Open Letter to a Pentecostal Pastor

There is no impartial education. Education is either for suppression or freedom’. As an educator, I teach for freedom from all who would oppress people. 

In particular, I encourage women to reach their full potential in Christ’. Patricia Erlandsen. 

Who's My Pastor

A public letter was written by me in reply to the question….

“We need to know which church you are currently attending and also need a reference from your pastor”.

“Who is my pastor?”

Dear L,

I am sending out my reply as a public letter to your question.  I will not identify you or the Pastor or the church you work in.  I do so publicly to show as an example of the oppression and the small-mindedness encountered in the Pentecostal church here in Australia. Not everyone I send it to will necessarily agree with my doing so. Nevertheless, I must do what I must do.  Sometimes ‘to remain silent is treason’ (Mandela).

Furthermore, there is too much at stake to remain a member of and reinforce the ‘culture of silence’ (Paulo Freire: ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’,) that exists in the Pentecostal church in Australia. Your pastor’s question, “we need to know which church you are currently attending and also need a reference from your pastor”.

In my experience, this question matches the protocol of most Pentecostal churches. As you no doubt will recall, I wanted to advertise my Christian courses in your paper  (see below). You passed on to me the question: “we need to know which church you are currently attending and also need a reference from your pastor”.

I presume ‘we’ does not mean you, L.  However, I will address you in the body of my letter, but to clarify the question asked, my main inquiries are directed to your Pastor and presumably, the ‘oversight’ of the 500 odd churches you proclaim to represent in Australia. My answer to the question is as follows:

The question asked when I submitted to you two advertisements for your Christian publicly published paper was: “we need to know which church you are currently attending and also need a reference from your pastor”. Ah yes, I forgot for a moment, the control factor of the believer’s faith –  how foolish of me.  I have been away from it all for so long, my head buried in a Book.

Still, thirty years as a believer – having preached, taught and conducted training programs and initiating a magazine that at last count had published and posted 50,000 round the world to an untouched people group who had never heard the gospel, and itinerating in the eastern states of Australia and South Australia in one of the mainstream Pentecostal churches; you would have thought I’d remember the mindsets.

Having completed that part of my journey, I went into all the world, wherever I believed the Spirit of God was leading me.  Sometimes hungry, with no sure dwelling place; many times in a strange country and no money to get out, the churches too poor not to mention war-torn to send me on my way.  Dependent upon the Lord to provide for me in a miraculous way, I remember one time giving all my money to a family with no food one hour before my plane departed.  God provided in another way for me!

Another time I travelled for two nights through Mexico without either food to eat, money for the public toilets, toothpaste, or other personal needs that only a woman could possibly know about – ah yes, then there was the time I was in Fiji.  I had preached and was travelling to another island, I had no money to get there, but the Spirit had bid me to go.  I worked there for a week and received little.

On the tarmac, as I was waiting for my flight, with no money to buy my ticket to get out, my fare arrived literally, out-of-the-blue. A Pastor, the ‘head’ at the time of the AOG in Fiji, spotted me getting off the light aircraft I intended to board (had I had the money) and he strode up to me and said, ‘Sister Pat the church took up an offering” and gave me enough to do so.

You know, I’m sure that Pastor will give me a reference gladly if I ask him! He told me after my preaching for a week in his church a team of youth was so inspired by the Lord they decided to take a gap year and went preaching the Gospel throughout the islands. What can I say? And that’s not the half of it.

When I returned to Australia, I was appalled by the number of steadfast believers out of the church, and I knew, in my heart, for all the same reasons, I was one of them. They, like myself, no longer feel they have a place in the organised church. Many of them are like yourself. Women, who like me, a long time ago, attended faithfully and gave of all that we had.

Then there is the head of the AOG in Australia. He sent a letter out around 1983 to all the churches in SA and asked they welcome me. I was training churches in the street and personal evangelism at the time using material I had written for that purpose.

It meant going into the local street in your city or town, wherever the lost, homeless, and restless youth hangout, the druggies and prostitutes, you know the kind I’m sure, the kind that the church would look down their noses at. I don’t recall he asked me if I was a member of a church, but I don’t doubt he would give me a referral as he did back then to all those pastors.

Indeed, your pastor’s question says it all!  Who indeed is my pastor?  Like others, where could I and others like myself, both women and many men also, although I find they are not so quick to express it because they can find some solace in being the ‘head’ of their wives, find a home that would allow us to exercise our God-given gifts to their fullest measure?

My study materials, which I hope, if I pass the test put to me, to advertise in your church’s paper, address this same issue.  Some things never change, particularly control, domination, and the oppression of the disenfranchised.

I recall another, whom I do my best to imitate, was interrogated in much the same fashion some 2000 years ago. His reply was, “We ought to obey God rather than man [sic].  Which church do I attend?  None.  Who is my pastor?  More to the point, at 61 years of age and thirty-one years a believer, who am I pastoring?

I will tell you – anyone and everyone I meet along life’s highway.  Single people, married people, divorced and broken people, alienated people, children when an opportunity arises, teenagers, (how I love em, the rebellious especially), the depressed and the alternate lifestyle people, the dying and the unemployed.  O, yes, none of them attend church either, but they do have a pastor who cares, prays for them, and follows them up, encouraging them to keep on keeping on!

Overall, like me, we have the Great Shepherd of the sheep and he is leading us on.  Then there are those who I stay in touch with worldwide in service for the Lord who I have had the amazing privilege (me!), of influencing in some tiny way in God’s grand scheme.  I am glad to serve the Lord in this way although I can tell you I went thru a near-death experience to get where I am today.  It is a costly business when the Lord owns everything – a very risky, insecure business.

