A letter of counsel and concern to Recovering Grace

A Concern and Challenge For “Recovering Grace”


As the firestorm around Bill Gothard and the IBLP erupts, I find I feel many mixed emotions. I wasn’t one of the “victims.” I was not preyed upon or abused by any member of leadership, and while many decisions my family made were misguided and in error, my parents were godly, loving and sensible people. My life was greatly impacted by sincere, godly, loving leaders at ALERT and Excel. I learned and grew much during involvement with ATI. I forged lifelong friendships and memories I will always look back upon with fondness.

As I stepped away from the IBLP ministry, I did so in phases. Ignorance and blindness was eventually replaced by anger and shock. I was not the “perfect Christian” they led me to believe I could become by following prescribed “Biblical” rules and laws. I dressed the part, listened to the right music, courted, avoided things on the “naughty” list, yet I never had true freedom or peace. Not only was I odious to myself, I was odious to the rest of the world.

In just the past 3 years the Lord has begun the process of ripping away the spiritual blindness, calluses, and more importantly the hypocrisy that kept me in a prison of frustration, guilt, fear, and anxiety. After leaving IBLP, the Lord took me through some gut wrenching trials. The problem was, when they came I had no true Biblical truth or foundation to stand upon. Years of rules, and “Prosperity gospel” laden false teaching smothered any attempt to make sense out of what I was going through and why.

Then came GRACE! The realization that I could not add a measure more of God’s love, mercy or power to my life by “works,” rocked my world. Even greater than this was the truth I could not compel Him to withdraw ANY measure of His love and mercy in my life by sin, failures, or weakness. I had it “ALL” already! It wasn’t about me anymore, it was all about HIM.overcome

No more list to check off! No more putrid hypocrisy to paint me white and clean on the outside, when in fact I was struggling and broken inside. I was covered and bathed in the “Amazing Grace” of God. He loved me in spite of who I was or what I had done and this love would never change or waiver.

How liberating it is to be driven in my heart by a passion for Him, because “He loved me first.”

How meaningful time in the word becomes, when a true desire to seek and know Him is the motivation rather than fear that if I don’t the hammer will drop and judgment will come.

The law opens our eyes for a need of a Savior. It revels and bears testimony that man’s heart is truly deceitful and desperately wicked. The law exposes our need for redemption, but there is no power or freedom found in that law. The law condemns! If you stop with the law, your life becomes a knotted and gnarled ball of guilt, pride, shame, arrogance, hopelessness, and frustration.

Then comes Grace! Freedom from chains we forged in an attempt to measure up, add to, and earn His favor.

Love and His grace cover a multitude of sins and brings freedom, but there is more. With eyes opened to the truth of His grace and Mercy, my life is lived out as an act of love to Him. I live each day striving to “be Holy as He is Holy” not in order to earn something, but because I am so overcome by His love for me I want to do everything to please Him and nothing to grieve Him. I desire each day to show Him that within my limited knowledge, I understand what He has done for me, Given me, rescued me from!


So as articles fly across the internet and facebook feeds, here is my concern and challenge to Recovering Grace.

Your website “Recovering Grace” advertises a powerful and much needed ministry to thousands of people around the world, including those who have never darkened the doorway of IBLP or ATI. You have shed light on abuses and scandals that have resulted in damage untold and left countless victims reeling, angry, hurting, and questioning the Gospel, salvation, and even God himself.

There was a time I stopped visiting your site because I did not find “Grace” that could help me as I worked through my struggles and questions. Many times, all I found were painful stories and narratives/responses filled with unbelievable pain, anger, hate, and animosity. These accounts left me disgusted, angry, and so frustrated, but very few offered a glimmer of hope, peace and an active and living example of grace that heals.

I am not saying the anger, animosity, frustration is wrong, I am just saying, now that the firestorm has hit and exposure has been accomplished, so much more is needed than stories exposing the ministry, its leaders, and grotesque false teaching.

This site will receive so much traffic by the hurting, abused, seekers, God haters, and those simply curious about the newest religious scandal to hit the news waves.

While all the abused and wounded need to be able to tell their story and begin the process of healing, I encourage those at Recovering Grace to be wise and discerning as they wade through the thousands of e-mails, stories, claims, comments and offerings from those of us negatively and even positively impacted by the IBLP ministry.

Fill your web site with GRACE. Fill it with the amazing stories of healing, recovery, and the truth of God’s word. Let it ooze with hope for those who need it more than anything else in. Let your site be a miraculous testimony of of “Beauty from Ashes.” May what satan intended for evil, be a used for good and a demonstration of God’s grace and strength.

Offer links, books, and other sound resources that can provide Biblical counsel and truth that can enlighten, expose, heal and strengthen.

My prayers go out to all who are hurting and seeking peace, hope, and grace. It is there for you! Don’t give up!


