Monday, October 4, 2010

Now I Thrive

Another dear family member shares their account of life in the Dade City church:

Where does a person begin to tell about the mental abuse? I’ll just tell the truth.

Friday night youth meetings did last for hours - and, [name with held] did in fact tell us not to let the Pastor know how long she kept us in youth meeting. These meetings were not times of fellowship, sharing or “God moving,” but more {name with held] yelling at us and chewing us out, telling us how we were not measuring up to God’s standards (as she defined them).

I remember reading my Bible on my own, and coming to a saving knowledge and a loving relationship with Jesus during this time, understanding my life’s purpose to become more and more Christ-like. This was definitely not the message being preached on Friday nights. It was made clear to all of us that no matter what we did, we would never be good enough – we would always be a disappointment to God, unless we surrendered our lives to her direction, without question. This was also the time [name with held] started to exert control over behavior. We were shown how to shun kids that didn’t meet her expectations, and other social pressures were brought to bear. Many of those kids grew up to be very good at shunning at her command.

Without going into all the gruesome details, [name with held] continued to “work” with the youth. When the Pastor passed away from an illness in the late 80’s, she began to work to take control over the church, undermining the successor the Pastor had chosen. By about 1990, [name with held] had become head pastor, and church began its dissent into becoming a cult. Once she had control of the church, she began working on individuals.

After high school, my life became more and more enveloped by the “needs” of the church, and[name with held]. By 1990, there was room for nothing else. My life consisted of working a full time job, attending church services, prayer meetings, etc, 4 days a week (twice on Sunday), working for a cleaning company 2-3 times/week for which no one was paid except [name with held] (she owned the company, but did not work there), with stories about what a hard worker she was as a young person (something we later found out was greatly exaggerated), we were to do maintenance on the church, and prepare for numerous “special” events (Christmas, graduation, etc.) Not to mention keeping the church clean. What little time there was for social time, we did what [name with held] wanted, when she wanted. This went on for 15 years.

There were many just truly awful times – most originating from ideas, ambitions and dreams I had for my life that were not in line with what [name with held] thought I should do or be. I very much wanted to live within my means, but[name with held] was very big on trips, gifts, etc. Whether I, or she, had the money for these things was of little consequence to her. One time she paid my share of a trip to Washington D.C., where I had to share one hotel room with six other girls. A trip I was MADE to go on. Then I was chewed out for charging (I didn’t have the money) a gift for my boss because they covered for me while I was gone. If you received gifts from her, they had strings attached. One time I remember wanting to be out of the doghouse so bad I took cash out on a credit card to give her spending money. Never did she say “Can you afford this?” Another time I bought her ticket to Denver. So many people in the church came to financial ruin, many being forced into bankruptcy, just trying to buy their way out of her wrath…the crazy thing it only fed the ego that so dominates that controlling behavior. Not only that time but, many other times I “couldn’t afford it.” It’s like an unwritten law that if you want a new dress, you could have one IF you bought her one too. Oh, and by the way a great number of people have had to file some sort of bankruptcy. In retrospect, I should have known I was never going to please her, because I would never completely “sell out” to her. One desire I had ever since I was a young woman was to have a husband and a family….this was definitely not in [name with held] plans for my life (a husband and family means less focus on her)

I remember in a Tuesday night prayer meeting, we were in a circle, all of a sudden she grabbed my arms and started to shake me trying to cast “nasty lustful” spirits out of me. Another incident happened when I was younger (where to this day I feel I was set up for), one of the guys was just hired at a shop and he wanted to show me the building along with another young man—he was a friend, so I got into the car! Oh, how could I have been so bad! Well, I paid! The door to hell was wide open! I was as nasty as a prostitute and should be shunned, rebuked and have weeks of youth meetings spent on casting out of the evil in my putrefied heart. BUT, I have to testify at this moment. In that season of my young life, I (in my tiny room at my Father’s house) found myself on my knees crying out from the depths of my soul for God to take the natural desire for a family of my own away if it was ungodly. THE MOST AMAZING THING HAPPENED! God didn’t. Instead He gave me a dream and an Angel visitation! It’s been about 22 years ago, but the visit and dream was like yesterday. No one could take that from me. God loved me and (although ending my life at times seemed the only answer) I loved Him. As years past, I was kept (as were others) so busy (it was assumed) I wouldn’t have time to think for myself yet the years past and the control grew tighter. Every time it was time to go to church my stomach would ache. I knew for the next 2 to 3 hours we would sit, stand, worship and beg to her heart’s content. I know everybody loved it when she was out of town because they were relaxed and church was short and everyone was in a good mood, and I mean even the ones who lived in her house. Don’t even start thinking about what goes on in the house. There’s not enough time to touch on that subject.

Early on my father (a super dad) disagreed with [name with held] and she told me to stay away from and move out because he was under a spirit. Yeah! He had the right spirit. Ohhhhh, the all nighters. Getting ready for Christmas and graduation was always a nightmare! First I go to my job, then cleaning the buildings then cleaning at church. Scrubbing and stripping the flooring, painting (I was not a painter-never was good enough to earn that one) Toilets! Now that’s what this “Non-soul seller” could do well. It has been 11 years since I “ran away” from GAC. What I found was God has LOTS of wonderful people! Real people, smart, (so smart it would blow your mind) godly people who really do the real work for Him. I’m not in the doghouse at church; my pastors are both creative and very educated. We have many professional people who go on mission trips and work in soup kitchens. Education is not our enemy, it’s one way God can free us. People can be freed. Therapy is OK.

I am living my dream. I am so happy. Married to the most wonderful Godly man. He is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. We get to do things that really make a difference in this world. Like, host home Bible studies (which we actually study the Bible—something [name with held] would start and never really do), feed the poor, and help widows. We pray together. And best of all, we have the pleasure of sharing the True Gospel. Oh, I still have a moment now and then where an association will try to raise its ugly head but, being a part of the solid Bible believing Church and with my husband’s support (who is the head of our home, as the Christian Men should be) I am able to keep the past where it belongs. No longer a part of a horrid cult! I am not just in survival mode—no! I Thrive!

by Real love in Christ.


Aida said...

An amazing story. Thanks for sharing it. People need to know the horrors that are being inflicted on sincere lovers of God. Hopefully this story will be a resource in helping others find greater freedom.

shadowspring said...

I am SO HAPPY for you! =D

The Cult Next Door said...

Thank you so much for your kind comments! I will forward them onto my darling family member :) I am proud to say she is still thriving and has amazing faith and trust in God...she is beautiful inside and out.