PAMELA'S STORY ( Updated Aug - 2010)
My name is Pamela Gaylene Givens (Hall.) I am 41 years old and have five beautiful children, Sarah-24, John-21, Stephan- 20, Candis-18 and Troy-16. I have been blessed. My love for life comes from a lot of hard knocks, mistakes, hurt, anger and pain and learning from it all.
I wouldn't have the wisdom that I now have if it was not for God directing my path and allowing me to go through all that I have. Maybe because of this, I can help others with some of the hurt, pain, anger and confusion they are going through.
One of the valuable lessons that I learned in my life full of chaos was forgiveness. Forgiveness is a very powerful word and easier said than done but if you will bear with me, I will try to explain. As far back as I can remember, I have had a genuine love for God. My heart has hurt so deeply but through it all, God has been right there with me.
I remember when I was a little girl, two years old, going to church. I loved it! I had an innocence and passion for something I felt so deeply. I wasn't sure what it was, no two-year-old would know, but going to church made me feel good. At a young age, my innocence was stolen and that feeling that I had in my heart was hurt. I no longer felt safe. (I will explain later in my story.) (At right is Pam at around age two, praising the Lord.)
I remember when I was five years of age. I had an ultimate
passion and desire to be blessed with the baptism of the Holy Ghost. I prayed
day and night that God would give me this gift. At age six, January 19, 1976, I
went up to the front of
After I received this gift and as time went on and the older I became, something was happening inside of my heart. As a child, you not only grow physically; you grow mentally and emotionally and let's not forget: Spiritually. Somehow my spirit forgot to grow. Somehow it just shut down. My story is not much different than a lot of others. There was a lot of pain involved but through the mercy of God, healing is possible.
April 4, 1975, my mother
and father moved my two brothers and myself to
In September, I started first grade and I was so happy. My first grade class had three people in it, Kevin Townes, Kenny Bough and myself. It seemed like I was always in trouble. We had a discipline system that went like this: 3 demerits = a detention - 3 detentions = a corporal punishment, meaning a spanking. This was done with a board, which from my own recollections, was about a half-inch thick, a foot or more long and six inches wide with holes drilled an inch apart from the top of the handle of the paddle. Anyway, three corporal punishments = suspension which was being kicked out of school for three days. Three suspensions = expulsion from school. Needless to say, if it had not been so close to the end of the year, I would have been expelled.
Getting a corporal punishment was not a normal school spanking. Back then, it was okay for schools to discipline. Public schools were allowed three swats. Gospel Assembly on the other hand, believed that children were to be seen and not heard so we were spanked until our spirits were broken. They were to spank until the child cried softly. Earlier, I spoke about Spiritual growth. Well, my spirit was broken. In my opinion, a child that gets in trouble for speaking unless spoken to doesn't have the capability of growing in wisdom and knowledge. They learn fear and confusion and are unable to make decisions.
I remember I always liked to talk. I would just rattle away about everything and nothing. That sent me straight to Lee and Alice Ray's office. Neither of which showed any compassion or love. It was more like a control thing. I would have to bend all the way over and grasp the back of the chair at the bottom while they proceeded to spank me. After a while, I quit crying out loud, but tears would stream down my cheeks. Afterward, they would pray with me and make me ask God for forgiveness for being bad. All that I did was talk without permission. I became totally submissive!
In second grade, Kevin Townes was moved to a higher grade so that placed him in another area of the learning center, which left me clear to the back, by myself. We used flags to call for help, a Christian flag for a monitor and an American flag for a supervisor. I remember I had to go to the bathroom one day. I watched the clock for two hours with my flag up. I was afraid to get out of my seat and too afraid to talk. Finally I couldn't hold it anymore and went all over myself.
I still had a love for God but I also had a great fear. We were
taught that God was vengeful and vengeance is mine, I will repay. What had I
done to make God so angry? Why did I have to be here? I wished I had never been
born but I kept it to myself. I tried harder to be good so I could make it to
the kingdom but it seemed like bad things would always happen to me. Before my
family moved to Des Moines,
So desperate for love, I started going to any man. When I was around four years old, one of my cousins molested me. He was twelve or thirteen years old. He told me he loved me and from that night I started thinking I was bad because he told me to be quiet and not tell anyone because it was our secret and we could get in trouble. I didn't see him again until I was around twelve years old and the memory had faded but I had a horrible secret. I was bad but he told me he loved me so maybe it was okay. It made me feel dirty so as I got older, my mind covered up what had happened. Subconsciously though, for many years, sex to me would be love.
By the time I started third grade, I was getting better about spankings. I memorized chapters of the Bible. I spoke in other tongues, testified in chapel and played a clarinet in the school band. I embroidered, sewed and things got better. Actually, I just got used to them. I remember one time when Lloyd and June Goodwin went overseas and before they left, they promised me a candy bar if I kept my office clean while they were gone. My office wasn't dirty, just cluttered. I did it and they gave me a candy bar. I worked hard for it, believe me. I was proud of myself.
