Cult Connections: Acquire the Fire & Master’s Commission Conferences

Pre-teens and teenagers are most susceptible to groups like Master’s Commission which claim to be “Discipleship Programs.”

Master’s Commission, in particular infiltrates youth groups. They provide the youth workers, the human videos, dances, skits and sometimes the preaching to youth groups at their home churches and at churches worldwide. It’s no wonder that youth kids aspire to be “as cool as” the Master’s Commission kids.

What’s scary about that is that what you see on the stage when Master’s Commission is nothing like what you live through in an actual program.

Even worse, is that there are programs like this all over the U.S.

Take my friend, RA at www.recoveringalumni.com, for example. She writes about Teen Mania. She recently posted about Acquire the Fire. Boy, was I grateful! Here’s why. I recently found out my dad was driving his church bus to an Acquire the Fire conference. I couldn’t believe my own dad was partaking in something so closely related to Teen Mania (it’s hosted by Teen Mania, and Ron Luce is well aware of the abuse going on in the Honor Academy, which RA has exposed and written about for quite some time).

What’s so threatening about Acquire the Fire? After all, the Newsboys perform there, among other well-known singers and preachers. A reader responded to RA’s post on Acquire the Fire and pointed out in her blog, that ATF is sort of a “gateway drug” into the Honor Academy’s system of abuse, legalism and manipulative isolation from the world.

Honor Academy shows signs of being an abusive, destructive group; therefore, I would not support Teen Mania nor Acquire the Fire.

What is with these destructive groups targeting our youth groups and sucking in our pastors to believe that they should send their kids there?

I don’t fault pastors ignorant of this knowledge.

They look at the conference itinerary and see some of the most well-known and well sought after speakers and music artists in the Christian community. Of course, Acquire the Fire and Master’s Commission International Network’s yearly conference appeals to them. These conferences are marketed to everyone within that demographic as the “place to go” for youth.

Couple that with light and sound systems that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, up to millions; fog systems; musicians; and gimmicks galore, and you have everything that appeals to a young audience.

It’s no wonder people like me and RA get recruited so easily into horrific destructive groups.

But these 2 groups aren’t the only ones who destroy young people. Read Deb Paul’s story: College Days: Catch the Spirit or Control the Spirit? Deb attended Pensacola Christian College, PCC. Deb’s story starts sounding a lot like mine and probably many others who attend these fundamental Christian “colleges” or college-like programs.

Deb talks about the rule book she received:

I received the packet for Pensacola Christian College prior to leaving my home and I read the rule book.  And the “things you need to know” book you received did not really include ALL the things you need to know before attending this college.

Like Master’s Commission, although you receive a rule book you don’t really know what you’re truly getting yourself into until you arrive. Even then, they usually take a few days to truly enforce the rules as strictly as possible.

Deb would get demerits for:

…wet hair, sleeping in my unmade bed at 7 in the morning on a Saturday, demerits for not scrubbing out my sink “good enough”, demerits for wearing socks instead nylons the wrong time of day.  Demerits and a lot of them for sleeping through a class by accident.  We were made to do everything, even be to bed on time every night at eleven o’clock.

Although I never got demerits in Master’s Commission, we got “rebuked” which is where we were called into a meeting with either the director of our program, Nathan Davies, or another staff member and a support staff member. From there, our rebuking ensued. We’d get scolded, preached at and threatened to have a worse punishment or to get kicked out if we didn’t change. We were told scriptures in the Bible that told us to be clean, to obey, and not to be rebellious or independent.

Let me ask you this: If Jesus were around today, do you think he’d approve of such abuse and destructive behavior from pastors?

How else do you think groups like Teen Mania and Master’s Commission successfully infiltrate our youth groups? What can we (concerned citizens, Christians, non-Christians, parents, siblings) do to prevent this type of abuse and the abuse that Deb faced at PCC?

 

The Closet is Safer than Church

I’m what is called an advocate for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people. What does that mean, exactly?

I’m as concerned for the LGBT group’s rights and respect as I am my own rights. I don’t think it’s gross that men kiss men. I don’t care if men or women marry someone of the opposite sex–in fact, I want them to be married. Preventing them from marrying denies them a lot of things that other couples have, and I disagree with putting a stop to it.

