Set Free: Life After Remnant Fellowship
by Rob and Brenda Herbst, ex-leaders of Remnant Fellowship (Tampa Bay)
A Look Back At Our Ministry
What a blessed life we’ve had! We have been married for 34 years. We both grew
up in good Christian homes. Both sets of parents and grandparents were faithful
members of their Evangelical churches who taught us both about Jesus, who is the
Son of God, who came to earth and died for us to save us from our sins, in order
that the ONLY THING we have to DO for our salvation, is to BELIEVE in Jesus
Christ to be saved.
Brenda was saved at the age of 14, giving her entire life to God’s service,
however God might wish to use her. I was saved at the age of 8, knowing Jesus is
the One and Only way to God. We both knew this, and that’s why we were attracted
to each other 34 years ago.
Brenda feels in debt to her Mother for disciplining her to play the piano and
for asking the pastor if she could play the piano in the church at age 13. He
graciously accepted the offer. That evening was the beginning of many years of
service as a pianist in many different Evangelical churches until the year 2000
when that opportunity was stolen from her for nearly four years. She completely
considers it an honor to worship God through music as He has given her the gift
of service in ministering to others in music.
Every week, for nearly ˝ a century, she would go into the sanctuary to practice
the music to choose the perfect music that God led her to offer back to Him for
Sundays’ and Wednesdays’ worship services. She always took it very seriously,
worked very diligently on the music, and considered it a privilege to work for
Him in this manner. She has played the piano, organ and/or keyboard in churches
for over 30 years.
Brenda selectively chose a particular Christian Evangelical college to fit her
needs. It was the right size, the right distance from home, and it turned out to
be the right place at the right time to meet her future husband, me. She was
stunned to discover that even though it was a Christian college, we were two of
very few students who attended church every Sunday while in college. We thought
it was just natural to go to church, even during our college years. We both
wanted to live a Christian life and give of ourselves however God wanted. After
we graduated from Andrew College, we married December 27, 1970. We moved to
Americus, Georgia, where I graduated from Georgia Southwestern College, while
Brenda worked to put me through school.
I decided to go to seminary to study music and education in Ft. Worth, Texas at
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where my dad had studied as well. Our
son, Chris, was born in Ft. Worth at the Methodist Harris Hospital. We attended
a wonderful church in Ft. Worth that we will always love where Christopher
Bradley was introduced to Jesus in Sunday School at 2 weeks of age. We moved to
LaGrange, Georgia, my hometown, where we bought a print shop. My father was a
music minister for years in LaGrange, therefore, I continued in Dad’s footsteps
to minister music part-time in LaGrange. Our daughter, Laura Beth, was born in
LaGrange. What a blessing
it was to have grandparents (mine in LaGrange, and Brenda’s eight hours away)
for our children. Every holiday was extra special which included a family
dinner, a time to be together and feel loved. Church was always included when we
would meet as a family for Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, or any holiday that
was on a Sunday or Wednesday. We would take turns going to my parents’ home
and/or Brenda’s parents’ home for the holidays. We were so blessed as a family
to have both sets of grandparents for our children to know God.
Both of our children were dedicated to the Lord in church when they were babies,
prayed over, believing in faith that God would lead both of their footsteps, and
that we would be the best parents possible, in being faithful to God ourselves
and leading them as their parents. We were faithful to God in making sure they
were always in Sunday School, worship, children's choirs, going to church camps,
and praying together as a family. They were surrounded with Christian friends,
Christian parents, and Christian grandparents. They were both baptized in the
church when they accepted Jesus as their personal Savior.
One day Chris came running into his Grandma and “Paw Paw” Herbst’s house to
exclaim to all of the family that he had found Jesus! He was absolutely elated
and wouldn’t stop talking about it. He was 8 years old and outside playing, and
two teenage girls went around the neighborhood with tracts to give to those who
may be interested in learning about being saved. He accepted Jesus as his
personal Savior that day and the whole family knew that he had accepted the
Truth and that he was born again that day.
Brenda and I felt the desire to work with a church sponsoring us as church
planters in Texas. Chris and Laura were kept in the church nursery while we went
out to the town to knock on doors and find people who no longer went to church
anywhere because they were not able to find a church. We ended up with 40
members with my pastoring an indigenous church. During this period of time,
Laura wanted to know Jesus, so we sat down with her and made sure she understood
there was nothing you had to DO to be saved except accept Jesus as Lord and
Savior of her life trusting Him alone, what baptism was, and I baptized her in
the church at the tender age of 6 years. She understood that salvation was in
Jesus alone and He saved her that day.
I felt a call to go to the foreign mission field in France. We looked into it,
were accepted and were on the field for three years with the Southern Baptist
Convention. One of the special things the people gave to me was a figurine of a
French shepherd to represent my “shepherding the flock”. I loved the people and
was a shepherd full of mercy to those in need. When our service was up as
missionaries to France, we came back to the states to live in Brenda’s hometown,
Eustis, Florida. As you can imagine, we were very happy to be back in the states
close to her parents, her sister and her family. I worked in a print shop in
Eustis since I had had experience in that. I eventually bought the print shop
from my boss in Eustis. We were members of a local church. It was wonderful to
be able to go to our parents’ home any time and be with them after three years
of being away from them on the mission field. Our children had their
grandparents close by again. Chris and Laura adapted well to the states and life
went on with Brenda’s Dad helping me in the print shop, along with our son,
Chris, and Brenda. I felt the desire to get back into full-time ministry in
music and a local church about 30 minutes from Eustis called me full-time to
that position of music.
Our son, Chris, was interested in a girl he met in church and they began dating.
He told us before April even knew he was interested in her at all, that he knew
he was going to marry her. Shortly after, he married April and soon they moved
to Orlando, Florida to attend a beautiful church on a regular basis and
continued to do so throughout their marriage up until the year 2001 which will
be explained in the following chapters. Before 2001, Chris had a special love
for the middle school age, and was a top-notch leader in their church as a
Sunday School teacher. He had a large group of boys who looked up to him and
respected his position as a mentor and teacher to them. They would come to him
for advice or help, trusting him in different needs they would have. He taught
them the Bible and led them to Jesus every Sunday on a regular basis.
Time went on, and God used me in a church that needed healing due to a church
split. Much mercy was needed and I was blessed to be able to minister to those
hurting lambs. When that mission was accomplished. God led me to look for
another church. There was none
locally, but there was one two hours away from Eustis, which would involve
moving away from home. They were in need of a minister of music and education.
Brenda really didn’t want to move and leave her family, but I really did, so I
informed them we were interested, and they accepted me as minister of music and
education. This is where our story begins.
Vulnerable: If Only We Had Known How Good We Had It
We were so excited to be on the staff as Minister of Education and Music. We
jumped in with both feet and started making plans for how to minister in
education through Sunday School and Church Training courses as well as with the
music ministry. With music being an important part of both of our lives, much
attention was given to rehearsals in both choir and drama for special events
such as Christmas and Easter, a praise team, and the birth of a praise band. The
pastor was not supportive of “upbeat” music, as he called it, but he gave the
“go ahead” to do it anyway. This created tension between the pastor and me due
to the time and effort that was needed to work on all of the different groups.
I was working in my office at the church as usual as Brenda burst through the
door to tell me what someone had just had the audacity to ask her. I looked up
from my boredom as she informed me of the news. “Did you know what someone just
asked me?” she asked.
“No, what?” I responded.
“Karen dared to ask me if I minded if she brought a Christian weight-loss
program into the church with a ‘real’ Bible Study!”
I looked at her to see how she felt about that.
Brenda had been a leader of an excellent Christian weight-loss program called
“First Place” for five years or more with many people involved in the program.
The current classes were approved by the church and scheduled each week to be
held on a regular basis. “I just can’t believe she even asked that! We would
lose some people that are in First Place to her program, “Weigh Down”. It would
be competition!” she said, with agitation.Seeing that she was obviously bothered
about the whole idea of having another weight-loss program competing with the
current one being held in the church, I said, “I will have to talk to her and
tell her it just isn’t possible.”
Brenda loved ministering to people. God gave her the heart to minister to anyone
who had any kind of problem, so one of the opportunities she jumped at was the
opportunity to lead a Christian weight-loss program. It was something that she
could relate to. She had about 40 pounds to lose and she was persistent in
looking to God for the answer. People would come to the classes each week and
open up their hearts and minds to apply what God had to teach about not only how
to eat properly, but other areas in their lives, as well. Everyone wanted to get
back on track with the way God wanted them to live in every avenue of life.
We kept busy with our “jobs” in the church. Being the Minister of Education and
Music, Brenda was occupied with playing the piano under my direction. Easter was
always a big time for preparing the music and we were getting ready for all of
the drama as well. Our church had two accompanists and Linda, the other
accompanist, decided she would go on vacation for Easter. That left Brenda alone
with all of the music. Due to all of the extra time spent playing for rehearsals
for Easter, she developed tennis elbow.
