Denial and Abuse

By Kirk C., a former Leading Brother in the San Luis Obispo Assembly

Introduction
First Letter to David Geftakys
Second Letter to David Geftakys
Letters of Apology
Resignation from the Work
Letter to George: Entreaty
Writing and Distributing Articles
"Sin in the Camp"
"Denial and Pride"
"Persecution or Prosecution?"
"Shepherding Versus Meddling"
Second Letter to George
"Welcoming to the Lord's Supper"
A San Luis Obispo Assembly History
Kirk and Family Leave the SLO Assembly
Letter to Mark M. and Jeff Lehmkuhl
David G. Restored to Full Participation: Kirk Meets with Jeff Lehmkuhl
Letter Telling the Church
Concluding Statement



Introduction

Before I say anything, I must explain that previously, I have felt that the Internet was not the proper place to discuss these things.  I saw the Internet as not telling the church but telling the world (wide web). I have since changed my view regarding the Internet and its role in exposing decades of denial and abuse, because I now see that the Geftakys ministry is unable or unwilling to judge itself. 

1 Cor. 6:1-8 requires the church to judge itself and its members. But this is not the case in the Geftakys organization. Just as the Lord used gentile nations to judge Israel, so the internet is a sword, used by God to see  that ‘judgment begins in the house of God.’ It is too bad that ‘telling it to the church’ has to go to this extreme, but as the blood of Abel cried to God from the ground, so the voices of the many abused and offended have been crying out for many years.  To date, the only place they have been heard is on the Internet. Prior to this, people were always ignored or discredited.

I was saved in the summer of ’82. The following fall I moved away from my hometown for my third year of college and went to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. A club called Studies in the Old and New Testament was just beginning and its "New Testament" style gathering complemented my new beginning with God. Thus began approximately nineteen years of involvement in the Geftakys organization. For eighteen of these years, I was part of the leadership of the San Luis Obispo assembly. My article titled A SLO History gives more detail for these years.

As my eyes began to open to the abuse and denial that was occurring, with which I had played a part,  I wrote the following papers in an attempt to bring about recovery and healing. The time and circumstances that surround these writings are noted.

First Letter to David G.

This first letter was sent to David after Judy had left him. I had questioned multiple witnesses, and from their testimonies it was proven that years of abuse and lies regarding it had been occurring on an ongoing basis. It was in light of these facts that the purpose of this letter was to see David brought to the light. Both Jeff Lehmkuhl and Roberto Sanchez (other Leading Brothers of the SLO gathering) agreed at the time of the writing to the substance and facts that are presented in the letter. However, after consulting with Fullerton, primarily with the men involved with itinerant ministry, they changed their position and began to say I was harsh and insensitive for writing it.

Second Letter to David G.

It was suggested that I write an apology to David for the tone of my first letter. Jeff even volunteered some of the text. I did not feel obligated to follow this line of thought and responded by sending a letter speaking more of God’s corrective grace. There was no response from David for either letter.

Letters of Apology

At the same time I was trying to address David Geftakys, I was also writing letters to many people that had left the SLO Assembly in the past, apologizing for my behavior towards them. I was making phone calls and visiting people that I needed to seek reconciliation with. The insight that was provided to me by David’s failings was opening my eyes to my own complicity and sin. I was beginning to see what a dupe and dope I had been. I had let David beat the sheep on many occasions. There was always some justifying or excusing circumstance that blinded me to my cowardice at the time.

Now my eyes were beginning to open and with this new vision I was repenting and reaching out to all I could remember I had wronged. (By the way if you are reading this and remember how you were treated in my silent presence and never got such a letter please get in contact with me. I am sure that there remain sins of ignorance that I have yet to make right).

Here is a sample of one such letter. Again, let me state that this is what I was thinking at the time. If I were to re-write this letter today, I would probably be much more clear with regard to some of the things I did, and how they were harmful. I initially started this task believing that Jeff was with me. I thought it was going to be a leadership effort, as it should have been, instead of something only I was doing. After talks with Fullerton, Jeff changed his view on this.

