by Jodi A. Llacera
I thank Dr. Lloyd Carr for his willingness to help in the proof reading of this manuscript and his support and encouragement to get this story on paper.
This manuscript is dedicated to my church family at First Baptist Church in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, whom God so graciously put in my path during this time of trial in my life. I know I will never be alone in my spiritual pilgrimage and to the Lord my God, I am forever grateful.
I never imagined that one day I'd be writing about my husband's involvement with the International Church of Christ, (also known as the Boston Movement, and The Boston Church of Christ), and the events that led to the destruction of our marriage. My story of my deception, manipulation, and spiritual abuse is painful to share. However, I believe it will be helpful for those spouses who may find themselves in similar situations and expose some of the practices of this organization, which were undoubtedly harmful to our marriage.
I was brought up Roman Catholic and although my family wasn't religious, I remember as a child walking to church by myself on a regular basis. I wanted to learn how to be a good person, to know God and develop a relationship with Him. While in college and graduate school I did not pursue a spiritual life but deep in my heart there was a longing to seek God. Ned, was from a very religious family. He was brought up fundamentalist Baptist, was baptized at 11, but did not pursue a relationship with God in his 20's, 30's and early 40's.
We met in 1987, I was 27, and just about to finish post professional graduate school. Ned was 40, with a Master's degree in Education, had pursued numerous different business ventures instead of teaching. We had a common interest in cycling and spent many hours riding and racing our bikes through the beautiful country roads of New England. I admired Ned for his kind, gentle spirit, quiet intelligence and his blue eyes were attractive to me.
Neither of us at this time had much of a relationship with God. When we met, Ned was running a small printing business out of his home located on a large estate. He also did caretaking for the owner of the estate in exchange for his housing. I was living in a small cottage just a few miles away. When Ned's estate owner decided to begin charging him rent, he decided it was not affordable to him and thought it would be good to move in with me. I was not for it, as I didn't think it was proper to be "living with my boyfriend", but Ned was in a financial bind, had no place to go, and I did love him. We moved in together then and remained committed to one another.
My private clinical practice opened for business in 1988 and immediately became successful. When Ned's printing business failed, he bought a variety store in 1988, which also failed after three years. Next Ned became involved in the operating of a small local radio station which wasn't void of financial and equipment problems. We continued to ride and race our bikes together, had many friends, were involved with our respective families, and I continued to support him emotionally and financially so he could pursue these various business ventures.
I visited the Catholic church in our town a couple of times, but Ned wanted no part of it. One Christmas Eve, Ned suggested we go to the Baptist church in our town. I enjoyed the service and thought the pastor to be very kind. Ned thought it was good too and we went a few more times after that.
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Around April of 1993, Ned began spending time with his attorney friend, BG, and they would study the Bible together. At that time, I did not know that BG was a "Bible Talk leader" from a cultic aberrant group called the Boston Church of Christ. Ned told me a little about these meetings and indicated to me that he believed, as BG had told him, that the reason his life was a financial mess was because he wasn't right with God.
He told me that he was learning a great deal from BG and that many changes would have to occur between us if he was going to continue studying the Bible and be a disciple of Christ. For example, we no longer could live together without being married. I was thrilled, because, I loved Ned, but wasn't comfortable about "living together". It was then, in a round-about-way that Ned asked me to marry him. I was elated, I thought, not only did Ned love me enough to want to spend the rest of his life with me, but he would now turn a new leaf and together we would be reunited with the Lord.
Now to find a church. Ned suggested we try BG's church. I knew nothing about it, so I said OK. The service was in the ballroom of a hotel, and although I thought that to be a little strange, I went with an open mind. As the two hour service continued I felt increasingly uncomfortable. The people shouted out when others were talking, the personal testimonies seemed phony, the sermon was difficult to follow, and I was offended when the main speaker spoke about his "fat wife". When we got home I felt the tension in Ned, as I told him that this church was not for me.
We both decided to go back to the Baptist church in our town, and met with the pastor (DEF) to discuss our marriage. He was pleased that we were both interested in together pursuing a relationship with God and agreed to do our premarital counseling. Ned and I began to worship there on a regular basis and were both pleased to find this wonderful church family. Ned discussed with me about how wonderful it was to be with a church where the pastor was so dedicated to revealing the truths of Scripture. In addition to premarital counseling, and reading the Bible together, DEF, provided lessons for us on Christian living and lessons on the assurance of salvation. It was through those lessons, the counsel of DEF, and the grace of the Holy Spirit, that I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior and began my spiritual pilgrimage. I was again elated, not only did I have a Christian fiance, but my spiritual search was over... The Lord had found me and I had come home to Him!
