How Religion Almost Ruined My Life

sent in by Frank Henry Pecenka

How 14 years of religion almost destroyed my life.
Testimony of Frank Pecenka, Canada

Hi my name is Frank Pecenka and I have a testimony that 14 years within organized religion almost destroyed my life and my family. My wife and I started out with a sincere desire to know and to please God but something went terribly wrong over the years and in the end I turned my back on God, The Church and Organized Religion.

I finally came to that place where I found that I was emotionally, spiritually and financially bankrupt having exhausted all of my resources trying to make my skewed faith work.

I have come to the realization that the faith I had was in legalism and the formulas of men and their doctrines. Through much suffering, loss, adversity, pain and humiliation I discovered that I could not tip the hand of God and that my best efforts to adhere to the formulas and doctrines of men didn't matter one iota to God.

The milestone event that finally caused me to hit the proverbial wall happened after our family had gone through the loss of our home and bankruptcy. This took place as a result of more than 10 years of tithing, giving and supporting various ministries as well as doing "good works" besides. Since we were trying to raise a family on a single income while home schooling our 2 kids our finances were spread so thin that we had to constantly borrow to make up the shortfall.

After more than 10 years of this folly our debt load swamped us like a tidal wave. The underlying message we kept getting through these turbulent years was that there had to be something wrong with you or God would bless you and heal your finances since his own law binds him. Anyone who cannot make these laws, formulas and doctrines work soon finds themselves on the outside looking in as they are cast aside and rejected since it has to work, doesn't it?

While the pain from my own loss and resulting humiliation was still very fresh, I had to endure listening to a Christian businessman's testimony in our church. It turned out that he was facing personal bankruptcy over 1 million dollars in business debts which he was burdened with as the result of a chain reaction involving a client business that went bankrupt.

He tearfully shared that he had spent that week getting right with God and as a result God had seen to it that the consortium that he owed the money forgave his debt. Upon hearing that, I found myself filled with rage, bitter, disillusioned and feeling rejected by God. God allowed this man who has a home and lifestyle I could only ever dream of to keep his yet the personal sacrifices we made and the things we did without counted as nothing. We were not even empowered to continue what we were doing and there was no eleventh hour intervention on our behalf.

I thankfully came to the conclusion that I could probably never get right with God since my best efforts thus far were useless. Realizing that fact provided a sense of freedom from the bondage of performance to earn favor that is a common theme in organized religion. The time was right for me to hear a message of Grace and the unconditional love of God. This simple but timely message has helped me to put the shattered pieces of my life in perspective.

Since I am presently recovering from a deep depression I still have much anger to work through, primarily directed toward organized religion. Part of this process caused me to sit down and write a letter, which I actually had in a stamped and addressed envelope ready to mail the next day. Instead of the mailbox it ended up in the trash. I have decided to add that letter to this testimony to illustrate what emotional roller coaster ride people in organized religion can find themselves on.

My hope in writing this testimony is that it helps one single person to not go through that what I went through. If that is the case it will have been worth it.

Yours Truly,
Frank Pecenka



Attached letter to pastor:
September 14, 1999
Dear (Pastor),


As you receive this letter Clive Pick will have just been to teach at the recent "Releasing Financial blessing" seminar at (omitted) Fellowship. In light of that seminar I would like to offer my services as a guest speaker to do a follow up relating my personal experiences in "The Release of Financial Blessing in My Life". I would gladly waive any honorariums so that the offerings can go straight to (omitted) Fellowship.

I have so much that I would like to share having spent over ten years tithing plus giving as well as supporting various ministries. The blessing that ensued resulted in causing us to have lost everything that my wife and I spent the previous 20 years of our lives working for. I would also like to share the fact that as my financial picture progressively deteriorated I found myself working longer, harder and giving more than ever with no eleventh hour divine intervention.

Armed with more than ten years of teachings on the subject from many sources I was determined to put my faith in these teachings to the test and to make them work only to have it virtually destroy any faith that I had left. I would love to share the emotions I felt as I dragged myself off to work while I had pneumonia and was coughing up blood. I had to do that because if I didn't work I wouldn't get paid and I needed every penny I could earn just to stay afloat.