As a Christian minister, I don’t remember having a lot of friends who were LGBT. Maybe there were some people who were gay, but I didn’t know it at the time. I never had a particular prejudice against anyone in that group. I didn’t really think about it. I grew up in a very small town, and went right into church work. I was pretty sheltered.

Coming out of ministry in 2005, I started going to a state university. I met so many people and became friends with quite an interesting array of people. Everyone of my friends was different, and I loved them all. Amongst my friends were hippies, people whose parents grew up in Mexico, African Americans, sorority girls, frat guys, Honors Program nerds, tutors, etc.

Ooooh and I forgot to mention….GAYS!

I auditioned for a friend of mine’s play and as it turned out he was gay. Of course, not all men in theater are gay, but some of them were. And the gays were the most fun for me! We would call each other “girl” and give each other the bitchiest attitudes over minimal things.

There was a serious side to my gays, though, and a major reason we were so close. We were both excluded from church and looked down upon from Christians. I was excluded because of my new beliefs and because I couldn’t look at a pastor anymore without cringing with disrespect. They were excluded for a simple reason: they were gay.

I won’t get into too much detail over my friends’ pasts and the abuse they faced, but I can tell you this: if anyone with any heart had the friends I had, they would look at them as people, not as someone to despise or disrespect. If anyone with any heart saw the amount of anger, violence and “faggot” calling that was projected onto them, you’d stand by them and never let them go.

But, onto the real meat of this post…

Since leaving Master’s Commission/the ministry/Our Savior’s Church (yeah, I get around), I’ve had some people contact me who are gay. Some people are still closeted. Some aren’t.

Those who’ve stepped out of the closet and told their friends and families often have similar stories. If their families are Christian or religious, they’re often shunned, cussed out or called FAGGOT or worse. One of my friends was called a cock-sucking bitch by his mother. Another friend of mine was called a faggot by his dad. Many of their religious friends have shunned them. Some of them have religious friends who are only moderately religious or not religious at all and they’ve embraced them.

Sad.

It’s sad to me that “Christians” don’t embrace gays.

Maybe they don’t understand their sexuality, but there’s a lot more to a person besides their sexuality. In fact, just because a person is gay doesn’t mean their not a human.

Wow. What a concept.

I know, sometimes I’m sooo obvious.

I really don’t like that my friends have to stay in the closet because a lot of really rude people don’t understand their own Bible and instead weigh in on a subject that every Christian aligned politician or speaker or preacher has touched on with limited historical knowledge.

If you want a reference point on the subject, watch For the Bible Tells Me So. It’s a documentary. It’s such a powerful documentary that I challenge any of my readers to watch it and still be anti-gay. Seriously. I’ll give you a dollar if you watched it and can quote to me the entire scholarly context that they give about Leviticus 18:22 and STILL are anti-gay.

That’s dumb. I know. Just because you can quote something doesn’t mean you understand it–like the Bible. :p

I’m taking it upon myself to see to it within my lifetime that discipleship programs and churches stop doing “anti-gay” programs. I’ll explain.

I met “Sam” awhile ago, and found out that he attended Master’s Commission. He was accountable to his discipleship mentors about his feelings for his ex-boyfriend and they made him attend an anti-gay program. The program was made up of classes that taught him that his thoughts and feelings for his boyfriend were from the devil and he was demon possessed. He’d walked with Satan, so to speak, and didn’t give his life fully to God, which is why he had submitted to these temptations.

I want to punch those m*ther f*ckers in the nose!

Demon possessed??

I know THESE PEOPLE who are teaching him he’s demon possessed. I feel so disgusted that I was in leadership in such a group that allowed this type of oppression and emotionally violent teaching to go on.

For those of you who don’t support gays, lesbians or transgendered people (the latter is a group I think many people have a hard time understanding, especially those in the Christian community), think about this: If you’re a Christian, shouldn’t you fully support the downtrodden? Shouldn’t you stand up for those who are socially in a weaker situation? (by weaker, I mean those who are more prone to violent things happening to them if they’re public about their lifestyle–not weaker in any other manner)

Mary Daly is one of my favorite feminist (lesbian) philosophers. She says that the “classifications of heterosexuality and homosexuality are patriarchal.” I agree. Let me explain her quote.

Patriarchy is the main thing about Christianity that I despise. It’s ran by men, and women are secondary citizens. God is a man, therefore man is a god. In my experience as a reverend, women were respected only secondarily to men. Our voices weren’t heard if a man’s rose above ours.