BG and friends (BCC disciples) continued to visit our home for many months before our wedding. They seemed like nice men and seemed to like Ned very much. Ned was in a horrific financial and tax mess at the time and he would tell me that BG, (who I believe is a tax attorney) was going to help him straighten out this mess. According to BG, if Ned would learn to align himself with the 'real truths" of Scripture, then his life would change, and past financial mistakes would be cleared up. A 'Bible study" was started at our house with BG the leader, Ned, myself, my friends DB and PM who were in a committed relationship but not married yet, and were new at studying the Bible. These 'Bible studies" seemed to be going OK, I was learning more about the Bible, and I thought everything was good. We all met once a week for a few weeks and then stopped to prepare for our wedding. During this time, Ned and I continued our premarital counseling with Rev. DEF from our church. We even took a 125 question exam regarding our compatibility and we scored above average.
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Six years after we met and six months after our engagement we were married in our church by our pastor, DEF. It was a wonderful event. We were surrounded by our families and friends, I had a new Christian family (everyone in Ned's family are Christians), a wonderful pastor and church family, a Christian husband who appeared to be so dedicated to our relationship, and a promise of a new beginning with God as our leader.
When we got back from our honeymoon, we decided to be baptized together at our church. Although Ned was baptized at 11 and I was christened as a baby, I wanted to publicly proclaim as an adult my dedication to God. Our pastor was delighted and counseled us about baptism. BG got wind of this soon-to-occur event and insisted on coming over to our house and doing what I later found out was called "the baptism study". I thought, OK, reading the Bible with BG and Ned was not unusual at our house.
We were baptized the next day by our pastor and it was so special to me. BG showed up at the end of the service to see our baptism, and told us, "Yeah, it was OK".
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During the summer and autumn of 1993, Ned and I continued to be active at our church. We read Scripture on Sundays. We worshipped together, prayed together, and were active in group Bible studies lead by our pastor.
Our once-a-week Bible study with BG, PM and DB attempted to meet at our house again, but did not last long. These studies ended when a new couple from "BG's church" came one evening to talk to us about churches. They were trying to convince us that, unless we went to church with "true disciples", we were being disobedient to God. Even though I was a new Christian, I knew that something was not right about these discussions and I questioned in my mind the motives of these people.
There was tension and anxiety in PM, DB, and myself from the oppressive behavior of this new couple as they went on to tell us in a very deceptive way that the BCC was the "only true church". BG no longer was sympathetic and kind; he became arrogant and manipulative as he and this new couple tried to convince us. The next day I received a phone call at my office from BG to discuss the previous night. I told him that if the Bible studies were going to address this issue of his church "being the only true church", then these studies could no longer take place at my house.
He again became arrogant and elitist in his approach and continued to tell me that our current church was dead and spiritless, that he spoke the truth and was "just being Biblically correct". No matter what I said, he would counter it with "the truth", as if my thoughts were unimportant.
That night I discussed with Ned my conversation with BG. I was filled with relief and assurance when Ned told me, "The problem with BG's church is that they don't allow the Holy Spirit to work in peoples' lives." "Yes!", I responded, and thought, that is exactly right and what I had thought all along and now had words to explain it. My husband and I had agreed once again that this church was not for us.
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Christmas of 1993 was great. Through my studies at my church I can honestly say that for the first time in my life I had a deep understanding of our Lord's birth. God loves us so much that He, the Creator of the world, miraculously came to earth as a little baby, to save the world from sin and provide us with the gift of eternal life. I had a terrific time hosting Christmas Eve dinner at my house for Ned's side of the family.
From 1993 to 1994, our marriage was a blessing. We grew in our relationship with each other and the Lord, continued to study and pray together, attended church with Ned's family, were involved in Bible studies, Sunday school and marital growth groups at our church, read Scripture from the pulpit together, talked about starting a family, and worked lovingly together to strengthen our marital foundations. Ned was intellectual in his approach to Scripture, yet he was kind, loving, gentle, and listened to other convictions with a humble, and gracious spirit. I was convinced that Ned was dedicated to the Lord and to our marriage.
