Friday, February 11, 2005

Being a JFJ Staff Wife

One day I received a phone call from the wife of another missionary at my Branch.

I was told I was not following the correct JFJ protocol and to get with it. I was told that a proper JFJ Staff Wife needed to be a bit like a "Stepford Wife." I needed to be very supportive of the work my husband was doing with JFJ; I needed to stop the independent streak that she and other staff wives had observed.

News had reached JFJ Headquarters that I had not agreed to baby sit someone's children who were coming to San Francisco for a JFJ Council Meeting. News had also reached the Executive Director that I had not agreed to give a ride to someone for the Jews for Jesus Ingathering. I had even had the nerve to turn the ringer off my phone one night so I could get some sleep!

Did I want to ruin my husband's chances for advancement in Jews for Jesus? Did I want the women who had tried so hard to take a submissive role within Jews for Jesus to not accept me into the inner circle?

Honestly, at that point I had enough of Jew for Jesus, but my husband felt called to serve with JFJ and it was the most important thing in his life at the time. I had no desire to ruin his chances in the organization, but something also made me wish to pull away from the group.

I didn't want my children to become JFJ clones. I began seeking other opportunities for my children to interact with children not associated with the organization.

I tried to develop outside interests. When I was called by the Branch leader to volunteer for certain events, I had no problem saying I was too busy or booked and to find someone else.

I didn't always attend Branch events. If help was needed, I sometimes complied, but not always.

As I look back, I realize that I just did not fit in with the JFJ structure. Other women did. I saw those women became swallowed up by the organization and their children also suffered. Many JFJ children really grew up with no father in the picture since "The Work" took their father away.

Of course marriages did end. Of course some of the children of JFJ staff have left the faith. I have heard that one child of a JFJ missionary did turn to drugs.

I remember hearing that a certain JFJ missionary failed because his wife did not support him. Did this missionary really fail because of his wife? No. JFJ failed. That family was torn apart because JFJ did not care about anything except the good of JFJ.


Anonymous said...

I bet some won't believe this, but it is true...

What about the regulating of congugal visits with your spouse while on Campaign!?

Anonymous said...

I was quite disturbed by how intrusive Jews for Jesus was, under Rosen and Brickner. I was amazed at the very personal questions that were asked of me, which should never be asked by a supervisor. When I did answer those questions, the answer always came back to hurt me later. It was held over my head in some way to THEIR advantage and my hurt.

There were plenty of times I wasn't measuring up to THEIR standards. Not working as hard as other missionaries, taking too much time off (like 4 extra hours than I did the week before).

I looked around at some of the people who were being help up to me as perfect examples of Jews for Jesus Missionaries, who exemplified the Marines of Evangelism that they needed to be in order to advance in the organization.

You know what I saw?

Husbands who were never home. Whole families whose spiritual lives were not much of anything. Wives who were sad and lonely. Children who were on drugs.

We were told that our spiritual lives and our Jews for Jesus missionary work were one in the same. If were were tired, we spiritual enough, ie, working enough, so we were made to work more. We were told there was no such thing as burn-out, that is just another name for lazy they would say.

If we stood up for ourselves needing more time off for rest or for our families, we were told that we weren't spiritual enough,that we were carnal Christians more concerned with comfort than with the lost. We were told that we were focused on "ease" and not ministry. We were told that we were unfocused, had our minds and hearts in the wrong spiritual place, were mentally unstable, and if we insisted more then we were told we needed to take time off without pay.

By all this "we" I mean, not just myself.

And all these things were worse on Jews for Jesus Summer Campaign (aka: summer evangelism), which lasted for a month. Wake up at 5:00 in the morning, be in the subways by 6:30, be buisy all morning with "chapel in the Jews for Jesus office and Brunch" and back on the streets again for lunch, have a short nap in the afternoon if you're not on staff with jews for jesus, on the streets for rush hour, back at the jews for jesus office for dinner and a pep rally, on the streets again until 10:30 or a little later, and in bed if your lucky by 11:30 and up again at 5:00 AM.

with one day off a week...Sunday...UNLESS your are on staff with Jews for Jesus, then you have to PREACH a memorized and approved sermon in a church, often hours away by car or train in each direction. Often two preachings on Sunday, in different churches.

I was told after I was put on staff with Jews for Jesus that Camp-pain had ONE purpose, "to weed out people the organization didn't want."

I guess they weren't willing to work as much as Jews for Jesus wanted, oops, I mean to say that the way they always said it to me, "I guess those who didn't make it weren't spiritual enough to work with Jews for Jesus."

Don't forget, in Jews for Jesus WORK = Spirituality.

Funny, I never saw that in the Bible...

Anonymous said...

"Don't forget, in Jews for Jesus WORK = Spirituality."

Bullseye, my friend. Bullseye.

And in Jews for Jesus, CONTROL = Management.


Anonymous said...

"Don't forget, in Jews for Jesus WORK = Spirituality." True worshippers will worsip in SPIRIT and in TRUTH. Herein I experience gradual recovery and restoration (for my particular situation - not JFJ). Find healing in the warmness that floods the soul after quiet times spent in the word and prayer. No work, no rush. This is spirituality. It comforts and liberates. But it takes time - however, it is good