For more reasons than that, I can’t consider myself Christian. The entire idea of modern day Christianity serves no purpose socially except to oppress women.

So, this patriarchy has set up and mastered it’s structure to oppress women and recently gays. Why? The Patriarchal Standard Male Christian is this: strong, ambitious, straight, a leader, etc.

Gays, lesbians, transgendered…straight women who are vocal and opinionated (ahem….ME!), straight men who are softer spoken, gentle, and not aggressive, etc are all the outsiders in that equation. We don’t follow the Christian normative behavior pattern.

I for one, don’t follow the normative behavior pattern for a Christian, which is why I’m largely an “outsider” even to Christian friends from the past. I’m outspoken. I’m bold. I’m bossy. I’m not afraid. I have some masculine qualities of leadership and ambition. I’m like Tina Fey in Baby Mama, when they’re eating the Philly cheesesteak sandwiches and Tina says she’s kind of bossy and Greg Kinnear says, “If you were a man, they’d just call you a prick.” (or something along those lines).

Anyway, I’m beside myself with this post. It’s nothing but rambling and opinion. I better log off before the Patriarchy Police come shut down my IP address.

For those of you who DO think being gay is not a sin, and anti-gay counseling is unacceptable, pay attention to this recent article in Huffington Post on gay counseling in Malaysia.

If you’re LGBT and in a discipleship group, or church, and need help out, please email me at mycultlife AT gmail DOT com. I would be more than happy to provide a ride and a SAFE place to stay to you. There are wonderful people outside cults who think being gay is a wonderful thing. 🙂 I hope you find some of those people here or where you are. Anyone who thinks it’s disgusting, an abomination, sinful, etc. is someone you should avoid.

Disclaimer for Haters: If you don’t like my opinion about this or anything else, take a hike. I won’t post comments about how much you hate gays. It’s unacceptable here. I like gays. I like lesbians. You know the drill. I think sex is a healthy thing–whether it’s before or after you’re married.

Have you joined My Cult Life Talk? We’re a community of people focused on recovering from cults and educating others about them.

My Tragic Love Story, The Final Chapter

The steps the pastor required for a man to date a woman in the discipleship training program was like a maze. These weren’t easy for the Tool, but I saw this jerk-for-a-boy turn into a vulnerable, trusting man as he tried to do what was required of him. It wasn’t his fault that these insurmountable rules had been set up before him, preventing him from dating. It also wasn’t his fault that I was extremely hot and intelligent—so much so that his own best friend wanted to date me, too.

The pastor that Tool had to approach was egotistical and had a huge God-complex. It was either his way or the highway. That was not something he learned from God—it was just something he flaunted due to his own insecurities. Tool didn’t know that the pastor didn’t respect him at all and constantly told me that he wasn’t good enough for me. He’d list the reasons one-by-one, and sadly, some of them were true: he wasn’t from a good home, he probably wouldn’t make a good pastor, he was rebellious, and he didn’t treat women well.

What pissed me off was not that Tool was right or wrong for me, but that someone ELSE was interfering in my love life at the age of 24 years old! Not only was this pastor making suggestions, he was out-right making my decisions for me. He was attempting to think for me, and teach me that his way of thinking was right and that there were no other options but how he thought.

The Cycle of Abuse: Discipleship Programs

This blog deals nearly entirely with Master’s Commission abuse and recovery, but since December or so I’ve maintained a friendship with some of the Recovering Alumni from Teen Mania who’s stories are so similar to mine.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that Teen Mania and Master’s Commission are both abusive discipleship programs. After all, they both take students away to be discipled away from their family and friends, and focus on militaristic rules, rituals and leadership, and force prayer and Bible study on their students.

When I first entered Master’s Commission, I’d heard of Teen Mania but didn’t know anyone who attended nor did I have access to seeing them or meeting them. Later, in my first year in Master’s Commission my roommate Tiffany kept trying to set me up with her friend who was in Teen Mania. She told me stories about all the missions trips he’d gone on and I have to admit, I was a little bit jealous–missions was my thing at the time.

Today I read Keith’s story on the Recovering Alumni site, and was (again) surprised how similar Keith’s story was to mine in ways. We had an unrelenting loyalty and obedience to our leadership. If they told us to jump, we’d say how high? Keith was obedient like I was. Keith always tried to be moral and do the right thing, and I was a lot like that when I entered Master’s Commission. My mom taught me to be respectful to people, and I interpreted that as obeying my teachers and elders.

