|Faithful Little One's Story
Faithful Little One's Story
When I was about 9 years old, I accepted Jesus into my heart. Later, I wept at 11 years old, thinking God was calling me to be a missionary.
As many women do, my mother tried to keep the marriage together by joining my father's church. She had a salvation experience on her own before marriage, but didn't realize that my father was not a whole-hearted Christian, nor did she understand that Mormonism was a cult. So in joining the church, she thought he would come around from his "jack" Mormon ways of drinking, etc. Emotionally, she needed him to believe the way she did, but she was willing to go to his church, hopefully to convert him and save the marriage. Meanwhile, I was bored to death learning about Joseph Smith in Sunday School instead of Jesus.
My conversion at a Billy Graham crusade following the break-up of the marriage was real to me as a child, but in a sense was only a mental conversion. So, when I entered the hippie days of the 60s, I threw out all previous beliefs, including Christianity. I found church boring and unreal compared to the meditation, chanting, and mystical things that were coming alive and being imported by the Beatles and other famous role models. At ages 13 and 14, I was a perfect flower child, tried drink, drugs, and sex, yet preferred the natural high of meditation and wanted to keep my body to myself. I sang in coffee houses, wrote music, and led singing in protest rallies against the war in Vietnam. Yet, the guilt from my occasional sins kept eating at me and I desired to become pure and always hungered for some kind of spiritual, mystical experience. I tried various eastern religion techniques.
When my mother, brother, and I moved to San Diego, California, at age 15, I was curious to see some men selling incense, chanting, and singing downtown. They wore saffron (orange) colored robes and had shaved heads except for one lone pony tail in the back. As I got to know them, I found that their International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Hare Krishna) Temple was only 2 blocks from where we lived.
I began visiting daily, learning, eating with them, chanting and singing with them. I wanted to get rid of my bad karma (really, sin) by taking on their austere lifestyle of eating no meat, having no sex (unless with the intention of making a baby), no drink or drugs, and doing many hundreds of chants of the Hare Krishna mantra. Though I never moved in with them, I was convinced that they were the way to God and I whole-heartedly was part of them.
As I entered my sixteenth year, the Jesus Revolution was beginning to sweep the country, especially California. Many of my friends had gotten saved and began a massive prayer vigil on my behalf. We had many deep discussions about Krishna versus Jesus. In spite of me being of such "strange religion", they invited me to come lead the guitar and singing at their Christmas party, singing carols door to door. I felt joy in doing it, as we believed Jesus was the Son of one of the Gods.
After the carols and games, we began to have a deep discussion in which some were nearly offended at my beliefs. Afterwards, we all went into a bedroom and began to have "open" prayer, where each was able to pray out what they wanted. As I felt led, I prayed that God would show me the truth, and make it come in a way that I would understand and accept. (I'm sure those kids rejoiced that I was willing to pray that way!)
Around two weeks later, in early January, my mother saw an ad in the paper to go hear a crusade by a "Spirit-filled Jew", Morris Cerullo. I had no idea that meant he was a Christian. I was amazed in the meetings to see the worship and praise in song, (where I still chanted Hare Krishna under my breath). I was especially intrigued when I saw people getting up out of wheel chairs healed, as well as people speaking and giving messages in tongues. I saw the power of God and knew it was different from what I had. When we went for hot chocolate, my mother asked what I thought and if I wanted to go back, and each night I said I wanted to return. On the second night, I went forward to "get closer to God," but not to really get saved since I believed I was right. That poor counselor! Anyway, when all kneeled, I did full obeisance as I had been taught, and some people laid hands on me as they went by to pray over me.
On the third night, after the service, they announced that all youth could get tickets for the youth banquet in the youth room (where I had never attended--I'd always stayed in the main room).
As I entered the room, a woman met me at the door and asked, "By the way, are you a Christian?"
I told her I was. After all, wasn't everyone in America a Christian?
Then she asked, "Do you preach at school?"
Why she proceeded that way, I'll never know, but my answer gave her the insight she was looking for. "Well, you see, I'm in the Hare Krishna, and I mix the two together and tell everyone."
She answered, "Well, my husband was the preacher here in the youth room tonight. He knows about the Hare Krishna. He'll talk to you."
The young preacher told me that God loved me to which I thought, "Of course He does. After all I'm doing it the right way with Hare Krishna."
Then he asked me, "Do you believe the Bible?"
I told him I did. We Krishna disciples accepted it as a holy writing, though with not as much value as the Bhaga Vad Gita.
