About me

I'm just a believer that is recovering from my experience at Teen Mania's Honor Academy and I would like to share my journey of healing with you.

True Stories

A compilation of all the true stories submitted by former Honor Academy interns.

Recovery Resources

A list of helpful books and websites for your healing journey.


A summary of abuses committed by senior Teen Mania leadership.

What Mental Health Professionals Are Saying

Internationally Recognized Cult Experts Doug and Wendy Duncan weigh in on the Teen Mania controversy.

Is Teen Mania a Cult?

Why this controversial description fits Teen Mania.

How Teen Mania Has Responded

Read a synopsis of all my interaction with Teen Mania leadership documenting the multiple lies they've told and two fake "investigations." (Photo Courtesy of Bloomberg)

March 31, 2010

More Bad Marriage Advice

Even though there is no way we can top yesterday's post (at least I hope not!) I thought we'd keep the theme going and look at another dumb thing the HA teaches about marriage.

I can't point to a particular audio recording, but I know I've heard this teaching multiple times (let me know if you've heard it too). It goes something like this:

"If you really want to get married, you are not ready to start a relationship. You should be totally content with the Lord and free of a desire for marriage - and then God will bring you a spouse."

Let's take a look at how this squares with Scripture. We might as well go back to where it all started, the first marriage in the Garden of Eden.

Every day of creation, God finishes his work, looks around and says, "This is good." Then he creates man and puts him to work in the garden. But then he says, "This is NOT good."

The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Gen. 2:18

If God was like Dave Hasz, He would have said, "Hey, Adam, you need to be content with me! Aren't I enough for you?"

However, suprisingly, God recognizes that He alone is not sufficient to keep us from loneliness. He created us to be in intimate relationships together.

Let's fast forward to the New Testament and see what Paul has to say about this.

But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. I Corinthians 7:9

Good thing Dave Hasz isn't writing Scripture, otherwise this verse would say:

"But if they cannot control themselves, they should not marry because it just proves how immature they are. Instead they should seek contentment with the Lord and wait for Him to bring a spouse."


This kind of ethic runs throughout TM, i.e. "If you really want something, it means that desire is from the flesh and you should deny yourself and lay that desire down."

So, why is this a big deal? Surely, its an innocent theological disagreement and/or mistake.

Here's why its a big deal:

1) If you embrace this kind of thinking, you are saddled with a perpetual feeling of never being good enough because everything you want is somehow bad, just because you want it.

This plays out not only in the marriage realm, but everything else as well. Some intern says, "I want to be a worship leader." They might be immediately grilled about this desire - is it because they want to be up front? Are they driven by ego? Is this just their flesh?

Of course, those questions are not bad in themselves, but the way they are wielded is unhealthy and defeating. Instead of celebrating and encouraging an intern in the desires God has placed in their heart, they are grilled and confronted.

2) If you embrace this teaching, you become deathly afraid of making decisions. You are torn because you know what you want to do, yet you've been told that doing something because you simply want to do it somehow makes it bad. You want to pursue a particular career, or a particular relationship - yet you are paralyzed with fear over whether you will make a mistake and be out of God's will or whether you will elevate that desire over God.

The truth is that God has created us with certain desires, passions and skills. It is not wrong to value those and to pursue them. In fact, I'd say its wrong to deny the way God created you. There is nothing in Scripture that encourages us to eliminate every desire we have, except our desire for God. Of course, God is to be top in our affections, but that does not mean that we have affections for nothing else. The goal to eliminate all desire is more akin to Buddhism than to Christianity.

As St. Augustine said, "Love God and do what you please."

March 30, 2010

Honor Academy: WORST Marriage Advice EVER

UPDATE: If you are having trouble accessing the audio file:

1. Download audio file from Google Docs to your computer and save it in a location you can find.
2. Find the file, right-click it, choose "Rename" and remove the ".mp3" from the end of the file name.
3. After renaming the file, right-click it again and choose "Open with..."
4. Use Quicktime or another program that plays M4A files (NOT Windows media) to open the file and play the audio.

An alumnus recently sent me the audio from a marriage talk Heath gave to the women of the Honor Academy. I’m not usually shocked anymore by anything TM does because I feel like I’ve heard it all. But, after listening to this stunningly bizarre teaching, I am absolutely flabbergasted. I honestly don’t think there are appropriate words in the English language to describe this teaching, but I am going to try.

Clueless. Stupid. Ignorant. Arrogant. Unhealthy. Damaging. Narrow-Minded. Ridiculous. Astonishing. Bizarre. Did I mention STUPID?

Heath takes the top 5 needs of a man – which I’ve heard elsewhere and seem like a legitimate assessment – and in a bizarre twist, makes them into some sort of requirement for all relationships with men – even platonic and fatherly ones. Don’t believe me? Below is the list of needs and how Heath teaches the HA women to apply them.

Top 5 Needs of a Man:

5) Domestic Support – @5:10 Do you know how to clean? You can tell by your dorm room, can’t ya? You can tell whether you like to clean or not, just by looking at your dorm room...When it comes to your dorm room, that should be your ladies mansion.

4) An Attractive Spouse - @6:50 – Do you smile a lot? Or are you always pondering things? Are you always thinking deep thoughts? Or are you naturally vivacious? Do you just smile a lot? Can you train yourself to be smiley? It’s actually good to do.

- Also wearing makeup is “taking pride in God’s creation.”

3) Recreational Companion - @7:50 If you don’t like to go watch intramural sports, don’t get married. You probably don’t want to get married. If you would not want to sit down and watch some games with your husband, don’t get married.

@8:40 - Whatever your brother core is into, that is what you need to be into….whatever they want to do, because they want a recreational companion. Another way you can practically apply this - whatever you dad is into, you become into.

2) Admiration – @10:15 - He wants to be admired, he wants to be told he is the greatest person, that you are so glad you are part of his sister core.

@13:00 - When it comes to your manager, have you guys admired your manager?

@14:00 – Admire men, give them compliments. Don’t just do it to a few men, do it to all men.

1) Sexual Fulfillment – Surprisingly, I don’t disagree with what Heath is saying in this section. However, I don’t think he clarified enough how to manage different sexual expectations in marriage and left some people feeling like he said, “If you don’t have sex 6 times per week, you will be a bad wife.” I don’t think that is what he is saying here, but I understand how women could take it that way.

For some reason, Heath seems to think that in order to prepare for marriage, you should treat everyone in nearly the same way you will treat your spouse. What?? Marriage is often the means by which God fulfills our emotional needs - we aren't called to go around meeting the deep emotional needs of every opposite sex person in our life. Are you freaking kidding me? If the HA women follow this advice, there are going to be A LOT of confused guys around campus. If a woman starts admiring you, praising you, serving you - you are going to think she likes you. Heath basically just told every woman in the room to go start leading guys on.

Let's say a woman starts following this teaching - what does she do after she gets married? I don't think her husband will appreciate the way she serves, admires and praises every other guy in her path.

By its very nature and definition, marriage is a relationship unlike any other. The way I treated my roommates and friends of the opposite sex has had NO bearing on the way I treat my spouse. I don't have the same love for them, I haven't pledged my life to them, and I am not one with them in God's eyes. The idea that we should somehow treat everyone the same way we will treat our spouse but without the companionship, love and other benefits that marriage brings is just bizarre. Again, we aren't required anywhere in Scripture or common sense to do what Heath is suggesting. Why should women "admire all guys - even ones they don't like?" This makes NO sense. Should women admire men who cheat on their wives, who can't hold a job, criminals, etc?

This guy is teaching about relationships??? What qualifications does Heath have? His trailer club classes also count as a college credit sociology class? Are you kidding me?? I can't think of anyone less qualified, based on this teaching, to understand human relationships.

If I critiqued everything in this teaching, this post would be a mile long. Instead I am going to leave you with:

Top 5 WTF? Moments:

@3:09 - If you love to serve guys that you don’t naturally like to be around, you’ll be a good wife.

@12:50 - To find out if you are going to be a good wife – do you naturally admire guys? Not just the guys you like, but all the guys.

@22:00 – Marriage is very easy, if you are prepared. If you are ready, it’s very easy.

@27:30 – If you marry the wrong man, you’ll have to put your kids in daycare one day. Do you realize as soon as you get married, you are saying, “I am ready to have a child because I will probably get pregnant on my honeymoon.”…If you marry the right guy, you can do your dreams AND take care of your children. But if you marry the wrong guy, you’ll have to put your kids in daycare.

@30:35 – Heath says it’s not natural to argue in marriage and compares it to stealing or hitting people….”Do you want to have arguments in your marriage? You get to decide whether or not you are going to have arguments in your marriage.”

March 29, 2010

The Forum is Here!

Ok, folks...first I'd like to thank everyone for their suggestions and techie help. An anonymous HA alumnus very generously provided the $195 fee to get started with some great forum software. Thanks!

You can check out the forums at: http://forums.recoveringalumni.com

You will need to register first before you can view or post.

I'm new at this and our volunteer moderators are also getting up to speed, so please bear with us through any hiccups over the next week or so. Shoot me an email if you encounter any problems.

See you in the forums!

Shannon's Story

I came in contact with Teen Mania Ministries through an ATF when I was in high school. I was “saved” at an ATF. During my first ATF they had a break out session for those that were interested in the Honor Academy. The break out session made the HA sound a lot like the Ministry Team. Sounded good to me. Over the next year I thought about it, and wish that I could say that I prayed about it. At the following year’s event, I “knew” that God was calling me to the Honor Academy. So, I talked with my youth pastor, who was in agreement.