Resignation from the Work

When George came visiting us in between the winter seminar and his Asian journey I was appalled at how he distanced himself from his family’s troubles. I was also greatly disturbed by his boastful preaching. I had hopes that he would bear some responsibility in the SLO tragedy and that he would acknowledge his and Betty’s failure in counseling their son’s marriage and miss-directing the Work in light of sending David Geftakys to SLO.

Instead, he did not inquire what the Leading Brothers in SLO thought. Instead, George Geftakys rebuked me for being "harsh" and tried to minimize his own involvement in what was now so public a problem. By this time, over forty people had left the gathering, many of them pillars.

My eyes were opening. I was beginning to see that this is the way it had always been, only now I was no longer blind and could see it. In all the years George visited, he never bothered to inquire what we thought. He might have inquired to his loyal Workers but not with anyone else. The SLO leadership would stand by, trusting that Fullerton would give David G. counsel, and hold him to some sort of accountability.

We blindly assumed they would be responsible, in spite of the facts that were so plainly evident had we simply considered the obvious. All of the Leading Brothers were cowardly puppets, shaped and weakened by years of training, while the abused, in this case Judy, suffered because of our passive blindness. 

After this, Fullerton called--it was either George, Betty, Mark Miller or Dan Notti--and suggested that David should be allowed to partake of the Lord’s Supper. This really bothered me, because I had thought that he was being disciplined for being a railer and abusive man and lying to us. At least this is what we all agreed to when we asked him not to preach or partake of the Lord's Supper. Since no visible repentance had occurred, I was against this but it became clear that this was the way it was going to be since "headquarters" had ruled. It seemed to me that it did no good to be a lone dissenter.

I was beginning to walk in some new vision. As stated above, I saw this as part of my own repentance. After George’s visit I penned a letter to George and showed it to Jeff. Upon reading it, Jeff almost blew a gasket. He couldn’t believe I would challenge George in such a way. He made me rewrite and revise the letter. After multiple versions of the letter Jeff and Roberto sat me down and talked to me. They explained that if I held these opinions of George then perhaps I should not be a Leading Brother. I agreed, and I penned my resignation that night.

After I gave this letter to the SLO leadership (Jeff Lehmkuhl, Roberto Sanchez & Ray Dienzo) they asked that I not make it known to the Assembly for a period of time. I continued to have hopes that things would turn around and true changes would occur, and agreed to hope and pray for a while. 

Letter to George: Entreaty

Two months passed and now that they knew how to deal with me they let me announce it to the gathering. Jeff wanted to know what I would be reading and tried to supply his own text for my resignation announcement. This just wouldn’t fly with me. I was tired of the Assembly leadership trying to get the right spin on everything. My new desire was to let the light shine and the consequences fall. Danny Edwards had not yet arrived in SLO but he called and now I would be allowed to read my resignation.

At the prayer meeting where I would be allowed to publicly resign Jeff preached out of Acts 20 about how wolves would rise up from among the sheep and how the hireling leaves the flock. It was an obvious attempt to raise disregard to my concerns prior to my voicing them. I did not protest his word but it is noteworthy in this storyline how someone is marginalized and character is smeared.

The day after my resignation I sent a a letter to George appealing to him to deal with the situation with David. I had written an article entitled "Sin in the Camp", which I enclosed. The letter had been softened many times to attempt to make it more palatable for George. Again, at the time I thought this was the appropriate tone.  Perhaps I would write it differently today.

I waited for weeks expecting some kind of response from George. As usual, I was totally ignored. In yet another eye opening moment, I recalled how George boasted about always responding to the letters he received when he was on the journey. (This is typically a form letter that everybody gets.) But now, when a critical problem surfaced, he distanced himself by denying and ignoring what would only become a snowballing public issue of sin. Still my hopes remained, Danny Edwards would be arriving in a few months and I hoped that his "outside" outlook would demand accounting and repentance. This hope was only disappointed.

