The Story of Robert Brown
ICC: Saints or Sinners?
Like many religous cults, these people come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are full of wickedness and deceit and set out to ruin peoples lives. They clam to have the answers to life’s problems, and these individual cults look down on the religous world and claim to be better than they are.
These groups target young/professional undergraduate people age group 18-35, they must be fit and healthy. They prey on people in city centers at work or on college campuses, even the local transport on subways, buses.. etc. They promise you that if you join them your life would be blessed and a hundred times better-off than the life you are living at present.
I was 19 years old in 1989; at that time I was a believer in God and always wanted to find out more about Him and the Bible. I was a member of the Church of England from 1988. The Church was dull and had a gothic spooky building. I was getting cheesed-off and felt I wasn’t gettin spiriually fed. One evening before I went to bed I prayed to God to help me find a better and lively Church that teaches people the Bible.
Anyhow – two-weeks later, I was coming home from work on the bus. People got on-and-off it at the next stop. I was sitting downstairs and the seats were half empty. A bloke named DF sat next to me and started talking to me. We struck up a converstaion and he invited me to his Church. I asked if his Church taught people the Bible. And he said every-day they do so. I asked him what Church he went to and he said the London Church of Christ. I aksed him how many people were there and he replied over 1,000. We exchanged phone numbers. He got off the bus.
That Saturday eveing DF rang to check to see if I was still coming to Church. I said yes and we arranged to meet at Picadilly subway station in the heart of London. The next day I met him at the station. I saw hundreds of people from different nationalities – at first I thought they were tourists – but they were members of the London Church of Christ. We went to McDonalds to have something to eat before the service started. We went downstairs and I saw a group of people who shouted out DF’s name. There were about ten of them. He introduced me to them. They made me feel welcome and started firing questions at me: what’s my name, where do I come from..etc We all headed off to the meeting… (the LCC hired out a building called the New Gallery on Regents Street). We sat on the top balcony.
THE ICC'S ORDER OF SERVICE
1. THREE SONGS 2. SOMEONE DOES THE WELCOME 3. A SONG BEFORE THE COMMUNION 4. SOMEONE PREACHES ABOUT HIS SINFUL LIFE 5 ANOTHER SONG 6. SOMEONE PREACHES ABOUT THE POOR 7. A COLLECTION BASKET GOES ROUND 8. A SONG BEFORE THE PREACHER MAN COMES ON STAGE 9. PREACHER MAN PREACHES 10. AFTER PREACHING, ANNOUNCEMENTS FOR THE WEEK AND ACTIVITIES 11. AND A FINAL SONG
(THE MEETING LASTS FOR TWO-AND-A-HALF HOURS)
During the service people kept shouting out: ‘come-on bro’, ‘amen’..etc. After the meeting DF invited me back to his place for lunch. He lives with several other male members. DF did the cooking… CA (an evangelist) and WS (a bible-talk leader) asked if I wanted to study the Bible. I jumped at the chance when I heard the word Bible. They took me upstairs in a bedroom to study the bible. The ICC have five scriptures per topic:
- * the word of God
(Whenever ICC members study the Bible with someone they always make sure that the person is by themself so the ICC always have more than two members against that person.)
CA asked me to read a scripture aloud, while WS wrote down his own interpataions on a notepad. The study went on for 40 minutes. We set-up a study for the next day and so on; during the week the LCC had various activites. I was so hooked by the attention I got. By nature I’m a very quiet person and always kept myself to myself.