I would love to share about the thousands of dollars that I spent over a ten-year period on "Christian Counseling " at sixty-five dollars per hour. Many in leadership suggested I do that in an attempt to find out what is wrong with me and in what areas I am not "Right With God". If you do as the teachings dictate it has to work or there is a problem with you, am I correct?

I would also like to share the struggles I had wondering why God would have me take two hours off of work from my $12.00/hr after tax income to pay someone, who is doing "God's Work" $65/hr for their time.

In case you are interested I might also be able to convince a friend from my days in the (omitted) Fellowship to give his personal testimony about his experiences with "Releasing Financial blessing".

My friend has a powerful testimony about having been a Christian businessman who at the peak of his business tithed $100,000 per year. On his own initiative he was also the sole support for a missionary couple in Central America and also personally helped people in need by employing them or helping them financially.

My friend was one of the most "Christ Like" individuals I ever met yet he ended up losing everything in a business and personal bankruptcy. The last I heard from him he was living in a small trailer on his brother's farm. To add to the pain he endured he found himself being judged and shunned by his peers (fellow Christian businessmen) who were certain that he was not tithing or "Right With God".

If you feel that you would like my friend and I to come and share our experiences and to help re-enforce the powerful teaching that Clive Pick' has left (omitted) Fellowship please don't hesitate to contact me.

Yours Truly
Frank Pecenka



City: Chilliwack
State: BC
Country: Canada
Became a Christian: 37
Ceased being a Christian: 52
Labels before: Vineyard, Partners in Harvest
Labels now: Agnostic
Why I joined: Desperation as life was not working.
Why I left: All of religions answers were useless.

11 comments:

no judgement whatsoever said...

I would like to encourage anyone who reads this to pick up the book "Conversations With God." This book isn't about getting right with God, and yet it is at the same time. God reveals where the tightrope is in this book, and shows you where the safety net is too. Life doesn't have to be such a struggle.

God is a big target. In the end, everyone will find Him.

Pick up the audio version of the book... All three books... I'm not here to judge your stories. I understand your struggle with faith. I also understand why it's such a struggle. But listen to this book set as an audio book over a weekend. I promise you that the material will give you pause.

Anonymous said...

I was conned into joining a Mormon church at the age of 23, by a group of attractive young women, after I broke up from a relationship. They rushed me through 8 discussions touching upon the flowerly aspects of the religion. They never encouraged me to study the History of the church, the Doctrine and Covenants, or revealed the heirarchy within the church 'based on missionary status and tithing.'

Luckily, after paying my first $20 donation, I began to have doubts. Three years later, I researched the history, the lesser known works, and searched the online version of the 'Book of Mormon' for all instances of the words 'Jew' and 'Israel.' Only then did I discover I belonged to an anti-semetic cult of money worshipers. I also experienced the shunning that happens to members to tell the truth. I was deemed unworthy for 'admitting' that I had a glass of wine. Furthermore, no mechanism of 'repentance' exists in the Mormon church. You just have to lie to be found worthy --- and that is just wrong.

If you cannot speak the truth without persecution, then is it no different than it was 2,006 years ago, when a young Jew was executed for his beliefs 'contrary' to the status quo? A look at Chinese or North Korean policy would indicate that nothing has changed.

Now you have extremists rioting, burning businesses and murdering people over a cartoon that show a prophet beheading virgins. This cartoon is historically accurate of the early days of the religion. Members of this religion are in a state of denial.

And to make matters worse, a cleric for these people allegedly placed a $25k bounty on the head of the person who drew the cartoons. So much for freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. If you ask me, the US soldiers should fly a Predator Drone to take care of the cleric making terrorist threats.

By the way, making a terrorist threat on US soil is a felony, but if you're in another nation, since when did that become permissable? People need to really study the history of their religion and beliefs before jumping to conclusions. Just look at the history of the Catholic church, and the 'instant quizzes' at the Inquisition. No matter what your response you were tortured to death.