Writing and Distributing Articles

I gave the above "Sin In the Camp" paper to all the leadership, including Danny, and they followed George’s example by totally ignoring the concerns. The following writings were hand delivered to all of SLO leadership, one at a time. Each paper was a further attempt to demonstrate some of the evident problems. The result of these papers was total silence, not one movement of change or call to discuss the issues.

One of the first of these papers, "Denial and Pride", was an attempt to define what repentance should look like. I see my contribution and presence here waning because I see the Lords presence waning. With each of the pages I have written it has been my sincerest hope that recovery would break forth. At every hand I have been disappointed I am in prayer as to my next move.

"Persecution or Prosecution?" is a brief paper I gave to the leadership in SLO, in connection with a consideration of the illusion of autonomy. It was continually asserted, when negative (true) concerns were heard from outside or inside, that the devil was roaring and we needed to withstand this spiritual warfare, i.e. persecution. My response was, "What do you expect when there are outstanding issues of sin?"

Another paper attempted to describe a control-mongering spirit that was prevalent in the Geftakys ministry. I noted some very recent examples of this kind of abuse. Past examples of such behavior could have filled pages.

Second Letter to George

After the above, it was time to send another letter to George. I hoped that if I made a more personal appeal he would respond. Perhaps a softer approach was necessary to describe the gravity of the dilemma. Then George would see that ignoring these things could only make things worse.

George continued to deny me any response. Total silence. His ignoring of these issues was a revelatory experience to me. As I shook the Geftakys tree, for any accountability, all I was finding was rotten fruit.

"Welcoming to the Lord's Supper" Article

I began to see that these papers were tests. Would anyone rise up to see change occur? Or,  was  change even possible? One of the issues I was testing was the concern of sectarianism. It seemed you were either one of us or not, in fellowship or out of fellowship. Of course we have fellowship with all believers but the fellowship with those out of our fellowship seemed to be a second-class type of fellowship. Here is our simple welcoming announcement; I had found it offensively sectarian, I asked, 'Could change occur?’

I had talked to Danny concerning ‘the welcome’. All leadership had heard that ‘the welcome’ was offensive to Kirk and his family, and if change did not occur it was clear that they would be seeing less of us. Change did not occur and I finally realized it could not occur. Things were the way they were and that was that. It did not matter that people were offended. It was our problem that we should be dealing with. Whether it was the allowance of sin or the way we welcome. 

It is interesting to note that the Assembly would circle the globe for one convert but would not change, admit error, to keep any even the first fruit of the gathering. Repentance demands change, when change is impossible repentance cannot occur. Again there was no response after delivering this paper. No comments, no questions, total silence.

A San Luis Obispo Assembly History

A week prior to the summer ’01 Workers conference, Danny asked what I believed needed to happen in SLO. I said I would put something together for him. I couldn’t just say 1-2-3-4 this is what needs to happen here. I gave him this five-page paper after he returned from the conference. It was necessary to give history to support the necessary steps of repentance. I gave this paper to all the SLO leadership and again was shocked that no one would rise up. Total silence was the response.

Jeff Lehmkuhl agreed to the facts and substance of this history. In one breath I was told to wait;  repentance probably did need to occur. Then in the next breath, Phil 3 was quoted as justification to move on and forget the past, a new beginning was what we really needed.

Kirk and Family Leave the SLO Assembly

By this time, my family and I were just going to Sunday morning worship. Our commitment was demonstrated in our participation. In the last few months our involvement had waned. I was no longer sharing ministry because the ministry that I had to share was corrective in nature. I had attempted to share a word of correction and had been strongly rebuked. What I had to share was not wanted by the leadership and would not be permitted. Instead I was asked to share a word on ‘Breaking Bread’ as part of Danny’s new series on, ‘Why We Do What We Do.’ I could not contribute in this way.

With the total absence of response from my last paper it was evident that it was time for us to move on. I believed that the Lord’s presence had moved on for us and it was necessary for us to follow Him. We started meeting with other Christians in the community. I could elaborate on our departure from the Assembly and our enlargement and blessed fellowship with other believers but that is not the intent of this writing.