Once I applied and was accepted, I took on the challenge of fundraising. I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church. My church was supportive of me and set up a fundraising budget for my year. (This is important for later). My parents were not thrilled with the idea because this meant that I would be taking a year’s break from college in order to attend. My parents were also very skeptical of the program. But, I was determined.

I became very devoted to everything Teen Mania. I started talking to others in the TM chat room and started planning my year. First challenge was to tackle the Mission Trip. I went to New Orleans at Christmas. I was an MA. During my mission trip, a few of my group members informed me that our Team Leaders were saying some inappropriate things to them and that they felt uncomfortable. I advised them to talk with the person over the trip. These girls were made to feel like they were the horrible ones and that they had done something wrong, despite the fact that it was the Team Leader that was giving the girls shoulder massages, etc. Eventually, word got to the directors and the Team Leaders were no longer allowed to have anything to do with Teen Mania. The girls’ moms emailed me and were very thankful for my help with their young daughters.

I arrived to campus excited, but confused. I still believed that I had signed up for and was going to be a part of the Ministry Team — That is how they sold it to me. I was a January and so I felt very out-casted in my core. I was one of two Januaries in my core, and the only January in my room. Because of this I felt out of place and felt as if I didn’t belong. Our January class grew very close to one another.

Being overweight, and not being told about the exercise requirement prior to joining the HA, I struggled with corporate exercise. I often felt belittled by some of my core mates because of their comments regarding the exercises.

I have never been a morning person and therefore I struggle with focusing early in the morning. Give me an hour or so after I have woken up and I will be good. Unfortunately, the requirement was to have a 1 hour quiet time, and my core advisor required that to be in the morning. So, during my second semester, I was made to feel like I wasn’t good enough because I didn’t gain anything out of my quiet times since I couldn’t focus. I tried to talk with my core advisor about having them at night and the reasons for wanting to do so, but was shut down and told that it was an expectation to have them in the morning. This led to feeling like a failure.

I had quite a few “friends” at the HA. I use quotations because many of them were “friends” when they needed a ride to Tyler or elsewhere. I was one of the few people that had a car on campus and I was used for that car on many, many occasions.

ESOAL was ridiculous. I couldn’t tell you how long I lasted during the event, but I can tell you the pain I went through, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. To begin with, I felt as if I dragged my team down, and on a few occasions was told such. When one of our teammates was kidnapped and we were required to find them, we ran through the paintball field being pelted with paintballs in all angles. At the end of the course, I fell on a rock and sprained my ankle. My team encouraged me to get up and continue on. Facilitators “encouraged” the same thing. However, I knew my ankle was bad. I told them that I couldn’t continue and needed to go to the ER. I was taken to the ER and told that if I sprain my ankle again before it heals, I would end up with torn ligaments in my ankle. So I had to be very cautious regarding my exercises and such.

Like many others, I was told that the Pike’s Peak retreat was a challenge and that Pike’s Peak was my spiritual mountain to overcome. I was unable to complete the challenge and was forced to stop at Bar Camp. Dealing with altitude sickness, I had to hike back down the peak. There was another intern in the same predicament, except she had to be carried down by the remaining interns on a stretcher because she was nearly passed out. Instead of being proud that I was able to make it to Bar Camp, I felt like a failure and someone that couldn’t conquer her spiritual mountain.

During a prayer retreat, the guest speaker began to invite those of us that wanted to be baptized in the spirit to the altar. Growing up in a SBC church, this was completely foreign to me, but because there were so many other people going to the altar, I felt the need/desire/call to go to the altar as well. My advisor came and prayed with me. She laid her hands on me and told me to start speaking in tongues. She continued to pressure me to “just speak” and I became so uncomfortable that I simply began speaking gibberish so that she would go pray with someone else.

A few weeks later, I felt the need to confront my church for leaving out a crucial part of the bible, the baptism of the holy spirit. I wrote my pastor a letter and chronicled my experience (as I believed it was real) and encouraged my church to begin teaching this. A few days after sending the letter, my pastor informed me that my church would no longer sponsor me at TM, which was completely understandable!

Being at the Honor Academy in such a sheltered environment did nothing for my social skills. Prior to being in the HA, I was a social butterfly who could communicate verbally with just about anyone about anything. Once I graduated from the internship I felt awkward and unable to fit in with friends that I grew up with. I am a social misfit in many ways now and am unable to communicate verbally in the same manner as before.

After being at the HA, I went to a Christian college. For the first couple of years I was passionate, but felt completely empty. No church that I attended gave me the same feeling that the HA had given me. No amount of quiet times, or worship sessions, etc. gave me the same high that I had while at TM. My Junior year of college as a Christian Studies minor, I began to really question a lot of the things I had been taught. I began digging deeper into the Bible and began forming drastically different beliefs than what I was taught growing up. This continued through my Senior year as well. I was without a church family for most of my college years because I couldn’t find one that measured up to my experience at TM.

The fall of my Senior year, already questioning a lot of my beliefs, I was dealt a blow like I have never experienced. My mom, who had been sick on and off for years, was again in the hospital. This time, however, they were not sure if she would make it. The week before finals, my dad called my school, my work, and me to let me know that I will have to come home immediately. On December 16, 2004 my mom passed away.

For the next year I prayed, fasted, sought Godly counsel, and all to no avail. I felt like I was abandoned by this God that I had given my life to. I prayed for comfort - any amount of comfort, and instead, I was left with an unbearable amount of grief. Friends, both from the HA and from home, were nowhere to be found when I called them or tried to talk to them. I spent that year alone. I literally felt abandoned by God, and my friends. I didn’t feel as if I could talk to my family because I was the only Christian in my family and I was supposed to be the strong one, or so I thought.

At one point, I even emailed Dave Hasz about the situation. His response saddened me and only left me feeling bitter and alone. He couldn’t answer why there is so much suffering in the world other than the standard Christian response about being for the glory of god. He also wanted me to identify what I wanted as far as comfort.

So, left alone, bitter, and feeling abandoned, I quit having quiet times, quit praying, quit seeking, quit trying. I began to realize that god was simply something that I, and humans, have created in order to try to understand the world and make sense of what seems like chaos. I am a weak atheist at this point and yes there is a lot more, unrelated to my experience at TM, to my de-conversion.

So that is my story. Definitely not as horrible as others, but also not very pleasant for me. Please do not contact me trying to convert me, as I am not interested. Thanks!

March 27, 2010

Made You Laugh

Have you noticed that we have more girls stories than guys? I'm not sure if that's because women in general feel more comfortable writing their story...but I know the guys are out there because they call me and they email me. So, if you haven't sent in your story yet - girl or guy - please don't forget to email it to the Board of Directors. Time is of the essence. Send it to marklewtulsa at gmail.com. Read all the details here.

If you're willing to share it on the blog, email me at recoveringalumni at hotmail dot com.

And if you want a great read and a great laugh - check this out:

If Jesus Had A Facebook

March 26, 2010

Honor Academy's Clean Room Standards

I'm really at a loss for words after watching this. I showed some friends and they thought it was a joke.

Really, Hasz, seriously?

March 25, 2010

Matthew's Story

Since my first Acquire the Fire, I knew I wanted to go to the Honor Academy. It took me a few years to make it a reality, but it eventually happened. At first, things were good. They kept us so busy during Gauntlet that I didn't really have time to think about whether or not I should stay. Yeah, the leadership said things like "make sure this is what you want to do" but I honestly believe that the whole marketing technique of Teen Mania is unhealthy and damaging to many who encounter the ministry. They target youth, who are easily shaped and moldable (or at least, I was), and that caused me to get caught up in the excitement of the constant busy-ness of the first two weeks, and since they needed four months worth of my stay up front (which my mom graciously paid for) there was no way I wasn't going to finish it out. I can't waste mine, and supporters', money.

The first thing I was shocked by was early morning physical training. Granted, I was in good shape for a lot of the year, but the lengths to which I got there were less than appealing. I remember the terrible pressure that staff and leaders and other interns alike put on me during the 4 am corporate workouts. More than once have I been told that I wasn't running fast enough and that if I wasn't "throwing up" at the end, then I didn't push myself hard enough. I am not a runner. Period. I remember the humiliation as a leader began to ran circles around me pointing out that I was slow. This wasn't during any special event or anything. It was typical early morning workouts.

I think the hardest thing was the favoritism that the leaders show towards interns. The Resident Directors were always playing sports and hanging out with specific interns and I spent most of my time attempting to MEET with my RD at the once a month check ins. Needless to say, during my whole stay there, I met with my RD once. Oh, I noticed how people were treated and it frustrated me because I really felt like I was in high school again. I looked around me and the ones who were given leadership roles, privilege, and lets face it, attention, were the ones who looked good, were popular, or had money. After an attempt to become a Core Advisor, I began to see this more clearly. I was overlooked for the more fit, cooler looking, hollister wearing, guys. They all just seemed to fit this mold. A mold that I spent my whole high school life trying to fit myself into. I refused to do it again here.

Also, let me say this: I know there are different opinions and such about this issue and people may disagree with me and by all means, that is their right. Ever since I was a kid, I struggled with homosexuality. I kept it under wraps for a very long time. Never. Not once have I felt comfortable and free enough to talk about it. In the dorms, I heard the word "fag" more times than I care to hear. Gay jokes were made constantly. Tell me, how is one supposed to tell their CA and RD that they are struggling with homosexuality when the leaders in charge do such great gay impressions? One doesn't. So I didn't.

