Alissa’s Story: The Potters Field Case
It seems absurd. Incredulous that families would allow their kids to attend or sign up and serve. Friends I was nineteen. In my new faith I was ready to go eat locusts in the desert to proclaim the gospel. I was young, no attachments. Spending every waking hour feasting upon God’s word, fellowship with other believers and service in whatever form I could give. I was young and naive.
I didn’t realize the weight of the humanity of PFM.
You see PFM is spread out friends. Mike and Pam and one or two workers are typically traveling quite a bit. When they are out doing their performance ministry ( God still uses to bring people to Jesus) day to day tasks go smoothly. Our parents see the ministry and are proud of us kids for giving our lives. The next area is church. Mike and Pam are leaders in your church. Really cool.churches with great Bible teaching ( the pastor’s cycle through every couple of years as do the board members) it was rare to see Mike in a rage at church so many people don’t know. There is a church in Whitefish now that Mike and Pam are heavily involved in. Thirdly, there is the school or Mudman where students who have seen this amazing ministry can sign up, and spread the love of Jesus through the whole world. It’s very enticing. I didn’t even know that what I was going through was abuse. It took YEARS of God’s healing to understand that that is not what God wants. The phrase “it’s a really intense ministry and not everyone is cut out for intense ministry”, it’s sold like the Navy seals of ministry. As a young person you want to be that!! You want to give your all! So when things go south you are ASHAMED that you couldn’t cut it. You don’t want your parents to know how much of a failure you are. You lose you friends, your fellowship and are an outcast and blame yourself for “not being faithful in the small things”. These kids serving are not all having a bad experience, they don’t know, they can’t see. This will no doubt be played as persecution from the enemy which will firm up their young convictions and serve more. Mike and Pam are human. It’s that humanity that is the issue here. Lord only You can heal our hearts. Help us.
(I still struggle working with men. I made a clerical error on a letter that was printed, Mike took the letter and started yelling and walked towards me to the point I was against the wall. He had the letter in one hand and a finger close to my face. I was balling. I was not faithful in the small things. I was ashamed and felt that I wasted God’s resources. I wasn’t forced to resign and repent until months later.) My own pastor was there. When I went to him it was “an intense ministry”. I don’t think he was intentionally complicit. In his heart he did what he thought was right. He too was oblivious that he was in a cult. Our highschool kids call Mudman cult burger. The community is not stupid. Getting outside confirmation from news sources would be helpful.
Here is my full story. I guess I am still ashamed because I was still too scared to share my real name. My name is Alissa. My introduction to ministry life was ROUGH. I had just been through a church split where I was interning and Mike and Pam “graciously” invited me to intern with them. Granted this was for very very little money which at that time I saw as ok. I had plans to go Calvary Chapel Bible College in the fall. Mike (who didn’t have us call him pastor at this point – just to show you the change that has occurred and the intensity of him continuing in ministry as he now demands that title) offered to pay for my room and board at CCBC. Sooo making little money to get my room and board paid for was great! I got to work with my best friend Dawn Marie and got to work with the amazing Evangeline. That was it. There were three of us. I want to say it was 2001ish. Dawn and Evangeline lived on the new Ranch Property originally purchased as a sanctuary for pastors and performance ministry workers that needed to get away and recharge. This was before the remodel. I am talking creepy old farm house with very little heat, rats and a poor old goat named Thelma out in the middle of nowhere. Two single girls out in the middle of nowhere. I stayed there from time to time until it was just too cold and inconvenient as it was quite a way out of town.
During the day we would go to Mike and Pams house up on a Mountain in Whitefish. I would do things like collate and make the packets that are sent out to churches interested in having them come to do ministry. I remember there were a couple of occasions that I would come in and Michael was yelling on the phone to someone. It made me feel very uncomfortable. I walked in the wrong door at the wrong time once and it was like being scolded by your dad for doing something horrible. I was quickly rushed out of the office. Everyone acted as if this was normal so I just went along with it. I would essentially do odd jobs, vacuuming, dusting, planting, weeding, working in the pottery studio with Evangeline. Evangeline would be the one that went on tour with them. There was a peaceful feeling when Mike and Pam were not around. We didn’t have to walk on eggshells. We never hung out in their house out of respect and just focused on the pottery studio etc. (eventually there was an office in Whitefish where the previous story took place).
