Snatched from the fire

One year ago, I was not strong enough to leave. I was in a fog that is only now being cleared by the Lord, as I’ve made an escape from the abuse.

I believed that if it were just him [husband] and me, I would’ve let myself die. I could not see that he was slowly killing me, and my children. The strength Christ gave me was to rise up from the decay, and save my children and follow Him.

I stayed for years. In the last several years, I experienced an auto-immune disorder triggered by extreme stress which was very debilitating.

The depression in me worsened, even when I became a semi-physically functioning person again. The severe PTSD from my long-term abuse as a child (by several malignant narcissists in my family of origin) had me already in intensive counseling, trying to get better, and in hopes have a happy, godly, whole life with my family.

Counseling was painful. It would bring up horrific memories, flashbacks. My husband relished seeing me distraught when I was having flashbacks. He took delight in mocking me at such times.

The more depressed I got, the more he enjoyed it.

When I saw the symptoms of severe distress my children were showing, I reported them to a friend. She said that she believed I was being abused by my husband. I wept. The Band-Aid came off; the floodgates opened.

Upon requesting simple prayer for myself and my children, people started coming forward, telling me they suspected abuse for long time but didn’t know how to say it, and that they noticed something wrong with my husband but couldn’t put their finger on it.

I stayed longer, past your telling me he was an abuser because I didn’t want to believe that the person I clung to, and fled to from an abusive childhood, was also abusing me. I couldn’t see what was right in front of me.

So, here I am, I’ve now left him and I’m in a safe place, waiting to move into my own place. My husband is switching tactics to make me afraid to carry this out. Gift giving. The “nice guy” routine. Trying to guilt me by saying that kids from broken homes don’t thrive. Threatening me.

Before I left, I poured out my story to the pastor’s wife. After hearing me cry my eyes out for about two hours, she said two things: “Well, to be honest, I was expecting it to be a lot worse, so that’s good. But I also think you need to be careful in considering leaving….at first, it may feel exciting like you are on a vacation. You’ll feel this freedom. I just worry once you feel this freedom, it will hinder your desire for reconciliation.”

I was stunned. Felt like I had just been under surgery for hours, baring my guts and heart — and was thrown off the table. Yet the Spirit of the Lord came up inside of me and I remembered everything I read from “A Cry For Justice” and told her, “Many churches today are guilty of making marriage an idol over the welfare of women and children and I will not be a part of that.”  [Emphasis added.]

Thank you to the Anonymous survivor who allowed us to share this. Her original email to Jeff gave a lot more details of the horrors she has been through.

Her story reminded me (Barb) of the first part of verse 23 in Jude:

(22) And indeed, have mercy on those who doubt;  (23) save others by snatching them from the fire; and to still others, show mercy tempered with fear, hating even the clothing stained by the flesh.  (Berean Study Bible)  [Emphasis added.]

(22) And indeed have mercy on those who are doubting;  (23) and save others, snatching them out of the fire; and show mercy to others with fear, hating even the clothing having been stained by the flesh.  (Berean Literal Bible)  [Emphasis original.]

I (Barb) presume the Berean Literal Bible uses italics like the KJV does. Take out the italics (bolded in the above quote) and you have:

(22) And indeed have mercy on those who are doubting;  (23) and save others, snatching out of fire; and show mercy to others with fear, hating even the clothing having been stained by the flesh.  (Berean Literal Bible, emphasis added, modified to remove the italicized words.)

Victims of domestic abuse have been in the fire. The dragon-breath of the abusers. The fire that shrivels. The fire that desiccates. The fire that kills skin, leaving raw flesh. The blast of radiant heat from the church when it stigmatizes the victim for leaving the abuser. God is using ACFJ to snatch them out of that fire.

Jeff says:

When I became a pastor, my assumption was that I was supposed to be saving people’s souls via the Gospel and teaching the flock into maturity. You know what I mean. Not that I would save them, but I mean leading the lost to Christ.

It turns out that I have to say the first 25 years of my ministry were wilderness years, relatively unfruitful. Very few genuinely saved. MUCH discouragement, depression, and heartache, ready to quit most every day. Wishing I could quit.

So it turns out that those wilderness years were all just preparation in the school of abuse. Now the fruit comes, and it isn’t quite at all like I had been told it would be. We are seeing people “saved” every single day. Saved from evil.

