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An Open Letter to Pastor Tom Hauser, Global River Church

open letter

Guest Post by Calulu

Tom Hauser is the pastor of  Global River Church in Wilmington, North Carolina.  Global River is affiliated with Bill Johnson and Bethel Redding. I have written previously about Bethel Redding in a post titled Bethel Redding: A Dangerous Evangelical Cult.

Dear Tom,

I know there’s no way you would remember me. I’m just some random woman at one of the churches in Virginia that held a deliverance ministry weekend taught by you and the members of your church many years ago. I’m the one who our overbearing pastor’s wife forced to make all those fancy half round flags for your church as a gift from our church. I’m still several hundred dollars out-of-pocket for the materials, and  I’m still annoyed at that even if you had nothing to do with it.

You and your church pushed the deliverance ministry that your church did, telling tales of people set free from all sorts of weird demonic infestations. Your goal was to get people to sign up to come to your church — Vineyard, in Wilmington, North Carolina.

During that weekend I had the chance to speak to you several times. I found that I liked you. Maybe it was the fact that you walked away from a high dollar career to preach, I don’t know. You are personable.

But, I know you don’t have a clue about the damage you and your fellow church members do. I suspect, seeing that the name of your church and the deliverance ministry has been changed more than once, that you have some small inkling that others think it sucks. Did you guys get sued by those you victimized while pretending they are demon-addled and need an exorcism? Something obviously happened.

For my husband and I, the damage was limited. We just lost some time, hotel and gas money, and spending time with our family for Thanksgiving. I feel pretty certain that your deliverance ministry likely did lots of damage, wreaked havoc, and destroyed marriages and few families. Let me explain why I think your deliverance ministry — that you now call a ‘prayer ministry’ at your renamed church, Global River Church — is a bad thing.

You preyed on my husband who was going through a long, horrible depression. Thanks to competent doctors, medical tests and therapy,  we know his entire problem was that he had cancerous tumors on his parathyroid glands. He wasn’t under spiritual oppression, nor did he lack faith. He wasn’t filled with demons and in need of deliverance ministry. He was sick. With cancer that would have killed him if we hadn’t tossed aside the compete and utter bullshit that the church was saying and sought legitimate medical treatment.

Jim told me a few days before Thanksgiving in November of 2005 that he had scheduled a weekend deliverance that weekend, that you had arranged for a team of deliverance-ministry trained staff to remove our evil spirits and cleanse us. This meant that we had to abandon our children to others for the holiday,  make the long drive from Northern Virginia to Wilmington North Carolina, and stay at a local hotel for several nights while the deliverance was going on.

I remember how angry I was, because even while at that time I was still a hard-core believer, I didn’t believe in what you guys did or your claims of demonic infestation. I was angry at the ruined holiday, angry I could not be with my kids, and angry that you insisted that I take part in the deliverance ministry too. Jim was told that you wouldn’t  help one spouse without de-demonizing the other.  I wanted no part of it.

One of my clearest memories of that weekend was waking up at 3 am on the Saturday morning before the first sessions. I felt fearful and angry, and l was suffering from extreme pain in my right arm due to an injury I was waiting to have surgery on. I sat in that ocean front hotel room, contemplating the Atlantic ocean in the moonlight while listening to praise music on my iPod, waiting for opioid pain medication to kick in. I wondered what the day would bring.

What the day brought was us being met at your church by the deliverance team. Jim and I were separated, and the sessions started. I wasn’t in Jim’s session so I can only imagine what happened. For mine, I was confronted quite starkly over things the two ‘counselors’ had received from God during their prayer time that week. The information that the women claimed to have heard from the Lord was  wrong on so many things. They told me I was having an affair with someone named ‘Walt’, which made me laugh because, at the time, the only Walt’s I had heard of were Walt Whitman and Jim Walter Homes — a dead man and a corporation. No, I was not and have never had an affair.

I was also told that my husband was having an affair — again not true. I don’t know much, but I know that about him. He’s not the type, and he didn’t have enough downtime with his commute into DC on public transportation to have an affair.

Imagine how such false revelations might have affected a married couple having problems? We both were told this and neither of us believed it about the other person. If someone in a shaky relationship was told an outrageous lie like that,  it would have blown apart their marriage. Somehow, I don’t think any of this is something Jesus would approve of.

