Gretchen’s Story – Part 9

“The group’s totalist environment emphasizes that the members are part of an elite or special group. Outsiders are considered unworthy or unenlightened. This leads to the thinking that their whole existence centers on being in the group. If you leave, you join nothingness. This is an extension of doctrine over person. Existence comes to depend on creed (I believe, therefore, I am), submission (I obey, therefore, I am) and total merger with the group’s ideology. This is the final step in creating members’ dependence on the group.”

We were taught that all other churches, Christian radio stations, many other pastors, and extended families were not enlightened with the ‘New Testament vision’. Therefore, the only people who could be trusted with spiritual truth were Assembly leaders and those they thought worthy of teaching. Assembly life became everything.

Holidays weren’t celebrated; Assembly functions were substituted. Christmas lights were frowned upon. On Halloween, however, a new outreach emerged where the members lit up the night with Christmas lights in their front yard, handed out tracts, and had refreshments for the neighborhood.

Though nothing is inherently wrong with not having Christmas lights or lighting up your yard on Halloween. But the purpose of not celebrating Christmas and then celebrating Halloween like this was to keep the members different and backwards from the rest of their neighbors and friends. The world of an Assembly person was vastly different from society around them.

Our families and parents were quite alarmed when we entered the Assembly, and had the group extensively investigated. Twenty-five years ago, all that was known of the Assembly was that it was a ‘fringe’ Christian group. Our parents now know that what they suspected about the Assembly being a cult was true. They, and we, are very deeply saddened by the loss of so many years together.

Our parents did everything they could to keep us connected during this long 25-year period. My parents did so much for us. They made our children’s childhood much brighter in more ways than I can mention.

Living as an Assembly wife is a horrific experience; they brought me through deep depression. My husband’s parents accepted us and were there for us with whatever needs we had. They were quite patient with our viewpoints through it all.

If there are any parents of Assembly members reading this, please know that you have an even greater impact on your children than you can imagine. Our families love, and stick-at-iveness throughout this time was probably the single greatest key to us eventually escaping the clutches of the Assembly.

Our children have been healing fabulously. One reason that they had much less to heal from was because of what my parents did for them while we were in the Assembly.

One family said that if they had it to do over again, they would have brought the police to the Assembly meeting, taken their teenage child away, and forbidden them to go back. This would have spared them many years of heartache. They just didn’t know what the Assembly was and how destructive it was to become.

PREVIOUS: Gretchen’s Story – Part 8


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Margaret Irons and her husband Steve and three children were in the Fullerton Geftakys Assembly for twenty years. We left in March, 1990. We are still recovering and learning in Orange County, CA.

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