Then he told me that Jesus said that He was "...the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me." (John 14:6) I began to get confused and upset. The man asked me if I was getting confused, and I admitted it; so he offered to pray for me.
In that short prayer, he bound the devil and any demons that might be confusing me and not allowing me to hear the truth.
I immediately started crying uncontrollably. As he finished telling me the four spiritual laws, he challenged me to cross an invisible line that he drew, to let Jesus take over my life.
Though I was still confused, and not sure I even wanted to, I got on my knees and prayed the sinner's prayer with him, still weeping.
Then he asked a strange thing. He asked if I wanted to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. I thought he meant to go out and get baptized in water. But immediately he laid hands on me and prayed and the previously empty room suddenly had a number of people laying hands on me. He told me to ask to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, and then to begin thanking Jesus, and that I would then speak in a language that I didn't understand.
I thought, "Yeah, right, these people worked up to that. I just started this. How could that be?" But I followed his directions anyway. I began praying, "Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus."
The next thing I knew I was at Calvary, seeing Jesus on the cross. It was dark, and he looked down at me. Suddenly I was back in the room, and found myself speaking forcefully in a language I didn't know.
As I left tearfully, still a little unhappy about my new commitment, I was amazed that this new language was still running through my head. I got sick from the night air with near pneumonia and as I lay in my bed, I was again overwhelmed at the vision I had seen and the experience I had, and that this language still ran in my head. When I finally called one of those Christian friends, she told me that over 50 people had been praying for me in the previous weeks.
As time went on, I was a natural soul winner. I told everything that moved about my new love, Jesus. I jumped right into the middle of the Jesus Movement. When I graduated as Salutatorian a year and a half later, I used my graduation speech to tell my testimony and try to persuade all of the real meaning of life, a relationship with the Lord.
During that last year, we lived in the mountains outside of San Diego, and I led my friends in Bible studies and experiences in the Lord. Though I didn't know much of what I was doing, when I prayed for them, God's power came down and they not only began to speak in tongues, but "fell out" or "were slain" in the Spirit. It came as a shock!
After graduation, I went to a Christian college. I didn't know what to do with my life exactly, but I wanted to serve the Lord. I was disappointed in my peers who only wanted to date or play Frisbee, and were not interested in witnessing.
Near the end of the second semester, a couple of young men living by faith came onto the campus, and brought revival into my soul. They got a small following among us, and though were not part of the Children of God, they sang their songs and spoke highly of them.
So, when I went back for the summer to Texas where my mother had moved, we promised to meet again. Meanwhile, I started attending a couple churches and coffee house ministries in Dallas.
One day in prayer, I felt that the Lord was telling me to go forward, not to the right or left. Then I had a dream that I was in that coffee house, and a man walked in that looked a lot like Jesus. The next day I went there, and it happened as I had dreamed.
The man went by the name Eleazar and I started falling in love with him. (People involved with the Children of God took on Bible names.) He took me witnessing, and read me funny writings called "Mo letters" that dared to curse and talk about political things rather than spiritual, along with more spiritual writings. Eleazar, though not living with them, was an associate member of the Children of God. He took me to their colony and showed me how they were living the book of Acts. They forsook all to serve Jesus and went witnessing every day! This seemed too good to be true. Though I had doubts, I overlooked them most of the time.
Eleazar, his friend Jonathan, and I decided to take a trip to California to get the things I had left at college. We stopped on the way to see a pregnant friend of mine at a girl's home in Colorado, and Jonathan began a relationship with her that later led to marriage.
On this trip, Jonathan came on strong with classes, Bible studies, and many Mo letter readings. He came down hard on me if I questioned or disagreed, and even made fun of the way I prayed. He intimidated me into submission. I believed I was wrong because they were so strong in the Lord and in "The Family" and had been "serving God full-time" for so long. And we won souls on the trip and had many exciting experiences.
Soon after I came back, while visiting "The Rock House" colony and witnessing with them often, my friend came with her new baby to live in the "associate colony" that Eleazar and I were forming. (It never dawned on me that neither Eleazar nor I should maybe join the Rock House.) It was exciting, but I soon found that he was seeing another girl, trying to win her to the Family, and that girl was falling in love with him. My friend and I decided to go visit her parents in Oregon.
While there, her parents clearly came against us, especially me as the "leader". They were even thinking about deprogramming her, so we fled to a colony in Spokane, where Jonathan came to meet us. I joined full-time, and she and Jonathan made their own associate colony.
