Renewal Ministries Fellowship - Uniting and Mobilizing the Body of Christ
   Renewal ~ rebirth, regeneration, restoration, rekindling, revitalisation, replenishment & revival
......................"..we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake" (2 Cor. 4:5)
line decor

  Jesus' life:



Membership & Ordination Restoring to Ministry


Spiritual abuse is the mistreatment of a person who is in need of help, support or greater spiritual empowerment, with the result of weakening, undermining or decreasing that person's spiritual empowerment. It involves groups and leaders that actively and often subtly manipulate people, often initially through stroking their ego then through fear, shame, or guilt, to get them to believe and "perform" in such a way as to give the group and/or leaders more prestige and power than they are rightly entitled. The perpetrators of spiritual abuse may be people who seem like they are seeking to guide you to the deepest levels of spiritual maturity but their actions are akin to those of the serial bully.

Spiritual abuse occurs when someone in a position of spiritual authority, the purpose of which is to 'come underneath' and serve, build, equip and make God's people MORE free, misuses that authority placing themselves over God's people to control, coerce or manipulate them for seemingly Godly purposes which are really their own.

Spiritual abuse occurs in spiritual systems where the members are there to meet the needs of the leaders. These leaders attempt to find fulfillment through the religious performance of the very people whom they are there to serve and build. This is an inversion of the body of Christ.

Ezekiel chapter 34 described Spiritual Abuse and God's response to it eloquently:

Actions and Motivations of Spiritual Abuse: (Vs1) The word of the LORD came to me: (Vs2)"Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ÔThis is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who

  • only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? (Vs3) You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock.
  • (Vs4) You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured.
  • You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost.
  • You have ruled them harshly and brutally.
  • (Vs5) So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. (Vs6) My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.

God's Judgment on Spiritual Abuse: (Vs7)'Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: (Vs8) As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, (Vs9) therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: (Vs10) This is what the Sovereign LORD says:

  • I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock.
  • I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves
  • I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.

God's Restoration for the Spiritually Abused:

  • (Vs11) For this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
  • I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. (Vs12) As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep.
  • I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.
  • (Vs13) I will bring them out from the nations
  • and gather them from the countries, and
  • I will bring them into their own land...
  • (Vs14) I will tend them in a good pasture..There
  • they will lie down in good grazing land, and there
  • they will feed in a rich pasture...
  • (Vs15) I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD.
  • (Vs16) I will search for the lost and bring back the strays.
  • I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy.
  • I will shepherd the flock with justice.

Spiritual abuse poisons the whole system of relationships within a church so that not only is the leader abusive but many follow in his/her abusive ways. God judges not only the Leader but also those who act as part of his abusive system.

God's Judgment on Abusive Followers:

  • (Vs17) As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
  • I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats. (Vs18) Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? (Vs19) Must my flock feed on what you have trampled and drink what you have muddied with your feet? (Vs20) Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says to them: See,
  • I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. (Vs21) Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away,
  • (Vs22) I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered.
  • I will judge between one sheep and another.

God's Further Restoration:

  • (Vs23) I will place over them one shepherd...and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd
  • (Vs24) I the LORD will be their God...I the LORD have spoken
  • (Vs25) I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of wild beasts so that they may live...and sleep.. in safety
  • (Vs26) I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing...
  • (Vs27) the people will be secure in their land
  • They will know that I am the LORD, when
  • I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them. (Vs28) They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them.
  • They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid
  • (Vs29) I will provide for them...and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nations
  • (Vs30) Then they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Sovereign LORD. (Vs31) You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign LORD."


Renewal Ministries Fellowship is committed to providing a safe environment for worship, work, and study in all Pastoral Charges, Congregations, institutions, agencies, organisations, or other bodies that operate under its name. Complaints of spiritual abuse will be taken seriously and dealt with in a spirit of compassion and justice.

Renewal Ministries Fellowship will not tolerate, and will seek to eradicate, any behaviour by its members, ministers, adherents, or employees that constitutes spiritual abuse (the use of spiritual authority to manipulate and disempower another).

