Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Questions and Answers with Michael Woroniecki

This blog is concerning Michael Woroniecki's relationship, which took place about 15-20 years ago, with Rusty and Andrea Yates.
For the blog concerning Michael Woroniecki and his family's current ministry and message including videos, photos and music, please see here:

  1. It has been many years since the trial. What are your reflections?

There is nothing I wish I would have said or not said. Given the information we had of their situation I think we treated them in the most loving way we could have.

  1. What exactly was your relationship with Andrea Yates?

People have no idea that the majority of the hostile things written against us concerning Andrea Yates are written by one person who is behind them all. He has hidden his identity behind numerous pseudo-names to inflict as much hatred against us by appearing as a large group of people. At this time God has led us not to contact proper authorities with all the personal information we have concerning this individual and his unlawful actions against us. This person has become a “cyber-stalker” to our family for the last eight years. Many of the times when there is something published about our family this person will write comments full of outrageous lies to try to influence people against us. This person was banned from AOL for writing obscene and filthy things as well as having his videos banned by YouTube for violation of policy. Because of this persons fixation of hatred and twisted obsession we believe this person could himself be mentally ill, driven by a demented resentment over a confrontation of sin some ten to fifteen years ago. I think it is important to make that clear before I continue with the rest of the questions. People don’t realize the harm one man can do when he is driven to do evil. (Ecclesiastes 9:18 and Titus 1:15.) This person claims he is an ‘Ex-Follower’. But wouldn’t be necessary for the leader of a ‘cult’ to know that this follower actually existed and was following him somewhere out there? So he could ‘cultify’ him? I also thought that there was some type of minimum followers to actually have a cult. Like two. I hardly think that exchanging some letters qualifies one to be follower. Letters that were never validated.

To answer the question; people must realize that my entire relationship with Andrea always went through Rusty. I can’t remember a time when we were ever alone with her. Every letter and every time we met it was Rusty with whom I related. It was at his encouragement to share with Andrea by which I was led. I first met Andrea at a friend’s house from Texas A&M. At the time, I just thought of Andrea as a bit fie. No big deal. We all have our quirks. In the context of all the many, many people we deal with she didn’t pop out as anything abnormal. In the whole of the time we knew her, I had probably four or five meaningful conversations. We talked about the same things we would share with anyone. She seemed like a motherly kind of caring and loving person. We talked about faith in Jesus and being willing to learn His ways were the main focus. She was very intent on learning from my wife all the ways of raising children. Contrary to what some reported, I never told her she was a contentious woman or a bad mother. She seemed very sincere. Anyone who met her would immediately realize her passive disposition.

The most important thing I can say here concerns the primary “evidence” cited by the “experts” of our influence upon Andrea. The main psychiatrist cited a picture that he said we had drawn connected to an article my wife wrote about raising a family in our newsletter The Perilous Times. This “expert” declared to the court that the picture we drew of a mother on the doorsteps of her house shouting to her pouting children by a river gave Andrea the idea to use water to drown her children. He said we had drawn this with some sinister motive or “psychosis”.

This testimony was accepted as creditable without giving us any opportunity to respond or defend ourselves of such a serious accusation. The truth is that the “river” of the black and white charcoal sketch-drawing was in fact a road which is obvious to anyone. Secondly, we did not draw the picture! My wife copied it out of the Christian book titled Christian Mother Goose! (Can be found through a Christian bookstore). So this “primary evidence” was nothing more than the psycho-babel of a completely incompetent “professional” who was obviously willing to use his “analysis” to present whatever “evidence” his employers desired. Millions of people will never know the truth because of this one individual who thought nothing of devastating my family without any personal consultation. This kind of testimony against us only exposes the complete lack of integrity of the “professionals” in this case who defiled our character with their “facts”.