Jody Biddle-Watkins


  1. Thank you for this post. Your words are an important caution. It is very much a concern that many harmed will get caught “picking at the scab” and not find the healing you describe.

    Like you I hope RG covers the whole scope of God’s work, from holding the hand of those who need to tell their history, to those whose hearts have found victory through the love of our Savior.

    Jesus is inexpressibly amazing. Just knowing He is the exact image of our Heavenly Father does indeed increase our desire to know Him more thus study and prayer become a gifts immeasurable.

    Like you I am praying our Heavenly Father through the power of the Holy Spirit will guide RG with wisdom. I’m praying Mr. Gothard’s eyes will be opened to his burden filled teaching and thus find God’s Grace that has always been before him.

  2. Have you offered your story? It sounds like it would be a great fit and they take many different experiences. I know they have posted many recovery stories before–the unfolding of the 80s scandal has taken up a lot of bandwidth lately because there is so much material there and the need to tie it in to the ongoing false teachings, but I think it has been necessary to put all the pieces together. But I would encourage you to offer your own story to talk more about the journey out.

  3. Have you written up your story for RG? They have offered many recovery stories as well, but acknowledging the problem is always the first step in change. Unpacking the connection between the 80s scandal and the ongoing false teachings has been a necessary step that has taken a lot of bandwidth. But I bet your story of developing your understanding of grace would be helpful for exactly what you describe.

  4. Please read the “What Now” articles
    from Recovering Grace’s earlier days. Many gross secrets have been finally revealed, somewhat overshadowing the emphasis if grace on the website. God has been perfect in His timing with each article as it seems that the IBLP alumni world seems finally ready to hear these truths.

    1. Hi Donna. Thanks for stopping by. The Bible clearly says that sin covered up and kept in darkness isn’t good. There is and has been a place for the stories. My hope and desire is that Recoverig Grace isn’t so consumed by their desire to expose the man and ministry that they and their hurting readers remain stiffled and unable to step into the grace that can completely heal and mend spiritually, mentally, and physically. Scars remain and bear testimony that He is greater in us than the sin and sinners in this world. Sin is so cheap and destructive, grace is so priceless and transforming.

  5. You are right that ultimately proclaiming the truth of grace is the objective of our lives. But you need to consider the objective of the project Recovering Grace. Theirs is not one of butterflies and rainbows.
    Also be careful not to follow in Bill Gothard’s footsteps and raise some sort of standard for others to live up to.
    Recovering Grace was successful in it’s mission to challenge Bill Gothard and his ministry. As of February 27th Bill Gothard was forced to step down by the board of IBLP.
    Thanks for sharing your story it is encouraging, but don’t condemn others for sharing theirs.

    1. Please don’t misunderstand me. I wholeheartedly agree that the stories need to be told, the matter fully investigated, the sins brought to light, the accused brought to a place of accountability and judgment, but that is not all that has to take place in order for “Recovering Grace” to be effective and a tool of healing and restoration.

      Like I said before, if exposure and judgment/punishment is the sole goal and aim, then the moment IBLP closes it’s doors, and all who have sinned are sentenced and brought to judgment, the site would logically have served its purpose and not be needed. This is not what I hope or want to see happen. I am excited to think about all the curious, seekers, and hurting who will visit this site, and the hope and truth they could find.

      Those who were directly abused, wronged, and greatly scarred for life are so close to this project (and rightly so) They have shed tears and opened gaping wounds that need healing. But, being so close, I think it can be easy to miss what many have sensed looking in from a distance. My e-mail has been swamped by an amazing number of people who view IBLP and Gothard in the very light the admins and victims do, yet they sense the danger and have the same cautions I do.

      I have placed no call to a “Standard” or unbiblical precedenta. Mine is simply a caution to make sure more damage isn’t done because the process of true Biblical repentance, restoration, and healing is not carried out from start to finish. To caution that focusing only on the pain, sins, and wrong is not healthy and can lead to even greater damage is not unfounded, legalistic or errant.

      Jesus gathered great multitudes to himself and he exposed the sin and hypocrisy of the pharisees, but it didn’t stop there. After they were openly chastised Jesus presented the truth of true righteousness, and how to find true life, healing, and peace. This is the model I think all should follow.

      After darkness/sin is brought to light, and the documentation is in the hands of the proper authorities and those who can judge, sentence, and carry out punishment, this matter is out of ALL our hands. (except in the case of those who might be called to legally give testimony and play a role in the judicial system if it goes to that)

      We can not be the Holy Spirit and make any involved repent. I think that has been seen firsthand by the ignoring of letters and pleas sent to Gothard and IBLP, for many years. The spiritual and actual sentencing of Gothard and others who abused or ignored abuse will be done by God in heaven and the civil authorities who have licence and power to act. I have learned firsthand, and painfully, that after the abuse, hurt and betrayal, the only person I can change and take care of is myself.

