Gary Amirault posted this on his Facebook page today:
Tentmaker Ministries has been hacked. The entire site is down including the discussion boards, the store, the blog. etc. The tentmaker youtube channel at youtube.com/user/tentmaker777 is still up as well at our lovewins.us and what-the-hell-is-hell.com
Please pray for us. In the 18 years we have been in the internet this is the worst hack we’ve suffered. It looks like this will take a lot of time and resources to get back up. We have thousands of files to reload. We were in the middle of modernizing the pages as this hack occurred. Argh. I’m trusting we will be back in better shape than before. “All things work for the good…”
I call Michelle and Gary, to offer some encouragement and get some information about what happened and what comes next.
“Wiped out” and “gone” and “no longer on the internet” are the words Gary uses to describe the current condition of the Tentmaker website. “These people, that are really good at [hacking], set up false flags to wrongly blame another group.” So the hackers have covered their tracks. When I ask if Gary has any idea who the hackers are or what their intent is, he replies, “One person (from France) opened the door for many other people (from several other countries) to come in” and their only intention, it seems, is to cause “chaos”. They replaced code and “placed an invisible image on the front page” to redirect traffic. Gary says, “Whoever placed the link there, it wasn’t to draw traffic to their site.” In other words, people weren’t being redirected to an eternal torment website.
So it is possible, I suppose, that the attack wasn’t based on the spiritual motivations of people opposed to Amazing Hope.
“I hate code,” Gary says, when I ask him about the possibility of repairing the damage. “I know nothing about programming. And when I think about the work involved, it almost makes me sick. I feel nauseated.” He’s talking about 15 years worth of files stored on his computer, over 9 gigs of info to sort through. Apparently Tentmaker just moved to a different server, and the site hasn’t been backed up since the move, so unless there’s some way to undo the work of the hackers, he and Michelle will have to start from scratch.
I asked Gary to tell me how he feels about the whole situation and if he has any ideas about why God has allowed this to happen. “[God is] testing this side of me, you know – love your enemies, pray for them.” He explains, more eloquently than I can hope to relay, about how valuable each individual is to God and the incredible love He has for each person, “from the President of the United States to the local town drunk.” Gary and Michelle are fully aware that hackers, too, are deeply loved by God. “[This is] an opportunity for me […] to believe in the finished work [of Christ].
The salvation of the world, hackers included, does not depend upon us. A crashing website is not going to make or break the Kingdom of God. But God does allow us to partner with Him in His redemptive work, which will be accomplished with or without our help.
Gary tells me about the inspirational articles he’s written over the years, the advice he’s given to others, and then he continues, “God’s using this as an opportunity to… He’s saying, ‘Let’s see if you do what you are telling other people they should do.'” In Gary’s Facebook post, he writes, “All things work for the good…” but he asks, “How do you express that? […] Faith is not an intellectual ascent to scripture.” He explains that believers can’t just agree, say amen, and then expect to fully understand the meaning behind the words; instead, they have to discover what it means by living it. “Do I really believe [all things work together for good]? Then [I should] express behavior and actions that substantiate what I believe. […It’s] great to read about faith in scripture, but it’s different to experience it. I’ve lived the power of God moving in ways that drop my jaw, and it’s difficult to believe what He’s doing even while He is doing it. […] Twenty-seven years ago, the first Bible verse that I felt the need to commit to memory was [Philippians 4:6], ‘for nothing be anxious, but in everything by prayer, and by supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God,’ and it has been the hardest to walk in. Maybe this time I will respond differently.” Gary’s paraphrase of this verse is “chill out” – after all, God is in control.
I tell Gary that I want to give some practical suggestions to the people who want to do something to help, and in my mind the best thing people can do is to make a donation so that he can hire a company that specializes in this kind of problem to take a look at the website. But then Gary puts me in my place and responds, “The best thing to do is pray. God can do this without a penny.” Then he goes on to explain that processions in Israel often put people who were praising and worshipping in the front of the line before anyone else, not even the rich and popular people. “Praise and prayer is how we are going to fight this battle.” I tell Gary that his response really shows me how much of my former churchian self is still remaining in me, because one of the main topics in staff meetings (I used to work as a pastor’s administrative assistant) was money or money related. My knee-jerk reaction to problems is money. Granted, money can be used by God to accomplish His purposes, but prayer should be the knee-jerk reaction instead of money. Money should be third or fourth on the list, if it is applicable to a problem-solving solution.
