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TESTIMONIES .... (Page 3)


After we sold the convention grounds and moved out of state, I never went back to meeting, and I have never had a single regret.

July 14, 1999

I am one who stepped aside about 9 years ago. I was in my mid 60's, when I first began to realize I could not stay inside any longer. I looked long and hard at the "trap" I was in, and within a year I "ran" outside. For years I had known many things were not right, but excused them with "the way is right but the people aren't."

Having lived on the Mississippi convention grounds for 32 years, we were privy to many troublesome things, simply by observation. Other problems we learned by word of mouth. We did not leave the convention grounds because we were mistreated or offended by the workers or the friends. We were not. Retirement and age (notice I didn't say OLD age) called for "a life of our own," and hopefully some normalcy, of which we had experienced very little.

One of the things that bothered me the most, and caused me do a lot of serious thinking, was the way the younger workers were treated by their older companions. I watched young worker after young worker being conformed by their companion even to the point they lost their own personality. When our son was accepted into the work the older worker in California said to me via phone, "Now, if we can just get him broken in." It had been my observation that young workers are broken down. Why, would it be an older worker's assignment to break in/down a young person who feels called by God to preach? Is it not allowable that they can be led by the Holy Spirit?

I remember one young sister worker was so distressed that I actually encouraged her to leave the work. Her words were: "Where would I go--I don't have anywhere to go." I shed many tears for and WITH these little ones. I had no way to help them. Many have not "made it" in the work, while others remain, bound to a vow they seemed to have made with the Lord. If only they knew that our Lord does not hold us to a choice we made that is destroying us. It sometimes seemed to me that the suffering they endured was something they felt came with the life they offered. Yes, we will all suffer for Jesus sake, but not at the hands of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Think about it!

Within the course of a few years I knew of four workers who were suicidal, one used the term "self-destruct" when talking with mepersonally. Another had planned her suicide twice and each time something happened that she did not carry it out and each time she was sick she hoped she would be diagnosed with a terminal disease soshe could die and get out from under her "vow" to the work. I knowof nothing any sadder. The misconception of a God who would call one to take His message of hope and salvation to the world through someone so unhappy and miserable that they wished they could die is totally opposite to what I see in our young missionaries through ourchurch group. They are so happy, joyful and praising God for being able to take the Good News to others. They do not need to be broken in nor down. The Holy Spirit is allowed to guide, teach and lead them.

Convention grounds are constantly buzzing with remodeling, tearing down, building up, enlarging, painting, planning. All of this and more consumes the workers. It is a rat race for them, as well as for the lady of the house and the sister workers who come to help cook, wash and pamper the brother workers. Not to mention the people who love to come by just to SEE the convention grounds and visit with the workers. My son used to call me First Lady of Convention grounds, but I felt my role was manager of the "hotel".

Families living on convention grounds share all they possess with amultitude of people. Their home, property and all its contents are used for the "cause." Often times it is abused. Many folks do not stop and realize that a family actually lives there 365 days of the year. It is not just a place you GO and visit, but a place where people actually LIVE their lives. Please take care of their property, they pay a price for it just as you do for your home and possessions

Of all the hundreds of people we met during our "term" on convention grounds, how many do you think wrote and thanked us when we left? Well, it didn't take long to count them! There were only six, and just two of them were workers. How many wrote and asked me why I left the meetings? Not one! How many cared if I perished? (That is what they think will happen to any who leave.) So I ask, "Who left the 90 and 9 and went to seek the 'lost sheep?" Not one. So I ask, "Where was the love of Jesus?" They did not know why I left--they may have heard something--but they didn't care enough to check it out------and I really thought they loved me!

At this point, I realized there was no reward in store for what one wears or refrains from wearing. At one of the last conventions we attended on our place, an older worker spoke from I Cor. 3:12-l3. He likened the women's dress issue to building with wood, hay and stubble, and seemed to be in sympathy with us women who wore the Victorian era clothing. After going through a part of my early childhood wearing black stockings and looking like a little old lady, I was not at all pleased to hear from the platform that all this I had endured was merely stubble. "Stubble" was NOT the right word for what we young girls went through in being "modest" and trying to win the favor of God and the workers with our black stockings. Though I had not worn those horrible black things for years, I still recoiled when I heard the "stubble" explanation. It had been decided FOR us that we should not conform to the world. For me the black stockings became a plague that left me with a complex in some areas that I shall never get over. So it may not surprise you to learn that my sister and I were the first to throw away our black stockings and wear light color stockings to meeting, back in the mid 1940's. I really do not believe professing men have a clue as to how we women have truly suffered from having to look peculiar, rather than being different because of the work of the Holy Spirit within.

I remember becoming quite concerned that none of us, worker or friend, could answer a question asked by an outsider: "What is your doctrine?" Of three brothers I asked, none of them could actually give an answer when I asked. One sister worker said, "Well, if he will come to the meetings, he will learn what our doctrine is." Strange answer; I had been going to meeting for over 50 years, and did not know. Doctrine? We didn't have a clue.

My daughter and I decided to study our Bibles and find out our doctrine. We even went to some religious book stores to check out doctrinal statements in order to understand what the concept of "doctrine" involved. If "the truth" was God's only true way on earth, and we couldn't tell anyone what our doctrine was, and the workers couldn't tell anyone either, then what were those people learning who came to meeting? I concluded "I did not know what I believed!" I couldn't tell anyone how to be saved, yet WE were supposedly the only ones who knew how to be saved. If that was true, then shouldn't we be knocking on doors, day and night, to tell the Good News? Quite frankly, dear friends, I did not know what the good news was.

After we sold the convention grounds and moved out of state, I never went back to meeting, and I have never had a single regret. I have found peace and joy that I never knew was possible, being taught that there was none "outside." I am 75 now, and for me, I feel my life began 9 years ago when I stepped outside. I did not leave God, I found Him.

After leaving I went about to prove or disprove what I had been taught as a small girl regarding Ďfalse churches.í (I did this alone, as my husband still goes to meeting, but has never hindered me in my decision.) I'm sure that many of us were taught at an early age the perils of entering a "false" church. Sometimes the workers would get the use of such a church for their own services and that confused me a bit. I started out church "shopping and hopping" a few months after I left my last meeting. I had been "out" in heart for about a year prior, and during that interval, I had settled quite a few issues. I remember praying that God would blind me to "what people looked liked" and keep me from judging anything I was not used to, and that was most everything, of course. I asked Him to help me listen and that He would guide me to a church where I could learn His word.

The best thing I received from Him was something I had not known to ask, but He knew I needed to learn. He OPENED my eyes to see what I had BEEN before Him. A judge, first of all. I /we had judged a person's worth and salvation by what they wore and by their works. This is the way I was taught from a child. I do not say my parents sat me down and taught me how to determine one's salvation in this manner, BUT if we were in the only way to be saved, then there had to be a determining factor. We must be different from those who were not professing, and it must show from the outside. What about the inward fruit of the Spirit? I wept sometimes during church services at the manner in which we had determined whether or not a female was saved or unsaved--by what she wore. Did you ever wonder, "How are the males ever going to make it when they look like everyone else?"

I tried several different churches. I usually cried all the way home on Sunday from the services. I was not crying because I went to a service which I had judged as wrong in the past, but at what I was BEFORE GOD all those years; and at how He must have felt in view of the fact that as we judged others "outside," we were judging HIM, and OUR SAVIOR'S DEATH, as NOT ENOUGH. "It is finished" was foreign to us.

And then I wept because He, in His Mercy and through His Grace, had brought me out of that mindset and into His glorious Love and Peace and showed me the box we had put Him in, and the limits we had placed on Him. He could only save a few?!!! Ahhhhh, the things He opened my eyes to see! He is a great God, and He is still opening eyes. Each day it seems someone new is testifying to the fact that NOW they see. How blessed we are!

In closing, maybe others who are intimidated by venturing outside the confines of our past will be encouraged to do so with prayer, and God will lead you where HE wants you, and where sound doctrine is taught and lived. We may lose friends and family, but God makes it up to us in ways we could never imagine.

My Love to all of you in His Grace,

Dot Berry


We cannot discount or complain of the years we were "LAW-Bound" in the "Testimony" or "Truth"

July 11, 1999

How many hurting, angry and confused people there are out there.

I was brought up in The Methodist religion, and from a child I was very aware of this wonderful world and God's creation. But I never knew the reality of God's love in my life until I was 22 years old, and because of a personal need in my own life I met a preacher who was in the district at the time (1960) He expounded the scriptures like I had never heard before, and introduced me to the gospel meetings. After attending meetings for a couple of months I made a decision to serve God.

My husband's father originated from the north of Ireland, and was a preacher there, knowing the early preachers including William Irvine and Edward Cooney. Until this time we weren't aware of this part of his life because he had been through many bitter experiences and didn't want to influence us in such a critical part of our lives.

A few months after we began to attend meetings we were informed by a friend about the origins of this group and the many problems which have existed since its inception. I asked one of our older friends about these matters and was told "Unfortunately these things are true, but whatever you do, don't feed on them, feed on the Lamb." I have always remembered these words

We remained in the group, endeavouring to be impartial, knowing that God had showed us many personal truths, until in 1990, (after 30 years) as a result of our many experiences we believed that we could no longer continue. I believe it is not necessary to expand on our experiences, as many others have known adversity, and God has dealt with us and revealed His love and power through His Holy Spirit during these years, as He has to others also.

However, not wishing to be influenced by what we had been told about the problems which had existed for many years and through several generations, we prayed, and weighed up all the pros and cons, and decided to go on, after all, what did we have to lose?? We were fortunate to have older friends who had real understanding of the scriptures, and whose influence was to our advantage. As time passed, we found many situations which were questionable, to which were no acceptable answers.

We were told many times, "The "way" is perfect but the people aren't!" We kept walking in this "way' and were told that you could be wrong in a right fellowship but you couldn't be right in a wrong fellowship. There were actually many of these "one-liners" or "terminologies" which were used to discourage one from looking too hard or too seriously at any flaws in the "system." Throughout these years God was working in our lives and preparing us for the "right" time when He would lead us through the experience of "stepping out."

