Testimony of Jim Haverkamp
My name is Jim Haverkamp. I am from a small town in the state of Kansas, United States. I came from a good Catholic family and was raised with good values. As an adult, I married and started farming. There came a time in my life when I wanted to know God better. I went to some Catholic youth retreats and seriously called out to God for his help and love. I wanted something more in my life.
In the 1980ís in America, there was a farm crisis. Like many other farmers, I was struggling to keep my farm going. Many lost their businesses and homes. I started attending some meetings regarding the situation. We were angry at the way the government was handling the situation. At one of those meetings, I met a man who was very charismatic and expressed concern for our troubles. In time, we started meeting with others and had Bible studies. The man shared with us many ideas of what he thought about the Bible and the future. He had many truths. But there were lies also. It was the lies that deceived us and brought our future sorrows. Unfortunately, we allowed this man to have some control in our lives. He strongly convinced us to live together on a farm of one of the men in the group. Our "leader" believed that it was time for Armageddon and that we were to prepare for it. Our leader convinced us that everything he said and did was the "will of God." If we questioned him, we were questioning God.
While I knew the Bible stories, I wasnít a good Bible student and neither were any of the others involved. Our "leader" quoted verses to us to prove his "doctrines." Along with his teachings, he was able to show some "signs" that made us all the more convinced.
We were told that it was "ok" to steal because eventually everything would belong to us anyway. In the group, we had women and children. One of children was not well liked by the leader. He began to be very verbally and physically abusive to this child until one day, he hit him so hard that he flew across the room and hit his head. He never recovered. I can only assume he had some kind of brain damage. Another man in the group also lost favor with our leader. Not because he did anything wrong, but because our leader needed someone to blame. He used anything he could to discredit this man and make himself look better. Basically, he was using the divide and conquer rule Ė him against us. But it wasnít true. The man truly did believe all the leader said and accepted all the cruelty that was shown to him by us. Sadly, in the end, this man lost his life.
Often while some of these things were happening, I was out with another man stealing equipment from farms in the area. We were caught and I was put in jail. It was while I was sitting in jail that the Lord helped me to understand the error of my ways and the lies I had been told. My cousin, Tim, and the rest of the group were still at the farm. Because we now had some understanding of the lies, we told the authorities about the group. We didnít want another person to lose their life. The police came and arrested them. They found the stolen goods and the graves of the two who were killed. I was charged and convicted of 2nd degree assault and possession of stolen property and given a sentence of 26 years in prison. A couple of the other men were given 2nd degree murder and our leader is now on Death Row. Ironically, the father of the boy who died and whose farm we used, only served a few months because of his testimony against us. Thankfully, the women and the rest of the children were freed and allowed to go home. There are other details that I could share, but I believe it is best to leave some things unsaid.
While in prison, I took a long look at myself. I had been a good person. It took a long time for me to understand why I allowed myself to be deceived and asked why God allowed me to follow such a person. I had many questions and felt much sorrow.
However, I still wanted to know the real God and to have a better life. In time, I started going to the Christian fellowships in the prison. My cousin, Tim, also sought out God himself. This was a blessing because Tim and I were not talking. The crime had broken our friendship. One day, Tim invited me to come and listen to a man from Arizona who did prison ministry. His name was Jerry Bessette. He talked about a prophet named William Branham. At first, I wasnít interested. I had been with a "false prophet," and I wanted nothing more to do with that kind. However, in time and study, I began to open up and know that God has true prophets also. It helped me when I saw that Timís life was beginning to change too. It encouraged me to go deeper in my own quest for God.
Thankfully, the prison I was in, allowed another brother to come in and share the truth of God. He told us about books and tapes that we could receive, and he visited with us regularly. His name is Brother David Piper. He shared the Word but also cared about us as people. He didnít force the truth. He allowed us to find it with the help of the Lord.
He just talked about the wonders of God and encouraged us to seek them out ourselves.
The whole Piper family became another family to me. They listened to me complain and vent my frustrations without judgment but prayed with me. Wrote me. Visited me.
I served 13Ĺ years of my sentence and was released. I was told that I would most likely only have to serve about a year and then be on parole. However, that opportunity was never given to me. Today, I have been blessed by continuing to grow in Godís truth for this day. I am thankful for those who have stood by me. While I did lose my farm business and my wife, my family still loves me and accepts me. It hasnít been easy for them either. Some rejected them because of what happened.
My home church is with the Believers in Omaha, Nebraska, but I also fellowship with saints around the world. I was blessed this past fall to meet Bro. Gan and his children. I am thankful for his ministry and his acceptance. Too many people do not understand the need to forgive others. I appreciate forgiveness, and I understand the work of the Cross more than most. I would encourage those who read my story to understand how important it is for them to read their Bibles. To seek truth for themselves. To compare scripture with scripture. Our faith must be in the Word above all else. I am thankful for the ministry that God has given, for the Revelation for this day, and I am even more thankful for the TRUTH He has given us in His Word. May the Lord bless you.
Brother Jim Haverkamp
(Dated: January 26, 2004)