Testimonial Letters from James Morris
(A former Associate of R. G. Stair)
My name is James and I was a former associate of Stair for 10 1/2 years from about February or March 1987 to September 1997 . I gave approximately $50,000 in donations in that period, and I used to visit his commune often on weekends, holidays, campmeetings, and a week here or there. I am currently in the process of writing a detailed account of my experiences with this cult, but for now I will summarize the weird things I had witnessed for myself. For years I had always found a way to excuse away the bizzare behavior I saw, and I almost ruined my life in the process. Here are some of the things I remember.
I can verify that Pam Browny's testimony is correct when she said she heard Stair say that he would not be preaching anymore if Christ did not return by the year 2000. (I tried to e-mail her with this testimonial but could not get through. If you can get this message to her, please do so). During my stay there in November or December 1990 while the people were in the dinning hall one morning, Stair said, " We are not going to go on another 10 years like we are. If Christ does not return by (or before) the year 2000, God and the Bible will be a lie!!!" By the mid 1990's, Stair began to moderate this claim by saying, "If God does not make a major move by the year 2000, Christianity as you and I know it will be non-existent on the face of the whole earth." And one time during the broadcast (around 1994 or 1995) when he repeated this claim, he clarified his meaning when he said,"Basically what I am saying is that Christ will return by 2000. If He doesn't, I'm through."
Aside from the many false prophesies Stair has made that have been well documented from tapes made back in 1987 and 1988 such as the prophesy tape, of which you are probably well aware, there have been others as well. For example during my stay there in 1990, he said that Russia would launch a nuclear strike against the U.S. by March of the following year.
There was an elderly black lady living in the community we used to call sister Williams who had been with Stair for many years prior to that time. She had ostensibly died and was miraculosly raised from the dead 2 times as the result of Stair's raising her from the dead. During the 1990 service and later services, Stair said many times that "you will know the moment we begin the tribulation, because it will begin the moment sister Williams dies." I read some article on the internet recently about Stair's wife Theresa's defense of her husband on rape charges (see the internet article entitled "The Overcomer is in a better place" where Theresa is interviewed) and noticed she mentioned the place where sister Williams was buried. How odd that sister Williams is dead and we are not in the tribulation.
Several times from about 1990 to 1994, Stair continually spoke very highly of one of the elders and told the people at the tabernacle that "God warned me not to 'lose' this elder. If you lose him, that means you have failed me." Stair had "lost" 2 like him before, and God was supposedly warning Stair not to let it happen again. Stair evidently esteemed this elder highly, because he told the people in a church meeting he was having in Loris, SC in 1992 that if anyone rejects that elder, they have rejected me. Well, lo and behold, in 1994 the elder had a falling out with Stair and left the community. Stair told me about it one day and said that the elder cannot come back to the community. Stair gave this elder 2 or 3 months to repent and come back, and when that did not happen, he cut the elder off. The prodigal son's father did not set a time limit of 2 to 3 months.
People were continuosly moving to the community, becoming dienchanted, then leaving. On my 3rd visit there, I asked Stair's wife Theresa where brother so and so was. I had met this brother during my last visit, and did not see him this visit. Theresa got angry and said "Why do you need to know where brother so and so is?" I felt like saying If he is my brother, it is only natural that I would want to know what happened to him. But I just kept my mouth shut.
During the November 1990 campmeeting service, Stair addressed the single men in the congregation and addressed some of them individually by asking, "brother so and so, would you marry the woman I picked for you?" He got different responses. I remember one young man in the congregation responded to this question by saying "Only if she is fair brother," to which Stair would respond. "Don't you trust the man of God to pick the right mate for you?" The man went on about how he would handle certain situations as they arose. and Stair said "you don't need to be married anyway." After the service adjourned, I was walking from the sanctuary and Stair approached me and said, "Brother James, would you marry the woman I pick for you?" I said yes sir. Then Stair turned and pointed to a woman in the distance and told me I should seek to date that woman. She did not live there, but was only there for the weeklong service. So Stair gave me her address and phone number and I talked to her and visited her and her family several times. But she always fervently disliked me and we never dated. Even Stair told me that she rejected me as a potential mate. The reason I am bringing up this story is just to answer Stair's question that was directed to the young man in the campmeeting service, "Don't you trust the man of God to pick the right mate for you?" To which I would later reply, "NO!!!!!!!"