My biggest upset was during the battle cry campaign. CCM recorded video of the counter protestors in San Francisco and presented it to us during a monday night service. The video showed guys dressed in weird outfits (a lot of GLBT people were at this protest), Sunsara Taylor from Move On and Ron Luce debating on Oreilly factor, and the whole time, slurs were being shouted, people laughed and mocked the people on the screen, and I immediately got up and walked out only to be escorted back in by an RD. It hurt so much to sit there and hear the laughs and jeers towards people whom I can so easily relate with. I felt sick.

When I look back at my experience at the Honor Academy, I do see good things come out of it. I have some wonderful friends who I have known for a few years. I have some cool memories and exciting stories. But I really do think that by far, the Honor Academy caused more detriment to me and my faith, than anything else in my life. The pressure to live up to these expectations came to be too great. Often the term "Integrity" would come into play as though me being 2 seconds late for chapel caused me not to have integrity. Surely, the RD's at the door with their timers and watches didn't think so, and I often found myself scrubbing toilets, as though that would make me be two seconds faster.

By the end of my year, I was so exhausted with all things God. Being forced to have a relationship with him was not what I signed on for, but that is exactly how I felt. Mandatory fasting, mandatory prayer, mandatory services, mandatory quiet times at the designated hour. During these times, everyone would seem so spiritual. The worship would be extravagant and hip, lights flashing everywhere, mood being set...for me, it felt like the Honor Academy was trying to draw some sort of emotion out of me that wasn't there. The whole time, as I was being told I needed to speak in tongues, I didn't have faith, etc etc, I felt like running away and burying my head in the sand.

At the moment, I'm still deeply scarred as I too have tried to converse about certain issues and have fallen through the cracks. The ring banquet, where you are told that you always have a home with Teen Mania and you are a part of the prestigious "line", well...I feel like that was mostly lies. I graduated thinking that I received a second place ribbon. That I wasn't really there to grow or learn, but rather, it was like searching for gold. The honor academy was the strainer and the leadership picked out and polished the best gold pieces while the dirt was thrown back. I don't really have much of a relationship with God anymore. I'm not even sure if he exists and if he does, I certainly don't feel that love.

I'm sure there is more but i'm not that talented of a writer so I'm going to leave it at that. But I do want to say that I appreciate your blog. Its bringing closure to my life and that closure is something that I have been in desperate need of.

March 24, 2010

How Leadership and Excellence Damage People

Somehow we've come to believe that leadership and excellence are key pillars of the Christian life. Yet Jesus own ministry violated many principles that we teach in the name of these ideals.

Jesus chose blue collar workers without an education to be his friends and his representatives. His communication was often confusing. He didn't play to the power structures of his day - political or religious. Instead he partied at the homes of the outcast and marginalized. He "wasted" his time on the weak and helpless. He didn't try to convert the "influencers" at the expense of anyone else. He didn't defend himself. He didn't use political power to win the culture war of the day. He didn't even start his ministry until he was 30 - but worked a blue collar job as a carpenter.

So how did we get everything so backwards? Jesus said not to "lord it over others" and now we hold seminars on how to use Scripture to do that very thing, albeit in a nicer way. There is little to nothing in the Bible about seeking excellence (which is usually defined in a very worldly way) and now we justify trampling the uneducated, the untalented or the unpolished because they don't exemplify excellence (read: they aren't good enough).

Teen Mania certainly is not the only place we've been taught these things, but living in an environment of constantly being sized up according to these two ideals can damage our confidence and our ability to understand how God sees us. When the pretty people, the popular people, the charismatic people are chosen over and over again for favored positions, it makes everyone else feel that they don't measure up. And yet, God does not show favoritism like that. It doesn't matter how skilled, talented, beautiful or smart you are in the world's eyes - and let's face it, there is ALWAYS going to be someone "better" than you. God created you just as you are and He loves you just as you are.

If you are living with the feeling of not being good enough, know that you will NEVER be good enough - and that's ok. That is why Jesus came! He knows you aren't good enough and He has mercy on you. He is pleased with you anyway. He sees your halting efforts, stumbling steps, your boredom in prayer, your waning zeal - and He is not mad at you! He is waiting for you to give up on your abilities to be a super-Christian and rest in His finished work. Are you tired of all this striving yet? Give it up to Him!

Psalm 103: 10-14

He does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is His love for those who fear Him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him;
for He knows how we are formed,
He remembers that we are dust.

These posts below go into more detail on the perils of focusing on leadership and excellence. If you only have time to read one of them, check out the last one on excellence. It will blow your mind.

1) Leadership is never an aim for the Christian in the Bible.

2) When the call to lead or to produce leaders is heralded, are we...unintentionally contributing to the idol of success? Why not just call ourselves servants?

3) ...but i also think we need to be aware of how much damage “excellence” can cause to the body of Christ.

March 23, 2010

Maggie's Story

I was an intern with Teen Mania Ministries in 1995 and 1996. It has been a long time since my involvement with Teen Mania, and my memories have faded considerably, I felt compelled to sound my voice, mainly as a part of my healing process, but also out of concern for future potential interns.


6 months ago, I came across a blog dedicated to helping people heal from their experience at Teen Mania. As I began reading through some of the posts, I experienced two extreme emotions surging through my body: Shock and relief.

I was shocked because others had experienced Teen Mania in the same way I had. For many years, I had assumed that I was a loner in this experience, a black sheep, a wayward backslider for thinking that the Teen Mania system was wrong both in principle and application. It was absolutely mind-blowing to discover, after 15 years, that I was not alone. It was also shocking that someone had summoned up the courage and strength to write about their experience in a public way. As you may or may not know, the leadership at Teen Mania shames and shuns anyone who challenges them. This was true 15 years ago, and it is one of the repeated themes on the blog.

The relief I felt was overwhelming. All the feelings I had been bottling up for years came spilling out. As I read, I wept. People were saying what I had needed to say for many many years. It was like discovering the treatment for a forgotten festering wound.


As I continued reading and participating in the blog, old feelings and emotions started re-appearing. Shame, fear, anger, sadness. In that order. I began to analyze what this meant and wondered how, after all these years, I could feel these emotions again so strongly. I thought I had let go of that piece of my life. My response had been to run a far away as possible. I had disconnected from most of my contacts there, save a few close friends. As the years passed, I stopped thinking about it so much. I went to university, studied music and languages, and made new friends. I assumed I had let go and moved on. So why then, 15 years later, was I experiencing a surge of negative emotions about Teen Mania again? What was it about reading the blog that prompted such a strong response in me?

I began replaying that year in my mind, thinking about situations that came up during that year and how they affected me. Here are a two of the scenarios that still resonate strongly.

Scenario 1: Ropes Course

As part of the introduction week, interns go through a series of challenging events, supposedly to serve the purpose of binding the group together and learning to work as a team. One of the events was a ropes course. I was not one of the stronger ones, but I did my best, despite the fear coursing through my body. I remember lots of encouragement from fellow interns, and it was a lot of fun to work on a challenge with a peer group. So far, so good right? If only it stopped there. As it turns out, the Teen Mania leaders were using the ropes course and every thing else that week as a sorting process for the Teen Mania hierarchy. We were judged right off the bat based on a series of pokes and prods. The kids who had less fear or were more physically fit increased their chances of becoming an elite among the elite . . . apartment leaders, personal assistants, ect. While I have no problem with trying to analyze peoples gifts in order to place them properly in the ministry, it was very disheartening to know that just because I struggled with fear of heights, I was thought of as a weak person overall. It didn't seem like a wholistic approach to individual growth. I somehow felt I was not good enough, despite the fact that coming out of high school I had ranked in the 90 percentile in the SAT scores and had given hours of piano practicing the works of Chopin, Gershwin, Beethoven and Poulenc. It felt very quickly like they were sorting us into intern favorites and non-favorites. The feelings of somehow not being good enough, or strong enough, or spiritual enough, began THAT week, and continued throughout the year. While some might point out that those feelings might have come from my own insecurities, I would challenge them by asking what 18 year old is completely secure? All the more reason for Teen Mania to create an environment of nurture and teamwork, instead of competition and shame! I also want to point out that according to some of the stories on the blog, my experience has been repeated over and over in the lives of other young, vulnerable, eager interns.

Scenario 2: The Spying Game

As the year progressed, we settled into our routines, which were based on a standard 9-5 office job. Mornings began very early with a run and then we were to have breakfast and quiet time. We ran in apartment teams. Each apartment had a leader, who was responsible for encouraging us in our run and in our daily enforced quiet time with God. I think it is a wonderful and reasonable goal to teach people the merits of physical activity and daily meditation! I trusted my apartment leader and looked up to her. What I didn't realize until later on in the year, was that in the name of "accountability," our apartment leaders were instructed to report on our progress to the higher ups without our knowledge or consent. While working late in the office one evening, I was searching for staples and came across a file with my name on it. Inside, I found the "reports" with strong detailed opinions from both my apartment leader and my small group leader on who they thought I was, how spiritual they thought I was, what they thought of my quiet times and personality. I felt betrayed by my apartment leader, who I thought was there to help me if I struggled, not REPORT on me. I also was shocked to read the opinions of the small group leader, who I had spent very little time with, but who had written very strongly about me. Judgment. Shock. Betrayal. Tears. Sadness. And again. The feeling that even though I was trying really really hard, I was not spiritual enough. Teen Mania's efforts to help kids learn the incredible benefits of exercise and meditation were being taught in an environment of fear and shame, not nurture and trust.