  1. When was the first time you realized something was wrong with Andrea?

Once again I can not emphasize enough the point that we deal with many, many people who may not seem “normal”. Many people laugh at the mentally ill or act shocked by their existence. The truth is that this world is full of such individuals who need profound compassion and understanding. I could tell you numerous stories of so many people who don’t need the therapy of a psychiatrist but the therapy of the love of God. This world is full of devastated people whose minds can not cope with what they have had to face in life. They don’t drool or knock their head against the wall. They appear very “normal”. The only way you would notice something strange is if you followed them around 24hrs a day. Not even Rusty could understand the true state of his own wife. I only wish he would have shared more about her with us. I think he was quite shocked and embarrassed. Think about how you would feel if after being all excited about getting married you suddenly discovered your wife had this kind of serious problem. It would be devastating. The first time I realized that Andrea had more of a serious problem than the majority of people with whom we deal, was not until our final visit with them in Florida. We had a cookout at a park and were playing games and things just didn’t seem right. She would lapse into a kind of deep depression, then get very angry. We could not figure it out. After this time we only communicated by letter one more time and then had no contact with them. We had no contact with them for at least a year before the crime. We were in Mexico.

  1. There was much speculation about your influence upon Andrea. Would you care to speak to this?

I think if Andrea, or Rusty, would have been influenced by my family, wife and I, they would be living a joyful and Spirit filled life today. They would have gone in a completely different direction. Our influence was, and is, to follow Jesus which is a way of life and love as demonstrated by what anyone would see in my family and children. They obviously had their own agenda. I have never told or encouraged anyone to try to travel and live our lifestyle. I would never expect someone to try to do what we do. In fact we have warned plenty of people copying our lifestyle does not insure them of our life in Christ. If they would have been influenced by us, we would still be friends today. Consider this. Surely Jesus dealt with multitudes of mentally ill. Surely His discernment was perfect but He spoke the same truths, not just to the people around him. but to his generation and ultimately to the whole world. He spoke no further qualifications in a whisper. His message did not vary dependent on whether someone who was listening may have been mentally unstable. Of which there were surely many in His day. It is up to each individual how or in what way they choose to respond to what they hear. The New Testament resounds with individual accountability.

5. But what about the issues of sin and hell and judgment? Did you not talk to them about these things?

I’d say ditto on everything I just said. You must understand something. First of all it’s not like we brought these issues to earth from another planet and they were the first ones to hear. They are common knowledge to all men. We don’t live in the first century. Also Rusty had long beforehand shared with his wife about all these matters. To share the full gospel with someone involves dealing with the issues such as sin and hell. Before I was saved I was very intent on asking about such issues because they involve the essence of why Jesus came to earth. Jesus openly dealt with them every day of his life. Contrary to how some portray things, every informed individual does not associate hell with hatred or being mean. A true Christian understands this as part of the biblical revelation. Either it exists or it doesn’t. There is an awkwardness in talking about it only if a person does not want to. In which case wisdom dictates to proceed in another manner.

If you were to look at our ten signs that we carry, there are three that mention hell. We don’t walk around shouting “Hell!”. It is simply one of the many issues involving the gospel. Here’s a fact that Rusty could confirm. The main reason Rusty ever decided to come up and meet me was that he said I was not like the “hell, fire and brimstone preacher” standing about fifty feet from us on the campus at the time we met. Some people will know who I’m talking about. But this fact should tell you volumes about my manner of ministry, the context and sense of our relationship with them and the fact that I am a victim of a characterization rather than fact. Our discussions involved joking and laughing about all sorts of things, of discussing practical issues , of social issues and of all the wonderful things Jesus offers. I’d say we mentioned hell maybe two or three times in the passing reference of what happens when one does not choose to humble himself and receive God’s forgiveness.

I’d like to mention something about the interview Charles Gibson did with us on Good Morning America. While acting as if he were quoting from some documentation he said “An incident is documented that in Florida you told Andrea Yates she was going to hell.”. This never took place! It is one thing to say you are documenting another report. It is quite another thing to say you that someone personally documented the incident. Unless he had hired a trained parrot in a tree, there was never anyone, but our two families, present in our conversations. I know Rusty would never have said anything like this. So where did he get his “documentation”? It’s called hearsay or accusation.