This was done very quietly and without fuss; no preacher came to see us to inquire if we would like to talk to them about our leaving. One of the "friends" showed her concern about our decision, but stressed that as long as we were having fellowship somewhere. Another couple mentioned how they missed us. One preacher, at my mother's funeral, mentioned that she had heard that we no longer attended meetings, and, after I told her this was true, she added that she hoped that we come back as she didn't want us to go away from God. I assured her that, far from that, we were becoming closer to Him!

We didn't hear about salvation through grace through faith. The understanding was that we had to do something!! We had to earn oursalvation. What had been preached to us was that we must obey!! But who were we to obey? What we discovered was that there were many unwritten laws which one was expected to adhere to. We were actually expected to obey what the preachers (workers) set out because they were "the representatives" for God in this world. They had left their homes and family to go out in the world, with no possessions, and this was a major issue to prove why this was the "only way to heaven" along with the church in the home.

We spent much time studying the scriptures and learning about God's word for ourselves as individuals, and discovered the reality of His love and His will for us.We learnt that we were saved by His grace, and set free, not to do our own will but free to serve God, free from guilt and fear.

Many of the folk we met in this group seemed unsure of their salvation, and because some other groups seemed to be too confident about being saved through the blood of Christ, this was ignored by the "workers'", and was avoided in meetings, but many still didn't appear confident in God's work of salvation in their lives personally, and lived with the fear that they may not be saved. There were quite a few members who suffered emotional problems as a result of thisfear and guilt in their lives.

Many of the folk we met in this group seemed unsure of their salvation, and because some other groups seemed to be too confident about being saved through the blood of Christ, this was ignored by the "workers'", and was avoided in meetings, but many still didn't appear confident in God's work of salvation in their lives personally, and lived with the fear that they may not be saved. There were quite a few members who suffered emotional problems as a result of this fear and guilt in their lives.

I am aware that many who have begun this journey of separation from the group, are finding it difficult to understand what is best for them to do next. I am encouraged by those who realise how vital is to have fellowship is with other Christians. Some find it difficult to accept the fact that they have "wasted" so many years in the group. I had this experience, for just a few moments I thought "What a waste!" I soon realised that those 30 years of my life weren't wasted at all, because God never stops working, and He hadn't put up a sign saying " WORK ON HOLD UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE!" God doesn't do this to anyone. He is right there, wherever we are and wherever we go.

POINTS TO REMEMBER:

There are still very sincere people, born again Christians within the group,still blind to the "System", who have submitted themselves to the prevailing Law, and only deep personal experience will alert them at an appropriate time known only to God.

The workers are not entirely to blame for their elevation to authority. Much responsibility rests with the "saints" for placing them on a pedestal, wanting a tangible media between themselves and God. With this elevation, many have grasped authority and power, very much a basic human trait.

The workers are now striving to hold together this "religion" by using this same power known to us as the "LAW!"

The wonderful thing is that the more they apply the LAW, the more evident is the fact that GRACE is the answer.

The LAW was the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. Is this not still true today?

We cannot discount or complain of the years we were "LAW-Bound" in the"Testimony" or "Truth" Just think of what it has taught us ie. schoolmaster, about Scripture and God'splan throughout the ages, still patiently keeping us until we were ready to accept the pure Grace of God through Christ.

We can freely and confidently sing "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh! what a foretaste of glory divine!"

Doubt and fear don't hold us back because Jesus took both of these on the cross with Him and set us free to know the reality of God's love, forgiveness and mercy.

And just think of this, God has put our sin and guilt and fear behind His back, never to be remembered ever again. It's is only when we allow the human part of us to recall the past that we re-experience these feelings.

And remember that He knew us from the very foundation of the world; what a revelation!!

Remember "We are accepted in the Beloved."

What did Peter say when Jesus asked the disciples who they thought He was; You are that Christ."

Also "We believe and are sure that you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."

Can we confidently state today that Christ is Lord in our lives and we believe and are sure that He is the Son of the Living God?

God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

We would encourage those folk who are going through this separation journey to be patient and wait on the Lord, because He hasn't forgotten you, HE IS STILL WORKING IN YOU!!!

Sincerely

S & R


August 19, 1999

I have been touched by the many emails from others who are at various
"stages" of their journey and I felt moved to write this letter to encourage
them.

It is interesting to read the many letters with various thoughts and
feelings because of this group and the memories which are sometimes bitter.
But God has promised us that we would know Him and His Son and this is
Eternal Life, and He has left it on record that we will know the Truth (not
the 2x2's) and the Truth will make us free!!  The real Truth which is in Him
and His Son.  What a wonderful thought to know this REAL liberty!!

I was watching a tiny little wren this morning collecting bits and pieces to
build her nest.  She wasn't worried about the task, she just knew that it
was what had to be done, but God provides for even these little creatures,
and the promise is real to us that He will look after us too.  I will be
watching with interest as this little family of wrens go through the various
stages of preparing for and caring for their little family.  No-one  who has
ever lived on this earth can  say they  never saw evidence of God, because
he is right there, as we read "He cannot deny Himself"  
I thank Him so much that he has shown me the reality of His love in my life.
His way is a Living Way. We have been promised life abundantly!!   A cup
filled up and running over!!  The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink but
righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.!!  Wherever we read there
is encouragement in every experience we go through.  So to those who are
hurting, look up, because your Father in Heaven knows what you are going
through, and there is peace and joy and most of all there is HOPE!!

I thank Him for this.

I am so grateful that God has brought me through many experiences, including
alienation and misunderstanding, and many others.  His love is REAL, He is
our Father in Heaven, we are His children, and He cares!!!  We are so used
to being let down by the human element, that we find it difficult to trust
anyone sometimes.  But GOD CAN BE TRUSTED, lean on Him!!

You can put my whole name if you place this on VOT.  I am free!

One of the most encouraging elements of being a Christian is the words of the
hymns and other songs which have been written throughout the hundreds of
years.
During my growing up years it was common for families (as we did) to have
evenings around the piano or organ singing the songs we loved, both sacred and
other.
I can remember
1. "Jesus wants me for a sunbeam, to shine for Him each day, in every way
try to please Him, at home, at work, at play......."
2 "When He cometh, when He cometh, to make up His jewels, all His jewels,
precious jewels, His loved and His own.  Like the stars of the morning, His
bright cloud adorning, they shall shine in His beauty, His loved and His
own....."
3 "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the bible tells me so, Little ones in Him
belong, they are weak and He is strong.  Yes, Jesus loves me......"
and many other

In my teens I loved 
1 "I come to the garden alone, when the dew is still on the roses, and the
voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.  And He walks with
me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own, and the joy we
share as we tarry there, None other has ever known  etc...."
2 "In loving kindness Jesus came, my soul in mercy to reclaim, and from the
depths of sin and shame, Thro' grace He lifted me.....etc.'
3 "Simply trusting every day, trusting through a stormy way, even when my
faith is small, trusting Jesus that is all.....etc.."

and many others

Later in my life I learned the wonder of the words of these and many others, and
when I read about the writers and their experiences, it meant so more much more
to me.

Fanny Crosby wrote many beautiful hymns including "Blessed Assurance" "Safe in
the arms of Jesus.", in fact she wrote 9000 hymns, with help at times from Ira
Sankey who also was a writer of many songs.

One hymn which I love very much is 
"Loved with everlasting love, led by grace that love to know, 
Spirit, breathing from above, Thou hast taught me it is so; 
Oh this full and perfect peace!  Oh, this transport all divine.
In a love which cannot cease, I am His and He is mine.

Heaven above is softer blue, earth around is sweeter green
Something lives in every hue, Christless eyes have never seen
Birds with gladder songs o'erflow, Flowers with deeper beauties shine
Since I know, as now I know, I am His and He is mine.
Things that once were wild alarm, cannot now disturb my rest
Closed in everlasting arm, pillowed on the loving breast
Heaven and earth may fade and flee, doubt and care and self resign
While He whispers in my ear, I am His and He is mine

His forever, only His, Who the Lord and me can part?
Ah, with what a rest of bliss, Christ can fill the loving heart
Heaven and earth may fade and flee, first-born light in gloom decline
But while God and I shall be, I am His and He is mine.

What beautiful words, and these have been very special to me especially since I
stepped out of the group.  

Music is a wonderful joy, we read so much in the scriptures about singing and
playing musical instruments, and this seemed to be frowned upon among the
"friends"  In fact I know that it was publicly  announced that there was to
be no
musical evenings.

I was fortunate to be born into a musical family, my father an accomplished
pianist and organist with wonderful empathy in his playing, my mother a trained
singer, and a woman who loved the Lord.  Her singing wasn't wasted because
she entertained many people, would go to nursing homes and sing to the
residents, also she would bring out her harmonica and play to them.

My sister and I sang together until we both married and reared our families, and
after about 30 years, we began to sing together again.  We both belonged to a
chorale, of which I became Director, and there were a couple of the "friends" in
this chorale as well as myself.  But this was also frowned upon, even though
nothing was said to me personally, the innuendoes were there.  One of the
"friends" stopped coming along because of family pressure, but the other
lady still
comes along.  

However, my sister and I have spent lots of our time entertaining older people
(and younger ones at times) singing sacred and other older songs which the older
darlings remember.  Even those who suffer from Altzeimers Disease, and who
have lost the capacity to speak, actually sing with us.  How rewarding!!

