How Rozell Kept Control: Another Testimony From A Potters Field Survivor
I was involved with Potter’s Field Ministries for almost 5 years, beginning with the IGNITE Mission Training School in in 2015. I worked at Mudman on and off for almost 4 years and I worked as the Sponsorship Coordinator for about 2 and a half years.
I grew up in church and asked Jesus into my heart when I was 5 years old.
When I was 18, I got involved with the wrong people and eventually ended up in an extremely abusive relationship that manipulated me into a very secluded life. Just enough freedom so I didn’t feel too trapped but not enough so I would feel comfortable trusting anyone outside of that relationship to tell them what I was stuck in. I want to first say that there was sin and hypocrisy on my part in this situation, but there was also an abundance of youthful naïveté, manipulation, and abuse. It’s a long story to explain how I ended up in PFM’s IGNITE Program in the middle of this situation but I did. At that point, I was convinced God would never love me or accept me again and I was dead-set that I would not change in this year long program. Six weeks in, I was convicted, broken, and comforted by the Lord’s kindness and love. I’m going to explain this story the way I saw it then, and then explain how my slightly healed brain processes it now. It had been almost a year of living in depravity that was so terrible, I can’t even explain it to you. I had never told a soul. I started feeling convicted, like I was drowning in this secret. Studying the Word of God was letting light in. It was right at this time that a staff member came down to Guatemala during the 3 month training portion of IGNITE to visit. She made me feel seen and heard. I felt like I had to tell her and my roommate/classmate so that I could find freedom from the weight of this secret. An unspoken rule in PFM was that when someone told you something “above your pay grade”, you were expected to go tell Mike immediately.
So pretty soon, after I confided this to them, Mike came into my room yelling and screaming at me. After a while, he announced that he was going to dinner with Pastor Don McClure and I should be waiting for him when he comes back. I sat on my bed and balled to my roommate, terrified of what would come next, but thankful to have someone to talk to about this now after so long of bearing it on my own. When he came back, we talked long into the night, Mike, my roommate, the staff member, and me. All three of us girls were under 25. The way that I have looked at this for the past 5 years is that Mike saved my life. He was the only person that was willing to have that hard confrontational and controversial conversation with me. He had received grace so he had poured out grace on me and let me stay. The reality of all of this, though, is that that conversation in the way it happened, wasn’t necessary or appropriate.
Looking back after leaving, I realized that the Lord did so much work in my heart up to that day! He had been pursuing me! I was already broken. I had already confessed to the Lord and asked for His forgiveness and grace. He gave it to me! So godly sorrow led me to repentance, but I also wanted and needed accountability. So I reached out. When I did, I was met with screaming and anger. I always called it his righteous anger but it wasn’t. He was never satisfied until we were broken down sobbing and begging him for a chance. He positioned himself in between each of us and God from the very beginning. He told me in that meeting that I was a liar and made me feel like scum. He said that I should be sent home that same night but God let me slip through the cracks of the admission process so who was he to send me home now? He is a master manipulator and this reveals just a few of his tactics. Besides all of this, though, he never should have been the one to have this conversation with me. It should have been with a female leader. But he was too controlling for that. He had to be the one involved.
After that night, Mike controlled who was allowed to know about my past and how they found out. He would tell me that my roommates needed to know, and then the day before I was supposed to move in to the “girl’s house” in MT, I asked him if he was still going to tell them. He freaked out saying that I was attention seeking and I needed to let it go – but then he took a random group of female staff and told them all, even though only one of them was actually going to be a roommate of mine. He would jump sides all of the time. He would tell you one thing and you would hold onto that and then, if you ever asked about it, he would rebuke you for bringing it up. He was consistently inconsistent.
What I went through before IGNITE was difficult and traumatic and God did a miraculous work in my heart and freed me from so much, but there were times when I felt like I needed to be able to talk to someone about it, to process and continue healing. It felt like Mike held the keys to my story so I felt required to ask him for permission to seek counseling. When I asked about it, I was rebuked for at least an hour for acting like a victim. He held my sin over my head and made me feel like I wasn’t allowed to be hurt by my past because I had sin in it. I was never allowed to be a victim, even when I was, in fact, a victim trying to heal from an abusive relationship. I was never allowed to process the hurt I was put through. The truth is, I was “rescued” from an abusive situation by an abuser.
We were secluded in MT, barely paid enough to live on, but not allowed to get a job outside of the ministry (not that we had time to do so, since we were required to work at least 20 “volunteer” hours above and beyond the 40 we were paid for). Once again, just enough freedom so we didn’t feel too trapped, but not enough to feel comfortable telling anyone the red flags of what we were stuck in.
I found out right before I left, that Mike would tell my story to whoever he wanted, whenever he wanted. Which made sense because he would tell me graphic details about others’ pasts but I wasn’t allowed to tell them that I knew. He controlled the information. We all knew way too much information about each other but weren’t allowed to talk about it. One day, he walked into the office and told me, “Hey, I threw you under the bus yesterday, I hope that’s ok!” I found out that meant he told all of the girls in that current IGNITE class about my past, even though I still had close friends that I wasn’t allowed to tell. That’s the way it worked, he had all of the information. He had all of the control. He inserted himself in between us and God. We were never allowed to ask questions and if someone did, you could expect at least a 2-4 hour rebuke meeting or “hard fellowship”. He would talk often about how he never had one on one meetings with any women, even though that was a complete lie. He would have meetings with me all of the time. I just felt honored every time he would talk to me. There were SO many red flags that popped up to me in the nearly 5 years that I was involved with PFM but I dismissed each one individually instead of letting them lump together. These are just a handful. I am sharing all of this for those that still haven’t recognized the red flags. Please hear me out, I am not coming from a place of bitterness or anger. I’m praying that this would be a constructive tool. I hope that you can recognize the patterns of abuse in your own life and begin to heal from them.
“Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest may also fear.” – 1 Timothy 5:19-20