A YEAR OF MY LIFE INSIDE GOSPEL ASSEMBLY
By: Sharon Netzer - 1977
We moved to Des Moines, Iowa on November 4, 1974. I had gone to the convention in Kingsport, Tennessee, the last part of August and the first part of September 1974. I enjoyed the meeting so much and loved the people. I had talked to Lloyd Goodwin while I was there. He said we should move to his church in Iowa. I was married to my first husband at that time and we had two children. Sherry was about eleven years old and Joey was about six years old. We lived in Oklahoma at that time. We decided to make the move as soon as we got back home. After the Kingsport meeting we went to visit the church in Des Moines, Iowa. It seemed so wonderful, just what we needed.
When we got home, everyone was surprised that we were moving, but we felt good about it. We had not really gone to church for about eleven years. We had problems in our marriage but we were not giving up so easily. We felt this was the Lord securing it.
Everything started off very well for us after we got moved. We found a house right next to the church. My husband got a good job making more money than he was making in Oklahoma. We would do anything for the church. The kids loved the church and the school and I got to work in the school and loved it. It seemed like the Lord was truly helping us. What we didn't realize was that we weren't spending any time as a family. We were so involved with the church and that was all we lived for. We went in a mad rush for the first five months we were there. (I later learned that this is one of the techniques of mind control.)
We started losing weight and looking so tired and we had no time to spend with our children or each other. We felt that it was all for God though and we didn't complain because we loved it there. All we saw was the good. We started praying for our family to be led there. We were taught that this was the only way to God. We truly felt it was the Kingdom of God. I was really happy there and wanted my family to feel what I felt. We were new at going to church and being a part of one, like a family. I had searched but nothing could fill this need and then we found our chance to move to this place with such a great order and wonderful group of people. So we packed up and moved there.
In March of 1975 my sister; Wanda, her husband and children came to visit us and the church. We had been writing and telling them about it. My sister fell right in the first service she was there. Lloyd Goodwin told them that they should go home and pack up and move to Iowa, if they wanted to be saved. I was happier than Iíd ever been when they decided to move to Des Moines, Iowa. They gave up their home and everything to come to this church, just as we did. It was a miracle of God, I felt. I was very happy.
They had been involved in another church in Texas for about five years. They lived with us until they could find a house of their own. We had a small house with only two small bedrooms. They had three small children. That made nine people in one small place. We were glad to help them get started. Thatís when I went to ask Goodwin for help for the first time.
During this time we had a four-day convention. I worked in the kitchen all four days. I was in a state of exhaustion. It was also the last week of school and we were so busy. My house was like Grand Central Station. At this time, there were people running in and out of our house constantly. I felt close to a nervous breakdown. I needed to talk to someone desperately. So two days before school was out, Lloyd Goodwin came through the school one day. I walked up to him and told him I needed to talk to him. He told me to come into his office in about ten minutes. I did, and as I went in I said, "Brother Goodwin, please help me." He said, "sit down and tell me what is wrong."
I really didn't know where to begin, so I started from when I first got married. I had more confidence in him than anyone in the world and I felt that I could tell him anything and he would understand. I was very naive and too trusting. I couldn't see any wrong in talking to him, I began to cry, and he came over and stood in front of me and helped me to my feet. He took his handkerchief and wiped my tears. I had my hands crossed in front of me. He took them and put them around him; he put his arms around me and kissed me on the mouth. I couldn't believe what had just happened. I believe I was in a state of shock. (This is also a method of mind control.)
I wasn't the same anymore. I was close to a breakdown when I went in there and this was added to my state. I asked him and the church to help us find a place for my sister and husband to live. He said, "you prayed them here, now you take care of them." (I learned many years later that he told the ministers that I had walked into his office and striped naked!)
I walked back to school in a daze. "Did this really happen to me?" Did this really take place? At first, I thought I had just imagined it.