My sister and I were encouraged to make a recording of our singing, and I want
to tell you this, because at that time I actually wasn't FREE to do this
kind of thing!!!
But in 1996 we recorded an album called "Precious Memories" which included
many older songs and some hymns (Amazing Grace, Heaven Came Down and
Glory filled my Soul."  This was on cassette and sold very well.  We were then
asked to make a gospel album, which in 1997 we did, and this is "Prospects of
Glory" containing 20 gospel songs, both older ones and not so old.  But one
which
we included, is called "If that isn't love" and I love this very much.  
"He left the splendour of heaven, knowing His destiny.
On the lonely hill of Golgotha, He laid down His life for me
If that isn't love, the ocean is dry
There's no stars in the sky and the sparrow can't fly
If that isn't love, then Heaven's a myth
There's no feelings like this if that isn't love.

Even in death He remembered
The thief hanging by His side
He spoke with love and compassion
Ands he took him to Paradise
If that isn't love.....

We also included "The Old Rugged Cross" "When the Saints go marching in" "He
lifted me" "No tears in Heaven" "Fill my cup Lord" "Beyond the Sunset"
"Suppertime"
"Showers of Blessing"  
From the sale of these albums we have recorded, we have helped support the
local Palliative Care Volunteer training program.  Neither of us were very
adventurous but, we really enjoyed this challenge, and have met many people,
and have found that this has been a ministry in song to many lonely people.  God
is a wonderful God and He knows what we can do through His Love and Power.
There are many things anyone can do, just trust the Lord and don't lean on our
own understanding, but seek His will and leading every day.  He will never let
anyone down!!

I have been interested to read many emails in which it is mentioned that the
Bible
has had new meaning since exiting, and the peace and joy and freedom is so
wonderful.  God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of love and power
and of a
sound mind, and this is what we are all learning to experience.

There is a song which George Beverley Shea sings, and it is "What a fellowship,
what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms...."
God wants us to know Him and to know the rest and peace of leaning on His
everlasting arms.  We can trust Him, He will never fail us!!

Rose Perry      Australia


Geoff in Australia writes:

June 25, 1999

Dear _____,

Thanks for your post on the problems we had here in Australia in the
1950s.   This is a  very interesting time in our experience . I have 
Merv Schmidt here with  me tonight and we have been talking over
our shared memories of  the 50s and we will, over the next few weeks, 
put a few down on paper.  Merv has a very real Testimony of the 
events of the time and how he was affected by decisions out of his
control that I will leave to him to put together. 

The issues that affected us here in Victoria are very deep and we
hardly know where to start. Maybe, in a way, they were a bit like
they are at the moment in Alberta Canada where there is such an 
autocratic ruler over the people that any question of his authority is 
immediately and swiftly dealt with. We were, Merv and I, on different 
sides at that time and looking back they, {the  issues} seem laughable 
now. So it is not really the issues that cause the concern so much as, 
I believe, the fact that there are double standards, lies, cover up, and 
no accountability.    On top of all that there is the  judgment and 
excommunication if one dares to question. That is the real  issue. This 
is an introduction and we will address what happened in future posts.
Geoff

June 30, 1999

Hi there I will try to jot down a few of the thoughts I have on the events that took place in Victoria, Australia, as I see it. This will be as I see it and of course, others may have a different view; Merv Schmidt will, because it affected him in a different way than it did me because of our parents. Merv has a real story to tell and I will leave it to him. At the time we were going to the Sunday A.M. mtg at Dadís Aunt's place, Martha Matz, and the Elder was Cliff Berret. [Mr. Berret wrote a number of Hymns some of which are still in the book today.]

My first recollection is an evening we had at Matz' place and an Australian worker was there that had spent a lot of time in USA. RON CAMBELL. I never took much notice at the time but not long after quite a few people were 'put' out.' We were changed to a different mtg, I didn't at first know why but I just know we no longer went to that meeting. At that time any who for some reason or other Bill Carroll thought that they did, or said, or Knew something he didn't want them to do, say or know, he EXED them. Some that went at that time were Mervís parents, Otto and Jenny Schmidt, Mrs Matz and Wils and Leleen Matz, Mr and Mrs Berret, John and Gwen Berret, Jack Schmidt [where the Mildura convention ground was] the Cottrols, and the Beverley's. These formed a meeting at Otto Schmidts place and they continued having meetings WITHOUT PERMISSION. This caused a lot of grief to others in the district and no doubt elsewhere in Victoria and a cry went up to workers all over the world: "COME OVER TO VICTORIA AND HELP US!" This was taken from the Scripture that says 'come over to Macedonia and help us.'

Next I know is that some strange workers we had never heard of were having a special mtg in Mildura. I don't know where. My parents kept following the Victoria workers and we just continued to go to the mission ran by the Victoria workers but at Shoal I heard a lot of things that made me think, and also affected how I thought of workers after that. I started to think that they we not always right. I was about 14 or 15 and had professed at Mildura Convention when I was 11 and that was 2 years before the convention was closed down because I was baptised at Mildura in the Murray River the last time there was a convention here so I remember a lot of the effects it had on me.

Looking back now it was good because it caused me to question a lot of things but that doesnít account for why it took me 40 years to make a move away. As we talked about it at school the fact that there were two different workers around I remember it being told to me what old Jim Morriss when he was speaking to some of the workers at the time, "You may be right and you may be wrong but one thing is sure you canít both be right but you might both be wrong." I often thought of that over the years and often thought a worker could well be wrong. I told our old overseer [E.J.] that on odd occasions and he always let it go. The people that followed the 'foreigní workers had their meetings and those that followed the Victoria workers had their meetings, so there was a bit of a shuffle.

The kids at school still got around together and had our own play time during Religious instruction and that was a very interesting time !!! That split up the meetings as we did not have fellowship one with the others. The ones that stayed with the Victoria workers, some of which were My parents, and of my older sister and I, Morrisons, Alma Schmidt, [Bevan and Sedleyís mum] Bonds, Hanstocks, Brastrups, Hutchinsons, Tilleys, Helm's. Some that went with the other workers were the Cox' Schillings, Brebners, Mcdonalds, Morriss', and so we had 3 groups here. Those that were put out and went to Otto' s Church, those that followed the foreign workers, and those that followed the Victoria workers. BUT THEREíS MORE!!!!!!!!

This went on for a couple of years I think and during this time Ritchie and Emily Greenaway came over from Ireland and settled in Mildura. They were put out in 1928 with Eddie Cooney because they were sympathetic with him. So then we also had genuine COONYITTES here. They started building a home in Mildura and as Old Jack Schmidt lived alone in his big house he took them in. Then Eddie Cooney arrived at Jack Schmidtís so now we had 4 groups of 2x2 followers all on different paths. Some time later [I will put how I view it, Merv may have a bit different recall of the events however it is quite some time ago and I'm not doing this with any notes its just of the top of my head.]

Jack Forbes, head worker from UK, was in Mildura with others and the called a reunion mtg. I'm Fuzzy on this but it was to bring the people that were put out and those that followed the 'foreign' workers to come together. Eddie went but was refused entry so Jack Schmidt, Cottrols and maybe Beverlys went away with Eddie stating if reconciliation was to be made that Eddie had as much right as anyone else and they walked away and to this day one of the Cottrell girls still fellowship with the Greenaways and continue to this day with their Sunday AM mtgs. Mrs Elliott was at that meeting. She was here from Ireland. One of the very early workers there was put out with Eddie and they missed her as she went in!!!

After that there were big reunion mtgs all around the state and all were brought together again. At this time the workers had a lot of discussions and at Guildford. An agreement was made up and signed by the various workers known as the Guildford report. I have a copy of a summery put out from Dandenong [the then Victoria head office and convention ground].

Eddie Cooney stayed with Ritchie and Emily Greenaway in Mildura till he died in their home. Interestingly we had Ritchie and Emily drop in on us last Saturday week for a brief visit. They are a lovely old couple with a very broad accent. They still faithfully follow Eddie Cooney.

I hope this is of interest to some of you folk. I think that it is a bit like Canada at the moment. The issues are probably not the point, its the autocratic way the workers do things.

Love to all,

Geoff

~ An Update from Geoff: ~

December 24, 1999

Hi. It's one year and one month since Esther and I have left the 2x2 church. Looking back we have come a long way. We stepped out in faith knowing God would look after us. Our first church we attended was a bit of a shock, music was loud, kids everywhere, young people wandering in and out, not a stampede, but not very structured. I was very direct with the leaders, asking questions of all, example: ''do I have to belong to this church to be saved?'' The answer was ''definitely not, wherever you find the Lord, praise Him for it.' We attended many churches and have grown to like many of them. We have not settled in any particular one but we attend two regularly. They are different; one is more formal the other is rather vibrant. I have been encouraged by Christmas cards from people that have thanked us for moving out and as a result they were able to do so too. I am humbled to think that our standing here was such. I have enjoyed the lists, have posted more on the truth list than others. I just feel I am moved to do so, however I think I may not so much now. It can get a bit monotonous. The same old thing over and over. Sometimes I don't think it's worth the trouble, then over the last few weeks I have had a few private notes from people that have just left and thanked me for my input, so there you go!!!! My aim is not to take anyone out, it is to encourage all to search the scripture and to see if these things are so. I thank all on the lists for being there. It has been a great help to us both. God bless all in the coming year. Geoff and Esther


Merv in Australia writes:

June 27, 1999
My Testimony.   

My name is Mervyn Schmidt. I was born 23 July 1938, in Mildura, Victoria,
Australia. My father, Otto Schmidt, was 50 years old when I was born,
having been in the work for quite a number of years in Australia, England
and Germany and finally Wisconsin, U.S.A.

My mother, Sara Heath, professed at 15 when my father was preaching at
Staffordshire. At that time the convention began on the Heath family
property at Stock's Farm.

Like Timothy I had the priviledge of knowing the Holy Scriptures from a
child, which are able to make us wise unto salvation. As my parents were
both Godly people, I grew up with a strong God consciousness. Something 
I never want to forget.

I professed at 12 yrs of age . At 13 I was excommunicated along with my
parents and many others in the state of Victoria and South Australia in the
1950's, as a result of a purge by William Carol.

In my case, my only crime was I was the son of my father. I don't think
any-one thought where did that leave me? At that time I thought I was in
the only right way. As I had now been removed from this way, was I now 
going to heaven or hell?

