Well, Jeff, I know we only met that one time when you visited and I ran into you that one time in Wal-Mart. If you add both times up, we maybe talked a total of 20 minutes. So I can't really say I know you. I can't really judge from our meetings, personally, what I feel about you. But the way you responded to Noelle just reassures me that that church endorses members that seem like they don't have love or caring towards other human beings. To me, the way you come across is very angry and you just seem like a very unhappy, mean person. And the only thing I can say for you is I'll pray for you as best I can, which I have been doing for over a year since I knew you were coming to the church.
You wasn't there and I'm sorry that you feel I'm making up things, but I'm just telling my feelings and my experience from my time at the church. Much of the rest of this will have to do with something you'd know of from hear-say only.
But I do want to respond to a man I feel I got to know, Randall Tarrant. I feel I moved my family to join a church I felt was going to be a brotherhood. A church I thought was gonna have more loving and caring towards people. That we'd all be studying and striving to walk the narrow way. If we were all studying I thought we'd all have a bit more love and understanding toward people that didn't understand the narrow way. But in the short time I was there, most of the experience with the members I had was talking down to the rest of the world and building ourselves up. I realized one day that I was doing the same thing, and that was not what I was looking for.
In my last couple weeks there I was accused of trying to cause division in the church. That was far from my thoughts at the time. I was really trying just to understand certain things that was happening in the church.
For instance, I was called by Angela and told that the Wednesday night services was gonna be held at the Mennonite tent meeting. That Brother Mark and Brother Jesse decided that would be best. So I started thinking, I already know that those Locust Creek Mennonite group felt that I and 2 other families, that are members of the church, that we're going to hell unless we leave our wives because we're "living in sin." And Randall, you know, you was very upset about it, you talked to me about it was confusing to you because those same groups of people told you and your wife the same thing. And Jeremy and his wife Pauline was told the same stuff. So it was a little confusing to me that the church that we all moved, Randall as he says a 1000 miles, it was a 1000 miles for my wife and I too, and Jeremy was I don't know how far for him to move, we was gonna be meeting with the Mennonites.
So I called Mark and asked if I could speak to him, he said yes, but couldn't do it then, maybe could get together the next day. So I drove over to the next authority that there was which was Jesse Herr, the second minister of the church, since I was told he also gave his blessing. And I asked him why he gave his blessing, he explained that Mark would like to have the meeting at the Mennonite church because Mark's children only hears Mark's teachings and he would like his children to hear other godly men speaking. But when Jesse saw how upsetting it seemed like it would be to half the members in the church that have the divorce & remarriage issue, he said that after considering what I was saying he was gonna take his blessing back and he was not gonna go to the meeting hisself.
Now, I did not go to Jesse to complain to him about Mark, as I was accused by Mark of doing. It's just that I wasn't gonna get to talk to Mark before that night's meeting was gonna be held, it was gonna be the next day. So, what is wrong with me asking the second man in charge of the church his reasons?
So my doing this was one of the reasons I was accused by Mark of causing division in the church. Definitely was not my intent. The next day Mark and I met and he told me the reason he felt we should meet with the Mennonites at the revival tent meeting is that we need to go as a church and show the Mennonite how ungodly they're being and how wrong they are on their teachings on divorce and remarriage issues. So as a man that's trying to walk the narrow way, that is striving to obey God, I started thinking, which one is it, because it can't be both?
So I realized Mark was telling the families that doesn't have divorce & remarriage issues in their lives they were going to have their children hear godly teaching, but to the divorced & remarries families he was saying it was to show Mennonites they're in the wrong of their teachings. So a man that is in his authority that plays both sides is absolutely wrong. And the members know that they heard both sides and if they choose to accept it that's up to them, but, for myself, that's when I felt I lost my respect for Mark.
The other thing I was accused of trying to cause division on is when I was talking to two other members and they was also upset and complaining about the Mennonites. Randall was complaining about why are we meeting once a month at the singing at the community center in Purdin and the Mennonite come. Randall Tarrant felt that it was very disturbing to him because he know that they feel that he and his wife, me and my wife, and others are going to hell because of our previous marriages. He was angry and said he would not be going back to the singings as long as they are going. The only comment I really had to that was, it doesn't bother me that they come to the singings because they're coming to our gathering. But I told him that being asked to go to their gathering where they have signs "where will you be in a million years" and they know our church would be bringing people with divorce and remarriage issues and they are going to be sure to have sermons about it, I didn't think it would be smart of me to bring my children.