9 days later I was baptised (7th April 1989) in a baptism bath built at the back of the LCC’s leading evangelist’s home (his name DA), in Acton Town West London. I was assigned to a “discipler” (the word “discipler” is not mentioned in the Bible. I had to be obedient at all times to whoever the discipler was whether he was right or wrong. The ICC has a hierachy table that ends with Kip Mckean the founder of the ICC):
Kip McKean World Sector Leader Elders Evangelists Sector Leaders Discipler/Bible talk leaders Disciple
Straight after work I would attend a meeting or an activity on a daily basis. I would get home at 11:30pm most nights or sometimes stayed overnight in one of their accomadations. WS encouraged me to move into what the ICC all a ‘brothers flat’. He said I would grow spiritualy, be fruitful, be an evangelist…etc. I saw the way the members live (separately men from women) and it looked very appealing to me, they welcomed me gladly when ever I went round and showing me hospitality.
A couple of months later I got a job at British Rail and it paid well too. I moved into a brothers flat and from day one my life was never the same again. That same evening I went to bed at 10pm (I had to get up for work at 5am). I was woken-up by one of the flat members, JY, and he told me to get downstairs for a flat meeting. No-one told me about it. It took me several minutes to come around and I was still half asleep. I went into the living room 10 minutes later. The flat members looked fresh and alert. And they gave me evil looks. I sat and the flat leader (MC) had a go at me for being late. I defended myself and gave him my reasons and I had to get up early in the morning. He shouted at me even louder for talking back to him and for being defensive. He ordered the other five members in turn and they each gave me verbal abuse; (this went on for 45 minutes). He went on yelling that since I’ve moved in that I haven’t made anyone cups of tea of coffee, and that I was selfish.
The meeting went on for two hours and finished at 2:30am. After the meeting finished I went to bed in shock and I was unable to get a good night’s sleep. I was given a different ‘discipler’ and his name was BT. He would give me a hard time on every area of my life.
There is a greeting code for ICC members; members have to give eachother a hug and visitors a shake of the hand. Whenever I gave a female member a hug, BT would keep a critical eye on me to see how long I hugged them for. One day he pulled me aside and said I hugged sisters for a long time and it needed to be a three second hug. The next time I hugged a sister it was less than a second and BT accused me of hugging for too long. I didn’t argue with him and I thought to myself ‘that I can’t do anything right’. I went to the lauderette to do my washing. I came home and JY yelled at me saying that I was selfish and didn’t take any of the brothers’ cloths to the launderette. He reported this to the leader MC (we both shared a room) and before I went to bed he accused me after what JY had told him.
I was working a late shift one-day. I had a lie-in. JY woke up late for work in the morning. He burst into my room and had a go at me for not waking him up. (JY and I made no arrangements to wake each other up). As usual he told MC and he had a go at me for not watching my fellow brother’s back. I was in desperate need of clothes. I bought two pairs of trousers. I came home and MC had a go at me again and ordered me never to buy clothes again without his permission. Life was a drag. I was miserable and unhappy and in my head I was wanting to get out. One day no-one was in the house; I decided to pack my things and leave. I ordered a cab. One of the flat-members, JA, came home. He saw a suitcase and I told him straight that I was leaving. He put on an emotional act and pleaded with me not to go and that things would calm down. I fell for it, the taxi came. I paid the driver for his wasted journey and unpacked my bags.
On loads of occasions I was woken-up out of bed late at night without warning for flat meetings. No-one was at home. I was cutting a loaf of bread with a sharp bread knife. All of a sudden I heard voices in my head telling me to slash my wrists. Without hesitation, I cut deeply into my wrists. I went to hospital and got it stiched up.
I was good friends with an ex-member EM (who gassed himself to death after leaving the ICC). When he left he bumped into a leader of the ICC and this leader, CO, told EM that if he didn’t come back to the ICC he would be dead within two weeks. EM was so upset (he also had a medical condition) that he went away and gassed himself to death a week later. When news of this spread around the group people mocked him and so did the leader feeling good about himself.
Every morning JY would burst into my room and shout at me to get up in a rude maner. One evening the Discipling partners changed. BT was no longer my ‘discipler’. What was worse was that JY became my ‘discipler’. He and MC would gang-up on me everyday of the week.
