29 Months Out of Captivity

Today marks 29 months of freedom from deception. It’s a strange mix of emotions. Joy wells up inside me as I think of God’s faithfulness to heal me and restore me during these months. At the same time, it’s sobering to consider the damage that I caused with one bad decision. I praise God for His grace that forgives me for the part I played in the WinePress debacle, and the lives that have been effected by my actions.

Just last week on April 1st was the 4 year anniversary of the completion of WinePress being transferred to the enemy camp. I posted this on Facebook and today am more in awe of His hand in all that I am experiencing.

Four years ago today I allowed WinePress Publishing to be stolen by the enemy, through a wolf in sheep’s clothing named Tim Williams. Of course, it started much earlier than four years ago, but April 1, 2010 was the enemy’s final coup when the ownership of WinePress officially changed from me to Sound Doctrine…from light to darkness.

Up until November 10, 2011, I kept trying to convince myself that I was doing, and had done, God’s will…but praise God He finally allowed the scales to fall from my eyes and gave me the courage to admit how wrong I was—that I had believed a lie to be truth for twelve long years and had hurt many people who loved me in the process.

I’ve spent the last 2 ½ years repenting and healing and learning who God really is…not an angry taskmaster waiting for you to screw up so you can be disciplined until you repent to his satisfaction. No—that is a tragically false picture of our loving Heavenly Father.

I’ve learned anew that our God, Jesus Christ, is a God of grace and truth—a balance of both—a loving Father who encourages us to be who He made us to be, to glorify Him.

On this anniversary of the height of devastation, I am amazed at the restoration God has allowed. In a few minutes we will be doing a ribbon cutting ceremony with City of Enumclaw officials, friends and family, to celebrate the official launching of Redemption Press in my old publishing offices at 1730 Railroad Street in Enumclaw, Washington, (Click here to read the story of how Redemption Press came to be).

He has turned my mourning into dancing, and restored what I allowed the enemy to steal. He is redeeming every area of my life, and for that I am grateful. Truth be told, that word does not do justice to the emotions I feel when I consider all that He has done. He truly has given waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert…and I can only praise Him for His goodness.

Because I have given waters in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert,
To give drink to My chosen people.
“The people whom I formed Myself,
Will declare My praise.”
Isaiah 43:20b-21

 

 

 

An Amazing Story of God’s Faithfulness

I first attended the Summit (Evangelical Free Church of America) in January of 2012, just 2 months after being delivered from my 12 years in captivity. My good friend Jessica Gambill and her family attended there and I finally decided to go with her to church. I’d finished 2 months of intensive counseling and was ready for the next step. They started a 13 week session on Emotional Healthy Spirituality and it seemed to be just what I needed for the next step of my healing.

Ross would preach about the study topic for the week each Sunday. I can remember sitting there in church and listening to him preach. I’d think to myself, “Lord, can I please have a husband like that some day?” He loved God, was authentic, humble, sensitive, not afraid to admit his faults, and did not have wandering eyes. He loved his wife and family and he loved his flock.

In May of 2012 while all the men were at Trout Bums, I attended a get together of some women in the church. Ross’s wife, Cathy, was there, and about an hour into the evening she said to me “You know, Athena, I told Ross if anything ever happens to me, he needs to marry you!” Needless to say that totally freaked me out and plenty of mind games ensued (does he know that she told me that? Etc., etc.) I found myself distancing myself just because I didn’t know what to do with that information.

Not long after that I got interested in a widower from Colorado and spent the next 6 months waiting and wondering if anything would develop, which it did not…but it’s interesting how God allowed that distraction to keep me busy with other interests so I didn’t think about Cathy’s comment.

Then in November the Lord took me down to Texas to help my brother with our 90 year old Momma who was on hospice. For the 14 months I was there I experienced more healing, bonding with my older brother, and ended up with a radio ministry. On a few occasions I tried online dating and God just shut me down every time. I whined and complained that I’d been single for 14 years and let God know in no uncertain terms that I was ready for a husband! I had no interest in dating unless it was someone I would be interested in marrying. So I waited, and I waited. No dates. No nothing. Intermittent whining to God.

