The Hidden YearsThe Hidden YearsThe Hidden Years

Letter to Mr. Salyer from Mignon Dervaes

Copyright © Jules Dervaes

October 4, 1986

(The following letter was written to Mr. Salyer by Mignon Dervaes in response to a phone conversation between them the same day regarding his disfellowshipping Mr. Dervaes.)

Dear Mr. Salyer,

Thank you for your time Friday evening.  I said I’d get back with you.  I have decided to write you a letter in order to make sure I convey my feelings and thoughts to the best of my ability.  This, I feel, is the best way, as I told you before, that my experiences in counseling here confused me greatly.

Let me begin with a brief history of my life in the Church.  After a year of intensive study, I was baptized into Christ in 1974.  I am very thankful that it was overseas in New Zealand where, I feel, I was protected from the liberalism of the 70s.  I feel that I understood and grasped the basic doctrines of the Church.  I was so happy to be called.

My first experience in a local church area was in Tampa in 1975 when we moved back to the States for the purpose of being closer to the Church as it was not available in New Zealand.  For several years I didn’t understand what was going on at the time and knew almost immediately that there was a different attitude from what I had been taught.  I held on to the best of my ability to what I was originally taught even when one minister told me I didn’t have to keep the Sabbath (which I continued to do) and when one wouldn’t anoint my daughter for healing.  I looked to God anyway for the needed healing and didn’t go to doctors.

This was a very difficult time for me.  I was weak in this area, especially with worried in-laws and parents who offered to pay any medical expenses.  It was only by relying on God and through the encouragement and steadfastness of my husband’s faith and my belief in complete submission to him as head of our family that I made it.  In time our daughter was healed.

Mr. Lohr arrived in Tampa about 1978.  He emphasized his loyalty to headquarters.  He was loyal to a fault, as I will explain.  He was very noncommittal in certain areas and tended to be very vague and general in his sermons.  To make a long story short, my husband and I asked him to teach us “the way” to live.  We had a talk with him and told him to please help us walk the way the Bible teaches.  Until this point, I was so upset because of not being “fed” on the Sabbath that I had been borrowing old GN magazines from the 50s and 60s from a long-time member.

Mr. Lohr, of course, was upset and explained and stressed whenever we had any problems toward him to use Matthew 18:15.  It was firmly embedded in my mind.  To my delight, Mr. Lohr really started to preach the Word.  He explained to us that he had been hesitant for awhile as he wasn’t sure where headquarters stood on some issues so he wouldn’t take a stand.  We told him that he could still be loyal to headquarters but when they preached differently from what he knew to be true to please help us and be bold with the truth.  He really shaped us up and helped ground us in the faith.

But, as you may have heard, he overstepped his bounds in 1982 with the cheese campaign.  I didn’t like his slant and abuse of authority; yet, I didn’t want to make waves.  Soon the church was becoming divided over the issue.  I was expecting our fourth child and was in the early stages of pregnancy with emotional upheavals anyway and became very distraught.  I sought out a local elder and his wife who were of the same opinion that Mr. Lohr was misusing his authority.  For some of us it was a violation of principles we held; and so we resisted.

My husband was to go talk with him, remembering Mr. Lohr’s admonition of Matthew 18:15.  It soon became apparent by his attitude it would be of no use and we took it to God.  During this time we felt the possibility existed that disfellowshipment could occur for not supporting the government of God.  It upset me terribly to think of the humiliation of it, but the crisis was resolved when Mr. Tkach intervened.  It was only through reliance on God and my husband’s encouragement and steadfastness that I made it through.  Again Mr. Lohr stressed Matthew 18:15 over and over again.  So Jules did go after it was all over to talk with him and explain why we took our stand and how I felt I needed the local elder and his wife for support.  During the next few months our respect for Mr. Lohr increased as he really struggled to do better.

I will speak at this point of the disillusionment I felt when Mr. Lohr, a minister, fell from his pedestal in my eyes.  I felt at that point I couldn’t trust any human again so blindly.  My faith had been misplaced.  I should have been looking to God more.  For me, that is a very difficult thing to do; yet, it is reassuring as I’ve seen God move in my life and others’ lives.

