A Slavish Fear:
The Story of Susan Berry
Hi, my name is Susan Berry and I am a 21 year old college student in San Diego, CA. I was a member of the San Diego Church Of Christ for about seven months. I was part of the Campus Ministry in the East County region.
I was recruited on campus like most of us. I was in the campus library one day reading a book called “Finding God” — at the time I considered myself an atheist. As I was reading this book, a disciple spotted me and invited me to a Bible talk. The Bible talk was really a one sided study — they would only show you scriptures they thought mattered. The Bible talk consisted of the Women’s Evangelist leader and the Women’s campus ministry leader. I was amazed on how nice and encouraging they both were to me since they hardly knew me.
That same day they also invited me to their Mid-week service, aka Devo night. When I went to the service I was so amazed at how everybody was so excited about being at church and how they kept hugging me. I felt a little awkward at all the attention I was getting. The service was really lively and I started to enjoy it.
I continued to go through the studies. I remember when I got to the Light and Darkness study. Now that was uncomfortable, but, hey, I had developed a close relationship with the girls and I thought that I could trust them. I remember confessing my sins and listining to them confess theirs.
Another study I remeber was the Cross Study, they showed me this movie on Jesus going to the Cross. It was very dramatic, they played sad music and showed how Jesus really died. The leader read me the Medical Account on the Crucifiction. Well, before I knew it I was getting Baptized. I didn’t feel right about it. My heart kept telling me that something was wrong. I told the Women’s Evanglist Leader that I was not ready to get baptized but she kept saying “What are you waiting for?” My heart kept telling me that this was not right. But since, according to the ICC, a person cannot be saved unless they are baptized into the church, I suppressed my feelings and went along with it. My heart was not in it.
After about five months in the church, I finally confessed that I felt that my baptism really was not right. My leaders immediately told me that I had to get re-baptized. But before I could get re-baptized, I would first have to go before the whole church and confess that I had deceived everyone, in spite of the fact that I had been pressured in the first place. I was ordered to call the leader who baptized me (who had since moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico) and apologize to her for being a people pleaser.
I had to endure countless D-Times (devotional meetings) with the women’s ministry leader and my discipler for them to make sure my heart was “right” to get rebaptized. During those sessions my character was systematically torn down and attacked. I was also told to separate myself from my two long-time best friends. They used the scripture, “Bad Company corrupts good character.” [To justify this demand.]
At this time I was also living with my discipler because my Mother had kicked me out due to the church. I remember I begged my Mother to let me move back in and she did. When I moved back home, the Women’s evangelist leader and my discipler rebuked me. They said that my Mother wasn’t the greatest person and my living situation wasn’t that good either. I couldn’t believe they were saying this, but I just sat there and took it because I had to summit to the leaders. I also listen because I had not been re-baptized yet and if I wanted to be saved I had to get baptized.
The women’s evangelist leader kept playing around with me and I remember once during this I told my discipler that I didn’t want to date in the Kingdom and she told me that “I will not baptize anyone who will not date in the Kingdom”.
One night I decided to go to the Third Eye Bling concert — they are my favorite band and I was going with my two best friends. I remember keeping this a secret because I was afraid of my discipler finding out. The day after the concert, I found out that I was supposed to have a supprise Baptisim the night that I went to the concert. I was told that I was finally going to get my heart right but now I couldn’t because I had gone to the concert instead. I got rebuked for not showing up.
While all of this was going on, I was taking a tennis class at Grossmont College. My friend in my tennis class knew that I went to the San Diego Church Of Christ. Well, one day we were talking and he handed me this brochure on the Boston Movement. I took the brochure, but didn’t really care for it because I thought this was spiritual pronography. A few weeks later that same friend invited me to his church (College Ave Baptist Church) to listen to a message about the International Churches Of Christ — they were having “Cult Month.”
I went with another disciple (who has since left along with his girlfriend) because I had heard that College Ave was always persecuting my church. My mind was closed, and I was going to be the strong disciple and defend my church.