Letter to Mark Miller and Jeff Lehmkuhl

Months passed and I wrote another letter. I had come across a letter that I had written in 1994 to Mark Miller asking him about the proper authority of leadership in regard to the SLO situation with David. I sent it again to Mark and Jeff, with comments that I hoped would shed light on the present situation.

The enclosed letter was something I came upon by accident. I had written it shortly after we (the SLO leadership) became aware of David G’s spousal abuse. Mark Miller, Betty G. & Dan Notti were aware of the abuse and were being trusted by SLO to counsel and help David and Judy’s marriage. I was shamefully wrong to trust them and cowardly in not taking a personal shepherd care to investigate. We looked at David and Judy as without peers in SLO and therefore looked to the Fullerton for such help as necessary.

The questions in this letter are key to understand. Spiritual abuse is the misuse of power. This letter was my wimpy little voice of eight years ago and my concern that authority was misused. I was quickly shut up.

Jeff emailed me a ‘thank you … I’ll pray about it’ response. Mark Miller and Danny Edwards ignored it with silence. At this point I thought my duties to be done.

David G. Restored to Full Participation: Kirk Meets With Jeff L.

Some months passed; then, for various reasons, I became stirred up. One of the main reasons was that David Geftakys had recently been restored to preaching and full participation in the meetings.  This, after changing his story, and telling blatant lies about his abuse of Judy and the people in fellowship.  I could not believe that they actually allowed him to preach again!

I met with Jeff Lehmkuhl and requested we follow the Matthew 18 process for open offence. Instead of following the scriptural pattern, the leadership met with me and would not allow me to have multiple witnesses. I read them a statement telling them why I was stirred up, and requesting that we meet again with other brethren, including a Calvary Chapel pastor, for the multiple witness part of the process. They said that no further meetings would be allowed.

Letter Telling the Church

After this meeting I began writing a letter to hand deliver to the SLO gathering. On October 31, 2002 I tried to deliver it to everyone who was still meeting at the Sand’s Motel. I believed it was my responsibility to tell the church, and saw the letter as the way to accomplish it.

Concluding Statement

First of all, please note that my writings alone demonstrate that many people knew of these problems for a long time.  In spite of that, for years the party line was, "It never happened, there is no proof." Recently, some current, in-fellowship, Workers stepped forward with corroborating testimony about David’s abuses. This is a bit strange to me; let me explain why. Before my first letter to David I had spent many hours talking to witnesses to confirm the testimony of recurring spousal abuse. After these interviews I asked Jeff Lehmkuhl and Dan Notti if it was necessary to pursue further witness. It was clearly stated, by them that this was not needed. Back in 2000, they agreed that there were enough witnesses to discipline David for spousal abuse, not to mention the business about the restraining order.

Fast forward a few months and you find Jeff Lehmkuhl, and the official "Work" version of events,  saying that there was no valid witness, the witnesses lied and it did not happen! Forward the tape to the present and now the claim is, "Witnesses have stepped forward and we didn’t know. We were lied to and David pulled the wool over our eyes. We have been deceived."

This just doesn’t add up. In fact, it is a self-evident lie.  If now, all of a sudden, some witnesses come forward with the truth, and it just so happens to corroborate what the "old" witnesses said, how can these men say they didn't know?  After all, some of us were there, and we saw the bruises with our own eyes.  This is simply wickedness, and the fact that it comes from the very top should be a huge warning and indicator that something is seriously wrong with the Geftakys house.  By this I am referring not only to the family, but also to the organization.

It seems obvious to me that the mounting pressure of well-founded accusations against the Geftakys ministry and the inability to hide the issues any longer have forced the present attempts to deal with the situation. The Internet seems to be the vehicle that finally forced these people out into the light. Certainly no-one can make a case that they did it voluntarily. Of course it doesn’t matter why the abuses in the Geftakys ministry are being dealt with. What matters is how and to what extent?? Will they continue the farce, or will people step down and own up to what they did. To date, it would seem that they are still attempting to hide and cover. No true repentance is visible.

Kirk

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