That first six months in the group, witnessing at the 1974 World's Fair, I had an exciting and fulfilling time living communally, visiting our refuge in the wilderness, learning the songs, memorizing hundreds of Scriptures, and especially witnessing and passing out "Mo Letter" tracts. I won souls and felt I was making a difference. The only thing that concerned me was that my leaders (which were told by leaders told by Mo) told us to let the Letters do the witnessing and therefore to not spend much time with individuals. Also, various things I read in the writings did not seem to be what I had thought or been taught, but I discounted my own perceptions to be "not spiritual enough" or as they said, "being an old bottle, unable to take the new wine".
Mo claimed and most everyone believed he was God's endtime prophet. He taught in his letters on everything. There were even letters about childcare, food preparation, and sex. He started to say things like, " We have a sexy God and a sexy religion, so if you don't like sex, you better get out while you can still save your bra." Yet, we were living at that time a celibate lifestyle, even though we lived communally.
However, we heard rumors about certain leaders....
At this same time, he told us that he heard directly from God and that we had better obey what God said now rather than what He said 2000 years ago. The Bible the group had lived by and memorized, now became secondary. We said we lived by it, but only really by Mo's interpretation. We continued to win souls (the same way that any normal Christian would), though we encouraged them to join the group. Few joined in comparison to the many we won.
I moved to a colony in California and helped lead the colonies there in a "litnessing revolution" where we gave out up to a thousand Mo Letters a day each, with less regard for the donation per item. (Previously, few got the letters without giving something first.) (Litnessing was witnessing with literature.) I had a lot of joy, again believing I was making a difference, and this new revolution had more witnessing, too.
Meanwhile, Mo gave a warning (for about the third time of exodus) to get the members out of the states. Most of us were single and could easily move to other countries. We believed that God was going to destroy America for her sins imminently. We also believed that the Great Tribulation was going to start in the early 90s, so we needed to get the message out quickly over the next decade or so.
I went to Mexico, and lived in various colonies. I loved the new culture, learned the language, and had a good time. However, various leaders were beginning to show their true ungodly colors by making the disciples have quotas on literature out/donations in per day, and did not allow them to come home until they met it. I was made a colony shepherd, but was really a puppet in authority, as a hard district shepherd and his wife lived with us, always telling me how to lead the disciples and ready to put the blame on me if we didn't do well enough.
Letters began to come out concerning a new form of witnessing that Mo and his wife were trying called "Flirty-Fishing". It involved going out to clubs and bars to witness to men and attract them to you. It went as far as to have you go to bed with them to win them to Jesus. He wrote letters like, "When is sin not sin", "When in Doubt, Do" and "The Girl who Wouldn't." In fact, as time he wrote over 100 letters on this subject of "F-Fing", though I heard they eventually burned the book that contained them. The colonies around Mexico city created a disco or two and had a couple of singing groups that even cut records that were played locally. We still weren't during real F-Fing, though.
What was just theory except among Mo and his wife and a few experimental leaders, finally became the order for the average disciple. Though there were ways to get around it, if you did not flirty fish, or if you could have vocalized disagreement with it, you were considered less spiritual, less revolutionary, and could be in jeopardy of counseling "confession sessions" or at the least, loss of status and privilege.
When my visa ran out, I returned from Mexico and met Dekar. At this time, little F-Fing was going on, but I could see the writing on the wall. Through a number of events, we were put together, and began to fall in love. However, we had problems with our relationship, which we thought were sexual, since our leaders didn't allow us to "go all the way." We argued in the days before and after the "surprise" wedding party. (In the Family, it wasn't a wedding ceremony, but usually a party that happened when the leaders chose, and thus, no backing out. At least I didn't have my mate chosen for me, as did many in the previous years.)
We quickly had 4 children and 2 miscarriages in 4 1/2 years. The Family did not believe in birth control. Since I was always pregnant or nursing, I was able to get out of much F-Fing or "sharing" with the brothers. (Earlier, sharing meant sharing your heart--a new term that you didn't use unless you intended on having sex.) Later, after I left the group, the shepherds set up "sharing" schedules so no one would get left out.
Deep inside, I knew these new doctrines were wrong. I tried to accept them with my head, but my heart told me different. I just couldn't understand how we were justified in Romans, and then set free from the law, to have such freedom to sin again, just calling it something different. The idea was that we needed to be willing to lay down our life (in every way, even sexually), or our wife for the Lord (and the Family) in order to bring someone to Jesus. In this way, it would not be a sin, but a sacrifice for the Lord.