Stair said on serveral occassions that "God promised to kill somebody in my presence." He has leveled this threat a number of times when he was angry and wished to instill fear in his followers. In March 1993 during one of the Campmeetings, Brother Stair came running accross the land in desperation saying, "Where is Brother Johnson, Where is Brother Johnson!?!?" Brother Johnson was a supporter of the ministry and either lived there or visited frequently. Brother Johnson had just arrived at the grounds after having been away, but I didn't know where he was at the moment. I didn't see Stair again until later at the evening service, but brother Johnson spent some time in our trailer later that evening before service playing his guitar. During the evening service, Stair suddenly changed subjects and exclaimed, Who here believes I am a man of God raise their hand!!!" After most people did so, Stair repeated his request once or twice again. Then Stair proceeded to walk down the aisle toward brother Johnson, who I noticed was not raising his hand. Stair exclaimed, "Brother Johnson, do you believe I am a man of God!!!" After repeating this once or twice and demanded that brother Johnson answer him, brother Johnson said, "You are a lyer." After some talking back and forth between the two, brother Johnson referenced the time he was hit by Stair, but Stair replied, "You forgave me, why are you coming under the blood?" Then Stair, informing Johnson that he was cut off (dammed), said that the service would not continue until Jonson left the building. Johnson's wife turned her head from her husband crying. Johnson said he was not leaving because he was there to here from God, not Stair. At this time, one of the elders approached the scene and tried to remove Johnson by force, but a scuffle broke out between the two and johnson would not go. The elder was rebuked by Stair the next day for the scuffle. After several minuites elapsed with Johnson defiantly keeping his seat, Stair turned to walk back to the front of the sanctuary, at which time Johnson said something to the extent of, "Oh what the heck," then quickly got up out of his seat and left the building leaving behing his wife. At this time, all the congregation (except me) applauded Johnson's leaving. Stair likened Johson to present day Judas Iscariot. Johnson's wife remained with the community and has been there ever since, atleast as of the time of my last visit there in march '97.
At other times, Stair, who in the early 90's had a daughter about 5 years old, has told his congregation that "God promised he would not allow my daughter to grow up. God will kill my daughter before she reaches the age of accountability. If God breaks his promise and allows my daughter to grow up, I will curse God to his face!!! I will do this because at the time my daughter reaches the age of accountability, the world will not be a decent place to live." Well, now his daughter is 15 or 16, and last I heard she is still alive. Maybe Stair made good on his promise.
There's other interesting things to tell, but time and space is short. Feel free to pass this article on in whole or excerpts. I hope to hear from you some day soon.
Hi Michael. It's good to hear from you, and hope you and your family are doing well. My last name is Morris and I knew some of the people you mentioned who lived on the farm. Walter Pruitt and his wife lived on the farm until about '94 or '95. Allen Roth and his wife and son Luke lived on the farm until '94. Allen had other family who were involved with the Stair community. His younger brother Will (3-5 years younger) lived on Stair's farm and other farms associated with Stair. Allen had a brother much younger who lived on the farm briefly ( I think his name was Paul who left about '91), and a sister who married Phillip, a man who lived on Stair's farm. Phillip and wife and his wife's children from a previous marriage left Stair's farm in about 1996. Allen's mother and father would visit the farm during large meetings called "Campmeetings." I think all of the Roth family cut ties with Stair when Allen left. The Roth family was from Minnesota. Then there was Brad, also from Minnesota. Brad married the young lady who rejected me. (Remeber the story I told you about Stair picked for me a woman I was to date, but the woman rejected me)? During my last visit there in March '97, they had a young child a year or two old I suppose. Other people I can recall the names of at the moment are Chris who lived in Savannah, Ga. but would come for a visit, sometime to preach, frequently. Then there was another Chris who I saw less frequently. He was an older man with a foreign accent who was the only man I ever saw come to the farm in a dress tie. I didn't see him in later years. Then there was Skinner from NC who lived on the farm with his wife for many years. Last time I was there in March '97 they were still living there I think. Skinner wrote the book Stair was promoting, "Strong Delusion," about the Bible verse where God shall send them strong delusion because they loved not the truth. Others I remember: Simon, Oliver Bennett, Mark, Enoch, Jacob, Timothy, the Bush brothers and their mother, Kirk and wife, Jackson (who with his wife and child had just come to live there as of my last visit in March '97), Shirley and her son. Shirley's son was kicked off the farm during my last visit there in March '97 at the age of 13.
