Tonite I was sadly reminded of some information given to me some years ago by a female friend from up in Toowoomba, where the Toowoomba Christian Fellowship/ Chapel In The Fields undertakes its poisonous activities.
My friend had finally plucked up the courage to leave/ had enough of the constant yelling (literally) and condemnation language that was constantly coming from the pulpit. My friend was very traumatised by the whole time at TCF but found a more mainstream church to attend, made new friends and turned her life around. Within a few months of leaving the Christian Fellowship, she obtained an administration job at one of the local private medical clinics (a GP clinic) which was staffed by christians in order to pay the bills.
My friend related to me how, over a period of weeks, she witnessed a revolving door of women who currently attended the christian fellowship, attending appointments with the GP's and Mental Health psychologists at the medical practice. Some women came for counselling, some for medication (for mental health issues) and some for both. Her comment to me was that is seemed like at least half the wives at the Christian Fellowship and quite a number of unmarried women were receiving mental Health assistance from the mental health professionals. A good number of these wives, were wives of men in leadership at the Christian Fellowship.
This information stunned me and speaks volumes about the group and family culture of people who attended the Toowoomba Christian Fellowship.
We all know that the Christian Fellowship preaches a very man centred theology and puts men up on a pedestal whilst putting women under a lot of oppression. The leadership style, both of the church leaders, and mirrored by the husbands in the families is very much one of constant condemnation of both wives and children. Likewise the leadership of the fellowship puts husbands under constant condemnation. All people are made to constantly feel they are not living up to expected standards, are sinners, all the travails are Gods loving way of dealing with them and leading them on to perfection.
The pressure, condemnation and kicks get stronger as they come down the CF food chain from the top to the bottom.
Christian Fellowship men are constantly being taken aside for counselling by elders and leaders and being told to pull their wives and children into "right order". the inference being that all wives are generally "out of gods order". Women are made to feel they are less of a human being than men. Men and "headship" are exalted.
This faulty teaching is in stark contrast with what the bible teaches us in the New Testament: That Christ died for all, and that God loves us, cares for us and men are to gently love and care for their wives and family. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Also we need to examine the fruits of the Spirit: Love, joy, patience, gentleness, etc.
The New Testament bible does not teach us to put people under extreme control. Teaching children with love, patience, care and tenderness will yield far greater long term benefits than trying to be brutal and condemnatory in speech and action.
The official Christian Fellowship line is that mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety do not exist. If a person is feeling bad, it is because "God is working in their lives", or "they are feeling Gods condemnation of their sinful ways" etc. It is always gaslighting and turning the fault back on the person, rather than the truth that the Christian Fellowship as an organisation, has extremely unhealthy theology, group practices and operates on extreme control of the congregation members.
Unfortunately, I know there have not been any new members joining this version of streetcar for a number of years and so the streetcar forum postings and conversations are very limited. This is outside of my control and the administrators are responsible for allowing new posters on streetcar. I hope this situation changes. But I am using my ability to post to continue to try and assist those still under the dark power of the Christian Fellowship.
That said. If any of you are reading this, and my message above strikes a chord and resonates with you. Please seek proper medical help for depression and anxiety. If you are still in the fellowship, I would strongly advise that you do not attend there any more. Rather seek out a caring and loving christian church. No church is perfect, there are all full of humans and have their faults. But your mental health will be a whole lot better when you are not under the extreme control of the cult like Christian Fellowship and their untrained leaders.
If your spouse attends with you, then you might have to start thinking up reasons why you don't want to attend. And finally, pray for those family members who are still under the sway and control of these wayward teachings, that their eyes might be opened, the scales fall off their eyes and they can see the christian fellowship and their damaging ways for what they truly are.
The other notable thing about New Testament teaching in relation to women is in Jesus' relationship to women. It is quite evident that Jesus and his itinerant band of twelve were supported by women wherever they went, supported out of love and devotion but not out of fear and repression. If Jesus is our model of relationship to God and to everyone else then how can the teaching of Vic and the behaviour of the elders of the CFs reflect Him. Simple answer---- they don't.
Not that similar attitudes to women didn't exist in Jesus' world. The Priests, Scribes, and Pharisees all had similar attitudes of repression towards women, clearly reflected in the Temple worship as women were definitely second class citizens, and not allowed into the Temple precinct proper but only allowed in the outer Court of Women in Jesus' time.
In the 38 years I have been observing Vic and the Restoration Fellowships, especially as reflected in the flood of "literature" which is spewed out, I struggle to find much to assure me that Jesus has any significance in this Cult. Jesus is always our benchmark!!!
…. And to believe that Vic as self-appointed Apostle of Jesus' Gospel reflects anything of Jesus strikes me as spiritual insanity.
Keep on caring for those of Toowoomba who struggle on at TCF.
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