The Andrea Yates multiple children drowning horror was 13 years ago this morning, so I was poking around the Internet to learn a little bit more about Michael Woroniecki, who had ties to Yates that are either very strong or very weak depending on your perspective. Essentially, he’s an extremist street preacher — he frequently talks about “the whole world going to hell” — and here’s his official website (and blog!), where he talks often of “living for Christ.” His family has a website as well; they appear to tour the world preaching, predominantly. For example, this is them in New York:
And here they are in South America:
He showed up at a Notre Dame-Michigan State football game in 2008 with banners exhorting people entering the stadium to “Turn to Jesus,” and if you’re wondering more about the direct connection between him and Andrea Yates, he even referenced it in a 2010 blog post:
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.
It’s always interesting to me how millions of people can read the same book and teachings and interpret it in so many drastically different ways. I don’t actually think this guy had anything to do with what Andrea Yates ultimately did — I don’t think there’s any type of reasonable explanation for killing your own children, so why attempt to find one? — but he is a little bit off his rocker in his own right. If there’s a broader lesson from Yates’ life and why she’s well-known, it’s not about Michael Woroniecki; it’s really about the failures of the intersection point of justice and mental illness. Still, an already-disturbed person (i.e. Yates) coming into contact with stuff like this video can’t be good: