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By Tim Weston ~

The following is an excerpt from Tim Weston's book, Heaven, Hell and Hillsong.

Chapter 4 – CHERYL’S STORY

Cheryl Fisk was born into the Revival Centres. Both her parents had been converted in the Melbourne assembly under Pastor Lloyd’s preaching. Neither of Cheryl’s parents could be called smart. In fact, they were both a bit simple. It’s not that they were mentally retarded, but it would be fair to say they were both challenged by the everyday. Before marrying her husband Harold, Cheryl’s mother Mavis had been caught having an affair with one of the high profile elders of the church, James Sweet, a married up-and-coming young pastor in the church. He showed great potential for leadership and most certainly would have made it had that Jezebel Mavis not found her way into his bed. When Pastor Lloyd found out about the affair, he was bitterly disappointed in Mavis, but even more so in Sweet. He removed him from leadership and Sweet was never quite the man he had once been, even though his wife stood by him. In spite of the Bible’s words on grace and forgiveness, Pastor Lloyd never really forgave either of them.
Harold Fisk probably knew about Mavis’s transgression, these kinds of stories had a way of travelling around the assembly very quickly. He chose to marry her in spite of it all and they seemed to be a very good match.
Their daughter Cheryl was born not long after. Mavis and Harold loved her and did all they could to make sure she had a good life. As a little girl she attended Sunday School and knew the church beliefs inside out. She was far smarter than both her parents combined, but their limitations prevented her from reaching her full potential and she dropped out of school to work at K-Mart at fifteen years old. With her red spiked haircut, she came across as slightly boyish and butch. While she wasn’t any kind of pretty, she was certainly far from ugly.
At seventeen years old she met Rick at a Youngies meeting. He was in his mid-twenties, a convert to the church and attended the city assembly. He was the first boy from church who had ever shown an interest in her, so she quickly to responded to his advances. They went out a couple of times and decided they should seek permission from the church oversight to become official. In the Revival Centres, you couldn’t date whoever you liked. You had to ask your pastor for permission to become involved with a member of the opposite sex. The oversight agreed to the relationship and so Cheryl and Rick were a couple.
Cheryl thought Rick was great. He would open doors for her, drive her around in his Datsun and buy her little gifts. When they were alone, Rick was a real gentleman. They would kiss sometimes in his car, but it was all very innocent. He never tried to put his hands where he shouldn’t or talk her into putting her hands where she didn’t want to. He called her a few times a day and asked her where she’d been, who she’d been with and what she’d been doing. She loved the attention and was happy to tell him all he wanted to know.
One night while watching television at his house, things got a little hot and heavy. While kissing, Rick slid his hand under Cheryl’s bra and squeezed her left tit. She was shocked at first but she enjoyed the thrill of it. She knew she should have stopped him but she liked it and wasn’t sure how to respond. Instead of moving his hand, she let him keep feeling her up. She didn’t mean for it to happen, but by the end of the night, he had his fingers inside her and she had his dick in her hand.
For the next few weeks the guilt was crushing.
If there was one thing her mother and the church warned her about, it was loose morals. She felt terrible about what had happened. Luckily they hadn’t actually had sex, so she hadn’t crossed the line, not yet. Rick felt bad too and so they decided not to let it happen again. They set boundaries on how and where they would be alone together and kept to them.
After a few weeks, Rick’s interrogations started to make Cheryl uncomfortable and they fought every time they were alone together. Cheryl began to really dislike Rick and after one very intense fight she told him she didn’t want to see him anymore. Rick was devastated. He tried to patch things up over the next few days but in the end, she even stopped taking his calls. She avoided him at church and Youngies and so the relationship was declared officially over and the pastors were notified.
About a month later, Cheryl’s mother Mavis received a phone call from Pastor Jim Irving requesting a meeting that night with her family. Mavis obliged but she knew that something was wrong. Revival Centre pastors only made house calls when something was very wrong. When Pastor Jim arrived in his oversized brown suit with beige shirt and beige tie, he was not smiling. Harold ushered him in and the family all sat in the good room. The family only ever sat in the good room when they had visitors. Mavis made Pastor Jim a cup of tea and then he spoke, ‘Rick has come forward and said that he and Cheryl committed fornication one night at his house. Cheryl, this is very serious and you know the repercussions.’ The room was completely silent as Cheryl and her family sat there in stunned disbelief. Cheryl could see the tears begin to well up in her mother’s eyes and so she all but shouted,