“Why can’t you do easier music than this?” she asked me. “You are always trying
to outdo the last program you did the last time! It’s impossible to do what you
are trying to accomplish! I am the only accompanist with all of this work that
you have lined up and you don’t even care about that!” she complained.
“I want to give the best I can,” I said. She would complain my answer was always
the same and that I would never help her out and give her a break. She was so
angry for my “not understanding” her part of the job. She was having a pity
party and I never understood her. She was burnt out for sure.
Laura, our daughter, sang duets with her Dad in the church services. She was the
“light of our lives” and her nickname from the time she was born was “Sunshine”.
She was a strong, uplifting leader in the single’s group. The singles went
places together often as a church group. One day we noticed her sitting with
someone who just started visiting the church. I introduced myself to him. His
name was Pete.
A few weeks later, Laura asked us if she could have the singles over at our
house for a Bible Study. “Sure, we think that would be a wonderful idea,” we
said. We were pleased to hear Pete’s wisdom of the Bible as he interpreted it in
the Bible Study. “Laura, Pete really seems to know the Bible”, Brenda said after
the singles left the house. “Yes, Momma, he really does know it well. He is
extremely wise. I’m glad you feel like I do about that,” she replied.
One Wednesday night, Connie joined the choir. She had been a member of the
church for a few months. She sat next to Brenda in the alto section and they
laughed at the mistakes they would make as they struggled to learn the music
together for Sunday morning. She took an interest in learning more about reading
music and since Brenda taught piano at home and I directed the choir, she asked
us to help her out with private lessons.
“Want to go to the sushi bar?” Connie would ask. We had some wonderful memories
together going to the sushi bar, shopping, visiting together, etc.
Connie was a giver and loved to serve. After asking me, she surprised Brenda on
Valentine’s Day with sending a limousine to our front door to pick us up to go
to a wonderful restaurant in Clearwater Beach for Valentine’s Day. It was so
much fun, we laughed all the way to the restaurant in that limo. The restaurant
was classy and we will never forget her kindness.
And just a few months later, after Connie’s voice and piano lessons, she asked,
“Have you heard about the new Weigh Down class starting tonight?”
Brenda was not in the mood for this. She had such an attitude with all of the
things she had to do as it was. She thought there were so many problems within
the church that were not being handled in her opinion and this question just
topped it all off. She responded, “Do you mean that Karen is having Weigh Down
in her home since Rob said she couldn’t have it in the church?”
“I guess”, said Connie with a smile on her face.
“Well, no, I’m not going. I just don’t want to and I’m busy.” she retorted.
“Ah, come on, you can get ready in an hour and you’ll love it. It won’t hurt you
one bit! Please go with me?” Connie begs. “I’ll pick you up in an hour!”
“No! I really don’t want to. I’ve just had it with church activities and I’m
sick of it!” she whined. “Besides I don’t want to have to pay for another
program that probably won’t work anyway.”
“You can do this, Brenda. I’ll take care of everything. You don’t need to do
anything but to get in the car when I pick you up.”
“Oh, all right,” she said. “Whatever.”
If only I had known what was to come.
Weigh Down Introduction: Why Hadn’t We Ever Heard This Before?
Connie picked Brenda up that evening with her neighbor, Judith, in the car as
well. They arrived at Karen’s house and as soon as they arrived, at the door was
a scale, and Karen asked each person to weigh in. Six other people were already
there for the orientation of Weigh Down. Karen’s husband was in the group to
take the class.
Brenda couldn’t believe what she was hearing on this orientation video of Weigh
Down’s “Exodus Out of Egypt”. There was a lady speaking words she'd never heard
before, like music to her ears. She felt like she was in heaven. As she looked
around the room, she noticed the others in the room seemed not to be as taken by
the words as she was and she wondered why. All she knew was she couldn’t get
enough of what she was hearing and she was soaking it in like a sponge from the
moment it started to the end. Gwen was talking something about “leaving Egypt”
and she was actually in Egypt as the backdrop for the video. Brenda later
discovered all the other people in the class had been in Weigh Down for months
or years already.
“Karen, I really am not able to afford this.” Brenda said. “Brenda, Connie has
taken care of it, don’t worry about it.” Karen responded. After the orientation
was over, Karen had set a beautiful dessert table. It was so weird to have all
of those luscious desserts in front of everyone considering everyone was trying
to lose weight. Nevertheless, they enjoyed the food by cutting it in half and
As the three of them rode home together they talked about the “new message” they
were so excited about hearing. “Why had we never heard this before? Where have
we been?” they all asked.
One week after the video there was a “worship time” in Karen’s living room.
Brenda was so excited because everyone was “hearing from God” due to this “new
message”! Why couldn’t we have this same kind of worship at our church?”
Week 4 in Weigh Down rolled around. Brenda was so excited because her weight was
coming off and for the first time in a long time she had hope to lose all the
weight she needed to lose due to the intense devotion to all of the material she
could get her hands on from Weigh Down Workshop such as, workbooks, cassette
tapes, talking with the class members for accountability, and of course reading
God’s Word excessively. No one in our church except Connie, understood this
message, so the Weigh Down group became the accountability group who had the
answers to losing the weight and “knowing God better”.
Gwen had up to 25 or more scriptures to study each week that were listed in the
workbook. Each day of the week had intense Bible study with strong suggestions
as to her interpretation which was “get it right” now or else…”Or else what?”
Brenda would wonder.
But as she was soaking it in and time went on, it made sense to her. There was
“proof in the pudding” by the weight loss, therefore, it’s right.
She couldn’t wait to get to Karen’s house to see the next video. On the way to
Karen’s house, Connie and Judith were talking more about other things while
Brenda was absolutely obsessed with what she was learning and applying through
During the four weeks of Weigh Down, she would mention these “new principles” to
the people she would see at our church and at home during the week. Occasionally
she would hear the comment that it might seem that she could be idolizing this
woman. She “checked her heart” and told herself, absolutely not, she knew better
than that, she was only worshipping the One True God through the teachings of
this wonderful lady who was so willingly giving of herself to teach others what
she knew. For that, she was eternally grateful.
During Week 4, at the beginning of the class, Karen said she had a letter from
the Weigh Down Headquarters entitled, “Rebuilding the Wall 2000” which was an
invitation to come to Nashville to something called Desert Oasis 2000. Brenda
asked specifically for more explanation of the difference between “Rebuilding
the Wall” and “Desert Oasis”, but Karen didn’t know. So it was assumed it was
not only about losing weight, like a cheerleading conference to spur the Weigh
Downers on to lose more weight, but also about how to start a church, which was
very enticing.Karen was not interested in going. Brenda couldn’t figure out why
she wouldn’t sell her right arm to get to go to that! She said she had plans
instead to see her family. Wow! Miss this opportunity? Why? Connie was also very
excited about going to Desert Oasis 2000.
Judith said she couldn’t go because her husband was adamantly against anything
Gwen Shamblin taught. What?! Brenda couldn’t believe that one. Why would he feel
that way? That statement was just ignored, stuffed away in the mind somewhere,
and Connie and Brenda talked about going to DO 2000. Could those clues have been
the Holy Spirit’s nudging? Why did the husband feel so adamantly against this
person’s teachings? Why not just ask him?
Connie invited two other ladies to go to DO 2000 with Brenda and her. At
Connie’s expense, they had fun flying there and back together, stayed in an
elaborate hotel in Nashville, and ate at nice restaurants. They unpacked, got
ready, and walked to the Convention Center in Nashville. The crowd (numbered in
the thousands and consisting mostly of women) was like bees buzzing in a hive as
they stood in front of the doors waiting for them to open. There was instant
camaraderie, each talking to each other about how much weight they had lost,
what state they were from, how long they had been in Weigh Down, and how good
God was. Some
were in little circles praying. Brenda was brand new to Weigh Down (4 weeks old)
and had no knowledge of the history of Weigh Down or it’s success. While there,
she discovered some people had been in Weigh Down for years! “What?! Weren’t the
teachings to obey God immediately?! How could there be so many overweight people
there who had been in it for years?” She questioned. “Wouldn’t the weight be
completely off by now? Why were the majority of the people still struggling?”
