Our departure had the whole church curious, but of course Joey and Nancy didn’t tell the truth as to why. We all remained silent about everything in the beginning. I can’t speak for the other two families, but our reasoning for doing so was based on the complexity of the whole thing.
To explain Joey’s present insecurity, we would have to reveal his reprehensible “past”. So, out of respect for Billy and Joey’s family, we didn’t divulge any information. Nancy had confided in me once that her youngest son struggled with suicidal thoughts while he was in college. We knew their oldest son had gotten into fights when he was younger, trying to defend his dad’s reputation against the rumors of homosexuality. Hence, we kept quiet thinking that we were helping protect his family.
Bob, who was an elder and active leader in the ministry, was on vacation when we left. When he got back, to his surprise, we were gone. He asked Joey what happened to us and he gave him some fictitious story to appease his curiosity, but he didn’t believe him.
Bob decided to call Billy and ask him what took place. Billy told him everything, including the supposed deliverance of going “through the fire”. Bob wasn’t as shocked as he was hurt because Joey had tried to do the same exact thing to him. Bob went on to tell of how Joey had approached him at an out of town business meeting they had attended. When Bob resisted and said, “I’m not into this and what would your wife say if she knew about your behavior?” Joey got livid and exclaimed, “I thought you loved me?”
Of course, Joey later apologized and blamed it all on the “thorn in his flesh” and untoward childhood. Bob was devastated, but felt powerless. He thought no one would believe him if he said anything. He too wanted to leave, but fear kept him at bay.
On another occasion, Joey called Bob and asked him to come to the church and pray with him. When he got there and they began to pray, Bob said Joey began to grunt like an animal and say that no one wanted to go “through the fire” with him and help him deal with “this spirit”. Then, Joey began to try to kiss Bob on the neck. Bob pushed him away and left.
Bob’s confession confirmed our suspicion, but made us all feel like absolute fools. Bob’s horrible ordeals happened long after Joey’s episode with Billy. The truth of the matter is this: Joey wasn’t sorry for what he did, he was sorry he got caught. He used the same lines on all of his victims that resisted, “I’m sorry”, “It’s so hard”, “It’s the thorn in my flesh”, “It’ll never happen again.”
He never changed. All the while, we gave him the benefit of the doubt, over and over again. It’s like the old saying goes, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” After what happened between Joey and Billy, Joey still had a bunch of young, vulnerable, yes men surrounding him and he still spent countless hours “ministering” to them.
Once we found out the truth, it was no holds barred. Everyone that asked and some that didn’t ask got the pure, unadulterated truth about Joey and his lifestyle. Barry called one of our godson’s father and told him exactly why we had left. At first, he was angry and told him not to put his mouth on his pastor. Then, when they spoke again, he admitted the allegations were true, but was confident that the Bishop was going to come down and clear everything up.
What he didn’t know was that Barry called the Bishop when he found out about Bob and spoke with him. The Bishop knew absolutely NOTHING about what had happened between Billy and Joey. He asked why Barry hadn’t called him sooner, but why would he if Joey said he would. Lies, lies, and more lies. Joey, once again, betrayed our trust. He never told the Bishop about what had happened and didn’t plan to.
Not only did Barry speak with Bishop, but Bob and Billy did as well. He offered his deepest apologies on behalf of the body of Christ, but said since his ministry was not a denomination that he couldn’t remove Joey from his pastoral role and could only make recommendations.
The Bishop did get back with Barry after speaking with Joey and confirmed that everything he and the others said was true, based on Joey’s unprompted confession to him. Joey told Bishop as he did all the others that a demonic spirit at work in his life.
After finding out what happened, some congregants decided to stay and others left. His other victims denied everything. When one person was confronted, he said Joey’s deliverance worked for him and asked Bob why he would confess anything because he was only making himself look stupid. When Bob said that he didn’t go through with any of Joey’s antics, the person said everything was in the past and abruptly ended the conversation.
I hope you have enjoyed what you have read so far.