One Sunday we went to the service, in North-London. The lead evangelist Tim Hoffman was furious because the cinema was half-empty. He dismissed the congregation without preaching. I did some evangelising on the way home. I got home before the others. The rest came home except MC. JY ordered me to go out evangelising. I rebelled against him. He started shouting at me. I tried to get away from him, but he physically stopped me. I pushed him aside and headed for the door. He physically stopped me again. I lost my temper with him. We got into a scrap. I opened the door to get away from him. He grabbed hold of my arm and shoved it through the window as the door opened. I managed to get away from him. And he pursued after me down the street. He gave up chasing me. I felt pain in my right elbow. My arm was bleeding heavily. I walked all the way to the hospital and waited a few hours for my arm to be stitched-up. I ended up having five stitches. I got home that evening. MC was furious at me and wouldn’t listen to my side of the story. He forced me to apologise to JY or I could leave and go to hell.
On another occasion I got the flu very badly and wiped me out of action for a week. JY burst into my room and told me to go to the doctors. I was in no fit condition to go. I took me half an hour to get dressed and he went on-and-on. The doctor’s was around the corner which would take 20 seconds to get there. It took me 45 minutes.
I’m a UK afro-carribean. I got my hair cut short (nearly bald), When MC saw it he said if I ever got it cut that short again I would get a public warning in front of the church.
One time I fasted, and kept it to myself. The Bible discussion group I was in were also fasting. I broke my fast early (I fasted for two days). I came home eating a bag of chips. JY yelled at me, I told him the reason why I broke my fast. He shouted at me even more, and we got into an argument. He did what he usually did, complain to theleader. MC pulled me aside that evening and also had a go at me. I spent a year and a half in the brothers flat; finally I lost my patience with JY.
I avoided as much as I could. The discipling partners changed again, but JY continued to bully me and thought he was still in control of my life. I was in my room reading my Bible minding my own business and trying to keep out of JY’s way. He burst into my room and rudely asked me for the kitty money. I gave it to him. He started accusing me of having a bad attitude, and he went on and on at me. I lost my temper with him like never before. I swore at him calling him a ‘F**king-C**t’ and other swear words and threw my Bible at him (but I missed). I stormed out of the house to calm down. The flat leader MC arrived home, but I was out. I came home and went upstairs to bed.
In the middle of the night MC and JY burst into the room and woke me up. JY presented his side of the story to MC and I didn’t have a chance to have my say. MC went on at me for an-hour-and-a-half, saying the most discouraging words to me.’that my heart was far from God, I the worst disciple in the Church…etc’; He put me on a week’s trial warning me that if I ever get rebelious, angry, leave the house in a temper towards JY that I would be ex-communicated from the church. I had a sleepless night that night. For the first two days JY deliberately tested my patience. I couldn’t take any more. The next day I got the afternoon off work. I went home and packed my stuff, left and went back to my mom’s. Even my mom gave me a hard time. I felt lonely and scared that I was going to hell. I inhaled gas cans and tried to kill myself.
My depression got even worse. I rang the brothers flat where I used to stay, and pleaded with MC to move back in, but he refused. He allowed me to turn up to the meetings. Whenever I saw JY he mocked me and always gave me a sarcastic grin. I was treated like an outcast, I felt I was being left out. I was out of the flat for two months.
At the start of the New Year (1991) MC aloud me to move into a different brothers flat (about half a mile from the previous flat). I lived in a three bedroom house with 7 other flat members. The flat leaders name is LC. We got on fine at first, then the same old things happened again. He lured me into his Bible group and said that he wanted me to become his assisant bible talk leader by his birthday day which was six months away. I trusted him and thought that life was going to get better. A new member had just gotten baptised (JM). He was sharp, well educated and publicly well-spoken. (I have no qualifications or any Public Relations to my name). I overheard LC talking with JM, the same talk LC gave me. All of a sudden LC gave his full attention to JM and started to give me the cold shoulder, Whenever we had discipling times with the group LC was praising JM all the time and he would always put me down, in front of the group. LC would keep pinning up my hopes and JM seemed to be rising-up fast. I started to jealous of JM’s success.