‘That’s not true! We didn’t do it! Never!’
‘Cheryl there is no point denying it. Rick has already confessed the whole story to Pastor John last night.’
‘I don’t know what he said, but I never did it. I promise Pastor Jim! I promise!’ Harold and Mavis sat there and didn’t utter a word. Cheryl was now crying and so her mother put her arm around her. Pastor Jim just looked at them all stonily. He turned to Harold and said,
‘She can lie all she wants but the boyfriend has confessed. You know the rules Harold. They’ll both be put out of the church for three to six months and they’ll have to marry. If they don’t then neither of them will be allowed to return to fellowship, ever!’ Harold, feeling very insulted by the accusations Pastor Jim threw at his little girl, looked straight back at him and said,
‘Pastor, if my daughter said she didn’t do it then she didn’t do it! She’s not marrying anybody! We’ll take this right to Pastor Lloyd if we have to!’
‘Pastor Lloyd is well aware of this situation and it is he who made this decision, so there’s no point going to him,’ said Pastor Jim.
‘We’ll see about that!’ snapped Harold. They hit a stalemate and after a few minutes Pastor Jim said he would, ‘get to the bottom of this.’ After he left, Cheryl’s parents grilled her about what had actually happened. Sparing her parents the graphic details, she told them about the night at Rick’s where things almost went too far,‘But Mum, I swear before God that we stopped!’
It was a very common practice in the Revival Centres to force young couples who engaged in premarital sex to marry. They based it on a verse from the Bible found in 1 Corinthians 7:9 which, speaking of sexual misconduct, says, But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.’ Pastor Lloyd in his unending spiritual wisdom took this to mean that if a young couple bumped uglies before they were married, the only remedy was to force a marriage. He claimed he did this for the eternal good of the couple and to maintain the purity of the church. His interpretation of that verse was dubious of course, but it was the rule of law in the Revival Centres in the late 1980s.
As Pastor Jim had warned, Pastor Lloyd refused to see the Fisk’s and hear Cheryl’s side of the story. Pastor Lloyd had not forgotten Mavis’s affair all those years ago and assumed that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Harold was hurt by all this and so sought advice from his friend Tom who also attended the church. Tom suggested that they take Cheryl to a doctor and see if the doctor could perform some kind of test to see if Cheryl’s hymen was still intact. So, as if her humiliation up to that point was not enough, Cheryl later had the doctor’s head between her legs to see if she was the same kind of slut as her mother. The doctor wrote a statement that Cheryl was still a virgin and Harold presented it to Pastor Jim.
A few days later, Pastor Jim called Harold. ‘Hello Harold. This is Pastor Jim Irving.’
‘Hello Pastor.’
‘Harold, I will keep this brief, but I want to tell you that Pastor Lloyd has decided that Cheryl and Rick are still required to marry and if you or any members of your family stand in the way of this then your whole family will be put out of fellowship permanently.’ Harold knew that this was not an empty threat. People were kicked out of the church all the time. It was called discipline. They were usually allowed back after a few months, but on some occasions it was for life. Harold whole-heartedly believed the Revival Centres was the one true church and so in sadness and deep hurt, he complied.
As was the custom for these kinds of marriages, the bride and groom were unable to see each other before the wedding and only family members were allowed to attend. Pastor Jim was at the ceremony but not to officiate, he was there to make sure all the rules were kept and that the civil ceremony went ahead properly. Cheryl could barely even look at Rick that day. She hated him. She despised him. He had lied about everything and now she had to spend the rest of her life with him. She felt she was in some kind of dream state when she heard the words, ‘I will,’ come out of her own mouth.
Even though they were married and living together in Rick’s flat, Cheryl refused to sleep with Rick. She still hated him and wanted nothing to do with him. Rick was frustrated and often got angry with her, but she refused to pretend. Four months after the wedding night Cheryl finally gave in and let Rick have his way with her. She lay there with her head turned to the side not wanting to look him in the eye.
That night the marriage was finally consummated and whether she enjoyed it or not, she was now Rick’s wife in the eyes of the Lord. She told her mother about what had happened and Mavis called Pastor Jim to report what had gone on. Pastor Jim said,‘Well Mavis, they are married, and it is good to hear Cheryl  is now acting like a good wife should.’