Not Bethel…but…Beth-”HELL” (How God Rescued Me From Bill Johnson’s CULT)by Shofar B. Apostasy Watchdog.
Last year around Christmas time, I was part of a prayer group where I live. It was a small group that met 1-2 times a week. All of us were DESPERATELY seeking God. It was a good fellowship. One evening after the session ended, I was tinkering around on the drums when one of the brothers, Dan came up to me with a look of soft urgency in his eyes. Seeming not to notice that I was in deep focus trying to perfect a drum rudiment, he proceeded to interrupt me with a question…in a notch above whispering my name he asked me, ”have you ever heard of Bill Johnson??” Still working out drum patterns and attempting to simultaneously reply, I answered…”I ‘ve heard the name before. I know he’s in California but I don’t know much about him.” At this response, I saw Dan’s face light up as if he had just received a shot of adrenaline. I knew he was ready to share, so sensing this, my drumming gradually teetered off into a complete silence. It was then that Dan began to advise and enlighten me about Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church in Redding Ca. Also he gave me the scoop about the churches School of Supernatural Ministry. [Side note: I hate typing for long periods of time so this is going to be a truncated account and I’ll add more details over time.] Okay, so Dan who has no binding ties to Bethel, suddenly sounded like one of their top recruiters/ pitchmen. He began to tell me about how the presence of God permeated and saturated the campus at Bethel. He RAVED about the school. He RAVED about the music in the worship services. He RAVED about the teachings of Bill Johnson and Kris Vallatton. He raved about everything from the prayer tower to the coffee shop. After about an hour and a half of what could’ve EASILY qualified to have been a top notch infomercial, Dan made me an offer that two weeks later I found out…”I couldn’t refuse.” Dan told me that he was so confident that my walk with Christ would intensify by leaps and bounds by going to Bethel, that if I agreed to go, NOT ONLY would he pay my transportation there…he would also PAY THE $9000.00 Tuition required to attend the School of Supernatural Ministry.
At the time it really sounded cool, but I was comfy here at home and saw no need to make any rash moves. However, later, some things were being shaken up at home and I began to lose peace. I remembered Dan telling me of the intense peace that was present aroung the Bethel atmosphere. Being that he contacted frequently to pitch me on Bethel after that prayer meeting night, it was during one of the times we made contact…I succumbed. I said okay Dan…I’ll go check it out. The next day we were at the Greyhound station. However, I got cold feet and asked for more time to think about it. After all this was new territory for me, new town, nowhere to live, new people was no big deal…I’m as gregarious as they come. I LOVE PEOPLE!!! Anyway, after thinking about it, I took the dive. The next day I was off to Redding. Set up with a nice motel, I found my way to Bethel the next day, and this would be the beginning of the road to my NIGHTMARE. Please note though, it didn’t start out that way. When I attended Bethel for the first time it was LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT!! And that ”love” would continue for the next two months. I immediately called Dan to tell him how right he was about everything. I even went on to tell him that he UNDERSTATED his description. I SWORE that I had died and gone to heaven. People seemed to really love Jesus. The view from the top of the mountain was ABSOLUTELY BREATHTAKING!!! There was something going on ALL OF THE TIME…LITERALLY 24/7. Being one that’s GREEDY FOR GOD, it was the perfect milieu for me and my insatiable appetite for HIM. There were ubiquitous house groups within the community and I loved attending them. It reminded me of the New Testament church in Acts. I went to EVERY possible function that I could, and there were ”ZILLIONS”. During a house meeting I was offered a place to stay…for FREE. And that was just in the nick of time as I began running out of money. A few days later, I began living with students from Bethel’s school. Still floating on a cloud, I just seemed to see God’s hand moving at every turn I made. Even from my first visit, I would get myriad ”words of knowledge” spoken to me by many people EVERYDAY. I still have them written down. I think maybe ONE came true, but I know NOW that it was just a lucky guess..the rest em’?? UN-lucky guesses…lol.
