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"For we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not of ourselves."

Dark Night of the SoulJesus People 19

Led back to my small room by two COG guards – I was livid with anger. “I’d like to see my wife!” I spit out.

No response; typical of non-thinking COG disciples, why should I expect different?

Pondering the situation, I had one goal – getting my wife and family out of COG control.  Unfortunately, after tonight it was doubtful she’d consider leaving. The events were so bizarre– but real.  

I had to get out of this factory!  Who knew what the COG might do next.  I’d heard rumors of Aaron Berg dying in a mountain climbing accident shortly after he’d disagreed with his father’s latest writings, concubine escapades and ditching his mother Eve permanently for his secretary / mistress Maria.  

I couldn’t trust anyone in the COG movement!  My Atlanta friends had been scattered to the winds and would soon hear the Mo Letter ‘Beelzebub Lord of the Flies’ that described me as a demon-possessed traitor who had defied David Berg by challenging his ultimate authority as God’s super prophet.

Bromley, Kent / England - COG Escape  

Mind- racing, I determined to stay awake. Gathering a few essentials and my passport, I stuffed them into my pockets and lay down fully-dressed, shoes on, placing a cover over me.  Lying still, I prayed to stay awake, letting a number of hours pass, hoping the guards outside the door would leave, or fall asleep. 

Around 4 AM, I looked out the door window and saw no one. Gently I opened the door a crack and no guards were in sight!  Adrenalin flowing, I tip-toed down the cement corridor, quietly down the metal stairs and crossed the facilities transport area leading to a side-door at the opposite end of the factory.  Hopeful, I turned the metal doors latch and it wasn’t locked!  Whew!   

An early morning thick-fog lay over the Borough (City) of Bromley which was good cover. The gray cobblestone streets were relatively empty with the exception of a few pedestrians and cyclists heading off to work early.   Quickly, I made my way down a street – not knowing where I was headed, having never been let out of the factory since arriving in England.  From Tweedy Rd I turned down Sherman Rd which led to High Street intersecting Church Rd where I found a park behind a Parish Church.  Finding a bench I sat down, grateful for the white wool scarf Victoria’s mother Doris White had made me. It covered my neck and mouth lessening the damp and cold of the early-hour while I awaited daylight.   I was free, but deeply troubled. The thought of my family and friends trapped inside the COG was a tormenting anguish in my thoughts and spirit.   

Back of man standing in darkness

My emotions raced back and forth from relief to despair, from guilt for my own part in the fiasco – to fear of the COG finding me.  The darkness of predawn was an unwanted introduction to my own ‘dark night of the soul’.

Being captive in the Children of God was over, but my world was in shambles.  Realizing what had happened to my family, friends and ministry in such a short period of time was horrific.   It reminded me of the Scripture in John 8:44 where Jesus taught, “Satan, the thief, comes to steal, murder and destroy.”

Mid-morning I found a British police precinct and told an officer my predicament – asking them to please accompany me to the factory to help me find my wife and children.  At the factory, two COG public relations representatives answered the door and told us that no one from my family lived there any longer.  I didn’t believe them! The Bobby (British Police) didn’t know what to believe. All he could do was accompany me upstairs to retrieve a few personal items, my guitar and stay with me until we exited the building. As the police officer and I parted ways, the reality of survival set in. I had no money, food, or a place to live in a foreign land – without a work permit. 

Good Samaritans - Still Practicing

Ken Burness - Prayer for Israel /
Mr. Kenneth P. Frampton - Deo Gloria Trust

Late afternoon I found a restaurant in downtown Bromley and asked if I could work in exchange for food.  Thankfully, the restaurant owner was present, a generous man named Ken Burnett.  He told a waitress to serve me a meal and we’d talk about my situation afterwards.  On finishing eating the owner Ken took a seat across the table from me and asked, “Tell me what has happened”.  Emotionally exhausted I explained my story in a disjointed way. He listened carefully recognizing I was distraught. Fortunately he was willing to hear me out.  When I’d finished he said, “There’s someone I want you to meet as soon as I can arrange it.  In the meantime I will give you a place to stay.”