Contrary to public opinion, when we share one on one with people we share all things in the context of the saving work of Jesus Christ. When I preach on the streets it is a situation that demands a loud voice and strong energy. When I am talking to someone sitting in front of me I use an appropriate tone and discernment so as to be personal and effective. This is basic common sense. If the person is not open to what we are sharing, we surely do not just bumble along. If people don’t want to hear what we have to share, believe me, we have many, many places to go. It’s always dependent on them, how much they want to talk about things. They decide they don’t want to listen and we all move on. Rusty and Andrea were not ten year old children or wearing a sign on their neck “watch out for mental illness”. Anyone who truly knows us would tell you the first and last word out of our mouth is Jesus.

6. So if you really had such little contact with the Yate’s, how is it that the media made such a connection?

First of all, like I already stated, there is a handful of people out there who have done all they could to first of all come across as thousands of people who hate Michael Woroniecki so as to confused as many people as possible. They fill the airwaves of the Internet with false information and lies.They say that I am a cult or some kind of weirdo but they are driven by ulterior motives. The truth is, and any mentally sound person would see this, that they hate the message of repentance and obedience to Jesus. We are not anti-catholic or anti-protestant. We are not anti-church. We are part of the true church all over the world who are born from above. We simply love Jesus. After I met Jesus I continued to be a catholic for the next five years so obviously I did not think that being a catholic prevented anyone from being a Christian.

My children, wife and I have been devastated by all the lies spread about us. Those who have done such things will be held accountable on the only day that matters when Christ returns. That will be a day of justice but today still remains the day of mercy. As for our part we would forgive them in a heart beat.

All I can say is look at the facts. Look at the literature I have written for the last thirty five years. As much as people want to throw around the word “objective” it is very rare to find anyone who is willing to deal with things in this manner. I have dealt with many reporters and I can cite only a few. Of course then my enemies would say these are the ones who are not objective and all the ones who write against me are objective. There’s these things called facts that kind of determine reality. Objectivity is rare in the secular level, how much more so involving such offensive matters of sin and repentance? People simply cannot get beyond their own personal feelings. They immediately say “Since you believe in hell, you must be this sort of a person” and then, you are labeled as an “extremist” by all who read these words.

It was Rusty himself who was quoted in the Houston Chronicle as saying it was ridiculous for anyone to associate us with the mental illness or crime of Andrea. Hello. This is her husband who was privy to all that went on saying we had nothing to do with it. In fact it was over a year from our last correspondence with them to the time of the tragedy. Everyone brings their personal agenda to a subject. This is understandable for the general public but when a reporter carries such a huge power of influence and writes with personal bias this is outrageous. One of the problems is just basic laziness of not wanting to spend the energy and time to seek out the facts. It takes work to get to the real source of a situation. They just grab whatever is in the air and report it as fact. And guess who suffers? They don’t think about the individual whose life they are destroying. They don’t think about the children who deal with people at work or in their lives. They don’t think about the wife whose hope for joy is crushed. I can tell you that if the media were in any way responsible or true to the facts, we would never be in this situation. Never. We did nothing wrong. No one has any idea of how we loved them.

If we were the degenerates whom some of said don’t you think Rusty would have never sought our relationship? It’s not like they were eight years old. He not only supported us and sent us care packages but ended up buying our bus because he so admired our lifestyle.