Connie and Brenda decided to walk around and see what they could see instead of
waiting at the door. Who knows, maybe Gwen would be around! They went upstairs
and looked through a huge glass window and there she was on stage getting ready
for the presentation! The stage was elaborately prepared with the biggest
“Rebuilding the Wall 2000” banners they had ever seen with huge, crumbled
columns that had fallen down on the stage to represent “the wall” which had
fallen. That was confusing as to exactly what she meant by those “walls” that
had fallen…which “wall” was she talking about? But, they’d find out in a few
hours. She had all the professional lighting, sound system, etc. anyone would
ever need or want. Were they ever ready to listen, now! So they went running
downstairs to wait for the doors to open. Finally, they opened. Brenda couldn’t
believe her eyes. Women were literally running to get a good seat, Connie as
well. Brenda walked slowly, but she wanted to stay with Connie so she had to
pick her pace up and follow her and the other ladies who were with them in order
to stay together. Brenda didn’t want to get lost in that huge crowd, which
seemed as big as a city. The people represented many, many different
David Martin and Michael Shamblin, along with the praise team, led in singing
songs of praise. There were new songs introduced to the crowd, which were
written by Michael Shamblin. They could be purchased on CD or cassette after the
sessions were over along with T-shirts, bookmarks, keychains, Bibles, Gwen
Shamblin’s books, book bags, and many other items. At one point there were
X-large Weigh Down T-shirts just thrown out into the crowd to stir up
enthusiasm. Brenda caught one. Was she ever lucky! She was wondering and even
asked Connie, “Why are they throwing out X-Large T-shirts? Wouldn’t those who
were successful with obedience to God need X-Small T-shirts? Why were they all
X-Large and larger?” Connie didn’t know the answer either.
The people who had lost 100 pounds or more had been asked to come up to the
stage and tell their names and where they were from as well as exactly how much
weight they had lost. As you can imagine, the crowd was hyped. The ones on stage
were treated like celebrities and the crowd wanted to meet these most awesome
people who were so obedient in losing that weight and who would keep it off
Gwen came out and you could hear a pin drop for hours upon end for two days of
her reading Scripture and her interpretation of it. No one moved. Her words were
mesmerizing. They were words spoken from the Scripture, one after the other, all
relating to “rebuilding the wall”. The whole time, Brenda was trying to figure
out how she, herself, would have interpreted each Scripture referenced if she
had had a moment to think. But about the time she’d just barely have time to
write it down, Gwen would have that Scripture interpreted already, and then
she’d read another one which led into the next Scripture, all having the subject
of doom because of the “sin that was so rampant today within the church walls”.
After a while, she followed where Gwen was going with her interpretation. She
wrote down every Scripture and was determined to go home and read every one of
them again to discern for herself what they meant. In two days’ time, there were
100’s of Scriptures that had been read from both the Old and New Testament. They
were all leading to judgment “if we don’t get it right, and stop sinning, NOW”.
OK, Brenda was curious. What does she mean? Where is she going with this
“stopping to sin NOW and “get it right”?
At the end of the last session, Gwen called for those who would like to “Rebuild
the Wall”. She called for anyone who wanted to do that to come forward and form
a circle holding hands around the walls of the whole convention center. EVERYONE
started moving to the edge of the room. Who wouldn’t want to “Rebuild the Wall”?
Suddenly there were three layers of people holding hands together who wanted to
be “holy” vessels of God to help “Rebuild the Wall” that according to Gwen, so
desperately needed to be rebuilt. Brenda noticed people taking pictures of the
group holding hands while praying so solemnly and wondered why the pictures were
necessary. Gwen was overcome with emotion and crying on stage.
Connie and Brenda had to catch their flight out and they had to leave. As they
were leaving, a video was shown with the introduction of something called
Remnant Fellowship. Brenda remembers Connie going to the door to leave, but she
was again, glued to what she was seeing and hearing. She couldn’t believe it. It
seemed to be exactly what she was looking for and couldn’t wait to tell me about
The video on Remnant Fellowship was introducing a new church that was started by
the Shamblins and the Martins and had grown into about 40 people or so including
small children. They were shown singing songs with tambourines, small children
singing beside their parents, and parents holding their babies. Everything
looked so orderly and it was introduced as a “pure and holy place where only
obedience to God is”. Scripture was read by the chapters, no “sermons”, children
aged three and up stayed in the worship the whole time and sat well-mannered
listening to the Word of God like the adults, no matter how long the service
might last with NO complaining whatsoever. There were no bulletins for order of
service, just God-led. Brenda wondered, “How did they get those children to be
so obedient?” To her, the whole video seemed exactly what she and I would love
to ask more questions about and maybe get involved in.
Brenda flew home, and didn’t stop talking about DO 2000 for months. I mean
literally, she filled my mind with everything she learned. At first I would ask
after she tried to explain what she had learned, “Ok, now, what exactly did Gwen
say?” She would answer, “You just have to take the course to hear her words and
teaching. It’s hard to explain. It’s something I have never heard before and I
just don’t know where it has been all my life.”
I trusted what she said and the next 4 years were surreal.
Exit Egypt: Maybe This Really IS Real
A few weeks after DO, Connie told Brenda she had seen on the bottom of the
application for Desert Oasis, in small print, that if anyone was unhappy in
their church, if they would like to come to learn more about Remnant Fellowship
afterwards to please let them know by indicating on the form. Since Connie was
the only one to receive the application for reservations, none of the others
going with her knew about the meeting. Brenda called the 1-800 number to get
information on Remnant Fellowship.
Joe Langsdon answered the phone. He was more than gracious in helping with the
questions.Brenda asked, “Could you tell me a little more about Remnant
Fellowship? How do you join and become a member?” He said, “You don’t join.
There is no legalism involved, nothing to sign, you don’t need to worry about
having to do any of that”, he laughed.
That was about all there was to it. Brenda shared with me what he had said and
we were left feeling a little strange about how easy that was and anticipated
the information coming to us. Why didn’t he give us more information than that?
That week Brenda got on the computer and emailed Joe to find out a little more
about what Remnant Fellowship was. It all sounded good, to be obedient, and to
only want to serve God. But I was curious as to how we could worship without
other people. After all, we lived in Florida and the Remnant Fellowship was in
Brenda and I both became more and more involved in Weigh Down Classes and
offering them to others in the community. Through Weigh Down, we were constantly
fed the message that we were to “die to self” and “it’s not about us” which
would in turn exchange our particular stronghold or “idol” (something WE wanted,
a “god”) for the ONE and ONLY God. The weight kept falling off both of us. We
were seeing this “message” really works. Maybe this really IS real. Why hadn’t
this worked before? We were becoming 100% convinced that this was the answer.
Something we never quite anticipated then began to happen: we became more and
more estranged from the people back at church. Neither the pastor nor the people
of the congregation were interested in the teaching we were receiving from Weigh
Down. We couldn’t figure out who wouldn’t want to be “pure and holy as obedient
children to God”, and surround ourselves with “like minds”? We would tell
everyone in our church about Weigh Down, offer it in our home, place the
announcement in the bulletin, and do everything we could to inform people of
this marvelous message! This proved to us what Gwen had said, that the “road is
narrow” and few people really WANT this “truth”.
After trying everything to inform people, and then being turned down over and
over again, this produced a judgmental spirit within both of us which forced us
to project, to look around at others to see if they were being “pure and holy”
in order to keep ourselves around “like minds”. It didn’t take long, until in
our minds, it became more and more apparent that we were not able to stay in our
church because others were not of “like mind”. We were pondering on when to
leave our church and how to do it.
And then the Weigh Down Advanced course came out. The tone of instruction
completely changed, switching from loving to literally fearing God. We were to
take this endeavor of following Him seriously, once and for all. Our commitment
was to be total, unquestioning. We, being the “obedient” people we were, from
these teachings, made our pastor feel the judgment call from us. Simultaneously,
I had all intentions of leaving two weeks before the pastor came to me to tell
me it was no longer a good idea for us to work together. The feelings were
mutual, and I was “obedient to God” by following Him in joining together with
“like minds” and left a full-time staff position for Remnant Fellowship.
What was I to do now for employment? We still had hopes of somehow starting a
church. “God would take care of it.” Now that I was unemployed by the church, we
no longer had a church (building) to go to yet we definitely wanted to worship
God. So, we began worshipping alone for a while which definitely was an unusual
feeling. We would share with one another what God had revealed to us during the
week in Scripture, and prayed together. There were other people in the states as
well as some out of the country in other parts of the world, doing the same
thing, separating themselves from their church, to worship God with “like minds”
to be “pure and holy”. Soon a family joined us in worshipping on a regular
basis, and now and then we would have visitors mostly from Weigh Down Classes
come to visit the worship service.
We were just too curious to see for ourselves what this church in Tennessee
looked like and we wanted to see “pure and holy people” in action. So we made a
trip one weekend October 2000 to visit the Weigh Down Building where Remnant
Fellowship was held. We found the Weigh Down building and walked in to find
about 40-50 people standing around talking with one another. They didn’t all
come flocking over to meet and greet as we were accustomed to. In fact, it was
an unusual feeling of maybe their not even noticing we were there. We knew they
saw us coming down the hallway and walking towards them. Our first impression
was as though one person at a time would come to welcome us, as if we were
“being covered”. Later, we found the reason we felt that way is because there is
a “pecking order” of authority. Only those in authority, who at the time were
Gwen, David Martin and Michael Shamblin, in consecutive order, would greet us
one at a time, as opposed to a particular person within the group who might feel
free to come and speak with us first. Protocol had to be followed.