Last summer I reconnected with an old author friend and we had a great friendship. I thought maybe God wanted me to wait for him while he healed from a traumatic end to his marriage of three decades. (see my post entitled “Speed Bumps, Benches and Trees, Oh My!” for a better idea of my struggles with waiting!) This gave me something to look forward to, and I was committed to waiting, thinking that this was God’s plan. I was so committed, in fact, that when I heard the news that Ross’s wife had passed away I freaked out thinking that was a distraction to what God was asking me to do…wait for my friend. So, I decided I needed to draw a line in the sand and let Ross know that I wasn’t available. I wrote him a letter addressing the “elephant in the room” with what Cathy said to him and to me and let him know I felt God wanted me to wait for my friend. His response was gracious. He made sure to let me know he did not find the thought of being married to me unpleasant, and that he wanted to make sure we stayed friends in the future.

By the end of the year God was helping me to see how much I had tried to make this other relationship happen, and I spent the entire New Years’ Eve repenting for idolatry, for pursuing, for assuming I knew what God was doing. I told the Lord, if this is not the man You have for me, then I surrender my will and what I thought my future was going to be like, and I say HAVE YOUR WAY, LORD.

On January 8th I land in the ER and end up having my gallbladder removed. While in the hospital, WinePress announces on their website that they are closing their doors (and of course it’s all my fault). Two days later the question is posed…would I be willing to return to Washington to start a company to help all the orphaned WinePress authors?

I’d been telling God for 14 months that I was NOT returning to Washington…too many reminders of the trauma and the loss and the abuse I’d endured, so when the question came I was a little taken aback. I committed to pray and ask for Godly counsel from my family and others I knew I could trust. All responses were positive, and on January 14 I felt confident that this was God’s will. (You can listen to the podcast of my Always Faithful radio show from February 1 where I told the story of how this all played out).

I had already purchased roundtrip tickets to come to CA and WA to visit grandkids, and all of I sudden I am realizing that I wouldn’t be using the return ticket. As I prayed through the transition to Washington I felt compelled to try to stay under my Commission to Every Nation banner and expand my radio ministry to include publishing. In order to do so, I had to explain my plans to CTEN and my pastoral care couple and see if they would approve it. They asked who I would be accountable to, who would be my pastor and where I would worship. Well, of course I would go back to the Summit…that was my church, and I was returning to Enumclaw to live and work in the same building that used to be mine. My pastoral care couple called Ross and asked him many questions…could I meet with him weekly, and would he be my overseer? He was happy to oblige, and I began to wonder what God was up to!

As my time to travel back to WA drew closer, communication by messaging on Facebook increased, and just before I left on the 23rd of January Ross told me he was glad I was coming back to WA and asked me to call him some evening since he now has so much free time on his hands. This really sent me into a tizzy! He was pursuing me! That was one of the things on my list of what I wanted in a man…if it was really the man God had for me, he would pursue me, not the other way around. I finally got up the nerve to call him while I was traveling to CA and sitting in the Sacramento airport waiting for my shuttle to Redding.

That phone call was a defining moment. Within the first 5 minutes he asked to take me out. My first date in 14 years! And from there we both asked questions to see if each other fit the requirements we each had on our “list”. It didn’t take long to find out each non-negotiable on our lists were checked and confirmed. It was quickly proving to be a perfect match.

Ross picked me up at the airport when I arrived in Washington on January 27. Walking off the concourse and into his arms felt like coming home. We talked for hours and I was stunned at many of the facts I discovered. I found out that Cathy had made a list of potential wives once she knew her cancer was terminal. And who was #1 on the list? Yep. I was. And guess what else? Ross had a sailboat for about 14 years, and when he bought it, the name was, yes, you guessed it…The Athena. He changed the name of the boat, but the curtains on the inside still have Athena embroidered on each one of them…what a hoot!

I also found out that if God hadn’t taken me to Texas, and I was still a member of The Summit, he wouldn’t have been able to date me! There’s an unwritten rule in the church world that pastors don’t date in the congregation because of the tension in causes between people. God took me away and brought me back right at the right time… amazing!

I look back and see that on September 5 my daughter wrote me an email saying that God was releasing the word Marriage to me and is sending me my match made in heaven. I thought it was referring to my friend that I was waiting for, but in reality it was all about Ross and I, but I couldn’t see it. Turns out that word from the Lord through Roby was right after they realized the chemo wasn’t working, and she passed just 25 days later. While God was bringing me to a place of realizing that I’d been trying to make this other relationship happen, Ross was asking God to send him a wife because he didn’t want to spend the summer alone. He even began telling his staff that he was going to get married…he just didn’t know who to yet! All that was going on while I was realizing I was in sin and needed to repent.

