[UPDATED 7/08/13 at end.] On Sunday morning, May 26th, I walked into The Word Church, Grand Prairie to confront my internet stalker. Assistant Pastor David Jarzabek had anonymously, persistently and relentlessly produced twenty videos targeting me over a period of two months in 2011.
Using the proper Youtube community guidelines, I had filed complaints about these videos under: violation of privacy, copyright, hate speech and cyberbullying. Those actions successfully closed two of the six accounts he had created to attack me and the work I do as an advocate in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christian community. I hoped my anonymous stalker had learned a lesson about cyberbullying.
When a video posted to my Youtube account in February 2013 went viral, Jarzabek seemed unable to resist and restarted his campaign against me with a new Youtube account “RepresentingTruthReturns”, an old account “exsposingtheheritics” and yet another Youtube identity created to comment on my videos. The warning posting on both his newly created and old channels was directed at me: “This woman (referring to me in the video) took down my Representing Truth account. She is evil and a liar. I am not done on the matter and she will see soon in a very special way.”
He was back and I still did not know his identity.
Through a series of missteps, his daughter, Jessica Kanani, exposed her father’s identity on my Facebook page and, late one night in February, I was able to find out his identity within a few hours.
I was stunned to discover that he was an assistant pastor at an Assembly of God church in Grand Prairie, Texas. The next morning, I called the church to speak to Senior pastor, Frank Tull. That exchange was not satisfactory. At all. Jarzabek had already spoken to him and depicted me as the bully persecuting him for his religious beliefs. The pastor said he would speak to Jarzabek and “get back to me”.
Over the next month, I included increasingly higher levels of Assembly of God offices in my emails asking for Jarzabek to take responsibility for his behavior. I was eventually told by a representative at the National Headquarters that Jarzabek was not ordained and therefore, they had no jurisdiction over Jarzabek’s behavior.
I continued to write to Pastor Tull monthly reminding him that I was not going to just walk away. He finally responded in April; Jarzabek had agreed with Tull to never contact me again and that would then (he told me) close the issue in resolution. That is not what I had requested. I would have already assumed, once publicly exposed, no one would continue in bullying their victim.
This was neither an acceptable nor Biblical resolution for me. How convenient for Jarzabek to have never heard directly from me about the offenses against me or the impact of the pain and stress he caused me. There was no attempt to make any amends.
I was to go away and be content with a cessation of the behavior.
I wanted to face him directly and tell him the impact of his intentional cruelty. Knowing I was going to Texas, on both May 11th and May 2st, I wrote to Pastor Tull stating:
I think it was be an excellent time for Mr. Jarzabek to sit in a room with me and take responsibility for his great offenses against me.
And again, no response.
So, last Sunday, knowing services at The Word Church began at 10:30 am and that Jarzabek is on the worship team and would in all likelihood be practicing, I decided to go the the church to confront him directly before services. Fellow Board member of Canyonwalker Connections, Lisa Salazar was also in Dallas with me for “Spiritfest”, a Pentecostal LGBT Christian Conference being held at Grace Fellowship in Christ Jesus.
The detour to The Word Church added only 12 miles to our drive and it offered me the opportunity to tell Jarzebek face-to-face about the egregious actions he had levied against me. This is a step in the “Biblical process” (Matt. 18) that had been lacking from once he was exposed.
Lisa and I prayed in the car on the half hour drive; as we entered the parking lot, we were both calm. We could hear the worship team practicing from outside the building. We had already discussed how I might handle that situation: I would wait for a break between songs as they practiced.
The greeter at the door pronounced, “This is the day the LORD has made!” I responded, “It certainly is.” We entered the sanctuary and stood at the back. Finally, I could see the man who had invested dozens of hours, at minimum, in creating twenty videos to bully and harass me. I recognized his wife from pictures; she walked past me, leaving the sanctuary.
I waited for a break between songs and approached the stage. Lisa stayed at the back of the room.
I extended my hand to Jarzabek and said:
“David Jarzabek, my name is Kathy Baldock and I have come here to put a face to the person you bullied and tormented and to give you the opportunity to take responsibility for your actions.”
He did not remove his hand from his guitar, quickly broke eye contact with me, looked past me and started yelling for his pastor:
“Pastor, Pastor, Pastor!”