While we were walking in, Gwen was busy talking with another group. Of course,
as soon as Gwen saw us and was finished talking with the group she was with, she
welcomed us with loud screams of delight to have had the pleasure of meeting us,
with all kinds of nice things to say to us such as, “OH! I have chills all over
me seeing you all come down that hallway!” She made us feel special, loved,
welcomed, honored, like family and talked with us personally while everyone was
gathering for worship that morning. We now know this was an example of Remnant
culture: “it wasn’t about us”, that is to say, no undue attention was to be
focused on anyone at all. Yet that morning, we were receiving mixed signals from
Gwen and the Fellowship. We had walked in to find our presence not really being
noticed or acknowledged with normal visitor's greetings because they were
withheld until the time was right, and then found ourselves being overly
welcomed, “love bombed” and enthusiastically greeted. This puzzling social
dynamic stemmed from Gwen's teachings that all are to “die to self” and serve
God ONLY because it’s “all about Him” and “not about us” because drawing
attention to one’s self is NOT about God! Gwen knew we were the first couple to
worship alone in Florida and that we had left our church to become Remnant.
Little did we know, at the time, in her mind, that she thought God had brought
Rob up there to be one of the first “leaders” of the Remnant Nation and at that
moment in time, the conception of Remnant Fellowship Tampa Bay Florida was born.
We stayed for worship which consisted of singing Michael Shamblin’s praise songs
he had written, but one traditional hymn was sung… “Holy, Holy, Holy” with the
words changed from “Blessed Trinity” to “Blessed Eternally”. David Martin, the
leader of the worship team, played the guitar with Michael accompanying him.
Elizabeth (known as Michelle Shamblin the first year of Remnant, but changed her
name to Elizabeth later on) would stand with the musicians and Gwen to help sing
the praise songs. They seemed very focused on God.
Gwen spoke, and you could hear a pin drop just like at Desert Oasis 2000. No one
moved. No one took their eyes off of her. Some people (Nashville members) were
handed a microphone to read a Scripture they felt God used during the week and
they wanted to share with the fellowship. Then someone else would be handed the
microphone to read a Scripture (more Nashville members). I was having the strong
feeling that not just anyone could read Scripture…hmmm…why not? Am I not
qualified to read Scripture if God gave me something during the week too? Gwen
prayed for the “exiles” out there “who need to come home”.
Gwen took us out to eat after worship with three other Nashville Remnant
Fellowship couples. Those three couples did not say ONE word to us before we
left, while we were at the restaurant or after we left, unless Gwen asked them
to. They kept their eyes on her the entire time as she explained to us how we
needed to look at our pastor and really determine whether he is our “spiritual
leader” or not. I thought that was a very unusual thing to say, but I had
already heard her teaching the principle in Weigh Down that we were to watch God
like puppy dogs watch their master, never to take their eyes off of the master,
in order to receive the orders they are commanded to do to follow immediately.
At the time, I wasn’t recognizing how literal these three couples were taking
that lesson with her as the “master”. She was their “master” and their eyes were
not moving to the left, to the right, not up or down from her in order to
receive any commands she might be giving to them! The transfer of “death to
self” was given to her and we didn’t understand that at the time.
She mentioned the controversy of the Trinity very quickly to us because she
wasn’t sure if we had even heard about it yet, which we weren’t even aware of as
being something controversial with her and was plastered all over the internet.
Her explanation wasn’t clear as to what she believed concerning the Trinity, but
we both thought we would find out the details later on since it was such a
difficult subject to try to define. During that couple of hours of lunch, she
filled our minds with so many major topics, we were completely blown away from
exhaustion. We were hardly able to ask any questions, let alone get a word in
edge-wise. At the time, we didn’t take note that she did all the talking
(teaching), and there was not much opportunity for us to interject what God was
telling us as His Saints regarding His Church. She was definitely teaching us
what “she had discovered to be the answer through her experiences in life” (as
if we hadn’t had experiences). Due to our blown away minds filled with so much
information in one period of time, we didn’t recognize that she was not
interested at all in what we had to say.
This was only the beginning of being “trapped” into believing ONE person who
says she “has a hold on” the ONLY way to Truth. For the next almost 4 years,
because her rules of losing weight by “death to self” were working in our lives,
we transferred the Holy Spirit’s discerning ways to HER WAYS. We were “hooked”
into believing she knew what she was talking about because of our obsession of
being “obedient” in DOING what she said to DO under the lie of “doing the will
of God” verses the Holy Spirit’s discernment.
Recruiting The Kids: Are You Saying This Is Real?
Laura was skeptical of the whole thing. She would not have anything to do with
Weigh Down. She and Pete were dating and they were both involved with the
singles and the church activities. We went our way getting more and more
involved in Weigh Down, and they continued dating. Laura and Brenda went to
lunch one day together. We had been learning that the authority line was
everything according to Weigh Down teachings. Children are to obey their parents
in order to learn to obey God. It’s “all about God” and there is NOTHING else.
Therefore, if we are not obeying our parents, we are not obeying God. The
children are not to question at all their authority, and they are to obey the
first instant they are told what to do. If they do not follow this teaching,
it’s the parents’ responsibility to make the child “feel the pain” enough to
make them want to obey. By obeying their parents immediately, they are obeying
Here’s the thing: Our daughter had never given us any trouble at all as a child
or up until this point. There wasn’t a rebellious bone in her body, ever. She
was an adult and was perfectly capable of making her own decisions through the
Holy Spirit’s direction just as easily as we were since we were all Christians.
Brenda was setting herself up for trouble with this attitude of “authority”.
Because of the constant indoctrination from Gwen’s teaching, Brenda and I felt
very sure that Laura should wait to marry until we all were in agreement. Brenda
told her we needed time to think about her decision to marry at that point in
time. She was willing to talk about the subject in depth but Laura picked up on
her attitude and Laura knew Brenda was not thinking the way her Mom normally
thought. “Red flags” went up with her about Brenda. Laura thought there was an
ulterior motive in getting her into this teaching and Brenda had expectations of
her agreeing instantly. Right away, they “bucked” each other, and they were not
willing to “agree to disagree” because Brenda thought she was right and Laura
thought she was right. We had trouble for the next nearly four years due to this
If I had only known then, what I know now! When a person or a group of people
think they are special, perfect, have it “right”, or altogether, they have
expectations of others around them and they are calling themselves an elite
group to whom God speaks to only. This creates a judgmental, projective spirit
which other people can detect a mile away and they resent. They see anything but
“holiness” in this sort of person because no one is Holy but God Himself. Rules
that we, as humans, make up to become “holy” are then completely worthless
because there is NOTHING we can do to be righteous. Only God is Good and
Righteous, and only through Jesus can we receive salvation.
The tension between a person or a group of people who think they are “holy”
because they “get it” and others don’t, causes constant friction between
himself/themselves and others. Others see right through them trying to DO things
to become righteous. The “holy” person, who thinks he is “righteous” due to what
he is DOING that the other person isn’t DOING, calls this “persecution”. This
causes horrid separation because the “righteous” person who is always being
“persecuted”, gets confirmation all the more when he is “persecuted” due to his
“righteous” attitude, that he is right. It’s a vicious cycle.
Along with e-mailing Remnant Fellowship and talking to people in Franklin,
Brenda would instant message and email our son, Chris. He was very involved in
church work, teaching a large group of middle school boys who looked up to him
as their leader. He helped them by being their friend, mentor, and teacher. He
was there for them any time, and they knew he cared for them. He was very happy
with leading these boys to Jesus Christ. He felt fulfilled and we were very
happy for him.
He would ask us about the teachings of Remnant Fellowship and we would tell him
that overall, Gwen teaches that the church has become a place full of idols and
God is sick of it. She teaches that we’ve had enough grace to last a lifetime,
being coddled and spoiled all of our lives. She says the church doesn’t have
enough fear of God and that we need to obey Him in order to make His Church pure
and holy like He wants it. Our son would ask, “Do you mean to tell me that she
doesn’t think grace covers our sins?” Our answer to him would be that she
teaches that it’s time to quit sitting in those pews year after year with the
same sin we’ve had for 40 years or more and not doing anything about it. And
that’s what Remnant Fellowship is, a body of pure and holy people who want God
and God only in everything they do.
After talking for several weeks with our son, he and his wife decided to go with
us to visit Franklin, Tennessee, where Gwen Shamblin was to see if this really
is the pure and holy place they claim to be. Laura and Pete would have nothing
to do with it and they wouldn’t go with us. When we arrived, we were placed with
a family who was dedicated to using their home for “exiles” who had “come home”…
a place where we had finally come to be with our “real family”. We were kept
busy with a weekend conference of learning how to start a Remnant Fellowship in
our city. In February 2001, we were part of a group of the first eight couples
to begin a fellowship. We were given much material for reference to what Remnant
Fellowship was as well as the Fox’s Book of Martyrs. At this stage of the game,
Gwen was already preparing us for persecution.
We were very concerned over our daughter not coming with us and learning of this
experience. We simply mentioned to Gwen that Laura and Pete did not want to be a
part of Remnant at all and that Laura was wanting to marry Pete, but we weren’t
ready for that at this moment. We requested prayer for that.
