"I can tell you from my experience in the occult that contemplative/soaking prayer IS transcendental meditation. People being "taken to the heavenlies/different places on earth" are experiencing astral projection. The teachings and practices of the NAR is occultic in nature and is damaging the people who adhere to these teachings and practices."
Kelsey has been on quite journey. She was raised charismatic, became a witch, and eventually attended a NAR-influenced Messianic church run by a manipulative Rabbi and his wife. She has allowed me to include her story in this series about a movement called the New Apostolic Reformation, or NAR for short. In this series, I want to take readers beyond the textbook What is the New Apostolic Reformation Movement explanation, into the personal experiences from those who have been there, and what happened when God opened their eyes to the truth.
Here is Kelsey’s story in her own words:
I grew up in a Charismatic Church of God in the 1980s and received Christ when I was seven years old. I never liked going to Children's Church; I longed for truth and good, solid Biblical teachings. This was during the time that C. Peter Wagner dubbed to be the "third wave" of the New Apostolic Reformation, and it was in full steam in my church.
We would have altar calls that lasted for hours, evangelists come to "heal" the sick, and prayer meetings that would go well beyond midnight. I was used to this and thought it was normal. My faith's foundation was built upon miracles, signs, and wonders, as well as "prophecies" from established church members. My mother and I went to this church until I was 12, when we left to go to a small Pentecostal Holiness church. Much of the same goings-on happened at this church as well as the larger one we had left.
In 1994, my mother died on my 14th birthday from a brain aneurysm. I had spent countless hours in the hospital's chapel and at home, begging and even commanding God to heal Mom. I didn't know any better and was shaken when she died. I was furious with God and turned to the occult, something I had been interested in even as a child. By the time I was a senior in high school, I was the high priestess of a coven of witches. I kept that secret while attending the Methodist church my grandparents, who were my legal guardians, had attended for three decades.
One Sunday before graduation, I received a beautiful gold cross necklace from the church as a graduation gift. You see, I was heavily into transcendental meditation, astral projection, creating and casting curses on those I didn't like, especially Christians. The meditation and astral projection led to severe sleep paralysis and this deepening sense that I needed to get back to God. Seeing the gift from the church clinched it: I left the coven, which was no easy task, and started going back to church more regularly and with a renewed desire for the truth of God's Word.
I had never been satisfied with the quiet services in this Methodist church. I was so used to the chaotic worship services of the Charismatic churches I attended that I eventually left the Methodist church. I was also angry with the pastor for not visiting my grandmother after her stroke, or visiting myself and my grandfather. I started going to a local Church of God, but felt so out of place there. I left that church as well and went right back to the occasional dabbling in the occult.
In 2003, I met my future husband online. By this time, my grandfather was extremely ill and so this young man came to visit me. He and my grandfather hit it off and received his blessing to get married. Because he was moving into a retirement home that was down the hall from my grandmother's nursing home, their house was being prepped for sale and so I moved to the East Coast of Virginia.
The marriage was rocky for two years until we were invited by a friend to attend a Messianic Shabbat service. Husband and I fell in love with the place; he accepted Christ and I knew, just knew, that this was where we belonged.
Unfortunately, we started attending just as the NAR and Word of Faith teachings took hold of the Rabbi and the congregation. I was so used to it that I thought it was absolutely normal to see all these manifestations of God. We started serving on the media team two months after attendance, with my husband going on to join the security team, and me being promoted to video director. I went from there to the security team as well, then we were asked to join the prayer team, and after that, we were asked to serve as armorbearers for the rabbi and his wife. If you don't know what an armorbearer is, he/she is to take care of the minor issues that the leader or leader's wife can't be bothered with. I was also asked to join the worship dance team, which I did. Not long after, my husband and I were asked to become part of the Ancient Paths team. So there we were, with five ministries to juggle. It wasn't hard at first, just very fulfilling.
In 2008 was the Lakeland "revival". All eyes were glued on Todd Bentley and all these "miracles" he and others were performing. I was uneasy about it, but as the Rabbi and his wife were very controlling and harsh towards the naysayers, so we kept quiet. The rabbi's wife wasn't the kind, caring person she showed herself to be in public; she was constantly nagging me about my weight, constantly picked on me during dance practices, said hurtful things to me away from the hearing of the others, and outright ignored me when I tried to talk about anything deep.
Whenever I tried to open up about my time in the coven and the occult, she would talk over me. I was concerned about their flippant attitude towards the demonic realm, and whenever I tried to talk about it, was immediately shut up. The congregation hosted Monday night prayer meetings, and contemplative prayer was encouraged. For a while I gave myself up to it, until April 2010 when I watched an episode of It's Supernatural with Sid Roth.
Sid Roth is a Messianic rabbi and is the one who ordained the rabbi of the Messianic congregation I attended. We never celebrated Christmas or Easter, both being tagged as "pagan" and therefore something deserving of hell. This particular episode of It's Supernatural had a woman on it who claimed to ascend to the different levels of Heaven. I was shocked and knew immediately that this was astral projection, and stopped listening to Sid Roth's show. I started seeing that all these miracles, signs and wonders people claimed during services were not of God, and that their faith was based on what they could SEE. I knew it was wrong and started researching the supposed miracles that occurred in the Lakeland "revival", only to discover that it was all a massive farce.
My husband and I talked and prayed about what to do. In July 2010, the Messianic congregation and the church that hosts them held a joint event, and Rick Pino was to head the worship with a special concert. My husband had been talking to another member in the hallway and said something to the effect of "You can look like you're worshiping without actually worshiping". The rabbi's wife overheard this and took it as an insult to Rick Pino, whom she was excited to see. She went to her husband and told him, without even stopping to ask my husband what he meant.
