Victor Hafichuk runs an online Ministry, Path of Truth, which I have commented on extensively. In the last few years he has lost all long-termers, generally for the same reasons, hypocrisy exposed, overly controlling leadership and [from his perspective] rebellion to the religious authority that he claims. While his notification of Paul Cohen’s sins (his ‘loyal’ off-sider), chastisement and demotion was public, not so with Sarah Schmidt another of his very loyal long-termers – until now. Analysis of Victor’s belated public explanation follows. When viewed in what I trust is a balanced way, it reveals much to the curious as to the mind of a cult leader or man of God – depending on the time of day or your take on things. I consider this an important post for those still not sure where PoT fits into the cult-scale.
Sarah Schmidt joined Victor Hafichuk and Paul Cohen with a rather public spat. Her family saw Path of Truth as a cult and fought tooth and nail for their daughter that they felt were losing to evil. Victor and Paul fought to get her, leading her into their midst on the basis that they held the Truth and Sarah’s family didn’t. As with all PoT conflict the matter escalated into a showdown at high noon. It was nasty and caustic. Positions were black and white and battlelines were drawn up. Eventually Sarah escaped the clutches of her “controlling family”, moved to be with PoT and for a decade or so she enjoyed life in “Paradise”. This all came crashing down though a little while back and her glowing testimonial was quietly removed from the PoT website. For all intents and purposes she and her work had never existed. The new boy moved in and took over her job. She was yet just another PoT has-been accursed as all who leave are told.
I’ve blogged previously about Sarah’s Departure in a general sense noting that this was just typical PoT conduct. It has been a repeating story and will be again too for as long as Victor remains in charge. Let’s dive in then to Victor’s public description issued recently. As always I intersperse my comments of explanation and finish with my advice.
Sara Schmidt left ThePathofTruth in January 2016. It occurred to us that we should offer some sort of explanation for her departure to whomever it may concern; we have done so with anyone who has asked, and several have asked.
Victor has difficulty with human relationships. I’ve highlighted this many times and it can be seen from his own words in his biography explaining this in as many words, and is perfectly obvious from the challenges that those around him face. This is much deeper than simply a man of God wrestling with spiritual opposition. There is that too – when you stand up for Truth you must inevitably oppose evil and there will always be a wake with someone moving in any direction – but there is more. Victor doesn’t understand how people will see his ignoring of Sarah’s departure as hypocrisy and manipulation on his part. He doesn’t understand that “it occurred to us” means something different to the discerning as it does to him. He cannot see what is obvious to all watching that there are other nefarious reasons why he kept quiet about a serious loss in support for more than a year.
Not that we feel we owe anyone an explanation;
For a man who seeks perfection from his adherents, Victor has real issues of integrity. This is seen by those leaving as hypocrisy. There is a cognitive dissonance within the organisation that comes from Victor. Certain people can “get away with things”. Others can’t. At the end of the day, the words from Victor are often fine, but they contradict reality, or previous words. Victor claims a divine right to speak condemnation to others, yet does not, literally cannot see how he DOES owe an explanation for evicting Sarah. The reason is simple and natural to most people, but not to Victor – it’s because he held her up as a shining example of someone who had seen the Light – according to Victor.
we just decided to give one as we understand the event.
Over the years since 2003 or so, I often reminded Sara she needed to submit to Paul as her elder. I did so because every once in a while I’d see signs of her stubbornness and disobedience; she would argue and insist on her way.
This is a hugely difficult situation for all parties, Sarah, Paul and Victor and words from a blogger are simply touching the surface, but Sarah & Paul were married at one stage; the interpersonal issues of employment, personal and spiritual under Victor Hafichuk would have been a cesspit of confusion. My take is that Victor is right in his diagnosis (i.e. rebellion) but knowing that Paul too was not all that Victor made out (he was later demoted) and that Victor struggles himself with human relationships – OMG!! This is an ideal recipe for a human relationship disaster.
Paul would rarely and briefly complain, almost as though he was embarrassed, didn’t want me to know the details or just didn’t care or know any better himself. She said little if anything when I did speak to her; she didn’t argue or question what I said but neither did she acknowledge I was justified by the Lord in requiring her to submit to authority and, she never once declared she understood, agreed, and would obey.
That’s right Victor. This is called a coping mechanism. It is what people do when they are in a less than ideal situation with a supervisor, leader who doesn’t understand. Victor views this as something wrong, that he doesn’t have overt and ongoing total loyalty. I view it as survival – normal. When someone has power over you, by way of money, or housing, or emotions, and things get out of kilter, one mostly chooses to survive. It is only a rare breed who will live by principle, day after day as this brings continual conflict in a less than perfect world.
In about the last year before Sara left, it was becoming evident that she viewed her position and person with us as one of spiritual equality, quoting:
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28 KJV).
On the surface, Sarah is right. No person has the right to usurp her freedom to choose who she serves, or submits to. She IS a free agent to choose to submit or not. God gave her that freedom at creation. This changed with marriage, but that’s another story.
Given all that Sara witnessed of my doctrine over the years about authority and positions in an assembly of the Lord, as is recorded in our writings, I was quite surprised when her contrary position and attitude surfaced so as to be obvious. I was even more surprised when she wasn’t willing to change.
As Victor imples here, Victor is right that Sarah is standing up to him. Her independence has obviously come as (like all other PoT adherents, bar none) she came to understand the issues that existed, like hypocrisy, ego, any and everything ungodly within the Victor Hafichuk world. What has clearly happened is that as her independence has grown, she has voiced it and lived it. Conflict was inevitable.