The personal details and ‘problems’ listed on both of our prayer sheets were beyond wrong, right down to the smallest details. For example, Jim was told he loves ‘Star Wars’ and fishing, both of which he hates. I was also told Jim had a ‘demon of rage’ in him that would physically kill me if they didn’t  exorcise it from him.

The women attempting to ‘deliver’ me gave up after about two and a half hours, realizing that I was highly skeptical, thought their words of knowledge were ridiculous, and I was not cooperating like they wanted. I was told by the staff to go back to the hotel and wait for a phone call to come back and pick up my husband. He was held and brainwashed a total of nine hours. Ten years later, he still hasn’t told me what happened during his session. I do know that when I picked him up he clung to me and would not let go for many days (either holding my hand or hugging me).

We went home; it was anti-climatic by that point. We spoke very little about what had happened and things continued as normal until the point Jim was diagnosed with  parathyroid cancer and had the first of several surgeries.

I get it. You somehow think you are ‘helping’ people by doing this type of prayer and deliverance ministry. But you’re not. You are, at best, confusing people, and at worst blowing up homes and families and/or causing people with serious medical conditions to die because they believe their conditions are demonic. You take advantage of desperate people.



  1. Pingback:An Open Letter to Pastor Tom Hauser, Global River Church | Civil Commotion

  2. Avatar
    Middle-ager Deconverter

    How can something so Medieval happen in the 21st century? Wait. So much religious nonsense is ridiculous once you step away from it. Raised from the dead? Go to heaven? Go to hell for eternity? No proof no proof no proof! Yet we believe all that crap every single day! Prayers answered? Bad things happening as a result of sin? We’re hypnotized by these idiots and we believe it!!

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    Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    That was written by me and nope, no push back and I doubt there will be. They’ve all written me off as an apostate attending a homosexual abortionist church (re; the Methodist church) They have renamed the church twice now and that ‘ministry’ three times, which makes me think someone must have tried to sue them.

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      Suzanne, I was an employee of the church for the past 8 years and have recently left in frustration, mainly with Tom and his personality and controlling ways. Would like to maybe discuss this whole thing a little further. Would you be interested in emailing me?

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        Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

        Emily just now seeing this. If you are still interested you can find me at No Longer Quivering blog on Patheos

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        Ginger Beese

        The Church is still Global River. Its located across from my development and I attended it for 10 years until leaving a couple years back.

  4. Avatar
    David R

    In 1977, when I was 21, my Mother took me to rural south Georgia to a camp filled with Pentecostals and would-be deliverers. Her hope was that by being “baptized in the Holy Spirit”, speaking in tongues and submitting to the ministrations of a coterie of Grand Deliverers, I could be set free of my homosexuality.

    At first, all went well–I easily got the baptism, the tongues and the “slain in the spirit” thing. Then, on a sultry summer afternoon right out of “Fried Green Tomatoes,” ten or so of us gathered in a barracks and I had my one and only encounter with the ministry of deliverance.

    The group was mostly older women, including, God help me, my mother . The air in the room was thick with quiet prayer and the threat of imminent spiritual transaction. I was kneeling on the floor (of course) and one of the first things I observed was that demons must be deaf. When the leader addressed the targeted devil his voice was so loud I nearly lost my balance. Through the din, the assembled faithful continued praying and sometimes laying hands on me. The first object of the leader’s energy was the “Spirit of Homosexuality.” This was no surprise, but I was aware of a certain stubbornness in me (or my demon) that resisted all entreaties to “come out.” Sensing this resistance, the leader decided to head down a different path and shouted, “Come out you foul Spirt of Masturbation!” To this, I almost raised my hands and yelled, “Now, hold on just a damn minute! Leave me something!”

    Two years later I was still gay, but got married anyway. After ten years and two wonderful sons, we divorced. Two months after our divorce my former wife became the lover of my best lesbian friend. They have now been together 26 years and are good friends of my husband and me. Life does have a way of working out, despite the assistance of God and his self-appointed representatives.

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    David R., I felt sick reading about your deliverance (sic) from being you. Believers will stop at nothing to pillage and rape the body and mind, all the while singing hymns and proclaiming sacrificial love. I am delighted to know that human life has saved you and that you have a positive view even after enduring God’s help and his vicious crew of bullies.
    You know, I have often wondered if it was ever really true, that saying used before a beating: “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” I’m sure that many many believers have terrible guilt about the harm they have done in God’s name. Perhaps that is a built-in part of the fundagelical way, the undermining of the individual. What better way to hog-tie a life than guilt about this and that and the other thing!
    Anyway, good to hear that you are among us and still smiling!