Jesus said:"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). We shall make every effort not to place a heavy burden of expectation on ourselves or others as this is contrary to the calling of Christ to come to Him and find REST.

Renewal Ministries Fellowship acknowledges the tremendous harm that people can suffer through spiritual abuse and seeks to be a healing community where those who have been spiritually abused can find restoration and rest for their souls. We seek to: preach good news to the poor; bind up the broken-hearted; proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners; proclaim the year of the LORD's favour and the day of vengeance of our God; comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair so that be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendour. (Isaiah 61:1-3)


  1. It is essential that the imperative of servant leadership is taught and emphasised within all our congregations and ministries. Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:25-28) Renewal Ministries Fellowship carefully avoids being leader-centred and is actively opposed to a control-oriented style of leadership where the leader is dogmatic, self- confident, arrogant, and the spiritual focal point in the lives of his/her followers; where the leader assumes he/she is more spiritually in tune with God than anyone else; where the leader uses guilt, fear and intimidation to manipulate members; where the leader's position and beliefs cannot be questioned, his statements are final and where the leader is effectively accountable to no one. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men (1 Cor. 7:23).
  2. It is essential that everyone, leaders and members, be held accountable for their actions in the body of Christ in the spirit of love and service of one another. Healthy accountability is a two-way street (i.e. the one to whom you are accountable is equally accountable to you) - wherever it is only in one direction the potential for abuse exists. We acknowledge that each and every member of the body of Christ, regardless of function within His body (ie regardless of what position they may or may not hold in the church), knows the shepherd's voice and can follow His leading. "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27) We also acknowledge that all, regardless of function within His body, are likewise capable of being led astray and need to be open and accountable to one another as we remain in Christ. See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.(Hebrews 3:12-13) I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit--just as it has taught you, remain in him. (1 John 2:20-27)
  3. Members of Renewal Ministries Fellowship are not to be manipulated by guilt, peer pressure, intimidation, threats of divine Judgment, ridicule or humiliation.
  4. Members of Renewal Ministries Fellowship are encouraged to maintain healthy relationships with family and others outside the ministry. Renewal Ministries Fellowship supports ministries across denominational lines and demonstrates an openness to, and appreciation of, the gifts of different Christian traditions and perspectives.
  5. Allegiance to God and obedience to Him, following one's own calling and ministry to one's own family, has priority over allegiance to any New Hope Ministries church or ministry. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).
  6. All members of Renewal Ministries Fellowship are free to move on to other areas of service not associated with RMF and such decisions are to be honoured and respected as the next step in that person's walk with Christ. The continuance of friendships with, and support of, former members is expected and encouraged.
  7. As a community of believers we value the differences between us. We recognise that every function and gifting is essential to the health of the body - there is not one member of the body of Christ who is unimportant or irrelevant to the health of all. Our uniformity is not in areas of lifestyle on which the scriptures are silent or ambiguous but on our all having been baptise by one Spirit into one body (the body of Christ) and all given the one Spirit to drink (1 Corinthians 12:13). Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing Judgment on disputable matters... The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's Judgment seat. (Romans 14:1-10)
  8. Leaders are not separate to, but interdependent parts of, the body of Christ - the whole of which has been set apart (sanctified) for ministry under His headship. All ministers and leaders in Renewal Ministries Fellowship shall be approachable, encourage questions and suggestions and readily admit their error.


The following outlines how we can help the spiritually abused in their recovery.

Trust: Most survivors will have difficulty trusting, anyone, especially churches. A support system is desperately needed, but survivors may have difficulty approaching. Help with material needs (housing, job, food, etc.) is usually much appreciated. Social support via invitations to events or dinner, or just a conversation about something other than church or religious issues is very much needed.

Our churches and ministries need to create a safe place for confidentiality, a place to be relaxed without expectations of appearances or performance, a place to connect with another caring person (or persons) without becoming too involved in private lives. A dysfunctional 'don't trust rule' was present in the abusive system by teaching, by practice, or both. Don't push for trust. Don't push the recovery process. Respect their boundaries.