With his hand– he motioned for me to follow him.  Heading past the kitchen, we climbed a stairway to an upstairs floor and down a hallway to a well lit front room facing the street.  “It’s not much, but better than wandering the streets in the cold.”  There was a single bed, a small dresser and a wooden chair, and a bathroom down the hall.

“I’ll pick up some sheets, blankets and a couple of towels and bring them back this evening.  Remember, this is between us. With ordinances and such, I’m not supposed to let out this flat until renovations are complete.  It used to be quarters for one of our employees years ago.   I’ll tell the cook and waitresses to feed you when come into the restaurant.  Let me show you a side door you can come and go through.  Will you be alright until then?” 

“Sure.”
 
“Ok then, I’ll be off.  And I will be praying!”

Mr. Ken Burnett was an on-the-go Brit – man of compassion.  For the time being, my most urgent needs of food and shelter had been provided.  I was deeply grateful.  After Ken left I wondered who he wanted me to meet.  In the days ahead I learned Ken was a committed Christian, with many spiritual gifts and had founded a ministry called ‘Prayer for Israel’.  He was so much like the Good Samaritan in Jesus Christ’s parable – happy to provide food in his restaurant and gave me a small room above his business for a week or two until we could sort out what to do.

High Street Bromley, Kent England

Several days past and Ken told me he had arranged a meeting with a Mr. Kenneth Frampton the next morning.  Ken didn’t say much other than Mr. Frampton was very interested in hearing about what had happened to me and my family.    

Ken Burnett accompanied me to Mr. Frampton’s office a short distance from the restaurant.  Mr. Kenneth Frampton was an established business owner in property and land management, acquisitions and sales.  He had a keen interest in hearing my story from beginning to end.  At the same time, he had a previous commitment that only allowed him forty-five minutes for our first meeting.  We agreed to meet the next day to pick up where we left off.  For the second visit I walked to his company offices alone and he invited me to complete my account from where I’d left off.  Noticeably by body language and active listening he was deeply concerned throughout the telling of the events I’d experienced.  On finishing, he gave a deep sigh and said, “Oh My.”

Mr. Kenneth P. Frampton’s Dilemma

It was an emotional relief to have someone listen carefully – but intuitively I knew there was something deeper going on.  It all became clear as Mr. Kenneth Frampton succinctly told me his own dilemma.

He began, “I have two sons who have joined the Children of God here in England.  They are very excited about being part of the COG throwing in their lot with the group.  On their request for help I’ve given them the use of the Bromley factory rent-free, where you lived – and I’m supporting them financially.   

If they are indeed in error and have separated your family, have secret teachings, and an erroneous false prophet leading them – I need to know about it.  I only want to support those things and ministries that truly glorify Christ!   If they are a cult, how can I influence David and Keith out of this group without them viewing me as the enemy and turning against their own family?”

Though highly invested with the Children of God aka The Family –he was a Christian of integrity, willing to research and secure the truth.  He told me he believed my account, but needed to confirm my story with tangible evidence.  He said, “Don’t worry about being sustained physically.  Ken Burnett and I will make sure you are ok. And I will do everything within my power to help you contact your wife and family.”

Several days later I learned from Ken Burnett that Mr. Kenneth Frampton had begun an investigation into the groups’ secret inner-world, beliefs and the like – with the intent of delving beyond their public relations image they portray to outsiders.  This news gave me hope that I had a true advocate and help would be forthcoming.

Close-Call – Failed  Kidnap!

Yoke for around neck

Preoccupied with eating in Ken's restaurant, two men came over to my booth and tried to physically drag me out of the restaurant!  Both had small yokes around their necks identifying them as COG.  Resisting them drew attention and several employees who knew me came to my aid. Together we pushed them out of the restaurant and the cook told them emphatically, “Don’t ever come back!” Afterward, he called the Bromley police precinct to report the incident.

This confirmed the concern I had for my own well-being in COG hands. I wondered, “What would they have done with me if I hadn’t escaped the factory, with my unwillingness to recant my letter of concern to David Berg?  Would I have ended up like Aaron Berg, dead – with the cause, a mysterious accident?” From then on I kept a careful lookout for anyone who looked like COG disciples.  “If they were to kidnap me, it would be to keep my mouth shut – and what would that look like?”  