This woman is very controlling and must have everything perfect, and didn't like my husband because he can't be controlled. The rabbi called my husband into his office to berate him for this perceived insult, while I was yanked out of teaching a dance practice to be berated by the rabbi's wife. I had no idea what she was talking about and asked my husband what happened when we got home from service. My husband is a very honest person, so when he explained what happened I believed him.
The event came and went. My husband and I were extremely uncomfortable; the worship night with Rick Pino was more like a rave that true worship. His songs are very centered on feelings and he has even made a "Christian" version of the Dead or Alive song "You Spin Me Round".
The next night, a husband and wife "apostle" team was ministering. I saw that woman on the stage, undulating like a snake. I knew this event had nothing to do with God at all, but with glorifying self, because of course the people were the ones healing those in the audience, only paying lip service to the Lord. I went into the sanctuary to observe, since I was doing security that night, and the feeling in there made me physically ill. My husband and I left, and bowed out of security service for the next day.
The next week the rabbi and his family went on vacation. I was asked to teach that week's dance practice for the dance team, which I did. The rabbi's wife called me the next day to ask how it went and, after I told her everyone did well and caught on quickly, she said, "Oh, that's because they watched the YouTube videos of the dance". Needless to say, I was hurt. I felt worship dance was a gift from the Lord, and all compliments I received were deflected by the rabbi's wife, who would turn the conversation to her solo dances and how she'd been gifted with dance from childhood.
The week following, one of the dance team members complimented my dancing and she said, "Oh I knew she would do well!" I was so confused; the week before, she had blown off my teaching abilities, and now she's agreeing with a compliment? What's going on here? I was feeling the push from the Lord to leave, and so husband and I prayed about it more. He was feeling the heat from the rabbi's wife to "repent" of "disrespecting God's anointed", and she even told me that she was thinking of removing him as the rabbi's armorbearer.
After a lot of prayer, my husband and I felt the need to set up a meeting with the rabbi and his wife, to step down from all ministries except for dance. I felt, for some reason, that I needed to stay in that. We had the meeting scheduled on a day when the dance team practiced, so we sat down and told them we were stepping down. Immediately the rabbi's wife started in on my husband, telling him he knew he "was in sin" and "was wrong", and that this was his way of avoiding making an apology. Both she and the rabbi tore into my husband, telling him he was leading other congregants astray, giving false information, and really needed to repent if he wanted to be reconsidered for armorbearer again. She even tried to pit me against my husband! What really got me, though, was the fact that her normally girlish voice suddenly turned deep and imposing during this meeting. She was able to manipulate her husband and kept talking over him.
Once the meeting was over, my husband went back home. I walked him to our car, where he turned to me and said, "I can't go back there." I nodded and said, "I know", and went on to dance practice. This was the only practice where I could do absolutely no wrong and was praised continuously. I saw then and there that this woman was manipulative and would do anything she could to not only get her own way, but to keep people cowed and in her service and her husband's service. I knew why I hadn't needed to step down from the dance team: it was to show me the utter manipulation this woman would wield to keep people in their place.
I got home from practice and again my husband said, "Honey, I can't go back there." By this time I was as furious as I'd been in a long time, and said, "don't worry, we're never going back." We had both been hurt over and over again by these people and the verbal and emotional abuse from the rabbi's wife. The next day I typed up a letter to her and her husband, telling them what was wrong with the prayer practices, and how she is more like Jezebel than the people she accused of having "the Jezebel spirit". I dumped all my dance CD's, garments, and shoes into a bag along with our keys to the building, called the rabbi's secretary, and delivered those things to her.
We have lost all but two friends from that congregation, and my husband and I were the first of many to leave, all for the same reason. Not only was there spiritual and emotional manipulation, but questionable finances, money disappearing from the building fund (the rabbi and his wife have a large house and nice cars), and general lies told about those of us who have left. This was in August 2010, and the pain from all this is still here.
My husband and I have yet to find a church that isn't in the grasp of the NAR or seeker-sensitive pastors, but our faith in God has been strengthened. Numerous people had prayed over me and told me "God's healing your womb" while simultaneously pushing for me and my husband to start a family. In 2015 I had a hysterectomy due to a large tumor, with the pathologist finding more tumors in and on my uterus. I don't believe for a moment that a "lack of faith" kept me from being healed. I have chronic pain and know that this is a thorn in my side, and I am content with that. Getting back into the Word, especially the New Testament, while going through difficult physical issues has only helped my faith, not hindered it.
If my story seems familiar to you, and you are in a church where leadership exhibits these same abusive tendencies, get out. We don't need physical manifestations to boost our faith; those things only serve to allay fears that will grow when the manifestations cease. I can tell you from my experience in the occult that contemplative/soaking prayer IS transcendental meditation. People being "taken to the heavenlies/different places on earth" are experiencing astral projection. The teachings and practices of the NAR is occultic in nature and is damaging the people who adhere to these teachings and practices. The NAR is a poison to believers everywhere, and it is our duty to continue to speak out against this and yes, even name names of the prominent leaders of the NAR, because if we don't warn anyone, who will?
I would also like to note that this Messianic congregation is part of the Hebrew Roots movement, which holds hand with the NAR and Word of Faith movements. Not every church or Messianic congregation subscribes to these heretical theologies, but sadly, more do than don't.
I hope this gives some encouragement to those who read it. Stand firm in the faith and don't let those who adhere to the NAR get you down. The truth of the Lord will prevail.