Ned told me that if the radio station wasn't producing income in one year after our marriage, then he would sell it. He would return to teaching, to possibly start a program for home-schooled children. We talked about the reality of me working less if we were going to start a family.
In the autumn of 1994, someone from our church who knew that we had a friend from the BCC gave me an article about that church which indicated that it was a cult and why. I read the article with interest. I remembered the 'baptism" and "church" study, and now it all started to make sense to me. I thought -- deception, manipulation, fear and guilt as motivators, mandatory tithing, works-oriented theology, "the only saved Christians", "the only true church with the only true disciples of Christ", baptism equals salvation, love bombing -- all these things I witnessed and more. I knew the BCC was unhealthy, and was glad we were no longer a part of that unhealthy thinking. Or were we?
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Although BG didn't visit our home regularly anymore, I believe Ned continued a "behind the scenes" discipling relationship with him. In late December of 1994 or January of 1995, BG phoned our house and told me that he feared for my marriage because Ned had what it took to be a true disciple of Christ, but I didn't. I told him that our marriage was very solid, and he had nothing to fear. He made it very clear to me how "concerned" he was. He also told me that my friends DB and PM weren't Christians and they were disobedient to God.
DB came very close to a nervous breakdown as the BCC folk tracked her down and manipulated her with spiritual abuse as she prepared to move to another state temporarily. BG and company called her incessantly. One day she had numerous messages on her answering machine, all from BCC people urging her not to move to another state without first being baptized by them. She was told that "terrible things will happen to you", and "Satan is after you". DB did move and had much spiritual healing through Christian friends and pastors.
After DB moved, the BCC went after PM in attempts to convince him of their beliefs, in hopes that he would in turn influence DB. But they didn't, and PM also moved to another state temporarily, had spiritual healing through a wonderful pastor, became reunited with DB and these two were married by their pastor a year or so later.
DB shared with me all the abuses she had withstood through her BCC ordeal, and how they had gone after PM behind her back. DB was so negatively affected by the BCC's spiritual abuse that it took her three years to feel comfortable returning to a church setting. She had lost her trust in people who professed to be Christians and felt that being in church was a scary place. I was saddened by her pain, but relieved as she demonstrated growth and strength, as evident by the working of the Holy Spirit in her life. She and her husband are now involved with a local church in their home town.
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In January of 1995, I began to notice a change in Ned's personality. During Bible studies with our church he began to insist on "the truth", became angry and intolerant of the opinions of others, and became very harsh in his speech to me. "Who is this person?", I thought. He had long and intense Biblical discussions with members of his family, wrote long essays on his computer, mostly on baptism and this, now became his passion. He argued with anyone about baptism being salvific -- family, church family, theologians, pastors from other churches, friends, etc.
Then that winter he began to attend "meetings" with BG. He would get home very late, but as far as I knew, these meetings were sporadic and didn't seem like a big deal. Ned continued to attend church with me, but now he became critical, judging that the members were not "right with God", and increasingly intolerant and argumentative with others in our church family. He disrupted our Thursday night Bible study at our pastor's house many times with his arrogant attitude.
In June of 1995, Ned became more involved in 'studies" which I recognized as BCC studies. On July 4th, at a family picnic filled with Christian friends and family, Ned started a Biblical discussion which became very tense. Most of the people walked away in disgust because of the harshness of Ned's presentation. At that time, I was in complete denial about Ned's involvement with the BCC and their doctrines. I was denying that my gentle-spirited husband was now unkind and harsh, rude and angry. During this time, I asked him whether he thought I was "right with God" and he said, "Of course, I know your heart."
That summer, Ned continued to find error in the people at our church and with their doctrine. He devoted most of his waking hours to reading his Bible, and writing long doctrinal essays. He slept very few hours because he was at his computer writing. I would say, "Ned, come to bed, you must get some sleep." He would reply, "Paul, (the apostle), didn't sleep -- why should I?"
He began to look tired, and careworn, as if he had aged 10 years. I attended bike races alone and trained mostly alone, but when we did ride together, many of our rides were full of heated debates about "true doctrine", or how I should behave as his wife. Nothing I did or said seemed to be pleasing to him. I felt us grow further and further apart. Ned no longer looked at me with loving eyes. These were now eyes of judgment and dishonor.