And I say again, have things changed since then?? No. Therefore, I refrain from posting my name on this article.

Anonymous said...

Hey Frank I couldn't agree with you more. Please call me anytime you feel up to it. (403)938-6810. I would love to talk to you. I actually contacted Clive Pick for a scriptural debate on the subject of tithing but he declined of course siteing his personal mandate from God to enslave people....I mean get them to open heaven...or get an open heaven blessing. It always interests me how people feel or look for a way to get an omnipotent being to do what they want. I have just finished putting a conference together called Searching for the Blessed LIFE, as a response to all the garbage and false formulaic teaching that is floating around. I have been where you have been financially and I fully understand your anger and pain as I have had many many 'bitch' sessions with the Lord over the years. I really want to encourage you though. I would love to come and do a conference in your area and even have you share your testimony and that of your friend. The problem with guys like Clive pick is that their theology or 'doctrine' is based on a lot of uncolaborated stories and not on scripture. While he uses Malichai 3 as his banner that is all he has along with the few scriptures all the name and claimers have as well. The conference is free, I just take a offering for those how can at the end and only look to have my transportation and hotel taken care of. Anyway I'm not pushing the conference although it may seem like that, I just know how many Christains are out there deeply struggling with this issue and that is why scripture says "for this reason many have shipwrecked their faith". Well the Lord over the past 12 years has shown me how to build a new boat for those people in true freedom from the law and grace which brings results in a way you might not have considered. I have been seeking the Lord on this subject for over 12 years now and if you are in the mood one day just call me and maybe we can talk more about it. There is hope buddy, I know what it feels like to wonder if God is really even there or if everything is just a giant man made kindom of get rich quick charletons. Give the Lord just one more chance to prove Himself faithfull to you. You still care or you wouldn't even have the post, your heart is pastoral becuase you want to help others not just yourself, God has put that caring in your heart and a desire for really comming to the truth. If you want check out George Barnas book called The Revolution, your not alone, you are amoung the revolutionaries who demand truth not fictional stories anymore we are 20 million strong in the US and Canada alone, it is the underground church and it is growing on the heals of organized religion colapsing. Anyway I'll be here, even if you just want to yell at someone about how ticked off you are at God... He's big enough He can take it... I mean at the end of the day they already killed him once but he bounced back from that in only 3 days....Love ya man.

Anonymous said...

no judgement whatsoever... how patronising.

Anonymous said...

We have also been in 2 churches that have taken us to the bankruptcy edge in the name of the Lord.
We also found after 25 years of this that we strayed (through false teaching) from the grace of God.
After realizing that God's grace is sufficient and He loves and blesses us more when we are not "money grubbing" to move His hand.
We are slowly on the upswing of years of financial and emotional devastation from pastors who have shoved rules and regulations down our throats... but praise God, His Word does not promote that.
It just takes time to re-program our minds to His Word and how He thinks.
God bless you for posting your testimony and may God bless you with a spirit of wisdom and revelation according to Eph 1, that you may know HIM more.
Keep the faith... the Lord is worth it even when man fails us.

Anonymous said...

I am no longer the 'practicing' type but I didn't give up on god. I just couldn't continue to watch people that I give to and worship with practice hypocrisy. I don't blame you Frank, but I would add that your former place of worship was responsible for helping you as a christian brother. If you can't help the people that surround you, why help someone on the other side of the world. I was always told that god won't put you through anything more than you are capable of handling. This should inherently include the giving of funds when yours are already insufficient. Helping someone do some necessary work that they needed assistance with, Charge $65 an hour and assume that is tithe when your low on cash. Tithe should cover operating costs and when the pastor lives better than his average parishioner, his wife better be a doctor/lawyer. Too often the pastors of more 'influential' church/ministries make over 100k a year and that is how I determine that is not a place I would worship in.
I will say that it isn't even organized religions fault that you were let down. It was those people around you that mistook faith for foolishness and then place judgment upon others. That last part being a dirty habit of all humans alike. The world is not perfect and the thought process that occurs in those that teach that god will make it so, well that is just a disappointing interpretation of the good book.

dorothy said...