My dream was over and hope was gone, I felt. My kingdom fell to the earth. I didn't care anymore. I was there, yet I wasn't. I didn't know what to do. Somehow I couldnít tell anyone. I didn't want to tell. It was a personal secret within me. I was flattered in a way I cannot explain in brevity. It goes a long way back all through my life. But, this man who had so much power was taking an interest in me. I fell for him. He was all I dreamed of and thought about. He was consuming my mind and life. I would have done anything for him but the spirit of God protected me in a very special way.
It is an experience I will never forget as long as I live. I felt like I was someone special. He was exalting me. I had never experienced those feelings before in my life. I got more confidence in myself than I have ever had. I felt that I could do anything. I started back on my typing and English courses that I had lain on the shelf since we'd moved there. I started writing poems. He even said he'd get me a job in the office at church. He said I had a great future ahead of me. (As long as I kept quiet about all this)
But there is something about me that I canít pretend. I donít want to claim to be something I'm not. I could not connect serving God and him at the same time. I know that the flesh and the Spirit of God were at war within me.
The next church night, I didn't know how to act. I was standing three rows back from the front of the church. I just stood there. We had been there for about seven months at this point. I had not worn make-up or took too much time on myself. This night I did and I felt pretty again. (We had to wear our hair up and could wear no earrings or eye makeup.)
This is when all the confusion within me started. I just didn't understand. Lloyd Goodwin had his on perverted ideas though. He came back to where I was standing and started rebuking me for not "pressing in" as they say. He put all the blame on me and told the people I was loaded with demons.
I couldn't get anywhere, I only cried. He had some men pray for me and I pushed their hands away. I didn't want any part of it but at the same time, I was drawn to him in compassion and love. I couldn't control these feelings. The same night, he had my husband come and hug me in front of the whole church and made me feel like a fool. He was humiliating me in front of the whole church. (This is another method of mind control, public humiliation.)
I thought I was the only one (woman) he was interested in. Later, after church he talked to my husband and me in his office. He acted like he was trying to help us. I thought in my mind that he was only tempted, just a man. I certainly would have forgiven him and gone on to church if it could have been possible. He didn't give me enough time. Soon afterwards, I was washing the windows on the church doors. He came to the top of the stairs and called me into his office. His wife was home, I suppose. (This is another method of mind control. You never know what they will do next.)
He closed the door and looked at me and said, "can I trust you?" I said, "yes." He took me in his arms and said, "God you're beautiful." He kissed me again. I had never felt like that in my life. He didn't let me stay very long because the others were cleaning also, so I went back and finished the windows. It seemed like I was floating in space. I couldn't possibly understand what was happening to me.
Yet, in my heart I wanted to have confidence. I loved that church and the people. It would never be the same, though. My husband and I were being pulled apart. I began to avoid him and tell him I didn't love him. I couldn't love two men at the same time. Lloyd Goodwinís power was stronger than mine was, at that time. I wanted him because I could talk and communicate with him. He seemed interested in me. All my life I've been self-sacrificial and it felt good to be admired for a change.
I believe that most women would have responded to him. I know I shouldn't have, but I wanted to, until I saw what it could do and was doing to my family. It was gradually tearing me apart. It was killing the very life God had given me. There was a war going on inside me and our home was pure hell. There was one thing that was predominant over everything else, HIM. I kept asking him what could I do? He was "the man of God." I wanted him to tell me I couldn't love him. I didn't want to. I wanted to find joy and peace. I wanted it to end. From the bottom of my heart, I wanted to be free from these feelings. He wouldn't break it off. He was enjoying it.
Then, he went to Colorado for two weeks. I had lost about ten pounds while he was gone. I felt like a ship lost at sea. I had no reason to be anywhere. I was distraught. My sister and husband had sold their home in Texas and Goodwin told them to leave their children with me. She told him I wasn't able to keep them. I wasn't even a good mother to my own children at this time. I was walking around in a daze.
