A letter from Ron's sister-in-law:
I'm not even sure how to start this e-mail to you. A family member told me about your site and I have been reading it for over a year now. I am greatly saddened by the stories I read and my heart goes out to all youth who have experienced pain and isolation while attending the Honor Academy. I am also saddened by Ron and his ministry. What was started as an amazing Christ centered ministry for teens has turned into something very different. I know this first hand, not only as a family member of Ron's but as a parent who sent her children to the Honor Academy.
Before I go any further, I feel I need to qualify my relationship with Ron & Katie. Although we are "family," my husband (Ron's brother) and I have rarely seen Ron, Katie or the kids. Other than Teen Mania events, we have only spent time with them twice in our adult lives. We have also not had much telephone contact with Ron. Usually it consisted of talking with him when he was at an airport, sounding as if he were somewhere else. This is for the most part the same relationship Ron shared with all of his brothers, except for one. Having said that, my husband and I still looked at Ron as this larger than life man of God who had insight and wisdom that we did not. We looked up to him as a Christian mentor. Which is what makes this letter so difficult to write.
You see, until this morning, even knowing all I have learned about Ron throughout the years I still held out hope that my impressions of him were wrong. I received a call this morning telling me about an excerpt from Ron's book on parenting, Recreate. I googled "Ron Luce helps a gothic child" and what I read disgusted me. You see I was reading what Ron wrote about my son, his nephew. (Click here to read)
Until now, I could ignore in public what I felt in private - but not anymore. I would like to share with you the story behind my son and that summer. At the time my teenage son was struggling with anything and everything. He was confused, angry, frightened. Thoughts of harming his family and himself ran through his mind on a daily basis. However, contrary to what the book said, he was never a "satan worshiper." He had shut his father and I out and we felt completely helpless. We reached out to Ron, asking for advice and guidance on how to help our son who was hurting so badly. That is when our son went to spend the summer with his uncle, who he looked up to very much. On many occasions, Ron had answered our son's questions about Christianity. Even though he was raised as a Christian, he wanted to explore other beliefs and had more questions than we could answer. Our son looked up to Ron and loved to talk with him so it seemed like it would benefit him.
So, our son went to spend time with his aunt & uncle. However, he was never once allowed to stay in their home and he became very aware that he was not welcome there. Instead, he stayed in the dorms (or longhouses) and worked with the interns - cleaning the dorms, campus, etc. On a few occasions, Ron did find the time to talk with him and as the book suggests, Ron did take him riding. However, the overall treatment our son received from Ron and Katie spoke louder than any words Ron could ever speak. Our son did not feel God's love while in Texas by Ron or Katie. He did however find solace in a few of the other teens that were there.
My son had a friend "Anne" (name changed) there that summer. He had met her the year prior. They had become good friends and still talk to this day. The Honor Academy, going off of a rumor (that they had kissed the year prior) did not allow them to spend any time together, even when others were present. They went as far as to make arrangements to send her home. Luckily that did not happen and she was allowed to stay, however, the damage was already done. In a place where love, trust, grace, honor & compassion should be shown, none was shown to my son and his friend. If you knew my son, you would know that he has the utmost respect for women and would never cross that line.
One of the leaders even said they should do an exorcism on my son. I have no idea if they were serious or not, but that's not the type of thing you'd expect from the Honor Academy. At night, he could hear others speaking badly of him. He called on a regular basis asking us to bring him home. We finally did - only to realize he was worse than when he left.
To my and my husbands great sadness, our son sees Christianity as hypocritical. He is very good at researching and studied Ron's teachings. He then looked at Ron's life and how Ron treated he & his family (Ron's brother's, except for 1) and realized that Ron did not treat others how he preached you should treat others. Seeing this in Ron is one of the main reasons he feels Christianity is full of hypocrites. I feel that my son would have been better off never spending that time in Texas.
Ron states in his book that we sent our son to him to "fix" him. Nothing could be further from the truth. We, in humility and brokenness cried out for help from someone we thought could get through to our son. It was never Ron's job to "fix" our son. That job and the glory for any success belonged to God and he alone.
Ron also suggested we didn't spend time with our son and that was all he needed. Another lie. If only we could solve all problems with today's teens that way! Ron also never credited God in the passage. Doesn't the Bible say I do all things through he who strengthens me?
It is very sad to see how Ron's misrepresentations of the Bible have hurt his nephew, his family & those who attended the Honor Academy. Teenagers need to know that they must check everything that is said at the conferences against the Bible - the real one, not Ron's version. They should also know that the man who is preaching to them is not without sin. He is flesh and blood and should not be looked at as perfect or divine, if not teens will continue to be hurt and confused by what they are being taught.
I am reminded that the Bible speaks of removing the log from your own eye before trying to remove the splinter in someone else's so let me say that I am not anywhere close to where I need to be on my spiritual walk. We all have sin and it is our struggle each and everyday to overcome it and act in a way glorifying to God. I do not write this in anger, I feel instead great disappointment and sadness that an opportunity to reach thousands of youth in the name of God has gotten lost in pride and a sense of superiority. I honestly believe when Ron started Teen Mania, his heart was in the right place and he did receive a calling from God. Somewhere along the way I think he just got lost. For those who have experienced pain after attending Honor Academy I am deeply sorry. I am not a minister, nor is my walk strong at this time but I do know God's love and know that he loves his children and hurts when they hurt. Men are made of flesh and blood and will always falter, God is supreme and will never abandon you. He will heal the hurt caused by others and accept you where you are, but not leave you there, because he loves you too much. It doesn't matter if you're sinner or saint, straight or gay God loves you just the way you are. Please do not let your experience at Honor Academy define your attitude about Christianity. Being a Christian is not a single experience or thought, it is a journey!
Our family journey would not be complete without the ending. I wish I could tell you my son is now "fixed" and is on fire to change the world for God, but that is not the case, however, there is good news. He received his GED, received a Pharmacy Tech Certificate in college, is almost done with his credits to get a high school diploma and will be joining the armed services. Most importantly I know he had accomplished all of this with hard work, determination and because of God. Although he may not realize it, God has never left my son. Throughout the years God has stayed with him, whispering in his ear. I know my son's heart, I know God lives in him just waiting for the opportunity to shine once again. On that day, I will rejoice with the angels!!
Update 1: Ron Calls His Sister
Update 2: Ron tells the story AGAIN at CBN
January 17, 2011
A letter from Ron's sister-in-law: