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Entries in South Carolina (2)

Monday
Nov212011

Pharisees Transformed 

Greg and Katrina Owens stand with Andrew in the freedom of Jesus, at the 2011 Atlanta GTS.
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Early in their marriage, Greg and Katrina Owens made the decision that their family would serve the Lord. Greg had been raised in a very quiet Baptist church where, according to Katrina, "You could've heard a pin drop—unless someone was snoring." On Katrina's side, she came from a broken and abusive home, and her family's church attendance was inconsistent at best. In an effort to avoid being seen as hypocrites, the young couple made a conscious choice to join a church that they believed did everything the right way. Intent on becoming good Christians, submitted to God in all ways, the Owens quickly became entrenched in legalism. Now, after 11 years in the death grip of religion they have come to know what it means to truly be free in Jesus. The Owens found freedom in 2009 through reading Andrew's book, The Believer's Authority.

Katrina and Greg were so set on being good Christians that the accepted the bonds of legalistic religion. (Click to enlarge)In their former church in North Carolina, the Owens submitted to an exhaustive list of rules. The stringent regulations eliminated just about every enjoyable aspect of modern life, but eager to please the Lord, the Owens lived within the church's regulations. For five years Greg's brother served as their pastor, and under him, Greg stepped into a position of leadership within the church; first as the choir director and then as a preacher. Eventually Greg was ordained.

The Owens sat passively under condemning and sin-conscious teaching for nearly a decade. They were taught that they were wicked, that God was angry and that they needed to fear God's wrath. Preachers consistently used Old Testament examples of people being killed for their disobedience to scare and condemn the congregation—ultimately keeping church members bound by fear.

For Katrina, and many other women in the church, particularly those within the leadership circle, striving to meet the church's ultra high standards came at a price. Try as she might Katrina never felt like a good Christian wife. Even Their bondage drove the Owens to search for the truth—even if it meant going agaist their church.
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when women around her marveled at what she accomplished in her daily routine, she felt worthless. Failure to meet the standards caused internal struggle and depression for many women in the group. Some, Katrina included, relied on anti-depressants to manage their struggle.

"I was trying so hard to be a real Christian, but all I saw was my sin. One day, I heard this verse, 'Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed in thee, for he trusted in thee' (Isaiah 26:3). It was then that I began to realize that having a focus on sin was the same as having my eyes on me instead of Him," said Katrina.

Frustrated and tired, Katrina began to realize that the people in her church were all poor, broke, and disgusted. The Owens family, including Aubree, Bryson, Justin and Corbin, out from under law and living in the truth of God's unconditional love and grace (John 1:17).
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She and Greg craved the truth and they began to pray for a way out. After years of being beaten down with graceless teaching, Katrina started asking God bold questions. One of her questions was, "Why did He let Satan exist?" One day in 2009, as she lingered in a Christian bookstore, she received an unexpected answer to her question. The Holy Spirit led Katrina to Andrew's book, The Believer's Authority. "This [book buying] was actually against my religion. So I argued with God. This was not the title I expected so I asked for confirmation. I told God that if the Scripture references in Andrew's book were from the KJV, I would take it home. The references are, and Katrina began what she calls her "enlightening."

Reading Believer's Authority was a real eye opener for the Owens. The first thing that caught Katrina's attention was the authority originally given to man in Genesis. She went over the scripture references with a fine tooth comb and began to share what she was learning with her husband. The couple then downloaded The Believer's Authority teaching so Greg could listen to it on his way to and from work.

Andrew and Greg chatting at the GTS in Atlanta. (Click to enlarge)Katrina began to recognize the Lord's voice. Even while mopping the floor, He reminded her of the scriptures in the book. He told Katrina she had authority over sickness; that the power of life and death is in the tongue, and ultimately, He told her He would deliver her from religion if she would receive it. "When God said that to me, I wanted deliverance. I didn't even realize at the time how much religion I had," Katrina said.

As the Owens gained revelation of the Truth, it became increasingly more difficult to sit through a church service without feeling angry. They knew they were being deceived and could see clearly the intentions of the people they called their leaders. "I was ashamed," said Katrina.

The Owens are free from religious dress codes. No more mandatory dresses as seen in the photo above. Katrina started wearing pants in 2010. (Click to enlarge)Through Andrew's teaching the Owens realized that God is not controlling everything and it changed their lives. As the revelation came that God has given believers dominion, and that He is not controlling or demanding, and that He is not holding sin against believers or withholding healing, the Owens were set free. "The more we read, the more we studied and found Andrew to be right. Our lives did a 180. I could see how Satan loved putting people in religious bondage. I saw that I was under that and began to rebuke death, sickness, etc. We were Pharisees transformed. For the first time, we began to "speak to the mountain," and we saw it move. Our marriage has been changed. The way we raise our children has been changed. Nothing is the same and we both agree—we will never go back," said Katrina.

The Owen's new revelation and understanding freed them from their bondage and gave them the courage to leave their controlling church. As they walked away, they were shunned by their friends, and some family, and the church stripped Greg of his ordination, but the Lord was faithful to provide comfort and new fellowship. Eventually, the Lord led them to move to Greenville, South Carolina where they found a new church home at Foundations of Faith pastored by Charis Bible College graduate, Larry Romero.

"It takes courage and boldness to break free, but it is worth it. There is nothing to turn back for, but everything to look forward to. We had to choose not to care what people thought of us. When we heard the good news from Andrew Wommack, we threw out everything we had ever known and grabbed hold of Jesus. We had to stand against family, friends, and everyone we knew, but a new love for Jesus made it easy. I am so thankful for a personal relationship with Jesus. Since reading Believer's Authority, life will never be the same," Katrina said.