Ken Burnett called Mr. Frampton and updated him on the attempted kidnapping incident – confirming its accuracy through the first-hand witness of three of his restaurant employees.  On hearing this, Mr. Frampton told Ken Burnett he would step-up his investigation.  Mr. Frampton added, “Other unsettling stories like David’s are beginning to surface.”

Newspaper Reporter Joins COG Under-cover

The lid of the COG public relations cover-up was blown-off when a local newspaper placed a writer inside the Bromley COG factory as a new convert.  He was in the compound long enough to see first-hand what the group’s beliefs and practices were. After securing accurate information, he was able to leave the factory abruptly with the aid of other newspaper staff members.  Recounting his experience, he wrote a blistering article revealing the group’s secretiveness, evasiveness, high security, deception to outsiders, and teaching on animosity toward the church, biological family members and former friends. In addition, he cited hatred toward the system, outside authority and the groups demand for total obedience to Children of God leaders, ‘Mo Letters’ and David Berg as ‘God’s End Time Prophet’.  The gravity of this local situation got the attention of the public at large and was covered in the Bromley and Croyden, England newspapers.

BBC & NBC UNITE IN A
PRESS - CONFERENCE / DOCUMENTARY

In short order, more voices of clarity and concern about the COG converged: area ministers, Mr. Frampton, Ed Plowman – writer / pastor from the USA, Russ Griggs from Vancouver BC, Mr. and Mrs. Moody from Manhasset NY who had lost their daughter Melissa now called Patience.  Members of Free COG along with investigative newspaper and television reporters all contributed to bringing out more alarming facts about ‘COG’ practices.

As America and England were the main bases of operations for The COG / The Family – and serious allegations and reports continued to surface – news agencies from both countries agreed to bring the truth to the public.  BBC of England and NBC of the USA agreed to participate in a Press-Conference and filming of a new documentary – both to take place in London, England.  Concerned individuals from the USA flew to England as their British counterparts and COG representatives gathered in defense. 

Interviews were conducted with a fair representation of those concerned about the COG deceptive, secretive and divisive beliefs and practices and public relation lies – as well as the COG’s rebuttal to these allegations.  At the center of concern was the COG’s practice of hiding the whereabouts of its members and encouraging all COG participants to sever ties with their biological family and former friends – unless inheritance money was involved. When aired in England and the USA alongside news coverage, the press conference and documentary was successful in averting many young Brits and Americans from joining the cult. The rebuttal within the documentary by COG representatives had no ring of truth.

It was encouraging to spend time with Russ Griggs again and meet others who’d flown to England for the press-conference and filming of the documentary with similar journeys.   

COMPASSIONATE CARE CONTINUES

During my time in England, God reached out His hand of love to me through many caring Christians. Ken Burnett and Kenneth and Pauline Frampton extended the fullness of kindness and mercy. Adding to them was the gracious friendship of John and Greta Steare and their children Christopher and Rachael who invited me for meals and fellowship, along with the warmth and care of Clive (a Frampton son) and his spouse Gwyneth who brought me into their home until Gwyneth’s first child was near birth.

Steare FamilyKenneth and Pauline Frampton

My initial healing was ignited through these friendships with Kenneth and Pauline Frampton becoming my surrogate parents in England. Their son Chris, who had not joined the COG – became a brother and close friend.  

Chris Frampton

My need of food and shelter was met by the Framptons because they believed me. I had now settled into a Bed & Breakfast in Bromley, Kent. The sadness Kenneth and Pauline Frampton felt continued as their two boys David and Keith were still in danger, under the influence of religious deception. They had many tough decisions to make regarding exposing the Children of God and evicting them from the factory. How would this affect their sons? The Framptons were courageous and practiced the highest form of Christian integrity with mercy.

For me, being in public or around anyone for any length of time was extremely difficult because of the grief and guilt I felt. Understanding this, I found a true friend in Chris Frampton who was my age and down to earth enough to know the depths of inner suffering and crisis are not easily shaken.  Chris had endured his own suffering stranded along the Katmandu Trail in hostels. Chris had been mentally and emotionally wounded by poor personal choices, drugs and the abuse of less than friendly travelers.  These experiences had worked compassion into his soul.

