It's been 10 days, as I write, since the shocking attack on two young brothers in New Hartford, a small Western NY village, not far from Utica. Two important factors to consider. The incident took place in a church, and the two boys, Christopher & Lucas Leonard, were set upon by their own family, among others.
When you hear the name, Word of Life, in reference to a church, you usually think of a global ministry founded by the late Jack Wyrtzen many years ago, one that used to have a nationally syndicated television program. However, the Word of Life Christian Church in suburban Chadwicks has no connection with the Wyrtzen ministry, and Wyrtzen himself wouldn't have allowed the attack to take place under his roof.
Nathan Ames, a former member of the Word of Life congregation in question, wrote an open letter to Syracuse.com:
As a former member of Word of life Christian Church of Chadwicks NY (WLCCC), I would like to clear some rumors up. I attended there from the time I was born till the age of 12 to 13. The WLCCC is not associated with the Word of Life Fellowship Inc. founded by Jack Wyrtzen. The WLCCC started out as a good, God fearing Pentecostal Church and was rapidly growing. Great things were happening, miracles, prophecy, and people getting set free. There was no beating and or molestation going on at WLCCC.
Jerry Irwin eventually became angry for unjustifiable reasons and removed the pastor from his position and proclaimed himself as "Pastor". Many left after realizing that he was a narcissistic psychopath. The few that stayed were slowly lied to and manipulated into believing Jerry was called from God to "Control" there lives. Filling their minds with outlandish stories that were for the most part fabricated.
Over a period of time Jerry became feared by his congregation by inflicting his wrath upon them, to the point of calling their name on the pulpit and say they were in sin and had not repented. After someone "repented of their sin" Jerry would make it a point that they were not sorry and it was all a ploy to get back on his good side. There was not forgiveness and that is how he held his place over them. He would intimidate people by coming over to the house and yelling, if they did not see it his way. He only liked obedient and submissive people that did whatever he wanted them to do without question or dubiousness.
After someone left the church he would then fabricate stories on the pulpit about that person and why they left and that they were on their way to hell, if they didn't repent. Lies started about my family and eventually we left. Jerry would single me out in church and make sure every one realized how much of a "rebellious" child I was, because of my hyper, intense, and forthright personality. "Spiritual Cannibalism" is the only phrase that I can come up with to provide how he was. After we left we were stalked on Facebook and lies about our family were spread to the congregation and our family.
Jerry eventually died of a stroke and left his children, Tiffanie, Daniel, and Joseph in charge, with their Mother Tracy as a guide. Jerry's children took the church to a whole new demonic level. With more control and randomized yelling and demeaning on the very few church members that were involved. Eventually beating and the brutal murder of a 19 year old young man and severely injuring his 17 year old brother because of "sin" that the Irwins thought the boys have. Because they thought they were God, they believed they could do anything to their members and have no repercussions.
We should all be praying for them and interceding that they see and hear the one true God, and that they truly repent for there sins. Forgiveness does not mean that they will not pay for their sin here on earth, it means that we release them to the Lord Jesus and ask Him to look softly on their ignorance. I do not condone their actions nor the churches existence. My deepest condolences to the family who lost a dear loved one. I would ask that anyone who has not come forward to the investigation, to please come forward and talk to them and help so they have a strong case against the Irwins.
And you thought the Westboro wackjobs in Kansas were out of control (and still are).