entire series of NAR testimonies here.  If you would like to send me your story about your NAR church experience and what happened when your eyes were opened, you can email me here. I will be changing your first name to keep you anonymous.

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13 Responses to Leaving the NAR Church: Jonathan’s story

  1. Mike Sutherland February 24, 2017 at 6:18 am #

    Very interesting story. All that I read in “Jonathan’s Story,” and other concepts when I stumbled onto this website after searching for videos on Christine Caine and Joyce Meyer. I was like what the what about these women being called heresies!?

    This is all kind of new. Prosperity preaching is something I am trying to wrap my mind around and figure out if it is really good, or bad gospel. A little background on me: 45 year old who never went to church. By the grace of God, a spiritual awakening took place through a bunch of tragic events five years ago. Now I am a member of a nondenominational church for about 4 years now. Some of the controversial people like Joel O’Steen, Creflo Dollar and Binny Hinn I listen with caution and use what works best to apply to my life. Joyce Meyer’s teachings got me to get up earlier and read the Word. That was the only way I could read the Bible in its complete entirety. Anyways, be blessed.

  2. Manny1962 February 25, 2017 at 1:33 pm #

    Good afternoon Mike,

    Please read the “white papers” referenced on right side of page.

  3. Manny1962 February 25, 2017 at 1:57 pm #

    I also recommend these site: I’m going to put in multiple posts so Word Press doesn’t think it’s spam:
    https://www.carm.org

  4. Manny1962 February 25, 2017 at 1:59 pm #

    This is also a great site http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com

  5. Manny1962 February 25, 2017 at 2:00 pm #

    Here is another http://apprising.org

  6. Manny1962 February 25, 2017 at 2:01 pm #

    See this one:http://www.discernment-ministries.com

  7. Manny1962 February 25, 2017 at 2:07 pm #

    One last one: https://www.thebereancall.org

    A word of advice, stay away from Christine Caine, Joyce Meyer and any other woman pastrix (pastor), God’s hierarchy is man teaches not women, not our command, but God’s command. They’re doing the contrary. Stay away from the prosperity movement, the seeker friendly movent, and the NAR.

  8. Manny1962 February 25, 2017 at 2:08 pm #

    Sorry Mike, this one is very helpful too, https://www.gotquestions.org

    • Maggie February 25, 2017 at 4:41 pm #

      I agree with Manny; those are all solid discernment ministries that helped me a lot, along with fightingforthefaith.com. They taught me to see the contrast between false teaching and what the Bible actually says.

      (I found one problem with the gotquestions website, which are the answers to questions regarding hearing God’s voice. The author of those answers seems to believe you can make a determination whether you are hearing God’s voice through promptings. The resources for that topic in the past have been books by Blackaby and Shirer, who are false teachers. I haven’t done the homework about the current resource listed. Just want to give you that warning!)

  9. Manny1962 February 25, 2017 at 7:11 pm #

    Thanks Maggie, deleting off my resources list!

  10. Mike Sutherland February 27, 2017 at 4:30 am #

    Thank you, Manny1962 and Maggie! I have a lot of great resources to read that I will checkout and study. Learning to discern is something that I have found very important. As I learn, I will share with my networks. Thank you, again for the spiritual, Godly advice. Be blessed Brothers and Sisters-in-Christ.

    Mike

  11. Manny1962 February 27, 2017 at 8:37 am #

    Good morning Mike,

    As brothers and sisters in Christ we are to help each other, it is with my deepest sincere hope that you walk the narrow path, there are many seemingly good enticements out there, they even sound godly and proper, but they’re not. Please do not hesitate to ask any questions, if there’s any way I can help please just ask. Maranatha! The time is very short!

  12. Kathleen Eaton September 14, 2020 at 8:35 pm #

    I found this page as i was looking for information on Damon Thompson, because another “Pastor” who claimed to be an evangelist and who was trying to set up a “Kingdom Family” in Georgia, had posted a podcast titled “Invitation to Ascend”. That immediately sent up red flags for me.

    I am familiar with the New Age, as I was pursuing their teachings at a young age, not that long before I got saved. Ascension is a doctrine of new age/new spirituality, where they claim the “Ascended Masters” are people (and aliens) who have “evolved” to a higher spiritual plane, and are allegedly like gods.. so when I saw that term, I was a bit concerned. Unfortunately, I got busy with other things, and never ended up looking closer at this guy.

    While doing some digging around in my own notes today, I stumbled across a screenshot I had made and saved for further looking into, and decided to just go do a little looking around.

    As I was listening to a video on his page, and reading verbiage underneath it, I saw that he mentioned this guy Damon Thompson and his wife Tammy he and his wife’s “spiritual parents.”

    So here I am… really not at all suprised to see this connection with Bethel of Redding CA, fire tunnels etc. Because Bethel of Redding has been trying to push New Age practices into the churches through their books. SMH

    While I am not a cessationist, and I have myself experienced the Lord speaking to me, giving me visions and dreams on rare occasion, I ALSO am quite aware that sometime spirits mimic the Holy Spirit, and how extremely important it is to test everything. There is a new age infiltration in progress – something that the Lord showed me years ago as a still fairly young Christian. I don’t believe that we can know ever single thing God may or may not do in and through us, or show us, etc., because the bible is clear that Jesus did many things that they did not share with us. That said, we are also called to TEST the Spirits, to prove whether they are of God,and if anything contradicts the bible, clearly it is not of Him. Sadly way too many are not testing what they are taught, not testing their experiences etc.

    The whole thing with fire tunnels… they literally think God wants to baptist us with fire.. because they MISUNDERSTAND the scripture. The apostle told us that God would baptist with the Holy Spirit and with Fire, but He did NOT say that He would baptist Christians with “fire.”
    *********************************************************************

    “…..He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit [a]and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”” Matthew 3:11-12
    ***************************************************************************************

    John literally told us what the fire reference meant… He will clean out His threshing floor, gather His WHEAT (us) into His barn, and BURN UP THE CHAFF with unquenchable fire. He baptize HIS people with the Holy Spirit, He will immerse the unbelievers in unquenchable fire… a reference to Gehenna.

    Thank you for sharing your story. The NAR and Bethel Redding .,.. there is a lot of false spirituality going untested there, and clearly unbiblical teachings that are being used to confuse young Christians. While my own research proves that the early church under imposter leaders adopted pagan practices and teachings…

    Bethel Redding teaches that “for every counterfeit there is a real” This is a presumption that is simply not taught in the bible, and really just doesn’t hold up period. Counterfeits are by definition copies of a real practice. But God strictly forbid certain practices. Communication with familiar spirits, necromancy etc are forbidden in the bible. But the way Bethel Redding teaches, one would think that pagans “stole” these practices from the church, and that really the church is ALLOWED to communicate with spirits.. because, after all, “every counterfeit has a real” What they are really doing, is claiming without saying it directly, that every demonic , pagan practice is really a CHRISTIAN practice, stolen from us by pagans. If that were true, one would expect they would claim that child sacrifice, burning babies in the fire to the false god Moloch was really a “Christian” practice. It’s absurd.

    Anyway, sorry, this is getting long. I appreciate you sharing your story. It just confirmed my suspicions that this “preacher” (Mark Casto) trying to set up a “Kingdom Family” in Georgia has been mentored by people who are promoting false teaching in the name of Jesus Christ.

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