Somerset Cottage

Chris accepted my quiet suffering and confusion and played his music when I felt there was nothing left but darkness and the silence of family and personal loss. Rescuing me from my isolation at the bed and breakfast where I lived, Chris would pick me up in his MG and take me for rides in the countryside.  I enjoyed seeing roads lined with trees and quaint farms and the history of centuries gone. This is the England I grew to love. Tall hedges lining the roadsides and country lanes where thatched roof cottages were nestled alongside narrow country roads.  Old established pubs were strategically in their place, for a meal or a lager. Through the inner and outer clouds of gray, the sunshine of hope gently began to filter through with the passing of time.

TOWARD EMOTIONAL HEALING

As months passed, my flat at Mrs. Woolsey’s Bed and Breakfast in Purley, Surrey became a haven of rest; a place for study and inner healing. My room was small and sparsely furnished with a bed, chair, and a small table.  I wrote long-hand about my COG experiences and paired Scripture alongside to verify my findings.  My B&B flat was usually cold and damp, due to a half-wall of windows by my bed, but the secluded hillside view from the windows made up for whatever else was lacking.  I felt safe here.

The home had three upstairs single room flats rented to men only, and Mrs. Woolsey occupied the downstairs of the home. She was a slight, spunky, wiry lady in her late 50s who was unashamedly forthright with her opinions. She was not afraid to lay down the rules or put her tenants in their place when she felt it was needed. Her language was as colorful as you might hear on a ‘ship on the high seas’.  In contrast, she fancied classical music which she’d play at full-volume most afternoons.

The home was clean and well-cared for. She prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner each day as requested by each of us. Her cooking was not gourmet, but the meals were hot and appreciated. If residents made arrangements in advance we could access the downstairs sitting room for guests. I continued to owe a debt of thanks to the Frampton family as they sustained me in my time of need when I had no means of income. 

I rarely saw the other tenants who were usually out in the day, other than the occasional coordinating of the common bathroom we shared. When my room was so cold I could not concentrate, or when I took a bath, I would turn a small electric heater on for a few minutes to cut the edge. I wanted to return to a warm room after a bath, but Mrs. Woolsey didn’t like this American practice one bit. To her, it was a waste of electricity.

To emphasize this, she’d d slip into my room during my bath time and un-plug the electric space heater. To my amazement, she carried the issue one step further. On returning to my flat one evening, I found a coin-operated box attached to the only electrical outlet plug in my room. We argued about this – but she wouldn’t budge. “I’m not going to let you throw my rent money down the drain!”   

It was a cultural lesson. Ruddy Brits, rosy cheeks and the like were home-grown with cooler in-home temperatures, the chill of crisp outside air, walking to market, to the train or to the underground, playing games like soccer, rugby or walks in the park. The mild discomfort from a lack of warmth would pass, but my greatest and most pressing need was to try and locate my family and frame a better understanding of what had occurred to our entire ministry.  While everything was fresh, I wrote down the names of all of our team members so I could pray for them and tried to recall the new COG names that were given to each.

Meanwhile Mr. Frampton was working hard on asking COG leaders to allow me to see my wife.  I was busy reading Dr. Walter Martin’s book entitled ‘Kingdom of the Cults’ which cited comparisons of how cults were formed and their subtle or significant deviation from the Bible and mainstream Christian roots.  What I read gave me a framework of understanding.  It didn’t resolve my personal pain and guilt over my family and friends still captive within the COG. I vowed to attempt to remember each of their true names and as many COG names as possible and keep praying.