Monday
Mar142011

The Lord's Pursuit

Andrew and Jamie with Larry Romero at Andrew's Minister's Conference. Larry is a CBC graduate and the founder of Foundations of Faith Fellowship in Greenville, SC. (Click to enlarge)Larry Romero is a Charis Bible College graduate and the founding pastor of Foundations of Faith fellowship in Greenville, South Carolina. He is a man full of the word with a strong relationship with the Lord and an apostolic view of the church, but he has not always been this way.

Larry was raised in a family of five in Port Arthur, TX, the son of a military man who struggled with life after WWII. His father turned to alcohol after the war and became an abusive drunk. Larry grew up attending the Catholic Church and he can recall knowing God was real, but he was always afraid of Him. Because of the trauma and terror in his home life, Larry would pray for help for his family, but over time as things grew worse, he began to feel abandoned by God. Larry was scarred emotionally both by his dad and by what he perceived to be God's lack of response to his prayers; as a result he became untrusting of God and of people.

Kathy and Larry Romero recently celebrated 36 years of marriage. Kathy and Larry's family stayed in Greenville, while he attended CBC in Colorado. (Click to enlarge)After high school, the Viet Nam War was in full swing and Larry enlisted in the Air Force. While he was blessed to remain State-side, a childhood friend from church was sent overseas. While his friend was away, he was born again, and began to witness to Larry about Jesus. Larry had closed his heart toward God and was not interested in his friend's salvation. Larry replied bitterly, "I'm not interested in a Jesus that lived 2000 years ago, and I'm not interested in a Jesus that's coming back in the sweet by and by. If you can show me a Jesus that is relevant to my life now, we can talk. If not, get out of my face."

Then, at the age of twenty-three, Larry came across Billy Graham on television. What he heard sounded similar to what his friend had shared and he was intrigued. Larry knelt down and earnestly asked God if what Graham had said was true. As he continued to kneel, he heard the words, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God." Larry sitting outside the home of Foundations of Faith.
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Larry didn't know what it meant, or that it was from the Bible, but he held on to that word. That day, Larry was born again. Several months later, as he read his Bible, he came across Romans 10:17 and he realized that the Lord had indeed spoken this verse to him.

In his mid-twenties, as part of the Catholic Charismatic Movement of the day, Larry sought to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. He had read Acts chapter two, but because of his limited understanding of text he expected that he would see physical tongues of fire. Not witnessing the expected manifestation, he again felt rejected by God. After a consoling discussion with his priest, he gained understanding and was able to receive the baptism by faith with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

After Larry was discharged from the military, he returned to his hometown where he entered the workforce as an engineering consultant. At the age of twenty-seven he married his wife Kathy and they began their family. Sunday morning service. The camera, visible in the background, is one of four recently donated to the church by a local TV station. All the services are recorded and posted on the Foundations of Faith website. (Click to enlarge)The couple left the Catholic Church and became part of a charismatic fellowship that taught and operated in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. As he established his relationship with the Lord, Larry began to flow in the gifts of the Spirit and he sensed a call to ministry. Although he had turned back to God, he still struggled with feelings of bitterness and abandonment.

Through prayer and prophetic words, God began to lead the Romeros to South Carolina, and he and his family eventually moved to Greenville. The Romeros searched for a church home for years; unfortunately they were consistently met with legalism. Frustrated, they stopped attending church all together. Larry continued to spend time with the Lord and began to have a revelation of God's grace, but because of the wounds of his youth, he still didn't understand God's love.

After eleven years the Romeros finally found a church. During an initial visit to their home, their new pastor spent several hours with Larry. Larry guest speaking at CBC Atlanta. (Click to enlarge)After their meeting the pastor prayed prophetically over Larry and Kathy. When he left, the couple sat soaking in the accuracy of the good words that had been spoken. Larry remembers sensing the Lord's presence in the room and he heard the Lord say, "I never left you. I have always been here. I have never abandoned you." Larry was overwhelmed. For the first time, he experienced the unconditional love of God, and he was set free from the wounds of his youth.

In 2001, Larry found Andrew on television and he realized that Andrew was teaching many of the things the Lord had been showing him over the previous decade. Surprised, Larry told Kathy, "You gotta listen to this Wommack fella; he's got both feet on the ground. There's no religion in him."

As Larry continued to watch Andrew's Gospel Truth, he began to sense a change coming. Ministers, Cecil and Lisa Paxton with Larry at Andrew's Minister's Conference. Larry and the Paxtons have teamed up to film some local television programming. (Click to enlarge)Every time Andrew mentioned CBC, Larry felt a quiet excitement in his spirit, but in his heart he thought he was too old to go to back to school. One day as Andrew was teaching, he stopped and said, This hasn't happened to me in twenty years of broadcasting, but there's a man out there, and God's telling you to come to this Bible college. You come and every need you have will be met."

"When he said that, it was like there was an explosion on the inside of me," said Larry. "I stood up and said, "Okay God, I'm going."

Larry spent the next two years immersed in the teaching at CBC in Colorado, solidifying his relationship with the Lord, gaining a deeper revelation of God's grace and preparing for full-time ministry. Today he is approaching his seventh year as the pastor of a fruitful and growing fellowship in Greenville, and he's just getting started.

Larry's story is a testimony to the Lord's pursuit of each one of us. To learn more about Larry's ministry visit the Foundations of Faith website.