Talk: Survivors need to tell their story

  • So they will remember it themselves, and not deny any part of it
  • So they can be validated by others who believe them.
  • So they can use the truth to dispel the deceptions of the past and discern deception in the future. The dysfunctional system no doubt had a don't talk rule by practice - but probably spiritualised and cloaked in scripture as well. The don't talk rule serves to hide a myriad of the leaders' sins.

Emotion: It is normal for anyone who has been victimised and abused to feel intense emotions. The longer the survivors had to endure abuse without an outlet for emotions, the longer it will take for them to experience the full range of emotions about it. Depression and anxiety are common masks for other emotions.

Too much intellectualising may inhibit the survivor from getting in touch with his or her emotions. Fear, guilt, anger, grief, rage, sorrow - all must be felt and expressed in their own time. An over spiritualising of emotions may have been present in the dysfunctional system, with certain emotions demanded and others condemned by a twisting of scripture. The result is a 'don't feel your real feelings' rule.

Truth: Encourage survivors to talk about what happened to them. Listen and empathise. Offer words that may describe what the person is feeling, since they may not be able to identify it themselves at first. Limit feedback and comments to supportive statements. Keep confidentiality. Be trustworthy.

Self Concept: Survivors typically do not know who they are anymore. They lost themselves in the church/cult. They need to know they are loveable. Count them as equal to yourself - not less just because they are needy. Assure them they do not have to be perfect. Accept them as they are. Encourage them. Build confidence and offer choices. Allow them to have strengths and weaknesses. They need to know that they are not evil or possessed, not crazy, not shameful. They need to know that they are not powerless and that they can recover and grow beyond this experience. Don't make decisions for them and don't try to fix them. Let them know you speak for yourself. Be careful of speaking for God. Let them know that recovery can take a long time - 2 to 4 years, or longer.

Disentangling from the Group: It is critical that survivors know that God is not the group. Leaving the group is not equivalent to leaving God. They must hear that no group has exclusive truth, or is the elite, or is especially anointed over another for ministry of the gospel.

They also need to recognise that group leaders actually deceived people, used and abused people, twisted scripture, and fostered co-dependent and/or addictive behaviours (perhaps immoral behaviour, too) among members. Be gentle as you interpret what was hurtful and wrong in the group. Remember, they probably have left behind some people that are still dear to their hearts and do not wish to blame them.

God's Character: It is important to help victims of spiritual abuse refocus on the truth about God and His "good news".Just as survivors may have lost themselves in the group, they may also have lost reality about who God is. They need to have grace explained in depth and to examine God's attributes carefully. The long process of recovery involves continually uncovering misrepresentations of God conveyed by the words and behaviour of group leaders, parents and other authority figures. Some 'reminders' from the heart of God are listed at the end of this policy.

Survivors will need to be reminded again and again of the true attributes of God and the principle of grace. Be genuine. Be personal. Explain how scripture helps you to understand God's attributes. If you have received grace, you can speak confidently about it. Tell what you love about God.

God's People: To become reconciled to God requires reconciliation with God's people. Many who begin to trust God again have much more difficulty trusting people in any church. It helps to confront the truth about God's people with statements such as those found in our Policies and Procedures Overview and this policy on Spiritual Abuse.

Be Honest: Be honest about yourself and your own church. Admit your own inability to have all the answers. The truth will not hinder their relationship with God. Remember it is the Holy Spirit's job to draw them to Himself. Your admission of struggle may help them to learn to struggle and not give up.

Going to Church: Survivors may need help working through memories and emotions triggered by going to church. Continually point them to God Himself. It is not God who has violated them, but people - some well-intended and some deceptive. Help survivors to see that Christians are imperfect individuals - not to be put on pedestals, but to share in the struggles and the benefits of the Christian faith.