The night I went I listened to a guy speak about the church. He had been dealing with the San Diego Church Of Christ for about 11 years. My friend introduced me to him and we talked for a few minutes before the service. He told me just to listen to what he had to say.
During the study, the speaker spoke about the true Gospel and exposed the ICC’s works righteousness distortion of the scriptures. Of course, I raised my hand to object and cited scriptures like Acts 2:38 and Mark 3:16, but he knew exactly how to answer those passages, and clearly explained them.
After the service, I went up to him and we set up a meeting for the following day. He showed me clearly what the Gospel really is, and how the ICC twists the scriptures.
A short time later, Scott Yahner, the lead Evangelist of the East County region, was on campus and told all the other ICC members that he wanted to talk to me. When I called Scott later that day, he sounded angry, and said that he and his wife wanted to talk with me. I asked him if I could bring someone and he asked who. I told him I wanted to bring my friend (he was he one who showed me the scriptures). Scott knew exactly who I wanted to bring and coldly said, “NO!”
Then, I told him, I must deny myself and leave The San Diego Church of Christ and follow the true Gospel, even though I know that I might lose some friends. Scott scornfully shot back, No, maybe you will just deny yourself six months from now (and come crawling back). Then I said that he and all the other ICC leaders needed to deny themselves and give up their big church salaries, houses, and leadership status to follow the true Gospel!
That was the day I resigned from the ICC and became a true Christian and accepted Jesus into my life.
I have grown so much more since I have left the ICC. The ICC believes they are the only ones that can give you this relationship with Christ, but a relationship with Christ is an individual one. I have an awesome relationship with God. My relationship with my mother has gotten better; while I was in the ICC, my relationship with her was horrible. I passed all of my classes this semester with high marks. While you are in the ICC they want you to put the church first and everything comes last. Many people don’t end up passing thier classes and are on Academic Probation.
I just want to encourage all that are reading this and are in the ICC that you can still love God and be a Christian.
I welcome anyone to write me and I will show you scriptures were they go wrong. I just also want to add, since I have left the church, my closest friend (who also happened to be my discipler) told me that she no longer wants to hang around with me. That’s what hurts the most — I miss our friendship so much that sometimes I lay in my bed at night time thinking about the good times we had and I cry. What the ICC does to you is like a spirtual rape — they take what counts to you the most and tear it apart.
I can’t believe at all the things that went on, and how the leaders can do this to people. I pray for the people everyday in the ICC. We are going to start a support group soon here in San Diego. When many people leave the ICC some don’t know why they leave. I left because of biblical reasons and I knew the false doctrine the ICC was teaching. I have since talked with many people who are still in the ICC and have shown some the Gospel. I have also been “marked” by the leaders. I just wanted to say a couple of things to a few people who are in the San Diego Church and to some people how aren’t.
I just want to say to Jaime, I pray each day for you and I am really hurt that you can’t be my friend because the leaders tell you not to.
Scott, I hope one day you will really teach the true Gospel and become a real minister and lead people the right dirrection.
Lijana, you are a smart person and I know that you love God. I just pray that you will search for the truth.
Calvin Kwan, I admire your courage.
Ed Powers, you have really encourage me with your story I wish all the leaders would take a stance like you did.
Catherine Hampton, you are doing an excellent job.
Steve, I thank you so much for showing me the True Gospel.
I also wanted to say to everybody in the San Diego church, please search for the truth.
I am so glad to be free of that slavish fear and to know that God loves me. I know that Jesus was a gift, and there is nothing I could do to earn my salvation. God wants our true love, not a forced one. One thing I laugh at now is something that Andrea Yahner (Women’s Evangelist) said to me: “If you aren’t on this church’s membership then you are not on God’s membership.” I still laugh at that one every day. It’s great to have a true relationship with God.
If anyone in San Diego would like to discuss this with me feel free to E-Mail me. God Bless.
©1999 by Susan Berry <email@example.com>. All rights reserved.