I could feel his distance and our spirits becoming divided. He urged me to not share our marital problems with my family, as he told me that it would do "irreparable damage to our marriage". Although his behavior became worse, I did not discuss it, and to some extent denied the reality of this crisis with anyone including my family, his family, our friends, and church family. No one knew at this point how distant and unhealthy our marriage had become.
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His harshness, behavior change, and the "loneliness" in our marriage became more than I could bear. On July 19, 1995, I could no longer hide my inner pain with my outward smile. I was admitted for emergency surgery to repair an ulcerated, perforated, intestine. This condition if not repaired and treated immediately, can cause death due to the toxic buildup in the peritoneum.
According to my surgeon, since I had no previous history and was healthy prior to this incident, it was possibly due to stress. I learned that most ulcers in the digestive tract are caused not by what you're eating, but what's eating you. Finally, in the hospital, I became aware of the stress I had been under and how it was now affecting me physically. I was sure my condition was due to stress. I pleaded with Ned to have a change of heart with me, his family and our church family. He remained almost motionless, unaffected, and robot-like as I cried and pleaded with him. He would not respond. At that time, I wasn't sure what was going on; I was in physical and emotional pain, and I knew that his behavior including his treatment of me, was wrong, unhealthy, was slowly destroying me physically and could eventually destroy our marital relationship. I begged him to stop arguing with everyone. He did not respond to me. It was like talking to an inanimate object.
Prior to my discharge from the hospital, Ned told me that he had stopped by our church during the Vacation Bible School week and was angry that our church was not representing Scripture accurately, and was blaming the people involved. I thought, how insensitive of Ned. Our church family worked for several weeks to prepare, asked for help, and Ned did not offer help. He judged them instead. I talked to him about getting involved in the children's programs if he thought he could make a positive contribution. He didn't. And his judgmental attitude continued.
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The time I spent at home recovering from surgery was quite an eye-opener for me. Although I was in post-surgical pain, the Lord gave me this time to reflect and see the evil that was around me and that He was determined to protect me from it. Ned did not take care of me after my surgery. After the second day home from the hospital, I was weak, tired, nauseous, in pain -- sometimes all at the same time. Ned was nowhere to be found. During the first week of my recuperation, Ned was out four nights at Bible study with BG and company.
After the fourth night away from home, I begged Ned to stay home with me as I wasn't well, so he decided to have the study at our house. At that time we were renting a small cottage on a large estate. They conducted their Bible study out at the pool area which was several 100 yards away. Three hours went by and no one checked on me. I was thirsty and it hurt to get up. I was feeling dehydrated, weak, hurt, disappointed, lonely and in physical pain.
The next week, although I still was not back to work, I was feeling physically stronger. I asked Ned if I could attend one of these Bible studies with him. I thought to myself that I must find out what's going on and why my once tender-hearted husband could change so dramatically. He agreed to let me come and we met at the home of a friend of BG -- I'll call him RS. I recognized this man as one of the men that came to our house during the study by the pool. I sensed that this man was in a "higher position" than BG at their church.
RS and BG proceeded to go over the exact study that BG went over with us in the autumn of 1993. Since it was just Ned and me, I told them that I was familiar with the study and they didn't need to continue. They did anyway. They attempted to convince me in a very deceptive manner and speech that my baptism in 1993 was invalid because I was not baptized by a true disciple of Christ. I knew at that moment and was convinced that this church was a cult, and it was very bad that my husband was involved with this.
Ned squirmed as he explained to me that he believed his baptism together with me in 1993 was invalid. RS wanted me to study with his wife on a regular basis. I said, "No, thank you".
That night, as we drove home, I could have cut the tension with a knife. I'll never forget that night and the verbal abuse that followed. I began keeping a journal. That night, Ned told me I was going to hell and terrible things were going to happen to me because I was disobedient to God.
I thought, I had heard these words before -- they were spoken to DB from another BCC member a couple of years ago. Now my husband, my once dear sweet gentle man, had gotten so caught up with these men and their doctrine that he was abusing me with it. I knew at that very moment that this group was directly influencing his behavior and his mind was now being controlled.
That night my response to Ned was, "Soon you'll be telling me that our marriage was invalid because in your opinion DEF is not a true disciple of Christ!" He said with affirmation, "Well, we can talk about that too!" He was like a robot as he said these things and the harshness in his voice grew stronger. He said, "You are to submit to me and my teaching. It's very clear in the Bible that a wife must submit to her husband in everything and you're being disobedient if you don't and are doomed to eternal damnation."