Almost minutes after talking with Gwen about Laura, a lady in the fellowship
came over to us to “witness” to us about her story of having a mom and dad that
“didn’t get it” and that we shouldn’t worry at all about our daughter “not
getting it”. She was saying how happy she and her family were in this “truth”
which gave her the peace to live life however God wanted. She said that she
didn’t worry about any family member who was not understanding the “message”
that her family was so privileged to hear. She said her mother and father would
send her letters to plead with her and her family to get out of Remnant
Fellowship, but she just kept on in the “truth”. She said her children were
happy and her husband joined finally, too, and they were so glad to be in this
“message” now. We were listening to her, but somehow it didn’t help. We still
wanted our daughter with us.
The whole group ended up in this big room in the Weigh Down Building and after
Gwen talked a while, we got in a circle, held hands, and bowed on our knees.
Brenda was holding Gwen’s hand and Chris, April and I were to the right of her
as Gwen prayed that God would be with the Herbst’s and to let their daughter
join them in understanding this “truth”. She asked God to give the Herbst family
the peace they need to serve Him and ONLY Him and that they would know that it’s
“all about YOU, God”. She prayed that God would not allow Laura and Pete to
marry. We thought that was an awfully strong thing to pray…how did she even know
Laura or Pete? She had never even met them! This was very personal.
Brenda was devastated, crying, with the whole Remnant Fellowship surrounding the
Herbst family in a circle. It was the most horrid moment we had experienced up
until then. There was more to come though. Christmas 2001 was the nightmare of
Remnant/Laura Beth: How Can This Be?
After worshipping alone for about a year, a family joined us in worshipping on a
regular basis, and now and then we would have visitors mostly from Weigh Down
classes come to visit the worship service at our home or the other family’s home
that had joined us. We were told that all the fellowships were going to worship
together through phone conferencing with Gwen leading. About a year later, we
had Internet web casting of the worship service twice a week. At the time, both
of these ways of worship seemed unusual, but this gave us an opportunity to hear
Gwen’s teachings live. Now, as we look back, we see this gave Gwen complete
control of all the Remnant Fellowships’ worship.
We recognized this message was getting harder and harder and we were amazed that
anyone at all would even want to come in because the “bar was being raised
higher and higher” in order to be “holy”. After Weigh Down Advanced came out,
within 2 years’ time, we probably had about 25 classes of which we never could
finish the 5th week in due to the constant “slamming” of the church that she
called “counterfeit”. Some people left quietly and never said a word, others
would call us and tell us Gwen is angry at the world and they didn’t want
anything else to do with her. Click here to hear Gwen's comments made during a
2003 conference call on such moments of decision.
Remember, it “was not about us”, we were to follow “leadership” by keeping our
eyes on Gwen and look to her words of wisdom that she was getting from God at
all times. She had reinforced in all Remnants that we were never to “side talk”
about anyone or question anything that came from “leadership in Nashville”,
which in turn forced us to go to “leadership” if we saw a problem. She
emphasized to be sure to call her and she would help work it out. This created a
feeling of uncertainty among our peers of just exactly what CAN we say? At that
point in time, we were not able to recognize that we were following one person
for direction in life as opposed to the Holy Spirit’s direction and she was
abusing the word authority by lording it over everyone in every area of a
Don Fischer was appointed by Gwen to “keep tabs” on any problems that might have
come up in Florida. He would call periodically asking about certain people and
how their relationship was with the fellowship. If they had a problem in not
coming to a fellowship every week (for instance if they visited with family
members on the weekends), we were told to keep records of how often they missed
fellowship and to report back to Don. Soon we learned that Don reported
everything back to Gwen. This was happening in every fellowship with their
having someone to report to as well which meant that Gwen had complete control
over everything that happened in every fellowship.
In spite of this, we were still trying to recruit people in any way we could, no
matter what the sacrifice because we were blinded to what was happening with the
mind control in our lives from “leadership”. Here are some of the sacrifices:
Laura and Pete wanted to get married in the church. Gwen taught us very well
that that was “counterfeit”, not the real church, full of people with their
idols, not doing anything about it to try to get rid of them, therefore, we were
not to be a part of that. After all, we had just left that scenario to be with a
group of “holy” people and not “go back” to that “counterfeit”. Gwen told us
without batting an eye, or knowing anything at all about Laura, that “it was all
about Laura” and nothing matters but to please God. We were devastated and
feeling like “this really can’t be happening, can it?” But we “obeyed” thinking
we were doing this for God’s Kingdom because Gwen said so.
As you can imagine, the time before their marriage was absolutely a nightmare
for both them and us. Brenda had told Laura when she was a little girl and as
she was growing up that she wanted to give her the biggest, best, most beautiful
wedding on the face of this earth because she loved her so much. Brenda’s mother
and dad had given us a beautiful wedding, one that we thought was perfect, and
we wanted to do the same for our daughter. But, due to this mixed up teaching
that we should have nothing to do with “unlike minds”, we would not bend or hear
of entering the doors of “that place where jackals were”.
We knew nothing was going to stop them from getting married, and we were not
going to change our minds about entering those doors of the “counterfeit”.
Someone had to be the one who “kept the relationship” going and Pete and Laura,
lovingly, for us, considered getting married in a beautiful park with a pastor
from their church marrying them. If we had been in our “right minds” and not
followed Gwen’s thinking, I could have actually married our own daughter. Our
hearts want to break thinking about this, but God, in His mercy, knew the
outcome of it all.
Laura needed her mom for everyday advice such as what kind of wedding dress do I
wear, how should I wear my hair, what do we do for the wedding? She asked Brenda
to go with her to pick up her wedding dress that she had paid for herself and
had made. Brenda went with her, but Brenda had learned to “die to self” so well
that by that time she was completely emotionless. She remembers the day going
with her, but she absolutely had no feelings at all. We had been programmed that
we deserved nothing, and to completely “die to self” in order to live a sinless
Our daughter could’ve just left us out of her life, but God and His mercy,
stepped in. She invited Brenda to go to the beautician’s with her and her
friends to get her hair fixed for the wedding. Brenda had so many mixed emotions
about whether she should even be with “these people” because we had been so
indoctrinated with being with “like minds”.
We went to the wedding, along with Brenda’s parents, and Chris and April, but we
were extremely uncomfortable during the whole ceremony with people there from
the church that we had exited and considered “counterfeit”. I believe that was
the first time I had put on that “cult personality”. It is a sort of a double
personality that one puts on to fake their way through something they can’t
face, believing they are right and EVERYONE ELSE is wrong.
Remnant Christmas: Is This a Nightmare?!
At Christmas 2001 we decided to invite our family to our house for celebrating
Jesus’ birth. We, Chris and April, who were now completely involved in Remnant
Fellowship, Laura and Pete, Brenda’s parents, her sister and her husband, and
our nephew came to our home Christmas day. Pete brought along his mother and her
family from Georgia, who had come to visit for Christmas. We were fine with that
and pleased they came. Everyone brought his gift that we were going to exchange
after we ate. Everyday was “all about God”, and we really wanted our family to
know the “Truth” so we figured Christmas day was a good day to read Scripture
before the meal. When I was growing up, my Dad read Scripture EVERY single
Christmas Day for over 50 years and it was the perfect thing to do.
As the Scripture was read, the room was just “not feeling right”. Everyone
seemed “antsy”. Suddenly Pete stood up and said, “We don’t want to hear anything
about Remnant Fellowship!” After that, others joined in and became
argumentative. This was Christmas, and we were arguing. Our family never did
that before. We had always honored God’s day and loved being together with one
another celebrating Jesus’ birthday as one of the best times of the year!
Pete continued by telling us that he had all intentions of coming in and
relaying to us the good news that Laura was pregnant with their first child, and
all we were concerned about was Remnant Fellowship. He was so angry that in his
mind, we put Remnant Fellowship over anything else, including the news of our
first grandchild. Now that we look back, he was absolutely right. But of course
we didn’t “get it” then. The truth is, our emotions had been stolen from us and
by then, we were 100% “numb”, which RF calls “dead to self”.
We felt EVERYTHING we did “was all about God” and we just could not for the life
of us understand why everyone else couldn’t see that and want the same thing.
Chris jumped up and said, “Pete, sit down and be quiet, you are out of line!”
Pete continued to stand and told Laura they were all leaving. His mom and family
followed him and Brenda’s family lined up behind them! They all left single file
while the four Herbst’s stood back in amazement, wondering why their family
didn’t want God. For the next 30 minutes we were all four speechless. We
explained it all away with the “persecution” that Gwen kept telling us WAS GOING
TO HAPPEN. We were well prepared for it and now we knew what she was talking
about. For the first time, we all experienced it firsthand, just like she said
it would happen.
The presents were left behind and all the food was looking us in the face.