I have thanked God many times over the years for this experience at such
a young age. God showed me that Jesus alone was the Way, the Truth and 
the Life. Not a method of preaching or a system. I remember Romans 8 
being very precious to me. Verse 31, If God be for us who can be against 
us? V33 Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? Shall God 
that Justifieth? Who is he that condemneth? Shall Christ that died? yea,
rather is risen again, who is even at God's right hand, who also maketh
intercession for us.

Also Jesus words in Rev 1 v 17,18. Fear not, I am the first and the last.
I am he that liveth, and was dead, and behold, I am alive for ever-more,
Amen, and have the keys of Hades and of Death.

For approximately 4 years, about 16 of us met in our home unofficially. 
We kept a meeting going with others who had been put out of fellowship. 
Some of the best meetings I ever had, I guess, because of our need at the 
time.

We were reinstated again after this, with the help of George Walker, U.S.A.
and Jack Forbes, England. About this time I met Eddie Cooney, who had 
come to Australia to investigate the excommunications. He had followers 
in Mildura, who were friends of ours. I appreciated getting to know him a
little. I was at his funeral, as he died in Mildura. He used to call our home 
a kind of half-way house, because of our sympathy with others who had
also been put out of the testimony/fellowship.

When I was 23, in 1961, I went on a world trip to try to get to the
beginnings of the testimony /fellowship. I visited the areas in Germany
where my father had been in the work with Jim Jardine, in 1913. They 
were the first two workers in Germany. Later I visited my mother's home 
on Staffs convention ground and stayed for a convention. With the help 
of  an old friend of my mothers', Suzy Barton, who was in the work, I 
visited Enniskillen, the West's home at Crochnacrieve, where many early 
conventions were held. This was an interesting experience for me. I
learned a lot about the beginnings of the fellowship.

Lastly I went to the U.S.A. spending some time in Wisconsin, visiting 
many friends who had professed between 1915 and 1920 when my father
was in the work there.

In 1982, I received a copy of Doug and Helen Parker's book, The Secret
Sect. I found it very illuminating, because of my own experiences.
Realising it was all too true.

I watch with interest the events unfolding in Alberta, knowing it will be
a difficult time for many there. I see a parallel with what some of us
experienced in the 1950's here in Victoria, Australia. Almost 50 years
later the same spirit is being manifest. This spirit, I believe, is the
result of legalism. The Spirit of Christ is not in evidence.

The positive side to all this, is that maybe it will cause some in their
extremity to understand that they are saved by Grace, through Faith in 
what Christ has done on the Cross. Salvation has nothing to do with 
following a method of preaching or meeting in a home, no matter how 
pleasant and comfortable this may feel.

Many times I've been asked the question, Why did we go back to the
fellowship after such unjust, harsh treatment? And then, having gone
back, why did we stay in so long, as we had never believed in the 
exclusive nature of the fellowship. Looking back now, I too wonder 
why.  However when I was young, back in the 50's, if you left you 
were out on your own, separated from friends and relatives, without 
any support.

In the 70's, I was now married and my wife and I occasionally had 
fellowship with other Christians in their home bible studies. One
weekend two Jewish Christians stayed with us. As the meeting was in 
our home, and I was the elder, they had fellowship with us. They took
part in prayer and testimony and no-one in the church realised they 
were not in the testimony/fellowship. However it wasn't long before
the meeting was removed from our home.

For the next 25 years I seemed to be walking a tight-rope. On the one 
hand I was now an elder in another meeting, and on the other hand I 
was thought to have different ideas. I tried to speak of Jesus, alone 
being the Way, the Truth and the Life and in more recent years, what 
it means to be saved by grace, through faith, and not by works of 
righteousness which we have done or could ever do.

When I read the Summer of 97 letter, I thought Wow, I'm not alone 
in the way I think. I thank you, Jean Dudley, for putting it all together. 
It has helped a lot of people down here in Australia. I found out about
the time that the Faith Mission was still operating out of Scotland and 
I began to realise that we would have all been better off if William 
Irvine had stayed with the F.M. The F.M. is evangelical in Doctrine.

Though, for many years I had seen Jesus alone as the Way, the Truth 
and the Life, and I was never exclusive in my believe, it was as I studied
Galatians, that God showed me that anything which is an 'add-on' to the
gospel of Grace is legalism, and another gospel, which is not a gospel at 
all.  To quote Paul's words, Let God's curse fall on all who would preach 
any other way to be saved.

I realised, by staying in the testimony/fellowship I was supporting another
gospel. I believe, it is only when you leave, that you are fully free from
the bondage of legalism.

I thank God, for Jesus' words in John 8:31. You will know the Truth, and
the Truth will set you free. V36 So, if the Son sets you free, you will
be free indeed.

Amen, HALLELUYAH.



Merv Schmidt


Also read Merv's letter to workers and friends. Click here ...****

Leigh in Quebec Canada writes:

June 27, 1999

My name is Leigh Townsend. I am 67 years old, B&R and professed when I was fourteen. Claire, my wife, is a beautiful young chick of 49 who professed twenty years ago. She is my legacy from the Truth.

I was born to professing parents in Prince Edward Island and spent my early years there. We then moved to Montreal where I lived with my parents until I left home and went to Toronto, Ontario. I have traveled extensively on business across Canada and the US, and have done stints in England, and several countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and the West Indies. I have met friends from virtually around the world. I am thus fortunate to have a fairly extensive view and knowledge of the "truth." I say this in all humility, because I was still stupid enough to remain in the 2x2's until recently. I now realize what a grip this cult had on me.

My mother was a good person, had very little education, but looked after my sister and I very well. She was easily influenced by the workers and thus we were brought up very strictly. We could not even use sun-tan lotion because at that time it was considered makeup.

From my early childhood, I wondered about many things in the 2x2's and had lots of doubts. I always heard from my parents that we were in the only true way but that the people were not perfect, although we were always told that the workers were on a higher plane than us. This would turn out to be about as true as the existence of Santa Clause.

In 1950 I received a real shock at Special Meeting time. I was sexually molested by, Jim G, a visiting worker from the UK. That was on a Saturday night, and at 10.00 AM the following morning he gave out the first hymn at the Special Meeting! Much later I discovered that he was a well known homosexual predator and the overseer had sent him on a trip to Canada for therapy! When the workers could no longer hide the situation he was put out of the work.

This event really opened my eyes. My 20/20 vision was starting to see and question everything. Something that was really starting to bother me was the hypocrisy in the way. I had seen Dad, who now was an elder, living one way most of the time and a different way when the workers or other friends were present. He could be raging about something but immediately grab a bible and be reading righteously when he heard someone coming to the door. He did not hesitate to lie about anything if it was in his favour. Coarse language was not unfamiliar to him and he used it at will - when the workers were not around.

Dad was not the only one. It became fairly easy to detect people living double lives, or at least doing a lot of things that they would not divulge to the workers. Many people have admitted to me, always in confidence of course, that they watch TV, have stereo systems hidden, and one told me that he had a hidden wine cellar. This is very much a world wide phenomenon.

I also noticed that there was friction among the workers. It was not uncommon to see workers arguing about little things, however, in some cases it was much more serious. I remember two sister workers, MY and EM staying at our house. The acrimony was so strong between them that MY, the younger one, would refuse to even come to the table when EM was there.

I was beginning to question the doctrine of exclusivity. It was becoming evident to me that our belief was based on four main premises. The homeless workers going two by two, the church with no name, meetings in the home and this being the only waythat was right.

I was also beginning to question the subject of revelation. Were the workers the only ones to have a revelation from God? My observations were, that much of what they considered revelation was really their own opinions. A case in point was OT who had recently come to Montreal from the US via France. He was a fire and brimstone preacher and spoke with a high volume, in fact, he yelled most of the time. He told us stories of his missions in the central states during the nineteen thirties, where he often made critical and inflammatory statements about other churches and preachers. He often recited a poem, which in part said :

Money oh money tíis of thee that I sing,
Thou art my prophet, my priest and my king,
Tíis for thee that I preach, tíis for thee that I pray,
And take up a collection twice each Sabbath day

Needless to say, he was not popular and he had even been threatened by the Ku Klux Klan. One time he admitted to a group, including myself, that preaching like that had not done any good and had stirred up emotions needlessly. The question in my mind was, "what about the revelation, where did the preaching come from?"

I was also beginning to question the legalisms, although I did not know them by that name. The way women had to dress. I often felt guilty, but I was ashamed to be seen with some of the sister workers on the street. There were some beautiful young girls at convention. Or rather I should say, they could have been beautiful, if the "truth" had not turned them from Tomatoes into Potatoes. Things have not changed a lot, except guys take heart, the poor girls could still look like crows in those horrible black stockings!

In 1954 I left home and moved to Toronto, where WM was the senior worker. He was at the peak of his preaching career and was the idol of the Toronto population. Could he preach! Many people ignoredthe sister workers' gospel meeting in West Toronto and came to W's meetings in the east end. He was a spell binder and spoke with authority.

But few people saw the real W. I did. He spent a lot of time with the friends where I was boarding and was very chummy with one of the female boarders. She and W. got along terribly well, sometimes long into the wee hours of the morning. She slept upstairs, and so did he. The rest of us spent our nights at the lower level. It did not take me long to realize that he was more than a real preacher - he was a real lover. The couple who owned the home had such confidence in W. that they could, or would not, see what was going on. It took years before the general population caught on. In fact, W. had long left Toronto, and his girlfriend had been killed in a car accident, before people became fully aware of the sordid trail that he left, both in Toronto and later, in the work in the Maritime provinces of eastern Canada.

In 1956 I returned to Montreal, only to be confronted with more shenanigans. The younger worker with EM got pregnant. Thatís right! PREGNANT. The workers tried to cover it up, but someone, through the hospital, let the cat out of the bag.

Talk about contrasts! The senior brother worker at that time, HC, would not eat FRUIT COCKTAIL - sounded too much like alcohol!