During a Sunday service the evangelist mention JM’s name and said wonderful things about him. I was even more jealous. When the meeting finished I left straight away close to tears. The next morning we had a flat meeting before people left for work. LC had a go at me because I left the service early and that I was inward-focussed and selfish. I thought to myself not again. After the meeting finished I went upstairs to my room, got a stanley-knife and slashed my wrists several times. I went to hospital and no-one knew. For LC gave me a hard time. I continued to slash my wrists. (I have over 70 stitches on both arms). LC stopped discipling me and gave his full attention to JM.
The flat got worse. By now 13 people were living in the house, even JY moved in. There were arguments left-right and centre, with everyone. The flat closed down. And another one opened a few streets away to limit the number of people living there. JM became a leader, LC was moved to another discussion group. I was so fed up with the LCC that I wanted to leave.
The LCC hired out a cinema in the West End. Before the service started I got up and walked out. But I was stopped by an usher at the door and ordered to go back in. The preacher preached that the LCC would be sending out mission teams around the UK in a couple of months. I thought perhaps moving from London would give me a fresh start…
I told JM my plans about going to Leeds on a mission. The leaders tried to stop me from going.
I met up with the team that was the first on the LCC’s to go out that year. I met the person who was going to lead the team PB. We got on really well at first. (He is from Jamaica, UK born). I told him about my hard times I was having in East London. He seemed sympathetic and assured me that I will be going to Leeds no matter what the leaders in my sector thought.
For a while the leaders tried to put me off going to Leeds saying that I am weak and I won’t last long. PB asked me to move over to the West Sector, so I could build-up a friendship with the rest of the Leeds team. The leaders in the East Sector were even more furious. I ignored them, still giving me threats and moved over to the West side of London.
Two-weeks later I moved-up to Leeds with another member ML. We put a deposit to rent out a house for the first few months (He was due to get married). Things were slow. He and I went to the meetings in Manchester (which is 20kms/40miles from Leeds), until the rest of the team moved-up.
The Leeds group was underway 31st April 1992. PB and I doubled-up on dates on Saturday evening. We were in a pub. PB and I went to pay for the drinks. He had no money so I paid for him and his date. He sharply had a go at me ‘not to show money in front of the sisters’- I mean…talk about an ungrateful b*stard.
PB and I went to play snooker. On the way home he yelled at me in the car because he beat me twice and that I was ungrateful and selfish.
One day he persuaded me to go into leadership. I told him about what happened the last time a leader said that to me. He told me to put the past behind me and think for the future. An ex-member left the LCC and lived not to far from Leeds. He was restored MD and he and PB got on like a house on fire, because they both have degrees in their studies.
As usual I was left out. ML got married and another flat opened up. The rent book was in my name. PB moved in (he never paid any rent, everything for him was free) and so did MD.
The rent was always late and I kept on getting bank charges. All of a sudden PB moved MD into leadership. Again I was furious. PB would choose my clothes, I had to be the last person to have a shower and wasn’t allowed to have one before anyone else. PB would put me down in his sermons and humiliating me.
In January 1993 the LCC had a revival and kicked out 450+ members and did the same with its branches in the UK. Leeds lost 3 members, but surprisingly, I was still a member.
Every year the LCC holds a convention. PB told me to get interested in dating. I got loads of phone numbers from the sisters. I went on a date in Birmingham UK with a bitch. She held my hand and said that I was the best date she had been on. Of course I was taken back by her comment. PB told me to ask her on another date. For weeks I chased after her like a headless chicken. I didn’t suceed in getting another date with her. Two months later she suddenly went steady with a b*stard (now her husband).
