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All of the Christians I meet who are amounting to anything for God are Christians who are very much out of key with their age -- very, very much out of tune with their generation. Tozer

 
 


Home : Testimony :
Part Three - Discipleship Movement



My Testimony

Part Three - Discipleship Movement

 

Measure your life by loss and not by gain. Not by the wine drunk, but by the wine poured forth. For love's strength stands in love's sacrifice. And He who suffers most has most to give. ~ Ugo Bassi

Christian Fellowship began in Harry Silvis' home. We first met in the living room and then moved to the garage. Everything seemed to be functioning reasonably well, considering the way we got started.

After only a few weeks, one of the young men from our fellowship came home and mentioned he was not permitted to go to his girlfriend's house. His girlfriend went to another church, and she told him that her pastor stated I was in rebellion and deception, and that since her boyfriend belonged to our church, he was not permitted in her home. The girl's father told the young man that neither he nor his family were permitted to fellowship with me or anyone from our fellowship because I started a church without the permission of the elders of the city (Ft. Lauderdale). I quickly called the pastor, and he told me to call Bob Mumford who was his pastor. I talked to Bob and he said he would set up a special meeting to try and solve the problem with my former pastor at the Baptist church. I asked Harry Silvis to come with me to this meeting.

Approximately ten pastors attended this meeting. It started off with small talk among everyone and then a remark was made to start the meeting. Bob then looked up at me and said, "Listen here you little self-willed minister, if you think you are going to do your own thing in this city, you are mistaken."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing, what was going on? Questions raced through my mind. Is nobody really Christian? Is this just a world of make-believe"? Where is Jesus? The Bible? The love? I died. Thrown into total confusion, I bowed my head. My confusion mistaken for insolence, Bob quickly retorted, "Look at me when I am talking to you."

At that point, my system went into mass confusion. Everything became a blank. Babble and accusations swirled around me, none of which I was capable of dealing with. In retrospect, I believe that was a good sign that God was not there. I do remember one pastor sitting to my left remarking to the other leaders, "I know this guy, he is an arrogant person. He has never been broken." In reality, the first time he met me was in that meeting.

At some point, I stood up in frustration to leave. Bob quickly got up and placed himself in front of me and began to poke his finger at my chest while repeating these words over and over: "Are you going to submit? Yes or no?" My anger began to intensify and boil. I felt that nothing that was going on here was Christian. I just wanted to hit him and leave. I remember responding like I was a trapped rat and saying, "You were never involved in my life to help me, why now do you believe you have the authority to hurt me? Goodbye!" I then walked out, and as I did, I could hear them yelling at me as I left. Harry was shocked and later told me, "If I hadn't been in that meeting and you just explained what happened, I would never have believed you."

Later that week, Bob Mumford announced to a crowd of about a thousand people that I was in deception and rebellion and no one was to fellowship with me. Shortly thereafter, my fiancé, who could no longer stand the pressure of what I was experiencing, broke off our engagement. She did keep coming to church, though. However, she brought her new boyfriend to the church meetings. My emotional pain was overwhelming. Each night I cried myself to sleep. "Why don't people care?" I prayed that the Lord for His great name's sake would bring me through all these trials. I had no reason to live. I lost everything and many were against me. I was a young Christian who had little or no experience or wisdom to deal with these problems, sins, and trials. Days and nights were filled with tears and doubts. I felt God must be against me too. I felt that Satan was a foe too strong for me, and that Jesus could not help me because of my many sins and shortcomings.

I remember one day I was crying so hard, the guy I was living with, Arl Green, stayed home for fear I was going to lose my mind. I didn't think I could take the pain any longer. I left a high-paying job, my family, my friends, and now I was kicked out of a church, marked by leaders of the city, denounced for being deceived, abandoned by my fiancé and, it seemed, rejected by God. There was, however, a little band of people who stayed with me.

I sat on a recliner chair and Arl was lying on the couch. I was crying and he just lay there praying. Finally the Lord spoke, "Andy what would give you hope?" I looked at the phone and said, "If my fiancé would just call and tell me she wanted to get back together, I think I could make it. There is just too much going on and coming against me."

The Lord said, "Andy, who was David's hope?"

I remembered David crying out that the "Lord" was his hope. The Lord said, "Look at your feet, look at your hands, is there anything wrong with you?"

I said "No."

He said, "There is nothing wrong with you, get up and live for me."

