Covering 35-acres of land surrounded by trees and a tight security system sits Word of Faith Fellowship, an evangelical church with hundreds of members in North Carolina and branches in other countries.
Founded in 1979, religious followers joined Word of Faith, lured by finding inner peace and eternal life, but instead were subjected to extreme physical, sexual and emotional abuse for years.
So far 43 prior members of the Church have come forward describing details of congregants being regularly punched, choked, thrown to the floor, and even toddlers and babies being abused.
Authorities are working to find dozens of former disciples who fled the church. Many are reluctantly coming forward to speak out about the atrocities carried out by the encouragement of Word of Faith leader Jane Whaley.
Scrutiny of the church started over 25 years ago, when on multiple occasions law enforcement and social service agencies were called in, but this made no significant impact because followers refused to cooperate and come forward.
With all of the physical and emotional abuse, there are also significant claims of child sexual abuse by the hands of clergy and church leaders.
Child sexual abuse victims live in fear, as well as shame, sadly thinking the abuse was their fault. Or feeling like they have no way to seek justice for the abuse. Often times, families are ordered by the church to not speak out about the abuse to protect the church, or they will be ostracized from the church.
Word of Faith Fellowship is the worst case of abuse that we have seen in a long time here in North Carolina. These are innocent people, who were drawn in by a charismatic leader who has taken hundreds of well-meaning people down a dark road.
Luckily, over the years many disciples recognized the abuse, took action, and left the church. But others were not as lucky.
If you or a family member were physically or sexually abused, while at Word of Faith Fellowship call Henson Fuerst to speak with a caring, clergy abuse attorney for free. Child sexual abuse must be stopped and the perpetrators must be held accountable.
If you would like to report a claim of abuse, call Henson Fuerst at 919-781-1100. We will speak with you with complete confidentiality and work to seek the justice for you.