      For years I spent almost every waking minute trying to figure out how to make the person who hurt me change, repent, and promise/ensure I would never be hurt again. I ended up a spiritual, emotional, and physical mess. My healing came when I decided to trust God, that he saw my pain and hurt and that he was capable and would judge, punish, deliver, heal, and restore. I took my focus off the other person and focused on my own healing then the peace came.

      I agree that RG has been successful. I have stated this many times. I just hope more will be offered to those seeking grace and healing than simply an outlet to tell a story.

      I am also grateful to those who have taken the time to direct me toward stories on RG that bear testimony, not simply of IBLP scars, but God’s grace and healing.

  6. Hello Jody – I find myself both agreeing and disagreeing with what you are saying. I was directed towards Recovering Grace sometime last year, before the Gothard Files series was brought forth in full. I’ve found the Facebook activity among members has shifted with this new focus, which would make sense considering the intensity of the situation. So in that light, I do not believe the current activity is an accurate reflection of the summation of the ministry. As the scandal comes to a lull, RG will still be around picking up the broken pieces of peoples’ lives just as they did before. In fact, in the past week, RG itself has posted a few articles that focused on healing and recovery.

    As for the sharing of stories by others, we are all at different levels in our healing. Some are at the very beginning stage where the “stuff” has just hit the fan for them and they are a royal mess. Others are in the various levels of recovery – denial, anger, acceptance (something like that). More often than not, the ones who post are those crying out for help. What I’ve seen with these posts are those who are struggling with the same thing comfort them with the encouragement that they are not alone, and those who are further along “comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which [they themselves have been] comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1:4).

    As I understand your words, it sounds as if you have already come further along in your healing. Perhaps you can be one who offers that kind of comfort to those in need? If you have grace to share, please give it! The ministry needs people like you, for that truly is what the meat of the ministry is about – the broken ones helping each other out; the “administrators” are more-or-less the facilitators rather than the leaders. Make sense?


    1. Deanna, your thoughts are right on and much appreciated. As I have hopped from one forum to another and watched the comments fly, I think part of my reaction has been towards the troubling comments of former members that have stated things like “yes I hate him and I have the right to hate him”, Unfortunately these people are commonly the loudest and most vocal. I understand they do not represent the entire readership or RG team. There is definitely a huge spectrum of people weighing in. Those who refuse to accept there has been abuse and that the institute is advocating “False teaching” and a strange gospel. Then there are those who are so blinded by bitterness and anger (which in the beginning I believe is reasonable and expected feelings/responses) They have clearly stated they seek only to see the burning and destruction of the man, staff, and ministry and will do so rejoicing, not that justice has been served and sin brought to light and a dangerous teaching stopped. In short they simply want the man destroyed which in itself is not Biblical.
      Then there is the majority I think who are striving to see clearly and seek truth and grace.
      I understand that for me to focus on the extremely angry and bitter is just as wrong as it would be for GR to only give platform to them (Which thankfully they haven’t) I have been admonished to make sure my focus and heart is right, and I appreciate all who have challenged and encouaged this. Praise God that His Righteousness is greater than man’s sins and His Strength greater than all our weaknesses combined. He will get the glory!

  7. all i see on RG *from the moderators/founders* is grace.
    i think that’s all we should hold them accountable for since they have no control over the experiences and responses of others.

    1. I agree that Grace needs to be the standard by which we respond to this situation and all others in life. My prayers for all involved in both the RG site and the abuse is just this. I pray satan get no further pleasure in the destruction and hurt of those still seeking justice and healing. Thanks for the thoughts!

  8. To my daughter. . . you have wisdom beyond your years and I am honored to be your Mom keep on writing you are a blessing to your father and I. . . . Love you to pieces!!!!

    1. Of all the instruments the Lord has used to shape, mold, instruct and bless me, none are greater or more special than you and dad! You have faithfully lived “True religion.” Your lives truly represented what you taught. I am blessed to reap and taste the amazing fruit of your labor and lives. So much of what I know, and experience today is because of you. Love you muchly my mother and my friend!

      1. Love you back. . . see you tomorrow and on the slopes Wed!!!!!! My daughter and my friend 🙂

  9. I really appreciate your post. You have some wise words here. Today, on Recovering Grace’s Facebook page and Twitter feed, is a day of prayer for all involved. On Twitter, they are posting prayer requests every 30 minutes, and the summaries on Facebook every few hours. This is a tremendous start towards that love and grace that is so desperately needed, and I feel it shows the humble hearts of the RG team.

    1. Thanks for passing that info along. That is very encouraging. I will join in prayer for all involved. God’s righteousness is far greater than mans greatest sin and His grace more powerful than the wounds sin inflicts!

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