Joshua Bell's Testimony

 

Joshua Bell here.  I was saved in late 1994 and heard the Overcomer broadcast a couple of months later on WREN in Topeka, KS.  

I lived at the Overcomer Ministry in Canadys from Nov. 19, 1999 when I was 19 until April 4, 2005.  I always had plenty to eat and plenty of sleep.  My responsibilities as the goat herdsman were enjoyable and as for other work on the farm, it was very rarely backbreaking.  Tedious at the worst but such is farm life anywhere.  The farm is a beautiful place and the people (if you're "one of them") are very friendly.  I made loads of friends and acquaintances and am pleased to maintain these relationships.  I learned so much about people and gained a little practical work experience.

So what in the world is my problem?  What is my beef with Faith Cathedral and what kind of a testimony could I possibly have that would agree with other contributions to the Net Team?  I was not a focal point, a preacher, or a great spiritual man like so many were or thought they were.  I was not "in the know" so the events exposed in July and August 2001 were a complete surprise to me.

When the initial confession was made by RG Stair, our world was turned upside down.  The next day was worse.  From then on the battle was being set in array and the feeling that some event was about to transpire covered the farm.  One brother told me that "that spirit is still here".  So for a while that's all I ever heard beside Stair's damage control.  Of course the damage control never convinces anyone that Stair's right, just that he MIGHT be right so watch out!  It produces fear and uncertainty, not faith and confidence.

So as the pressure mounted I wanted to hear the other side of the story.  I spoke with Chip Landry and he told me about the man child being born and the sign that would be spoken against and all of that.  (Do you remember?)  It was a pretty "spiritual" answer but being in the Overcomer mindset at the time it was at least plausible.  Needless to say I stayed while around 50 people left the community.

We were on skeleton crew now and we grew accustomed, if not comfortable, with our surroundings again.  It was not a pleasant time as I remember though.  RG Stair felt like his power, authority he calls it, was greatly diminished and so continually called for it to be restored to him.  I didn't see it at first.  He appeared to be as loud and angry as ever so the power was still there, right?  Eventually, though, it became apparent as most of us tried to convince ourselves that he is "the man", his tactics were "prophet-mode" and therefore not out of place, and that "this is the place where God wants me to be".  Leonard Ravenhill said, "God help the preacher who browbeats the people."

The day of his arrest in 2003 was approaching and Stair's wife became increasingly unstable, in cycles of course.  When she's like that we learned that Stair has been up to no good, all the while being told that Teresa "has a very devastating spirit."  When the day came, we were shocked (unless we were listening to shortwave radio covertly).  Now we weren't being screamed at everyday until we left the dining hall in a daze.  Whatever rest we had in that sense, however, was taken as a few souls felt like it was time to assert their authority.  Whether their intentions were honorable or self-seeking, the result was chaos.

Then came the phone calls from the jail.  Along with the phone calls came very large phone bills and promises that when Stair was released from jail, things would change.  He wouldn't do this or that anymore.  When the day of his release came, we were hopeful although apprehensive.  A friend of mine told me the day before, however, that things were NOT going to change.  He was right.  Every promise was temporary, until the "brothers stop binding me."  Of course, those weren't Samson's words.  He said, "Bind me but don't fall on me."  I can assure you that it was never any of our intention to "fall" on him; and we didn't.  Accountability would have saved the ministry and restored, in measure, the credibility that he so desperately craves.  Albeit, there is a certain reproach related to his activities that will never be removed.

So more waiting.  Summer... Fall... Winter... Spring...  More lingering doubts.  More damage control.  Then I was informed in summer of 2004 about RG Stair's internet usage in relation to pornography, with records going back two or three years.  But I sat on it.  I didn't tell a soul.  I was waiting, believing that the proper course of action would be taken at the right time.  After the trial with the charges dropped, the time came when Stair was viewing his pornography and oops!... it was heard over the satellite by who-knows how many people.

Stair was going to let it go but people were asking questions, as was his wife.  So we had yet another meeting. <eyes rolling>  The brothers who already knew handled their information superbly but Stair was in control of the meeting.  You know how that went.  The first half hour he confessed and promised it wouldn't happen again.  He swayed the crowd (of brothers) and for the next hour and a half talked about how his wife... can you guess?... was taken by a "very devastating spirit" because she was very unstable at the time.  There was no heat on him at all when that meeting was over.

In the following days we were back to some relatively mild damage control.  Another situation was brewing simultaneously though as Brother Charles Killen was concerned about glory and worship being given to a man instead of God.  Of course in word at the farm it's "Praise the Lord!"  "Glory to God!" but the heart of the matter, as you all know, is giving attributes of God to a man such as placing people in hell or RG Stair being in the place of Christ, as the head of the church, etc.  Very popish.  Brother Charles let his voice be heard in preaching and the prayer room.  Do you remember?  Admittedly, it was very distracting.

The situation exploded several times.  One time after prayer in the evening a confrontation developed outside the tabernacle which resulted in another shouting match, Stair calling upon his authority and when that didn't work he head-butted Charles in the mouth.  Did you hear me?  He head-butted Charles in the mouth.

There were a couple confrontations other than that, one before and one after the tabernacle incident, if I remember correctly.  Here we were in late March or early April of 2005 with our final confrontation in the morning preaching session.  This, which ended in the proclamation of Brother Charles damnation and insistence that Charles is not a brother in Christ because he's "not doing the will of my father" as Stair repeatedly invokes his authority for Charles to "shut up."  Brother Charles repeatly does NOT shut up and God repeatedly does not back up the authority or words of his servant, although they are the words of God, right?

So there's a bunch of us ready to leave.  We all agreed that for about a year we'd been waiting for the right time, still holding on, perhaps, "just in case."  A sister had already left a few months early and then a family leaves.  My close friend leaves early Saturday morning in April 2005.  Then under tremendous pressure and scrutiny (because I knew of my friend's plans to go) I make the decision to go.  Within 24 hours of my friend, I had gone and the oppression was lifted.  "How do we keep the people, God?"  What does it say about those who trust in oppression?  But I am free!

Within a year after leaving I learned of new developments that further indicated a lack of repentance by RG Stair.  But, of course, that was just a spirit on a couple of the ministering brothers to bring the prophet down, right?

A final word to those who have been placed in a position of judgment, especially among the saints of God.  Deuteronomy 16:19 "...a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous."  It's pretty clear what a gift WILL do, not might or "there's a possibility."  A gift doesn't have to be money or position or title.  But it could be respect or it could be the promise of a pretty wife.  Whatever it is, when the gift is received, the eyes of the wise ARE blinded.

Joshua Bell
306 W. Main St.
Iberia, MO 65486