I got married at the end of 1956, and the next twenty years were very enjoyable. I became a successful business man, and president of a multinational company. For many years I maintained a fairly high profile in the "truth." Our home, and summer lake home, became virtual hotels for the workers and friends. Seldom were we without company, and many times both homes were full. The workers often came to me for advice and I was often asked to arrange special favours for them. I contributed thousands of dollars to convention grounds and to the work in foreign fields. I was privy to much of the inner-workings and the corruption of the 2x2 cult.

Frankly, I closed my eyes to many things, or maybe I should say, I refused to face up to reality. I was aware of many cases of sexual abuse by the workers, and even abuse perpetuated against other sister workers. This was happening in many countries.

I became aware of the strange behaviour of the workers in the Maritime Provinces. There were so many things happening concurrently, that it was difficult to really analyse the situation. There were people leaving the "truth," conventions were changing places with the people from the former grounds leaving the way and it appeared that the workers were out of control. It seemed tobe a virtual orgy, with groups of workers disappearing on weekends and being seen at various motels! Finally, a number of workers, including AA, SB, DS and several sister workers left the work. Several brother and sister workers married shortly thereafter.

There were strange things going on close to home as well. It was reported, with some justification, that MM and GP were very chummy. We were also warned by sister workers that a certain sister worker should not sleep on the same floor as the Head Honcho when they were at our house.

The corruption was starting to get on my nerves. Most of the above had not affected me personally, but I was becoming very uncomfortable with the direction of events in this "perfect way". I was wondering what to do. Within the next few years I was implicated directly in several problems which culminated in Claire and I leaving the 2x2's and being freed of all the problems and corruption that we had been saddled with.

In the early 80's I became involved in the MM-GP-YD-CJ affair, from which I became a target for the workers. A number of French people had professed in MM and her companionís meetings. This was quite a novelty in the area. YD, who had laboured in Quebec for several years had come back for Special Meetings. During visits prior to the meetings MM had completely isolated YD from the French people, supposedly to protect her fiefdom. This hurt Yís feelings very badly because in the overseerís invitation to come to Quebec, the main reason was to spend time with the new French friends.

YD and her companion came to our home for supper and to stay with us on Sunday night after the meetings. I could tell that something was bothering them and when I inquired they both burst into tears. Finally, they told me of their shabby treatment by MM, and obviously I was not pleased.

The following week they were in the Ottawa area for Special Meetings. There are several French families in that area as well, and YD and her companion received the same treatment as in Montreal, but this time they were at CJís for the night, and they told him about the situation. CJ then called me to discuss the problem, and we agreed that I would discuss it with GP in Montreal and he would do the same in Ottawa - thus our stories would correspond.

In order to be fair to MM, I told her that I intended to discuss it with GP. She immediately phoned him and cried on his shoulder about how terrible a spirit I had and that he better come and talk to me right away. He came running! He would not believe anything I said. He said I had a bad spirit and that the meeting would probably be taken out of my home. When I told him that the same thing had happened in Ottawa and that someone would be talking to him about it, he and MM immediately became all the more defensive and wanted to know who it was in Ottawa. I refused to tell them, even under severe grilling. I was sure that CJ would talk to GP when GP returned to Ottawa a few days later.

When they left, I phoned CJ and told him what had happened. When he heard the news his attitude changed completely. CJ backed out of our agreement and left me holding the bag. To this date I have had no respect for him.

MM and GP were then out to get even with me, and I knew they would go to any length to get revenge. GP tried once more, but it blew-up in his face.

After the above affair I was completely disgusted with the workers and, in my innocence, I decided that I would work to correct the situation. I would not sit still and let the workers get away with anything. I did not yet realize how strong the corruption was, or the grip that the workers have, but I was about to find out.

MC was living in Quebec City. She had professed about a year before and was working for me part time. In view of the corruption that was becoming prevalent under MM in Montreal, I tried to warn MC about MM. I did not realize the type of person she was. However, she immediately phoned the senior worker, WH, and told him about our conversation. Well, he immediately came running to her, and asked her to put everything in writing saying that it would be good for the "truth." He told her that I had a very bad spirit. She wrote the letter.

A few weeks later, I received a call from WH that he was coming to Quebec to see me. I told him I would be in Montreal and would meet him there. Actually, when I arrived there were SIX workers waiting for me and the trial began. I had taken a tape recorder with me and intended to keep a record of the discussion for my own protection. They were aghast and said that I could not do that, but they promised to keep everything confidential. Fat chance, the next week, everyone knew about the famous meeting and how "I had been chastised". So much for their word of honour.

GP initially acted as spokesman. He started by saying that I did not like them talking to my children - I disagreed, because my children had been gone for fifteen years.

He then said that I was against all the workers - I disagreed. I was against only those that were dishonest or corrupt.

He then said that I was against MM - Yes GP, I agree totally. She is one of the biggest liars and deceivers that I know!

Then he said then that I was against God, because MM was on the workersí list prepared by CC, and the list had been revealed to him by God. I let him have it right between the eyes! Such idiotic thinking.

I told them about the worker who abused me - he was on the list. The worker who had had a baby - she was on the list. The corruption with the workers in Alaska, the same thing in Greece, the same thing in Manitoba with SL, the disaster in the Maritimes, the WM escapades - THESE PEOPLE WERE ALL ON WORKERS' LISTS, IN FACT SOME OF THEM MADE THE LISTS - Was God wrong? I also pointed out that his relationship with MM was substantially more than scriptural. I also informed him that CC had phoned me to discuss the possibility of putting him, GP, under Psychiatric Care.

However, I was not prepared for, nor could I believe, their answer. They said I should not have mentioned anything to anybody. They had the evidence against me in the form of a letter. They said the workers had to stand together and that EVEN IF I WAS RIGHT, IT WAS MORE IMPORTANT THAT IT BE KEPT CONFIDENTIAL. After that the shunning really started!

I now had nothing to lose. I was driven to fight for justice. Suddenly, I had a strange ally. MC, who had betrayed me, suddenly quit going to meetings. She was now being shunned also - even by her own sister, SG. The workers now wanted me to shun her too, even though I was already being shunned. It was almost hilarious, if it were not so sad.

MC was now very disturbed and was almost in despair. She was living across the street from her sister, a real worker-worshipper, who took great joy in reporting all MCís movements to the workers after every Wednesday night meeting. We invited MC to come and live with us for a few months. The workers were livid, but could do nothing.

Several weeks later in a Sunday morning testimony, I mentioned how grateful I was that God had never abandoned me, in spite of all my unworthiness. (Good 2x2 lingo). SG later complained to the elder that I was preaching at her, because she was shunning her sister. The elder, who at seventy-five, is Quebecís oldest teenager and canít think for himself, immediately contacted our semi-literate alcoholic worker, JG. JG was waiting for me when I arrived at convention the following month, and took me to task. I told him he was bonkers and suggested that we see SG and the elder together. He refused, saying that they were too scared to face me! I asked him how he could respect those people.

One of the saddest episodes in which I was involved concerned MC who is on the list, and a girl named B. who worked for MC. MC has already mentioned parts of this on the list but I will go a little further. B. worked for MC and could see that MC lived a different type of life and she was curious. MC invited her to MMís gospel meetings, but MM virtually ignored her. You see, MC was in MMís bad books because he had professed through someone else and was not one of *her* trophies. She had said a lot against him to the Montreal friends, even implying that B. was his girlfriend. It would make her look like a liar if B. professed, so she did everything to discourage her, even refusing to allow B. to go to convention.

MC phoned me in desperation, and I said that we would take B. to Convention with us, and MC would come for the week-end. We did this, but the word had been spread around the convention that no one was to talk to us. It became the most bizarre situation that I have ever seen. A real study in crowd control. People avoided us like lepers yet we knew they were embarrassed and wanted to talk

B. said she wanted to profess. We knew she was sincere and we said she would get a chance on Saturday evening when the meeting would be "tested". But the meeting was not tested because MM had enough power to convince the workers not to test the meeting because "Leigh and MC had brought someone with a bad spirit to convention." B. was so disappointed that she cried like a baby. I felt so sorry for her and I felt equally bad for MC, who had done everything possible to help this poor young girl. I was amazed at the cruelty, in the name of God. However, we are now glad that she never got tangled with the web of deception. Incidentally, MC is one of the kindest people know, although we are both detested by the workers.

The final knife. My wife was away for a weekend. She phoned during the weekend to say that she had referred someone to my networking business and that I should be home on Monday at 1.00 PM to receive them. When I questioned who it was, she said it would be a surprise. It sure was. On Monday at 1.00 PM sharp, she arrived with CW and his companion. Pure deception on the workersí part, and of course my wife. She and they left the same day. What a shock. I have never seen her since.

A couple of days later CC called and told me that since I was in the "truth," I should give my wife whatever she wanted - it was only money, bricks and mortar! He further told me not to hire a lawyer, although he admitted that my wife already had a lawyer working for her. He said he knew it wasnít right for her to do that, but two wrongs donít make a right. When pressed as to what I should do he said, "I donít know but do something". I did. I told him to get lost. He is the dumbest worker I have ever met, and gets dumber every day.

As if that were not enough, the Right Reverend CW was back in our field the next year. He was just as deceitful - and dumb. Reminds me of the show Dumb & Dumber - he could play both parts simultaneously, with no help.

Claire Tremblay and I were both in the network marketing business. She was somewhere below me in the organization, and had been for several years. CC and his companion came and stayed with me for a week. While they were living with me, sleeping in two of my beds and eating my food, I found out that they were talking to Claire and insisting that she give up the networking business and have nothing to do with me.

Finally, things started to improve. Several years after my wife left me, Claire Tremblay and I started talking about other things than network marketing and to make a long story short, today she is Claire Townsend, my wife.