Help them to recognise the distorted thinking - about themselves, about God, etc. - that accompanies traumatic reactions. This is a good time to use the safety and authority of scripture to confront the deception created by the group, and to soothe and console. A trained counsellor may be needed for this part of recovery.

Untwisting Scripture: All survivors will need help working through memories and feelings triggered by scripture. Scripture was twisted to the advantage of the group or its leaders. True meanings of Scripture are healing and give life. Untwisting takes much work. Make no assumptions of what they know or understand. Challenge every concept, all usage of jargon and Bible language for clarification of what it means to them. They may assume you know their understanding of a phrase, as if there is only one way to interpret it. Respect their spiritual boundaries. Be sure they are ready to grapple with scripture. (It can be normal to avoid reading the Bible at all for 12-18 months or more after severe prolonged spiritual abuse because they see it through the distortions of the abuse rather then the light of the Holy Spirit.)

Keep Positive: While the full horror and destructive consequences of the Spiritual Abuse need to be acknowledged and not minimised this does not negate the promise of scripture that

in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.(Romans 8:28-30)

This precious one who has been abused has not been devalued in God's sight and He is well able to use even something so terrible as abuse in His transformation of them into the likeness of Christ - tremendous strength, compassion, understanding, wisdom, grace and depth of character can be developed through such horrible experiences. Jesus, too, was abused:

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory (Romans 8:16-17).

We are not devalued in God's sight by the abuse but, rather, in this sharing in the sufferings of Christ we are qualified to share in His glory. His glory is truly revealed most powerfully in those who have suffered most. Not that we should ever seek to suffer - this sin-stained world brings more than enough of that on us without needing to go looking for it - but when we do suffer, God incredibly takes that which was aimed at destroying us and uses it to transform us into the likeness of His Son and so displays His glory in us.

What, then shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all - how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered". No, in all these things (yes, even in the abuse and the devastation that we may feel) we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angles nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Conclusion: The recovery and transformation process takes a long time. One-on-one support is a long-term commitment. More helpful is a group support system, where all are assisting survivors in various aspects. Create a network of Christians who will assist with material needs. Be available as a friend in a small group of friends. Value greatly the one who has been abused as God highly esteems them (He is near to the broken-hearted) - out of partaking in this aspect of Christ's sufferings they are in the process of being able to display an aspect of His glory that we may not see elsewhere.


Some 'Reminders' from the Heart of God

God loves us a great deal: "See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are"(1 John 3:1).

He is extravagant with His grace: "To the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the BelovedÉaccording to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us" (Ephesians 1:6-8).

He makes us stand:"Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge"(2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

He can be trusted: "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful"(Hebrews 10:23).

We have been made entirely new: "Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him..." (Romans 6:6). "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We have been handpicked: "Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world..."(Ephesians 1:4).

We are blameless in His sight: "...that we should be holy and blameless before Him"

What is His is ours already:'We have obtained an inheritance" (Ephesians 1:11), because "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:16-17).

God is not keeping track:"And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more"(Hebrews 10:17).

He doesn't have a problem with our struggles and pain: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in our affliction..."(2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

We don't need to improve on what He's done: "In Him you have been made complete"(Colossians 2:10), and "Hence, also, He is able to save completely those who draw nigh to God through Him" (Hebrews 7:25).

When we fail, Jesus defends us: "Since He always lives to make intercession for them"(Hebrews 7:25), and "If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1).

1 All scriptures excerpted from Compton's Interactive Bible NIV. Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved .



 Renewal -Rebirth, Regeneration, Restoration, Rekindling, Revitalisation, Replenishment & Revival. Exalting Jesus - Restoring, Equipping, Releasing & Supporting People...


Uniting, Discipling, Equipping & Mobilizing the Body of Christ
United in ChristUniting together different churches and nations ...
Read more >

Discipling all to follow Christ Read more >

Equipping the Saints
Equipping - for ministry
Read more >

3 nations ministering
Mobilizing - from all nations into all the world with the good news
Read more >

line decor
© 2016 Renewal Ministries Fellowship
"...May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me
and have

loved them..." (John 17:23)