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    I was 21 in 1977 too David R. 🙂

    This here:

    Sensing this resistance, the leader decided to head down a different path and shouted, “Come out you foul Spirt of Masturbation!” To this, I almost raised my hands and yelled, “Now, hold on just a damn minute! Leave me something!”

    cracked me up. Such a horrible situation and yet you managed this. I’m wondering how the old women took it? And your mother?

    P.S. I just realized you didn’t say it, you almost said it. 🙂

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    Wow! When I read this I am so sad for what you have experienced. I often ask the lord why these things happen. Why does one person experience something real and the next person does not. Was it the people who gave the ministry? Was it something else? What was it because here is the thing, my experience with global river was much different than yours.

    On the day that I went my heart was fearful and I did not want to go. When I went, most of the session was like a counseling session. There was one thing that happened that was so important. I was carrying the burden of a sin that I had never told a soul. In normal conversation Pastor Tom told me a story about a young woman who had repented of a sin and the freedom she had experienced. That sin was so specific that it was not a coincidence because when I went there that day it was the one thing that I knew I needed to talk about (but did not have the courage too).
    I told him that was my sin too!! I just repented and we kept going but not before one of the other trained counselors said “You know God never expected you to be perfect.”

    They prayed over me and spoke over me things that I had heard before in other churches (confirming). Pastor Tom is not perfect and neither is his ministry but we are to put our faith in God and not people. God lets ministry fail for that reason. Sometimes Jesus heals in a moment and sometimes he says to seek medical attention.

    I am so sorry for your experience and for all the havoc of the church in general, but make no mistake Jesus is good. His people are not and they were never meant to be.

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      Why does Jesus or God let His people be so ‘not’ good? Why do you say “and they were never meant to be”? Your last sentence makes no sense to me. Glad you seem to be in a good place, tho.

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    This letter is reeking of bitterness and is purely gossip intended to try and tear this pastors integrity down, but I fail to see where you have been hurt or done wrong. You sought out this church and agreed to attend the prayer ministry. No one forced you nor your husband. You do not get any pity from me because you scheduled a ministry meeting over thanksgiving knowing you live a long distance and would be away from your family. It was your choice. Next, you know the beliefs of the church. Most Bible believing institutions believe in the spiritual realm of angels and demons. Some even believe that sickness can be the result of demonic attack. My point is, you knew the beliefs of those you sought prayer from and now you are so brazen to get online and try to tear down their integrity while you hide behind a false screen name. And lastly if you or your husband had an issue with what was said why not take it up with the pastor instead of getting online to bash him? Its easy to get online and bash people anonymously it’s hard to confront someone in love if you felt you were done wrong. I pray that spirit of bitterness would be uprooted in the name of Jesus and that your integrity would be restored though repentance!

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      I worked for this man for years and years. I am using a false name here for fear of retribution but trust me when I say that he has done more harm than good.

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      John Arthur

      Hi Andrea,

      “This letter is reeking of bitterness and is purely gossip intended to try and tear this pastors (sic) integrity down … you hide behind a false screen name.”

      Did you read the letter carefully? You will see that Suzanne is informing Tom (and us) about what happened at the sessions she underwent. She was very careful about what she said about her husband’s session. But she did point out the false words of “knowledge” that were given were outrageous. It seems that Pentecostals and Charismatics who use” words of knowledge” take no accountability for false “words” and the damage that they often cause.

      Why wouldn’t any couple be outraged when they are falsely told that they that they have been committing adultery and that their spouse has been doing the same. This is potentially damaging to a relationship. If you think that this is okay, you need to re-read your bible and not support those who bear false witness, under the delusion that they are hearing from God.

      John Arthur

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      Andrea, you said

      “This letter is reeking of bitterness and is purely gossip intended to try and tear this pastors integrity down….”

      This pastor, it seems to me, had no integrity to tear down in the first place.

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      Exactly Zoe!

      The only concession I will make for the ministry is that in an ironic way the ‘false’ information given in the ‘Words from God’ were actually helpful as they would have helped the traumatised couple to see that if there is a ‘God’ then that ‘God’ had no part in the deliverance ministry of that Church. But imagine if the poor wife and husband were not so readily able to see the false words as being false – they could have destroyed a marriage.