Our grandson and two granddaughters (twins) were born while we were in Remnant
Fellowship. Our emotions were completely stolen from us and replaced with the
“death to self” mode. We were taught well that it “wasn’t about us”, “it wasn’t
about our blood family”, and especially “it wasn’t about any blood
grandchildren” and of course, “it was ALL about God”. We lost the one and only
chance to enjoy the first 18 months of our grandson and the first couple of
months of our granddaughters because “they were not ‘real family”. For the next
almost three years, we lived “in the Matrix”.
Remnant Paranoia: Who Could Believe THIS One?
I was duped into being a part of one of Gwen’s plots to destroy family
relationships for her gain. I saw placing one’s self above the law, spying on
people, “for Zion’s sake”. In October 2002, I received a call from Joe Langsdon
asking me if I wanted to be a part of a group of Remnant members who were giving
their testimonies in a meeting that was scheduled by “the enemy”. Joe said that
the “enemy” was meeting to inform non-Remnant parents of RF members that their
children were in a cult. They wanted the family to be able to recognize the
dangers of a cult.
As Remnant members (about 15 of us), we were going to go to the meeting of the
parents (the “enemy”) on Friday night, uninvited, and sit on the back row. David
Martin was going to insist that the parents listen to how their children in RF
have come out of their strongholds and are now living totally for God. I was
called to Nashville to give my testimony at this meeting because I had been a
church leader from the “counterfeit church” who “broke free”. Gwen flew me to
Nashville and as soon as I arrived, Joe Langsdon informed me that Gwen had a
change of plans, and that we were no longer going to the meeting because she
didn’t think it was a good idea. At the moment, I was “dead…no agenda”, so
The next morning, Patrick Stites drove me to Gwen’s house. I arrived about 9:30
AM. I walked into her family room, where she and Kent Smith were in deep
conversation and barely acknowledged that I was there. I sat there alone feeling
very uncomfortable while they talked to one another. I know for a fact that many
other Remnant have felt alone in Nashville, as well, because they’ve shared it
I was totally unaware of the events that were to come: One by one, the young
adults began to show up, sitting at the feet of Gwen, listening to her wisdom
she had to share. Elizabeth showed up about 10:30 AM, saw me, and sat down on my
lap with her arms around my neck (which I was VERY uncomfortable with). After
about a ˝ hour, she got up and sat on the floor.
About 11:00 AM Saturday, with a room full of innocent young adults and Gwen’s
inner circle of adult friends, Gwen says, “OK, go ahead and put the video in.” I
was in the dark about what was to follow: For the next hour or so we all sat and
watched a video that was taped on Friday evening by about eight Remnants, Joe
Langsdon being one of them, who was the leader. The video consisted of three
hours of waiting and shooting and waiting and shooting of non-Remnant parents
and other interested people (the “enemies”). The video consisted of “the
enemies” getting out of their cars and walking into the church where the meeting
was held. Later on that evening, video shots were taken through the window of
the kitchen where they were eating during the break. After the meeting was over
at 10 PM, more shots of the people were taken getting into their cars.
How were the Remnant able to take this video without being seen? They hid behind
cars, they hid behind trees, they hid behind bushes which was done by the
approval of their leader, Gwen Shamblin.
This one incident should be enough to make anyone question why he would want to
be under this kind of “leadership”.
Every time a couple would go walking up to the church from their car, Gwen would
frantically ask, “OK! Does anybody know who these people are?! Whose parents are
they? Do you recognize them?!” If there wasn’t a good shot of their faces, we
would go back and play it over and over and over until somebody stood up and
recognized who they were. I saw one by one, these young adults’ face drop with
fear, knowing what Gwen was going to instruct them: Gwen told every one of them
that their parents are MOCKERS OF GOD and THEY were the “ENEMY”! Because of
Gwen’s teachings, many of these young adults already had broken relationships
with their family and this meeting that was attended by the parents just added
more fuel to the fire for Gwen to manipulate control over them.
After we figured out who most of the parents were, Gwen began to have fun with
the whole thing. She would poke fun at the parents who were standing in the
church kitchen. “Well,” she said, “I guess they can’t think of enough bad things
to say about me so they have to come into the kitchen and stuff their faces!”
And then she would laugh at how fat most of the people were.
At noon, Gwen told some of us to go back out to the church since they were
meeting on Saturday afternoon to try to get more video shots to see if new
people had come to the Saturday meeting. The church was 45 minutes away, and
about eight of us went out there to try to get more shots of people, but because
of it being light it was too risky that we would get caught by them. So we
didn’t get any more video shots. We came home empty-handed.
This is one sick, twisted story…it’s called mind control, and I was a part of
this. I didn’t tell my wife about this story until after we left Remnant
Fellowship for fear that I would be found “slandering” God’s “prophet”. Now, you
tell me, “How did that MAKE GOD look GOOD?”
Remnant Leadership: Yes, I Believe It Is A Nightmare
Around January 2003, Remnant claimed to have about 115 Fellowships around the
United States. Most of these consisted of women and children with between 1 to 3
people in each Fellowship, some having 5-10. One Fellowship in Ohio had around
40 people, most belonging to the same blood family. The total was probably 700
people in Remnant Fellowship with Nashville being the largest of about 200
people. Approximately 100 of these people have moved to Nashville this past year
from all over the country, leaving their jobs and family so that they can be
with their “real family”. A year later, they still claimed to have 700 people
even after having 2-3 people joining each week plus approximately 25 babies born
within the Fellowships around the nation. Nashville would announce there would
be one or two people to join every week but we would never hear about why the
people left Remnant Fellowship. It was obvious that there were as many people
leaving RF as there were joining.
Again, Remnant claims to have approximately 700 members, with over 400 of these
being 17 years of age and younger with approximately 300 adult members and
probably 200 of these adults are women. Remnant Fellowship claims to be an elite
group of 700 members out of over 6 billion people in the world that are “Doing
the will of God”. At this time, we had about 15 people in Central Florida
worshipping with us who had separated themselves from the “counterfeit” church.
From time to time there were people who would come to visit our worship service
that we had tried to recruit from our Weigh Down classes. Most saw right through
what Gwen was doing and left after the first visit.
Remnants all over the nation were of “like minds” because of Gwen Shamblin’s
teachings of the Weigh Down messages, which are now available 24/7 through the
Internet for a costly monthly charge. No longer was blood family our “real
family” because according to the teachings, they were not “like-minded”. In
order to be of “like mind” one had to agree 100% with Gwen’s teaching without
questioning anything because to question Gwen was the same thing as questioning
God. To reinforce this, David Martin and Tedd Anger would remind the Remnant
Nation weekly that we were listening to a “prophet” speak God’s Word.
Festivals such as Passover, instead of Easter with the resurrection, The Feast
of Harvest, instead of Thanksgiving, and The Festival of the Lights, instead of
Christmas for the birth of Jesus, were held in Nashville. This was not mandatory
to attend the festivals in Nashville, however, there were regional festivals for
those who could not attend the Nashville festival. The slogan for 2003 was “Idol
Free in 2003” but as the festivals rolled around a person was to have NO known
sin in their life.
At times we would go to Nashville and a person that we had become accustomed to
seeing there, as a Remnant, would not be there. Seemingly they would just “fall
off of the face of the earth” and “leadership” would not mention a word about
them missing. It was as if they never existed. We would ask about them, but we
would never find out exactly what happened to them. How could this be? Someone
we grew close to, communicated with, had “like minds” with, (at least, at one
time, we thought we did), and now they were gone? … No longer were they of “like
mind”? … Not even worthy of being spoken about?
“Leadership” told us that those who are no longer with Remnant Fellowship are
now the “enemy”, who have been given the “truth”, and have left it for their
idols. We were not to question why those people left by contacting them.
Therefore, the Saints with RF have been counseled to have nothing to do with
those “heathen” family members and those that left RF.
God has brought to my mind so many people that I have hurt emotionally and
spiritually because I was doing what “leadership” told me to do. Some of these
people are still a part of Remnant and others “leadership” ran off because they
weren’t “getting it”. I would like to mention two precious ladies that love God
with all their heart who one day were baptized into Remnant Fellowship and the
VERY NEXT DAY we were told by “leadership” to “throw them to the wolves” (not
allow them to be a part of RF) because of their “rebellious spirit” in speaking
out with what they believed which translated into “not listening to God”. It is
actually because they didn’t listen to Gwen and they WERE listening to God in
I can tell you story after story of my judging people because that was my “duty”
as the “leader” in Florida. Here’s one of many stories:
An RF member’s husband didn’t agree with Remnant Fellowship’s teachings and
because he openly said he didn’t agree with Gwen’s teachings, he was told that
he could not come back to worship with us. About a year before that, with “both
barrels loaded”, the 70-year-old mother of this same RF member was “raked over
the coals” for not going 100% to “dying to self” since she was taking depression
medication due to her husband’s death. This was done with David Martin
(“leadership” from Nashville) supporting the decision per telephone
conferencing. For one hour, non-stop, David let this lady know that she needed
to leave Remnant Fellowship. David had never met this dear lady. The decision is
made that if you can’t go along with the Remnant rules then you had better not
come back. David told her that we are a group of people that have learned to
“die to self” and they now live only for God.