His daughter, Jessica, was on the drums and I pointed to her with acknowledgment that I did indeed see her too. She had achieved her own internet notoriety with her like-father-like-daughter video “rap” infamy.
I turned to see Pastor Tull. In that instant, in my mind, my bully transformed into a puny and pathetic man not being able to look me in the eyes. This man, who had cause me great distress and anxiety, lost all his power and diminished to a frightened man with little integrity.
I extended my hand to Pastor Tull and again repeated:
My name is Kathy Baldock and I have come here to confront David Jarzabek so that he could put a face to the person that he intentionally bullied and tormented, and to give him the opportunity to take responsibility for his actions.
Tull motioned for Jarzabek to stay put in the sanctuary. He escorted Lisa and me to a side room off the main entry hallway. He leaned against the counter and crossed his arms.
“Let me understand this. You accuse him of stalking you and you come in here without any respect for the fact that he is getting ready for worship? You are out of order. This is totally inappropriate! You should have contacted me first and asked to meet with me rather than barging in here when I am about to bring a Word from God.”
I responded, “Pastor, I have asked for resolution for three months and I tried to contact you by email two weeks ago and again earlier this week to tell you I would be in Dallas and would like to meet with you. And, you have ignored me. So, I came by on my way to my own Sunday service.”
Tull was clearly disgusted with me. “I told you that Mr. Jarzabek had agreed to never contact you again and here you are to bully him.”
I responded, “You did write that to me that; you told me that that should then have cleared up the situation and resolved it. It did not resolve it for me and I told you three times in subsequent emails that, in my view, it was unresolved. It is ironic that he is out there on the altar when he has so offended a fellow believer. He is literally bringing his worship to the altar when he has not resolved this offense with me. I am here to give him the opportunity to deal with the offense.”
Tull, looking beyond me, perhaps to his wife responded: “Well, I will have to talk to my wife about that.” (referring to the emails that he says he did not receive that were sent to the same account all my letters for three months had been sent to.) ”
He continued, “Now, if there is one thing I do know, it is my Bible and it says if your brother has something against a person, he is the one who must go to his brother and resolve it before he goes to the altar. (Matt. 5: 23, 24) Not the other way around; you came to our altar out of order. He is not going to apologize to you. What do you now plan to do?”
The letter of the Law trapped the Pharisees too.
“When this is over, I intend to walk out of here and he will have missed the opportunity to make this right and be blessed.” Mrs. Jarzabek walked to the door of the room. I turned to her:
“Mrs. Jarzabek, I have come here so that your husband could put a face to the person he bullied and tormented and to give him the opportunity to take responsibility for his actions.”
Tull asked that she leave the room.
“Pastor, I do not care about his Biblical views. What I do care about is the treatment of others, especially those that are fellow believers. In the Torah, God warned His people 33 times about the treatment of others; I think this is an issue that God really cares about. Mr. Jarzabek intentionally and persistently bullied me.”
“I am a fellow Christian, filled with the Holy Spirit, called by God and anointed by Him. Mr Jarzabek should take greater care in who he attacks.”
This final statement seemed to bring a smirk to the Pastor’s face.
I continued, “Not only did he do this action against me, but he targeted a transgender seminary student, so I have brought along with me a member of my Board, Lisa Salazar who is a transgender woman.” Lisa and I had discussed her part in the conversation beforehand. As if I disappeared, Tull turned all his attention to Lisa and began to refer to her as:“sir” and used “he”, “his” and “man” when referring to or addressing Lisa.
I turned from that conversation when Jarzabek’s daughter, Jessica, came in the room, drumsticks in hand. Looking at Jessica, I said, “Hello, Sweetie.” Tull, still correcting me, said, “See, look, you have not come here in peace, even the way you speak to her shows that.” I replied, “That is the language I use when I speak to people.”
I turned my full body towards Jessica and stepped forward. I took two fingers on my left hand and gently touched her jawline,
“Jessica, honey, you too have offended me and others and I choose to forgive you.”
I hugged the stunned, silent young woman and whispered “I forgive you,” again in her ear.
I then reminded her, “I am a fellow Christian, filled with the Holy Spirit, called by God and anointed by Him. You should take greater care in who you attack.”