So I thank Gary for helping me to see this about myself, and then add, “…but I still want to know how people who want to donate their expertise or resources or offer words of encouragement can do so.” It is like pulling teeth, but he finally tells me people can write a check to “Tentmaker Ministries” (a 501C3) and mail it to 1181 Wallnut St. Hermann MO 65041 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, “the one address that still works”.
Gary and Michelle are in our prayers today, and once word gets around, they will be in the prayers of thousands. We are excited to see what God is doing, because He never lets something bad happen unless it is helping to usher in something even better, or as Gary says, ” The second body is better than the first body.” The first body must die. The death of a job, an ability, a dream, or especially the death of a loved one seems like it is only a tragedy until we realize that God defeated death by turning the power of death against death, to bring about the death of death itself! God has promised to do more than we could ask or ever imagine, and if we really believe this, we can hold on to hope in any circumstance. Maybe God allowing hackers to cause chaos on this website is His way of “hacking” into the powers of darkness. He’s sneaky like that. We should know – we are His spies.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – Jesus Christ
Testimonials about Tentmaker:
Blake Higgins writes, “Tentmaker was one of the first websites I came to upon my departure from the fundementalist Christian background I grew up with. I remember reading every articles on the website and many of the links it led me to as well. I even ordered a couple of books from them that I’ve never seen in any Christian bookstore before. I even listened to Gary’s audios videos. I even still refer back to the list of quotations provided on the site. The website (via the Amiraults) has played a role in bringing me to where I am now, so I appreciate it and them.”
Eric Stetson writes, “Tentmaker was one of the first websites I ever discovered that taught universal salvation. It was very helpful in my spiritual journey as I left evangelical Christianity and embraced a universalist view of the Gospel. I want to add that Tentmaker and Gary Amirault’s ministry are especially helpful for people who still hold to the importance of Biblical arguments for their beliefs, more so than philosophical or experiential arguments. It’s one of the best resources for conservative Christians who are exploring universalism for the first time.”
Skip Newby writes, “…the site has been very helpful to me over the years, and I use it frequently as a resource I recommend to people who are trying to understand how the schizophrenic God portrayed by most, actually loves us more than we can imagine.”
Amy Wilson-Pineda writes, “…I’m still trying to recall the article I read on their site about a woman that was describing her coming to faith in a God that saves all. It’s not coming to me now, but when I read it , it was so overwhelmingly encouraging. I could relate to her enormously and it was confirmation that others before me had wrestled with the same questions. Tentmaker has a wonderful collection of important writings!”
Gary Munson writes, “Tentmaker confirmed all of the changes God was and still is doing within me… The Tentmaker never persuaded me… It just affirmed the truth in me.”
David Spatz writes, “I think Tentmaker was the first site I ever came across online that had material that really lined up with how I was believing. What a breath of fresh air it was. It was such a comfort during that difficult period of feeling alone, to know that there were other people who not only believed, but had done a lot of work to demonstrate that this was no fantasy, but biblically and philosophically sound, with a long history and many famous adherents! It helped lead me out of the pit, really, as I could not reconcile “hell” and God being love. I’d shoved it to the back of my mind too long but almost to the breaking point I discovered with great joy, Gary’s Tentmaker site!”
Sara Reed Gunter writes, “When your spirit first starts to awaken to the truth of a Loving God beyond limits, your mind yells its christianese arguments you know so well from the way you learned the Bible. But the heart is wise and still has you search. Upon finding the truth through the tentmaker ministries, the wisdom of your heart as well as the peace in your un-brainwashed mind knows it has found a home. The teaching is solid as well as easy to digest. It is for the ‘over- thinkers’ bible thumpers and the passionate. It is for ANYONE who want to go deeper.”
Tess Oliver writes, “Tentmaker has been wonderful for me. There is so much information there to explore. It just confirmed what I have been feeling in my heart for almost 30 years. I just knew there was something not right in what we were taught to believe.”
Sisterlisa Bertolini writes, “I have appreciated both the articles and videos put out by Tentmaker. The courage the authors have to put out their thoughts about translations and perspectives has been refreshing and encouraging. I use it as a resource quite often.”