Dekar and I fought often over the issue, though I never admitted to disagreeing with it. He claimed that God could not bless us financially if I was not F-Fing. Through a number of events, we usually were trying to pioneer our own colony, so usually didn't live with any one else. I believe that the Lord allowed that to eventually get us out.
Other doctrines struck me wrong, especially Mo's being spoken through by "Abrahim" and other spirits. His "Holy Spirits" letter claimed there was a library full of spirits in heaven that would help us or even speak to us, if we wanted. From my early Jesus People days, I knew that prophecy should come as speaking from THE Holy Spirit, and He would always lift up Jesus. Many and later, most, of what Mo spoke forth sometimes glorified Mo and his immediate family, about what a great prophet he was, etc. And he usually had more of these experiences when he had been drinking.
One time, the whole group fasted for Mo, since we were told his health and life were in jeopardy. Years later, he wrote a letter called, "I Was An Alcoholic," and I shuddered that we had fasted for his health brought on by his own excesses!
As time went on, Dekar and I had some good times, like going back to Mexico for a few months, but more and more we fought. Dekar began to drink more on a daily basis instead of the occasional wine we had usually had. And he became more unreasonable and blamed me for everything.
After Mexico, we had come back to my home town, and were living in a house that my parents had bought for a rent house. When I had the fourth child, I had a talk with the Lord that I wanted to bear fruit spiritually instead of physically, and began to secretly use birth control.
Meanwhile, some of the letters began talking about allowing children to have sexual play together, and even with adults. The idea repulsed me. I thought to myself that if F-Fing eventually made it out to the regular disciple, that this concept would soon be allowed or enforced. I'd already heard of one case which, for some reason, had not been disciplined. Now I understood why.
Dekar was high strung and our little town didn't support the litnessing well. So he kept losing jobs and finally went to Dallas to find another temporary job.
So, left alone with the four kids, I began to listen to Christian radio. It fed me and thrilled me. Those people seemed so pure! James Dobson always had guests that seemed to speak to my situation, and Night Sounds comforted me in the night. While Dekar was gone, the news story of the children being molested in a daycare facility in California began to unfold. I felt so sorry for those kids, and so angry at their perpetrators! And I thought to myself, "What is the difference between that and what we are reading?"
My life seemed a shambles. My love for Jesus and my husband had grown cold. Service for God was now out of duty alone. And my hyper-active kids destroyed all ideals I had for them of being like many Family kids, singing and quoting Scriptures in churches and in public. There was little chance my kids would do that!
I began to cry out to God, "Can a person be born again, again?" I cried that I wanted His help, and I was willing to do anything to receive that help. I never considered it would be to leave the group. One time, in the midst of my crying, the baby blankets hanging across my new daughter's crib formed an image that in the dark looked like Jesus standing there with his head "Talit" (head covering) on. It really comforted me.
One day, my grandmother handed me a book written by Mo's daughter that had left the group a few years earlier. Of course, we had heard all the propaganda of how and why she left, and how bad she was. In fact, any one who disagreed with Mo or left that had been in the limelight, was usually the subject of one of his haranguing Letters.
Since Dekar was out of town, I had time to read it undisturbed. This CHILDREN OF GOD: THE INSIDE STORY began to open my eyes. Things that I had put on the back burner for years, since I had not been "spiritual" enough to understand, I now began to see clearly. Things like his son Aaron not dying on the mountain gloriously in an accident, but rather that it was probably a suicide. Things like Mo's mother, who supposedly had been paralyzed for 5 years, then gloriously healed, giving birth in the middle of those 5 years!! Though the writer had a bitter look on some things, and though her life in the "royal family" was slightly different than the common disciple, the truth was revealed.
I decided to leave the Family.
Now, physically, we had not lived communally in years. And we half-heartedly had told my family that we weren't in it anymore. But mentally and spiritually and emotionally, we were still in the group. We tithed to them, and read their publications as our meat.
The week while I read the book was a tormenting one. I could clearly see the truth, and how that I had been deceived, yet my pride didn't want to let go of this idealism we had portrayed. The whole week my brother (who was agnostic at the time) came and listened to me for hours till 2 am. I told him that on one hand, stretching my arms way out, Mo could be God's endtime prophet, and I should embrace all of the doctrines wholeheartedly. On the other hand, if this book was true, and we had been deceived all along, I should get out!