When Goodwin got back from Colorado, he called me into his office. He told me he felt like this was my last hope and he wanted to try to help me, and we would both have to fight this thing. He told me we would have to pray for one another. I walked away from him that day very glad to have this over with. He told me I had character. I was so glad it had ended. Everything was going to be all right. I felt my confidence coming back. So during the next couple of weeks or so, I was so enthused about school starting back up again. This had been going on all summer. I was torn apart.
It would have taken anyone time to get over a thing like this. I knew it would never be the same, but I could live with it. We loved the church so much. The kids loved the school and we were close to getting out of debt. My husband wasn't advancing like he could have if he would have had some encouragement. (From his pastor and me) But he didn't know what the trouble was within me. The monitors (helpers at school) started training for the new school year. I was so excited. I loved working in the school. It gave me a sense of importance and being needed. I loved all of those children.
We were all out in the kitchen beside the learning center having a coffee break. Lloyd Goodwin came in. It had been raining and he had gotten wet. I looked at him with compassion. I felt sorry for him because I had been a temptation to him. I had repented to him and to God. I didn't mean to hurt anyone. He started on to his office and looked at me and said, "come to my office and weíll talk about your little girlís party." I turned and looked at one of the other ladies and said, "was he talking to me?" She said, "I guess he was, I don't have a little girl." (My daughter wasn't having a party). So I thought, "well, its not over after all."
When I walked in, he had his tie and coat off and he immediately took me in his arms and kissed me like never before. I was so weakened this time. My God, what was I going to do? So, it wasn't going to end. He said he couldn't get the victory. I knew that if he couldn't I couldn't either. But, 1st John 4:4 says, "Ye are of God, little children. He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world." All along, the Holy Spirit had warned him. I told him I wasnít very strong. I told him I was having problems at home. He was my last preacher. This was the end of my rainbow. My kingdom had crumbled.
I was discouraged greatly. I didn't care what I did or said. I just did as I felt at the moment. It was the beginning of rebellion from God. I was positive and negative. They thought I was double minded. Goodwin had the ushers turn off the tape recorders if I got up in church to speak. He didn't know what I would say next. I know now that he was afraid. God was helping me and giving me strength. It is an experience I'll never forget as long as I live. I loved him and wanted him but God saw my heart. My heart's desire is to serve the Lord. I love the truth. The truth he showed me was that we should put our trust in Him and not in man. Yet, Lloyd Goodwin wouldnít leave me alone.
I knew that I could never have confidence again. I felt cheated. Why did it have to be me? Because I asked for truth and this was the way I got it. I don't believe anything else would have convinced me to take this stand. I believe I could have tolerated about anything but adultery and lying and cheating.
It was about time for the Kingsport meeting again. My husband and I weren't planning on going. Lloyd Goodwin told us we should go so he paid half of our bus fare. That was the most tiresome trip I ever made. It drained me mentally and spiritually. I knew it was a waste of time. He had called me into his office before he left for Kingsport and told me to talk to his wife. He told me I should get close to her. He wanted me to be a hypocrite and I wasn't about to do that. I talked to her for a while. Of course, there was a wall between us. Her husband was seeing me in private. How could I get close to her? She couldn't figure me out either. I was at a place in my life where I actually didn't know what to do. I felt that I was trapped.
You see. My sister had only been there a couple of weeks when this all began. She loved the church, the order and the people. My children were in the school and loved it. It would break their hearts. I knew how it was affecting me, so what in the world would they do? I felt a security there before this all happened. IT IS A PROTECTION FOR THE INSECURE. I truly believe that.
As I was talking to Goodwin's wife, she mentioned a last hope. I began to cry. She wanted me to tell her my problems. I was telling her I didn't love my husband and things like that, everything but the truth. Because the truth, the whole truth, would have been dynamite. He even told me that no one would believe me if I ever told. I said, "he knows what is wrong with me." I just didn't care anymore. I told her I wanted to talk to him alone.