Out of the ruins.

[October 7, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to October 7, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to October 7, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to October 7, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (October 7, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


Further reading

Trapped! Parallels between domestic abuse and the true story of a warehouse fire

I Didn’t Start the Fire — guest post by Happy to Bursting


UPDATE  Sept 2021:  Barbara Roberts has come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches.  He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.

27 thoughts on “Snatched from the fire”

  1. I feel I could have written this myself. Such a similar story….nearly identical. Except it wasn’t my pastor’s wife, but my pastor. Thank you for sharing. It is bittersweet to read another’s testimony so akin to my own: bitter because I wish no one else had had to experience such trauma; sweet because I know I am not alone. Through God’s mercy and grace, we will survive. Thank God that the picture presented by Jesus’ people isn’t necessarily the picture of Jesus Himself….we serve a merciful Savior who has indeed snatched us from the fire and will restore what the locust has eaten.

  2. Thank you for sending this. Some days are so depressing wondering if I should have left. I would rather live in a cave then be in that position again. God is good. I have a desire to see a huge campus where women and their children can heal under godly men and women who understand. What a blessing that would truly be!

  3. Being away from the abuse is like a vacation. The best vacation you’ve ever had in your life! There are still difficulties even on a good vacation – court hearings, poor ‘advice’ from supposed well-meaning people, having to separate yourself from unsupportive friends and family, etc. But the blessings abound – new friends, new hobbies, a peaceful home the abuser will never enter, children who blossom once away from the abuse, personal growth, and more.

  4. We are in the middle of a big fight now. My dad called us to try to settle things between us. I told my dad I was tired of working on the marriage, and was leaving. He thought he could mediate and I honored his invitation. If only I knew what would happen. My dad who had always been very supportive suddenly turned against me at the so-called meeting yesterday and took sides with my abuser. My mum and siblings were angry with his betrayal, and we’ve decided to boycott him by excluding him from our plans and not speaking to him. The abuser left the meeting victoriously while I left weeping, after giving my dad a piece of my mind.

    My dad has joined the enemy’s camp. We believe there’s something more to it than meets the eye. I suspect my husband is using diabolical means to get what he wants now.

    I’m planning to flee from this hell hole very soon.

    [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

    1. Tee3, stay strong. What a horrifying thing to experience from your dad. Way to go for giving him a piece of your mind. And great decision on your part, with the support of mom and siblings, to realize your dad is not safe to allow into your plans, also for seeing what he did as a betrayal and not giving him the power to cause you any doubt about what you know to be true.

      1. Surviving Freedom, thanks for your encouraging words. I’m closer to God now than I’ve ever been. I’ll post here soon about my victorious escape.
        It’s not been easy but He keeps me strong.

      2. Tee3 I pray you will very soon be snatched out the fire of abuse. I’m glad you have your mother and siblings supporting you. Indeed abusers use devilish influence and can turn your own family against you. Heartbreaking….I also pray your dad will get back to his senses and be snatched out the fog.

    2. Tee3, praying for you. I am on the receiving end of my husband’s diabolical means atm [At The Moment], being used to try and get me back into the state of idolatrous submission I was in. Since starting divorce proceedings I’ve been battling to get sleep, and what sleep I have had has been filled with mind-control dreams. I had had no contact for ages, until I saw him in court, and the ferocity of the spiritual attacks has been awful compared with the peace I had become accustomed to. The good thing is that it only goes to confirm how abusive he is.

      In case anyone else is struggling with strong spiritual oppression trying to force you back into submission and idolatry I’ll share how this has worked. Late evening I have had extreme tiredness and could not keep my eyes open so I would go to bed. I’d fall asleep but then wake a few hours later aware that I had been “dreaming” mind-controlling things with him in, and then I would not be able to get to sleep again. Yesterday, I just rested and concentrated on trusting Heavenly Father, and the Holy Spirit showed me to refuse the tiredness and take back control of when I choose to sleep. I stayed up until I really felt tired, went to bed and had a good 5 hours sleep. I at some point slightly awakened realising I had been having the same mind-controlling dream 2 or 3 times. I was actually struggling against the suggestion in the dream whilst it was happening, and it seemed to be only taking up a very small part of my mind, where previous nights it had felt really big. I am so grateful that yet again Father is showing me He is greater than the awful god at work in and through my husband. I get so battered by this stuff but always learn and grow in Him through it, and my confidence in Him becomes stronger.