Mountains with "Lost" text

Southern USA Ministry Friends Lost into the COG

True Name          

Children of God Name

True Name

Children of God Name

Victoria Hoyt

Victory

Steve Shelton

Arah

Shelia Goudeau

Mara

Ron Baker

Reuben

Philip Clore

Kedar

Edmond Ball

Ed

Dan Matyi

Belteshazar

Sue Beatty

Michal

Larry Gottlieb

Lo Ammi

Michael Bedolfe

Ben hadad

Cheryl Gottlieb

Beca

Billy Clark

Aaron

Mark Nyggard

Zadoc

Alan Clendinen

Mark

Francisco Patino

Jordan

Steve Cline

Joel

Pat Patino

Elizabeth

Marsha Crawford

Rachael

Stacie Gates

Shebah

Gary Cunningham

Malachi III

Megan Jones

Ruth

Michael Davy

Hesbon

Linda Waldrop

Naomi

Ed Dilworth

Habakkuk

Gloria Hammond

Abigail

William Doehler

Timothy

Josie Brown

Hannah

Charles Dudley

Jacob

Rita McKee

Jockobed

Jack Fargo

Israel

Tracy Crow

Tamar

Dallas Gambill

Watchman

Sally Dillard

Sarah

Paul Hilgendorf

Ephraim

Donna George

Grace

Julia Jones

Rejoice

Sharon Adams

Leah

Alan Kamnin

Joe

Russ Drodge

Lazarus

Charles Leek

Luke

Diane Drodge

Tabitha

Billy Lindsey

Jesse

Dennis Moore

III Peter

Stephen Lowe

Jude

Krig Newport

I Judah

John Lyall

Jake

Sue Rawlings

Mercy

Charles Pinson

Adino

Thomas Rubner

Mount of Olives

Carol Potts

Miriam

Joan Taylor

Hope

William Tomassi

Hebrew

Huge Westberry

Barnabas

Roger Tucker

Judah

Karen Westberry

Shalom

Sidney Vail

Teth

Pam Williams

Pheobe

Burt Wheeler

Andrew

Pope Wilson

Gideon 

Tousy Wilson

Amos

P.D. Wehe

Matthias

 

 

Additional Southern Team Members
- True Names

Kay Nyggard

Sandy Green

Carol Wheeler

Glenda Grant

Allan Shaprio

Rick Russell

Phyllis Wayte

Vickie Tassour

John Elliott

Susan Twitty

Anna Whitton

Randy Stover

Michael White

Greg Gustafson

Dean Dulling

Rick Flowers

Regina Baker

Steve Cline

Jackie Blount

Mary Teressa

Rebekah Hoyt

Giovanni Hoyt

Elizabeth Hoyt

 

I prayed a lot, but it was hard to calm and still my mind.  Troubled and tormented by all that had happened – sleep was a welcome escape.  While drifting into slumber I prayed for my family and friends– picturing them in my mind.   As months passed, the routine at Mrs. Woolsey’s B&B became predictable.  I was alone most of the time which was probably for the best.  Being around people for very long was still emotionally exhausting.   The welcomed exception was the times I connected with my band of good Samaritans.     

DISAPPOINTING MEETING WITH MY WIFE

Prior to evicting the Children of God from the Bromley factory – Mr. Frampton pressed COG leaders once more to allow me to meet with my wife and provided funds for this purpose.  After months of stalling, broken promises – COG leaders gave-in fearing possible eviction from the Bromley factory if they didn’t meet this request.     

The agreement was for me to be able to meet privately with my spouse – but this promise was broken. When I saw her for some ten minutes, she was accompanied by two high ranking COG leaders. They dominated the conversation.  Once again, I witnessed the group’s careful control, orchestration and intimidation.

Victoria was distant and cool – taking a seat between two COG leaders. She had obviously bought into David Berg’s Mo Letter accusing me of demon possession.  Both she and cult leaders voiced anger toward me for things they'd heard I said about the group.  At one point she announced, “I'm happy in the Children of God and the children are too. I want you to leave us alone!”  Jethro, aka John Tredwell, was one of the two COG leaders present for this brief encounter.

Mr. Kenneth P. Frampton Writes:  

“The Children of God, Family of Love, The Family – are the current names this group goes by.  They are a revolutionary group of young people who are taught to forsake all and follow God, which means handing over all their goods to the group when joining the movement. All new converts must sign a document which promises this, allows mail censorship, and commands all to strict obedience to C.O.G. leaders. All thought and action becomes centered on the cult.

