“I didn’t plan on joining a cult”
When I turned eighteen I didn’t plan on joining a cult…
…little did I know that with all of the people in the Kansas City metro area, I would meet up, and eventually join, the Kansas City Church of Christ.
It all started out rather oddly. I had left the Baptist church I was at in the KC area due to problems with the leadership. One day I was in a chat room on America Online and met a guy from Atlanta. The topic in the room was on why we liked our Sunday services, and what Scott had to say really caught my attention. There were comments made on how no one had ever gotten divorced in his church, how he was appreciated, how he lived with other members of his church…It all seemed too good to be true. Later I found out how right I was.
Scott and I wrote e mail and talked on the phone a few times, and he mentioned that his church had a branch in my area. After hearing how great this church was, I was more than eager to meet some of the members, and get to visit the “awesome” services that Scott always talked about. He forwarded my number to the zone leaders, Steve and Kim Schmit (who, at my last check, are now leading the New Orleans Church — Soon to leave there and go back to the Dallas church, as New Orleans is going to now be the center of a World Sector), and I received a call from Steve the next day. He kindly invited me to his townhouse to meet him, his wife, and three “sisters” in the church. All of them had some connection with things that I was either involved in, or something from my past.
One girl had a family background that was as cluttered as mine. Another was a theater guru, something I always loved, and the other lived just a few blocks away from where I was staying. We talked, we shared (I shared), and they even took me out to eat. I felt so accepted, so loved, and I wanted to be a part of whatever they were a part of. The Baptist church I was at sure wasn’t as “on fire for God” like this church was.
I was invited to attend a service on that Sunday, and I happily accepted. This was a meeting that they had at a local hotel, with members from the Wichita, Topeka, and Kansas City Churches. Needless to say, this was extremely overwhelming for a girl who came from a church with about 45 members! I was introduced to tons of people, leaders, teens, children, and greeted with hugs and smiles and what seemed to be true acceptance. I felt that this was where I wanted to be. Then I began my studies.
I studied with at least 3 people at each study. Two of the people I studied with were at that first meeting, the other was the singles leader and roommate of one of the latter. At other times there would be my zone leader, a nearby zone leader or other “sisters” there studying with me. During the studies, I never questioned anything, they showed me Biblical passages, I saw them with my own eyes, and I accepted them as the truth. When we got to the LIGHT AND DARKNESS study (sometimes called the sin study), they stressed that every sin I had ever done had built a huge wall between me and God, and to take down that wall, I had to confess ALL of my sins by writing a letter to God. Even at that point, I didn’t see anything wrong, until the next study.
I was asked to bring the letter or “sin list” with me. When I arrived at the study, there were six people there with me. I was told that I needed to read my letter to God out-loud. I hesitantly, but as not to seem as though I didn’t have a “disciples heart”, read the letter to the whole group. After the reading of the letter, many quesions arose. One in particular, which continues to make me feel spiritually violated, was about a scar I have on my chest. I was asked to show the scar to prove I wasn’t being decietful. I showed them.
I went through all the studies and was baptized in six days. That is when things got rough.
Tithing was done out of compulsion for me. For about three months, I was tithing nearly 60% of my net income. I was living alone, eating a staple diet of Spaghettio’s and tuna fish, shopping at Aldi’s, and getting clothes from thrift stores. My schedule was crazy. Sundays were services and fellowship days, Mondays were evangelism and Discipling times, Tuesdays were Bible Talks, Wednesdays were mid-weeks, Thursdays I usually was sitting in on a study, Fridays were get togethers with the sisters or singles meetings, and Saturday nights were the only nights that dates were allowed in the “kingdom”. All while working a 40+ work schedule. At one point while I was in the “church” I developed mono, and was unable to work or attend services. I was rebuked by phone by my discipler and singles leader daily during this time. I was never once visited by my “brothers or sisters”.
I left the church due to extraneous circumstances, and needed to move back to Wisconsin. Because leaving the ICC is considered by them as “leaving God,” I was willing to travel the three hours to the ICC church in Milwaukee. It was when I realized that driving to Milwaukee was impossible that I was told that I had a “bad heart,” and had “fallen away from God,” thus negating my salvation and my baptism. I lost all of my friends, and was harassed by some members.
My experience with the ICC was short-lived, about 9 months, but I have learned lessons that have taught me to be more street-wise and to know that even if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and swims, it may not be a duck at all. It wasn’t until nearly seven months of being out of the ICC that I learned that I was in a cult. There, however, was no shame involved. Only a feeling of spiritual rape, of loss and of violation.
Today I am a youth director at a legitimate church in my area, and have a sincere desire to help all those who have been, or are being affected by the ICC or other cult groups.