"The DECEIVING OF THE ELECT" Occurs on National Television Every Day
By Pamela Schuffert presenting investigative journalism from a Christian perspective-
We can learn from examples recorded throughout the eternal Word of God about HOW TO LIVE FOR GOD. And conversely, we can ALSO learn from the Bible HOW NOT TO LIVE.
God chose to retain in His holy word the examples of those who FEARED and OBEYED Him and thus brought Him glory. And the wisdom of God also decided to retain in His word the accounts of those who FAILED His grace, and chose to live in sin and defiance of His word instead.
We are told from Holy Scriptures that these examples of offenders are given to us as WARNING of how God deals with blatant sin and those who set their faces against Him and His word. Many who sinned, however, later repented and were restored to fellowship with Him. We can see this in the example of King David and his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband to gain her as one more of David's wives.
When King David was confronted with his sin by the prophet, he humbled himself and repented. YET, judgment still came as a result. And God's wisdom permitted his sins to be published in the Word of God, remaining as a warning for all future generations regarding such sexual sin and immorality. Yet, Scriptures tell us his sin was forgiven.
It is in light of this Scriptural precedent( and many others), that I write the following report. Though the person responsible for the following tragedy professes to have repented and been forgiven ( and I will never dispute this) nevertheless THE TRUTH MUST COME FORTH regarding the extensive corruption of one fallen television ministry, and for the following reason.
As this former television ministry began to collapse, and it's leader was arrested and put on trial, many remaining in the ministry tried to revive it and keep it going. Other well known televangelists came to the facilities to host their own campmeetings, etc. And one rep accompanying a well known televangelist was overheard made a startling remark while checking into the former GRAND HOTEL at this facility.
I should know, because for 13 years my mother owned a condominium on those grounds of Jim Bakker's PTL CLUB. In between my missionary outreaches and travels, I spent time there during those 13 years. And what I experienced and saw first-hand broke not only MY heart, but the hearts of thousands of other sincere Christians trying to work there for the glory of God, and broke the heart of God as well.
I learned that it is NOT what people see on a one or two hour broadcast that reveals the true nature of the kind of people BEHIND it. But rather, it was what the television viewers did NOT see the OTHER 23 hours that proved to be so revealing. I am going to summarize briefly what I discovered first hand while living, periodically working there, and interviewing people I personally knew who worked there as well. And as you read the following, remember what ANOTHER televangelist staff member admitted while visiting. "...well, the ONLY DIFFERENCE between Jim Bakker and the REST OF US is, that BAKKER GOT CAUGHT!"
While presenting his family on national television as a "wholesome Christians family, " his two children were often involved in wild parties, sex, drugs, and the "party-on-dudes" scene. Tammy Sue even admitted this in one youth meeting I attended at their "Chapel on the Lake" one night and asked for prayer. Jamie Charles, accompanied by the ever-present security guard babysitter, was always bullying people and demanding his way with staff at various recreational facilities Jim and Tammy were always "too busy in ministry" to spend quality time with their children, and so they were babysat by security guards with a gun on one hip and a 2-way radio on the other. And in so doing, they neglected their greatest ministry of all, to their very own children.
However, Bakker was also the partying type as well. Reports began to come to us of the wild parties in his fourth floor penthouse apartment suite in the GRAND HOTEL, complete with a liquor cabinet. the GRAND HOTEL even boasted two resident prostitutes, Lonnie from Montana, and Debbi from SC. I even attempted to minister to both of them. It was very revealing to watch as Jim's security guards would patrol the hotel and walk by them, and simply smile and wink and walk on buy. Yet they knew what was going on.
I began to receive word that the bellmen were having wild drug/alcohol/sex parties with the daughters of guests remaining behind in the hotel rooms, as their parents went to enjoy "CAMPMEETING USA" at Jim's former BARN AUDITORIUM. I took the time to personally interview, Leroy, the bell captain and committed Christian, of the Grand Hotel.
"Leroy...what IS this I am hearing about bellmen having sex with daughters of guests in this 'Christian' hotel? What is going ON?" Blushing as much as an African American can, Leroy told me apologetically, "Well, Pam, it IS true, but you SEE: the state hiring and firing laws do not permit us to fire them based on such matters......" This was the excuse Bakker used to justify such clear violations of the ministries very own policies for this hotel.
And there is much more. While performing my own quiet investigation and interviewing people willing to talk (which got me eventually blacklisted and unable to be hired anymore there) I discovering the following:
-Sexual immorality was rampant among staff, with reports of even wife-swapping at the highest levels.
-Jim Bakker was in fact a practicing homosexual. He hired the TAGGART BROTHERS, known homosexual brothers living in the same home with only one king sized bed (as documented by the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER)as his top aids. I interviewed both security guards and cameramen who admitted that Jim had solicited them for sex. One woman I interviewed told me that when she sat down to talk to Tammy Faye's secretary to complain about Tammy's often outrageous behavior on television, the secretary replied, "You should feel sorry for her...Jim has no time for her...Jim is a practicing homosexual."
This is precisely why the homosexual community came out in a protest parade in Charlotte NC in defense of Jim Bakker the very week of his trial.
-The abuse of funds and money was continual. Jim and staff loved living the lifestyle of "the rich, the elite and the powerful." Jim pretended to care about the poor by setting up centers to allegedly help them. Yet Jim Bakker admitted to his top aids that he hated the poor, according to former aid Ken Davis.
-AND IF YOU HAD MONEY TO SPEND, you were more than WELCOME to HERITAGE USA! However, if they determined that you did not have money and were only hanging out on the grounds or looking for help, Jim had his security guards escort you out the gate...and referred you to SALVATION ARMY down the road instead.
