This Is How We Begin to Change the Scandal Cycle

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Stephen Strang

In a world that seems to get worse daily, we need the power of the Holy Spirit more than ever to live lives pleasing to God. While the Pentecostal/charismatic movement is far from perfect, there are still standards for righteousness that seems non-existent in liberal or woke segments of the church. Yet, scandals continue to come forward even among conservative charismatic leaders. As painful as it seems to learn of behaviors by men we respected, it’s good for us to discuss this publicly because it’s making the body of Christ realize anew that we can’t allow compromise—especially when it comes to sexual behaviors. This is especially true regarding sexual abuse with minors. Last fall, it came to light that Mike Bickle, founder of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri, had committed acts of sexual immorality 20 years ago. As bad as that was, it was then revealed he had sex with a 14-year-old babysitter 40 years ago.

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More recently, news broke that Robert Morris, founder of the widely respected Gateway Church near Dallas, Texas, also had sex with an underage girl when he was a young minister nearly 40 years ago. That he sinned and was restored had long been part of his testimony. What was not known was that it was pedophilia, and that Morris rebuffed the woman years later when she sought help to be healed and to cope with her ongoing counseling costs. Now, both men have stepped down from public ministry while the rest of us are reeling from the horror of learning the truth. And asking, how? How could this have happened? To help us sort this out, I invited J. Lee Grady, the long-time editor of Charisma to be on my Strang Report podcast and discuss what the church must do to move ahead and how to keep these tragic episodes from happening again. Lee and I have known each other since 1981 and worked together on Charisma since 1992 until he went into full-time traveling ministry around 2011. He told me he hears people asking why there are so many scandals, but sadly it really is nothing new. There have been scandals going back to the early days of the Pentecostal movement. Thankfully, they are statistically rare, which means when they happen they are unusual and are big news. “Now we are facing this really tragic situation in Dallas, with Pastor Robert Morris and Gateway Church. And of course, this comes on the heels of what has happened with International House of Prayer and Mike Bickle, and it’s sad,” Lee told me. Of course, this is hard to face. The Bible says we have all sinned, yet we are told not to judge. We don’t want to believe anything this awful is true—nor face the ugly fact that these scandals play into the hands of those who want to discredit the Pentecostal movement. But face it we must, including how to deal not only with restoring fallen leaders, but also the victims of abuse. The Spirit-empowered church must deal with these issues:
    • We must follow the Scriptural principles for all believers, especially leaders who are held to a higher standard. (James 3:1-2)
    • We must provide healing and protection for victims, which is more important than restoring the fallen perpetrators.
    • We must not judge, and then also humbly restore fallen leaders lest we fall. (Galatians 6:1)
    • We must be an example to the world of how the Bible says to deal with sin, not merely follow legalities or cultural norms. (Luke 17:3)
    • For many others who experience pain (but not in public scandal), there must be ministry and forgiveness and healing and wholeness.
Lee’s ministry today is to women through the Mordecai Project, many of whom were abused. In my podcast, he tells his own story of being abused as a 7-year-old by an older boy, and how he received freedom years later when he confessed it to a mentor. He also has ministered that same blessing of freedom to men he counsels to confess their pain to others.

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I’m so proud of Lee and his work. He’s now ministered in many countries and has centers in Latin America, Asia and Africa. You can learn more at leegrady.com or themordecaiproject.org. I know many readers know and love Lee. If you’d like to contribute to his ministry, you can do so directly or through our non-profit partner Christian Life Missions at christianlifemissions.org, and we will send 100% of your donation to him. Won’t you support Lee in his important work? Let us also follow his example to stand for righteousness. Listen to the entire podcast and share it with friends. And when these tragic scandals come up, speak up for these principles. Meanwhile, pray for all those who have been hurt, especially these (and other victims) of sexual abuse. Pray that somehow we can put an end to this in the church.

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Stephen Strang has seen major changes in the church, the culture and technology since he founded Charisma magazine in 1975. In addition to being CEO of Charisma Media, he hosts a Strang Report podcast live on YouTube and Rumble at 4 p.m. EST every Tuesday and Thursday.  His important recent book Spirit-Led Living in an Upside-World is available wherever fine Christian books are sold. You can get a copy signed by the author online at mycharismashop.com.

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