That was the final straw, as far as the workers were concerned. They threatened all sorts of things but we remained calm and told them to put all their comments in writing and we would do whatever they said. You guessed it. We never received any letters, we continued to be shunned, but we continued going to meetings. We knew we were not in the right way. Claire, who had been in other churches, had more points of reference that I did. While she was ready to leave the meeting, I was not. What if it were the right way? Therefore, for my sake, she reluctantly continued to accompany me. Bless her kind heart.

Then a miracle happened. We had a visiting friend for dinner. During the meal he mentioned that there was a lot of information about the "truth" on the Internet. I couldnít believe it. He said to look under 2x2's. As soon as he left, we hit the computer, found the VOT site and printed out hundreds of pages. We will never be able to thank that person enough for our delivery out of slavery.

We have not been back to meeting since last December. We did not leave the "truth" because all the above problems. These types of things can happen anywhere. While the problems were surely a contributing factor, we left because of doctrine - the deceptive doctrine of William Irvine - which is based on works and legalisms, (which are not biblical) rather than on the saving grace of Jesus.

We marvel at the power of this cult and the fear that is instilled in itís members. People are afraid not to shun us. When they dare to speak to us, they use cult lingo, such as falling away, bitter, lost out, missing the mark, etc. Even my sister uses this jargon. However, I do not blame them. They are brain-washed, like we were, and are following the dictates of the workers. We can only pray that their eyes will be opened as ours have been. I consider Claire and I to be reasonably intelligent people, with a fairly broad experience in life. Yet, together, Claire and I combined have spent three quarters of a century in bondage of the worst sort.

We are so happy to be free, and to experience what Jesus said "The Truth will set you free". It is Jesus that is the Truth, and not some form of organized religion propagated by man.

I have written this, not in the spirit of revenge, but in the hope that it might help someone who is crossing the same minefield. If anyone who is struggling to be free would like to chat, including the lurkers on the list, please feel free to write privately in confidence. Please beari n mind that, the best way to cross a minefield, is to follow in someoneís footsteps.

I have tried to be brief and have only covered the surface. It is difficult to condense a lifetime into a few pages. Thanks for bearing with me and for listening.

Love in the freedom and liberty of Christ.

Leigh Townsend, Quebec City, Canada. leigh@total.net
(Full names were used on the original, but reduced to initials, in order to conform to VOT practices.)

Please read Leigh's very touching eulogy of worker Seldon Gillis in the "Viewing The Workers" topic. ... ***Click here

Rob in Australia writes:

May, 1999

Dear all,

One thing led to another and I've found myself in circumstances where I've had to make a decision. No more wondering, here it is. I've officially stopped professing as a friend because of my disagreement with certain issues. To those who've encouraged me to keep going, hoping that we all can make some difference, well, my circumstances prevent that. In taking a stand for Jesus I can no longer temper my words in the meeting and pretend I don't know what I do.

I totally believe that God calls some to stay in the fellowship and urge changes from the inside. But that conviction has not been laid on my heart. On the contrary, it seems God has opened my eyes and led me on a journey with a purpose for me that involves being elsewhere. There is no way I could have been of use in the Kingdom with my previous mindset. On that note, I admit my fallibility as a human and offer my trust and faith as being entirely in God. He will lead, and I will walk beside Him.

Here's the letter I've given to my family and to the elders of our church and to several others.

Rob Oxenbridge

Toowoomba

Australia


To read Rob's exit letter click here . . . ****

We were a DIVIDED HOME and there was nothing that could be done to remedy that save one thing: I needed to profess.

To all of you on the "2x2" list,

Some of you know more about me than do others. I am not an ex 2x2. 
My connection to the cult is through marriage. 19 years ago next month, 
I married a wonderful man who was a part of what I then innocently 
believed was simply a small, earnest, fundamentalist Christian group. A
life long Methodist, I considered myself a Christian without being a devout 
bible scholar. My mother was raised in the Roman Catholic faith, my father
Protestant and as a result, I grew up in a family where religion and faith
were put to this fairly liberal test: If one's beliefs were honest, then who
was I to question/correct/doubt the worth of that faith? Religion (including 
its rejection, if that was the case) was viewed as a personal choice and that 
choice was to be respected. When I married, I had no reason to believe
that that respect would not be returned. In hindsight, I now know that I 
was breathtakingly naive. The slaughter of the innocents by the 2x2s is NOT
about religion or faith. It is about abuse.

For the next 16 1/2 years, our marriage was subjected to the most obscene 
campaign of subterfuge imaginable. Our family was relegated to 2nd place 
behind the 2x2 system. The concerns and requirements of the 2x2s, and by 
extension, my in-laws, took precedence over the emotional and spiritual 
needs of our family (which now includes 3 wonderful children). All efforts 
to find our own way, develop our own style, reach compromises which met 
the needs of a young, growing family, were rebuffed and belittled. Why? 
Because the subtle but all pervasive brainwashing by the 2x2 cult taught 
that regardless of what was said and done by me, the outsider, our family 
was misdirected. We were a DIVIDED HOME and there was nothing that 
could be done to remedy that save one thing: I needed to profess. How could 
we have the "right kind of life" when we didn't open our home to the workers 
and friends on demand? When I didn't dress by the book? When our kids 
squirmed when they went to meeting with Dad? Ad nauseum.  In fairness I 
must say that my husband never once asked me to profess or indeed if I even 
had an interest in doing so. Intellectually, he couldn't imagine that his behavior 
was as malignant as it was. I understand that. But the pressure was there in the 
looks of disapproval and disappointment. (The direct pressure was applied by
others - that's a story in and of itself!) 

________ wrote about life as a B+R 2x2:
<< ... I think one of the most important skills that was NEVER taught to
me was assertiveness, being able to stick up for myself when school mates,
workers, 2x2 people, 2x2 relatives took advantage of me with criticisms,
verbal putdowns and shunning. I felt shamed and unimportant, and worthless
because the surrounding 2x2 adults in my life unrelentingly projected 
verbally abusive treatment on me....>>

That goes for those of us "outsiders" who are intimately involved with the 
cult as well. Although I could be "normal " with everyone else in my 
world, when it came to my place in the 2x2 world, I felt powerless, 
inadequate, guilty and incompetent. I was treated with derision and 
dismissal and as a result, found myself trying to ingratiate myself to 
people for the sake of the person I loved and still love today. Nothing 
worked. I was angry that I wasn't being loved for who I really was but 
instead was being pushed away for what I was NOT. I was not a "professing 
girl", so nothing else mattered. Appeals were met by denials and blank looks 
which told me that I was not only being dismissed but that my words and 
ideas were not even getting through. These concepts were totally foreign to
a person raised in the cult. 

________ also wrote:
<<If you made a bad choice, it wasn't just a bad choice, you were a bad
person!!!!!!!!! And this fact got called to your attention frequently.>>

In my case, the manipulation was more refined. I was assured that I was 
NOT a bad person, I was just wrong. My choices were wrong. We all knew why.

________continues:
<<....All of these negative 2x2 messages really get internalized and a slow,
simmering hatred grows within, and so you become this odd twist of
passive-aggressive  behaviors! >>

ABSOLUTELY!! So here we have a great, bright, promising couple being 
squashed under the weight of 2x2 expectations and demands. Getting angry, 
hurting and being manipulated by this perversion of God's will.

And then a funny thing happened. My dear husband woke up to the horrors 
of the system. This is something I had truly prayed for but never thought I'd 
see. I thought the nightmare had ended. But being "out" of the 2x2's is more 
than not going to meeting. Without forcibly rejecting ALL the lies which
pollute the victims of the 2x2s, the old unfulfilled expectations are allowed 
to remain. Rejecting the 2x2s means rejecting the old feelings that were 
allowed to invade the soul and foul the most important and sacred 
relationship a person can have; a marriage. This is more than pointing to 
biblical inaccuracies or recognizing the hypocrisy within the group. This 
is being willing to make amends to OURSELVES as well as to each other for 
the pain inflicted upon all of us by this twisted sect. And it means being 
willing to go through Hell and back to prevent any more damage.

Being out, my husband is now beginning to be on the receiving end of some
of  the treatment the children and I have endured at the hands of the "friends". 
I don't wish for him to experience more. I only want him to take on faith 
that the perceived inadequacies of our life are just that - perceived. And 
that the perception, planted by the cult, can be corrected through effort 
and faith and an understanding that the love and promise which created this 
family has not changed. 

Joyce 
March 1999


The workers said he was reading his Bible too much!

Joyce: [Note: This is not the same Joyce as the one above]

One day in the spring of 1991 I was gripped by the realization that I did not understand or know what I believed. I had been professing for 34 years and still had no idea what the scriptures really taught. I thought I was walking in the only way and that the workers were our mediators between God and man, but just what were the teachings of Jesus Christ?

(Oh I knew that this was the only way, the workers were Godís only true servants and that you couldnít be a child of God unless you heard the Ďgospelí through them. I also knew that meetings had to be in the home, the ministry had no home nor could they marry. Also they had to go forth preaching two by two. Other than that I really wasnít sure what I believed. The ladies wore dresses and did their hair up in buns. They wore no jewelry or makeup.)

"Something is drastically wrong," I thought. I must not be born again! How does one become born again? These thoughts were going through my mind as I also wondered why I did not have any joy as so often mentioned in the scriptures about the Saints. I then and there decided to make a detailed study of the words of Jesus. I would find out just what Jesus Christ really taught.

A few days later (1991) I read an ad in the local paper offering for sale a book called "The Church Without a Name." This takes me back eight years ago to 1983-84 when we were living in B.C. and I noticed an ad in the paper for a book called "The Secret Sect." I thought that this sounded like what we belong to so I decided I wanted to read that book. My reasoning was that if the book was telling the truth, then I had a right to know and if it was not telling the truth, then God would protect me from the deceit. Dale, my husband, was reluctant to get the book in case his faith would be destroyed, so we asked the elder at the meeting we attended if he would get the book and read it first; then let us read it. When the elder agreed, we gave him the ad that I had cut out of the paper.

