Although I haven’t tuned into God TV for several years now I suppose I have felt something of a connection with it’s vision in the past. At a critical time in my spiritual journey where my eyes were being opened to the perils of the Pentecostal church that we attended, I was more than thankful for the two hour a day outlet that God TV provided back in the 90’s! I’ll be honest, for several years I feasted and enjoyed many of the programs on offer, for me it was a stepping stone towards sanity and away from some heavy religious junk entrenched in my thinking. Back in the early nineties hearing guys like Jesse Duplantis share his thoughts with hilarity and humor was so refreshing and powerfully life changing. The guy was just ‘Funny’ and broke all the rules when it came to staying inside the protocols I was moving away from. I liked that!!! Watching Benny Hinn do his stuff whilst all the while sporting the craziest quiff known to man was at the very least intriguing! (If only you knew the starch and spiritual moth ball climate we were accustomed to.) Benny brought the circus to town in comparison! Back in the day God TV provided a veritable feast for us Vaughan’s and was definitely at the time a breath of fresh air for which I was thankful!
So it was sad for Donna and I this week to hear about the problems that Rory and Wendy Alec (Founders and CEO’s of God TV,) have been experiencing in their marriage and lives. We watched the half hour special which God TV aired as Wendy uncomfortably spilled her heart to the masses, communicating as best she could that her and Rory had split up after Rory had recently committed adultery. The story was pretty horrific, painfully sad and heart wrenching. Such a sweet couple, so much passion and drive, such a blessing to so many, yet obviously a couple who over a long period of time have struggled with some stuff. Wendy communicated as best she could some of these struggles, admitting that for many years their marriage was only “70 percent stable,” and how they had been receiving counseling over the years in an attempt to bring them closer. She also shared how she had known for many years that Rory had struggled with issues relating to fatherhood after growing up in some crazy environments as a lad. It seems that the two also spent much time apart from each other and that although they seemed ‘together’ on screen that actually they spent much time apart away from the screen. Wendy also shared just how difficult it had been for Rory over the years to communicate spiritually with people as this was one area of his life where he seemingly had struggled to connect. Added to this the daily pressures of running an international and very prominent ministry AND the apparent and continual need to generate masses of wealth to keep the train going, and BOOM you have a great opportunity for unnecessary failure! So so sad.
Some thoughts for what they are worth. In one sense the ‘Adultery’ issue although important in the story and seemingly key in the demise of the marriage, is nothing more than ‘Evidence’ and ‘Fruit’ rather than the actual ‘Problem’ within the marriage. Watching the program for me highlighted and reflected major issues prevalent within the church which at some level we have been hitting against for several years now. Yes the thought of a married man having sexual relations with ‘another’ woman is sickening, BUT just as sickening for me was recognizing the same old symptoms and signs of religious activity which will always lead to some sort of spiritual burn out or car wreck! The whole program for me communicated a story of years of carrying a weight of responsibility, obligation and pressure that I’m not convinced is ours to carry. Even at the point where Wendy was obviously broken and distressed she sat with the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ sign illuminated behind her as she once again ‘Committed’ herself to her mission. The mission to see a billion souls coming in via the efforts of God TV. I know that for many this would seem a noble, brave, heroic and amazingly spiritual stance to take, but for me it was crazily sad to see a person feeling the need to push herself even further when it’s obvious she needs time to rest, reconsider and be with her family who are also obviously distraught. (If I’m coming over as judgemental here then please forgive me, these are just my perceptions and thoughts which I want to use to raise a concern. There certainly isn’t any judgement from me regarding this situation at all, I just believe that we can all learn and grow somehow in the midst of this happening. We have to wake up to the damage all of our spiritual pushing, pressing and contending actually does!)
I remember a few years back hearing Benny Hinn talking about the demise within his own marriage. Benny shared that as a ‘Man of God’ and ‘Spiritual Leader’ of the masses, that in his mind the order of importance was firstly God (No surprise there,) secondly his ministry and thirdly his family! The resulting fruit = A wife who felt second, maybe third best and pushed away! Such a Gnostic and strange way of looking at things, all that separation eventually leading to SEPARATION! Sadly this is normal in many Christian homes where ministry seems to be the buzz word. Husbands spend hours in the prayer room or in ‘Preparation,’ Wives feel unspiritual as they are left to churn out the mundane chores, children may get tucked in at night by the father as long as he’s home and not on the road, AGAIN! Wonderful recipe for destruction apparently brought about by our precious Lord, who certainly called them to be together and apparently then apart! So much of this stuff is rooted not in faith but total unbelief as guys attempt to ‘Enforce’ and ‘Help’ the Lord in accomplishing whatever it was He left undone the first time around! Even those who carry a message that ‘It is Finished,’ often then feel a responsibility to travel extensively to communicate this message to others and in so doing forfeit so much of the life created for their pleasure. Yes some are clearly called to travel and there is a crazy supernatural grace on their lives and marriages, SOME, certainly not all!!