      In my case one of the factors that helped me to leave faith was finding that the ‘Words of God’ that had been provided to me proved to be false.

      But in Andrea’s case I encourage her to reconsider her response.

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    Andrea said, ” I pray that spirit of bitterness would be uprooted in the name of Jesus and that your integrity would be restored though repentance!”
    Andrea, have you ever observed the tail of a cow lift high into the air to avoid the plops being ejected from its back end? I try to evade your barbaric drivel in a similar fashion, lifting myself clear of nonsensical statements. Andrea, when we are harmed by being shit-on by myopic preachers spouting words they hardly comprehend themselves, we experience a human emotion, a bile or bitterness that is the result of what has been offered us as salvation! Jesus was an angry and bitter man at times if he was human at all and all anger and bitterness is not evil and to be poofed away by the name of Jesus. And this nonsense about integrity being restored is simply more bullying from the pulpit. If you do not walk the walk that the preacher prescribes, then you are not a person of integrity? Oh boy, you sound far-gone!
    I have repented, Andrea and it did not work for long. Then I repented of repentance and repeated a pattern until I popped a rivet and realized I was pooped with it all, perpetually pooped, pooped in perpetuity, you might say. Now I am resting and am quite content for the most part although “p” ing more than I would like overall. Andrea, we fail to see where others have been hurt and wronged even as they share it, because we have closed our hearts and harmed ourselves. Someone expresses their pain and we shame and blame because we are triggered by their human suffering, the very suffering we have denied ourselves by being churched.

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    Calulu had an affair with Walt Whitman. So did I. Andrea, it was not at the same time as far as I can remember. Those were the days!

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    I was part of this church family for about 8 years. I have watched the damage it has caused under Toms leadership. I am in relationship with at least 20 people who are no longer affiliated with Global River, former staff and attendees, who have and are suffering from spiritual abuse. Some minor cases but also some major abuse cases. I have watched some of these people take years, including myself to walk through healing. This is absolutely no joke. I wish more people would come forward to expose the harm this ministry is doing in Gods name. Submitting to authority is the name of the game at this church and if you don’t, then you are against them. If you are reading this and have been mistreated, abused, manipulated or rejected by this ministry, know you are not alone. Please come forward and share your story. There are some amazing people that have come out from under this cult. People who just want to know God and love people. I can’t sit back anymore and be silent about the false teachings, manipulation of the congregation, the self entitled authority and abuse from this leadership. God bless

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      John Arthur

      Hi Anonymous,

      Does this church follow all the teachings of Bill Johnson? In particular, is the pastor into the new age gobbledegook that Bill Johnson is into? Does pastor Tom subscribe to the tenets of the “physics of heaven” book? Of course, there is no such thing as the physics of heaven. Johnson and his colleagues are merging new age thought with Fundamentalism and prosperity theology and pretending that they are evangelicals. Their whole system is manipulative, abusive and very subjective. Alleged prophecies and alleged “words of knowledge” are often false so, if this is so then how can they be hearing from God (assuming that God exists)? Of course, if God does not exist then their whole theological system is bogus, but even if s/he exists it is still bogus.


      John Arthur

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        hi John. Global River Church is affiliated with Bill Johnson’s church and encourages the congregation to listen to Bill’s teachings as well as the other Bethel pastors. I personally do not have issue with everything Bill Johnson or Kris Valloton say, but I don’t agree with all of it either. Tom’s outreach pastor and successor, Mike Thornton, does some things that I would qualify as weird, like praying over his dead ancestors’ graves asking God to “redeem their bloodline” (which, last time I checked, was already done at the cross). A lot of talk about “revival,” “fire,” and so on. Tom himself is very manipulative and a classic narcissist. And of course, being a narcissist, he will deny that he is one. There is a looooooot of emphasis on works. Tom preaches a lot on how Christians can’t drink alcohol but turns a blind eye to the sexual sin in the church. I could go on and on. Feel free to email me.

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      Yes, it’s Global River Church. Mike Thornton is the outreach pastor and Tom is the senior pastor. I worked there for 8 years and quit last year for maaaany reasons. Feel free to ask me anything.