After about four months, we asked the elder if he ever received that book. He said, "Yes, but it is not fit to read. It is full of hate and lies. I gave it to the workers." My husband didnít care, but I was disappointed because I did want to read that book. Since I no longer had the address, I decided to read the ads in every weekly paper until it appeared again. Eight years later it did, in a different place and in a different paper.

I promptly ordered "The Church Without a Name." When it arrived I read it at one long sitting and I was shocked. I also ordered the book "Has the Truth Set You Free" which clearly explained the true gospel. Finally, I understood the gospel! I was overjoyed, thrilled, amazed. I was also angry that I had been deceived all these years and that so many years of my life had been wasted.

I was amazed to find out that Jesus was God! I was overjoyed to find out that I did not have to earn my salvation. It was a gift! It was exciting Ė like Christmas morning. However, I still had lots of fears Ė "what if the workers are right?" Every time I had those fears I would go over the true gospel. I cried for months. I was still going to meetings, hearing things that didnít sound right any more, but still making me question. So when I got home Iíd start reading the true gospel again.

Daleís testimony picks up here. We were going through these questionings individually not really aware of one anotherís experience. God was dealing with us separately but at the same time.

Dale: Following is an outline of my experience that led to Salvation.

Part One:

It was the spring of 1991 that our life took such an unexpected and dramatic change. Letís back up, however, and give you a little of my history first.

I was born in 1947 to a mother who professed when she was a young woman. She married my dad who professed at the time, but approximately one year later left. He died outside the faith not willing but believing it was the only way.

Mom is a good woman who is trying to live a faithful life and did pretty good raising five children without much help from Dad who always seemed to be away. Being in the air force didnít help matters. We moved around a lot so missed the regular meetings at times. Most of my childhood was spent in Calgary, Alberta, Goosebay, Labrador, and Cold Lake, Alberta.

It was while we were at Cold Lake around 1960, I believe, that I began to realize it was expected of me to make my choice or should I say became aware it was the right thing to do. At the age of 13 I made my choice at Lacombe Convention. I remember how hard it was to stand up and how lonely I felt. Afterwards I wondered if any one would acknowledge my stand. I donít remember anybody saying any thing to me but I do remember getting beat up by five rough guys when I objected to them going through my suitcase. One after another they laid it on in the menís barn while others ignored what was going on. Where was God, where were my friends I wondered. I donít know what hurt the most, losing the fight, having my friends desert me when I thought they would be there, or the realization that even after professing I was just as vulnerable. I cried like I hadnít cried before as I wiped the blood from my nose.

Regardless of the bad start I did learn to read my Bible and the studies as Wed. nights would require and did my best to fit in and live a godly life. My ability to do so was confirmed by whether or not I had the approval of the friends and workers. It seemed I had this approval even though I did some things that werenít right. I did have one problem though, only known to me, and that was pornography. Dad had a collection of magazines around the house making it most irresistible even at a very young age to view the contents. To add to the mystery, one of the friends, a young male teacher, found me attractive and took sexual liberties with me that left me bewildered.

Nevertheless, I grew up, in my opinion, not too bad a kid. I was unable in all the years I professed to rid my life of my addiction to pornography, even after I got married. I did manage to keep the problem hidden but it left me in constant guilt. I tried dealing with it many different ways with no success. I remember wishing I could talk with somebody and even tried, to no avail. It would have been so helpful if I could have shared this burden with somebody who could understand, I thought.

I hoped that if I could recognize the devilís tactics maybe knowing his next move, I would be able to avoid losing the battle, a battle I had become only too familiar with. But it didnít work. Victory was never mine and thirty years later, having faced this battle and lost again and again, I began to wonder why this was so when I was professing; one of Godís people, living under the promises of God, a promise of victory.

I wouldnít want you to feel for a moment that I tell these things to gain sympathy. Itís just the way it was and I am fully aware that there are others who have gone through much worse. I mention them because they led me to the realization that something was wrong. Of course it was I that had the problem and certainly it was my fault, I felt. But I had tried for so long in so many different ways to deal with it; could I be missing something I wondered?

I was beginning to question the Bibleís credibility. Was it really Godís word or was it written by a bunch of drunk monks as some were saying. I had never considered that maybe I should examine my belief, and wanting to cling to my confidence in God and His Word, I chose to question my belief rather than Godís Word.

It was while driving home from Edmonton in 1991, that something began to happen that I believe is miraculous and will be remembered until the day I die. I had lost the victory while in Edmonton and recognized that it was only a matter of time and my life would be totally engulfed in my sin. It seemed hopeless and I had no where to go, nobody to turn to.

While I wondered about my belief and the possible cause, I wondered was there possibly a problem with what I had been taught and believed as true? At this moment God spoke simply saying, "read your Bible". I laughed at that out loud, and replied, "read my Bible?" I have done just that for the last 30 years and where did it get me, things are only getting worse. God quietly answered again, "read your Bible." I knew it was God as I wouldnít make such a seemingly ridiculous statement especially after dutifully reading it for 30 years and not being an avid reader, I found the task most unpleasant and overwhelming to say the least.

However, somehow in my hopelessness and despair, the message gave me new hope even though I couldnít understand it. Not wanting to overburden myself with the whole Bible, I reasoned that I would read all Jesusí words which I believed were of greater importance. I finished my journey that day with a peace and hope I cannot rightfully describe and it still makes me emotional just thinking on this time in my experience.

Looking back now, I find it quite interesting that God said what He did. He knew what would transpire and the effect it would have on me as I did what He told me to do. He just simply said, "read your Bible", twice, and proceeded to orchestrate the rest.

I opened my Bible when I got home, eagerly expecting some answers. My Bible opened to Matt. 22:37 and this was the verse that started everything happening. Vs. 37: "And Jesus said unto him, ĎThou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.í" Vs. 38: "This is the first and great commandment."

Now at first I didnít see all that this verse was saying to me, but I quickly recognized there was no love in me for God. After all, I reasoned, what had He done for me? I did recognize however, that Jesus emphasized this as the first and great commandment. Having seen that it was a priority to Jesus, I wanted to talk about it. It was as if a light came on and I wanted so much to talk about these verses.

I had been taught that the ministry, fellowship and meeting in the home were of foremost importance; here, however, Jesus says, "This is the first and great commandment." Eph. 5:2: "And walk in love, as Christ." 1 Cor. 13:13: "There are three things that will endure, Faith, Hope and Love, and the greatest of these is Love." 1 Cor. 14:1: "Let love be your highest goal."

I desperately wanted to talk about this in my testimony Sunday but somehow felt awkward about this, I donít know why but I just knew it would not be well received. You should know that at this point in time I was still fully convinced that this was the true fellowship and only way.

Things started happening at this point that started me to wondering. An older sister worker, Gertrude, was dropped off at our place one day and as my thoughts were on these verses and I was full of excitement, I started right in to discussing this verse. I said this was the most important statement Jesus ever made and that even He said it was in verse 38. She replied, "no, that was old testament teaching," and downplayed its importance. Did this commandment lose its importance now that we were in the new testament? I think not.

Seeming nervous and agitated and anxious to leave, Gertrude asked us for transportation to one of the friends nearby. It had me confused as to what the problem was, maybe in my enthusiasm I had come across as a threat to her. My wife said she didnít feel my approach was threatening. It was true, I had courage never experienced before and I was beginning to think some how, some way not clear to me, the workers may be missing something of vital importance. How would that be possible though, these men and women are inspired by God, I thought, and I believed everything they said unquestionably to this point. We were still going to meeting and all the while I had this burning desire to discuss what God had revealed to me in these verses, but feared talking about it even more after Gertrudeís response.

As we listened to the workers in gospel meetings, certain things began to sound oddly incorrect. It was said that Noah was saved because he built the ark (reinforcing works salvation). I thought Noah loved God and had a relationship with God and obeyed God in building the ark as a result of this love relationship. Because he was spiritually saved God chose to use him.

The workers came to our place that night and I mentioned to them what the worker, Alayne had said was not quite right and explained why and as a result, the next morning they told me to quit taking part of the bread and wine as I was drinking damnation to my soul. They also said that I was reading my Bible too much. I was floored to say the least, but responded by saying that was fine as drinking the bread and wine didnít save the soul. (I was beginning to understand the simple salvation message at that time and was better able to sort some things out.)

However, I was mystified by such a drastic response. I had given thanks for 30 years off and on for the bread and wine. We even had meeting in our home in 1969 while living in Rainbow Lake. I will admit though, I never truly understood the meaning of the emblems, it was a mystery.

They left that day and I said to my wife after some thought that I wouldnít be going back to meeting again. My wife continued to go for awhile without me and heard them preaching that it was dangerous to read your Bible too much. It was emphasized a number of times. Exactly the opposite to what God had told me. It was obvious this worker was sadly in error.

After a while my wife found it difficult to stand the meetings where attention was constantly directed to the sacrifice of the workers and example of Jesus. If the workers werenít speaking about it, the friends were expressing thankfulness for the day the workers crossed their pathway.

Part Two:

Two months passed and we hadnít gone to a Sunday or Wednesday meeting. We had no call or any communication whatsoever until a worker, Noreen phoned and asked if Willis Propp could come for a visit. We didnít know him very well and could see no purpose in the meeting and said so. The other worker seemed to feel it would be a good idea and we agreed to call back after we had thought on it.

By this time we had in our possession the book called "Has the Truth Set You Free?" by Gene and Grace Luxon. My wife read the book a number of times crying as she did so and as she realized how sadly deceived we had been, we thought it might be a good idea to discuss some of the questions that had come up over the last while and as a result agreed to the meeting. We asked others in the family to attend as well and present their questions.

The room was full when the workers arrived helping to relieve some of the stress. The visit lasted for about three hours and was difficult to sort out where they were truly coming from as so many statements were ambiguous. It was a nerve-racking experience talking with someone so important and so wonderful. His answers flowed with such ease. He laughed at various issues brought up making it even worse as he condescendingly answered.