This brings me to our move to Pasadena.  I felt that that background was necessary to give you an idea of some of the lessons I’ve learned.

Putting our future entirely in God’s hands we left for Pasadena hoping to make ourselves available to God for His purposes.  For one year, before the move here, God was stripping away a lot of the misconceptions and falsehoods I had about myself.  Some things my husband noticed but couldn’t quite put his finger on.  At this point God took over.  It was here in Pasadena that God removed the rest of the scales from my eyes about myself.  I didn’t want to believe it.  I didn’t want to face it.  Perhaps this is recorded in my file as I tried to explain it to Mr. Suckling.  I wouldn’t allow myself the luxury of blaming circumstances and other people, etc., for the sins and faults within me.  My carnal nature wanted to believe the self-deception that I knew I was playing for years.

For God had blessed me so much materially for years, and I was, because of the grace of God, more gifted than most of the other women in the Tampa area.  I was leading a “charmed,” smug life and believing this was a sign from God that I was a good Christian in His sight.  But I knew sometimes that something was amiss because my insides told me so on occasion but it was so easy to dismiss.  I was becoming very lukewarm.  I had need of nothing.

This “garbage” in me kept pouring out here in Pasadena until around April, 1985.  I thought I was not coping at all.  I couldn’t face myself.  Jules tried to help but I withdrew.  I kept asking God to intervene and He had.  I just couldn’t accept the junk He was showing me.  I became absorbed in self-pity.  I had feeling for no one except me.  Exhausted, I sought counseling as I felt I was not being a Christian.  I doubted my conversion.  Perhaps you know the rest.  I feel I must explain what has been occurring deep inside me from then until now.

Mr. Salyer, this brings me to the purpose of this letter.  I was totally confused and bewildered by the counseling I received.  I had learned from the earliest years in the Church and even while studying church literature before that I was to submit to my husband in everything.  I did not like the command.  I really bristled.  I am ashamed to admit it but one of the things that God showed me during this time in Pasadena was that I was submitting with my head and not with my heart.  It was only to keep looking good.  I was a hypocrite.

Mr. Lohr gave good marriage sermons that I feel were biblically based.  In contrast Mr. Suckling said I didn’t have to submit in everything when I had “strong feelings” and only when it was “reasonable.”  I cannot go along with Mr. Suckling’s stand.  Rather, I am holding fast to what I originally learned and believe.  I have spent the last year investigating for myself to test and examine myself on what the Bible and the Church says on this and other issues.

It appears there is no real unity of belief here among the ministry.  As a result of this and other instances, my mind was totally messed up, my reputation smeared, and my eternal salvation endangered.  I sometimes barely hung on.  As a result of these events, my husband felt the need to beseech the Church on the behalf of myself and any others who may be so affected.

Also Mr. Lohr taught, and I believe it is biblically based, that the husband is over the wife in the home and that he is directly under Christ in our family and our spiritual leader as long as he follows the ways of God and doesn’t ask me to sin.  At that time I must not obey.  There has never been such a situation in our home.

Mr. Lohr also taught, regarding Matthew 18:15, that wives can correct their husbands.  I found also such a statement in a GN article.  Also, Mr. Lohr wanted us to correct him as he stated on several occasions.  That is the main reason that the letters were written; for, there applies the Ezekiel 3:13 message to us.  Yet, if I, a wife who is lower in position in authority, can correct my husband and even a minister, I should be able to point out sin in others’ lives whatever their position.

It is my duty and responsibility as I can’t throw away scriptures in the Bible.  To make a point, I have often been corrected by my children.  They have been right and I have been wrong.  Their correction has validity to me.  Also, Mr. Meredith has remarked that it would be a wise field minister to keep someone around him in a local church area who is not afraid to tell the minister he’s wrong.  I, too, believe it is wise.

From the examples I have given maybe I technically should have been disfellowshipped in the cases of not following the government of God; but I had convictions that the government over me had no jurisdiction over me in that sense and that I must obey God rather than men who were corrupting their authority.  Yet, I know that I would be subject to any punishment imposed by them.