Still the draw of ministry is so appealing for so many! The thought of being on the road, sharing what we consider to be the Gospel, communicating our bliss with others has such a pull to it! For the few who ‘Make it,’ the intoxication of traveling the nations and seeing crazy supernatural events is heavenly! Although the reality is usually more like living out of a suitcase, encountering way more hotels, airplane’s and service centre’s than angels, initially sleeping on floors rather than beds at the Hilton and having to explain to your spouse on returning home that YET AGAIN it’s cost you to go as the offerings were filled with blank credit card forms, used Starbucks cards and bubble gum wrappers! Yet guys feel that the ‘Lord has called them,’ so they risk all to make it happen! Donna and I have also felt the pinch when it comes to ministry. From June 2010 to June 2012 I was away half of those years, sometimes with family members but usually without. Although I always hated being away from my family and usually would feel physically sick for a few days before I left, I still went and would see incredible manifestations of heaven on earth. How can you not be blessed and encouraged by seeing nation after nation absolutely wiped out by the glory of God? Our marriage was/is great and we always agreed when it came to where and how much we should do apart, but there came a moment in January 2012 where we realized that a time had come to slow down and just watch what would begin to happen out of ordinary every day life. So glad that we listened! Now our marriage is stronger than ever, we have way more time together than ever before and have way more agreement and things to enjoy together than we ever did before.
It was sad hearing Wendy Alec talk about the amount of time that her and Rory spent apart from each other and how their “Ministry Marriage” seemed to work “Most of the time!” What does that mean? So much weird terminology, terminology which doesn’t fit within the remit of; “For this reason a man will leave his mother and father and CLEAVE to his wife!” Marriages are not created to be ‘Ministry Partnerships!’ Marriages are meant to be a Divine, whacked up and fun expression of Life shared between two individuals! Out of that joined expression of the Divine a creative river of Life flows, not always from a pulpit or from behind a camera, sometimes on the school run or at Starbucks together. Take the fun out of marriage and stuff becomes tough, spend lots of time apart and it becomes tougher, feel that you carry the weight of obligation and responsibility to transform the world and it becomes impossible! It was obvious watching the program that the pressure to bring transformation had taken it’s toll on the marriage, the need to impact the world brought a burden and with it a price that He in no way intended us to pay! Suddenly marriage moves away from fun and becomes more about function and form, sad. Is there an alternative? Many of you would know how I was powerfully impacted in 1995 at a series of Rodney H Browne meetings. So much glory manifesting, so much life and energy, yet the one thing that impressed me so much was hearing Rodney talking about ministry, family and marriage. Rodney shared in one session how ministry dynamics worked for him, how everywhere he travelled he took his family with him and the financial cost he paid to ensure that they stayed together. For Rodney ministry wasn’t some ‘prominent’ deal that took over in importance from marriage and family, it was something that effortlessly bubbled out of family Life! In that session Rodney shared on the ‘Price to pay in ministry,’ but firstly established that the ‘Price not to pay’ was the breakdown and breakup of a marriage! Yes Rodney recognized that he was called to minister and that somehow he was being used as an outlet for Life to flow, YET he knew that his first and only real calling was towards his wife and family! He refused to let the dazzle of the platform lights blind his rightful focus, FAMILY! A great perspective and certainly one to at least consider!
I feel that if I have been called to communicate anything over the past 8 years it would be this; what the law could never do Christ did! Our continual message has been one of encouraging guys to walk away from any false sense of responsibility and obligation that religion thrusts upon us. Why? Well firstly something has apparently already been accomplished and the weight of Church building and soul winning was fully carried by Another! Secondly, it is ultimately in the ease of knowing and recognizing our identity and engaging in the life from within us that we create! The harder we try, the more we push and strive, the more pressure we submit to – the less we are effective and the less we grow spiritually! For me this pressure to make stuff happen, to force stuff through, to ‘Carry On’ in some heroic way is at the very heart of everything wrong with modern day Christianity! It is a manifestation of religion and unbelief. This to me is the problem, the root, divorce and adultery are the resulting fruit of the unhappiness that submitting to this pressure brings! I know that this is a sensitive area, yes there is grace and the need for unconditional love, but this can also be a time to recognize the same old issues in our thinking and to move on! In the beginning He created us, male and female, He/She placed us in a garden of Bliss not into a furnace of pressure! Marriage is intended to be a fun, non-religious joining of hearts and minds. If anything flows out of that foundation of bliss which helps anyone spiritually then great but it cannot be about function over FUN. If the Gospel is anything then it is as Capon suggests nothing more than; ‘A flat announcement that the saints were home before they started!’ Apparently we were home before we started, whatever we consider to have been a problem has been taken care of! No cares left! The burden has been carried, we can enjoy our lives and enjoy our spouses in a non-religious and fun way.
No-one really knows or understands the pressure that Rory and Alec have felt. It must have been so tough, so sad, but I do feel we can learn from this situation and somehow realize that we can have fruitful and great relationships without paying the price which they have. I pray every blessing upon both Rory, Wendy and their children, I pray that this will be a powerful and life changing time of experiencing grace and rest like never before.
Love you guys endlessly, Please share your thoughts with us as always, Big Hugs DAVE