I could not respond as I was momentarily in shock. He continued, "We are to agree on everything or else we won't have a marriage or kids", and, "You are not a Christian, even though you say you are", and, "Why do you call him Lord and not do what He says?" (These are examples of the many statements from Ned that I endured repeatedly.) I became very concerned about my husband's personality change and the difficulty we had in communicating. I recognized that most couples had communication problems at some time in their marriage, but our communication problems became incessant. My sleep patterns became disrupted due to all the verbal abuse, and I could feel myself physically and emotionally weakening.
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Ned continued to try to control all our studies together, as if he was trying to control my mind. "I have fought it all my life; I won't fight it anymore. I am a prophet", he said, and "You're finally realizing who I am."
I tried to listen to his teaching out of respect for him, and wanted to demonstrate my love for him. I was also desperate for anything that would bring us back together. I wanted to save our marriage from more pain. But these "teaching" sessions only drove us further apart. He would dictate how long we would study and I would have to ask permission to be excused for bed. Some nights he kept going till 2:00 AM. He controlled what we were to read in the Bible, and kept jumping from verse to verse, which later I learned was called proof texting and learned was improper exegesis. These sessions were harsh, cold, and I was not able to give my perspective on anything, and when I tried my views and convictions were quickly dismissed or I was made to feel intellectually inadequate and oppressed.
I quickly discontinued these regular sessions. I simply could not withstand Ned's harshness and his attempts to control my thinking.
The next week Ned and I met with our pastor. Ned was asked to read Scripture on Sunday, and he now needed tell DEF that he would no longer be willing to read Scripture from the pulpit. I was saddened to hear Ned say to our wonderful pastor that he could no longer be involved with a church that did not give reverence to Scripture. Ned spoke with an elitist attitude, as if he knew more about theology than my pastor.
I became suspicious of his rebaptism because I remember BG telling me that before they baptize anyone they go through all the "studies", which allows them to "know the whole Bible", and "know more than ministers and theologians". I then asked Ned if he was baptized by the BCC. He said he had been the day before! I asked him why he was so sneaky and deceptive about it, and why he didn't tell me. He said that he knew if he had told me it would upset me. So, he went ahead, did it behind my back and didn't say a word about it until he was asked.
Moreover, the BCC people who were directly involved with his baptism knew that it would create a family problem, but obviously that didn't matter to them. I was deeply saddened by Ned's deceptive behavior. I cried and cried, because I knew that Ned had now truly confused his relationship with God with an unhealthy commitment to a group, and that this group was more important to him than our families and me.
Among many things, my pastor was concerned about all the stress I was enduring only one month after surgery. He was concerned about the strain that Ned's involvement with this church was putting on our marriage. He emphasized to Ned that my physical healing was essential, that he could see the toll that his behavior was having on me, and that it was Ned's duty as my husband to care for me as Christ cares for the church. To Ned that didn't seem to matter.
The next week I received a letter from Ned's discipler, BG:
...I am a little surprised at your reaction to what is happening to Ned.
While this may sound strange, I am convinced that your salvation, as well as Ned's, depends on Ned's ability to stand firm in his convictions and commitment to Jesus, regardless of whether it costs him his marriage, his natural family, his friends, his reputation and everything else that he formerly held (and still holds) dear in this world.
... as Ned continues to submit to the actual Lordship of Christ in his life, you will notice positive changes in his attitudes and actions and an increased level of love and commitment to you. Your intense reaction to Ned's decision to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ makes me question, more than ever, your own claim to be a disciple of His... I pray everyday that God will open your eyes...and that you will make the same decision Ned has made... I am not normally an optimistic person. For some reason, though, I feel confident that you are going to make the right move.
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Ned stopped coming to church with me and began attending BCC every Sunday, Wednesdays, early AM prayer once a week, and any other gathering that happened to come during the week. He was hardly ever home. He continued to try to convince me that I was with a church that was not "right with God" and that my church family were deceiving me. He would ask me repeatedly to study with him and attend BCC meetings and/or Sunday service with him.
When I declined he would say things like, "O.K., then no kids", and "We are in a marriage that will never be what God wants it to be unless you join the BCC with me". My heart ached when I was told, "I don't enjoy being with you". He also told me that if I joined his church with him, we would never have to work another day in our lives because the church would take care of us.
