Sindye Alexander’s Story
See the other side of the Abusive Story of a Girls Home! — By Sindye Alexander
For us our journey to leaving GBC (Grace Baptist Church) began during our 3rd year of the girls home. We had been “serving” 24/7 with high risk, high drama girls for years without more than 3 days off. Imagine every personal family function, every grocery store trip, every weekend, every meal, every everything, taking along 6-10 troubled, emotional teenagers………don’t get me wrong, we did love the girls very much–each of them……and we did love what we did –trying to help them and show them love…..but with no breaks and no help, it can start to drain a person……all that giving of yourself, and soon there is nothing left to give.
We had bought the house(Girls Home) out in Lewiston under the church’s mortgage….we sold our house, put all our own personal equity into the new one and the church held the title (at the time it seemed wise–we were under the umbrella of the church, “the highest spiritual power”) Pastor Jenkins said that this was the house we should buy, and although it needed work, “we have enough contractors in our church that it shouldn’t be a problem”…..also “we can raise the money to build this addition in one night’s offerings”…… well, do you remember him ever asking anyone to give to the girls home addition? For volunteer to build anything???
Anyway, we went into it blindly and kept asking him when he was going to “make the announcement” for any kind of help. (Try cramming 15 people into a 2500sqft house with NO LIVING ROOM for 2 years! ….we had to convert the current living room into the dining room, and the plan was to expand off the front of the house a living room, and extend the dorm room above as well) If we had known that it was never going to happen, we possibly would have chose a different house. Jenkins house is like 4500sqft for 5 people……he wouldn’t live like we were living, but has no problem asking his “subjects” to sacrifice “in the name of God.” This housing issue was a major problem for us, but minor in the scheme of things.
Another thing that was happening is that we desperately needed funds to run the home…..he was preaching all over the country, would it have hurt him to mention having his girls home for a meeting? We would always ask him for his help in that regard; because he had a big name……..he would smile and say he would do so, but never really did. He would only promote his pet projects……he would just tell you what you wanted to hear….what you needed to hear in order to keep you working for him, making him look good. He knows how to dangle that carrot…..an upcoming position, will you preach on Wed. nite……we’ll take an offering for you…..here’s a secret about someone that only you and me know (when really like 3 dozen people know)…..blah, blah, blah.
For two years in a row, he would tell the girls to get some songs together for camp meeting, and then never call us up. The first year….he did actually call us up, but only because he had to fit in the out of town Bud Martin girls home, so he had us do some combo songs and scriptures, the next year he over looked us completely……what a time to get us some exposure—his OWN girls home. But, no he was too busy hob-knobbing with the boys club, building his empire, to help anybody but himself. Do you know how many hours we spent practicing, and picking just the perfect songs……it was devastating to be overlooked like that, especially for the girls…….It was then that we finally (after 2 years) finally started to realize that we were nothing to him and really weren’t under the church umbrella at all. We just looked good on the accomplishments section of the Jon Jenkins Resume: radio station, bus route, jail ministry, college, girl’s home…….
About the same time Chad had been attending several of the Pastors meetings and leadership meetings, he was after all an “on staff missionary” (joke)….at least he was included in the staff meetings. Chad just couldn’t believe the way these men would sit and bash their church members, or the language that was used….these were men of GOD, right? When Buchanan (or one of the pastors left–i don’t remember) someone asked why he didn’t just hire one of the Men already in the church that has already been trained and was willing to serve…..Pastor Jenkins laughed and said that the last thing he needed was another WASHED UP LOOSER on his staff…..someone who will “quit on god”…….This really bothered chad–and me when he told me about it. (And this is only one of the things that I can remember enough to tell about it) We in NO WAY considered These Men) a “washed up losers” One of them and his church were one of the biggest helps, monthly supports, and physical helps to our home EVER! They bought us our trailer (for luggage when traveling), gave us food monthly from their food bank, and sent us a missionary support check monthly. They had special meetings where we were the focus…..he did more to help and promote the girls home (so we could find monthly missionary support) than our own pastor ever did……..