New recruits are taught to read the Bible, memorize proof texts, and read letters published by their secret leader David Berg, alias Moses. These letters range from harmless, to dangerous, depending on the intended audience. Much of the teaching is anti-social, rebellious, and anti-Christian in content. New recruits are gradually taught to accept these writings of David Berg as authoritative, as he claims these special revelations, visions, and prophecies are from God. Young followers are confused because they have been helped and loved in this group.

David Berg claims he is the fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies, an “anointed prophet,” and followers are taught to obey him completely, even if he and other leaders under him are wrong. Followers are taught to sever family ties, and reject any old friends who stand in the way. The system of the world is hated. Lying is permitted when it is to your advantage, secrecy is OK. Scriptures can be bent in moral issues, and Moses’ letters are on the same level as the Bible. Contrary to this, the Scriptures warn that false prophets are inwardly ravening wolves, and by their fruits we will know them. (Matthew 7:15-16)

How distressing to realize this movement of the Children of God or Family of Love is nothing more than anti-Christian with a false prophet. I repent of having encouraged or helped this group that dishonors the name of Jesus Christ.  I have tried to convince the C.O.G. leaders of their serious departure from the Scriptures without success.

Unfortunately, the lives of many have been marred and damaged by the poison of a false teacher and prophet. Satan was also tempted by pride and arrogance and fell into rebellion and perversion. It is my hope and prayer, that many will be set free to serve God and His Son Jesus Christ, because you belong to God alone.  Remember, “You were bought with a price; do not become servants of men” (I Corinthians 7:23).” Therefore, “Stand fast in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).    --  K. P. Frampton

AN EXPRESSION OF COMPASSION     

Zondervan Logo

A message was passed to me through the Framptons that Mr. Robert Deverhies a CEO with Zondervan Publishing Company would be in London and would like to meet with me over lunch.  I had no idea what the purpose of this meeting might be.  Kent Philpott and I had co-authored ‘Two Brothers in Haight’ with an edit by Ed Plowman.  An account about the two of us sharing our faith in Haight –Ashbury, San Francisco, was scheduled to be published by Zondervan but understandably had to be shelved when I joined the COG.  Perhaps the meeting had something to do with this project.

We met at a fancy hotel dining room near Hyde Park.  I quickly learned Mr. Deverhies had heard about my exodus from the COG and loss of my family – still within the cult.  His sole reason for meeting was to encourage and affirm his prayers for my family and personal recovery.  While in London he wanted to extend his concern by seeing me in person.  Surprised by this kind gesture I was thankful.  Though awkwardly out of place, not dressed for the opulence of the surroundings – I appreciated a good meal and putting a friendly USA face to a name that I’d only heard in passing.

Strange sky behind tree silouette

HOPE AMIDST SHOCK & DISILLUSIONMENT

The light of clarity and truth was dawning on many people who had dealings with ‘The ‘COG / The Family’, as new voices reported what they had experienced first-hand through contact with the group. I hoped the widespread reports and concerned consensus would contribute to the freedom of my family and friends.
 
My sincere hope is for many of you who lived through being a part of the COG / The Family, Family of Love – now called ‘The Family International’ will embrace the truth and find healing of heart and soul.

 

 

 

 

A LETTER OF APOLOGY FROM: DAVID E. HOYT 
TO: SOUTHERN MINISTRY FRIENDS WHO JOINED THE CHILDREN OF GOD

The guilt and sin was mine for inviting the COG to visit our southern ministries in Atlanta, Georgia. I had agreed on the L.A. band coming to lead us in worship and had invited several COG leaders to brief us on organizational ideas to assist our growth.  Regardless of what I thought would happen, a ministry take-over is what COG leaders had planned – and what occurred. A seemingly innocent invitation opened a door I didn’t have the wisdom, foresight, or ability to stop as events played out. What occurred from that point foreword affected each of us and placed us in spiritual danger.

What none of us knew at the time was that the ‘Children of God’ were becoming a cult with a self appointed End Time Prophet, David Berg.  Words of apology fall short, when it comes to the distress, emotional pain, wounds and scars that live on in our lives and our children’s. From early COG days through 1989 the doctrines, teachings and practices of this group caused great harm mentally, physically and emotionally to a large number of its members.   I assure you, had I known what would unfold, I would have never invited the COG to visit Atlanta. It is my sincere prayer that you will find understanding and healing in Jesus Christ from the trauma you experienced back then.   