Now being accused of causing division for asking questions on why there was two answers for why we're going to the Mennonite meeting. When, Randall, you know several times on the front porch you sat and complained to me about the same things. Jeremy also had a few issues with it. And I told you that the whole issue made me lose respect for Mark, you know you were just as guilty, if I was causing division, so were you and other men. You know the times you called me on the phone and told me how upsetting it all was to you. And you was there in the church services, after the church, he used the pulpit to basically attack me for questioning his decision. And he made the comment, that you, Randall said, "I trust your judgement." But was you trusting his judgement when you come and complained to me about the situation, plus the girls and boys not playing with each other anymore?
What about when you REALLY had a problem when the decision was made that boys and girls of school age are not to play games with each other. The swing sets, outdoor games, or anything together. You know it was very upsetting that if your boy was swinging and the girls wanted it he had to leave or if he wanted it your girl would have to leave. I was willing to submit and say that's fine. I asked Mark what was the reason for it, his answer was that they were trying to teach the girls shame facedness. If they get familiar with the boys then they don't learn shame facedness. So my thought on the matter was, so the rule is made that the boys and girls cannot play outside together at all, school aged. But it was ok for them to sit together in Sunday school, sit inside at the tables and play board games with each other. It was just very confusing after just dealing with the two reasons for the Mennonite situation, now there's another thing that didn't make sense to me.
And in the four months that I was there, I heard that it's the most biblical, most godly church that they know of. We all, including myself, tooted our own whistles. How godly and how we understood the Bible better than anyone else. And I finally realized that I was just going back to the ways I grew up in a cult church, The Worldwide Church of God, that we was royalty, the chosen ones. And I realized that isn't where I wanna be. I wanna be in a place that I obey God, my savior, love other people, don't judge them for their sins, let Jesus judge them. I don't feel there's anything wrong with saying accept Jesus as your savior, telling them to change, but when we went out my first and only time to give tracts out in the neighborhood. We went door to door handing out tracts asking people, "Are they ready for when Jesus returns?" I was very excited to do that. And when people come to the door obviously dressed like they might have just come from church and they embraced me with open arms and said that they're ready, they accept their savior 100%. I am not gonna judge that man and that lady because they wasn't wearing a head covering, or suspenders, or the man might not have been wearing a beard. That is between them and their savior.
But as we continued, Mark Bullen's son, that I was with, knocked on a door. An older woman probably in her 80's invited us in and we talked to her and asked her if she was ready for our savior's return. And she told me and Nathan that she was ready, she can't wait, he can come right now. She actually missed church services that day because she was a little under the weather, but I can see she had her Bible next to her chair, open like she was studying it, I could hear her radio on in the back ground, and I could tell the songs was some Christian radio station. After talking a while, she told me and Nathan, that she had 2 children, 1 is a saved Christian and she has 1 that is lost. And she asked us if she would pray for her and her lost daughter, that God would open her daughter's eyes. So Nathan said he would pray and he prayed. And we said we had to go, and she said we're welcome to come back any time. As we was leaving down the road Nathan made a comment to me that that lady was going to hell. It was so disturbing to me that he judged her, because I personally don't know where her relationship with our savior is, seemed like she had a lot of faith in our savior. Just because she didn't have a head covering and she had music on, but for whatever reason he said that. The lady where she is with her walk, to get to the narrow path, only Jesus knows. I accepted the lady telling me she was a Christian. Maybe she's a babe in Christ, but I can think of one man that was a babe in Christ, where our savior said, "I'll see you in Paradise."
So we returned to the van. Mark asked me if I'd sit up front, and I did. The van holds 15 and it was full of members. I wasn't in the van 5 minutes and I listened and I heard the members going on about all these ungodly people. And I just said, "Hey, we gotta watch judgin' these people, because we don't know where they are in their walk with God." And Mark did agree, but it didn't stop.
I guess what I did is start judging Mark's church as I feel they judge everyone that isn't a member. If we are the most godly church, that we know of, then we should be very godly and do everything perfect, as they seem to expect of everyone else. So, steppin' back and lookin' at Mark's children bullying the other teenagers and some adults, bragging on their abilities of wrastling, full contact and arm wrastling, how great they are on buying cars and turnin' it around and makin' a lot of profit. Which I'm not sayin' it's wrong to buy and resell vehicles and stuff for a profit, but the way they go on and brag about it, it just seemed very ungodly to me. It just seemed the arrogance in the young men was getting out of hand.