In defense of my peers who were apartment leaders, I recognize now that they were also just trying to do their best and this translated into doing what they were told to do by the Teen Mania leaders. For this reason, I exhort you to examine the Teen Mania structure from the top, with particular attention to the leadership practices and ideals of David Hasz, who I believe is at the root of these issues.

In closing, I would like to say that the year I spent at TM was not all bad. Eventually, they recognized my musical gifts and placed me on the summer missions worship team. I made some dear friends, laughed a lot, and got to experience the beautiful river that runs through Tulsa. But when I look back on that year as a spiritual experience, I don't see growth and change and beauty and joy. I see fear and shame, judgment and legalism, loneliness and isolation.

March 22, 2010

Amber's Story: Part 2

(To read part 1 of Amber's story, click here.)

Our Gauntlet "week" was more like a month long as leadership scurried to adjust and make plans for the interns based on the new surroundings and resources. We had to run a mile every day - nothing compared to the 3 miles I have read is now required BUT there were NO paved surfaces only pot hole infested dirt roads were I will say about 1/2 of my class received sprained ankles, broken bones from. And at the time we had NO infirmary, no "nurse." If we needed medical attention we had to find someone who could drive us into town to take care of us and for a few individuals who needed PT went down the road to YWAM's base.

I think it was spring when Hasz and some in leadership and a few elite interns/alumni created a "Leadership Challenge" Course called "Night Watch." It was from this time forward and from hearing open & public conversations between others that I began to take note of Hasz's fascination with the US Armed Forces Boot Camp style of training. In fact during my year we had a January who had served. I do not remember if it was the army or the marines, but he had served and after leaving the service came to the HA. Night Watch was introduced to us as a personally stretching and growing & leadership making challenge. It was for 1 night, about 8pm -2/4am on a Friday. I immediately signed up for the first night this was offered. We were told to dress in dark warm clothing and to report to the cafeteria and 8pm. That Friday everyone who signed up reported to the cafeteria as instructed. We were broken into teams of 5-7, given a raw egg, each team member a set of safety eye glasses (the kind that have replaceable/adjustable ear pieces, a list of instructions/rules and a sling shot with 25 or so paint balls. The rules outlined the course and included instructions that we were not to go near the dorm or veer off course and that all team member had to participate and we were not to speak to anyone outside of our team, and we all had to wear our safety eye glasses at all times. The course was that we were to go to various locations on campus, complete a puzzle or physical challenge/obstacle in order to receive our next location clue.

My team's first assignment was to go to the water retention pond by the airplane hanger (which is now the auditorium). We were to wade across the pond carrying or floating a telephone pole that we were to then drag through the drainage pipe. What wasn't explained to us till we experienced it was that leadership and a few elite interns/alumni were going to "hunt" us throughout the entire challenge. Leaders were stationed throughout the course, armed with a walkie-talkie and a paintball gun/rifle. If our team was spotted we would be shot at and chased. For those of us who enjoyed extreme style activities this was "fun" but for those of us not use to this it was terrifying. Especially since leadership seemed to really get into and relish "hunting" us and shooting at us. And if any of the interns "mouthed off" at leadership - the team was shot at more heavily and particularly targeted to be humbled.

For the most part I enjoyed the course, I enjoyed bonding with my team and learning more about the inner strength and character of each of them (did they complain about walking so far, or were they cheerful about having some moonlight to see by or who wanted and had to have control over the team sling shot.) However I experienced one moment that left me physically scared and terrified for years to come. Towards the end my team had one more obstacle to tackle. We were to go to the old mail boxes across the street from the main entrance. When there we got our puzzle/clue while trying to work the puzzle/clue our we saw a jeep drive down the TM road and turn left. We all commented that it was likely some interns or staff going into town. We fell back to solving our clue, a few minutes later we were discussing the clue and were so wrapped up in solving it no one noticed a dark vehicle on the road coast towards us until we saw the headlights switch on and heard and felt shots pour into our group. I was hit in the face and ear, to which I screamed in terror and pain. (I later learned that my scream was heard in the dorm by a few late night interns.) That experience of being involved in a drive by shooting, albeit paintball, traumatized me so much that for years later I panicked/feared being shot by passing cars when outside by the road on dark quiet nights. In any event I attribute this course challenge -- its creation, fruition, and leadership's enjoyment in it and fascination with Armed Forces Boot camp -- as being the seeds that would later grow into the ESOAL.

As I've read the blog, I've also returned to memories of friends lost along the path of TM's good intentions to be righteous and godly but failed due to legalism, faulty natures, prejudice & false doctrine. These people, children of God, were good people beloved of God and I grieve the pain they experienced.

In particular I remember a girl who was singled out (for verbal confrontation and disciplinary action that bordered on HARASSMENT) by a former female staff member because her appearance was Goth (not the so called "Clean Christian Norm"). However, it was evident to those that got to know her that she loved the Lord and set the HA year aside to serve and live and be closer to Christ. I know that after she graduated she received "confrontational/accountability" calls from Hasz & other leadership because of rumors or beliefs held by them regarding her. I don't know how or from whom they heard these rumors, but I know that these calls and their condemnation and lack of love or grace or forgiveness or desire to help/counsel was the straw that helped her turn her back on it all Christianity - even long held Christian friends from before the Internship, etc.

March 20, 2010

Now Returning...

...to our regularly scheduled programming. Whew, is anyone else as exhausted from all this as I am?

A couple of people have pointed out the emotional nature of these discusssions. I want to acknowledge that there have been times this week when I've commented out of impatience, anger or frustration. I'm not exactly apologizing for it, per se, because I think anger is an appropriate response to abuse. But, if I misunderstood any well-intentioned folks in the comments and responded in frustration, I do apologize for that. Its hard to tell tone of voice and intention in this medium and because I feel like I am constantly falsely accused, I may sometimes be over-sensitive to that. Please bear with me.

Secondly, a few people have mentioned the desire for a discussion forum to talk about a wider variety of topics. The thought of moderating that forum doesn't exactly ring my bell, but if a forum is something you'd like to have, please speak up in the comments section. And if you are a techie who knows anything about how to execute that for the wonderful price of free, please send me an email.

March 19, 2010

Response to Ron Luce's Email: Part 2

As several commenters have pointed out, Ron Luce's email is actually a classic case of spiritual abuse for those with eyes to see it. Instead of actually addressing the issues, he casts suspicion and blame on any who would dare question him. Once again, we see the classic "blame the victim" attitude which saturates Teen Mania. His tone is patronizing and the entire email is an attempt to get the focus off of his leadership, Teen Mania, and the Honor Academy and onto me.

Not once does he address the issues specifically or take responsibility for any pain or hurt caused by the Honor Academy.

Instead - he threw the focus back on me, and for many of you - it worked. Instead of looking at the wealth of documented abuses at the Honor Academy, now you are questioning my honesty, my motives, my methods, etc. As I mentioned yesterday, you don't have to agree with me to recognize the FACTS of the abuse. You can point out my flaws all day long - but I am not the one administering the spiritual growth (or destruction) of hundreds of teenagers.

Ron said, "Please note that many of the challenges from this person's blog and letter are challenges that we've long since improved upon since he/she was an intern."

If that is the case, then why do the 'true stories' on this blog span a length of time from the Tulsa years all the way to 2009? ALL of the teachings I've critiqued are from the last 3 years. Follow the links and view the source material yourself. A generic "changes were made" is not good enough. What specific changes have been made with regards to the spiritual abuse, neglect of health and safety issues, and the shame/guilt/fear driven environment as outlined on this blog? If there are changes, we deserve to know exactly what they are and why. And further, if they did actually bring change to some areas based on feedback - why don't they apologize for the pain they've caused?

The only thing that Ron is sorry about in this email is the fact that the alumni were emailed without his permission and notified of a place of grace and healing. In fact, he says, "we feel that this was definitely a breech of privacy and for that, we are very sorry. Yet, he did not say he is "very sorry" that the abuse occurred. He did not say he is "very sorry" that people were hurt. But he sure is sorry you found out about this blog.

It is not a breach of privacy to contact fellow members of "the line" in a one time effort to reach out to them. I'm not continually spamming or signing people up for newsletters. Focusing on this issue is a red herring that distracts from the real problems. Which is more important to you - an unwanted email or abuse done in Jesus' name?

Am I demanding a perfect ministry and perfect leadership? No. We all make mistakes. We all act like jerks sometimes. We all hurt and offend people.

But mature, Jesus-loving people are called to admit their wrongdoing and ask forgiveness. A sign of true humility is the ability to own up to your failures and weaknesses instead of hiding them or blaming them on somebody else.

That is what is missing here.

March 18, 2010

For Those Who Love Teen Mania

I intended to post my final thoughts on Ron's email today, but before I get to that, I'd like to share some thoughts with those of you reading this blog who had a great experience at the Honor Academy and who genuinely love Teen Mania.

I know that it might be hard for you to understand that something you loved so much and is a core part of who you are was actually painful and confusing for so many others. It is only natural to be defensive when people we love are "attacked." I get that.