Part of Keith’s story really hit me:

Other than these two minor things, the trip was going great and I was making good friends. Then one day, out of nowhere, while we were in the town square preparing to share the Gospel, my team leader came up to me and told me I was no longer allowed to speak with my closest male friend on the trip, Shane. I couldn’t even respond to my team leader because I was so taken aback. Shane seemed like a good guy and I thought we had a positive influence on each other. My team leader asked me if I understood what he was asking me to do and I said yes. He never told me why I shouldn’t talk to Shane but I just figured he would tell me later. For the rest of the day, I kept my distance from Shane as I was told.

Keith describes this incident and how he reacted in a way that I consider accurate to how I reacted every time I was told what to do in Master’s Commission. If I was told to do something that didn’t make sense, I was sometimes too shocked or scared to ask WHY and I assumed that (like a normal person) my leader would tell me later.

That talk, reason or excuse never came later.

Because we’d get rebuked or punished if we questioned our leaders, many of us were too scared to question our leadership. Like Teen Mania, Master’s Commission had a set of rules that were to be followed and if not, the ultimate punishment was being told to leave the program. However harsh our leadership was, we never thought that it would be a good thing to be kicked out. Such shame and disgust was surrounded with getting kicked out and we were taught that we’d be completely out of the grace of God (and walking with Satan) if we got kicked out.

And this is how the cycle of abuse held it’s power over us as new students. Eventually, we came into a position of leadership and the same tactics were used to make us behave in a way that was sometimes threatening to the students. We were threatened if we didn’t rebuke the students harsh enough.

Please read Keith’s Story and if you are a Master’s Commission Alumni please consider checking out Recovering Alumni. The site is a great resource for recovery.

Where Do I Stand? by Aaron Gates

 

Where do I stand?

A Guest Post by Aaron Gates 

After leaving a church group that I had been “professionally” affiliated with for five years I had a lot of questions to ask myself. I had to ask myself where to go to church; who my real friends were. Everyone I associated with on a regular basis I went to church with. When the dam finally broke I was engaged and about to start pre-marital counseling with the pastor. I was living with a family from the church. Two of the teenagers I worked closely with in the youth group lived in that house. It was a Thursday afternoon when I had finished up my extremely heated conversation with my pastor by telling him I was going to find somewhere else to go to church. When I got home I told the guys that I had a disagreement with Pastor S. and would not be going to church with them any more. When their Grandmother got home a little later I gave her the same vague description of why I was leaving. She said something very interesting to me. She said, and I quote, “You know what really happened is going to come out so you might as well tell me.” She was right and I knew it. So I responded, “You’re probably right but you aren’t going to hear it from me.” I promised myself I would not bad mouth the pastor to any of the church members or anyone affiliated with the church.

To this day I have not.

I have had more opportunities than I can count to tell people how badly I was treated. How violated I felt by people I trusted. I could have told the truth. I did not. Unfortunately I was not afforded the same courtesy.

The people at the church had always talked about our relationship as if we were family. So when I stopped attending that church I did not know what to expect.

Would they continue to treat me like family, or was I only family when I attended church with them?

So I was hurt when I realized that I was only a family member when I was a church member. I felt like I was mourning the death of myself; like part of who I was died, because part of me did. A huge part of my life was over, and I felt empty. I was stressed out by trying to live up to the expectations and standards that were set for me from the time I was 18. Then I felt broken and lost.

 

The conflict at the root of everything was that my relationship with God was founded on what I had been taught and told and made to experience. My relationship with God had been corralled in a direction that a pastor wanted me to go. I had a need to find out what I believed and needed to reconcile that with all that I had been taught for the past ten or so years.

I had to decide for myself where I stood.

What do I believe? That is a scary question.

I wanted to know if believing in God was even worth it. It took me a very long time to work everything out.

I wrote that like I have it all worked out. That’s funny. I don’t!

However, there are some things I know. I know that God loves me and He sent His Son to the world for that reason. I know that I chose to live for God before I went to Masters or to the church. I know that my relationship with Him is based on our mutual experience with each other. I believe that He is the way the truth and the life and no one can go to the Father except through Him. I also know that everyone has a different reaction to difficult situations and I don’t expect everyone to believe that. I know that in the church that God wants to see in the world there is room for everyone and room for different opinions and different convictions.