      1. Thank you, Growing in Him!

        I know a young woman who was sexually abused by her father in her early teens, and is now an adult. She had had pretty much no contact with her father since the sexual abuse, because her protective mother stopped giving him visitation. (She defied the court order that had granted him visitation when they divorced — and thankfully he never took the mother back to court for breaching the order.)

        Anyway, the point of this anecdote is that when in adulthood this young woman decided to see her father occasionally, she did so. They met several times, and all seemed reasonably okay. He never tried to sexually abuse her again. But what she started to notice was that when she spent a lot of time with him she always began feeling really tired. So tired she could hardly stop herself falling asleep, even in a cafe or a restaurant. She eventually realised that the weird, un-natural tiredness was a sign of something more ‘sinister’. She couldn’t put her finger on it any more than that. But the tiredness was one of the reasons why she decided to stop seeing him altogether.

        Experiencing unnatural tiredness is something we have heard about several times from our readers. It seems not to be the kind of tiredness that comes from being triggered (PTSD). It may co-occur with being triggered, but it is MORE than just that. It seems more like sorcery, witchcraft (cf. Acts 8, Simon the Sorcerer).

      2. Yes, Barb, it is most definitely more like sorcery. I am largely free of of it now, however I am now battling against my wake-up time being controlled. This weekend the oppression has been on overdrive. He will be praying madly that I will not be able to progress further with the divorce. Although I am not struggling with the unnatural tiredness I am feeling worn out by the relentless would-be control. I have been praying that if possible it may stop, but I will keep going to Heavenly Father and the word for refreshment. It feels far too much like life used to be with him.

      3. I so remember that tiredness. I think it was caused by being subconsciously aware that I was being lied to all the time but never being able to prove it. To me that is a form of witchcraft too.

  5. These words from her pastor’s wife:

    Well, to be honest, I was expecting it to be a lot worse, so that’s good. But I also think you need to be careful in considering leaving….at first, it may feel exciting like you are on a vacation. You’ll feel this freedom. I just worry once you feel this freedom, it will hinder your desire for reconciliation.

    Makes me wonder what life experiences the pastor’s wife brings to the table. How does she know that such freedom will be felt….unless she herself has had such a taste?! Has she herself separated, tasted that freedom, felt the “draw” back, been duped and is now “trapped” back to a loveless and abusive marriage with no hope of escape?

    And….expected it to be worse?! Really? What has she experienced? How did she know what to anticipate unless, perhaps, she herself has been through “worse.” She all but condemns this woman for not experiencing worse – and this is only a hunch – because she herself has and has chosen to stay. Why not applaud this woman for drawing her line in the sand before it got worse, for recognizing things as they are and choosing a life-saving course of action?

    No. This reeks of bitterness. Of bygones. Of shoulda-coulda-wouldas. Of “wish I had but didn’t.” And rather than spur her on in a “Good for you.” kind of way….she uses church-speak for beware.

    I got the same treatment from counselors and pastors.

    It was my personal therapist who – when I asked her – “What if I get such a taste of peace and freedom, I don’t ever want to return? What then?” she said to me: “Yes, that can happen and in such cases the burden lifted and resulting peace is just as valid and certainly telling. It can shape the future course of action. Embrace it all and step slowly.” That therapist was a God-send, as is ACFJ.

  6. Thank God! Thank God! Thank God!
    I was being burned alive and yes, you all snatched me out of that fire.
    Truly I thank God for you, Jeff, and you, Barbara, and all the others that contribute to this saving work.

  7. I have been saved. Thank you and thank God. Only after divorce and continued healing has my relationship with God been healed as well. I am able to remain in relationship and trust with God.

  8. You are doing a wonderful thing, saving innocent people one at a time from evil abusers. And also saving them from the abuse by church leaders that is every bit as evil. I am one of those you have snatched out of the fire, together with my children, and I will always be grateful.

