Fellow Wanderers

by Carlene Johnson

Table of Contents


I am writing to share my perspective of my journey through the ICC wilderness as well as give a message of hope and recovery. I have come to realize that my experiences as an ex- ICC member are similar to those of the Israelites as God set them free from the slavery of the Egyptians.

I. Our slavery is well established.

I was a part of the ICC for eight years (1990-1998), 6 years in Triangle (NC.) and 2 in Nashville. I left under traumatic circumstances that are basically the same as many of the stories shared on this web site. The legalism and mind control that lead my crisis of conscious and decision to leave the church is now being honestly addressed by a significant number of people within the church. All I can say is “Thank God”! I no longer feel the need to go into personal details because it would just be redundant. Like the Israelites there is no doubt we were held captive by an enslaving system.

II. Kip McKean and Pharaoh

Kip McKean has stated that sees himself as Nehemiah (Revolution Through Restoration III, REVEAL July, 2003) sent to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, but I think he should take a good hard look at Pharaoh’s heart when looking for similarities. As we can attest from just the entries on this web site, many Christians, like Moses, tried to go to him and show him areas of slavery and request freedom to worship. As Pharaoh with the Israelites, Kip saw the Christians as lazy complainers. His solution, like Pharaoh was to demand more work. His theory being that if they worked harder, they wouldn’t listen to lies or in ICC’s case “spiritual pornography”. Pharaoh forced the Israelites to make bricks without straw. In our case we were forced to turn out greater and greater special contributions, meet greater evangelism quotas and endure more invasive and often abusive “accountability” from our discipleship partners. With each “plague” the Lord sent to change Kip’s heart (negative media, falling away of 1 in 2 of those converted), his heart grew only harder. It was not until the “spiritual death” of his first-born (daughter left ICC, 2001. Boston Globe, 5/17/2003) did he finally relent and allow the chains of dishonesty to finally be loosed. My how the Christians have fled. By Kip’s own account the church has been decimated. I find it interesting that, like Pharaoh, he is trying to chase after the Israelites, realizing that he no longer can wield his power over them. Despite his efforts, we are free, because God has set us free.

III. Wandering in the Desert

God knew that to send the Israelites down the straight road would lead to war. So, He sent them through the longer, but safer route through the desert. I can absolutely relate to this aspect of their journey. I have felt like I am wandering a lot, often in a desert. When I first left ICC I was numb. Christians often refer to their life in terms of seasons. I was in a spiritual winter. I was still and it felt as if all my leaves had fallen off and I faced a cold world feeling lost and scared. But deep inside I had a sense that God was giving me some desperately needed rest, like a tree going dormant in the winter to replenish itself before spring. This would characterize the first two years after leaving. In about the third year I began to try various churches. As with the Israelites, I was tempted by idols. Legalism and being judgmental were tops on the list as I had learned them so well during my ICC experience. I too was tested, would my marriage survive the struggles of everyday life, children, etc.? I often worried if the ICC lies told were true. Would my marriage be doomed to divorce and unhappiness without the church?

IV. God has been leading day and night loving me along the way.

Through much prayer and the help of Christian friends, I have come to see God in a new way. I have discovered grace and that God is my best friend, delighting in my discoveries of Him and feeling my sorrows with me. We are on His journey together and He loves me where I am at all times. One of my greatest challenges has been to determine what to keep from my ICC experience and what was unhealthy and to be tossed out. As God arranged for the Israelites to plunder the Egyptians of their silver and gold I too believe that there are nuggets of silver and gold that God has given me to take away from my time of slavery. Furthermore, I am finding that these nuggets are helpful to my Christian brothers and sisters. I have a strong belief in God’s word that I have never lost, I have a relationship with God that is real, and I have seen amazing things that God can do, like bring the races together. I have also realized that I am not alone. While our time of slavery was difficult and at times harsh and abusive we are not alone. The quest for power that overcame Pharaoh and Kip McKean’s heart has overcome many others and has left a wake of hurting souls. But God is more powerful and can use all this for our eternal good. The lessons have been many and, my fellow wanderers, we are wiser for them. I am more determined than ever to speak the truth to fellow Christians including pastors and to not be intimidated. However, I am also learning that God works often at a much slower pace than I was taught in ICC. God does not expect me to perfectly exemplify all the fruits of the spirit. I am growing into the likeness of Christ and He knows that. I am not growing under my own power but through the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit living inside me. There is no need for guilt or a constant sense of not measuring up that became so ingrained during my ICC years. No, 2 Cor. 3:15 says “we are being transformed with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit". It’s happening whether we feel it or not, whether we can point to certain “works” or not.

V. Conclusion

When I first left the ICC I was so afraid. This website has helped to validate my feelings and see that I was not alone. Now as so much has come out and been validated, I have new questions. Where do I fit in? How can my experiences be used to build up the body of Christ in a healthy way? I believe we as a group of Ex-ICC members have a lot to offer. I would like to hear some stories of how people have overcome the past and have gone on to find joy and purpose in their journey with God. For those of you at various stages of recovery, please do not lose heart. God is able to use this for good. I welcome any feedback. Please contact me at carlenej@comcast.net.

©2004 by Carlene Johnson. All rights reserved.

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