THE ILLUSION OF FAITH
For years, the message of Ian Harber has been one of love, hope, compassion, and the Gospel of Christ. Supported by friends and family, he pursued the ministry both in high school and college. It was passion. It was life. It held meaning for him to stand in front of audiences time and time again to offer a message of the good news he'd found in his own life.
It is no surprise that people found him so compelling and convicted in his message. Ian is a natural born speaker, artist, motivator, and writer. At least that much he comes by honestly in his genes.
Ian has always had a message of comfort for those hurting, hope for those seeking, and a reputation for living it real. He knew how to draw people into his narrative and move them to a living experience with faith.
His ability to keep life real, open, out there for people to see the struggles and triumphs of his life was only made more powerful by the pursuit of and eventual marriage to a young lady with such inner beauty she is now his only link to any kind of love, hope, compassion, or—one can hope—the Gospel of Christ. With his message now shattered before it could take flight into even more influential avenues, Ian as proved that even the most diligent, most faithful, and most convicted of individuals can fall into a state of great burdening of the soul.
Ian has many outstanding insights into the heart of darkness that can rip individuals and families apart. He uses the mental illness of his mother quite regularly to drive home his compassion for those with debilitating disorders. Most, if not all, of his stories are true—to an extent. He never quite fully tells the truth about his mother, his parents, the past, or even his own grandparents.
It's just another part of the illusion of his message that he uses to reach people in a dramatic and personal way. The truth is much, much worse and less noble than he presents.
Ian was born into a dysfuncti0nal family that consisted of a father that worked nights and then stayed up half the day with him as an infant so that his mother could go to school. That his mother was clearly sociopathic was evident early on in their marriage and became so obvious toward the end of her life that rumors still abound that she was provided the means to kill herself by an intimate family member just so others could finally be at peace in life.
During their separation, his mother routinely beat Ian, attacked his father (including once fracturing his jaw with a broom handle before snatching up Ian and unmercifully beating him as well), made up stories and incidents that never took place.
That she was the epitome of evil incarnate was the opinion of his father until she killed herself.
The story doesn't stop there, however. His father, in an attempt to protect him, refused to return him one weekend. Given there was no visitation order in place, and divorce was already started, his father was finished with the abuse both of himself and of his son.
But that instigated two unusual events.
The first was the legal threat by his grandmother that required his father to return Ian to his mother. Without knowing his rights, his father reluctantly complied. That set off years of abuse of Ian including being threatened by his mother with scissors to slit his throat.
Eventually CPS intervened, the second unusual event occurred, and life would never be the same for anyone. That second event was a phone call to his father, letting him know that CPS had stepped in to halt the abuse of his son and that he needed to come retrieve his son as soon as they removed him from his mother's "care."
His father did something that would set the stage for Ian's life to reach the success it is today: he said 'no.'
Ian's life with his grandparents has been, outwardly, one of great privilege and comfort. He was spared no expense to ensure he had everything he wanted. The financial burden of his grandparents was incredible to raise him and on top of funding the fight against his grandmother's leukemia that was discovered about the same time as they were granted custody of Ian.
The phone call to his father resulted in a second phone call that provided access to him from his grandparents to rescue him from the clutches of his sociopathic mother. Little did his father know that he was sending his son from the fire back into the frying pan.
Finding out decades later that he had sent his son to the woman who insisted he send Ian into a pit of horrific abuse only to later take him back and continue the abuse was sickening.
What has come to light recently is the fact—witnessed by those that came into contact with Ian and his grandmother—was that Ian continued to exist within a cycle of abuse. His grandmother was determined to raise him "better" than she had his father, to ensure that he would not turn out like his father, even if she had to beat it out of him.
His grandfather, beaten down from years of emotional abuse from his wife and continuing to feel the escalating abuse as she grew sicker by the years, did very little to intervene. Her ranting is infamous. Her sadistic approach to children well-known and documented by family as early as the pre-teen years of Ian's own father.
Then she died.
His grandfather struggled with a rebellious teenager while still continuing to support the education of Ian's father and younger, autistic brother. Ian even made inroads of reconciling with his father over the years, both of them finding solace in the rekindling of their relationship. He finally completed college, got married, made a lot of people (including his father and grandfather) very proud.
Then he fell into darkness.
The Illusion of Faith
In June 2017, Ian's life changed dramatically.
His grandfather's life was cut short by a tragic airplane accident while out of state. That life has been eulogized in depth by Ian's father elsewhere.
The day after his grandfather's death, he messaged his father, “We're gonna get through this. We got each other and [Ian's great aunt from his grandmother's side of the family] and lots of amazing people around us supporting us. This is gonna be the worst thing you and I have ever been through but we're gonna get through t [sic]”
Those would be the last words he spoke to his father before the next evening when he stood in his grandfather's house while his great aunt lied to police officers, defamed his father's character in front of witnesses, and then vocally declared his agreement and allegiance to a lie perpetrated against his own father.
Ian stood there in his grandfather's house and explicitly sided with the bearing of false witness against his father. He lied to police officers himself that evening in front of witnesses. And he perpetrated the most insensitive refutation of his Christian values and ministry that he had spent years building.
Honor your father and your mother, indeed. Having been raised by his grandparents—and knowing the values of his grandfather specifically—and having a father of his own, Ian showed a callous and unchristian betrayal of his grandfather's legacy.
And then he proceeded to go through life as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.
By all accounts, he gave an unmoving and unemotional eulogy for his grandfather, causing some to exclaim how much he must have disliked his grandfather to be so heartless in his words. After the memorial, he ignored his younger brother to the point that his own compassionate wife had to turn him around to speak to his brother. And even then, by all accounts, he acted as if he didn't even have a brother.
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4.9)
And we all know how that turned out.
As to Ian's future, only time will tell if he will find his way back to the grace of God and the fruitful message of love, hope, and compassion that he once preached from stages across Dallas. Only time will tell if he will feel the conviction of Christ take a hold of his life and shake it to the foundations once again.
For the rest of us, we will have to make our own judgment as to the nature of Ian's message. It's a false message now by his own behavior. But redemption is possible for everyone.