Touching the Invisible Electric Fence 17 February , Along the way, we stopped at Ft. I was optimistic about the opportunities that were ahead as we arrived at the IBLP campus the next day. I was 17 years old. My younger sister had made a brief visit to IBLP headquarters several months earlier and had made a few friends, so I was glad that I already knew a few people at Headquarters.
I also knew my parents would be upset with me if I were sent home for violating any staff rules, so I purposed to be very careful. Once I arrived at Headquarters, I found that I enjoyed the collegial atmosphere of interacting with both young men and women. Despite my fears, interactions with members of the opposite sex were permitted so long as we did not single each other out or give undue attention to a member of the opposite sex. That was okay by me, as my new friends made me feel at ease.
And by all accounts I was doing very well, making new friends and staying out of trouble. Then one day, after lunch, I struck up a casual conversation with Rachel. She was about 15 years old, blonde, attractive, and had a nice smile. It was just a casual conversation. I was both curious and a little nervous as I walked into his office. From what I had learned, Bill Gothard did not summon you to his office unless he had some opportunity he had pegged you for, or you were in trouble.
Unfortunately, in this case it was the latter. I thought I had been so careful. Perhaps someone thought I had spoken to one of them too frequently or that I was singling one of them out.
There were those few times where I had called one of them in hopes of arranging transportation to church, since I did not have a car and IBLP did not provide transportation to church. When Bill Gothard told me that Rachel was the young woman to whom he was referring, I was stunned. Nevertheless, my time at Headquarters was going to end and I was being sent home. Bill Gothard told me that Rachel was not like the other girls at Headquarters. He said she was fragile and was dealing with emotional issues, and that the last thing she needed at this time in her life was a young man like me trying to win her heart.
He said that I was making her life confusing and could cause her more stress—or something like that. This really surprised me, as the few times I had spoken to Rachel, she had struck me as friendly, stable, and quite normal. Since my parents were already planning a visit to Headquarters in a few weeks, I pleaded with Bill to at least let me stay until that visit as I did not want to cost my parents money for a flight home. Bill agreed to let me stay those few extra weeks on two conditions: Any phone calls that came into his office would be put on speaker phone, without Bill informing the caller that others were listening.
I felt embarrassed for some of these callers, as they would share personal things over the phone. Bill would often put the caller on hold and ask me what I thought he should tell the caller.
He would then take call off hold, and repeat exactly what I had just suggested. I also felt hopeful that perhaps he would relent on his prior decision to send me home. I would leave his office anytime between 9: As I would bicycle back to the staff house where I had been living, I felt so many emotions: Yet, at the same time, my mind was filled with doubts about this man so many admired, loved, idolized, and respected.
My parents arrived a few weeks later, and that was that. He is married with five children, and he is glad to be free of the legalism and false teaching that he was exposed to and participated in during his time with IBLP. All articles on this site reflect the views of the author s and do not necessarily reflect the views of other Recovering Grace contributors or the leadership of the site. Students who have survived Gothardism tend to end up at a wide variety of places on the spiritual and theological spectrum, thus the diversity of opinions expressed on this website reflects that.
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