Another of many stories:
We, as regional “leaders”, were told to watch everyone closely, but two local
families in particular would often visit their blood family as opposed to coming
to worship on Sundays and Wednesdays. We were to keep records on how many times
they missed and report back to “leadership” on it. I have to tell you that it
was at this point that I began to question in my own mind, “What on earth am I
doing?” We had rules in Remnant and one of them is that blood family never comes
before your “true” family. Actually, I see now that these couples were wise in
following God’s Spirit in their decision to truly respect and love the people
who gave them life. I can remember David Martin, with Tedd’s support, telling us
that he wanted to visit his parents one time and he got counsel for weeks from
other Saints in Remnant to make sure that that ONE time was wise in going to
visit them. He prayed and prayed to make sure he had the approval of certain
Remnant before going to visit his parents!
Spiritual and emotional rape is not only happening by Nashville “leadership” but
also by other “leaders” around the nation. Time and space does not permit to
give all of the horror stories of how “leadership” in Nashville and in other
Fellowships has spiritually abused adults as well as children. One example of
spiritual rape is with Teri Phillips, who is an ex-Remnant - click HERE so you
can read how she was treated.
There was another family who once were members of the Tampa Bay Fellowship for
about three months and suddenly disappeared without any further contact. With my
being the “leader”, I was the only one that knew the real story:
This family went to the Shamblin-Hannah wedding in Nashville having been a part
of Remnant for only maybe six weeks. They were unaccustomed to formal gatherings
and the other Remnant women in our group helped gather just the right dress that
was required for the wedding attire for the four females in the family to wear.
An email had been sent out by Amy Stites to all the Remnant men and women
nationwide for the specifics of what we were allowed to wear: Women, with what
color of dress, what length was allowed, etc. and for the men as well, what
color and what kind of suit to wear, along with other rules to follow.
This family was like fish out of water. Because of the “busy-ness” of the
wedding, no one bothered to talk with them. They just floundered around the
whole weekend. This family had a very serious problem involving their daughter
and they trusted our advice for whom to go for counseling. I told the mother
that Gwen Shamblin would be the best person to get help for her daughter. After
a long 12-hour trip to Nashville to get counsel, “leadership” was so busy with
the wedding that it was impossible for anyone to counsel her.
A week after Gwen’s daughter’s wedding, a large group from Nashville was going
to Destin Beach, Florida for a week’s vacation. I mentioned to “leadership” that
we would like to come up to Destin for a weekend and about three days later
received a nice call saying that Gwen wanted to put us up in a hotel and that
she would pay for the accommodations at Destin Beach.
Because of the devastation that occurred in this family’s life, I thought this
would be the perfect opportunity for this family to try again, to get some good
“one on one” counseling. This was a very serious problem that needed to be
addressed. So we made the six-hour trip to Destin with this family. You can’t
imagine the excitement and hope the mother had the whole way up to Destin Beach
to get some counsel from Gwen.
In Destin, the Shamblin’s stayed in a 4-story condo where the stairway to the
top floor probably cost more than our house. (I will discuss the condo in a
little bit). The first evening that we were there I pulled Gwen aside and told
her a little about the situation with the daughter of the family that came to
see her and that now she is being rebellious to her mother. I asked Gwen if she
could spend some time with the girl because anyone who has been through what she
went through has to have some deep wounds.
Gwen’s reaction to me was, “Rob, what do you want me to say to her? What she is
going through is self-focus. She needs to just get over it!”
Needless to say I was speechless. About ˝ hour later with everybody partying as
only Remnant can party, I was standing next to the mom not knowing what to tell
her. I had convinced her to drive up to Destin to get counsel from Gwen and
Gwen’s counsel to me was, the daughter needs to “get over it”. A little later,
Gwen gave counsel to the mother and said, “I understand that you are having
trouble with your daughter and that she is being rebellious to you. I can tell
you right now that I will not love you until you get your child under your
authority.” Then Gwen quickly walked away, leaving me with the mom looking at
each other. I just sort of smiled at her and she smiled at me and we both went
our separate ways. Needless to say that family was not a part of Remnant
Fellowship after that incident. I mean who would want to be a part of a group of
people where you receive that kind of counsel?
Getting back to the condo that the Shamblin’s, the Martin’s and the Anger’s
stayed in-- This beautiful condo was on the beach and would make the Taj Mahal
look like a shack. I wouldn’t begin to venture a guess as to how much they paid
for this for two weeks. Brenda and I stayed in a Holiday Inn that was paid for
by Gwen. I sent the bill to Gwen as she requested. Two weeks later, I received a
phone call from Tedd Anger saying, “Rob! Brother! What’s going on man? We wanted
to discuss this hotel situation that you stayed in. When Gwen said that she was
going to pay for you to stay one night, she wasn’t expecting it to be as much as
it was. Do you know how to get on the internet and check out hotel prices to get
the best deal? We’re talking about spending God’s money, here. Please be more
careful in the future!” Needless to say, I was speechless and felt like a “blade
of grass”, but that was all right, because “it’s not about me.” By the way, the
hotel room came to a total of $125, which is cheap for the exclusive area it was
Even after this incident, I still could not admit to myself that there was a
problem here. I just dismissed it and said “it’s not about me”. This was one of
the worst weekends we had spent in our lifetime because we were not a part of
the group. We felt like fish out of water. But we, of course dismissed it
because we just needed to “die to more flesh”, and it “wasn’t about us”,
remember. We were just a “blade of grass” according to the saying in Remnant,
The REAL Truth is that we were created in His image and after He created us He
said, “It is Very Good.” He didn’t call us a “blade of grass.”
Remnant/Cult - Fruit from Fear
One subject that has been brought up many times in Remnant Fellowship is the
“fruit” in their lives. It is the common practice in a cult to “correct a
brother within the group if sin is seen within him”. It is supposed to be done
in “love” because you love your brother/sister so much, that you want them to
“make it”. Obviously this is instilled from the top. We heard over and over from
David Martin and Tedd Anger, “When a person comes into Remnant Fellowship, one
must forget everything they’ve ever learned in their churches so that the
“prophet” Gwen, can re-teach the Word of God”. She told everyone from the
beginning that God had given her plenty of experiences in life to learn from and
that obviously we had messed up so badly before we knew this “truth” by not
having been taught how to lay down our idols that obviously we needed her to
teach us how to see the “fruit” in our lives like countless others have found.
If one sees in others anything from the gamut of overeating, to maybe using body
language by rolling their eyes at anything whatsoever, or folding their arms
when being talked to which could definitely be a sign of “self” with hard
feelings, to raising their eyebrows, or not “sounding humble” when speaking,
speaking too much, not coming to worship every time, even if it means driving
one to two hours to be together with “like minds”, and on and on through
infinity…(does it sound Pharasaical yet?) These could be signs that there could
be a possible “seed” that just might be in that “rebellious person’s heart” that
needs to die completely. Therefore, they had better not do it any more or they
definitely are rebellious and “these people won’t go to heaven” according to
Gwen’s interpretation of Scripture. Can you see the emotions being deadened?
“Leadership” bases this correction upon I Corinthians 5:12. What business is it
of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?
13.God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you. Most of
Gwen’s teachings revolve around this Scripture. She teaches one to judge another
person under the pretense of lovingly correcting them. Fear and manipulation is
the motivation behind people “dropping their sins”. (For example, a member since
the very beginning of Remnant Fellowship, three years into being a part of this
fellowship, burst into tears because she had overeaten and felt she was going to
go to hell). It begins subtly with the fear of God by what God might do to you
if you overeat in Weigh Down and then leads into all other areas of a person’s
life. Gwen says this is not a works oriented fellowship, but you tell, me, is
this legalism or not?
Now here is the situation that Brenda and I are mourning over, but we know that
God has the victory over it all and there is a reason for it to be happening. It
is a delicate subject, but we feel it is necessary to try to explain the
“twistedness” in this “correction” theory that Gwen teaches. There was one
person that was so judgmental towards me, and every time we were together, I
hesitated to speak or even move around him. This person happens to be our son
who is still in Remnant. Because he thought he “knew me so well”, and he wanted
to “obey” the “truth” that Gwen calls “truth”, that we should correct our
brothers and sisters, he would judge my every action and word. After two years
of receiving “correction” and “correcting” others myself, I became fearful and
oppressed, wondering when I was going to receive that dreaded call from
“leadership” about not living up to man’s standards. Every Remnant has this
underlying fear. FEAR of “leadership” which in turn equals God, is the
motivation to laying down their strongholds, which is what they call the
“fruit”. Tedd Anger would always say that we would need to learn to love
correction because it means we have the chance to go to heaven. We covet your
prayers for our son who has his wife there also, that they would see what they
are doing and stop this judgmental attitude.