Anyway, Chad (My husband) started to question the way things were being done behind closed doors, and I was feeling abandoned by my preacher……coupled with the fact that we just needed a break and NOBODY would help us. Looking back, I completely understand why…..he keeps everyone so busy they don’t have time to think about anything else—keeps them away from outside influences (real family and friends) that would tell them they are getting sucked into something dangerous. Monday and Tuesday nights were for Bible College, Wednesday, for church, Thursday for soul winning, Friday for Sunday school activities, Saturday for bus calling and Sunday for church……and he wanted everyone to be involved with everything……no wonder nobody ever had time to volunteer at the girls home…..but then again he didn’t ask the congregation for much help for us either……. any way……..Chad started to question based on these men’s meetings…..I of course didn’t see most of it, but chad would tell me and I would think he was exaggerating. We were physically wore out, and after many failed attempts at problem solving, realizing we were going to lose our own family for the sake of the home, we (actually Chad) decided we needed to quit the ministry, or at least take a leave of absence. I didn’t agree with him at the time —I was so sucked in that I thought we were quitting on God, and we were chosen to “suffer for Jesus”…..I was embarrassed to fail in front of all our “friends” at church….blah, blah, blah….but Chad was the “man” so his decision ruled—-thank goodness it did, looking back.
Chad met with preacher to discuss the issue, and give like a 2 months’ notice, and begin the process of either closing the home or finding a replacement for us. Our original plan was to stay with the church……Casey and Erika (who had graduated and were workers) would continue living with us and go to the college, and our family would continue at GBC, just not “in the ministry.”
It became quite apparent really quickly, that we wouldn’t be allowed to do that. In fact, pastor wouldn’t let Chad take a step back….a lateral move would be ok…..like moving from girls home director to pastor of Sunday school, or director of something else……he said it would LOOK BAD if we just stepped back. (WE NEEDED A BREAK!) No concern for us, just for how things would look………..GRRRRRRR. We decided to think it over, and set up another meeting. At this time, I was really ready and wanting Chad to take everything back….have things just stay exactly the same, but I could see that he was even more determined to leave the girls home, and now maybe even the church behind, and I was scared. I, with my puny little brain, panicked…. I thought I was helping the situation, helping my husband not “quit on God”….I went behind my husband and wrote like a 5 page letter to pastor Jenkins, “the man of God” telling him personal issues my husband was having, and ways that maybe he could “fix the situation”….things he could do or talk about to try to win him back …….many personal things, not all ministry related.
When we came to the next meeting, he did try addressing a couple of the issues, but then he took the things that I wrote in that letter and twisting them around to HURT Chad (this whole time Chad didn’t know I wrote, and Jenkins didn’t let on, so it seemed “psychic”…..and I was too embarrassed to admit that I had done it….) I was looking at pastor Jenkins, like what are you doing????? You are supposed to be helping. And he saw my looks, but just kept digging deeper. I guess he had decided that we would be more of a pain in his ass than a help to him, so I think he intentionally tried to cut his losses, and was trying to get us to leave the church all together. Well, it worked, and I am so glad now that it did, but at the time I was confused and devastated……My preacher, who I trusted just completely betrayed both me and my husband. Although I still wasn’t seeing this clearly. We were trying to leave the girls home and not cause any ripples in the church. Now it was apparent that we would have to leave the church too.
We originally didn’t want to, but HE pretty much made us. We then realized how many times we had watched this happen to other people, and just sat there letting it happen, not questioning anything, not even realizing how twisted these situations were……the Verticans, the Wheelers, so many others…..Any way, back to the girls home, this part is a blur, it happened so quickly. Through a series of meetings (we participated since we were trying to help keep alive the home we had started, and didn’t want to leave our girls in limbo) We all decided to ask the Martins to come and take our place at the home. They agreed to come up for a meeting to talk about it……we talked about it, but some things happened in that meeting that I will NEVER FORGET! It’s like I was able to see clearly for the first time in 10 years. It reminded me of that scene in the “Left Behind ” movies where the reporter (Kirk Cameron) is sitting in the meeting at the end, and everyone else is being a ‘robot’ in front of the anti-Christ and he is the only one in the room seeing clearly. It was that spooky… Jon Jenkins revealed himself to me for who he really is; possibly intentionally….just to get me to quit hanging on. He already knew Chad was done…I was the last loose end, and he needed to get me out of there…..but it was ugly. It was at that point that I knew that my husband was right…..everything he had told me was true. My eyes were opened. The meeting seemed to happen in slow motion for me, and I don’t think I ever went back to church after that night…..it was a Wednesday night after vacation bible school…..Chad continued going with the girls, but I was too sick to my stomach to go…..it didn’t matter much anyway, because from that meeting on, we decided 30 days until the transition, but it was more like 4 days until they kicked us out.