Daily, between readings, as I did my chores, and tended my four children, verses that I had read filled my heart and mind. "Flee fornication." "Let fornication not be named once among you." "This is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you flee fornication." "Many will come in my name and deceive many." And many others!
I had not heard the Holy Spirit this clearly in years! And why had I not seen these verses with such meaning before in my not-so-daily Bible readings? The scales had fallen from my eyes.
As I embraced my decision, a new sense of freedom flooded me. My joy began to return. And I didn't know what Dekar would do, but my decision was final!
The next day he returned. He had laid down some kind of fleece to the Lord, and knew he should come back immediately. He read the book and decided to leave also!
One point the book made was that when a cult member goes back to society, they have lost some of the best years of their life. They've lost the years when usually people marry, finish college, get a career, and buy a house and a car. Cult members may take twice the time to catch up what they've lost.
We talked about it. I wanted to continue what path I had been on when I had joined the group. I still wanted to serve the Lord.
We started attending church where I'd heard the pastor on radio. One service, he talked about the Bible School in Dallas he'd attended for a semester. It sounded wonderful! A place where we could get our heads on straight, our doctrine straight, and learn how to legitimately serve the Lord. We sold everything and went to Christ for the Nations Institute.
Now, the administrators there immediately had doubts about our sincerity and made us wait to become full-time students until the next semester, but allowed us to take night classes. I hungrily ate them up and attended every general public session that the school offered. I was a more whole hearted student than many there, and surely got as much out of that first "non-student" semester as I did the following 2 years.
My husband, however, had a rough time. It was as if the rug had been pulled out from under him, spiritually. He had gotten saved through the Family, and had little religious experience besides. He began to have nervous breakdowns and was finally diagnosed as having bi-polar disorder. He was kept on medication throughout our time at school, and was on his best behavior towards me.
As soon as we left, though, he went back to many of the old behaviors, and a couple years later we split up.
Meanwhile, my zeal for God opened doors for me. My last semester, I began to help a main professor to write books, (which now, 11 years later, I am again doing for him).
After CFNI, I volunteered and then worked for Mike Evans Ministries in Dallas. God was giving me the desires of my heart.
Then, on the way to another city, my brother (who by then had also graduated from CFNI), my kids, and I got stuck again in our mother's and grandmother's town, Amarillo. (I never grew up here, but it is the only place I can say is "back home.")
The last 6 years have been a wilderness experience for us. But the kids have had the stability of living in the same house, and the love of other relatives.
However, since I decided to always "occupy" the territory that Jesus gives me, God has opened many doors for us.
Since living here, we have been able to do street ministry to Mardi Gras in New Orleans 3 times, witness at the Olympics in Atlanta, and other street events.
The Lord let me find another ex-Cog organization called Safe Haven that has yearly reunions of ex-Family members, and I attended three. In them, I was able to minister one-on-one to a number of people (and some to me!) and began to interview on videotape their testimonies. It clarified their own thoughts as well as gave me something to show to people who were just leaving the group. I also authored a short book on "How to Keep Your Kids From Falling Into Cults." As I studied at CFNI (and after) about deception and cults, the Lord began to give me wisdom to begin to speak on the issues, both publicly and individually. The Lord gave me the name "Sword of the Lord Ministries," since his true Word will divide the truth from deception in people's lives. A year ago, my computer programmer brother put up a web page for the ministry, that includes my and other people's writings on the Children of God and other cults. It has generated enough email to keep me busy 2-3 hours a day, counseling people who would never darken the door of a church, and who just need to talk to someone who has been there and understands.
An interesting door also opened for me to have my own daily talk show called "Virtuous Reality" on one Christian station. When there were some leadership shake-ups and the show was canceled, I thought it was over. But only a couple months later, the former manager was invited to another local Christian station to have a weekly two-hour talk show, and he and I have been co-hosts for over 2 years, recently adding a third host. It is called NightTalk, and has various guests, usually people involved in a ministry.
My articles are also published from time to time in the local paper and have been in national church publications. I am in a Christian writer's group, involved in my church, and in a separate Bible study. I keep busy.
All I want to do is serve the Lord, and one of my main goals is to set people free from deception, whether from a cult or from other abuses. I am glad to be a part of Christian radio, which originally helped bring me out of the cult. And I want to proclaim, "You shall know the Truth (Jesus), and the Truth shall set you free!"
Love, Marlene*** Formerly Faithful (or Ephraim) Little One
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