But, if you really do love the Honor Academy and want future interns to be able to have the same great experiences you did, wouldn't you want to be absolutely certain that any and all abusive attitudes and practices are removed from the Honor Academy?

Just because you did not personally experience abuse does not mean it did not happen. There are dozens of abuses documented on this blog in the 'true stories' link found in the sidebar to the right as well as in the comments section throughout the blog. Whether or not these abuses occurred cannot be disputed. It is FACT. You do not have to agree with my theology or my methods in order to recognize this abuse. You don't even have to like me.

Now, whether or not those abuses were intentional and systematic is up for grabs. On that topic, there is room for disagreement among truly sincere people on both sides. But, unless you believe everyone on this site is lying, then you have to concede that true abuse has happened, whether or not anyone meant for it to happen.

The question is, what do you do with that? The way I see it there are 3 options.

1) Sweep it under the rug and pretend it never happened.

2) Blame the victims of the abuse for somehow bringing it on themselves.

3) Hold leadership accountable and demand that they fix the situation.

Which will you choose?

March 17, 2010

Response to Ron Luce's Email, Part 1

March 17, 2010

If you are an Honor Academy alumni, you probably received an email from Ron Luce yesterday in response to an email I sent out to the alumni body. In it, Ron makes some claims about me which portray me as unwilling to dialogue or reconcile. It pains me to say that these are outright lies.

Because Ron Luce insists that they have repeatedly tried to dialogue with me, I now feel compelled to make public all of my correspondence with Teen Mania leadership, specifically Dave Hasz and Heath Stoner. I had hoped to keep this correspondence confidential in order to build dialogue and trust with them, but by accusing me falsely I believe they have given me no choice but to bring all the facts into the light.

Click here to download email correspondence with Dave Hasz and click here for Heath Stoner. (Note: in Dave's emails, his comments are in blue and mine are in red.)

1) Dave Hasz has sent me a total of 3 emails. As you will see in the pdf, Dave Hasz first contacted me by email on November 3, 2009. After we exchanged a pair of emails, he never replied back to me to answer my questions or comment on my thoughts.

Does 3 emails in the span of one week constitute a "repeated" attempt?

Ron says that I "do not seem to really want to dialog in a personal manner to resolve conflict." Yet, it is Dave Hasz who has not responded to my email, dated November 4th. So, who is unwilling to dialogue here?

You be the judge. Read the emails and form your opinion based on the facts.

I challenge Dave Hasz, Ron Luce or anyone else at Teen Mania to prove my records of these emails is wrong, insufficient or misleading in any way.

(Because I don't really know Heath and he is not the main decision maker at the HA, it is possible I may have deleted some of his earlier emails. If that is the case, I invite Teen Mania to publicly post the content of any emails I have missed or forward them to me and I will add them here.)

(You also may notice in Dave's last email he says, "I don’t really have an avenue to email all alumni." Gee, then how did Ron do it?)

2) Dave discusses my blog in two different Ethics and Leadership classes. Both of these videos are dated before he ever tries to contact me over email.

In the first video
, dated September 28th, at 51:25 he says:
"Well, you guys down there at Teen Mania, you are such a bunch of legalists, you know you are always talking about integrity, you've got these checklists and its all legalism, legalism, legalism, legalism.

I don’t know if you guys have heard any of this, but I’ve heard it. You can go read the slam sites - people that call me a heretic and a legalist and you know all these different things. Listen, people who are saying that, I personally believe just have a twisted theology that allows them to live a life that lacks integrity."
So, here he is calling me a "slam site." As you will see below, Dave Hasz thinks he does not need to answer to people that are "attacking" him (also known as accountability).

And in this video, at 32:30 he says:
"I've had certain people come to me, "Did you see what they wrote about you? They took what you said out of context." I'm like, "No, I didn't actually see that." "Well, you should read this." I'm like, "I really don't need to." No, You need to respond to this." No I don't need to respond to it.

Here's the deal, if God doesn't want me to be the director of the Honor Academy, I don't want to be the director of the Honor Academy....But,if He wants me to, then He can defend me and He can take care of that.

Now, at times I'll read it and then call the person up and see what I can do to minister to them and correct misunderstandings or maybe I truly have offended them and I can ask for forgiveness, because I certainly make mistakes. I certainly do things at times that offend people and that's wrong and I need to admit that and say, "I am so sorry, I did not mean to offend you."

You know what? I've had people come to me and say, "Dave, you really offended me when you said this, this and this." And, I thought you know what, that is not at all what I intended to say but I totally understand how that is exactly the way you heard it. And that's my fault because I need to be responsible for what I say. And I can understand that and I will repent and we can fix that. But if they are just attacking, its not your responsibility to defend.
So, he is openly admitting that he doesn't read the blog, and doesn't care to because he has no responsibility to "defend" himself. To me, its not about defending yourself, its about accountability. Does this sound like the kind of attitude of diaogue and reaching out portrayed by Ron's email?


3) And finally, we come to the comments on the blog left my Dave, Ron and Heath. Do these qualify as dialogue and reaching out? I'll arrange these first to last.

June 23, 2009 - On what is only my 5th post, Dave Hasz makes his first appearance. He is the first commenter on this thread.

Back then, all comments were approved before posting. Since I don't sit at my computer 24/7, I did not see Dave's comment right away. So, Heath first appeared on the scene later that afternoon to make sure I was letting Dave's comments through.

I thought Dave posted another comment in the early days of this blog, but I'm not seeing it...so we'll move on to Heath.

On October 30th, Heath jumped back into the comment thread here.

The last time Heath commented, alot of alumni had questions for him. All of which went unanswered. So, I responded:

Its amazing that Heath is upset when I don't answer him, and yet....look at all these unanswered questions...

February 11th, 2010
- Ron Luce comments 3 times (beginning at 7:04pm), but does not address any of the points I've made in the post. And when others chime in with questions, he does not return to answer them.


So, who refuses to answer questions asked not only by me, but by several other alumni? How is that repeatedly trying to help "him/her work through the struggles and challenges that he/she's facing?"

I feel that the way they have portrayed me is dishonest and disingenous. But you can decide for yourself.

In the next post, I will comment on the rest of Ron's email.

March 16, 2010

Ron Luce's Email to Honor Academy Alumni

Ok, so you've seen my original email. Now, here is the response Ron Luce sent out today, in case you haven't seen it. In my next post, I will respond to his claims:

Dear Honor Academy Alumni,

I wanted to write a note to you in reference to an email that many of you received recently. Unbeknown to us, an alumni from many years ago, managed somehow to get the list of all of your email addresses and emailed you without our permission. We're very sorry for the inconvenience.

We're not sure how he/she got the list, but we feel that this was definitely a breech of privacy and for that, we are very sorry.

As to the content of his/her letter, we just want each of you to know that we have tried repeatedly to dialog with him/her to help him/her work through the struggles and challenges that he/she's facing. We all know that the internship year is a very intense challenge. Some people respond differently than others. The program is designed for Honor Academy participants to grow spiritually and emotionally. We know, however, that there are some who have experienced the Honor Academy challenges personally in ways that they have not been able to fully understand or overcome.

We have repeatedly tried to reach out to this person, but he/she does not seem to really want to dialog in a personal manner to resolve conflict as outlined in Matt 18, or to make the Honor Academy better. He/she did, as he/she mentioned, send a letter to our Board of Directors, who are reviewing the matter as they review many matters proceeding in this ministry on an ongoing basis.

Please note that many of the challenges from this person's blog and letter are challenges that we've long since improved upon since he/she was an intern, as Dave Hasz and staff constantly are receiving feedback from interns and alumni; so that each year is progressively better and more improved. From the Life Transforming Events, to the ministry opportunities, to the deep impact upon each intern's life as they move forward in advancing the Kingdom.

Please join me in praying for the individual who is still recovering from his/her time at the Honor Academy and those that he/she has gathered around her that God would really perform a healing in their hearts and lives. If any of you still have concerns or questions about your time in the internship please always feel free to contact us to resolve the concerns and reach a place of wholeness. You can reach David Hasz at david.hasz@teenmania.org, and he is ready and willing to listen to your concerns and take action on them.

Please know that I honor you and the sacrifice you made while being an intern; laying down your life, and pouring out your heart to reach a generation. We at Teen Mania are continuing to build on that foundation so that we can reach more people then ever - both young people here and people all around the world with the life-changing power of Jesus Christ.

Soon you will see a response from our Board to the concerns raised by this recovering alumni posted on our website, and we'll be happy to notify you when that's complete.

Consumed by the Call,
Ron Luce

The Email that is Loved and Hated

Before I post my response to Ron...here is a look at what his email was responding to.

Hi Fellow Alumni,

Over the past several years, there have been many Honor Academy alumni that look back at the internship and wonder, "What was that all about?" For the most part, we enjoyed our time at the HA but when we re-entered the real world our expectations collided with reality. Confusion, depression, pain and isolation are just a few of the things we've experienced as we try to make sense of our experiences. After talking with many alumni and processing through my own experiences, I've come to realize that many of us are in the same boat. The legalistic and performance based atmosphere wounded us spiritually and emotionally. Some of us are constantly trying to get back to the spiritual high of our intern year but instead can't shake the nagging feeling that we will never measure up. Instead of joy, we are burdened by our Christian walk. And we keep wondering what we are doing wrong.

I have good news for you. You are not alone. It is not your fault. You were taught some very bad things about who God is and how He feels about you.