  9. Reading the pastor’s wife’s words made me both angry and sad. Sad because I have also felt the knife in my heart when someone absolutely invalidates your experience; and angry because this kind of stuff makes it very difficult in the future to know who you can trust and who you can’t. The latter is kind of where I’m at right now. Even “friends” outside my church, but who are loosely associated with our congregation through mutual acquaintances, feel suspect to me. Sometimes it looks like they’re fishing for information. (“Did the Elders of my church put her up to this?!?” runs through my mind.) I hate feeling this way. Just yesterday, a friend mentioned that another friend (both outside the church) had been asking funny questions about me of her. When the questioner called later in the afternoon, my reaction was to be immediately guarded. I actually had to turn it around and ask her if she’d “heard from anyone” at my former church. Like I said, not knowing who to trust is one of the hardest things for me.

  10. In being painfully vulnerable – seeking validation and comfort and instead hearing condemnation couched in seemingly soft, religious terms, our initial inclination is to doubt our own experience and to feel compelled by guilt to return to a horrific situation. Yet, in hearing those words, the Spirit within us screams, “Blasphemy! Injustice!” Our spirits rightly recoil from those who would have us continue to subject ourselves and our children to wickedness – in the name of God. It is heart-breaking that there seem to be so few in church leadership who understand the practical need for deliverance from every form of evil wherever it exists. That includes marriage.

  11. Dear Anonymous, thank you for sharing. So many testimonies here echo the shadows of my life. And this struck even strangely more, as my first group counselors told me I have some definite PTSD (or PNSD – “Post Narcissistic Stress Disorder” – just now being accepted in the APA), and now I have developed several physical symptoms. I just thought it was overworked exhaustion, but my private counselor just pointed out to me and I confirmed it through several websites that I too have developed [an] auto-immune disorder. I plan to be tested as soon as my schedule allows.

  12. (Airbrushing….fog….puzzled why the Holy Spirit led me here….)

    Barb, in the original post:

    The dragon-breath of the abusers. The fire that shrivels. The fire that desiccates. The fire that kills skin, leaving raw flesh.


    When I was a child, I used to have constant nightmares of being in a house afire.

    Now….I know….

    The nightmares started with the sibling sexual abuse.

    (I was saved shortly before the sexual abuse started.)

    At first, in the distress of the nightmares, I would go to my parents for comfort. One of them – it didn’t matter which – would lead me back to bed, tuck me in, and leave the room.

    I learned to comfort myself and the nightmares eased.

    (No one questioned why I sucked my thumb to such a late age….they only put Band-Aids and cayenne on my thumb. The teeth marks in my thumb stayed for a long time….)

    I thought it was my fault.

    I thought I had done something wrong.

    I thought I was going to hell.

    (No one had taught me the Bible….I had read it myself.)

    Now….I know….

    The fire was never meant for me.

    1. Yes, the fire was never meant for you.

      And btw, I was a thumb-sucker too. I only gave it up in late grade six, when my mother told me that since I was going to start attending Presbyterian Ladies College I had to stop because everyone would look down on me if I sucked my thumb, and that (said in a haughty plum voice) “Ladies College girls do not suck their thumbs.”

      1. I can just hear the voice…. 🙂

        On a serious note, though.

        Why do adults arbitrarily decide at what age a child is “required” to give up something they find comforting? If the child is in need of comfort, perhaps the adults need to look at the “Why”.

        There is such a wide range of possibilities, from the simple to the complex, whether adult or child.

        Maybe of equal importance is using discernment with respect to the person wanting to remove the source of comfort.

        Is the person a manipulator / abuser?

        Is the person a victim, fearful of an abuser?

        Is the person trying to promote conformity?

        Is the person a professional / expert?

        Is the person genuinely concerned for the other person’s health?

        Etc., etc., etc.

        Unfortunately, I have seen too many instances of the behavioural change being urged for self-serving reasons or arbitrary definitions of what is “age-appropriate”.

        Very rarely are the questions or the answers simple or easy.

        People need to remember we are created in the image of God.

    2. Clarifying my comment of 11TH JUNE 2018 – 4:01 PM….

      In my comment, I wrote:

      The nightmares started with the sibling sexual abuse.

      (I was saved shortly before the sexual abuse started.)

      I was saved (regenerated) a long time before my sibling referred to in the above comment started to sexually abused me.

      My dad started to sexually abuse me long before the sibling referred to in the above quote from my earlier comment started to sexually abuse me.

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