7. So if what you say is true then, why is it that officials of the court tied you to the case?

Do you not think that if I were legally tied to the case, I would not only have been asked but summoned to the trial? Yet the court documents show I never spent one day at the trial. I was never interviewed by anyone closely or remotely tied to the case. Not even a consideration. Yet I am linked to the case by complete hearsay. This doesn’t strike anyone as even a little bizarre?! I was accused of being involved in a trial that I never attended. And nothing would prevent officials from securing my presence in a case of this magnitude if they felt it was relevant. If I had the kind of influence some have implied I would surely have been there. I think that if any federal prosecutor looked at the behavior of both the defense and the prosecution they would say at the very least there comments about my literature or relationship with the Yates was completely unethical. As hard as it is to realize, the officials of the court based their conclusions on unsubstantiated information. They had concluded before the trial ever began that Andrea was not guilty because of insanity and that they would use me as a scapegoat knowing that I was the kind of man who would never challenge or fight it. They saw an easy formula by mixing a woman with mental illness with a man whom they could paint as a “weirdo” to eradicate themselves from the complexities such a trial could have involved.

8. What do you think about Andrea and Rusty today?

We don’t think about them. We are quite busy and consumed with so many people and things concerning reaching the world for Jesus. They made decisions that resulted in consequences beyond their ability to cope with. I can’t even imagine what Andrea must be going through. I can not imagine the enormous amount of stress and torment she must be having to deal with inside. It is just so tragic. We can only pray for God’s awesome mercy toward her and Rusty as well. I imagine it is also tough for Rusty. Only he knows all that was involved. Surely he saw his own inability to cope with something no one could have been prepared for.

What is a bummer; is that with all the talk over this case over all these years has rendered nothing beneficial. If half of the interest that was in this case was directed to the essence Jesus, then many people could have discovered the answers to their deepest problems. Others could be prevented from making tragic mistakes.

I am embarrassed to say that I was na├»ve to the whole media thing. I mean the lady who authored the first book wrote to me pretending to be a student at the University of Texas and wanting to hear about Jesus. We were blown away when we realized she was the same person. My pride told me I could handle the media so God let me be humbled. I didn’t even realize, until it was too late, how the media didn’t really care about the truth but rather was slowly working to characterize us into a very grievous image. I think Joseph and Keith Morrison from NBC DATELINE were somewhat fair but from there it went downhill fast.

Then I realized I needed to just shut up and stay away from them all. It was tough because you want to talk about Jesus but then they bring that up. I wish we could have had opportunity through that time of exposure to share our experiences of the living Jesus. They wouldn’t even let us share our children. But this is who we are!

We are a lowly and ordinary family, yet we have seen extraordinary things. We have raised six children on the road. They never spent one day in a church or public school. Yet they could debate anyone on any issue with an articulation and knowledge leading to real answers, all alone without me or Rachel anywhere in sight.

Anyone who would meet them would instantly realize a character in them that is nothing less than amazing. So where did this come from? Does the way Rachel and I raised them have anything whatsoever to do with it? People outside the States have no hesitation in recognizing the obvious. Any observant reporter would target them to gain a true perspective on us and the content of our character. If anyone put two and two together they would know who we are by seeing our children. In the secular world “professionals” insist that parents are accountable for their children.

How many times have you heard someone saying it was their parents who taught them how to live? Yet if we say and live they say we are a “cult”. Children are the fruit by which the tree can be known. If I were the type of character the media tries to paint me as, would not my children reflect this? What could be misunderstood here as my personal pride in saying these things is my boast in the absolute power of the Word of God when He says “Train up a child in the ways of the Lord and they will never depart” (Pr.22:6).

If Andrea and Rusty had listened to us they would be enjoying a marvelous life. My wife and I spent great “blood, sweat and tears” to accomplish this work. It is no walk in the park. Many children grow up in single household because fathers can not bear the responsibility of facing the great demands of children every day of their life. In a culture rampant with divorce, kids out of control, on drugs or multitudes of other destructive vices, God offers real answers. Not religion. Not legalistic heavy-handed “Do it my way or the highway”. The life of Jesus is accessible to the greatest of sinners.

Sarah, Mercy, Elizabeth, Abraham, Joshua and David are not sheltered but out in the world, mastering complex challenges with remarkable power and joy in Christ. Each one of them is such a unique and creative individual yet, we live together in phenomenal harmony, joy and power as one in Christ.