I really don't remember too many times with just my family. We were always at church or school. Our lives were not based on family structure but were based on church structure. We were not allowed to fellowship anyone outside of the church or school. We were told that we were supposed to witness to people but how do you snob your nose at "sinners" and witness at the same time? Since our lives were based on church, a family bond was not present. (Glenn, Pamela and Jeremie around 1977 I believe)
Remember that children are to be seen and not heard and after being disciplined at school to the point of being afraid of speaking, I then suffered another painful ordeal. A teenage boy who was sixteen or seventeen started messing with me when I was between seven and eight years old. I was afraid to raise my flag at school and ask to go to the restroom because he would hear me and would be waiting for me upstairs where the women's restroom was. He molested me many times. We went on a family picnic with his parents to the lake and to their house afterwards. He molested me again. For some reason he stopped going to our school and not long after, church. I don't remember if he graduated or just left. I never told anyone because I was so ashamed. I was so disgusted and I felt so bad. It was an awful secret that I would keep for many years to come. Oh yes, he told me he loved me. I didn't realize that both people who abused me sexually would play such a big role in my life.
So these are the things I had learned so far in my life: Fear of speaking, fear of saying NO, sex equals love, my spirit was broken, my innocence violated, no family structure, fear of God, fear of Lloyd Goodwin and Lee and Alice Ray. Lloyd Goodwin's sermons seemed to talk about the wrath of God, how we would go straight to hell. I thought for the longest time, that Goodwin was God.
I remember one day; Lee Ray was doing opening exercises. He was upset that morning about something and was talking about sin and I got really sick at my stomach. I gagged and vomit came up in my mouth. I was holding it in my mouth because I knew if I interrupted him, I would surely be in trouble. One of my best friends in the world, Tammy Kelsey, was standing there and I poked her and pointed to my mouth. Her mother, Betty Kelsey, was a monitor and Tammy got her attention and she helped me out of the learning center. I loved that Lady. Soon after, she got cancer and Tammy and I became separated and soon hardly spoke after years of practically living at each other's houses. Later after we grew up, she told me she wasn't allowed to be around me because she needed to be with people who understood what she was going through. She also told me that some of the other girls asked her why she would want to be around me and she told them because she liked me. Tammy and I have a strong relationship now and always will. (Tammy is now married to my brother, Glenn since 2001)
One day we were on break at school and the high school girls were primping and I had to go to the bathroom. They wouldn't let me go so I said: "Shoot!" They all went and told Lynn Revak, the supervisor, that I said "s--t!" I had never even heard that word or knew what it meant, much less said it. When I told her that I had not said that, she called me a liar and said I would get a spanking for lying and she just kept threatening me so I finally just said, "okay, I said it." Then she said, "Now you are getting a corporal punishment for lying and saying it." I said "but I didn't say it, you made me say I did." You know, I got so many corporals that I don't remember if I got one that time or not but I know when I got home, I got very ill and I was so shaken up, I bit a thermometer so hard that it broke in my mouth. My Mom called Lynn Revak and told her that I had never heard that word and that I didn't lie. (At right is Pam at age 12)
When we left the church, I was eleven and a half years old. I went totally wild. I didn't know how to take freedom. I cut my hair, pierced my ears, put on jeans and rode a bike, as if these were all such awful sins. But then I started smoking cigarettes, pot and popping pills. I became an even more mixed up kid. My Mom worked two jobs to take care of us so she was not able to be there all the time. She didn't learn about some of the things we did until many years later. She has repented to me many times and would have done something to help me if she would have known. When I was fifteen, another high school boy raped me. I moved in with my boyfriend's cousin when I was sixteen and I became pregnant at sixteen by my boyfriend. I married him so that my child would have a father and a name. He had a real problem with alcohol and beat and raped me on many occasions. I tried to leave him on several occasions and he would come back and make up so during this time, we had three more children and I had several miscarriages. Finally after four children and all the abuse, I left him for good and got a divorce. You may ask," Why did you stay that long?" Because I was taught that it was a sin to divorce. I then met another man, my youngest son's father. I was with him for three years. I left because I was tired of being "thrown away." My first husband told me that I was fat and ugly and that no man would ever want me with four children.
I have been in a lot of relationships looking for this love. After we left the church, I even went as far as witchcraft because the God I had known was basically an evil being in my eyes. I cursed him and figured since he was so terrible; all I had learned about Satan was a lie. So I started worshipping him. There are three stages to this, dabbling, Incubus and suicide. I endured all three. I tried to kill myself three times.
After I left my youngest son's father, my drug abuse got worse. I became what most would call, a junkie. I gave my kids up. All I cared about was my dope. As I would shoot it into my veins, I would pray to God that it would kill me but something started happening to me. My mind started opening up and I started seeing things in a way I had never imagined even as a junkie. I got closer and closer to God. I was dependent on drugs but God was still there for me. I started praying that I wouldn't die every time I shot up. I was still growing closer to my Higher Power (God). On August the 19th, 1995, I called my Mother and she came over to the East Side of Des Moines and picked me up. I told her I was a junkie but somehow, she already knew.