He deliberately withdrew affection from me because he would say that since we weren't united spiritually, due (according to him) to my disobedience, then we could not be united physically. He refused to kiss me goodnight many nights, and told me that there would be no more affection unless I would listen to him. I was told by him that the only way we could live at peace was if we were physically separated, so for many weeks he did not share our bed. I could feel my heart breaking, yet I knew that this was just another attempt to try to weaken me into submission.
When he did speak to me his speech continued to be authoritative, harsh, elitist, robot-like, and black and white in the interpretations of Biblical doctrine. He had this need to attempt to convince me about "Biblical truths" with words instead of with actions and was more interested in being "right" than how his behavior or words affected my feelings or my emotional state.
I would plead with him to talk to me like I was a gentle flower that would break easy. He would only say things like, "I will not be responsible for your emotions," and, "You will have peace when you do what I say." I felt that his unkind words were killing our relationship and they were, without a doubt, breaking my heart. I prayed that God would grant me patience through this and the strength to endure this terrible trial.
I began to have horrible nightmares. One was about running around in the dark in what appeared to be a large circle with a tremendous amount of air resistance around my body so my gait was slow and uncoordinated. I was running because I was being chased by some kind of satanic being that, when he caught me, would sear me in the gut with a hot fluid that he would squirt at me out of a can, let me run some more, only to catch me and burn me again. It was dark, frightening and purposeless. I felt like a defenseless victim.
Later I learned that I was in the throes of spiritual abuse.
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Ned became so busy with his BBC activities, and more attached to BG, his discipler, than ever, that he neglected his duties as a caretaker, which resulted in a large portion of the lawn on the estate to be ruined by pine needle droppings. He even neglected the care of our dog and cat -- I would come home from work and find dog and cat droppings in the house. (The dog is extremely sensitive to her own dirt. I knew that she had to have been left a long time for her to "go" in the house.)
He also began neglecting his wonderful parents, brother and sisters, nieces and nephews. He told us that we were unequally yoked with him, so he began to spend less time with us all. When he was with us, he would encourage long spiritual debates that would sometimes last for hours. He no longer would pray with me. In his perception, we were unequally yoked, and he told me that I would not like what he would pray about.
He became angry with me one night because I shared with him my experience with a friend who was battling cancer. She had asked me about my faith and we ended up praying together and I gave her a Bible. She wanted to meet with my pastor to learn more about the Gospel. I shared with Ned my joy of sharing Christ with this woman, but he became angry because I did not refer her to him. I was shocked about his reaction. He told me to invite her over for tea, but I knew that there was no way I would allow her to endure the kind of abuse I was enduring from Ned.
I discovered that Ned was keeping a checklist in his Bible with names of people who, I believe, were people he thought he was influencing with his ideas. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw people like my pastor on that list and other theologians. Ned's perception of whom he was influencing was distorted. I would hear him boast on the phone with BG about the people whom he thought he was influencing.
One day we were at a shopping mall food plaza when Ned told me to go to a man who was eating alone and sit at his table and invite him to church. When I refused to approach this stranger out of safety, Ned became disappointed with me. I told him that I thought his request was unreasonable and sounded like a "BCC thing". He said that it was a "Jesus thing". I thought, is it a "Jesus thing" to submit your wife to a potentially dangerous situation? I was very disturbed that he would be willing to risk my safety. I began to think that he really didn't care about me and that it was more important for him to report back to his discipler about his spreading of 'the word".
Another disturbing behavior that I witnessed was that Ned began to lie about his whereabouts. He became secretive about where he was going, who he was with, and what he was doing. I was told, "You, have no say in where I go, where I work, or what I do." I later learned that the lying that he was doing was approved by the BCC because, "If you're dealing with the devil, (anyone who isn't a BCC disciple), then you don't need to tell the truth". That's called 'divine deception".
Moreover, I was shocked to find a micro cassette tape which had one of our recent arguments on it. Ned had purposely and secretively taped one of our arguments. The argument was about how frustrated I was about his behavior change. I was shocked to think that he would tape something that was so private. I wondered why he did it, and to whom he replayed it. I found this very disturbing and felt that I could not trust him. Ned continued to look tired, careworn, and angry.
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Ned's brother and wife told me that if I ever felt unsafe, they would come and bring me to their house no matter what the hour. They could see the emotional pain I was in and encouraged me to share with them what was going on. One night I tried to talk to Ned about the direct correlation between our failing marriage and his involvement with the BCC. He became so angry that I began to fear for my safety. I phoned Ned's brother to come and take me to his house.