They actually had Bro. Schipper, come with the Martins to “collect the girls”, and gave us 24 hours from that point to get off the property. In the meantime, Pastor had set up secret meetings with Casey and Erika to try to “steal” them away from us. It worked (for a while) with Casey. She told us the night before the girls were taken (by the way we had only about 3 hours’ notice that the girls were going to be picked up by the Martins), that she was moving in with the Cooks until the dorms were finished, then she would live there. There is so much more to that story, but I’ll just leave that for another time. That, still to this day, was the hardest day of my life! The hardest…..there aren’t words to describe the hurt and betrayal I felt. I knew what had happened behind the scenes, the puppet mastering, and I was just powerless to do anything about it. There just aren’t words to describe how I felt. With Erika, she decided to move back home, when the pastor tried to get her to stay…….Erika said that she had been taught for the 4 years she was here, that as an unmarried girl, she needed to be under her parents…..so she was going back home. Pastor Jenkins told her that “sometimes the preacher is higher than your parents” (when your parents aren’t serving God). She disagreed, and went home anyway (good for her). It’s a good thing she did too, because less than 2 months after she had been home, her mom died. The first thing that popped into my head, was “well, I guess she made the right decision, then”….thinking that she would have missed that time with her mom if she had stayed here…….do you know what MRS Jenkins did when she heard? She called Erika and told her that it was all her fault….she was not in God’s will since she did not obey her preacher, and God was punishing her for this by killing her mom….was she ready to come back to college?……OMG….even if you think something like that, common courtesy and politeness will tell you that you don’t say this to an 18 year old girl/kid that just lost their mom!! This hurt Erika so deeply that she never told me about it until recently. There is more to this story too…..but I’ll leave it at that for now. And that’s about it.
We had less than a week to find a house, move out, and have our world shattered (that’s what it seemed like at the time). We were out. Chad still went to church a few times after that to just keep pastor in check from slandering us, but we all know that that didn’t stop him…… As I look back on it now, one of the things that disturbs me the most is that all these people that I thought were my friends for the past 10 years NEVER called or wrote, or tried to find out what happened from us. Nobody except NOLA HOLMES….she is the only person that sent us a letter saying she missed us and wished us well…..and she had only been there for a few months….nobody asked us if we needed help moving, or for our phone number or address, nobody wanted to visit, call or write??? it’s like everybody was just spoon fed the info from Pastor Jenkins and never questioned or cared that something else may be happening……… I learned recently that he made it sound like we didn’t want contact with anybody and he told people to leave us alone and not to try to contact us…….so not true, but a very effective way to “cut us out.”……Not that I am so sure that anyone would have tried, if he hadn’t said anything……but he certainly helped in our isolation. It was a hard transition.
We ended up in Petoskey because Chad found a job in Cheboygan, and we had some friends pastoring a church in Charlevoix and we felt that would be a safe place to go for a while. Petoskey was between those two points, and we had so little time to make the decision. But once we had moved, it hit us, we had lost our home, our job, our church, our friends, our van/vehicle, some of our “kids” (Casey, Erika and the other girls) our home town…..everything all at once. Chad coped much better than I did. I couldn’t leave the house for about 6 months (for fear of seeing them)…….I was still so much under their thumb that I still wore dresses only for about a year and a half. I was still letting them control me and what I thought and felt even though I wasn’t there any more—-they still had all the power. Obviously, I am way past that now….but it was a long slow process, too slow. A couple of months after we left, one of the girls that was still in the home (Katie)….her mom went there for a visit, and was really disturbed by the way the Martins ran things. She said the spirit was just horrible, the girls were all miserable, and it was nothing like when Chad and I had the home. She was in Gaylord for the visit on sat and sun, flew home on Monday and hired a private investigator to find us (me and chad) which apparently wasn’t too hard, because she called us on Tuesday, and asked us if we would please take Katie back, she was doing so much better when she was with us, and Katie had asked her to find us and ask us to take her back…….lots of other details to the conversation…..but in a nutshell, we agreed, and on Wednesday Katie was picked up by private hired professional escorts and brought to us……..this was kind of a validation to us that we had made some sort of difference. It was kind of funny, though, because another girl was pulled from the home on the same day as Katie, following that parents visiting weekend. The Martins and the Pastor thought that Chad and I somehow planned the whole thing to “Sabotage” the home, but we didn’t. How would we know that Katie’s mom would call us after we left…..what were we supposed to do, turn our back on her again?? Katie lived with us for another year before moving back home. We still talk about once a month. Erika also came back to live with us after her mom’s death…..she tried it on her own for a while, but got mixed up with some pretty bad stuff, and called us for help. She also spent about another year with us and got some things straightened out. She is now doing wonderfully. She lives in Kansas with her boyfriend and has a great job. We talk about every other week. Jamie just came for a visit this summer and is also doing great….she went thru a rough time, but she has really turned things around since then, and is one semester away from being a veterinarian. Go Jamie.