I was mocked by everyone in the Leeds group, and I ended up heartbroken and in tears. PB recruted an undergraduate into the group (RH). PB also moved him into the house and RH never paid any rent or bills. He is a very picky person, Nags, moans and complains about everything to me. I went to tell PB about it. He told me to be patient with RH, that he is a young ‘christian’.
As time moved on life for me was getting no-better. I was heavily overdrawn in my bank account and being led on by more female members of the ICC. We moved into a house in Leeds. I started an HND course in Computing. I was forced to do it by PB, and I wanted to do a different course. But I gave into him to avoid more arguments.
Whenever I had a test or exams I failed drastically, even getting marks less than 4% on all subjects. PB had a go at me and told me that I was a disgrace before the Church and before God. During his sermons PB would mention my name and put me down in front of everyone. (PB is a Solicitor. He has a 2-2 level degree in Law and it took him 3 attempts to pass his solicitors finals. And yet he’s having a go at me for failing my exams).
I was getting fed-up with the ICC’s dating game. The woman’s leader JL encouraged me not to give up about dating “at a dinner banquet in Manchester”. She told me that a sister in Leeds liked me a lot. I worked out who it was right away. Somehow this got back to PB and he yelled at me to hurry up and take her on a date or I will miss out. I took my time over this. A few weeks later I was at home. The phone rang and it was the slag that liked me on the end of the line. She sounded in a distraught state and asked me to meet her at University after her lectures. So I went down to meet her.
She looked in a right emotional state. Her name is AMK from Sierra Leone, Africa (how ever you spell it). She confessed to me that 2 years before she became a member of the ICC that she was raped by her brothers and cousins back in Africa (When you become a member of the ICC you have to tell them your secrets of the past. When I met PB in London before we went to Leeds I told him that I was raped by a member of my family when I was two-years old).
The foolish thing was that I fell for her deceit (I’ll tell why she is a liar later) and told her what happened to me. All of a sudden she had a big smile on her face. There was a meeting that evening she was on cloud-nine. Her ‘discipler’ told me that it was good that I was open with her and that AMK was in a bad way and wouldn’t talk to anyone. (I’m telling you now!!! when you have just confessed something like raped you don’t over come it on the spot; it takes years of counselling for it to get out of your system).
Even though at the time I didn’t see her coming I took her out on a date the following Saturday. A few days after the date she sent me a thank you card and wrote about me saying how wonderful I was…etc. She bought me two CD dance albums. No sister had brought me a gift before. I reported it to PB and of course he monitored me closely and so did Rh who had turned into a hard-core bully. Whenever I disagreed with them the two of them would sit me down and said if I don’t change on the spot they will never alow me to go steady with her. This went on for four months.
AMK started avoiding at meetings after we had been on several dates. I left her alone and her attitude would change and she’d want to become my friend again. I got permission from the evangelist in Manchester and on three occasions he said no, I can’t go steady with her. PB kept telling me to be patient. She told everyone in the Leeds group that she wanted to be my partner by 31 Deceber 1993. When that had gone by there was no joy. By 14 Feb 1994 a week before Valentine’s Day PB told me that AMK was not ready to go steady and that she needs to see a ‘shrink’ because of her past. I was furious again that I was led on again. PB and Rh zoomed in on my weaknesses and emotions. My grades were non existent by now and I dropped out of University.
A new member SW from Africa became a member and AMK started to get friendly with him at every meeting. I was intensely jealous whenever I saw them together. There was a Valentine’s do in Manchester at a hotel. I was forced by PB and RH to go, and I didn’t want to, but I had to. At the ball I saw that b*tch and him mingling together. I was so jealous that I left and headed back to Leeds by coach without telling anyone.
I was in bed. Pb arrived home and burst into my room. He ordered to get out of bed and to look at him. He gave me a bollocking for an hour all because I left the banquet and said the reason why the relationship didn’t work out with AMK because it was my fault.