I turned back to Tull and Lisa, (for a full account of Lisa’s experience, read HERE) extended my hand to Tull again and offered, “This is wonderful that we both agree that it would have been better to sit and talk about this and I did try; that was my intention. I’ll tell you what. Two of my board members live in Grapevine and I do come back to Dallas.”
“Let’s follow the directives of Isaiah and let us “reason together” and talk about this issue in kindness. For right now, we have a Pentecostal worship service 15 minutes away that I have been missing to come here and I would like to get going.” I shook his hand and turned to the door.
There was a gathering of congregants lining the hallway. I looked at Jessica, now in the hallway. Oddly, the only thing she could say was: “How was your trip? I am going to pray for blessings on your travel.”
Maybe that is the best the young woman could do when confronted with her complicit behavior of bullying and dismissiveness towards other humans.
Lisa and I left the church.
As we walked down the pathway, I intentionally put my arm around Lisa’s waist. I knew we were being watched and I wanted to send a strong visual message:
This is my sister, she is transgender and I love her.
We got into the car and smiled and hooted a bit. We both still felt great peace and now joy. Just as we had on drive to The Word Church, we exited the church lot praying blessing and increase over the church, the pastor and the Jarzabek family. It is a strong Christian principle to bless our enemies, so we did. (Matt. 5:44)
I do not know if I will indeed ever have the opportunity to sit with Pastor Tull or David Jarzabek to engage in a productive, fruitful and respectful conversation. I strongly believe that Jarzabek chose to single me out as a target on Youtube because I am a woman. I also believe that Pastor Tull was dismissive about appropriately holding his Associate Pastor accountable because I am a woman. The message they screamed in their silence until Sunday was “Sit down!”
I love justice, I seek mercy and I do walk humbly with my God. While oppression against the gay and transgender community emanates from the Christian church, I will not “sit down”.
A few months after Jarzabek was shut down the first time for bullying me on Youtube, I saw a video online telling the story of a cyber/internet bully that was exposed and confronted by a reporter.
I watched that video and prayed right then, in earnest, “God, I would love to confront my bully face-to-face and tell him about the cost of the pain he caused me.” I never thought that would be possible.
And now, I have. And it felt wonderful.
Several layers of Assembly of God leadership ignored and dismissed me and allowed Jarzabek to simply stop his behavior without ever taking responsibility or making amends with me.
I might safely assume that the staff of Word of God and the Jarzabek family will spin this differently as was attempted in that church office on Sunday.
Only the Spirit of God can convict him of his grievous and destructive behavior against those with whom he does not agree.
Standing tall, I remain an advocate for the full inclusion and just treatment of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in the Christian church.
“No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment, you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord. Isaiah 54:17
UPDATED 7/08/13 :
Well . . . knock me over with a Bible.
Someone from the Assembly of God’s District Office in Waxahatchee, TX just called me to talk about the David Jarzabek, cyberbullying pastor from church in Grand Prairie, TX issue.
The District office tried to get Jarzabek, not ordained by A/G, to call them back several times; he did not.
After I went to the church while in Dallas to confront him after being ignored for THREE AND A HALF MONTHS — I sent the whole story AGAIN to the A/G offices.
My concerns to the person calling today:
- What systems does A/G have in place to ensure that such egregious behavior does not get buried by the local pastor?
- Are they educating their pastors about public interaction in Social Media with those in and out of the church, and the temptations and dangers of it ESPECIALLY when their “hidden” identity is found out?
- Are they conscious of the clear gender bias in this whole event of not only bullying me, but then attempting to ignore me, hoping to just let it slide away?
- As I told the caller — when the bad behavior of church leaders can be widely publicized so quickly, aren’t you concerned that you should be talking about these things BEFORE they happen?
I do not expect any restorative actions from the pastors at Word Church, Grand Prairie. I told the caller, what “making amends” would look like to me in terms of a concrete “payment”. “A years’ worth of massages, monthly, for the excessive stress that that man brought into my life.”
I think this event may actually be discussed with those in authority and maybe, A/G leaders will become more aware of their youtube, Facebook and online commentary accounts.
And, still, I will not get my years’ worth of massages.
There are a few people who have spoken badly about me because I walked into this church when they refused to meet with me or talk to me. PLEASE do make sure you read the details with the extend of Jarzabek’s actions and the MANY times I tried to get the head pastor to arrange a meeting for me. And then, think about what you might have done . . .