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        Hi Emily, Thank you for you willingness to be open. Is Mike Thornton like Tom? I had heard many very good things about him? What is up with them? I had heard that good stuff was going with the Ignite outreach ministry. Is all that more lies?
        I guess what I’m trying to ask is Mike Thornton the man of God he appears to be or not?
        Thanks. Confused!

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        I have a friend that’s been involved in the church for several years now. I’m curious as to some of the reasons that you felt the need to leave, and any effects they might have on that person I know there. I know this is almost two years after the post so I won’t be upset at not getting a reply.

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        Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

        Emily, then I very likely met you. We spent that entire weekend at the church and went to several services.

        The great irony for me is that my own home church fell apart in a nasty split not long after this happened, split and reformed, flip flopped back and forth until Al Mohler’s people swooped in, and made a deal with the remaining few elders. It’s now a Baptist church instead of a Bill Johnson affiliate “River” church. Cannibalizing up people, money and weird theologies like some sort of sick Molech. This is not Jesus.These people are wolves, consuming everything within their path, doling out spiritual abuse, and killing peoples spirituality and damaging souls. I would not want to be one of these pastors and have to stand before the God they claim that they believe in.

        Andrea and Nicole, Tom Hauser’s lying deliverance team almost kills my poor husband and all you can say is I am bitter? Bitter is a stupid fundamentalist cop out that is utilized by the unthinking whenever anyone points out the toxic nature of certain theologies, like that of Hauser’s and Bill Johnson. “Soul Sucking”? Come on, how could anyone believe in that nonsense with the slightest bit of science education and theology training? It’s not even slightly Biblical.There area million other tiny things I could go on and on about that they both teach that are extra Biblical but I would just be wasting poor Bruce’s band width. I dare you to come to my daily Patheos column, No Longer Quivering and state these things there. On, that’s right, I’d just end up banning you and moving your nasty words to Jerks 4 Jesus.

        I should have sued. We discussed it after learning of the cancer, and almost did. I should have sued Hauser and the deliverance ministry.

  12. Avatar

    Ephesians 6 tells us all we need to comprehend about spiritual warfare. Please do not post about ridiculing a church or ministry because of a lack of understanding. Grow in knowledge before being judgemental yourselves.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Nicole, spiritual warfare is a myth. The person who wrote this post is sharing her own experiences. Who are you to judge her, I ask? I hope you realize that this article is posted on an atheist website. Your Christian beliefs will not find a home here.

      Be discerning about where you are commenting before passing ill-advised, ignorant judgment.


    • Avatar
      Brian Vanderlip

      Nicole, Please don’t rely on preachers and feelings to inform you so much as your ability to think, the weigh the odds and make your own choices. I wish you greater and greater freedom. I suggest you dedicate some study on exactly what ‘spiritual warfare’ is so that your natural command of Reason is further, even further involved.
      One study you could freely read is this one:

      I encourage you to read a bit about the history of ‘spritual warfare’ in our world and to allow your mind to open to information and ideas, not be closed because a preacher says the only worthwhile book is the Bible. I am sure that we can agree on the fact that churches like any other place are full of all kinds of folks, both rigidly close-minded and more open to ideas and changes around and inside themselves.
      I am the almost 68 year old son of a Baptist preacher and have been completely immersed in church life over many years. I now feel most honest and at peace with a stance that puts me in the non-believing camp. I do not ever say that any one person or book or whatever “tells us all we need to comprehend…” Very often in my life experience, I have been disappointed by evangelical belief preaching that says the only book worth owning is the Bible, discounting all the history and advances humans have made over the eons, trashing Art and Literature, heaping blame and shame on people for not being perfect and telling them they are worms without God. I would conclude with a question, Nicole: Do you wish to understand as much as you can in this life or is it sufficient to let the preachers tell you what’s what?

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    Kelly Michele Benson

    I’m a member of Global River church and I’m not going to blast you for putting this up it’s how you feel and your experiences. I don’t know full detail of what happened, but I can tell you it’s not like that now I don’t know how it was then I just know that speaking from personal experience I have been set from the oppression by Global River church. this is what ii say that my God your God my Jesus and your Jesus are a God of second third on so chances. they don’t give up on you and maybe this experience had to happen to you to make you see he needed a doctor maybe I don’t know i just know we are no longer the vineyard we have come along away from we are now and always have been God fearing and God loving and whatever your experience I hope you get to see God in his true light and majesty because you will never go back it is the most amazing love there is. God bless you always and I hope you’re in his love now.

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