- (Photo: compilation from Facebook/LaShonda Matlock and Imani Church & Christian Center)
LaShonda Matlock, 33, the illegitimate daughter of married televangelist, Pastor Bill Adkins of Greater Imani Church & Christian Center in Memphis, Tenn., blasted her allegedly negligent, promiscuous father as "despicable" in an open letter telling him to "go to hell."
In the letter published by chicagonow.com, Matlock decries the extent to which her father went to keep her out of his life even when she just wanted him to be her father.
"I grew up in an upper middle class family that happened to be five blocks from my father's church. He never visited, but I always knew he was there. At six years old I received a cease and desist order addressed to my mother for me to stop trying to communicate with him," wrote the hurt young woman.
"At eight, he visited my elementary school but never approached me and merely watched from the shadows. By age ten, I was a figment of my own imagination. I didn't exist, my last name was a lie and all records of me were buried in a black hole," she said.
"As I reached into my teens my face became the exact image of a man I never knew. I met other illegitimate siblings whose stories were all the same. Rumors spread and I became a topic at dinner parties and for bored housewives. I never wanted the attention, only to be a part of his life. To have a dad like everyone else, and like any child, to have a father's love," Matlock lamented.
Adkins' church, according to its website, has more than 7,000 members and his sermons are televised to an audience of more than 20 million.
"Bill and I have a lot of similarities I hear, from the taste for expensive cognac to the smooth draw of Cuban cigars. And upon one of my visits back to Memphis that is exactly where I met him," wrote Matlock.
She explained that it was during this visit to Memphis where she tried cornering her father in 2009 to find closure. She saw him at the "old historic Peabody Hotel smoking a cigar with a glass of cognac in hand."
"At first I was shocked to see him but I had prepared for this moment my entire life and knew that I would never get this chance again," she wrote.
"As he walked around the shop and bought his cigar, my hands began to tremble. Words would not leave my mouth and I was at that moment seven all over again. As he began to exit the shop I realized my chance was almost gone and I had to do something quick. I started to run towards him, but his armed bodyguard saw me and reached for his gun. I slid to a halt and knew the only thing I could do was yell, so I did. 'I forgive you,' I shouted. He nodded. That was my only acknowledgement I have ever received," she wrote.
"As I write this I know people will say I did the right thing. That as a good Christian it is best to forgive and forget. Well, I don't follow those same beliefs anymore. A child should never have to fight for something they have no control over. A fight where the innocent were shunned and mocked," Matlock lamented before admitting she remains bitter.
"Am I bitter? Yes. A man of the cloth preaching to his flock how to live and walk the path of God yet having several children outside of marriage and never righting his wrongs is despicable to me. Living day after day full of lies and hiding your past for a manufactured image to appease your followers," she added before noting: "So to a man who is a stranger and yet my father I say this: 'Go to hell.'"
In a response in TheBlaze, Adkins said he was shocked and hurt by his daughter's actions.
"There are situations and times when you're just caught completely by surprise," Adkins told TheBlaze. "I have not heard from LaShonda in years and I'm very suspicious of the timing that the letter was written and how it was posted and how it was placed on her blog."
Adkins said although he was hurt, he reached out to his daughter through facebook and email but she has not responded.
"I haven't heard from her. I don't have her number," he said.