I firmly believe Mr. Meredith’s article The Final Authority (The GOOD NEWS, June ’79) holds true for me.  I researched all those articles in the paper submitted at Passover over a period of months, checking our beliefs and attitudes with those of the Church.  I read each one to get the full meaning but could use only excerpts for the paper.  It was never my intention to manipulate statements for a perverted reason to make it “appear” to say something it didn’t.  I was diligent as my eternal life was at stake.

I could write pages on the subject of submission alone as I spent so much time studying and talking about this with Jules to make sure we were biblically correct.  I do not believe it is easy to correct my husband, inspire, give all my input about a decision and still submit with my heart.  What God requires for women is no easy task but I must do it.  Also, for husbands to properly learn to love their wives (not indulge their wives) as God does, wanting no spot or wrinkle in their character is very difficult.  Sometimes husbands must show this “tough love” toward their wives as God does to us.  It is not a popular notion today I realize.

You mentioned to me that Jules has rightly discerned some wrongs in the Church.  I know my husband and what difficulty he has gone through to rightfully stand up for his beliefs.  We felt we were not showing true Phildelphian love by turning and looking the other way.  We wanted to, as it would have been so much easier; but we were responsible before God as our brother’s keeper and felt Matthew 18:15 should be applied as before.

Also, after experiencing the trial about *****/ ***** / *****, we felt that the damage done to many of the youths in the Church would have been less if someone would have cared enough sooner to speak up.  We are to judge someone’s actions as in accordance with God’s law.  I know that a few attempts were made and failed regarding Mr. *****’s actions.  Persistence may be the key, had it been done earlier.  It may have turned a lot of people around sooner before any permanent damage had been done.

I also realized that Mr. Armstrong wanted to know what was going on in the 70s.  Yet, no minister or member came forward according to a GN article.  No one wanted to lose his job.  That is not a good reason to tolerate sin.

You stated to me that you discerned a rebellious attitude in Jules.  I sincerely know that you are in error.  I know my husband.  Maybe you equate strength of conviction against sin with a rebellious attitude.  In that sense you did discern correctly for he is steadfastly “rebellious” against sin.  I hope to acquire more rebellion and intolerance against sin also.  I know how difficult it was for him to write what he did and how he dreaded it.  I have known him since 1965 and he usually has to force himself to get involved in activities as he is usually bashful and more concerned with family matters.

For a time now, he has been trying to reject the apathy and tendency to run from unpleasant situations and confrontations.  He is strong and steadfast in the ways of God and had kept me on course when I was ready to throw in the towel over these issues and confrontations or to talk to others about what was wrongly said about us.  If Jules saw me going against the Church in attitude he would firmly and sternly correct me.  I admit to having a bad attitude at times during all this but Jules would not tolerate it in our home.  So I, in turn, urged him to not run from the wrongs but stand up as it was tearing at us inside.

You mentioned that disfellowshipments do occur in error sometimes.  We know that, too.  You also stated that God can use this to correct either you or us.  We are not interested in a following or any other church.  I know that this is the true Church as does my husband.  Our only choice is to look to God for deliverance now.

God’s Church has been a source of great joy to us and lately much sorrow. You have the authority to impose whatever punishment you desire.  Yet, disfellowshipment is for those who continue in sin unrepentant.  We are not sinning when we disagree.  Disagreements are not sin.  That implies that a wife cannot ever strongly disagree with her husband.  Consider that Mr. Apartian and Mr. Hulme have taken stands against working wives.

Romans 14 plainly gives the individual latitude in areas of individual, personal beliefs.  I feel that we are not sinning in anyway by being concerned and putting Matthew 18:15 and Ezekiel 3:13 into effect and taking to heart the biblical warnings to our Church in order to stop the inherent dangers from occurring to any of us.  Mr. Armstrong recognized this and wrote articles as such.  We are to live by every word of God.

I wish that I could forget and turn away and not recall any contradictions I perceived.  I want all of us to make it into the Kingdom of God; but it must be on God’s terms and not any human’s.  I feel God is teaching me a lesson where I must continue to desire the Kingdom for all with all my being, regardless of circumstances.  As far as my personal beliefs go, I read the letters Jules wrote and I agree with what he wrote.  I have the same concerns over these issues.  I only corrected some wording in the earlier letters to make statements clearer and not as abrupt.

Please have Mr. Tkach read this.  Thank you for listening to me.

Mignon Dervaes

Return to Top