So to make a long story short , I absorbed every thing Bethel offered I dove in seven days a week. I had my first ”fire tunnel” experience at a house…my first impression…OVERRATED!! While everyone else that went through it laughed and convulsed hysterically, I was unaffected EVEN in spite of the countless attempts of others to ”IMPART” (one of their buzz words) into me what they were feeling. Also, I found it strange that I couldn’t even communicate with people even about simples matters like the weather or a basketball game without them jerking, shaking or convulsing…these convulsions were so profuse within the cult that for me it QUICKLY became overkill. Another idiosyncrasy was the constant belting out of the phrase…”’WHOA” OR ”WOE” This is heard constantly. Still seeing through rose colored glasses though, I overlooked the weird behavior and justified it by concluding that ”God loves it when his kids are having fun with Him” Gradually though, I started deducing that this wasn’t mere fun…it was borderline mockery, the shaking, the jerking, the laughing, the cackling, the convulsing….it just went on TOOOO MUCH!!! If it were done in moderation, it may have gone undetected by me, but this was INSANE!!!
Later, I started noticing a LOT of name dropping from the pulpit (mostly from Bill Johnson) of false prophets and wolves like Bob Jones, Patricia King, Todd Bentley, Heidi Baker, and a plethora of others… This was constant, and when these names were mentioned, cheers went up with the fervor and magnitude of a Super Bowl touchdown reaction. During my entire time there, I NEVER ONCE heard Jesus get even a fraction of that type of praise,worship, or delightful frenzy. I might add that NEVER ONCE did I hear salvation, repentance, holiness, righteousness, judgment, or wrath preached, neither from the pulpit nor when I’d travel the streets with them. The whole business plan (because it’s NOT a ministry) is to focus on LYING signs and wonders….impotent magic tricks. I’ve always wondered why Bill would rave about all of these so-called and UNDOCUMENTED ”miracles” happening through Bethel around the world, YET, when it comes to home, we never get to see any of em’ manifested. For instance, Bill and his wife both wear prescription glasses…where’s the healing?? Bill had a hernia surgically removed…WHAT??? No miracle?? Bill’s son Eric is deaf and has a speech impediment…C’mon Bill…that’s your son..HEAL HIM!!!…Bill and his wife have gray hair (a sign of zinc deficiency)…but no ”supernatural” intervention has taken place, yet all of this GREAT stuff is happening EVERYWHERE ELSE EXCEPT HOME ON BETHEL’S TURF!!! Gimme a break!!!.
The real thing that got me though was the death of little J.C. the infant of two dear Korean friends of mine. He died from cancer at two years old. Prayers went out for him every second of the day. People jerked, shook, laughed, convulsed, spoke in (FAKE/DEMONIC) tongues over him…the works…and when he died, we were left with feeble excuses like ”God needed him more” kind of CRAP!!! Around this time I had already stopped going to the church. When I first got there, for the first two months, because God gifted me with charisma, celebrity looks (and I don’t say that arrogantly) and the ability to draw people, I instantly became EXTREMLEY popular. By the time I left Redding, I was considered a pariah in some circles and cliques within. Even though I lived with Bethel students, I began to expose Bethel, Bill Johnson, Kris Vallaton, Danny Silk, and ALL of the celebrity WOLVES in their within their evil and deceptive cabal. People that used to ”love” me (so they said), snubbed me on the streets. They unfriended me on facebook. They’d give me looks of sheer disdain whenever we’d cross paths…we’re talkin’ some of the same people that I’ve prayed with, broke bread with, and had gotten venerably intimate with. When I stopped going to the church and began staying home and listening to REAL MINISTERS OF GOD like Michael Boldea and Mike Hoggard, Paul Washer and David Eells, I got flack from my roommates saying that those guy were mad and didn’t know God.They asked me not to play their sermons But I’d ignore their comments and continued to feed on what was REAL GOSPEL. I would often challenge my roomies and other Bethel ”robots” on Bill and Kris’ theology and their twisted new age ”sermons” WITH SCRIPTURE and it ceased to surprise me anymore that they’d rebuttle my challenges with quotes from one of Bill or Kris’ books. IMAGINE THAT!!! They ALWAYS tried to refute GOD’S WORD with quotes from books written by their false teachers. Can you say MIND CONTROL???