By this time Pastors from CC FT Lauderdale were coming and starting to create the vision for the Ranch. There was another intern who I will leave private as they have not yet come forward with their story. One day when Mike and Pam were home from tour, I went to the Pottery Studio to clean some merchandise and get it ready for the kiln. Dawn came in to say hi and let me know of the laundry list of things to do that day. One of which was filling a truck with pea gravel for Mikes dog and spreading it out in the run. I offered to help Dawn once I was done cleaning these two pots. Dawn, being the ever efficient one was already picking up a tool to help while we discussed how we could combine efforts and get things done. I put my pot on the shelf and sat down as Dawn was just about to finish with hers.
Then Michael came in. I have never been so humiliated in my life. He immediately started yelling at both of us. He wouldn’t let us explain a thing. I already had a feeling he didn’t like me because of the office incident but this was a whole new level of wrath unleashed upon us. We were wasting his goodness towards us and wasting God’s resources. To be honest I have shoved the majority of what was said into the deepest darkest hole not wishing to ever re-live it ever. All I know is that he literally through us out of the studio. Told us we were fired then changed his mind and (I REMEMBER THIS DISTINCTLY) with a grin, said that only one of us needed to resign and we had to decide among ourselves just who that would be. Dawn Marie and I cried and cried. I told her it would be ok, I would resign. I had family right in Kalispell. I had a place to go. I was leaving in the fall it would be ok. Shaking I got into my minivan and drove home to Kalispell. I was so afraid and in so much shock I had stopped crying and was just shaking all over. I went home and wrote out a gracious letter of resignation apologizing for…what I don’t even know. I didn’t hear from Dawn until the next day. I got a phone call asking to see me in her office in Whitefish, she was calm cool and collected. I went in and Dawn was like a different person. She rebuked me. She had three or four pieces of pottery that were unsalable due to improper cleaning. She told me that I was not faithful in the small things. I remember being told that there was great concern that I was never going to do well in ministry because I was not faithful in the small things. That phrase haunted me for so many years, all through the Bible College and even to this very day.
Something happened to Dawn! She was my only friend! (when you are in ministry like that your ministry mates are your best friends they are your family) I was told that they do not feel comfortable supporting me to go to Bible College any longer. (God is faithful and provided in other ways). That was it. Phone calls were not returned, I was cut off from my friend, Evangeline and the other intern. The other intern I remember told me “it’s just a really intense ministry and not all people are cut out for it”. I wasn’t good enough. I had failed and these people who my pastors, parents and friends trusted and respected said I was not faithful and shouldn’t be in ministry. It doesn’t end here I’m afraid. While I was at CCBC I went to CC Murrieta (why Lord that day??) and low and behold Mike and Pam were there. I was excited to Evangeline but I started shaking when I saw Michael. You know the worst part? He put his arm around me and introduced me to the Pastor at CC Murrieta and said “This is Alissa, she was one of our interns and is now going to the Bible College!” He was so proud and boasted like I was some type of success of his ministry. You guys!!! I went back to my dorm and cried and vomited!
The story goes on, I live in this valley to this day. Everytime I see Michael I shake and have to leave the room. I am so scared of him. For years I was either praised in public or shunned by Michael and the staff. I was one of the first. One of the first to be forced to leave with strong fellowship. I had no idea that it was still going on after I left (I truly thought I was the bad egg). This was just the beginning of Mike’s anger. It has morphed into frightening power over people. He is charming one moment and exploding the next. Michael has increased and changed for the worse.
I would like to insert something here. We were taught that secular therapy was not in God’s plan. It should only be Biblical counseling aka the pastor. I just started therapy three months ago! A real licensed breathing therapist with education and amazing ability to help me deal with life. PLEASE HEAR OUR PLEA!! GET YOUR KIDS AND LOVED ONES OUT NOW! IF THEY WON’T COME CAUSE THEY FEEL THEY ARE BEING PERSECUTED (they are deceived) PRAY THAT GOD WOULD OPEN THEIR EYES.
PLEASE SHARE OUR STORIES! PLEASE HELP US FREE OTHERS AND STOP THIS BEFORE OTHERS GET HURT. If you think my story is bad it is “cult light” in comparison to the survivors that came after.
**side note GOD IS FAITHFUL, He has restored Dawn Marie and my friendship and I am so thankful that He delivered her out of this! I love you Dawn Marie! ***