Now realize these teenagers were baptized members in the church. So one evenin' I was sittin' on the sofa and Nathan sat next to me. And we started talkin' about different things and he started tellin' me how he is such a great wrastler and how none of them can beat him and he can just go crazy. And I listened for a little bit, but after hearing it so many times over the months I was there, I asked him, did you not listen Wednesday night when the discussion was about the young men and their arrogance? I guess he did not hear me because that night later at the singing he came over to me and started talking about his basketball abilities and then he told me how he could whip all the boys, even his big brother. He told me how he arm wrastled one of the older men in the church and beat him. I listened.
All the things going through my head of the Mennonite situation, girls and boys playin' with each other, all the different things just kind of not addin' up to me, kind of all going through me. I guess it all was getting to me.
So then he started telling me about how he beat another young man in wrastlin', which was about the 4th time he told me that, in different times. Then that person came up and said, "Hey, what you all talkin' about?" And then I said, "He's just sittin' here telling me about how he beat you in wrastlin'." And Nathan looked at me and said, "You are a liar, I never said that." And I said, "No, actually, you are a liar, you did say it." And he said, "No, I didn't, you are a liar." And I said, "You are a snot nosed punk kid, you're a bully, and if you actually tangled with somebody like me that's a hundred pounds bigger than you are, we actually went out back and wrastled, you would think you'd have a chance. But you would be bloodied up." I know for sure I said at least that, but it would be hard to put what I said down word for word beyond that, but basically I told him he's a punk who thinks too much of himself.
The way I handled that situation was not a loving, caring, graceful way, it was not right. It was not the person I was striving to become. It was the person that I was, that I didn't like, that I wanted to be rid of. And that's why I was changing to try to get closer to God, that's why I went looking for a more godly lifestyle. I did repent and ask God to forgive me.
Randall Tarrant and Jeremy both came over to me agreeing and saying the exact same thing. Then Randall brought up the Mennonites being at the singing and stuff like that. That's when I said, "That's why I lost respect for Mark." During that time Nathan repeatedly came up asking if we were talking about him and finally I patted him on the shoulder and said not to worry about it.
The next Wednesday night Malachi, came up to me and asked me if everything was ok and if I needed to talk to Nathan. And I said, no I'm ok. Then Malachi said that Nathan said I had pushed him and I know I did not push him. I suggested we have someone else talk with us that was neutral, Malachi said that wasn't necessary, but my wife said that if Nathan was saying stuff like that, something would have to be done.
The next thing I know on Saturday I was being called by Mark and being told we were going to have a member's meeting to "make sure everyone was in communion." Every man, including Mark's teenage sons, was already assembled when I showed up 10 minutes before it was supposed to start. And at any other meeting in the past if I showed up 10 minutes early, generally I was the first one there. So maybe I'm assuming things, it seemed like they had a meeting about it all before I got there. Because there was members there that had nothing to do about these things that surely knew all about it and attacked me more, I feel, than those that was actually involved.
So I sat down with basically all the men sitting in a circle around me. And Mark asked me to tell my side of the story, and I said I didn't know what he meant, asked him what we were here for. And that's when it basically just confirmed to me, and I listened to what was being said. I am wanting God in my life, I want to obey my savior Jesus. I'm a man that is not wanting to live in a sinful life anymore, like I've been the majority of my life. I'm sitting there being accused of trying to cause divisions, of being accused of being a liar, and making false accusations. Knowing there were two men in the room, Jeremy and Randall, that knew actually what was said, and that I was not trying to cause division. If I was guilty of causing division, then they are just as guilty as I am. But since I was the one that actually didn't mind going to Mark and asking him to help me understand why he was making these decisions, unfortunately I know now, they're yes men. To me they say one thing, to Mark they say another. They know what they said. They should have, in that meeting, stepped up, and said, "Well Jason, really wasn't trying to cause division." Or, "If Jason was trying to cause division, I was too, maybe even more."