Dr. Phil should be pounding down our door for the answers to all the issues concerning raising awesome children. Haven’t heard one knock. It’s like the world wants to rant and rave about their problems but, when the answers are staring you right in the face, the issue of dealing with Jesus suddenly exposes such frustration as nothing more than just another reason to complain. Of course, my wife wrote all about this in the article in The Perilous Times that became so scrutinized

We have been to many countries and dealt with extraordinary situations concerning so many issues. Yet no one has even once asked us about either, just matters of traveling to foreign countries with six children or the cultures like Poland or the Moscow etc. Oh, ya, and I never fought with police anywhere, at anytime. This is just so stupid. I’d have a felony record an arm long. So we’re all done and I didn’t even begin to tell you about my precious and beautiful Rachel.

Let me just tell you one of our boring stories. One day a man told his family that he had a desire to witness to the Arab world but he always heard it couldn’t happen because it was against Islamic law. He couldn’t believe this. So he decided to find out for himself. They had a message translated “Jesus is God- Seek Him for Salvation” then have it put on a sign. They buy a van and ship it to England. Then they take their six children and live out of the van while driving through southern Europe. They get to the Rock of Gibraltar and take a ferry full of Muslims to Africa. They naively wonder why everyone is staring at them.

They arrive on the other side and drive down to Morocco. Imagine trying to find a campground in an Arabic country? Ever see a stop sign in Arabic let alone a campground sign? Then one morning they wake up, leave their tent and go downtown and hold up the sign they made in the states. Suddenly they are surrounded by quite an angry mob. Within minutes a large police van arrives and they are escorted in side to a police barracks. For fifteen hours they are interrogated. They actually end up making friends with a number of the guards who speak broken English. The interrogators are completely baffled by what they hear. There is no talk of anti-Islam or pro-American concern. Rather it is all about a man who met the living Jesus in a football stadium at Notre Dame and a family who love serving the Son of the living God. The head general can not figure out how they can be convinced that Jesus is alive and that they actually did all this because they say they love Jesus. The general laughs quite loudly when the wife tells him that Jesus provides for them. He is very upset with the wife because she changed her name from Leslie to Rachel so as to have a biblical name.

One of the guards wants to talk with the husband all alone but does not want anyone else to see him. After a long time they are chewed out at length but then are invited to stay in the country if they agree not to talk about Jesus but commanded to leave the country if they insist on preaching. When the family returns to their tent they are told that guards tore everything up looking for any clues of whether this family were really being American spies. The next day the family loads up there van and drives to another country. They walk in to a store to get some coffee and pick up a USA TODAY. In it they shocked to discover an article describing everything they had just gone through the day before.

The best case scenario in Casablanca would have been not to be arrested but to have had a breakthrough for ministry. I just had to prove it to myself what I had heard from so many. It is really forbidden in a Islamic country to stand for Jesus and I had to see for myself. All I’m trying to show you is that if a man sets his heart be obedient God will provide, protect and lead you

I write this so maybe someone might realize how foolish it is to consume one self with such a horrible and grievous crime that happened nine years ago when there are so many wonderful and powerful things that God has done through us and can do for you. It seems that there is almost a kind of groupie-cult like following of the Yates case. Some people have a morbid obsession with the darkness that shadowed Andrea.

I realize that some of the things I have shared here can be taken in a wrong way. David says “To the pure all things are pure…but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God but by their deeds they deny Him…” ( Titus 1:15-16).

We do things in much prayer. This to me is far more interesting than talking about the Yates case for the five thousands’ time. This is just one of the many stories that God has brought into our lives. Whether in Morocco, Mexico, Russia, Colombia, Venezuela, the Czech Republic or any of the other countries we minister in, we truly experience the same power as did those in the book of Acts. Jesus is alive today! And He loves you dearly!

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