A Discipler’s Joke?
Bryan Slatner posted this story about an experience he had in the ICC to the Usenet newsgroup alt.religion.christian.boston-church in April 1997. It is republished here with his permission.
I was sitting at work today, thinking about my time in the ICC and I remembered something that happened to me that, I think, is very significant and indicative of the kind of manipulation and control that the ICC has over it’s members.
I was at my discipler’s house in the summer of ’95. A bunch of the “bros” were sitting in the living room with me, watching some silly movie on TV. My discipler came down from his bedroom and said to me “Bryan, can I talk to you for a second?” He had a very concerned look on his face. I was a little worried that something bad was about to happen or had happened.
I walked upstairs after him and we went into his bedroom. He sat down on the bed and said “Close the door.”
“Uh oh,” I thought, “this *is* serious.” I began to feel a little nervous pit in my stomach. I was really concerned that I’d done something wrong and was about to get hammered for it.
Then my discipler said “Bryan, is there anything you want to confess to me? Anything you haven’t told me?”
This hit me like a ton of bricks. My nervousness gave way to genuine fear and panic. I was scared to death, not of any sin I’d committed (I didn’t know of any that I hadn’t confessed), but of my discipler. I was AFRAID of my discipler.
“No!” I exclaimed. “Why, Roger? What’s wrong?”
Roger (my discipler) looked at me very severely. “Are you sure?” he asked, cocking his head.
“Yes! Yes, I’m sure!” I said. My knees were actually shaking and I had broken out into a cold sweat.
“Oh, okay,” he said, and his very severe, concerned look changed into a smile. He got up and patted me on the back. When I realized I’d been had, and that he’d been playing a JOKE on me, I breathed a sigh of relief. I swear I almost collapsed when I came down off the adrenalin rush. “Bro,” I said, “I am going to HURT you”. He started laughing, and so did I. At the time, I thought it was a pretty good joke.
Thinking back, now, I realize it was not a good joke at all, and my reaction to it was indicative of almost EVERY d-time I had with my discipler: whenever my discipler and I sat down to talk, I was afraid.
I was afraid of a very harsh rebuke from someone I cared about and respected. While in the ICC, I struggled with a couple of sins to which my discipler, inevitably, reacted VERY harshly. He got in my face a couple of times about these. I remember once, standing in my kitchen, and him screaming at me and doubting my conversion. “Bro! I thought you died to sin! I thought you hated sin! But I don’t think you do!” “Yes, I do!” I replied to him, almost crying, “Yes, I do!”
“Bro,” he said, “I dunno, you sure aren’t acting like it. Aren’t you a disciple?”
“Yes, yes I am!!!”
And it went on like that. I was willing to do ANYTHING to show him that I WAS a disciple and that I DID hate sin.
Fear is a very powerful control mechanism and, in retrospect, I guess I had lots of it. Maybe that’s why I stayed in the ICC for more than a year, when I started thinking about leaving after only six months…