As I went outside to try to leave, Ned tried to physically prevent me from leaving the house. I was so frightened. He was screaming at me in frustration and he wouldn't let me leave. Ned's father phoned at that moment and tried to calm Ned down. Ned kept screaming to his Dad, "Stay out of my marriage!" When Ned's brother arrived, he distracted Ned enough that I was able to run out the kitchen door.
As I went to my brother-in- law's car, Ned followed me and got in the back seat. Ned's brother asked him where he thought he was going in his bathrobe and slippers? Ned told him to stay out of his marriage and that he should not be butting in. Ned's brother asked me if I felt frightened and I said , "Yes". He then asked Ned to please get out of the car, as he had promised to protect me if I ever felt I was in danger. Ned refused to get out of the car after several requests.
Finally, Ned's brother said, "If you do not get out, I will drive to the police station and ask them to ask you to get out of the car". As we drove to the police station which was about a mile away, Ned said something like, "Do you want to go through with this and risk your reputation in this town?" (My office was in the same town with which we lived.) I looked at Ned's brother anxiously. He looked back at me with eyes that said, "Don't worry. I have this handled". When we got outside the police station, Ned got out of the car and said in disgust, "Never mind". He walked home in his bathrobe and slippers.
Ned's brother took me to his house and told me that he would see me through this terrible crisis no matter how it turned out. I spent the next several hours crying with my sister- in-law, who to this day is like a sister and best friend to me.
I did go back to our cottage after that incident. Our conversations continued to be strained with anger and frustration. I even tried to shake him in frustration to try to reach him, and as I moved my hands away in frustration, my engagement ring, which was his grandmother's hit him in the eye and gave him a black eye. I thought what a war this is and we need help. I felt like "one of the little ones" that Jesus talks about who was being caused to sin. Our relationship, which once had a firm foundation, became like a roller coaster.
I could usually tell, just by his behavior, whether he had been with BCC people on a given day or not. I began to determine a direct correlation and pattern. It was if he would be charged up with evil after he spent time with BG and company and would bring it home in attempts to manipulate me into joining.
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The anger and evil in Ned's demeanor was frightening to me. How could one person change so much and become so different, yet claim to be "right with God?" I knew Ned needed to get away from the people in the BCC, and I wanted my husband back. Since I had to go to Atlanta on business, I discussed with Ned the possibility of joining me and then going on to Florida to see some of my family for a ten-day vacation. I told him that it could be the beginning of our "new beginning", and we could begin to heal all the hurtful wounds in our relationship of the past year and a half.
I told him that I could not face my family in Florida, knowing what was going on between us, if I would be coming home to more abusive behavior. It would be deceitful on my part. He would need to let me talk to them about this if he continued to make BCC his priority and passion. I told him that I would expect that, if he did come with me, that he would not return to the BCC upon our return home.
I was elated when he agreed to come with me. We had a wonderful, peaceful, romantic time and I was so happy to have my husband back. We even studied Scripture together, peacefully, on the plane ride home. Ned's face even looked different. It looked peaceful and relaxed. It truly felt like our new beginning.
We arrived home on a Monday. When we got home, there were numerous messages on our answering machine from BCC people wondering where Ned had been. He didn't return their calls that night. When Wednesday came, Ned started to get up at 5:30 AM to tell me that he was getting up to pray with his BCC friends. I reminded Ned of the reasons we went away and how important it was to me that he keep his promise. He kissed me and lovingly embraced me and we went back to sleep. I thanked him, and felt such a peace in my heart.
A couple of hours later, when we awoke, I told Ned that I would be home from work early, and that I would make him his favorite meal. Evening came and Ned was late. I thought the worst -- that he had gone to Wednesday night BCC service and didn't tell me. But then the phone rang, and it was Ned. He told me how sorry he was that he was running late, but he was on his way home. I was elated and got on my knees to thank God. I really believed at this moment that Ned was repenting and realized how important his marriage was and losing his marriage for the BCC was wrong.
But I was in for a big, devastating let down. The moment I saw his face, I knew. I was certain he had been with BCC people this day because I recognized this all-to-familiar demeanor. He looked emotionless, like a robot. My heart sank when I heard these words, "I can't stay for dinner. I must go and seek the Kingdom." I reminded him of his promise to me, but that didn't matter.