There were ministers who used to come to the farm to preach on occasion. Milligan from NC and his mother who I didn't see in later years. L.C. Wilder and his wife who lived in Mena, Ak (a farm I visited for one week for church service). They had a falling out with Stair several years before I left. A couple of different ministers who lived on farms in Tennessee, each of whom had a falling out with Stair in the early '90's.
Maybe other names will come mind. I will tell how I came to leave Stair for another time. May God bless you and your family. Write again, and as always feel free to forward on my letter.
Hi brother Michael. May God bless you and your family.
Here is the saga leading up to my final association with Stair and his ministry.
My final visit to Walterboro was in March 1997. Three months prior I had gotten engaged to a woman I fell in love with ( and with whom I am still happily married). The engagement happened after Stair had given approval for the marriage after one church service I had brought her down for in December 1996. In a letter I wrote to him the follwing month or so (about January 1997) I told Stair that I was engaged to the woman I brought to the meeting the past December. He told me to come down with her and one of the ministers would marry us. Fine I thought, but things didn't go as planned.
My fiance started to express serious reservations about Stair and his ministry soon after we became engaged. Suddenly I was faced with a dilema. Now I had to choose between Stair, who I thought was the man of God; or my fiance, who I was in love with and had promised to marry! Being in the quandary I was in, I decided to go for a visit to Walterboro for answers.
Thus my March 1997 visit to Walterboro took place. I attended a Friday night meeting after which I spoke to Kirk about my situation. Upon hearing my fiance was Catholic, he said I had better break it off with her or else I would be in terrible trouble with God. I got similar advice from another man, and so I decided after a night of deep soul-searching that I would do what all "good Christians" should do: I asked Stair if it be God's will, I will stay there at the farm permanently (hoping my fiance would come join me), knowing that I risk losing her however,along with my friends, and job back home. Stair said try it for one week.
I called home and told mom and dad that Walterboro was going to be my new home. Then I called my fiance and told her the same thing. She was hysterical. I told her I love her, but God's calling must come first. During the week I got several calls from mom and dad as well as my fiance. My fiance pleaded with me and cried continually and would not eat. I called my place of employment and told them I quit. Each night at bedtime however, I never had a spirit of peace about living there.
Early during my first week staying there, shortly after telling everyone about my intentions of staying in S.C., Stair got up in front of the dining hall full of people and said I didn't have to be there, then said "Your sins have separated you from the body of Christ, not our sins." Then he said your mom and dad are swine and your fiance is a whore. (It's kinda odd that a minister of God would tell someone to marry a whore. I guess his memory failed him in his old age). He also said, "The reason you're in the predicament you're in is because you did not bother to ask me before you enterred this relationship. (As I said, his memory short changed him during his old age).He had given me permission to speak to my fiance the night before, then he said in front of the congregation the following day at the dinning hall, "What did you tell her!" After repeating a couple times, not sure what he meant at first, My first recollection and answer was, "I told her I love her." That made Stair even madder. Finally after a few more days, Stair reiterated what he said before, and added"You don't have to be here, you can leave. We don't want the cops here." Did he mean he thought my parents would call the cops? (He should have thought about that before raping those women). Anyway, so I called back home and told my family and fiance I am coming home. When I got home, I went to the place of employment I had terminated by phone from Walterboro, and miraculously got my job back. Still in the throes of being brainwashed, I was still blaming myself for not being able to remain in Walterboro, and clung on to the belief that Stair was somehow a profit of God, and continued to feel that way until September 1997. During this time, my wife and I sought marriage counseling, and I came to see the error of my ways. We were married in October 1997, and we pray daily, and our relationship seems to get better as the years go by. I have not made contact with Stair since, and have not asked for any of my money back. What was that about my integrity, Stair!?