We keep in contact with several of the other girls as well, but not as closely as with Casey, Erika, Jamie, Katie, and Jennie…….we’ve reconnected with Tabitha recently (but not her sister Naomi. There is a long story of the ups and downs of our relationship with Casey and how it has been restored, and how she left GBC…..but its long and personal, and the important thing is that things are now back to what they should have been in the first place. Her daughter Gracie calls me Grandma…….I ask Jenkins, now who won? (Sense he tried to make Casey a pawn in his little game against us).
Here is another stupid aspect of the story. The girls home van. When we bought it, we titled it to the church to save money on the taxes, and we took a PERSONAL LOAN to pay for it….DUMB!! DUMB!! DUMB!! When we were splitting ways, we asked the church to sign the title back over to us…..PJ refused, but also refused to take over the payments to buy it from us…..so for us to remain in possession of it would be illegal, and we had a huge loan on a vehicle not in our possession. We were forced to leave it with the church and file bankruptcy over it. A situation, that still follows us around today. It takes about 7 years for that to fall off your credit report and no longer matter. Not surprisingly, several rumors got back to us after we left…..things that were being said that originated with none other than Pastor Jenkins……we had stolen money from the ministry (did I mention that we did this job for 4 years and didn’t get paid??…no salary??), he had to “fire us” (I already addressed that above), we left the place in a shambles (not so…..the girls only had 3 hours to pack for a 2 week trip with the martins, so they left their room a mess), we stole things from the house that belonged to the ministry (not so—-everything in the house was our personal stuff in the first place….but we left them our furniture, our dining room tables, everything in the kitchen like our dishes, our pots, our silverware, appliances, etc. we didn’t want the girls to suffer any more than they had….the only things we took were from our bedrooms), and the big one—-that Chad was “inappropriate” with the girls….omg…..whenever he counseled them, it was usually in the bedroom (the only half way private place in the house) but he put the girl on a chair in front of the door with the door open, half the time he would require one of the older (had been there longer) girls to sit in on counseling sessions…..what a load of crap…and that last one came straight from pastor Jenkins who had called Katie’s dad (her parents are divorced) “concerned” that her mom had pulled her from the girls home and that he suspected that she might be with us……and then proceeded to tell him why he should be “concerned” that Katie might be with us……..now who’s trying to sabotage?? We immediately got a call from Katie’s older brother and her dad about these accusations…we were able to straighten everything out…… anyway pastor Jenkins can’t lose, and if he does, he has to make someone else look bad…….none of these rumors were true of course. I personally suspect Jenkins himself has a problem with pornography or something sexual because that is all he talks about…..avoid TV’s in motels (porn channels), don’t ride alone in cars with boy/girl, “I never answer the door if I’m alone and some woman comes to bring me a meal” –when he’s traveling, “you’d be surprised how many men in this church are addicted to pornography”, and then it seems I’ve heard him start several sexual rumors like this one he started about Chad. I think is a classic case of “projection”……he’s so worried about this one thing that he thinks everyone else has this problem. He’s obsessed with it….. Anyway, it took me about 3 years of being out of there to feel normal again. Not to feel afraid of “them.” To actually feel sorry for the ones, still there, believe the load of crap he is feeding them. To hate the ones in leadership and feel that it is ok to have those feelings. To term my experience a “spiritual rape”…….And to realize I have a form of PTSD because of it. To be able to sleep at night without sleeping pills……I had nightmares for years……. do you know “they” are still in my dreams? At least now, I am telling them off in my dreams, rather than being persecuted by them.