The time that I used to spend in meetings, I now spend studying to understand the Word and my faith in a way that will influence more people. I write rather than seek a platform for public preaching.  I intend to utilise fully the power of the pen and the freedom the web offers for that purpose.  It is surely a new day.  What a day we live in to influence people for the Lord.  Happily, other than the world wide web, I teach in groups of ones and twos.  Whosoever will.  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.

I hope you opt to do my course L.  Privacy guaranteed!  I am happy to work with people anonymously if you so choose because I understand the fear generated from thinking different from one’s oppressors – those in the church who either covertly or otherwise usurp the place of Christ in the believer’s life.  I have been there.  Is it possible, L, that God has called you to be other than a pastor’s secretary? Tell me, do you also harbour revolutionary thoughts in your own heart?

That is what my course is all about, revolutionary thoughts and ideas of freedom so that one can serve the Lord wholeheartedly where one is called to do so and however one sees fit. Not everyone can be a secretary, I know, and the job does carry with it some prestige.

By the way, I must ask you, L, – how is your pay rate in comparison to the men you work with and for there in the church? But my advice to you is to continue to seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things that your innermost heart desires, such as, say, preaching the gospel fearlessly, or in some other way only you and the Lord know about, shall be added unto you.

Oh, how I remember how I longed to preach back then when no one cared about what I wanted, only what I could give to make them look better.  I wanted to teach the Word of God. It was burning in me as it still does today.  I gave up waiting for some man to ask me if I’d like to go into all the world and preach – I bought a ticket and went!  I pray that you too hear and obey the sweet voice of the Spirit in your innermost being calling you on to fulfill your destiny.

Thank you for passing on to me that interesting and thought-provoking question, “we need to know which church you are currently attending and also need a reference from your pastor”. Nevertheless, before I answer your pastor’s question, kindly ask how many references he needs and from how many pastors?  Any particular denomination?  I can’t think of any I haven’t preached in so that should be relatively easy.

Do they need to be only pastors, or can they be other men, say, doctors, lawyers, or other leading lights in the community? Are these comparable? And at which stage of the social strata and spiritual hierarchy does my accountability cease? What about my husband.  No, he is dead so that is a problem.  I have a son, and yes, he was born in wedlock by 3 months.  Could your pastor advise me?

Now to the issue of a letter from my pastor. Will any of those pastors I have trained be ok? Perhaps I could approach any of the ones I went to in Australia, who were receiving no assistance from head office and I assisted them and, certainly, there are many others in remote places of the world.

They were the ones who told me about the sad state of affairs of no assistance or interest taken. They told me I was the first to come and encourage, to support them by giving money to them, (one family I worked within the Philippines, during the mid-eighties war in that country, their baby had died for want of milk!).

I know any of them would gladly claim me as a lifetime member of their congregation.  Is that what your pastor is seeking? I know they would welcome the opportunity to rise up and call me blessed.

Ask your pastor if I must reside under a particular roof to be ‘covered’ and how often and for how long a time?  I recall a pastor in Northern Ireland. He was told of me by a group of youth who met me when they attended the Bonkii conference in Birmingham. There, I conducted a workshop on personal evangelism. A thousand a day attended. Great fun! Well, they asked their pastor if I could be invited to preach in their church.

The pastor picked me up on my arrival in Belfast (yes, during the times of the troubles) and he asked me the same question as your pastor. I replied I didn’t have one, but he would do. He was shocked of course but couldn’t turn back. As it happened the church erupted under the anointing that accompanied the preaching of the Word and he seemed to be satisfied after the week of what turned out to be three meetings a day to satisfy the congregation.

Please ask if, as an itinerant minister and only turning up three times in their ‘home church’ in a lifetime, such as Paul did in Ephesus, if that is acceptable?  Must the pastor ‘covering me’ be here in Australia or can they be in Africa, Sweden, England, Norway, the Philippines, Spain, Ireland, Fiji, Mexico?  The list is much longer, but I don’t want to bore you with details of this nature – no! far greater matters are at stake.

However, the answer might lie in giving your pastor’s email address out publicly to all the churches I have preached in and ask all my friends in Australia and overseas to commend me and my work in the Lord.  Those who know my work will tell him there is about a 98% chance of the women who do my course serving the Lord on foreign soil.  Thank you for passing these questions on to him.

Kindest regards L., for you and your heart for Jesus. I too know the price of serving a Pastor. It’s hard work and little money in return, if any, even less recognition. You get the sense that life is passing you by as a woman who loves God.  Once again, I have been there.

In closing, please tell your pastor to feel free to quote me in the following if he so desires:

‘There is no impartial education.  Education is either for suppression or for freedom’. Patricia Erlandsen.

As an educator, I educate for freedom from all those who would oppress people’s and in particular, women’s faith from reaching its full potential in Christ”. Patricia Erlandsen

The adverts I sent to you, the first advert read:

Life coaching by phone or email.

Life coaching assists the client in setting goals, being pro-active, decision making, and allowing the life coach to mentor the client’s progress. Although firmly grounded in Christian principles a Christian life coach understands that the extent to which the coach and client’s beliefs are verbalised rests entirely with the client.  Book a complimentary thirty-minute phone coaching session today.

Contact Patricia:

Email: or 
Phone: 0410 318 388
Privacy guaranteed.

The second advert read:

Life coaching online:

The pedagogical approach to be used as the basis for life coaching in an online environment is to elicit the response of the reader to the material provided.  “Heroic Women of the Old Testament” has been written with this approach in mind.  It facilitates the client to walk with these women in their own times and “see into the very heart of things”, to see what happened through their eyes, rather than 21st-century enculturation.  The client then applies it to their own inner experiences, which in turn acts as the basis for personal response through journaling, thus providing a platform to facilitate life coaching online or by post.

Contact Patricia:

Email: or 
Phone: 0410 318 388
Request a sample. Privacy guaranteed.