Once under the influence of the COG we were scattered to the winds, without money, vehicles, and in most instances separated from our ministry friends, former friends and biological families. We were urged not to question, not to think critically, and led to believe a manipulative chant, “My family, my family – right or wrong my family,” and to follow a new leader. The true God of the Bible was replaced by an emphasis on COG doctrines and David Berg’s leadership and writings through Mo Letters. Scripture memorization was not sufficient to protect us from the spiritual darkness that would be unleashed.

   Prior to this you were followers of God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.  You were beginning your spiritual journey on the right track with Jesus as Lord!  Recalling how we were swept up into the Children of God and confused spiritually by the error of human doctrines and a false prophet causes me to grieve freshly. I sought ministry guidance from the wrong source, instead of trusting God and listening carefully in prayer for answers and solutions for our ministry needs.    

Under the influence and direction of the Children of God we were each affected differently, depending on our situation and time frame we spent within the group.  Satan can and does masquerade himself as an angel of light, and that’s exactly what happened (2 Corinthians 11:14).  We encountered something that was cloaked – not recognizable in the beginning.

I know how troubling it is to revisit what was so bizarre, unhealthy and life-altering. I’ve been called to do this over the years when writing.  For many of you, debriefing with someone about what happened back then hasn’t happened. Being able to understand what occurred, or trust the accuracy of our recollections may be blocked out by the emotional pain it brings to the surface.  How do we carry on and cope?  If we were silent or participated in things we knew were wrong, we’ve had to set aside these memories to subdue our guilt.

Most ex-cult victims once out distance themselves from faith in God, which they once held dear. It’s understandable.  Spiritual things equal pain, confusion, guilt and horror of it all, because it is too unsettling to revisit.  Anger at me, COG leaders and God is real!  Openness to God, to Jesus, has been shut down by spiritual disillusionment and the absence of trust. These experiences and feelings are more than likely familiar to you.     

 The good start we had when becoming followers of Jesus Christ was altered.  Jesus understands the torture of soul that followed.  

We never dreamed things would turn out as they did. How could we? Jesus Himself is praying for your spiritual restoration (John 17:9-11, 20-21).  If you trusted in Jesus as Savior, it’s not too late to return to your roots of faith.

Jesus on the cross

 Every person who has accepted  Jesus as Lord has this promise:  “I give to them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can pluck them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to me is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” – Jesus Christ  (John 10:28-29)

It’s true; no one can fully understand our unique pain and anguish of heart, mind and soul. No other human being knows the depths of what we have experienced – but others do have similar anguish, pain and guilt. 

Jesus endured rejection and the full force of human suffering through His death by crucifixion to forgive us, though he as God’s Son – was sinless.  Dying willingly for us by an excruciatingly painful, horrific type of death – Jesus gave His all; His blood was the sacrifice – to erase and blot out all records of our sins.  His last words, “It is finished” (John 19:30) sealed our salvation for all eternity.  An amazing, transformative spiritual event that seems too expansive in scope to fully take in; God’s Son Jesus the Christ – co-creator of the entire universe agreed to go through this, to reveal His Father’s Love!  Ultimately His painful death would give way to resurrection life – first for Jesus, and then for all who would receive the free gift of salvation in Him (1 Corinthians 15; Hebrews 1:1-3; Ephesians 2:8-9).

As each new day begins – so does God’s mercies and compassion.  Like the prodical son in Jesus’ parable we drifted and wandered away.  We forgot who purchased us with His own blood – the Lord Jesus, the true Great Shepherd of our souls.  It was Jesus Christ who originally called us, the only one who is capable of forgiving our thousands of sins and continues to forgive us.

