Gretchen’s Story – Conclusion

We now know the Assembly is a cult.

Wellspring Retreat characterized the Geftakys Assembly as a T.A.C.O. — a Totalist Aberrant Christian Organization. Refer to the article “Identifiying a Cult” for a good summary of cult characteristics.

The Omaha Assembly was led almost exclusively by Mike Zach. He still holds a strong influence over his immediate family, extended family and ex-Assembly members in Omaha.

Mike Zach, I need to mention, has never actually repented of specific wrongs as a leader in this nationwide cult, now known as the Assemblies of George Geftakys., He has made some very general admissions about his misconduct, but he has not apologized to people whom he hurt.

This is a sign of unrepentance for a man who has devastated hundreds of lives in very specific ways. He led many parenting classes and even taught us that someone hasn’t truly repented until they’ve specifically admitted their wrong doing and changed their behavior.

I hold no ill will toward any Assembly members or to the Zach family in particular. I would love to see them truly repent and admit what they’ve done. I would love for them to find healing. Whatever they decide, it is very important to me that they don’t hurt anyone else — because of my silence. I feel it is my civil and moral duty to speak the truth about what I know after 25 years of experience with this group.

These men gained power over people, they gained money, and as many resources – including the children of the families – as they could gather. Personalities were subjugated, souls were broken down and raped, the light in people’s spirits was put out, all the while the Bible and our own families were being used as weapons to destroy us.

The leaders usurped the provider, protector, and nurturer role of the husbands and fathers in the hearts of their members, especially the women and children. They created a dependent group over which they were powerful.

One youth pastor we spoke with, who knew our family, quickly referred to the passage in the Bible describing apostates when we told him what the Assembly leaders did to us. He told us very simply that these men are apostates.

There are Assemblies still meeting in the U.S., and there are leaders of Assemblies not meeting, who would like to see the Assembly in their location start up again, or begin again with another name.

There are evangelical churches where ex-Assembly leaders, who still hold to false Assembly doctrines, are aspiring to be leaders in various capacities, such as leading Bible Study groups, acting as deacons, and mentoring others. Most of them don’t see their own error, because on the surface Assembly theology appears the same as traditional Christianity.

Many of these unrepentant leaders, still holding the Assembly teaching that evangelical churches are weak and worldly, believe that they have something significant to offer from what they learned through the years. Often pastors don’t understand the toxicity of these leaders’ theology and the effect it can have on church members, especially new converts.

The truth is that former Assembly members have decades of wrong theology to untwist. Assembly leaders who have repented have a moral obligation to their new churches to be honestly accountable to their pastors concerning what they’ve come out of and to not take positions of leadership for a long time. Rather, they should humbly learn from their new church what the Bible really teaches.

Ex-Assembly people should surround themselves with godly peers, be open about the situation they’ve come out of and be willing to be taught healthy biblical Christianity. It’s very healing for recovering families to be involved in church and other activities in serving capacities. There are many opportunities for growth in these types of activities and relationships.

It’s imperative for repentant Assembly leaders to be in an accountability relationship, where they are discipled by mature godly mentors or counselors in such a way that they learn real biblical Christian living.

Cult experts say there is no other tragedy as terrible and harmful as the damage a cult does to a person. In my opinion, this is 100% true for the Assembly. It takes lots of time, effort, and energy to go through the recovery process of healing from a cult experience.

It is something that you won’t be able to accomplish on your own. It is almost impossible to grasp the idea that leaders you loved and trusted lied, abused, manipulated and purposefully attempted to destroy you and your family in the name of superior spirituality.

Deliverance and freedom are available for anyone who will reach out and take it. Effective professional help for deprogramming from a cult experience is available (some would say it is a necessity). Determination and prayer are powerful. Becoming immersed in a healthy Christian church is healing.

True freedom is there for each of us. Very possibly, as people from the Assembly heal, they will experience more freedom in Christ, than those who were never bound.

Back to beginning of series

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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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