I jumped up, and said to Arl, "Let's have a bowl of cereal." He must have thought I finally flipped. There were still many days of confusion, conflict, tears and problems. I was not able to hear as well as I should. I had no father to lead the way.

About a year later, I met Jim Croft. Jim was under Derek Prince in the discipleship movement. I explained to Jim what happened to me as a result of my meeting with Bob. Jim then spoke to Derek and they brought me under Derek and His ministry. I must say, at this point, that there is not a finer man of God than Derek Prince. He is a man of integrity and honesty.

I came to know many of those men who had been in that dreadful meeting. Many of them repented for their treatment of me. Jim and I became good friends. I loved him for his honesty and for being just a good down-to-earth guy.

Bob and I continued to have our disagreements, mostly stemming from our positions on authority. I was living in a house with seventeen other guys. Although I was the head of that house, I would still get corrected a lot and receive many unsolicited opinions. That can really deal with ones pride. I remember one day when I was upset because the kitchen floor was not being cleaned. I took it to the Lord and I made known my request (complaint) to Him. I always took things to Him. I explained to the Lord that I was the leader and they should submit to me as such. Beware of complaining to the Lord, He might just respond to your complaint. When Jesus speaks, He deals with you and not others. In His wisdom, He will never agree with your complaint about others.. He leads you to humble yourself. He said this to me, "Andy, you are the shepherd. They must learn from your example and not your dictates. Doesn't the shepherd first go into the new pasture? Did not I call you to serve and not to be served? Is not the calling of my servants to be bond slaves and not to consider the personal comforts of their own lives? You scrub the floors, Andy, and wash their feet. If you do, you will be doing it unto me."

"Never," said General Gordon to a corporal…, "Never tell another man to do what you are afraid to do yourself."

I saw the discipleship movement as having a tendency to treat the elders as kings and lavish them in pomp. And yet God was telling me to be a slave. Through the years, many have taken advantage of my willingness to give and my willingness to serve and be a servant for Him. A friend of my once said, "I am always afraid that I will continue to help people until one day someone will take advantage of me, and I will stop serving."

Authority is a tool that one can easily use for ones personal advantage. When men try to exercise authority over other men and their families, they are out of order. No leader has the right to dictate the way a man raises his family or treats his wife. Leaders may teach, or, in the case of abuse, intervene.

But I have found that men who demand authority, (comma out) rarely submit to it. Men who demand that others do things are many times unwilling to do it themselves. Some men who get upset with others unwilling to support their ministry are poor examples of compassion in helping a man lead his family. I have seen years of abusive leaders, men assuming others should be focused on their vision, while they themselves are unwilling to understand the hurt of others. I do not believe an elder has the right to interfere in another man's household. I have known pastors who abused men's wives and marriages for the sake of their own ministry and calling. Self-interest is a strong deception. Many men of vision quickly lose the purpose of their ministry when they refuse to let go of what "God" is doing, or at least what they think God is doing. It amazes me how often these leaders would use God and the Bible to agree with their control over the people under their ministry. Yet when their sacred cow is touched, they would cry "Deception!" Authority is not about control; it is about dying for God's sheep. God will often test a man of God to see if he loves the sheep or his own vision. The discipleship movement made slaves of the sheep, while the elders lived in the lap of luxury. There is much to be said on this subject, as it is an important one. If we are truly under the authority of God, we will lay our lives down for the sake of the sheep. That is why I don't mind working when no one is willing to help. I do it for HIM!

"The more holy a man is, the more humble, self-renouncing, self-abhorring, and the more sensitive to every sin he becomes, and the more closely he clings to Christ."~ Hodges Outlines

The Fall of the movement

The movement finally fell. It was built on the sand of men's personal self-interest. Though there were many golden nuggets in the discipleship movement, there was too much self-interest.

I gained much wisdom in all these movements. I can attribute much of my suffering to my own sin and personal character flaws. God was always trying to show me there was no good in me. Yet much of our lives are built on parts that have been untouched by His purifying fire.

I felt I was lied to from the very beginning about Christianity, the church and relationships. I built a foundation on the "sinners prayer," tried to establish a church on the foundation of institutionalism, developed relationships on common agreement and common character attributes. I was not aware that, while I was seeking success, He was planning my demise. I thank Him that He counted me worthy to suffer. There are few that God will permit the blessing of the furnace. He often leaves the "Laodicean" Christian self-deceived and self-contained, allowing him to justify his life.

I am looking for a city, whose builder and maker is God…" The builder and maker can't be me, or you, or any one else.

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