(The above picture is Pam with all five of her children in 1996, at this point she was still an addict.)
So many times I wanted to kill my mother because I blamed her for my life. My younger brother Jeremie had to take a 20-gauge shotgun out of my hands because I told him I was going to kill her. But that day, I felt a need for my Mother. I had already turned to my Heavenly Father. He pointed me to my earthly Mother. She begged me to go to the hospital but I wasn't ready. I had accepted my addiction but I wasn't ready for help. I still had a long way to go. I wanted her to accept the fact that I was an addict. She couldn't and wouldn't. I had never really been close to my Mom because like I said, I blamed her for my life. We would get into arguments and I was physically violent with her. She never knew about my being molested until I was 25 years old.
My anger and rage overwhelmed me at times so bad that I blacked out. I just wanted to kill everyone and the two boys that molested me. I planned daily to kill them, how I was going to torture them so they would pray to die. One day I called my Mother and she told me that the boy from Gospel Assembly who had molested me was in a bad accident and his skull had been crushed in some kind of a bar fight or something. Something inside of me clicked and I no longer wanted him to die or the others. I wanted to look them in the face and give them back all the pain they gave to me. So a year later, I confronted my cousin. I looked him in the eyes and reminded him of how he had hurt me. Then I told him, while he made excuses, "Forget about your excuses. I have to get rid of this. I love you and forgive you now I can go on." I had dealt with it for so long and it was not my fault. I started looking past all the things that people had done to me and thinking about how their lives were. It wasn't that I had condoned their actions; it was because someone had done something to them sometime in their life. I know we all know the difference between right and wrong. We are born with that but even though they knew it was wrong, someone gave them permission to do it. It goes back to the beginning of time. I haven't seen the other boy who hurt me yet but one day I will and I will look into his eyes and say this. "Your body and mind may not understand but your spirit is still there and I want you to know what you did to me as a child hurt me. But as my Heavenly Father forgives even the worst of sinners, I forgive you. Now I can get on with my life. May God bless you and heal you so you can be free.
It took a few more years for me to become free from drugs. One thing that happened is that my Mom finally accepted my addiction. One day she told me, "Pam, an addict is what you are but it is not who you are. You can change what you are, you cannot change who you are." That day I had planned to go to rehab. Rehab didn't help because people were so busy worried about other's addictions; they couldn't focus on their own. I called my Mom to come and get me. I stayed clean for a few months, and then it was right back out there. This happened several times. I knew I wanted off drugs but I just couldn't stay off. I was arrested two times and went to jail. I started telling my Mother every time I did it. She doesn't get those phone calls anymore. I am sober. Sometimes I want them so bad but I have learned a lot out there in the real world. I was "protected," deceived actually, because we all need to know how to protect ourselves from getting hurt on caught up in lies. (Pamela, clean and sober - 2007)
I learned some good things from Gospel Assembly but my spirit was stolen, my mind was controlled and my heart trusted too much. I was blind but now I see. I was in bondage but now I'm free. I still have issues to work out but all in all I am getting closer and my life is getting better and better.
So for all the bad that has happened in my life, I accept the responsibility for all I have done and for all that I could have controlled and I thank all those who hurt me. I am stronger because of it all. I just pray that all the rest of you who have been hurt by Gospel Assembly or anything else can get through the pain and forgive but don't ever forget! For God has a plan for all of us. The hurt will die down. Face it while it's still there; don't let it pile up so that you forget why you are angry and pray that your Higher Power (God) will help you through even though you can't see it now. He is already helping you. You are getting out from under bondage.
I owe a lot to my Mother and stepfather, Robert, and also my Father, Glenn. God has brought us a long way in our lives and I am closer to them than I ever thought possible. This is all in God's plan. He is restoring the years to us.
To all the people who are still involved with Gospel Assembly, I have a good life. I love life and God is so good through all the hurt and pain, through all my mistakes, I have been forgiven because Jesus gave His life so that all could be saved. We are all born God's children. We are all equal in His eyes no matter our race, religion or what we wear. Whether we are rich or poor, sick or healthy, God loves us all. I am not afraid of God. I respect Him. He is caring and He won't smite me dead because I mess up. I know that for a fact. God is waiting for judgment day but maybe every day is judgment day for we bring judgment on ourselves. You see we are all sinners and we make choices and we have repercussions from our choices.
Judge not lest you be judged. How does a sinner judge a sinner? You who are without sin cast the first stone. For the judgment of another man has no hold on us. It's God's judgment on sinners that will matter most and the judges who act, as Gods and cast judgment on our souls will be the ones who face the wrath of God.
Thanks for listening to my story.
These are my children whom I thank God for. My youngest son now lives with me in Iowa.
Candis, Stephan, Pam, Sarah, John
THERE NOT A CAUSE?" (By a former member of