Stephen Helbig writes, “The books and articles on http://www.tentmaker.org/ will conclusively prove to reasonable and rational men and women that the concept of a place of everlasting burnings in literal flames in a place called Hell comes from the minds of carnal men, rather than the heart of God. Gary Amirault and his website Tentmakers.org has always been a great work on which to give the reader information with which they can help set their neighbors free from “traditions of men which make the word of God of no effect.” (Matt. 15:6-9). Over the past several years I’ve greatly enjoyed this site for the work and labour that has been compiled to bring forth the good news of God’s love and God’s plan for mankind to make everything beautiful in His Time (Eccl. 3:11)/ Tentmaker Ministries has been screaming “ Love Wins” for 20+ years in a scholarly way.”
Christian Luca writes, “The Tentmaker website, if I recall correctly, was among the first websites that I came across during a phase in my life of spiritual agony and confusion. It was a time when I was going through graduate work in chemical physics in Illinois far away from my parents in New York and was in a bottomless pit, spiritually, and found out about Gary Amirault’s website, Tentmaker, and was very much astounded by the breadth and coverage of the Christian Universalist faith, with which I had only started to get acquainted but really always believed deep down in my heart throughout my life. It was a breath of fresh air to come across such a passionate and erudite website as Gary Amirault’s Tentmaker and I am grateful for the thorough work done by him, his wife, and all the wonderful individuals that surround and support his ministry filled with truth based on the Scriptures, and not wishful thinking. Keep up the great work, indeed, Tentmaker!”
Girma Colston writes, “The article “150 Reasons For Believing in the Final Salvation of ALL Humanity” at tentmaker was the thing that made something click inside of me and I converted to universal salvation through that article in September 2007. It was a Saturday afternoon when I was spending hours and hours pouring through the different articles on case against hell and Jesus being the Savior of ALL and having my Bible open. Very resourceful website.”
Dave Lewerenze writes, “…it what via Tentmaker’s “what the hell is hell” website that I first started to investigate the hell issue more deeply… awesome resource!”
Sherry Pyron Hughes writes, “Tentmaker is so informative…although I hadnHt believed in hell for many years, they are so resourceful for people just discovering that truth. The website is very useful in the teaching of a universal God who loves everyone!”
Gerry Beauchemin writes, “Gary’s site was a God-send to me back in the late 90’s when I lived in Senegal West Africa serving as a missionary there. Tentmaker provided me important books and articles that God used to opened the Scriptures to my understanding. I’ll never forget my first conversation with Gary I had on the phone when I returned to the states. I felt so privileged that he would spend so much time talking with me on the phone. Since then he has become a real friend. I owe so much to he and Michelle. They are a true blessing to us all!!!!!!!!!! “Lord, please restore their site pronto as the world needs the ‘Victorious Gospel of Jesus Christ’ as Gary likes to call it.”
Ivan Belani writes, “Without Gary’s website I would still live in fear and panic about the salvation of my soul and those around me. I would be constantly questining whether God loves me or not and whether I am in the right church, whether I hold to the right doctrine… I still probably wouldn’t sleep sometimes, because I would cry because of the image in my head, where God tells me: “You chose the wrong religion. Depart from me!” But most probably, I wouldn’t be Christian anymore. I wouldn’t see the point of a Savior of the World, who is actually not the Savior of the World. I thank God for Gary and his website soooo much!”
Jonathan Hamilton writes, “Tentmaker was the springboard that got me started along the path of Christian Universalism. It offered a wealth of resources and also helped me to discover even more websites and books and communities, etc. When I first started exploring it I was a Christian searching for answers. I didn’t explore as much as I should have, because later in life I became an agnostic, borderline atheist. A light went off in my head, reminding me of the Site and others like it, and, through it, God dragged me back to Him.”
Mark Archambault writes, “In 2002 a pastor friend of mine asked me a simple question, “What do you know about Hell?” My reply was along the lines of, “I know I don’t want to end up there.” I had just asked someone to leave my ministry because they believed in Christian Universalism. My friend’s question started my mind and heart searching for the truth. I had spent years traveling North America preaching the “Good News” of how God wants to save us from Hell. After reading the Bible cover to cover, I could not find this Hell that I had been so sure of. A few months later, I asked my friend for further insight. She sent me to Tentmakers. That’s when my eyes started to really open up. Praise God for the Good News I found! May His blessings rain down on all involved with this important work.” And, “P.S. I now pastor a Christian Universalist church outside Tucson.” http://www.facebook.com/