As we travel the world to share the love and truth of the living Jesus, we aim to reach as many as possible in sincerity and wisdom. We often work on the streets as Jesus, Peter, Paul, James and John did. We encounter hundreds of thousands, even millions of people from all walks of life. Our goal is to reach out to as many as possible with a witness to Jesus.
My intention in warning others of the rampant deception today is not to harm, offend, or to “judge” anyone, but to declare the truth among so many lies. Both Jesus and Paul spoke no harsher words than to those who false claim to be Christians and who seek only to boost their egos and pad their pocketbooks (Read, Mt.23 and 2Tim.3:5). I wish I could share here, the countless individuals who have come up to me and told me, that they spent years of their lives invested into a group of what they thought were, Christians only to find out it was fake and phony. I talking about hundreds and thousands of people in each country we have visited, both rich and poor.
My friend, today, there are over 300,000 “churches” in America alone. There are over 67,000 denominations of Christianity. The modern “churches” bring in over 626 Billion dollars in tithes and donations each year. Any intelligent person can see that this does not reflect the words of Jesus spoken in the New Testament.
My hope is to spare you the grief and pain of regret of years wasted. A wise man builds his house upon rock. No matter how you look at it; a nice, smiley, pre-scripted Sunday service does not provide the deep answers needed to face the complex tragedies and difficulties in life. Jesus shed His blood on the cross, died and rose again to provide the Fathers solution to our deepest issues. Paul explains that salvation can only be found in personal study of the Scriptures and experience with the Living Jesus (Gal.1:12, Mt.11:28). The outcome, is man or woman born again to become the true church and ‘bride of Christ’ (Jn.3:3).
“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” -Paul, 1 Tim.1:15
I often tell men in prison that I do not see them as “criminals” or “offenders” or “inmates” but rather as my fellow brothers in humanity. This offends some as it is a common thing to want to push ourselves up the scale of “righteousness” by pushing others down. But Jesus did the opposite, so I follow His lead. While, yes, of course serious crimes have been committed and an earthly justice is being administered. But who is to say that you and I, who can so easily point a finger, would not, could not or will not do something that could be condemned as a crime in a some random situation that life throws at us? Have you ever sped through a neighborhood in a hurry? What if someone jumped out in front of you? Imagine yourself being faced with a 7-10 year sentence for manslaughter for a mistake you made. Would you not want compassion? Or what if, in a fit of rage you deliberately did some unthinkable thing? It is not as far from anyone as we might like to thing. The nature of sin in all of us drives us to do things we never imagined. This is not excuse the crime but to understand it.
Mercy triumphs over natural thinking (judgement) Jm.2:13. It is a common line that a criminal get what he deserves. As if anyone man is able to adequately evaluate all the circumstances and issues, both inner and outward to execute proper justice and appropriate sentences. But God never intended any man to live inside of a cage of walls and barbed wire. The mental agony that this causes can be crippling. Jesus says in Matthew 25:35 that what we do for the least of His brothers, and those in prison, we do for Him. He knew the pain of loneliness and isolation.
My intention is provide an accurate Scriptural understanding of the matters of sin and crime and our human nature in light of God reveals. I have seen ‘hardened criminals’ open their minds and hearts in ways that are quite astounding. I have seen men change. Whether living in prison or after being re-inserted into society I believe that Christ can provide all men with redemption and not only a second chance at life, but a life of second chances.
I had nothing to do with the tragic crime of Andrea Yates in any way shape or form. Any linkage to me or my name is based entirely on lies. Period.
Here are the details to anyone who is interested. About 35 years ago I met a young man named Rusty Yates on a university who expressed interest in wanting to follow Jesus. We exchanged a few letters back and forth over several years, as I did with a few dozen other students across the country. Long story short he got married and started a family. We had sparse contact over about a decade and a half and met them a few times at a public place when we came through their area, usually a restaurant or a picnic area at a park.
He indicated that he wanted to raise his children to love the Lord, travel, and have a family as I a did. I cautioned him that this is not an easy undertaking and told him not to try to imitate my life. Any time he talked about this, I clearly discouraged it. He had an intense job at NASA which consumed his life. We fell out of touch for many years and had no further contact.
One night while my family and I were down in Mexico City, working on the streets and in an orphanage, I heard of the egregious crime she committed on the news. My wife and I were devastated and could not believe it. We were distant, they were never “followers”, we were never “close”, but we loved him and his family as we with anyone we come into contact with, and would have done anything to try to help them.
As the trial began, an individual who hated me for his own private vendetta, created a massive smear campaign against me online that I was completely unaware of. This individual contacted every news and media outlet in North America (from Canada to Argentina) to spread sensational lies trying to link me to this unspeakable crime based on the casual correspondence I had with the family years before the crime.
So tabloid magazines picked up the story and began writing fantastical lies about me and my family. Some said we were outlaws, some said we were aliens (they really did), some tried to paint me as a radical weirdo. I was naive to the media machine that fed on sensationalism. Eventually even ‘Respectable’ news sources began fabricating entire stories about my life without ever speaking to me or meeting me. Authors and journalists looking to market their books and articles deliberately distorted various issues, made up things that never happened, and took parts of the message of the gospel out of context to try to paint a picture of me that could not have been further from the truth. Some, I gave an interview to, only to see that they edited the clips and twisted everything they could to fit their narrative, they edited out any shot or mention of my own beautiful family, and painted me however they wanted. I was devastated.
Rusty publicly dismissed any ‘influence’ I had in what she did as being ridiculous. To the contrary, I was someone who tried to help. I am not going to get into all the details that I later found out but there were many other factors in their lives leading up to the crime.
The cyber-stalked went on to make it his obsession for many years to link my name to this event. The individual (posing as a group of people) even wrote a Wikipedia biography on my life. We contacted the founder and CEO of Wikipedia, Jim Whales, who was sympathetic and appointed a team to investigate the matter and they successfully righted the wrongs. Jim Whales expressed how he too had been a victim of this type of cyber bullying. We went on to contact Youtube, Google, AOL Geocities, My Space, Yahoo Pages, and each one immediately removed the content. But the internet is huge and keeps circulating other articles and things.
This was in the early days of the internet about 18 years ago. I had never been on the internet and was unaware how it all worked. So it went on a long time without me knowing it. To the point where his reach was so far I still could never find all this hatred. This was in the era of internet chat rooms and AOL personal pages. He spent years taking over any mention of my name on the internet and carrying out what is considered anonymous “cyber bullying”. I only became aware of it when he began calling my workplace and everyone I knew, and anyone around me, to harass and inflict harm. Many lawyers told me that he could be prosecuted for his crimes, but I chose to forgive.
But now, when anyone Googles my name, all these bizarre, twisted, and hideous lies come up. They have had a profoundly devastating impact on our lives. My son has tried to remedy some of the damage, but many websites will not remove the libelous material because it continues to garner “hits”.
Any lies or details regarding the things they say about me can be easily proven false. My life is an open book. I am never ‘hiding’ and am constantly in public eye. I had nothing to do with the tragedy of Andrea Yates. If anything, I warned Rusty not to neglect her, but to love and care for His family and children as I did mine.