Good Christians like my mother and I and many others refused to accept Jim's attitude towards the poor, and we developed an underground system of taking in the homeless, the needy, the Christian pastors and missionaries burned out who had come there for help and refuge. We fed them, clothed them, and assisted them in any way we could, even though Jim set up policies forbidding residents on the grounds to do so.
-Frequently Tammy would cry on national television, begging for more money to keep the ministry going. At one point, I remember as she asked people to "send us your valuables, diamond rings, anything of value that we can sell to keep the ministry going or we will be off the air..........." And the faithful did so. what happened to diamond rings and jewelry that people sent in, supposedly to be sold and the money then used to keep them on the air?
I interviewed a woman who worked for a jewelers in Charlotte, NC. Here is the shocking truth.
"I know all about what happened to the rings and jewelry, because Tammy would send the to our shop. We would clean them professionally for her, and then send them back to her. She admitted she kept them for her own personal wardrobe. One day I called her at the ministry number to tell her that this batch of rings was cleaned and ready for her to pick up. She got angry and cursed at me on the phone, and told me to NEVER CALL her at the ministry number again, and to only use her home phone number for this purpose...."
-Further photographs in the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER showed the huge vault that held mink coats and many other valuables from viewers had been sent in, supposedly to "rescue the ministry". They were in fact never sold, but kept for their own personal use.
-Those of us who lived on the grounds, learned a handy secret. If you wanted to find good furniture and many other quality items FREE, simply take a discreet trip to the PTL dump! They were notorious for their lavish spending and wasting of ministry resources. I reclaimed a quality office executive chair one day from there, as well as a desk.
One young man, Eric, was training in ministry there, and singing "for the glory of GOD on national television" every Sunday in Bakker's television church service. But one day Eric came over and admitted something to me. "Well, I admit, I am sleeping with my girlfriend Mary every Saturday night, and then singing Sunday morning..."
I was stunned. I remember saying, "Eric, don't you fear GOD? He will JUDGE this kind of hypocrisy! HOW can you live in SIN, and then stand before millions on television and sing about the 'glories of God setting you FREE from sin through Jesus?' IF you do not repent and get right NOW, I promise that GOD IS NOT MOCKED and judgment WILL come...." We prayed.
A few weeks later, Eric came back to me, breathless that day. HE HAD JUST SUFFERED A TERRIBLE ACCIDENT, in which his car had BEEN TOTALLED! And it was only BY GOD'S MERCY he had not been hurt or killed! My words, inspired by the Holy Spirit, had proven true.
The tragic truth is, that sin was rampant throughout the entire ministry. It was NOT just a "one night stand" with Jessica Hahn that proved to be Jim's demise. It was rather continual sin, unrepented of, by not only Jim but so many throughout the entire staff at this facility. God sent many men and women of God with prophetic warning to Jim to REPENT, but he continually hardened his heart and walked on in his pride and power. It is not without reason that the Bible states, "PRIDE GOETH BEFORE A FALL, and A HAUGHTY SPIRIT BEFORE DESTRUCTION." And sadly, Jim evidenced both. He would listen to NO one.
Many of us who were Christians of integrity living or working there, knew what was going on in the background, hiding sin behind television glitz and glamour and fame and acclaim. We wept. We fasted. We prayed and cried out to God over the sins of that place. We finally had to pray for God to either bring them to REPENTANCE, or shut the place down. And SHUT IT DOWN God did at that time.
The very week of Bakker's trial, Hurricane HUGO came roaring through, the eye of the hurricane passing directly through the center of HERITAGE USA. The resulting rain and wind damage was extensive, and many buildings were rendered unusable or destroyed.
I remember walking down the trails of HERITAGE USA several years afterwards. Ruin was still everywhere. Buildings that I had once ministered in were in decay or ruin. Some had been razed to the ground or plundered for parts. The very visions that God had given me repeatedly of judgment and destruction coming to that place for sin unrepented of, had truly come to pass.
No, God is NOT mocked.
My heart broke therefore, when one aid accompanying another televangelist commented while checking into the Grand Hotel after Jim was ousted and prior to it's destruction under HUGO, "the ONLY DIFFERENCE between BAKKER and the REST OF US is, that JIM GOT CAUGHT!"
Since then, I have heard many things coming from within other television ministries, that leave me with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. All of this seems to be typical, however, of the deadly dangers of "PSEUDO-CHRISTIANITY" so rampant throughout America and her Christian institutions today. Students traveling with a singing choir from their Bible college, admitted to me after their performance that homosexuality and fornication was going on at the Pentecostal Bible college.
Mark, one young man interning at Bakker's facility one summer and rented a room from us, asked me the following: "What IS fornication?" I replied, "Mark, fornication is SEX BEFORE AND OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE. It is SIN." He turned red and then replied, "Well, if THAT is the definition, then WE ARE ALL GUILTY OF IT at my Bible college......." Oh, break my heart!
Is THIS what Christianity is degenerating into in America today???
Frankly, what I have just mentioned is only the tip of the iceberg regarding what happened in those many years of Bakker's HERITAGE USA in it's heyday. I witnessed the rise and fall of an alleged Christian empire, and ALL BECAUSE OF SIN... the very thing that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose again to give us victory over.
The pain remains in my heart to this day. And revives whenever I hear of yet more reports of ungodliness surfacing in THE OTHER televangelist ministries.
Should we as Christians wonder, perhaps, when we hear of severe persecution coming to the Christians in America today? The curse causeless does not come. Will God allow it a a rod of judgment on the sin and compromise rampant in the churches and ministries of America today?
And truly, God is not mocked. What happened there should remain a lesson for all the REST OF US to learn by.