Instead of continuing this journey alone, we are now on the journey to healing and wholeness together. If you were wounded at the Honor Academy, there is a safe place for you to talk about your negative experiences without being labeled bitter, backslidden or weak.

Visit the blog to read stories from your fellow alumni as well as critiques of HA teachings and culture that point the way to grace, freedom and love.

I hope you'll take the time to see what we are doing and, if you need it, find a safe place to begin the healing process.


Recovering Alumni

PS - The Board of Directors is now looking into the specific allegations I've made regarding the spiritual, emotional and physical abuse that occurs at the Honor Academy. They are asking interns to share their story so they can best decide how to proceed. For all the details, including how you can participate click here.

PSS - If you disagree with the premise of this blog, please read the comment policy before responding.

Amber's Story: Part 1

Just to let you know, I have waited for going on 14 years to write my experiences down and have someone hear me and care. At first I wrote a few things down on the alumni website but I was largely ignored or occasionally confronted or my posts were deleted as not conforming to the websites User Agreement policies.

As an Intern in Aug 96-97, my class (and Jan. 96 class) were the transition class from Tulsa to Garden Valley. I can tell you about the evolution of the GV Internship (from my own perspective). As I perceived it, the move to GV was touted as a blessing and opportunity for the ministry to grow and expand so more of the kingdom of God could be ministered to and reached based on the increase of resources: property size/expansion, class size, and the opportunity to be fiscally sound by owning everything outright versus renting. Everything was new so everything was about trial and error. My friends and I can tell you stories about what intern did what that year that created "BVable rule or Disciplinary worthy rules: "breaking the door frames, climbing the warehouse fence, having a curfew in the men's & women's dorms, having a campus curfew, the "puma rumor", the seeds of the creation of ESOAL, no pets - esp. strays, Don't pop wheelies in the tractor or or other grounds equipment, Can't drive unauthorized vehicles into the Back40, etc.

I was completely new to TM & to the Internship. My only exposure previously had been hearing Ron speak at one of my home church's conferences wherein I signed up and went on a missions trip with TM to Venezuela in July 95. (I had never heard of an ATF.) The staging area for missionary training and deployment and debriefing was, at that time, a volunteer church in Miami. At that time all missionaries were place in nice hotel rooms throughout Miami. My only experience or exposure to the Internship were 2 Intern MA's in my Missions group. They were amazing!! Life influencing so during my senior year I applied to ORU (another TM/Intern influenced decision) & the Honor Academy. I received a scholarship to ORU but decided to seek God for a year as I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life. So I fund raised and was set to be an HA participant in Tulsa. ONLY it wasn't communicated to any of the in-coming Intern applicants (to my knowledge) that TM was moving from Tulsa, OK to TX until we arrived for orientation in Tulsa. Surprise, surprise!!! It was a good surprise for me as my family lived in Houston, TX at the time, but still it wasn't what I had signed up for, nor been told about, nor prepared for. Indeed the "pictures" they introduced and "sold" to our parents and guardians during orientation was what the campus NOW looks like - However that was NOT what the campus was when we moved there. And I honestly believe that if many interns and family members knew what was in store for us at the new campus some would not have become interns.

The Tulsa January 96 class had been sent ahead to begin making the formerly abandoned Last Days Ministries/Keith Green campus livable for the new, and at that time, largest class they ever had (just at 100 Interns + Apprentices). When we arrived there was only 1 dorm - Green Hall. At the time the dorm was made of sheet metal - totally making it look like a "TX cult" compound. When we arrived it was our duty and our necessity to clean this property up for the ministry and make it workable/inhabitable, which meant office work didn't begin for a month or so (especially as the offices were still being built).

Making the campus inhabitable included cleaning, scrubbing, painting buildings/interiors, mowing 5-6 ft tall grass fields, clearing out brush, kicking out/evicting the remaining former Last Days Ministries personnel living in the trailers in the Back 40, killing fire ant mounds (which for those of us new to TX meant having an entirely new experience) and all the spiders and other pests we encountered. While these pest are not new to TX or the Midwest or even now on campus, it was the massive assault due to the properties having "returned to nature" and the organization's total inexperience and lack of proper tools/know how/preparation/protection as to how to properly address & be rid of these pests. I remember many times seeing poisonous snakes and spiders: Rattlers, black widows, & fiddlers in areas of the brush we were clearing out sometimes without gloves, or eye wear or proper clothing. It was entirely by the grace of God that no one was seriously injured or poisoned. Another task was tearing down & setting afire the original Last Days Ministries Log building which was infested with termites and MORE. Speaking of infestations the abandoned dorms and bunk bed mattresses that had been stored in the "Bat Cave" were infested with Chiggers and more. EVERYONE in our class that lived in those dorms 7 slept on those mattresses experienced/lived with chiggers, insect/spider bites/and or more for many months. One of my roommates kept having re-occurring chigger infestations for about 6 months. Other clean up duties included creating trash land fills in the Back 40 where many were assigned to bury or burn all the rubbish.

After the majority of the bush had been tamed: grass mowed, "dirt walkways lined with pebbles" established, dorms/cafeteria "cleaned" and inhabited, we were placed in our jobs all to leadership's tune that "we prayed and felt that this is were God wants you to be." Now perhaps for this being the last "smaller" size August class that might be true, especially as they had a month to evaluate and "grade" us. But still there was a definite hierarchy and status associated with positions and eventually all the "unattractive people" or individuals who were considered problem children fell into positions in the kitchen, grounds crew, or cleaning crew. There was a lot of stigma to being placed in these positions, particularly as people were eventually reassigned to these positions as a means of -- "filling a need in the ministry" -- punishment or way of removing and not having to deal with certain people and their brokenness. But all this was for the good of the ministry and we didn't want to be complainers we wanted to be champions and ground breakers! We were all told that we were establish a new and firm foundation for future intern classes and indeed generations of the world. We were World Changers and if all the above was what was necessary so I or others could be cleared to go forth then we were going to do it! It wasn't until leaving the Internship that many of us resented being used as work mules. While many only worked 40 hours a week others worked 80-100 hours a week.

In Tulsa, they spoke of the honor it was to be to be placed in the "Call Center" and the "new technology/resources" that the call center was to have to enable us to reach more for the gospel. But after many of us assigned there failed to make our quotas we realized it was all a numbers game and many became disillusioned which meant we were likely/eventually confronted/disciplined or reassigned to "lesser" positions as stated above. And we all recognized the privilege it was to work in IO (International Operations - now Global Expeditions).

In the spring, TM implemented volunteer (mandatory) work weekends, so that we could continue finish preparing the property for summer missionaries. The work weekends were presented as though they were optional character/leadership building but if you didn't sign up for and complete a minimum amount of "volunteer" days you were disciplined (dish duty was the primary punishment). We did not have an Honor Council to handle infractions disciplinary actions were handled by leadership. Then in the last PUSH just before the missionaries were to arrive leadership invented the now famous "Bed Making Factory". At first the factory was manned by Grounds/Cleaning Crews but eventually and with the realization of the largest flux of missionaries TM was to ever have (and no hotel rooms to put the kids up in) was arriving soon, leadership went into hyper-drive declaring that ALL the interns would be required to participate in a 2 shift, 3 day, 24 hour push. The class was split in half and while one half started their 8 - 12 hour shifts, the other half was sent to the cafeteria to chug/sling our food & sleep for 6-8 hours before returning to work for another 8-12 hours. I remember being so physically exhausted and tired after a few of these shifts that I would skip meals and showers just to sleep those few more precious minutes. The dangers of this shift arrangement were great. Chief danger was if your shift started at 2:00am. I repeat there weren't any paved roads at this time, just mud, rock & gravel, & pot holes although a new dorm and the Loop & guard tower were in the process of being constructed at that time. So arriving to work at 2:00am wasn't so bad -- unless the needed you and your team to move equipment/beds/supplies along these pot hole, uneven ground, dirt roads with little to no light - save a spare flood light at departure and destination areas.

March 15, 2010

God Likes You!

Did you know that?

God actually likes you.

Not just loves you.

He likes you. He enjoys you and thinks you are fun to be with.

I used to think of God as kind of a distant family member - they love you because they have to, but they don't exactly call you up on Saturday to see if you want to hang out.

I used to think God just put up with me. He was mildly exasperated at my perpetual failings. Of course, he would help me out when I needed it, but that was just because he was a good guy, not because He really cared about me.

Imagine my suprise to find out that He actually likes me. He enjoys helping me. He looks forward to talking to me. I'm not a bother to Him, I'm a joy.

Hard to believe, isn't it?

And guess what? God likes you, too!!

Pretty cool, huh?

March 13, 2010

Why Aren't the Posts Dated?

Recently, a few readers have asked how to know what date these posts are published. Unfortunately, the template I'm using doesn't include the dates. But, there is a way around that.

If you'll look at the time stamp on the post, the minutes value will always reflect the date of the post. For example, if something is published at 6:16am, that means it is the 16th day of the month. (You can usually see the month from the comments or from the archive heading) Although I've been using this system for several months, it won't apply to the earliest blog posts.

This post will publish at 5:13pm because it is March 13th.


March 12, 2010

Is Ron Luce's Honor Academy for Everyone?

When an intern quits or is dismissed from the Honor Academy, there are a few common reactions:

1) Wicked sinner!
2) They weren't "called" to the Honor Academy.
3) They weren't cut out for the Honor Academy because its not for everyone.

