18 Years Old in a Cult, My Experience.
We all have an experience in our lives that we are embarrassed or ashamed to share. I know personally, though I am only 22 years old, I have quite a few I can think of. This experience to me, is the one that hangs over my head the most because in my unyielding attempt to be "obedient to God's Will" I hurt so many people. Most of whom are close family that raised me. Including my own mother and sister.
(I will not put any names in this. However I will refer to the leader of this group/cult/whatever by the name Red.)
I was 18 years old and in the most vulnerable stage of my life. I was fresh out of high school with no plan yet as to what I wanted to do with my life. I was attending different Christian/ Pentecostal/ Non Denominational churches trying to see where I fit in. I had such a love and fire for God. I would spend hours in my room praying or singing. Me and a few friends at the time would get together and have bible studies as often as my mom would let us use the house.
Things took a turn one day when someone close to me came across some videos on youtube. There were various videos that I considered legitimate biblical teachings mixed with what seemed to be some prophetic messages that were given to a person who I'll call Red. Though Red didn't show his/her face , he/she would make videos with only voice audio and words to read along.I began to watch more and more of these videos. I heard the term "Bride of Jesus" used a lot throughout the video teachings .I've heard this term throughout the bible and immediately recognized the meaning as referenced in the new testament.
Red had so many followers making and duplicating videos of God's direct messages to him/her. I would start to watch and read them day and night. I studied them . Before I knew it I was believing and hanging on every word Red spoke in the videos. I still had not seen Red's face or an actual picture. But I was convinced that this was God's prophet and He was using Red to spread His personal, direct word to His children.
I did get in contact with some of Red's followers who lived a few hours away.Within a few weeks of being in active communication with them, they advised that they had not seen Red either but have been following Red's teachings and studying the "Prophecies" as well. There were about 9 of them total who all lived in a house a few hours away. I didn't think this was odd in any way.
One night I got a call that changed my life. It was from Red. My phone number had been passed on by one of the others a few hours away. I was Shocked.
We had a long conversation about God and His Will in my life. I automatically felt so comfortable with this stranger. Everything that Red was telling me was so comforting and reassuring and matched up with my views. I felt accepted and like I didn't need to try to be something I'm not. I felt like he/she was seeing right through me.
Then about a week later I got another phone call from Red. Only this time was more of a serious tone. I was told that God wanted me to FLEE Tampa. "Flee?" I thought.. as I kept listening my heart was racing. All of my family was in Tampa, everything I've ever known, including close friends. I was told not to tell anyone or give any warning. Just to pack a small bag and leave. I got nervous and began to ask questions. Why? How? When? . I was then told not to question God's Word & to obey what is being said if I want to be part of "The Bride". And you bet I did.
I wont get into too much detail about the following days for lack of time but you can bet that I followed Red's words and what I thought was a direct message from God. I left in the middle of the night and the other followers that lived a few hours away came and picked me up with the little bit of stuff I could fit into garbage bags. I was gone, with no cell phone. I didn't tell anyone.
The following days were hectic. I arrived at the house where all 9 of these people were living. it was a little crowded but I adjusted quickly. I got word that my mother had been looking for me all over town. I cant imagine till this day how worried she must have been. I wanted to just call her so bad and tell her that I was ok. Red and the others advised that this would not be a good idea because she would not understand and would only want to come find me. They were very persistent on people not knowing where we were located. Also they advised that they all at one time or another had to cut off their Biological parents because they did not believe that Red was God's prophet and would bad mouth the "ministry" and that anyone who did so was considered reprobate to God and we were not to associate with such people. I remember a prayer that I had to say every single day and also any time I would feel like getting back in contact with my family . It would go something like this, " I cut, burn, and severe ALL soul ties with my biological family....." and I don't remember the rest at the moment.
Every day as I was getting settled in they would give me more printouts of prayers that I would have to read and say each day. I had morning prayers, spiritual warfare prayers, prayers against the dark forces, prayers against the enemies of the ministry, and even one that was called "The Prayer Before Praying". I wish I was kidding.
I was not allowed to use the house phone, or watch TV. and the computer was only to be used to study Red's prophecies. There was no going to the mall or to the movies. Even certain Christian music was not allowed unless approved.
I think at the time I just accepted that this is how things are going to be if I want to be holy and pure in the eyes of God.
I eventually started looking for work in order to help with household expenses. I found a job at a fast food restaurant. With this job came a whoooooooole other list of prayers I needed to say if I was going to be out in the "secular" world for part of my day. I was not to associate with coworkers or any customers other than to take orders. I would see the other people laughing and singing songs that I had recognized and it reminded me of my life prior to this "Ministry".
After some months I began to sneak some emails to my mother. I let her know that I was ok and not much else. I was hoping that would ease her mind but she still had so many unanswered questions as any mother would. I would avoid any direct questions about my whereabouts to conceal as much info as possible, as I was told to do.
In my mind there were so many questions. I would keep in contact with Red whom I still hadn't met and was always advised that it was "The Enemy" putting doubts in my mind or "curses" being sent my way to detour me from the will of God. I took this very seriously. after all , I LOVED God. I genuinely had a heart after His. If these were the things I needed to do to be a part of his "bride" spotless and blameless, I was going to blindly obey.
Temptations began to grow as you can imagine from being so confined, and I admitted to a "sister" in the house that I had gotten in contact with an old friend who was obviously not in the Ministry. That was a mistake. She reassured me that I could trust her and not to worry. Then later on when we were doing our group prayers before dinner, she revealed to EVERYONE that I had been in contact with this person. I was so Hurt. and not to mention everyone's eyes shot at me like bullets waiting for an explanation. I later got a call from Red who had been briefed on the news. I was scolded HARSHLY. I was told that speaking to this person behind everyone's back was allowing demons to come in and attack everyone, that it was a "portal" for evil spirits. I didn't understand nor did I care to at this point. I was still so hurt that someone I trusted in the house betrayed my trust. And most of all, it was in the name of "Holiness".
Shortly after about an hour into this conversation with Red, I was told that maybe it would be best if I leave the house. I was advised that I was not "fit " to be considered a part of the " Holy Bride of Jesus" and had many demons inside of me. Red advised I leave the very next day.
I was emotionally drained and so confused. I felt like I had been beaten down with a spiritual rod. My once Joyful heart and singing lips were silenced. I didn't know what to believe. I felt rejected by God.
I called my mother and she immediately drove two hours to pick me up from a local Wal-mart.
I could see how relieved she was to have me back home.
Since then my views on Religion and God have been so morphed. I try to find my way back to Church and I am not able to focus because I question every word they speak. I'm just now realizing the damage that this experience has caused me socially, emotionally & spiritually. I don't trust anyone who claims to be a godly , good person.
I am working on myself every day to try to get out of that mind set.