Before I made the final decision to leave, that night I asked to have a couple days to fast and pray about if I was going to stay or leave the church. And Mark told me I could not have it, I had to make up my mind then. He told me my pride is gonna send me to hell, and I put my hand to his shoulder, as I did his son, "Your pride is gonna send you and me to hell if me being excommunicated out of this church is gonna send me to hell." Then I stopped and I asked if anyone was gonna talk to my wife. Paul said, yes, they'd send one of the ladies. And Mark right away said no, if she wants to be part of this church, she needs to come to us. So Mark's telling me that I'm gonna excommunicate myself because I'm not submitting to him and I am going to go to hell, so I'm thinking, I've just gone through 3 hours or more of Mark and his sons lying about and attacking me. I apologized to them for letting my anger say things, even though I feel he was a bully, how I handled it was wrong and I had repented to God already for it.
I felt at that time Mark was handling it in a very ungodly way. That he should have allowed Jesse, as the other minister, to handle it. But instead Jesse sat in his seat, with his head down and his hand over his face, looking down. I didn't understand why Jesse did not speak up because he knew the truth, where my heart and my mind was with the Mennonite thing, I really opened up to him, and he knows that I was.
Me and Jesse did talk the next day and Jesse did show love and concern and really wanted me to stay. And hopefully we could work things out. So I did look for counsel in other ministers in the area to see if I am thinkin' straight. And I did talk to Mennonite ministers and another denominational minister, to make sure I wasn't just letting my pride get involved. I was told by the Mennonite minister where Mark used to attend that he thought any responsible bishop or minister that had been involved in a similar situation would have recused himself, since it would be hard to be impartial because it involved himself and his child. Later in the conversation the minister told me about how Mark had been set to join and even willing to live with the doctrine on divorce and remarriage. But when Mark was told that he wouldn't be a minister right off the bat, he'd have to wait and draw lots like everyone else, within a week Mark was gone and distributing literature to their members. So they did have a burning of Mark's literature. Looking at it, I agree, he should have recused himself.
So I did after thinking about it, praying about it, and talking to other ministers, I did ask Jesse if the next Wednesday night I could come apologize to the church. So I stood in front of the church apologize to Nathan, to the members of the church because if they felt I was causing division it must have been, even though that was not my intent, and I was very sincere. After I apologized Jesse did say there were a couple other men that owe Jason an apology. I thought for sure Jeremy and Randall would stand up and say they were sorry for letting me be accused when they was doing the same thing. But they didn't.
So I sat and listened and that night the blue book was teaching on non-resistance. The blue book was describing the supposedly non-resistant teachings. Mark made a statement, "Sometimes you have to kill them before they kill you." Then I realized that is what Mark was doing in that members meeting to me. He was going as hard as he could to get me to want to leave so he wouldn't have anyone who was gonna question anything anymore. So that was my final straw.
The men of the church did tell me they did not like the way the mens meeting was handled. They felt it was wrong. I told them to tell Mark, not me, but no one is gonna tell Mark.
Randall, if you really care about my salvation, and my family's, you would have stepped up and said the things you said to me, to Mark, instead of just telling Mark you trust his judgement. You not one time during the mens meeting said anything. But I will say Greg Molner said in the meeting that he didn't sense I was trying to cause division. Me and Greg had a lot of problems (that's another story), but in the meeting he did what was right.
You two posting just reminded me of all the reasons I'm not there. Jeff attacking and Randall being a yes man. Plus, the only condition I had for returning, was to have Mark explain to me which reason it really was for going to the Mennonite meeting, and that hasn't happened yet, and I don't think it will. That's what I told Jesse, and he agreed.
I assure anyone reading this, that I, Jason Ragas, accept Jesus as my savior, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as my God. And I pray that the Holy Spirit will fill me to understand what God wants me to do in my life, I will submit to God in any way he tells me to. I was told by Greg Molner as I left, he gave me a letter, and said that either I wasn't a Christian or I'm a babe in Christ. And the only response I have to that long 6 page letter, Greg, is I am a Christian, and if I am a babe in Christ, I'd much rather be a babe than a pharisee.
Sincerely I do pray for the members of the church, I do not have hard feelings towards them, Noelle and I just wanted other people to see another side of the story of what they teach. If I didn't agree with most of the website, Mark's teachings, I'd have never gone to the church to begin with. I feel you should just live it in your own life and by example, maybe people will come? But to be there and hear over and over how we was so godly and everybody was so lost, statements like "All Brookfield is going to hell" just made me realize how many people live in Brookfield. I personally don't know everybody's relationship with God and I'm not gonna judge them because they're not wearing a beard or suspenders. A sinner that is striving to stay on the narrow path and only through my savior's grace and love for me do I even have a chance.