I'd like to especially take a look at this last response. I hear it alot. Many people assume that since I take issue with the HA, it must mean I wasn't cut-out for it. After all, the Honor Academy is not for everyone.


Then why do they accept nearly everyone?

From my understanding, it is pretty difficult to not get accepted into the Honor Academy. If you accept people into your program at various stages in the Christian life, with varied backgrounds, strengths, struggles and wounds, it is only right that you are prepared to deal with everyone right where they are.

Jesus is not selective. He accepts everyone. I think that anytime we become more selective than Jesus, we are treading on dangerous ground. Understanding that, I do concede that at times it might be prudent to limit involvement to certain types of people - but this should be stated up-front and not marketed as a program for every single Christian teenager.

Instead, Dave Hasz openly says on his blog (emphasis in bold is mine):
I am looking for 100 alumni to commit to recruiting 3 students each to be interns this coming year.

These students could be from your church youth group, your family, a local school or even some of your friends—any young person you know would benefit from being at the Honor Academy.

So the director of the Honor Academy himself says that the Honor Academy is for everyone.

What do we make of this?

March 11, 2010

Classics: The Sin That Disqualifies You

Classics: A number of new readers have joined the blog lately, so from time to time I'll be re-posting what I think are some of the most important and foundational essays I've written. This post underscores the fundamental difference between the grace of the Gospel vs. legalism.

In 2 posts dated Jan 28 and Jan 30, 2008, Dave Hasz started this dialogue on his blog:
In other words if you were going to let someone speak into your life about your spiritual condition or your pursuit of God what would "qualify" or "disqualify" them from speaking. This could get a bit controversial.

If someone drank would that impact your thinking? Should it? What if they smoked? What if they chewed? What if they told dirty jokes? What if they were recently saved? ... What if he liked to cuss? What if she questioned God's existence seriously at least once a year? What if this person was massively insecure?

Some of you stated that you would read it anyway because everyone sins.... this is a bit of an odd statement. Of course everyone sins, but some more than others. There are books that have been written by authors who are walking in victory over sin - why not read those? Apparently many of you have much more time in your lives than I do, I cannot read every book written, there just is not time. So I have to be pretty selective. If you knew that the author was saved, but wrestling with all the issues mentioned in the previous post would you spend your time allowing that individual to speak into your life on spiritual matters?
That is an excellent question, Dave. Let me think about some of my favorite authors and Bible characters to see how they "measure up" against your litmus test.

Moses was disobedient - he didn't even get to see the promised land. And I really thought he would be "always honorable." Oh well, guess I'll rip out the first five books of my Bible.

King David was an adulterer and a murderer. I am going to stop reading the Psalms right away. I definitely don't want that kind of person influencing me spiritually.

The prophet Elijah was suicidal at times, so I better not follow his example either. Too bad his adversity quotient just wasn't higher.

Abraham was a liar. Count him out.

Job questioned God. Who does he think he is anyway?

Gideon - man, talk about insecurity. Who qualified him to be a leader?!

Solomon was a disobedient polygamist who worshipped many gods. Wisest man ever, my ass!

Mother Teresa struggled with lifelong depression and doubt. What a loser.

Brennan Manning is an alcoholic, so pardon me while I burn my copy of "The Ragamuffin Gospel."

Ted Haggard is a homosexual. Good thing he never accepted your invitation to speak to at Battlecry events. Oh wait, nevermind.

Gee, now that I think about it, it is pretty hard to tell what kind of sin is in a person's life. After all, how can you see what is in a person's heart?

And really, the most important question is: What sin can possibly disqualify someone from being used by God?

Well, there isn't one. Because their righteousness never qualified them in the first place.

And that's where we disagree.

March 10, 2010

For the Broken-Hearted

There is a "blame the victim" mentality taught at Teen Mania's Honor Academy that actually compounds the problems we've experienced. As we go through the grieving process, we experience many negative emotions - anger, fear, bitterness, rage, doubt, confusion, hopelessness, and depression. But, instead of being able to bring these things into the light by talking about them in a community of love and acceptance, we have been shamed into thinking that these things are uaacceptable. At the Honor Academy, we were taught to keep our negative emotions hidden or we would be confronted and rejected. Often, that led us to believe that God rejected our negative thoughts and feelings as well. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is that what you are feeling is NOT YOUR FAULT. It is a very normal reaction to what you have experienced. God is not afraid of it and it has no bearing on your status as a Christian.

Teen Mania would like to tell you that you just need to "move on" because otherwise you are bitter (code word for "bad Christian"). This is a real problem in their culture. They do not acknowledge woundedness. They do not acknowledge the validity of our painful feelings. They do not acknowledge the truth of the healing process.

The good news is that God does acknowledge the truth of our pain. He does not minimize it or discount it. He does not blame us for it. He does not despise us because of it.

Instead, the Bible says:

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. (Psalm 34:18)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)

A broken spirit and a contrite heart he will not despise.(Psalm 51:17)

He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged. (Isaiah 42:3)

I will never desert you nor will I ever forsake you. (Heb. 13:5)

What does this mean for us? It means that God is close to us, even in these times of desperation and grief when He feels far away. He has not abandoned us. He is not even mad at us for these feelings!! He is ever patient, ever loving and ever gentle with us. He wants to walk us through the healing process. It is a painful process, but it brings healing. Repressing or denying our feelings might seem better in the short term, but it cannot bring real healing.

Please know that, whatever you are feeling and thinking, you are not alone. We have all been to very, very low places - even attempting suicide in some cases. That does not make us "bad Christians." It makes us people who have been deeply wounded and need the love and grace of God to heal us. Thankfully, even though TM might have thrown you out with the trash, God has not and He never will. He wants to heal you, He wants to hear from you, to talk to you about what you are going through. And so do we.

March 9, 2010

Ellen's Story: Part 2

Here is the 2nd part of Ellen's letter to the board. If you plan to send your story in, but haven't yet, please consider doing so by the end of the week. The board hasn't set a deadline, but I know they need enough information to be able to decide how and if they will convene an investigation. And now, the rest of Ellen's story...

The second year brought with it a new level of intensity. The internship went from a group of a little over 100 to 500 with the new incoming August class. As a Graduate Intern it was my responsibility to find my own job assignment within the ranks of the ministry. I had originally found a position as an administrative assistant within the International Operations Department (now Global Expeditions) where I had worked the second half of my first year. However, my supervisor to-be had been my team leader on my summer mission trip had decided that he would rather not work with me and instead of telling me this, had another intern inform me that she would be filling the role and I would need to find another position. There were no reasons sited. After learning I had no job, I went to my advisor and learned that if I didn’t find another position within 48 hours I would be dismissed and sent home. I was also told at that time that even though I had successfully lost some weight, it was not enough. I was placed on probation and informed that I needed to lose twenty pounds in the next six weeks to stay. There would be weekly weigh-ins and regular monitoring of my progress. I was so overwhelmed by this news. With the cafeteria serving regular meals of pasta, fatty meats, and gravy topped everything there weren’t a lot of healthy options available. I began to eat only slices of wheat bread and yogurt for every meal and run every chance I got until I met the twenty-pound goal. While I can certainly appreciate concern for health and maintaining a healthy weight, what was most damaging was the connection that was made between my weight and my spiritual worth. Being sent home from the internship meant that you had done something wrong, that you had failed to maintain an honorable lifestyle. Being overweight, which I had been my entire life, diminished my integrity and honor in their eyes. While I agree that I was overweight, not once did it keep me from doing the same things the other interns were doing. I was still participating in corporate exercise, still able to do all the extra work days we were required to do on our off hours. I was trying my hardest and failing to measure up. It took a very hard toll on me. It would take years for me to untangle that mess.

Shortly after I lost the previous job, I found a job in another department working for a woman who seemed very nice. I was happy with the change and moved on. However, it wasn’t long until the criticism began again. I spent as much of my time as possible in the office working on the various projects I was assigned. At the same time I was responsible for mentoring seventeen undergraduate interns. The amount of responsibility that I felt kept me awake at night. Add to that the crushing guilt of feeling like there were thousands upon thousands of people suffering, perishing and heading for damnation because of my inadequacies. I was about three weeks into my new position my supervisor began official weekly evaluations and they were brutal. I was evaluated for everything from my makeup, my laugh, the way my clothes fit, the friendships that I had made with the other interns, there didn’t seem to be anything that was off limits. By the time the second year came to a close I had developed a severe anxiety problem that resulted in daily panic attacks and depression. I felt like I had been completely picked apart and the amount of exhaustion and humiliation I felt was overwhelming.

Being a leader myself, I was approached repeatedly by undergraduate interns for counsel and advise throughout the year. On multiple occasions I saw interns who were exhausted, humiliated, depressed, and completely anxious. Over the course of my two years in Garden Valley I heard of a handful of interns who had experienced nervous breakdowns. Many more would have this experience after they left. I wish I had more time and more words to recount the many stories of mistreatment I witnessed, but I will leave it to those individuals to tell their stories.

After leaving the Honor Academy, I returned home and began to go to school. By the time I had reached the second semester the depression had grown so intense I could barely function. I became completely isolated and eventually had to drop out of school. After my first attempt to take my own life I began counseling where I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It took a solid year of weekly therapy and two more attempts to end my life before I began to make my way out of the depression and begin to build relationships again.

