Author: Alan Clendinen Known in COG/FOL/Family as:
MY STORY Aug. 8, 2003
I recently discovered the exfamily.org web site, and after sending a technical question to the staff, they asked if I was ever a member of the Children of God/Family of Love. The short answer to their query is yes, but by the time I was finished with my reply, I had shared a great deal more.
After all the staff members at exfamily.org read my lengthy reply, they wrote back to say how much my story had inspired them. They asked me to please share my story on this forum. After I did some editing (and a bit of procrastinating), I am finally getting around to posting it.
My name is Alan Clendinen. On June 21, 1971, I had just joined a Jesus people group called the House of Judah (begun by David Hoyt). Unbeknownst to me, David was just about to merge his group with the COG. A couple of days later, a few busloads of COG members, including Faithy, Hosea, Aaron and mother Eve showed up at the House of Judah's two homes in Atlanta, Georgia. I took the Bible name of Mark.
We were taken to Texas, and to a babe ranch called "Zion." After a falling out with the ranch's owner, "Mother Zion," we moved to Houston, where we started a new colony.
I eventually ended up with the group in Latin America, (Central America and Brazil) and eventually left the group in 1974, after four years in the COG.
As with so many former COG members,my faith was soon shipwrecked. Since the COG's indoctrination had engrained in me the belief that only the COG were serving God, I didn't have any desire to associate with Christians. The void was soon filled by my old non-Christian friends of the past. I basically backslid after returning to Central Florida.
On July 4, 1981, I had a nearly fatal experience that brought me back to Christ. I was skin diving in a lake, when my left arm was suddenly grabbed by an 11 1/2 foot alligator. As the gator spun me like a wet rag doll, I could hear popping sounds. I realized in horror that it was the sound of my bones being broken. The gator spun me with such force, that my dive mask was ripped off my face. I gulped a lung full of air each time he rotated me back to the surface. The water around me was soon red with my blood. I called out to God. "Lord Jesus...save me!" I cried out.
I suddenly felt His supernatural presence, and a sense of peace. If the gator had held onto me a few more minutes, I most likely would have drowned, but God had other plans. The beast suddenly released his death grip on me, and swam away. My diving buddy came to my aid, and we quickly swam for the shore of the lake.
My arm was a mangled mess. It was dislocated at the elbow, and the hand was only attached by a bit of muscle. We drove to the closest neighbor, and called for an ambulance. In spite of the serious wounds, there was very little bleeding. The ambulance crew was amazed to see I wasn't in shock. They were also surprised I hadn't bled to death.
Despite the efforts of a team of surgeons, my hand could not be saved. The hospital's anesthesiologist warned me that after being released, I would go through withdrawal from all the morphine and Demerol I was given during my
six weeks of hospitalization. The Lord was merciful, however, and I never suffered from any withdrawal.
This experience brought me back to the cross of Christ, and a renewal of my walk with the Lord. I am reminded of what Jesus said about it being better to enter heaven blind or crippled, rather than your whole body being cast into hell.
The loss of my left hand put an end to my job as a boat repairman at a local marina, but God was faithful to provide me with a new career. A member of the church I began attending offered me a job at his Apple computer dealership. I knew nothing about computers, but I was told that I would receive on-the-job training. I worked in that dealership for seven years.
On September 9, 1991, I was test firing a 37 millimeter flare gun, when a malfunction caused it to explode. My wife ran out of the house when she heard the explosion, and found me lying in a pool of blood. The explosion had blown open my forehead, exposing my brain. The thumb of my right hand was nearly severed.
I was taken by helicopter to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where there is a trauma unit. After several hours of surgery, a surgeon informed my wife that I would not last more than three days. When his pessimistic prognosis did not come true, he said I would be little more than a vegetable.
I know that medical science alone cannot account for my survival. This became obvious after my plastic surgeon removed what he thought would be some loose bone from behind my right ear. After making an incision, he discovered a two inch long piece of metal! It was a piece of the flare gun. The surgeon told me that this hunk of metal had hit me right between the eyes.
I pondered the surgeon's words for a moment. How was this possible? How could this heavy chunk of metal hit me right between the eyes, and then end up just behind my right ear? It would have had to make a couple of 90 degree turns to accomplish this! Why didn't it just go straight through my brain? I posed these questions to the doctor, but he was just as mystified as me. We both agreed that it was a miracle.
Well, this "vegetable" is pleased to report that after spending some time in physical rehab, I went to college and earned a BS in Business Information Systems, and had a 3.98 gpa! I should also mention that as a result of the explosion, I lost my eyes, and am totally blind.
Until last year, I worked at the nearby Kennedy Space Center, where I was a computer programmer. I use a screen-reading program and a speech
synthesizer, which enable me to use a computer.
I recently found this web site while doing an Internet search for COG-related web sites. I've read several of the articles by ex-members, and
am thanking God that I left this cult before things really went into a tailspin. I have often wondered what has become of the many people I knew in the COG. I am hoping that perhaps this web site can help me find some former members that I once knew.
I read the story written by Mercy, and was surprised to find mention of a couple I worked with in Central America. "Bigvai" and "Delilah" were the leaders of the Costa Rica colony back in the early 70s. I was saddened to read of how life in the COG has turned a once sweet and loving Delilah into a hard-hearted reprobate.
Over the years, I have often wondered what has become of the many people I worked with in the Children of God. I wonder how many of them are still entangled in the COG web. Of those who have left the cult, I wonder if they have found their way to an abiding faith in Jesus Christ.
I know from personal experience that this world can leave your life in shambles. If not for the grace and mercy of Christ, I would be dead several times over. When the storms of life come to wash your house away, it won't survive if it doesn't have a firm foundation. If built upon the sand, it will fall, but If built upon the rock, it will prevail. To prevail over the storms of life, you need to build your life upon the rock, which is Jesus Christ.
I welcome your comments, and would especially like to hear from any former COG members who knew me, or may know the whereabouts of ex-members who might know me. You can write me at: