Thursday, September 10, 2015

Second Radio Interview - Part 3

Daniel: Our guest today is Mark Phelps. He is the son of the late pastor Fred W. Phelps, Sr. Fred Phelps was the founder of Westboro Baptist Church, a group known for their thousands of picket protests against the US Military and the homosexual agenda. Mark Phelps has come forward to testify about what it was like to be inside of the church the process of healing he had to go through in order to overcome the negative impact his father had on him and his family.

Folks, it is possible to know Jesus Christ in an intimate way. And this is what He wants! He wants for us to identify with His heart and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We need to be transformed! Folks, we are talking about it.

We are having an incredible discussion with our special guest, Mark Phelps, who is the son of the late pastor Fred W. Phelps, Sr., founder of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church known for their thousands of picket protests against the US Military and the homosexual agenda.

Mark has been telling us about recovering from years of abuse. Mark, I want to get into, now, some of the elements of what recovery meant for you. And you said it meant relearning terminology. In other words, that love meant something else other than evil and that was a change in your definition. You had to face your fears. What about forgiveness?

Mark: Forgiveness is so central to the process and I want to be careful to define my understanding or what I have experienced as opposed to some other kind of forgiveness. All of the effects of behavior and treatment is gone from my soul. I have no animosity, no hate. I have love for my father and I was able to pray for him while he was alive, not knowing his condition, not knowing his state.

Forgiveness is about working with the Lord to remove any effects from what you have experienced, whoever it is who has hurt you or mistreated you. It is not that the person has come and said; and I know there are people that disagree with this; if you wait for someone to change their behavior, to say they are sorry, or to come to you and apologize, in many cases I’m sorry to say you are going to be waiting until you die. But you can work the effects of the hurt through your soul; through your mind and your heart; you can work it out of your being; the very core of your being. You can work out all of the hurt and the effects of the damage of it until it is no longer there.

The Lord is the one who enables you, the one who equips that. The Lord provides the power and the strength for that work and for you to be able to forgive. That’s how forgiveness happens. But you have to give it to Him and you have to participate with Him in it. That is how you can heal and forgiveness is so central to that process. You can’t hold that hurt; you must not hold that hurt; whatever that is that you are holding against the person who hurt you. You cannot hold onto it and expect to be whole.

Daniel: You said something intriguing; you said ‘you have to participate with Him in it’. What does it mean to participate with God in forgiveness?

Mark: The practical aspect of this, to me, is (I’m saying this in prayer to the Lord) ‘Lord I’m hurt! I’m overwhelmed by this. I can’t see up from down. I can’t see clearly at all, it’s like I’m in a fog. And I want to forgive this person. I want to resolve. I no longer want this to be the condition of my heart as it relates to this person who has hurt me, and to this situation. But I need your help!

You have to start. You have to feel the pain. You have to work on, for example, hurt is masked by anger. Usually when there is anger it is because there has been hurt. I mean there is a whole process of understanding but it is not apart from; I just don’t believe it is apart from the Lord. You have to verbally and viscerally, by your volition; by your will; the process starts with our will. The heart catches up folks. But the starting point is the will. It’s the mind saying ‘that’s what I want to do because Lord, that’s what you have asked me to do’. And the Lord knows what I need! And you have to start with the willingness and the readiness to do it. And you will get to the emotion. And when that emotion resolves, eventually forgiveness can come in the heart.

Daniel: Wow, that’s so powerful. Now some people would say ‘now listen, yeah sure, I get it, I know I need to forgive, but I just don’t feel like I’m going to mean it when I say it so why should I say it at all? Why should I say it at all if I know I’m not going to genuinely mean it from my heart?’

Mark: Where else can you start? I mean you have to start where you are. The Lord starts with us where we are and we have to start where we are. Corrie Ten Boom is a wonderful example; I mean for those who are seeking and desiring and they still don’t feel it; and there are all different personalities I know and we all work differently but in essence, that’s what this is, it’s a starting point where you are. And if you want to see and read about others that have been hurt who are available publicly to read and know about, maybe that can help. But the Lord will give us the willingness too. But you have to start where you are, I think.

Daniel: Now, all though you were the subject of extremely unfair abuse, did you also find that you had to forgive yourself, at any point?

Mark: Yes! At all points, yes, because I participated! I was there in the room watching my father beating my sister with the oak mattock handle until she has an open sore on her rear end for a year; hitting her about the face, twisting her arm behind her back. And seeing him beat my brother. I saw my father have his private detective hold a gun to my brother’s knee. I am with my father on the mission to go kidnap my older brother back home after my father has given my older brother permission to leave home and live with his private detective. My father has his private detective come out to the car after we have kidnapped him back out of the private detectives home, come out to the car, and I’m looking from the back seat into the front seat on the right side and I see the gun. And I see the gun being held against my brother’s knee. And I hear the detective threaten my brother that he will shoot him in the knee if he ever tries to leave home again. And I just sit there! And I am watching all of this and I am a part of all this. And after my father has severely, savagely beaten my brother Nate, then a week later my father is mad again and he asks me to beat Nate, and his bruises have not even healed yet from the last beating. And so I beat him! Because if I don’t, I’m going to get beat!