There’s so much more to share, but this is the basic timeline of events and a testimony, once again, to God’s faithfulness. We knew pretty quickly that this was it, what we’d both been looking for and dreaming of in a relationship. It just blew my mind that every single line item on our individual lists of what we wanted in a mate got a resounding “check” … God really was blessing me for being willing to wait for the right guy and Ross for being faithful and true for 49 years of marriage.

It was important to wait to announce it to the church family until Ross’s adult children felt good about his decision. That’s definitely the bittersweet part. The kids and grandkids suffered a huge loss, which enabled me to experience great gain. Ross didn’t want to rush them and encouraged each of them to process their own grief in a way that would be authentic. Once that was moving forward and they were all supportive of their dad’s decision, we announced it to the church family on the weekend of March 15 & 16 that our marriage date is set for June 13. 1902986_10200804226623107_1847260727_n While Ross had grieved ever since June of 2013 when the diagnosis first came, there were still a few women in the congregation who felt he was too easily replacing his wife of 49 years. I was so amazed at the analogy God gave Ross to share on that day. He recalled the time when Cathy found out she was pregnant with their second child and was overly emotional. She could not see how she could possibly love another child as much as she loved her firstborn, Bret. But, as time went on, she not only loved Thad well, but Nathan and Elizabeth too. She found she had the capacity to love each child as an individual without taking away any of the love for the others. And just the same with me, Ross’s love for me in no way diminishes the love he had for Cathy for 49 years of marriage.

As I read over all that has happened in such a short time, I stand amazed at the faithfulness of God. In fact, a good friend told me she’d been sharing my story with some ladies, and just how evident God’s blessing is for my being willing to repent and obey His call. She said I’m only the second woman in her life who she knows who walked away from the wrong guy to really get God’s choice. I am SO glad I did…so glad He gave me a tender enough heart to lay down what I thought was His will and surrender all my plans in exchange for His. I am, literally, stunned by the goodness of God!

An Update from Chip MacGregor re: WinePress and Me

Chip MacGregor is a hero in my book…a well-respected literary agent who has refused to be intimidated by the thugs at WinePress. This is his most recent post…be sure to read the comments as well!

http://www.chipmacgregor.com/current-affairs/last-last-word-winepress/

The Latest from Well-Known Literary Agent, Chip MacGregor

You know, Chip always knows how to shine the light in the darkness and expose the hard, cold facts.

Here’s his latest blog post about WinePress Publishing and their final demise. I’d encourage you to read it and share with your social media networks.

http://www.chipmacgregor.com/current-affairs/last-word-winepress-publishing/

And as a side note, I think his timing is impeccable. We just announced the founding of Redemption Press, where we are doing everything we can to help the authors who have been abused and orphaned by WinePress Publishing. Pass the word!

The REAL Reason WinePress Went Out of Business

I just found out the reason the WinePress landlord changed the locks on the building.

He was going to let them stay and continue on in business, as long as Tim Williams signed a document taking responsibility for the business.

And guess what?

He wouldn’t sign it.

So while WinePress employees tell authors that the reason WinePress is closing it’s doors is because of attacks on the business, or landlords who wanted their money, once again, they are lying.

The truth is, they could have carried on if Tim would have signed the document. The landlord was willing to start from a clean slate as long as Tim would guarantee using his personal assets.

But he refused to do so.

Funny how his name isn’t on any legal documents. He has never been a guarantor on any WinePress or Sound Doctrine bank loans (oh, but many of the other church members and employees were, including me!), and his name has never been on the incorporation papers. I doubt his name was even on the rental agreements after the company was transferred over…it was probably Josiah and Malcolm who put their names on the line. He was a master at having other people do his bidding and others put their assets and credit on the line.

Incredible how he took in a quarter of a million dollars a year from WinePress from 2005 until I left late 2011, but still spent Sound Doctrine money to make improvements on his cabin in the mountains, and spent WinePress money on all sorts of personal purchases.

It’s very telling that the ONLY reason that WinePress was shut down is because Tim Williams refused to sign his name to take responsibility for the cash cow that has paid him well over the years.

Yep, very telling.

The Double Standard of Tim Williams

I heard from an author that WinePress is finally admitting that they are, in fact, going out of business. The cult member/employee said “it was the result of attacks on the business and the landlord’s desire to get paid, which he wasn’t.”