Dear Sir, Your article was very moving. I too have lost all trust in religious teachings governed by male and female hyprocrat that still practice 13th century era religious tactics governing women and children as through they were their personal livestock. I am not the property of any Christian man. My responsibility is first to myself and then to others. If I am not a complete person then I will be unable to fulfill any duties required of me whether as a mother or an employee. Many Christian men have the idea they are above or better because of their religious involvement within their church. Their first and foremost responsibility is to the church and giving donations regardless if the family is unable to buy food or pay the bills. Your article has really hit the nail on the head. I have spent every cent I had keeping the finances intact and many sleepless nights working out the budget that would be fair to both of us only to face Bankruptcy because my Christian husband refused to support and listen to me. But, I have had to endure the agony of this horrible situation only to find myself without any support from anyone. Now I find myself mistrusting our bankruptcy lawyer because of her bias remarks to me over my husband. These two people are Christians. So they say. We are now in the process of a divorce with no legal support at all. I have lost all trust and respect for these people. My children are the real Christians. They have kept me from living in my car. They have given me food to eat and roof over my head and a safe place to rest. I can almost feel the agony you felt when I read your article. It really hurts. Thank You for sharing this information with us.

dorothy said...

Dear Sir, Your article was very moving. I too have lost all trust in religious teachings governed by male and female hyprocrat that still practice 13th century era religious tactics governing women and children as through they were their personal livestock. I am not the property of any Christian man. My responsibility is first to myself and then to others. If I am not a complete person then I will be unable to fulfill any duties required of me whether as a mother or an employee. Many Christian men have the idea they are above or better because of their religious involvement within their church. Their first and foremost responsibility is to the church and giving donations regardless if the family is unable to buy food or pay the bills. Your article has really hit the nail on the head. I have spent every cent I had keeping the finances intact and many sleepless nights working out the budget that would be fair to both of us only to face Bankruptcy because my Christian husband refused to support and listen to me. But, I have had to endure the agony of this horrible situation only to find myself without any support from anyone. Now I find myself mistrusting our bankruptcy lawyer because of her bias remarks to me over my husband. These two people are Christians. So they say. We are now in the process of a divorce with no legal support at all. I have lost all trust and respect for these people. My children are the real Christians. They have kept me from living in my car. They have given me food to eat and roof over my head and a safe place to rest. I can almost feel the agony you felt when I read your article. It really hurts. Thank You for sharing this information with us.

Astreja said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Astreja said...

Dorothy, it sounds like you have wonderful kids.

May you make it safely through your bankruptcy and divorce procedures (recommend that you get your own lawyer if at all possible) and go on to a rewarding new life.

ineedasn said...

Hi. I totally share your hatred for organized religion. I have been a "Christian" all my life, but about a year ago I realized that I had simply been brainwashed since a child. My parents had always made me go to church since before I can even remember. I was always told that what was said in church was the truth and should not be questioned. Later in life I started to question modern religion, but I had been so deeply brainwashed into accepting certain ideas, I didn't even know it. I know that I can't really blame anyone but myself for the way I am, but I believe that organized religion has psychologically harmed me in tremendous ways. The worst effects it has had on me have to do with sex and relationships. It became so ingrained in my mind that premarital sex was wrong that I passed up many opportunities, even relationships in general. Wisdom comes from experience not from what you read in a book or what someone tells you. Religion makes people live sheltered lives and if they ever try to break free it is very difficult. That is where I would say I am currently at in my life. It is very confusing. I find it very upsetting now when I meet others who are the way I used to be. I so badly want to show them how blind they are, but I know from being in that situation that it would do no good. I look back now at arguments I had with people about moral and religious issues, and regret that I didn't listen to them... I really hope things get better. I am very glad that I had this epiphany, but I'm still finding it very hard to completely break free from my old ways. Sorry if this isn't well written. I'm really tired, but I really wanted to write this out.

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