And what about my mother?! I stood and watched while he beat her. I know I’m just a child, but this is about the emotion and about the heart! I should have been screaming bloody murder from the time I was five years old. But you see I was terrified!! I didn’t even know that I didn’t know. And when you get to that point in the healing process and you start to understand it and realize what you have done, every step along the way you have to forgive yourself.

Daniel: But you are telling me and you are telling our audience that with Jesus it was possible to forgive your dad.

Mark: It is possible! It’s probable! The Lord is so good. The Lord said ‘with a mustard seed of faith’. With the least bit of faith and moving towards the forgiveness, who responds? He does! Who is good? He is! Who is right? He is! That’s who our Lord is! I mean I can quote you a verse: ‘He who gave up His own Son for us all, how shall He not also freely give us all things!’ What is all things? It’s not more money! It might be in a certain circumstance, but it is our souls and our hearts. We are souls with bodies and the Lord made us. And He is magnificent! He understands us! And He understands every detail of our hurt. I was reading again last night about what He went through for our sake. He has endured everything that He endured and He is ready to respond to our need. We bring it to Him, even the first step, and He is already responding. He is way out ahead of us! He is ready to heal us! He is going to make us whole!

Daniel: Now something that I have noticed, personally working with people, is that sometimes it helps significantly when a person stops and, as awkward as this sounds, forgives God. I’ve actually seen it where this is a huge breakthrough for people who, while they don’t necessarily want to believe it was God’s fault and they know theologically maybe it doesn’t make sense, but inside of them they are blaming God! And it’s holding them back and it’s keeping them in bondage and acknowledging that often times allows significant breakthrough. Did you find that at any point this was part of your journey?

Mark: Oh Dan, it’s unbelievable! All of a sudden I would find myself and wham! I would be feeling: ‘I didn’t have anything to do with this. HOW! Oh how did this happen to me?! How could I find myself in this situation?! God, how could you allow this?! How could you allow this to be this way?! How could you allow this to go on year after year after year? And I learned God is not going to be broken by us being honest with Him! And He is not going to punish you for expressing your feelings to Him! But you have got to believe that all of that abuse at some point, and at many points along the way, it will occur to your heart: God, why didn’t you do something?! Why did you allow this to happen?!

I don’t have an answer for why He leaves us here on the earth after we are saved except for what we are talking about here. He knows, we don’t; He knows how things work, we don’t Dan! He came to seek and save the lost. And somehow it has to happen the way it is happening, for now, until eternity. And God knows what He is doing. I don’t understand it and I can’t explain it. But I know He came to seek and save the lost and He is close to the broken hearted it is the truth. His word speaks truth! And that’s who He is and even though we are going to be angry at Him, if we are in touch with reality, because this is a harsh world we live in. This is a very painful world we live in. But God is good and the pain we experience here is nothing compared to what the glory is going to be. And God is also with us in our pain and He is never going to leave us.

Daniel: That’s a powerful statement that you just made, that God is with us in the pain. This is a break through that people have told me about. That God has come to them and given them a revelation that, no, I wasn’t standing off watching you get, you know, something terrible in your life, and just folding my arms. People have had a revelation that Jesus has actually suffered through it WITH them. And that is the compassion of God. Compassion means to suffer with. And then what happens is, God, if we let Him, He turns around, and the Bible says He will work all things to the good of those that love Him and that are called according to His purpose. And here you are. Now your testimony is going to go out to thousands of people that are hurting, that are bruised, that are broken, that are abused, that don’t see a light at the end of the dark tunnel, that don’t know there is hope for them, that hear your testimony, and they are going to realize that will name Jesus Christ that is the solution that they have been waiting for, the healing that they have been hoping for, and it is real because, you know what, there is a real testimony behind the message.

Daniel: Today we have been talking all program long with Mark Phelps, son of the late pastor Fred W. Phelps, Sr. of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church. They are known for their thousands of picket protests against the US Military and the homosexual agenda. And you know, when we left off, we were talking about the central point of his testimony which is forgiveness. And Mark was talking about forgiving his dad, forgiving himself and forgiving God. Mark, why is forgiveness so powerful?

Mark: To not forgive keeps you, I believe, keeps you no less, to me, than imprisoned. To not forgive keeps you stuck, keeps you rotating over the same hurt, the same emotion, the same rage (whatever your emotion might be) and it actually affects you physically. But I think most importantly it affects other parts of your life. It affects your relationships and it affects your ability to function. I believe to not forgive takes your strength.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to forgive because part of your soul is imprisoned when you don’t forgive. And the Lord emphasized it by saying if you don’t forgive in effect you won’t experience my forgiveness of you. I’ve forgiven you but you are not going to experience my forgiveness if you are unable to forgive those who have hurt you. It is an incredible experience to work through hurt and to forgive and then to realize at that same moment that the Lord has forgiven you. It makes that realization of His forgiveness very real. I want to emphasize the importance of forgiveness particularly to those who have been spiritually abused, since we have been talking about forgiving God, where God’s word has been used to abuse or pastors have done the abusing. It is so important to me to emphasize that the Lord did not abuse you.