I told her that because we weren’t in agreement she could no longer be with us. Paul didn’t agree with me and so the time for her leaving was delayed as I debated and considered, waiting on the Lord to make things quite clear with such a serious matter. It was my judgment against both of theirs.
Path of Truth is Victor’s. Sure, Paul as a ‘loyal’ off-sider actually made it what it was in its heyday, but at the end of the day PoT is and has always been Victor Hafichuk’s ministry. In that situation Victor has every right to push through with her eviction if he couldn’t have someone not ‘with’ him or perhaps calling him to account.
Sara was also pining for years after the comforts and offerings of this world – pets, jewelry, garden – the usual. While none of those things are bad or wrong in themselves, she kept striving for them, looking back or to the side instead of having her full heart in the work of the Lord; I would say it was even as Lot’s wife looked back. This would affect her work and the work was suffering; both hands weren’t on the plow and her vision straight forward.
I find this addendum to the issue offensive. This is the point at which I think Victor over-steps the mark. Calling Sarah out for “being like Lot’s wife” when he’s pushed her out sucks. It’s typical insensitive Victor Hafichuk. His thinking is that he wants total honesty and this is true so he will speak it out regardless. Most people though would find it inappropriate to mention. Victor doesn’t understand social norms and when there is tension, he errs on the side of exposure. This is one of the things about Victor that grates and hurts others. “Let it go FFS, Victor!” is what his detractors will be saying.
Over years, I kept saying, “There’s a bottleneck. What’s the matter?” I was frustrated and would even become angry at times. She would deny any shortcoming and Paul would defend her, talking about how hard she worked. And who was I to question their technical matters of programming, editing, and posting when I wasn’t familiar with what it took? I continued to let it go until the day came when it was obvious Sara was determined to follow her own judgment and do her own will. The writing was on the wall, sadly.
It wasn’t until I discovered through Dennison Paul’s infidelity and deception this year of 2017 toward me – harboring bitterness, disobeying, concealing things, and turning others away from communicating with me, that I realized it wasn’t only Sara who was unwilling to submit to authority but also Paul. Here I had been speaking to her about submitting to him while he, with her, was living in rebellion toward me.
This is a genuine situation to cause Victor hurt. Paul and Sarah essentially ‘conspired’ to do their own thing independently of Victor. It’s not quite so simple though as Victor didn’t know what was happening. Presumably he was paying them, reaping the rewards; they were doing the work – that’s a business. If as a business manager you don’t know the score, it’s YOUR responsibility when things go wrong. The buck always stops with YOU!
One should think Paul was the one who should have been rebuked for unsubmissiveness and lack of respect for the Lord’s authority; Paul wasn’t exercising authority or requiring obedience of Sara except perhaps in selfishness and hypocrisy, so why should she have believed, obeyed, and had any respect for us? Does not example set the pace more than does the word? The time came that the Lord was cleaning house, bringing judgment to us. He’d had about enough.
Spiritualising things like this is a tricky game to play. My take is that this is true TO A POINT but that the employment, ministry and personal aspects had an equal contribution to the difficult situation. Again, it always comes down to the leader – what his role was. Victor’s self-assessment is not always balanced!
So why was Sara first exposed and required to go before Paul? I’m not sure, except that the Lord Only knows the hearts.
Yes, this is true . . . AND it includes Victor’s as well. My bible tells me that the human heart is forever deceitful.
You’ll recall that while Aaron and Miriam murmured against Moses, it was only Miriam whom the Lord afflicted with leprosy and shut out of the camp of Israel for seven days. Why wasn’t Aaron chastened in similar fashion? These things we must leave with the Lord. Perhaps Aaron would be chastened another way when he lost his two sons Nadab and Abihu when they offered strange fire. He was also denied entry into the promised land. God knows what He must do with each, and when and how.
One thing I can say, not that I’m fully persuaded yet – I await long-term fruits with Paul: He has fully confessed his wrong and appears to be genuinely repentant of his grievous waywardness, whereas Sara never did acknowledge any wrong. Is this not an important difference?
Sara clearly assessed the situation as worthy of standing up to Victor after a very long time as an active supporter – for whatever reason she paid a high price for it. I guess that shows the world the real score in regards to Victor’s ministry.
There you have it with Sara Schmidt. She has gone back to be with her mother Beth in Wisconsin. According to Sara, her mother has been a stalwart feminist. The fruit not falling far from the tree? This despite the revelatory dreams Sara had of her.
It may also show desperation and the mother and daughter still/will continue to fight. Victor can be brutal and cruel at times in his criticism. I think this is one of those times.
2 Peter 2:20-22 MKJV
(20) For if they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the full knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and are again entangled, they have been overcome by these, their last things are worse than the first.
(21) For it would have been better for them not to have fully known the way of righteousness, than fully knowing it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.
(22) But the word of the true proverb has happened to them: The dog turning to his own vomit; and, The washed sow to wallowing in the mire.
And this is what the leader of PoT does to one of those who supported him and his ministry – not only for years but more than a decade . . . dog; vomit – pig; mud?
It is my take that Victor is correct in much of his analysis here. His explanation reads well. The circumstances match with all other research I’ve conducted thus is fully factual.
What it does though is show, again, at how the leadership at PoT lacks – Victor has psychiatric issues that create challenging and difficult situations in human relationships. He speaks truth as he sees it but expects much, is overly judgmental and leaves a trail of human trauma wherever he goes.
That’s the Path of Truth!
Editing Note: Post written 2017, published 2018.