Now getting back to my March 1997 stay. Because of my love for my fiance, and partly because of a previous girlfriend I had to breakup with the year before (partly having to do with our disagreement about Stair: I insisting he was a man of God), Stair told me and the congregation that I was the simple minded man mentioned in the book of Proverbs described as "By means of a whorish woman is a man brought to a piece of bread." He said this in spite of the fact I had never been with a whore.(Stair doesn't have to pay for it, he takes it when he wants it). He also said, "Why would anyone want you???", telling people I never did manual labor before and had no job skills. I should have responded, "Well for your information Stair, I've done hard physical labor since I was 17, when you had to be 18 to do hard labor legally. I was always one of the hardest workers in my places of employment, and I have a 4-year college degree." He made mention of the fact I was not sending him much money anymore, implying I was no good to anyone including the ministry and had spent it all on my "whores." Also in the dining hall, he questioned my integrity in his question, "What are your parents leaving you in their will? Is this the reason you want to do what they want you to? You should be able to make decisions apart from your mom." The fact that I had given between a third and a half of my income to him the previous 10 years speaks for my integrity, as well as my independence from mom. She would never have given him a dime. As for Stair's integrity, I don't question his. He does not have any integrity to question.
My stay in March 1997 was also the time two thirteen year old boys were being watched carefully. They were under "probation" so to speak for their alleged "offences." A day or two after I was there, one of the boys was kicked off the farm, leaving behing his mother Shirley who stayed on the farm. The mother had come to live there more than 7 years earlier, leaving behind a husband who would not, (or was not allowed by Stair), to come live on the farm. To my knowlege the couple never divorced, the woman hoping that one day her lost sheep husband would see the error of his ways, and they would one day be reunited again.
For what offence was the boy kicked out of the community I do not know, and I don't know if it was disclosed to the congregation. My alleged sins, on the other hand, were put on display before everyone. But the main point that must be seen here is that the Bible, God's Holy Word tells us that "if a child is raised in the way he should go when he is young, he will not depart from it when he is old." So my observation is, if the child departed from the ways of rightousness enough to be kicked off the farm, HE WAS NOT RAISED IN THE WAY HE SHOULD GO. Who then should have been kicked off the farm? The ones responsible for his upbringing of course: David Maratto and Ralph Stair.
Stair talked about the scripture verse that reads, "Woe unto him through whom the offence cometh...." He said that this is an often misunderstood verse that truly means,"Woe unto him that gets offended and holds the offence against his brother." If that's the correct interpretation of this scripture, Stair is in deep trouble. I have never seen him forgive once, let alone seventy times seven.
Other bizarre things I have witnessed at various overcomer meetings in the past:
-In a meeting with Stair preaching, he suddenly exclaimed angrily, "Somebody here has a bad attittude toward my wife!!!! I Know where it is coming from and it better stop!!!!" In following meetings, he would reiterate more angrily with a warning, "Whoever it is that has this attitude toward my wife better not come back. If he does, I will take gun, aim it and shoot him right between the eyes." This statement was followed by a loud amen from his wife Theresa, then Stair told her to shut up. I had always thought he meant this threat symbolically, but after hearing other things I'm not so sure it was not a literal threat.
For example, during a meeting during the mid 90's, he said that he was told by some critics of his that if Stair's predictions of the end times did not come to pass in the year 2000, they would come to the community and laugh in his face. Stair said that if they do that, "I will take a gun and blow their brains out." I always thought this was bluff talk intended to show the congregation how seriously he believed in his prophesies, but now that his prophesies have not materialized, PEOPLE BEWARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-He said during the March 1997 meeting, "The beast government is planning to kill everyone who has not taken the mark of the beast in the year 2000." Sorry Stair, but this is 2003 and the mark of the beast has not been implemented yet.
-He said in yet another meeting he pulled a peculiar buger from his nose that had the stench of "something foul." In the meeting, one of his ministers Chris confirmed that Stair had let him smell it, and it indeed had a foul odor. Stair said that the odor was a reflection of God's grief toward mankind, and that God's sensation of grief somehow expressed itself in the form of bugers with the stench of dying flesh.
I've lost valuable time, roughly $50,000.00 in hard earned money, and most importantly, lost fellowship from a local congregation. I was told to come out of the "Whore Church" which included the church I was attending. I had not attended a local church regulary from 1988 to 1997. I hope my experiences I've elaborated on here will help shed some light on the true nature of R.G. Stair and the Overcomer Ministry. If the testimony of my experiences with this man and this ministry will keep someone from losing their soul, then my ordeal these many years has been indeed worth the heartache, lost time, and lost money. Perhaps even R.G. Stair will read this letter, become convicted, and turn to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Only God knows.
Yours truly in Christ,