Some will say that there is only one way to be a Christian. I know that God made every person on earth different. Based on that, there are roughly six billion ways to have a relationship with God and it is not my place or anyone else’s to determine what that should look like for anyone. I also know that I lost sight of God because I was more concerned with what a group of people thought about me than what God thought about me. I know that I will never be in ministry in any capacity again, by choice.

But most importantly, I know God.

 

My name is Aaron Gates I live in Gulfport, MS with my wife Jenny and brand new daughter Rebecca. I have been blogging about my experience as a Christian and a new dad since August 2010. If anyone wants to contact me to talk about your experience in Master’s Commission, ministry, or anything else, I’d love to hear from you: aaron.p.gates@gmail.com.

Check out my blog.

Should a Pastor have a Full-time Job outside the church?

My friend posed this question to me that he’d once heard:

“How much would it change the church and Christians if the pastor worked a regular job like the congregation and what would be different?”

What would our lives be like if pastors went to work in an office, or the oilfields, or as a teacher? Did you know there are bodies of worship who have pastors with jobs?

Another question I’d like to ask: Are church members to be reliant on pastors for teaching and spiritual growth? If so, why? If not, why not?

The Discipleship Program: From Mentor to Manipulator

Have you ever ended a discipleship relationship with someone with the above traits, only to feel that you’ve backslidden in your relationship with God?

If you answered YES to any or all of these questions, you’ve been trapped in an abusive discipleship relationship.

I ran across a great article about the abusive tendencies of the Discipleship Program. What we once considered a mentor turned eerily wrong, and those discipleship program directors and mentors turned into manipulators.

Think about these questions, as you read:

  1. Have you been in a discipleship relationship where you had to agree with the discipler in order to make a decision?
  2. Were you asked to approve your decisions (small or large) through your mentor or discipler before making them?
  3. Were you ever given the impression it was sinful or wrong to disagree with the person who was discipling you?
  4. Have you ever known a Christian who gave you the impression that they heard from God more clearly and frequently than YOU did, simply by their “devotion,” amount of prayer time and Bible study?
  5. Have you ever ended a discipleship relationship with someone with the above traits, only to feel that you’ve backslidden in your relationship with God?

If you answered YES to any or all of these questions, you’ve been trapped in an abusive discipleship relationship.

The entire article can be read here.

Master’s Commission: Staff Vacation Benefits

Today is Thanksgiving.

I’m sitting near the fireplace in my grandma’s snow-covered New Mexico house. Sounds of the family playing a card game named “Hand and Foot” fill the warm air. My belly is full of home-cooked turkey and sweet potatoes.

A few years ago, I was a staff member for a  discipleship group named Master’s Commission, which was formed out of Phoenix First Assembly of God under Tommy Barnett. One of the most difficult parts of being in that group (of which I was a member in Phoenix, now MC USA; MC Austin and MC Industries–now Elevate 3D out of Our Savior’s Church in Lafayette, LA) was the control they had over our lives as students and staff to prevent us from being close to our family.

Over the years of being in Master’s Commission, I missed all my younger brothers football games because as a staff member, we were not allowed to take a vacation or leave the church campus without permission. Permission for vacations was never granted–unless it was Christmas or Thanksgiving and we were obligated to be back on campus immediately after so we could raise funds for Master’s Commission.

Those football games are games I’ll never get back. I’ll never have the memories of sitting in a cold football stadium, hearing my mom and dad screaming with pride as my brother, Daniel, the star of the team, made another awesome catch and sprinted down the field to make a touch down. He was an amazing athlete–always in the newspapers, interviewed on the news stations and more than once won Athlete of the Year awards. I saw all the newspaper clippings and awards, but wasn’t at a game. I wasn’t at a game because this discipleship program, Master’s Commission, deemed the “service to the Lord”–which was really slave labor (cleaning toilets in the church and the like)– as more important. We “devoted our lives to God” for nine months, and by nine months, they meant EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I was committed to God, but that commitment was abused under the Master’s Commission director I had. Instead of being able to serve God however I felt was right, I was told what was right and what was wrong. There was no “room for the Holy Spirit.”

It was difficult, if not impossible to get a sick day, let alone a day off to see family. Even when family visited us, we often couldn’t spend time with them.

