After I left the church, I was incredibly torn about the decision, whether it was right or wrong, would God be angry with me, am I now going to be cursed for leaving, etc. I felt so conflicted about it and I tried to get closure by staying in touch with my old “friends” at the church. I went so far as to write two separate emails to Tyler Wachenfeld, someone who I was very close with at FCC. The day that I left the church, he hugged me, told me he loved me and that if I needed anything, to call him. So I felt that perhaps there was still an open door, of sorts, to stay in touch. A couple years after I left, I was still wrestling with certain elements of my decisions and truly felt that perhaps I could have done some things differently and wanted to right any wrongs I committed. After sending two emails asking for forgiveness for hurting my friends (which I now believe was self inflicted condemnation), I got no response. Not a “no thank you, I forgive you, please go away”…I got nothing. After one of my very good friends left FCC he told me that Tyler would show him those emails and mock them, make fun of them and make it a spectacle of how weak I was and I just couldn’t get over it. After I heard this, I was very mixed in my emotions…At first, I was pissed but then I realized that this was their M.O….they MOCK anyone and everyone that they can’t change. I remember asking one of the elders what the best way was to get someone to stop doing something that we didn’t like (this statement sounds insane to me now!!), if it wasn’t sin and we had no biblical reason to approach that person. This elder told me “we mock them. Mock them until they change.” This is what we were taught!! We emasculated these men if they couldn’t or wouldn’t do what we wanted them to. I recently spoke with someone who was a former staff member and he described a recent interaction with Steve Hall as having an interaction with a mocking spirit….I completely agree. Biblically, mockers are not someone that you want to emulate. I can post numerous passages of scripture showing how mockers are depicted in scripture…these are not the people you want to be like!! And it certainly shouldn’t be used as a discipleship tool for young Christians. My point in saying this is that it became evident to me that there would likely be no reconciliation because that would mean that these men would have to stop mocking and actually humble themselves to a point of extending mercy and forgiveness where necessary but then in turn, that would expose their behavior and force them to repent and ask for mercy and forgiveness. Someone coming and trying to reconcile would mean that they would have to change the way I was presented to other church members and I believe this would be too difficult and too embarrassing for the leadership. The way we were taught to mock people is the opposite of the people Jesus called us to be…there is no love in mockery. It is sad to me that even after I extended an opportunity for reconciliation, I was mocked and never contacted again.
In summary, I extend my hand in reconciliation and challenge the leadership to repent and personally contact, apologize and right the wrongs and abuse they have inflicted on hundreds of people. I would welcome that and I’m sure most of us former members would welcome it as well. I hope and pray that day will come.
– Nick Puente