We took a false step into the COG, which drove many of us into isolation after we got out. We were with cause ashamed of what we’d become a part of – I know.  Consider how vulnerable and young we were, how unseasoned and trusting we were, hopeful and believing.  We were helpless against the dragon, the evil one – the enemy of God and all that is good, righteous and true.  God invites us to be forgiven and urges us to forgive ourselves.  As followers of Jesus we have his example of practicing forgiveness.  We are called to forgive ourselves and others, just as he forgave those who drove the spikes in His hands and feet. 

Did you feel deserted, betrayed, and placed in situations of manipulation and abuse that wounded you at the core of your being?  Jesus Christ understands better than anyone how troubling this type of pain is, having been subjected to rejection and torture by the hands of men.

Fully understanding pain, Jesus invites us to God’s throne of mercy and love. Seats of power on earth cannot be compared to God’s throne where true mercy is found.  As God’s perfect and holy high priest Jesus waits for us to come in faith, bringing our deepest needs, so we might receive help.

Jesus praying

“We have a great high priest who is resurrected from the dead – and has gone up into the heavens. He is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. So let us hold firmly to our faith and what we once believed.   God’s true high priest can feel our anguish of mind, heart and spirit, or when we’re weak and hurting. We have a high priest who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, but he did not sin.  So let us come with confidence and certainty to God’s throne of love and grace. He will not disappoint us, but show us mercy. We will find gracious compassion and the exact help we need that will bring us healing and help.”  
(Hebrews 4:14-16 New Amplified Bible)

What does God’s mercy seat look like? No human knows, but we can be confident Jesus Christ is praying for us.  He sees the spiritual battle on earth that is raging. Take heart in God’s words. 

After Jesus died – He was raised to eternal life.  Who can separate us from Christ’s love? Can trouble, hard times, harm or hunger?  Can nakedness, danger or war? No!  In all these things we will do even more than win! We owe it all to Christ, who has loved us.  I am absolutely sure that not even death or life can separate us from God’s love. Not even angels or demons, the present or the future, or any powers can do that!  We will find a safe place under the covering of God’s love.  (See Romans 8:32b-38.)

All of our sins, every failure and the countless times we’ve turned away from God, or denied Him does not mean He’s given up on us. We will always be valued and loved!  No one is good enough to deserve God’s favor.  It is God’s mercy and the willing sacrifice of Jesus that ushered in the forgiveness that saved us at a given point in time and continues to save us. The Scriptures attest to this.  

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the payment and redemption that has been provided by Christ Jesus. God presented Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement and we obtain right standing with God, not by our own works, or merit, but through faith in Jesus’ spilt blood to cover all of our sins, past, present and future.  (See Romans 3:23-25a & Ephesians 2:8-9.)

God’s mercy and compassion provides a healthy way out of isolation, disillusionment and resistance to anything spiritual.  His Love and commitment to our well-being is extended with the beginning of each new day! 

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.  The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”   (Lamentations 3:21-26 NIV)

With prayers in Jesus Christ,
 David E. Hoyt

To Be Continued

Dave Hoyt

Dave Hoyt and his wife Ginny reside in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He grew up a troubled teen in Los Angeles. In 1966 he moved to San Francisco’s ‘Haight District’ seeking truth and God. Reaching a crisis of belief in Eastern Religions – he turned to prayer and came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. He went on to be an early participant in the Jesus People Movement in the USA and Europe. He continues as a follower of Jesus Christ.


Read previous installments in David Hoyt's
"Jesus Revolution" Series:

Part 1: Jesus People Days

Part 2: A Cry Rushed Upward to a Place Called Heaven

Part 3: Ripe for Change and Heart Revolution

Part 4: Recollections of My Search for Truth

Part 5: My Search - A Prelude to Finding God

Part 6: A Search for God Unraveling

Part 7: An Appointment with God

Part 8: Launched into a New Life

Part 9: A Steep Learning Curve

Part 10: God - An Incredible Teacher

Part 11: Lancaster - A Desert Call

Part 12: Back in the City - San Francisco

Part 13: The SF Bay Area Jesus People Movement - Episode One

Part 14: The SF Bay Area Jesus People Movement - Episode Two

Part 15: Mission in Our Blood

Part 16: Crossroads

Part 17: Our Decision - Their Agenda

Part 18: Over My Head

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Last Update: 2017-07-24 18:59