One year–my second to last year–in Lafayette, Louisiana, I worked my last year on staff for Master’s Commission. It was January and it was a slow weekend at church. I worked as Nathan Davies’ executive assistant and right hand girl, but there was nothing special going on this particular weekend.

My parents offered to fly me home from Louisiana to California to go skiing in Mammoth, CA. For those of you who don’t know, Mammoth Lakes is a wonderful skiing resort town with some of the best skiing in the state. My family went snow boarding and snow skiing in Mammoth often, and I always missed the trips because I had “duties” in Master’s Commission.

Let me put this in perspective.

I was on staff in MC, but I was only getting paid $150 at the most per month (usually $50 or $100). We worked 50 hour work weeks in the office, then about 10 hours for church services (setting up the chairs and tearing them down, as well as doing human videos, etc), and on top of that, I nannied the Davies children (cleaned their house, did their laundry and went grocery shopping, too), and finally, I lived in one of the girl students dorms as the Resident Assistant (RA) type. I was in charge of making sure all the girls got to bed on time, shut out the lights on time, read their bibles each night, cleaned and did their chores, and was there to counsel them when I could. I can’t even count how many hours I worked for $150 a month, but it was well over 80.

So, back to Mammoth, and back to my awesome parents.

They felt that if I was working a real job, I’d get vacation time. They also felt that I was getting the short end of the stick, working a job that paid pennies, and never getting a day off. (Technically, we got a “day off” but as a staff member, we were always on call and there was never a full day of rest.)

So, that weekend, they offered to fly me to California, pay for snowboard rental and ski clothes and everything else the trip entailed. Not only was it expensive, but it was family time. It’s what my family did–spend time together. It’s what I did, before I joined Master’s Commission (which I affectionately call the cult).

I had to ask permission to leave the church campus (we all did), for anything (yes, for groceries, fast food, etc.), and this was no exception. I asked Nathan Davies and Tim Wilson (assistant director at the time).

Their answers to my request were no. They said, “What if something major comes up at church this weekend? We might need you.”

At that point in my MC career, the only thing major I was needed for was babysitting and that wasn’t an emergency in my eyes.

I gave them plenty of notice, and I’d never asked for days off like that. It was a once in a seven year MC career thing that I EVER asked for any time off.

The story continues…of course I stayed behind. My family had a BLAST. And NOTHING major happened at church.

This isn’t the only story, and there is actually a much worse story surrounding Daniel Jones and the death of my grandmother. It’s awful and I’m even ashamed that I didn’t quit at that point, but I didn’t.

To be continued…

 

 

Definition of a Cult

You’ve heard my definition of a cult, and some supporting evidence (though not exhaustive…yet).

  • How would YOU define a cult?
  • What characteristics would you say leaders of cults have?
  • What groups would you place (or not place) in that category?

Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

In 1978, Jim Jones’ group of over 900 people, The People’s Temple, committed group suicide by drinking a grape drink laced with cyanide and a number of sedatives, including liquid Valium, Penegram and chloral hydrate.

What does Jim Jones have to do with My Cult Life? Eerily enough,

“Jones kept his commission so busy they were often in a state of exhaustion.

Jones exercised the powers of suggestion, persuasion and manipulation to create a kind of alternative social universe amongst his followers. By 1975 the Chaikins and others were conditioned to accept without question public punishment and humiliation at group meetings…Jones’ dismissed the nuclear family as “noxious” and did everything possible to undermine traditional family ties. There could be only one “Dad” for everyone. (Quoted from Rick Ross’ site: http://www.rickross.com/reference/jonestown/jonestown61.html)

“What Jones did was try to break all ties that were not to him,” said former believer Vernon Gosney. “Transfer all that loyalty, all that bonding to him. And so families were broken apart. Relationships were divided…Jones deftly justified his actions to his followers by saying that what he did to them was actually for their own benefit, or the benefit of making the church a stronger, tighter-knit organization.” http://www.rickross.com/reference/jonestown/jonestown63.html

Everything above is similar to my experience in Master’s Commission and working at Our Savior’s Church in Lafayette, LA.

I’ve spent time lining out these specific moments and traits of my leaders, but more than anything, we were kept in a constant state of exhaustion, and all ties with the outside world and family were cut off or highly discouraged. We were to accept things without question or risk the shame of humiliation in front of everyone, or the embarrassment that went along with getting kicked out of the group and no one speaking to us for fear that they’d get kicked out too.