Hmmmmm. Their landlord let them go ONE FULL YEAR without paying their rent, and finally said enough is enough. Start paying or get out, to which they whined and made more excuses.

One of the most recent employees to leave said “The last thing I heard from Josiah was that Mike was jerking them around.”

Here is a perfect example of the Sound Doctrine / Tim Williams /WinePress  double standard.

Their landlord gives them way more grace than they deserve, and they accuse the landlord of jerking them around.

HYPOCRISY!

If you are more than 15 days late on a bill you owe WinePress, they charge you exorbitant late fees.

But if they owe you money, they expect you to wait for months, and if you complain, YOU are in sin.

HYPOCRISY!

Tim Williams convinces his followers that I constantly beat Carla down when we went to writer’s conferences together.

The truth is, when we had a chance to talk without Tim around, and I showed her how we were wrong to charge so much for authors to buy copies of their books, and that some of the decisions Tim was making were BAD FOR BUSINESS, she completely agreed with me and tried to get Tim to listen. Uh oh. Bad idea. He doesn’t listen to anyone.

In reality, Tim was the one who constantly beat her down once we returned from the conferences. Verbally beat her into submission. She even told me once that because of our conversations at conferences we attended together, they nearly divorced more than once!

And here’s the last example I’ll share for the moment. A deaf woman who almost got sucked into the cult many years ago makes comments on this site and forwarded me an email she just received from the man himself.

Greetings Colleen Simsa,

You do understand that spreading lies is a sin and places you under God’s judgment – unless you repent?

Like Jesus, the book is very clear that all is a matter of love. It can’t be helped that you only want to love with human sinful love, rather than the selfless love of Jesus in you. However, it is stupid to attack those who love by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.  (1 John 4:6)

That you have aligned yourself with a self-confessed manipulator proves you need to do some serious repenting.

Timothy Williams

For someone who spreads more lies than anyone I’ve ever known, both on the internet and in his scripture-out-of-context preaching, I find it almost laughable that he thinks he can continue to get away with his intimidation tactics. I must admit I laughed out loud when I read it, as did Colleen.

The last line, however, was the most telling…the master manipulator himself refers to me as a self-confessed manipulator.

Yep. I wrote all about it in my first book Consumed by Success. I admitted it and actually REPENTED for it.

Something he has yet to do.

If anyone is wondering why WinePress isn’t answering their phones…

I was asked by the attorney for the landlord to take these posts down because they were getting harassed by Tim Williams…the last thing I want do to someone who is trying to deal with the leadership of WP in a civilized fashion is make things difficult for them.

Well, now that their landlord finally kicked them out of the office building, I think it’s safe to say that the world should know the truth about why they aren’t answering their phones today. Of course, anything bad that happens to WinePress is blamed on me, or on the employees who won’t “repent” to Tim Williams’ liking.

But the truth is, just as I’ve been saying all along, the Williams family will pay themselves, their lawyers, the church building rent, and whatever bills they deem to their advantage, but will not pay their rent, their printer bills, their editor bills, their employee salaries or their author royalties! Here is the letter I received in early September showing them owing $150,000+ in back rent, and this doesn’t even count what they owe on the warehouse!

Amazing that this letter came in the DAY AFTER Tim Williams told the reporter for Publisher’s Weekly that WinePress was doing great.

And what does that prove? Just what I have been saying all along. The people in charge of WinePress are liars, and they use scripture to justify lying (hey, Abraham lied about Sarah, right?!). They lied on the witness stand, and they continue to lie even now. The truth is, they have only been living on the good reputation WinePress had when I still had some control of the company.

page 2 demand notice

I’m sorry so many authors didn’t believe the bizarre story I’ve told here could possibly be true, but it was then and it is now, even moreso. Especially since 2 key employees just left WinePress and Sound Doctrine a few weeks ago. The stories they will tell will only confirm everything I’ve been saying for two years.

If you are one of those authors who paid for a special deal on books in December and never got them, that’s because they owe the printer $50,000 and have not paid it down far enough so the printer won’t print any more books. Did they know that when they ran the special? You bet they did. And who got your money? Hmmmm….I will let you speculate on that one. If I were you, and if you paid by credit card, I would immediately do a charge back since you did not receive your product. And even if WP made you sign an agreement that disallows you any option to do a charge back, that’s ridiculous. If you paid for a service or product and didn’t get it, your credit card company is there to protect you!