The next moring I was in the living room watching television. RH came into the room and shouted at me like never before. PB was sitting there and he did nothing. I stormed out of the house and slammed the front door so hard that the door glass smashed. I ran away from Leeds and went to my mom’s in London. A week later I was at the shops and my mom had a go at me because RH rang complaning that I was selfish and stubborn and that she agreed with him. I felt all alone with no-one to help me.
I went back to Leeds two weeks later and stayed in hotels B&B’s because I was too frightened to go back to where I lived. I went to hospital with stomach pains. I was admitted by the doctors to a ward. The next day I woke up in hospital and saw RH and PB, also my two aunts came up from London with grinning faces. The two b’stards spoke to me like nothing had happeneed.
I even spent my 25th birthday on the streets. I was discharged a few days later. I went back home and the group treated me like nothing had ever happened. I was weak in mind and spirit. A week later I was at home watching television minding my own business. RH threw a hard book at me and hit me in the face. and told me to cheer up. I lost my patience and threatened to kill him and went to my room.
The flat had a 6am prayer meeting. I knew what was going to happen; I left the house. PB pursed after me in his car. I said to him that I had had enough. He took the keys off me and expelled me on the spot and telling me that – my sin is holding back the church – he also kept my belongings. It started snowing. I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid to go back to London in case they rang my mom.
I went to Edinburgh, Scotland by coach… it was Winter. I stayed in hostels and various places, with no fixed address and completely homeless. I ended-up in a Mental Ward as I tried to kill myself. The doctors got in touch with my family in London. I went to stay with my aunt for a week. I went back to Edinburgh, I was minding my own business waiting for the coach and guess who came up to me. That b**ch AMK from Leeds. She spoke to me like nothing had ever happened saying what she’s doing and still in the ICC. She gave me no apology for the grief she caused and casually walked away.
I got back to the ward in Edinburgh and was in even more of a state. She was the last person I wanted to see. I was released three months later. I stayed in a run down hostel for the homeless. In May I contacted the LCC in London and wanted to come back. They gave my number to Andrew Broughton the leader of the Edinburgh branch. He rang me and I told him I had problems and needed help. He was rude in reply saying ‘what do you want me to do about it?’. I was shocked with his response and we arranged to meet in downtown Edinburgh.
We met the next day and I told him about the abuse I suffered in Leeds. He didn’t listen to my side of the story and he said that I left because I was rejected by AMK in Leeds, and he said that he spoke to her on the phone last night.
He rang PB in Leeds because the two of them were good friends, and they ganged-up on me. Andy allowed me to turn up to the meetings but wouldn’t allow me to become a member. I asked him if could move into a brother’s flat and he said ‘no way in a million years’. He gave me the runaround and he gave me tasks to do and he still wouldn’t let me become a member.
After two months of running around he allowed me to become a member. I got an offer from the Council for a one-bedroomed flat. I signed the tenancey aggrement. Andy was mad and started to put peer-pressure on me to move into a brother’s flat. I saw him coming a mile away. When I got restored that b*tch in Leeds had got a boyfriend in Manchester.
I started suffering from fits heavily and Andy said in front of the group that I had demons and seven wicked evil spirits. I was even more hurt by the ICC in London, Leeds and now Edinburgh.
I thought to myself what have I done to deserve all this abuse and I started to doubt God. I went to the meeting in 3rd Jan 1996. Andy yelled at me infront of the group again because he said that I’m spirtually weak. At that point I decided to leave. The meeting finished and I went home and rang my Social Worker (mainstream) and reported what Andy said to about me. She told me that he is a bully.
She got in touch with the Cult Helpline in London. I met a couple of Cult experts with my Social Worker in a neutral place. For five weeks I cut off members of the ICC.
They hounded my on my answering machine morning, noon and night for five weeks pleading with me to come back. I wrote a strong letter to my ‘discipler’ and threatened to take an injunction on him and Andy Broughton.
They finally left me alone.
It has been four years since I left the ICC now, and I’m still on the long road to recovery.