Acts 2:38. Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name
of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift
of the Holy Spirit. 39. The promise is for you and your children and for all who
are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call."
I could give you story after story of people who have been in Remnant for two or
more years who are still alcoholics, who are still purging their food secretly
for fear that someone will notice that they might gained 4 or 5 pounds, and
“Remnant husbands” who are still beating their wives. Families are moving to
Nashville to be with their “real family”. They bring their children with them.
What a horrid impact this will have on those children!
Nothing that Gwen teaches or says is original. Since we’ve left, we have done
much study on cults, reading the books that Gwen tells you not to read because
it’s from “the dark side”. We've come to learn that ALL cults operate by getting
the members so involved in buying and selling the leader’s products which is
considered “the only truth in the world” that they don’t have time to think what
God might be speaking to them (discernment denied).
Why do you think that the #1 rule in Remnant is to never read books written by
other authors of “the other side”, i.e. Billy Graham, Charles Stanley, Charles
Swindoll, John MacArthur, Max Lucado, etc.? Leadership in cults tell the members
there is only one “truth” and that “truth” comes from the leader of that
particular cult group and no other person. It is very convenient to follow the
counsel of “leadership”. It takes responsibility away. But unfortunately it also
does away with what the Holy Spirit was telling me because I was doing what Gwen
wanted. When one does what the leader wants, you are following man, not the Holy
Spirit because you are making MAN your ultimate authority…Just another prime
example of ALL CULT leaders.
If you are reading this and you are a member of Remnant Fellowship, don’t be
afraid to let God’s Spirit speak to you. He’s telling you to wake up and don’t
fear what you may find out with the Truth that is waiting for you to discover
with Remnant Fellowship. Romans 8:14 “Because those who are led by the Spirit of
God are sons of God.15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave
again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry,
"Abba, Father. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's
For over a year and a half, before coming out of Remnant, I suppressed things
that the Holy Spirit was discerning, thinking that it was “self”, so I would
dismiss the Holy Spirit! I saw firsthand things that were not becoming of a
Christian, much less as a spiritual leader of God. There is material all over
the internet which was there the whole time we were in Remnant Fellowship, but
we were “obedient” to the rules of not reading them. No longer… Galatians 5:22
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no
I would like to ask you, “What is ‘fruit’”?
Life After Remnant: Back to Reality
It is time to expose a small part of the dark side of Remnant. Sometimes there
are things that are just too personal for “leadership” to think they have all
the answers to.
The “straw that broke the camel’s back” with me was when Tedd and David told my
wife on the phone one evening when I was at work that I had been rebellious in
not following their counsel. When I got home from work that evening, I could
tell that Brenda was fearful of something David and Tedd had shared with her.
All she could tell me for days was that they had something very urgent to tell
me. Two weeks later, I was still waiting for Tedd and David to tell me this
Finally, one evening, drained by the many events that had occurred in our lives,
it was then that Brenda dropped the bombshell of what Tedd had told her about my
maybe “not making it when I hear what they had to tell me.” I had just passed a
real estate state exam and was very excited about going into this new field at
this point of my life. Tedd had said, “Rob doesn’t need to be selling real
estate in Florida and that ‘leadership’ will take care of this situation and, I
don’t know, Rob just may not make it when he hears what we have to tell him.”
That DID it and at that moment, Brenda knew that was the end of Remnant
Fellowship. I knew in my heart that I was not going to be a part of a group
where “leaders” dictate how you are to live your personal lives, which is
another symptom of a cult. By the way, I’m still waiting on their call so I can
see “what I need to hear that I just might not get”.
The goal is to leave you mindless. If you think for yourself, they say “it’s all
about you and you need to die to self some more”. When in Truth, the Holy Spirit
wants to speak to you and have you think for yourself by what God teaches you
individually. If one has to run to David and Tedd (who are getting their
direction from Gwen), for every decision that is made in a person’s life, where
does the Spirit of God fit in? But if you go against Gwen’s counsel, then she
leads you to believe you are going against God! How scary!
What are Brenda and I going to do about our son and daughter-in-law who are
still in Remnant Fellowship? We are going to continue to pray for them. Our love
for our son will never change as those of you who have children can testify.
We have not been this happy in a long time. We have a complete peace about our
decision in leaving Remnant Fellowship. God did not remove his love from us. The
walls of the “counterfeit church” did NOT cave in on us like we had been told
over and over again. We are seeing more and more of His love and grace for us
even in our mistakes that we make, especially at that time. That is the time
that we need Him the most, in our humanness, and that is when He reassures us of
His love for us. There is not one on this earth who is “perfect” and there never
will be one. Jesus is the ONLY Perfect One and HE DOES the work in us. There is
absolutely NOTHING we can DO to be saved. It is so exhausting to think that
there might be one more thing that I have to DO in order to be “perfect” to DO
the will of God. God allowed us to live that way in RF for nearly four years to
learn that there is absolutely NOTHING that we can do to be saved… NOTHING.
But, now, there’s peace in that we have been SET FREE from that exhaustion of
trying to be perfect by following rules, and we can now relax and rely upon
God’s Spirit and LIVE as He tells us His will, not relying upon “counsel” from
one person’s rules. The Pharisees made up their rules and lost sight of God’s
God showed us HE IS LOVE by mending a broken relationship with our daughter,
son-in-law, and three brand-new grandchildren, both sides of our family members,
and all of our friends who were not a part of Remnant that Remnant Fellowship
took from us. Not once did we have to prove our love for any of them after
leaving Remnant Fellowship. We went running back to them asking their
forgiveness for the way we treated them. They stood firm with arms wide open,
never asking us why we hurt them so much. That is the story of the prodigal son.
We still mourn over the nearly four years of misery that we caused our blood
family and friends that God gave to us to love, not turn our backs on because
according to a person’s rules, they “weren’t holy enough” and of “like minds”!
They are not the ENEMY, they are a gift from God!
We now praise God for the time that He has given us to watch our grandchildren
grow up, little Ben, having missed the first 18 months of that precious life, as
well as to watch our precious twin granddaughters, Grace and Joy, 6 months old
now, who are truly a blessing beyond belief. Yes, Grace is her name…God does
have a sense of humor, doesn’t He? Every time we say Grace’s name, I believe
this is God’s way of reminding us that we will never be able to be “good” enough
in His eyes.
We can never DO enough to prove our love for God and I want to tell you how
freeing that is to know that God is there to pick us up when we stumble just as
He does with you. I no longer fear that if I stumble one too many times that God
will shut me out of His life. Did we ever stumble a lot with our blood family
and friends. And they had every right in the world to never want to see us
again. But because of God’s love in their hearts our mistakes were forgiven and
Remnants think the “veil has clouded our eyes completely from seeing the truth”
after leaving the group. Actually this is the farthest thing from the Truth
because now the veil has totally been lifted from our eyes and God’s Spirit is
now able to work in both of our lives because we are no longer enslaved by mans’
rules to become perfect! Yay! God! Thank you!
After all, Jesus came so that we could have a relationship with God. He tore the
curtain! We no longer need another person to be our “go-between”. Jesus alone is
our “go-between” not Tedd or Gwen. We are not your “enemy”. We are a brother and
sister in Christ who loves deeply and a child of God that has been set free from
the bondage of the fear of man and the fear of being judged. To think that there
used to be fear of maybe gaining 5 pounds, or having constant fear of being
corrected by “leadership” of leading our group into legalism, etc. was not the
real world. Praise God that we have been set free from the stronghold of Gwen
Shamblin and we are living again!
As Gwen would say, in every church you will find some Truth being taught.
Strongholds are being dropped inside RF for man, but praise God, a person can
continue dropping strongholds outside of Remnant because of God’s Spirit who
dwells in you. You do not have to live in fear of what Gwen or Tedd or any other
“leader” is going to think of you.
Now, you have the choice to either look at this information as Truth, or ignore
it and look at me as the “enemy” if you are in a cult. I have no control over
your reaction to this information. I only hope that something I said will cause
you to begin to think for yourself and to find the answers to what you think the
motives are of those different out there who leaders have no accountability to
ANYONE. I only want to get the Truth out about this one very destructive cult,
"For All Who Knew the Shelter of the Fold
For all who knew the shelter of the fold, its warmth and safety and the
Shepherd’s care, and bolted; choosing instead to fare out into the cold, the
Revolted by guardianship, by Light; lured by the unknown; eager to be out and on
Freed to water where they may, feed where they can, live as they will;
‘Til they are cured, let them be cold, ill; let them know terror; feed them with
thistle, weed & thorn;
Who chose the company of wolves, let them taste the companionship wolves give to
But, oh! Let them live—wiser, though torn!
And whenever, however far away they roam, follow, watch and keep your sheep and
someday bring them HOME!
A few years ago we lost touch with them and after reading this article we
can only assume that Remnant Fellowship prohibited their communicating
with everyone not on the approved list at Remnant Fellowship.
We would like very much to hear from them again. Is there any way that
this wish can be forwarded to them?