It’s been 5 years since we have been out of the cult, and it still affects us. We are forever changed. To me it seems like everything that happened during my 10 years there was just an elaborate show…..a grand scheme of Jon Jenkins……it caused me to question everything I’ve ever believed…….so much of it was false, how much of it was true? It became so tiring for me that I’ve just given up. I know to a Christian that sounds horrible, but to me it’s freeing. If I believed everything that I believed then so vehemently that I gave my whole life for it —every aspect of my life and privacy for it, and in the end it all turned out to be false, a farce, some show……what is out there that is worth believing in ever again? I will never give my life, my heart to something so fiercely ever again!! How can anybody ever really know what is true (spiritually)? Men are flawed, and have flawed the intentions of God, the word of God, the image of God………I want nothing to do with what men think God is or should be ever again. But I realize that every person will react to a trauma like this differently….I am also fine with anyone who leaves and is able to still hold tight to their faith…..it’s just not for me right now….. I used to pride myself on being “close-minded” and now I am more open minded than i ever thought i could be. I have found that it is a much better place to be. Who are we to judge everyone else and decide for them what is right for them or not? Live and let live. I have found there is more bondage in the “Freedom of Christ” than there is anywhere else…….but that’s just me, and its fine with me if you believe whatever you want to believe. I am no longer on a mission to add more spiritual clones to any religion or way of thinking. It is just much better if you respect everyone, and leave it at that. Chad has taken a different spiritual path, but that’s for him to tell about, not me.
In the recent months I have heard stories of more families being hurt and torn apart, teens being kicked out, pastors/leaders “moving on” for “undisclosed” reasons……I know the same thing is happening over and over…….Now, just this week I heard about a man that was a married TEACHER at the Christian school, who is now in prison in another state because he had sexual relations with two (or more??? who knows??) of his students @ GBC, raped one of those two. These were girls that I was very close to at one point. It just breaks my heart. Pastor Jenkins knew about it and swept it under the rug…..let him finish out his teaching contract, and just didn’t renew it at the end of the year. The violated families weren’t helped and were asked to leave the church…..even had rumors started about them saying nasty things about the way they dressed and their morality…..like it was their fault, or they somehow enticed the teacher……SICK! They were victims, preyed on by the most vicious predators…….wolves in sheep’s clothing……people that were supposed to be able to be trusted. My heart just hurts over this. How many more people will have their lives destroyed or forever damaged “in the name of God?”
Since, I have been telling my story, so many other people have been coming out of the woodwork telling me their tales of woe……the stories are all almost the same…….just the circumstances differ slightly. But the hurt, the betrayal, the confusion, the desire to do right in the midst of everything, the feelings of loss, the abandonment by friends, the rumors, the judgment…….it’s all always there. If you don’t measure up, follow blindly, begin to question, or have outlived your usefulness……they tear you apart, kick you when you’re down and do whatever they can to get rid of you, while still managing to look good, holy, and righteous to the “flock” still blindly, mindlessly following the new empire of Jenkins. I am seriously thinking about writing a book about this…..don’t know how far I will actually get, but I am seriously thinking about doing it…..some sort of self-help healing expose for those that have come out of spiritual abuse/cults.
Well, my brain hurts from telling this story. I know that I have left so much out….not intentionally, but just because there is so much to tell….so many little things that all add up to the great big thing. It has been nice to be able to share this story with you…..nice to know that someone else cares…..nice to know that someone now knows what REALLY happened. You are one of the few to ask…..thanks.
No he has NEVER tried to reconcile with us. But if he did it would be in vain. He not only abused and manipulated us for 10 years, but he told so many lies about us after we were gone…..he’s not even worth a minute of me thinking about trying to reconcile with him. The damage done was too hurtful for me to ever get past (when it comes to forgiving or reconciling with him). In fact, he tried to shake my hand and act all nice-y, nice-y when he saw us at Dan Casler’s funeral, and I just told him to go to hell. ……and I am not that type of person. I don’t talk that way to anybody….but I certainly couldn’t bring myself to pretend like nothing ever happened.