I am so very thankful for the faithfulness of God to bring people into my life that were able to show me His love, grace, and mercy that year after I left Teen Mania. Without them, I can say with some degree of certainty that I would not be here today. Sitting here so many years later I can honestly say that my time at Teen Mania feels like a lifetime ago and I am sure that there are many pertinent aspects of my time there I am leaving out, but I wanted to make sure to talk about the things that I felt were most damaging to me personally and the development of my faith. I think the themes that stand out the most to me now are the practice of shaming interns, the lack of concern for the physical and emotional welfare of the interns, and the crushing weight of misplaced responsibility the interns feel.

March 8, 2010

Ellen's Story: Part 1

Ellen (not her real name) recently sent me a copy of the letter that she sent to the Board of Directors. I've left out her remarks addressing the Board specifically, but here is the rest of her story in its entirety:

I left the internship feeling completely chewed up and spit out into a cold and unfeeling world where virtually none of the things I had come to understand to be true about life in the Body of Christ even made sense anymore. The experience was completely alienating and I felt as though my grip on sanity was hanging by a very thin thread. I did come very close to taking my own life, and while I can’t say that was 100% due to my experience at Teen Mania, I can say without hesitation, that my experience there was the major contributing factor to the despondence and worthlessness I felt.

Before I go into the details of what happened after Teen Mania, I suppose I should first talk about what happened while I was there. I think the things that that stand out to me most about those first few weeks there was the systematic sizing up that went on with the huge herd of interns that descended on the campus. At least it felt huge at the time. In actuality, our number was in the mere one-hundreds. Subsequent classes would later blow that number out of the water. We were tested, poked, prodded, sleep deprived, screamed at, quizzed, tested again, and then sorted into neat little categories with those at the top of the herd (high IQ results, gregarious and charismatic personalities, and beautiful faces…i.e. the influencers) plugged into the more prestigious of work assignments while the rest were filtered into the more common positions. I think the thing I find the most disturbing now is the speech the leaders gave as they assigned the jobs. Phrases that would become all too familiar in the coming months made their first appearance on the scene. The most offensive of all of them was the claim that somehow GOD HIMSELF had a hand in the job placement each intern received. One mustn’t complain or question. The leaders had received a revelation from God. Who was I to question God? The other phrases used repeatedly to manipulate us and control complaining were things like “beat your body and make it your slave,“ “you can sleep when you die,” pain is just weakness leaving your body.” Medical concerns were dismissed with a mere “drink more water” instruction and we were all encouraged to keep our complaints to ourselves. Voicing any kind of hesitance or objection earned you labels like negative, divisive, rebellious, unteachable or weak.

To be honest, I wasn’t completely thrilled by my job assignment, BUT I wasn’t devastated either, and from where I was sitting that seemed to be a pretty decent place to be. I remember being really shocked when I learned that God wanted that really cute punkish chick with a quick wit and bookish charm assigned to the kitchen crew. But that didn’t last long. After the Honor Academy received an angry call from her parents complaining that they didn’t pay $8000 for their daughter to sling hash for a year, God changed his mind swiftly.

Looking back it all seems to take on very communist-like themes. Every area of our lives had a system with very clear punishments outlined for any of those pesky rebels who would dare to step outside of the lines. Every question had an answer, albeit far too over simplistic and every misstep came with a set of unfortunate consequences. The thing I remember fearing the most was humiliation. Within my first year all save one of my roommates were dismissed for one thing after another. The first to go had wine with dinner with her family when she was home on vacation. The second held hands with an old flame over Thanksgiving break. The third kissed a boy on a SWAT trip to an ATF. The fourth had sex with another intern in the back forty. That one I didn’t expect. She was the quiet type. Talking with her as she packed her things to go home, it was clear she had snapped. She was alternately sobbing and screaming as she flung all of her belongings into her suitcases. I remember feeling a profound sense of sadness as I held her quaking body before she was whisked out the door by a staff member to an unknown location. That was the last I ever saw or heard from her. She wouldn’t take my calls after she left.

The first few months I felt very alienated from the other interns. I couldn’t run very fast and I wasn’t in the best shape. I had been overweight my entire life and had never once attempted to run the three miles per day required in those first days. I felt so completely ashamed of my inability but I was determined to stick it out and try my hardest to keep up with the others in my group. There was a particular January intern in my running group who was disgusted by my sluggish, out of shape body. Each morning as I dragged my body as fast I could muster around the figure eight driveway of the Teen Mania Campus, she would huff impatiently calling out to the other group members things like, “Ok guys, high knees today so we can actually get a workout in.” I was humiliated. A few weeks in I broke down in tears in the shower and began to sob uncontrollably. I had no idea what I could do to make faster progress. I took to running in the evenings on my own in addition to our morning runs but no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t make fast enough progress. Finally, at the end of my rope I went to my intern advisor to ask for advice. I’m not sure what I expected. I had certainly been at the Honor Academy long enough to know that compassion would not be forthcoming, but I was desperate. I can’t remember my advisor’s exact words, but I do remember there was a lot of head nodding and raised eyebrows followed by a speech about discipline. Apparently I was suffering the chastisement of the Lord for the lack of discipline I had applied in my life in the areas of diet and exercise. I went away feeling even more worthless.

The sense of complete worthlessness I began feeling at that moment continued and grew even stronger as the months wore on. There were many evaluations made of our progress as interns in our professional life as well as our personal day-to-day life. I was chastised repeatedly for an opposite sex friendship with a boy I knew from home. He was an intern as well. There was a particular intern in a leadership position who made it his mission to catch us in a compromising position and went as far as stalking us around the campus, leaving anonymous notes for our advisors to find, and generally making it impossible for us to have any kind of real friendship. Eventually we were scolded and told we were not to have conversations that lasted longer than five minutes at a time. The amount of micromanaging and need for control the staff and other interns exercised in our lives was intense.

When the end of my first year came to a close I was convinced that I was completely useless in the Body of Christ and the only way to remedy this situation was to delay college for one more year and stay for a second year to gain more leadership training.

March 5, 2010

The Honor Ring

This is the "Week of the Ring" at Teen Mania's Honor Academy. The culmination of this week is a banquet where each intern will recieve an honor ring. According to wikipedia:
Interns receive a ring to symbolize commitment to a lifelong pursuit of God. This ring is called the Honor Ring. The inscription on the ring is Hebrew for "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine." This refers to the Academy's passionate pursuit of a relationship with Jesus Christ. From 2005-2007 they used a unique ring that bears the Honor Academy crest and says "Semper Honorablus," but went back to the Hebrew ring with the 2008 class.
The Hebrew people also had something to "symbolize commitment to a lifelong pursuit of God." They were proud of it and even after Christ came, many thought it gave them a special status as "elite" Christians.

It was called circumcision.

And strangely, Paul got really mad about it. He seemed to think it was not at all a symbol of the Gospel, but actually an entirely different Gospel. In fact, he uses some of the strongest langauge in the New Testament and wishes anyone who preaches this Gospel would be eternally condemned. (Galatians 1)

The issue was that when Gentiles became believers, some Jewish folks insisted that they also become circumcised in order to fully become Christian. The Jews felt that this OT law was still binding, but Paul demolishes that idea in the book of Galatians by contrasting law vs. grace, the Old Covenant vs. the New Covenant. Our relationship with God through Jesus is enough and we can do nothing, wear nothing, say nothing to make it any more real or true.

Now, I know what you might be thinking. Teen Mania leadership never actually says you have to wear an honor ring in order to be saved. This might be true. And yet, I have some serious questions about how the honor ring reflects or distorts the true Gospel.

The ring is inscribed with the Scripture, "I am my beloved's and He is mine." What kind of message are you sending when you put yourself in the place of authority to both bestow and take away the symbol of that truth?
Is an intern no longer beloved of God if their honor ring has been taken away?

Has an intern lost their righteousness if they have sinned or done something "dis-honorable?"

Are they no longer a member of God's family?
I would hope that Teen Mania leaders would say that the absence of a ring does not indicate that an intern has lost their standing with Christ or been kicked out of the God's family. And yet, what they say in words, they contradict with their actions.

If the ring has no bearing on your status as a Christian, then why even go through the process of making you earn something that symbolizes your relationship with God (which you already had before you became an intern)? When an intern does something "dis-honorable" why do you take away the symbol of their relationship with Christ? The clear message you are sending is that a person's relationship with God and their righteousness continually fluctuates based upon what they do. This could not be further from the truth.

The idea that you can achieve a special status of Christianity or that "honor" is something that you attain by working hard and having enough discipline is just....well...its a disgusting pile of dog shit that will pollute your life. (Phil. 3:8)

Your good works, your righteousness, your honor are all about as beautiful and awesome as a dirty, used tampon. (Isaiah 64:6)

If the Bible refers to our accomplishments as the modern day equivalent of shit and menstrual pads - then why are we so intent with having the best shit and the best dirty pads??? Those aren't exactly things to aspire to.

What is the Gospel?

God loves us. God forgives us. God embraces us.

God gives us His righteousness and the ability to love and reflect Him based on His grace in our lives.

So let's quit acting like we are better than other people. Let's quit acting like we have honor and we have character based on what we have done. Let's embrace the real Gospel of freedom and grace based on a foundation of faith in what somebody else has done.

And remember, no human in the entire world has the right or ability to give or take away your relationship with God.

Gal. 3:2-3

Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law (aka being honorable) or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

v.5 - Does God give you His Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law (aka live honorably) or because you believe what you heard?

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