They had an appointment, so I had to wait until they got back in about an hour. While they were gone, his wife had told him what I said about him knowing what was wrong. He was mad when he came in. He said, "what are you going to do next?" I said, "I didn't do anything." He said, "I can't trust you, I can trust Lois." "You are too immature to have an affair. You almost blew the whole thing sky high." I really was too weak to fight anymore. He talked to me for over an hour. He didn't even know if he could trust me with his wife. He was in a position I wouldn't have wanted to be in. I actually didn't know what I would say or do next. He said that he could be crazy about me and that something might happen to his wife and the Lord would put us together in marriage someday.
We went to Kingsport and it was the worst meeting I was ever in. It seemed so superficial, so different from the first time I had gone. It had been just about one year to the day. I was in a bad state of mind. I knew what kind of man Lloyd Goodwin was, and I knew he could never be anything more to me. I had to make up my mind what I was going to do once and for all. I know now what I should have done when he first got close to me. I should have rejected him on the spot. I should have told someone, but no one would have believed me.
All along, I wanted to have confidence in him. I wanted him to bring it to an end, but it was I who ended it, not him. I knew I couldn't live that way. I have grieved over my children many times. They have suffered so much and it changed their lives drastically also.
He came to me during the Kingsport meeting and told me how pretty I looked. He told my mother that he was taking care of me. (My parents came to the meeting) After the meeting, I rebelled in front of the whole church in Des Moines, Iowa. I couldn't tell what happened (not yet). There were times I prayed to God to not let me tell anyone. I didn't want to cause any more trouble. I went there to serve God. If this approach had been made outside the church, it would have been a lot easier to deal with. I could have resisted with self-assurance. The church is the last place on earth you expect this kind of thing to happen. Where do you go for help when it happens in your church, your refuge?
This is not what I wanted. I wanted the truth and good things of God. But, this happened when I was at my lowest peak. Then I didn't care. This was a dream come true for me, this church in Iowa. I didn't see anything wrong anywhere about the church when I first went there. I didn't want to see anything wrong. It was hard to finally accept.
He told the people at church that I was full of demons and I was letting them take over my life. They even tried to cast the demon of poetry out of me. But, I knew that I wasnít loaded with demons. The practice of casting out demons was carried too far, but at first I felt it was because I didn't understand. (I could never accept the casting out of demons every time we entered the church.) This hurt me terribly because I learned he didn't really care about me. He put me through mental torture and I had to learn the hard way.
"There is a woman in this church who will die in a mental institution." I was that woman. My children heard him say those things.
I was sunk for sure now. I had to tell my husband and my sister the truth. So I told them the whole story in brevity. There is much more that will die in my heart. I wasn't insane, only hurt and confused. My husband and my sister believed me. She had a picture of Lloyd Goodwin and his wife setting on a desk. She picked it up and threw it across the floor and it broke. This was a church night and my husband took the children and went. I stayed home. (I never entered that church again)
My husband was told to leave me and marry a good sister in the church. He only went back a few times after that and then we moved away. My sister went to church that night and was forbidden to speak to me again. I went to her back door the following morning and she would not let me come in. She lived next door to me. So now my own sister rejected me. (SEE POEM)
I tried to get through to her with letters but Goodwin and his wife lied to her. She sent me a letter disowning me. We went to another church in Joplin, Missouri and the pastor there got a copy of that letter. My husband and I divorced not long after. Two years later she called to talk to me. I forgave her but by then, it didn't matter anymore.
As I relive this (years later) l can still feel pain. I don't feel resentment or anger anymore. I feel a compassion for those people still there. I know they are there because they have not found themselves. It is a place where one could lose their will and identity and be consumed in another realm. ITíS A REALM OF FALSE HOPE.
Sharon Dotson (Late 197Os)
Sharon is now married again and her last name is Netzer - email@example.com