So after 2 months, I stopped going. I continued to live with the students because it was a ”phat crib” OR, a nice house for those who are linguistically challenged in ”SLANG”…LOL 🙂 I was paying rent by this time in a new home and different students. The landlord approached me one day while shooting ball in the yard and told me that if I didn’t start attending Bethel and doing what they call ”SOZO” classes (which is simply /new age mysticism/chanting/ contemplative prayer or ”soaking” kinda stuff) that I would have to find somewhere else to live. It was my 4th month in Redding and that was my ”Q” to leave. My wife was on the phone when this happened. I had my bluetooth in my ear and the landlord wasn’t aware that I was on a phone call at the time. My wife COULD NOT BELIEVE HER EARS!!! We both knew it was time to ”GIT OUTTA DARE”.
I became good friends with Mike Hoggard while going through that trying period, and he REALLY helped sustain me in prayer and encouraging words. I initially was going to relocate to where he is and get some discipleship and restoration. But God led me home. Let me give you one more story here before I close. There was a class held every Sunday called ”Fire Starters” birthed out of the Toronto Blessing movement. This class was supposed to ..get this…”TEACH” PEOPLE HOW TO PROPHESY…LOL!!! Yes…I laughed too!! So anyway, every class people were randomly called to the front of the room, they were lined up, and asked to pick someone in the room and give them a word of knowledge…BUT THERE WERE RULES…WHAT EVER YOU SAID HAD TO BE SWEET, KIND, AND MAKE THE PERSON ”FEEL” GOOD…Those are the rules verbatim!!! After weeks of seeing this nonsense and people stating the obvious and touting it as hearing from God, out of frustration, one Saturday night, I decided to MAKE UP, FABRICATE a ”word of knowledge” just in case I would be picked out to prophesy in tomorrow’s class. And whaddaya know…I get picked. When my turn came, I shared my FABRICATED ”word’. It was this, ”there’s someone here who’s been strategizing suicide, and the devil is tormenting you. If you’ll raise your hand, we can pray for you and you can be released.” Much to my surprise, a hand went up…WOW….I’m like okay God, you used my prank to REALLY get someone’s attention. ”Praise You”. But I was about to get an even BIGGER surprise, because, I immediately thought the room would shut down and people would bombard this poor girl who planned to take her life, so they could pray and labor over her soul, but NO!!! That’s NOT what happened. Instead, I got reprimanded by Kevin Dedmond, one of the ”leaders” (you can see his crap on you tube w/Sid Roth),and I was told that I’m to only say things that make people feel good. And they resumed right back into letting people perform their exercises of divination, cause that’s what it REALLY is. More upsetting is that when class dismissed, out of a room of about 150ppl, I only saw 2 people (excluding myself), a couple go minister to that girl…everyone else??? Well, they were too anxious to go through the FRUITLESS ”fire tunnel” so that they could appease their flesh…and so they did…THEY LAUGHED, THEY JERKED, THEY SHOOK, THEY CONVULSED, THEY WRITHED IN THE FLOOR, and to this very day…they call it GOD. When they finally DO meet God they’ll not be laughing anymore!!! I’d like to thank Pat Rogers from ”ANGRY SHEEP” for encouraging me to share this with you all. Believe me, there’s soooooooooo much more to share and I’ll add on as things come to mind. You have to realize that I only hunt and peck 20 wpm, so typing , for now anyway, isn’t my forte. Getting ready to take classes though. Please forgive any type-o’s. Love You All in the Lord and I pray that in some way you were blessed, edified, or educated through this writing. God Bless You, Shofar 🙂