You must remember the workers had in effect become our gods and at this point we were a long way from being free of their influence. They left that evening feeling comfortable that they had done their duty in pointing us in the direction they were so convinced was right. The rest was up to us.

We never went to meetings again and we never detected any show of interest on their part to come back. Quite the opposite actually, as we found the friends in most cases very unfriendly and cool as our paths would cross or attempts were made to communicate by letter or phone.

Conventions were coming up and they must have been afraid we would turn up so sent another worker, Jack Price to visit. We had what we thought to be a good visit as Jack was somebody we knew and trusted. Our Bible discussion was what appeared to be exactly what you would expect to hear from a true Christian, something we couldnít say about Willis. Unfortunately, we heard later that this story was changing as he spoke to others who were questioning the fellowship.

As he was leaving he mentioned that Willis was worried and that it would be better if we didnít go to convention this year. He said this a few times and I replied that what we did would depend on what God moved us to do. Our initial response was not to go however we heard a rumor was being passed around that we would show up at convention to stir up trouble. This thought had never crossed our minds and in effort to defend our credibility, we decided to go and prove that rumor wrong. As it happened the rumor appeared to be correct but not because it was our intention. This is how I remember it in a little more detail.

Our relatives, fully respected elders from the Edson area, had arrived home for holidays. Having been gone for almost a year, they were looking forward to getting reacquainted with the friends at Mellowdale as they had many close and cherished relationships. Now my wife had explained to her sister what was happening in our lives months before and as a result her sister had some questions she shared with her trusted friend in Edson. I understand this discussion was clearly understood to be in confidence.

Several of our relatives and family as well as ourselves, left for convention that morning. Tom and Florence having arrived before us had time to greet their old friends before we arrived. To their dismay, Florence found those she trusted as true friends rejecting her greeting and walking away. Bewildered and hurt she sat in the car until we arrived. We couldnít imagine what could have happened that would lead to such drastic measures as to shun a brother in Christ with no prior explanation whatsoever.

We heard later it was Willisí request to shun us because of the questions raised and the stand my wife and I had made. We were sorry for Florence but were glad we heard what was happening before we too would be intimidated in this cruel manner. We just avoided initiating greetings. All the while Tom wanted to continue having fellowship with them and tried to reason as best he could. As I listened through that first meeting I was appalled at the constant reference to what the workers had done. It seems they were moved somehow to defend their position for some reason or another.

I hadnít been to gospel or fellowship meeting for some time during which both my wife and I were devouring Godís Word and recognizing the real truth. This made it even more dramatic as we listened to the gospel according to the workers again. Salvation through the workers and what a great sacrifice they had made to bring the gospel to us; repelling to say the least. My wife said she never could figure out what they were trying to say and when I think back I have to agree. I just thought they were so great it didnít matter whether it made sense or not. If the workers said it, it must be right. I couldnít help but wonder how I had listened to these seemingly inspired words for so many years with such admiration, holding the workers in such high esteem believing they were Godís chosen servants in Godís only way, all the while not even understanding Godís simple salvation message. Jesus died for me that through faith in him I could have salvation.

It is a miracle that we could after all these years, see through their deception, not that they are intentionally trying to deceive but being deceived themselves they go forth with an air of misplaced confidence, only because they are blind and donít recognize that this is the case. It is sad and we do hope and pray some day they too will have the privilege of getting to know Jesus as their personal Saviour.

The fellowship was appealing and weíll admit that we miss the unity and harmony but most of all the support of friends and workers. However, we must recognize that when fellowship one with another fills the place rightfully Godís through Jesus it becomes people worship and is certainly not Godís plan.

Well, after that meeting at convention, Dale F. and Jim K. promptly came to where we were seated and asked us to meet them where our car was parked; they wanted to talk to us. Having done that we noticed Joyce and Florence walking away with Neil L., the convention owner, to talk off by themselves. The workers called them to come back and Joyce looked back to see Jim following them and calling Neil. Neil, not responding, walked on and expressed his desire that they would stay (we found out later).

Jim, having given up his pursuit of Neil, came back and Dale F. point blank said we were told not to come to convention. Why were we here? Well, Jack P. hadnít asked us not to come; he only suggested it would be better if we didnít, as mentioned before. We came to prove the rumors were wrong and besides that I said we donít take direction from false prophets.

They said this was private property and they were asking us to leave. I replied we had been going to convention for 30 years, I wasnít about to leave and besides that, it wasnít their property. Norman, the son of the owner was with them so I asked if he wanted us to leave and he humbly and reluctantly nodded yes. Agitated, my response was we wouldnít be leaving. If they wanted us off the grounds call the police. After awhile they gave up and left us alone. My nephew and I decided to take a few pictures as this would probably be the last convention we would ever attend. We took our pictures and decided to leave. We obviously were not welcome.

Three families drove off that convention ground as a testimony against them. Nothing hidden this time, everybody was there to witness the results of their high handed judgement, something they desperately wanted to avoid. We waved goodbye as we drove out of the yard. May God help them!

Now, donít think this was an easy thing or that we believe we handled it properly, nor did anyone handle it properly. You donít just walk away from relationships that developed from childhood without some doubts and a lot of pain.

Part Three:

We are thankful God saw fit to ease the pain somewhat by dealing with others of our family at the same time. We were not alone and because of that "he has a bad spirit" didnít have the same impact it may have had, had this not been the case. Our concerns as to whether we had made the right stand was confirmed by the things the workers said and did. When God says read your Bible and they say itís dangerous to read your Bible too much it was hard not to recognize something was amiss. My wife felt that if they had the power to remove you from what they claim to be the only way to heaven that they were taking what was only Godís rightful place in executing judgement.

Now Tom apparently wasnít the one who was shunned, it was Florence, because of her questions expressed to her friend. We understand it was Willis who made the decision to reject her and this was a powerful statement to Tom. He wondered where the Christian brotherly love was. These glaring contradictions offered comfort in our favour.

Now in defense of the radical move the workers made, and the unexpected publicity and sympathy from some, the workers concocted a "lie" to justify their actions. They claimed we were passing out literature and because of that they had to ask us to leave. This was absolutely false. There was no evidence of this and some who were at convention said they never saw any and wondered about the accusation.

I was sure the workers must be right though, such men of honor, so upright and moral, being led by God. They are sure that what they do is right even if it means to lie. And looking back we see the way we handled it wasnít done properly either but I for one was angry and acted in anger (may God forgive me as I responded to my emotions.) In some ways it did me good to confront them in this manner in speeding up the healing process, after all, we had been lied to all our lives and our salvation and eternity was at stake.

Some time after this ordeal we were invited to a meeting of victims much the same as us in Regina, Saskatchewan. Feeling desperate to warn people we stopped at every town, talked to whoever would listen and passed information everywhere we could, to alert the world about the deception. Talk about getting it out of my system! When I got a new job I had to tell everybody about my experience, every chance I got. I couldnít keep quiet.

I have often thought it would be a good idea to go back to the fellowship in hopes of helping those who do not have their faith directed toward Jesus but rather are putting their faith in the workers and their way instead. My wife says she wouldnít even think about it, the whole thing brings back too many bad memories of bondage, deception, and control. How depressing.

Although we may humanly miss the fellowship and the approval that comes with fitting in and submitting to the workers and those in authority, and havenít seen that bond in other fellowships, we realize that some of that bond is a result of childhood friendships that are impossible to duplicate. We do see that in true churches Jesus is being preached and glorified, not fellowship and the ministry.

Itís hard to understand why God chose to open our eyes while my family continue in bondage. We have done nothing good to qualify for this great gift of salvation and certainly nothing more than most of those who are professing. For some reason God stepped into and changed our lives and the direction we were going and showed us the real truth.

My family continue in unwavering confidence even through the scandals that are now being exposed. Continuing as though continuing is the issue, not standing for Jesus or for truth. I cannot help but remember their statement of confidence a few years back when they said "it works, doesnít it." I said the JW organization works too. But now that itís pulling apart at the seams they canít claim that, because it isnít working, especially in Alberta, and those who cannot see that must be blind or are hiding their head in the sand.

Now getting back to the sin issue that in the first place led to this happening. I donít like to admit it but even after God opened my eyes and salvation was mine, (by the grace of God through faith in Jesus and what He did on the cross), I found myself slipping back into old patterns of sin I had prior to truly accepting Christ as my Saviour.

Yes, I would have liked to have said these problems all disappeared but they didnít because the flesh was still there. There was a difference however and that was I now had Jesus Christ. This difference was noticeable in how I now felt about my sin. I still recognized it as sin as I did before but something was different, it was this relationship with Jesus. My sin came between us, an experience most profound for those who have the privilege of personally knowing Jesus. I had begun to appreciate what He had done for me in coming to earth to die in my place. It was like I had found someone who cared, that I let down. Jesus was now taking the place of workers and friends. Now it was Jesus from whom I would seek approval not man. I found myself deeply saddened by my sin not because I had failed to maintain a standard but because I had let my Saviour down.

While professing I had a form of godliness and struggled to live a godly life but it was empty in that I didnít have Jesus. We did have the Bible for which I am grateful. The truth was within reach if only we could get past the deception. Their ministry draws attention to themselves, their ministry and the fellowship. The true gospel message draws attention to our sin, Godís provision for sin, (Jesus on the cross and resurrection) and power to deal with it.

At times I am reminded of past sin in my life, and although I am fully aware of Godís forgiveness, it still brings sobering sadness. Warnings, I believe, that the flesh is weak and how impossible it is without Jesus. I would like to be found feeding on the living water because that is what strengthens me. I thank God for His written Word, the Truth, and that Jesus is our mediator and for telling me to read my Bible for as I read with new hope and enthusiasm, the story as just told began to unfold.

We have been delivered from the power of deception, the power of man. It has been replaced with God through Jesus. I canít explain just how wonderful that is! I wasnít reading my Bible too much. It was just that our eyes were being opened and we were seeing truth. Praise God! The Bible really became a living book.

Thank you Jesus. 12/98


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