I played the piano from the time I was five years old for my father’s ‘church’. I had played all those old Christian hymns and for the longest time I was unable to play these hymns. But I want to tell you, I am able to play them now and I am peaceful and at rest to hear the wonderful words of the old hymns. But they were used in the midst of my abuse. The Lord can heal the spiritual abuse even when His word was used to abuse you. You just have to blindly hand it over to the Lord. It is so important to me right now to express how strongly I feel. There is no hope on the earth like the hope of Christ and I don’t want people to turn away from the Lord our Savior because of what a human being has done with His word or how a human being who was supposed to be a shepherd and a pastor has hurt them. It just breaks my heart to think of it. And I know people that have been hurt by God’s word and they are so hurt by it, they are so lost in it, and there is a way to recover from that and I am hoping that people can recover from it. That’s why I want to write a book and communicate about that.

Daniel: And this is a real problem! And there are people in our listening audience who have been significantly wounded by figures in the church. I mean I’ve talked to people. As a matter of fact you are talking with one of them right now! And I had to go through my own healing. I didn’t go through physical abuse and different things like that, or sexual abuse from church leaders. But you know the things that I did go through were extremely disappointing and after God healed me I wrote a book called ‘Wounded by Leadership’. This book was to address the problem because it is a real problem folks. And if you have been abused by leadership in the church you are not the only one and God, He will heal you from that. He will be your salvation from that. He was with you in what you went through. And you will find out that God wasn’t really the motivating factor behind your leadership. You know what He was with you through the suffering in the midst of those things.

Mark, before I ask you a couple more questions just at this point I want you to pray for our listening audience for those people who are suffering, for those people who need to forgive that have been through the abuse. Because there has been an anointing on this program and I want to give you an opportunity to pray for these people.

Mark: Father we thank you for your grace and your love and we know that people are hurt and are hurting. And it’s serious Lord. It is not insignificant. The pain is central and core to their lives and they are going to atheism or they are going to psychics or they are going to drugs, they are going wherever, I don’t know where all, but they are going away from the Lord, away from you! And Father I am asking you now in Jesus name to have mercy and to be gracious and by the work of your Holy Spirit help them to see that Christ is what you have done for us and religion is what man has done to mess it up! Help them to see that you are not the one that has betrayed them, you are not that one who has turned your back on them, and you are not the one who has hurt them. And it is serious business for you Father and I am asking you Father, in Jesus name, to work by your great power to reach these people who are hurting and draw them back to yourself through the Lord Jesus. Help them feel your mercy and your compassion and your love Father. I pray in Jesus name.

Daniel: Amen. That was really good. Folks if you are out there and this has touched your life, receive that. Receive that and give Jesus a chance to prove Himself in your life. Listen Mark, I want to ask you a couple more questions in wrapping up this interview. 1. How did your journey to heal from all of this impact your marriage?

Mark: It changed my marriage for good. My wife has always been there but my healing and recovery work made our marriage a marriage! It made our marriage a marriage. And my wife would tell you now; if you asked her, she’s not here right now where I am; but if you were to ask her, if someone were to ask her, she would tell you that I love her and that she knows she is loved and she knows now that she has a husband. It made all the difference in our marriage. She endured it. It was never physical abuse, but certainly emotional abuse. But she got through that and she knows the difference.

Daniel: What about your family; your sisters, your brothers? How do you relate to them now and what has become of their lives?

Mark: The only person I have real contact with is my brother Nate. I have contact with him every week or more often and I tell him I love him on a regular basis. He is working on his life doing some important work to help heal people who have been hurt by religion. He has gone to atheism and he is doing a lot of work to try to help the people who are a part of the LGBT community to know that they are human beings whom God loves.

I have not had any contact with my sister Katherine at all for 40 years. I just pray for her life. I have a little contact with my younger sister and a couple of my nieces.

My family is on my heart every day and I pray for them and I am not sure I’m the one . . . God is amazing and I may be the one He uses to minister to and reach my family. But as far as my family is concerned I am the enemy. I left and immediately became the enemy and I have most likely still remained as the enemy because I was so mean and so hurtful to them. I was like my father to them. The only thing I know to do right now, until I have meaningful contact with one of them if they want to communicate, the only thing I can think to do is pray for them. And the Lord is able. I’m not.

Daniel: Mark I want to thank you so much for coming on the program today.

Mark: Thank you too Dan. I really appreciate it. I hope the Lord is able to help some folks because I know He has helped me a lot.

End of Second Radio Interview

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