I was heartbroken, my husband was again choosing them over us. I became angry. I felt used and unimportant to him. I felt betrayed. I handed him his grandmother's engagement ring and told him that his leaving tonight to "seek the kingdom" would mark the beginning of our end. He took the ring and went anyway.
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My pastor, Ned's family, and my church family continued to be a tremendous support for me. I began to do research on the BCC and got in touch with ex-members, cult awareness networks, cult counselors and read books on spiritual abuse. I gathered up information in books, articles, personal accounts, notes from personal interviews, videos -- all about the evils of BCC.
I learned many things, one of which was that my husband's behavior was typical of someone involved with this group. I learned about the mind control techniques cleverly and deceptively used by the leaders of this group, and that those who are being mind-controlled are not aware of it. I learned about the social and psychological methods of thought-reform techniques, and that these methods are employed by the BCC.
I learned about a study done by Flavil R. Yeakley, Jr. He used the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) [a standard psychological test of personality] to measure personality changes that he hypothesized were occurring in members of the BCC. The results of his study showed that the BCC is producing in its members unhealthy personality changes similar to those produced by well-known manipulative sects like the Church of Scientology, the Hare Krishnas, Maranatha, the Children of God, the Unification Church ('Moonies"), and The Way.
Yeakley writes that, since personality is inborn, it is not healthy to deny someone of their real personality for the purposes of making that person a carbon copy of someone else. The data collected by Yeakley in his study demonstrate that there is a group dynamic in the BCC that influences members to conform to the group norm.
I learned from ex-members that, according to the BCC, Ned's job was to convert me at any cost, and if I wouldn't obey him, then he would be told by his leaders to just ignore his marriage so that in frustration I would eventually submit. I was told by an ex-member couple that, when she refused to join the BCC with her husband, he was told that he shouldn't worry because the BCC would find him another wife if she left him.
I was also told by the ex-members that since I wasn't a BCC disciple, that our marriage according to the BCC was unimportant. Moreover, I was warned not to get pregnant, because the BCC would spend thousands of dollars to make sure that I would not have custody of our child. I was told that it was very common for marriages to break up if one person was a member and the other wasn't. Everyone I spoke with who had knowledge of this group cautioned me about the dangers for myself, my husband and our marriage.
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Ned agreed to go to marital counseling with a wonderful Christian counselor who came highly recommended. In many of the counseling sessions, Ned was more interested in challenging the counselor's doctrine than working on trying to save our marriage. During this period, and as the abuse continued, I became so worn down that I knew for my spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being that we had to separate. I simply could not live with this stress anymore.
Ned said he would move out and find a place to live, but after several weeks of stalling, and continuing abuse, I moved in with Ned's brother and wife, who lovingly welcomed me. I lived there for two months before I found an apartment. While living with them, I was able to freely pray and read my Bible in peace, and regained a tremendous amount of inner strength given by God's grace and the love of this wonderful family.
This all took place in March of 1996, and I would visit the cottage where Ned was living almost daily to run with our dog. Most of the time, Ned wasn't there. One time he was, and told me how disobedient I was for separating from him. I continued to tell him once again that I would not negotiate his involvement with this cult, that I believed that his frightening behavior change began with his commitment to the BCC, and that he would have to choose between me and the cult.
Our conversation kept going around in circles. He incessantly made the point that I was being disobedient. Finally, our conversation ended with him saying 'What's next then, because I'm not leaving the church." "I don't know, divorce?" I said. "Well, start the divorce proceedings, because I will not leave my church," he said. I thought how sad it was that the BCC had such a hold on him -- now he doesn't care about our marriage anymore.
Ned continued to communicate with me through verbally and spiritually abusive letters, in attempts to try to convince me that I was not "right with God" and that I needed him to "show me the way." In these letters, he continued to take Biblical verses out of context and attempted to use them as a weapon against me. I was told that my support people, including my pastor, were all deceiving me, that I was being lied to and (to paraphrase), that my Christian walk was a lie. He continued to accuse me of disobedience. He indicated to me that when I agreed to obey God, he would treat me with compassion.
He kept telling me not to be afraid and that I had to communicate with him. He would ask me in these letters at what point I would let God's truth touch me. He accused me of not being loving because (according to him) I chose the ideas of men instead of the ideas of God. He wrote that I was escalating our separation instead of trying to reconcile. He would ask me when I intended to stop trying to control and manipulate him. He resented the fact that I would not deviate from my terms for reconciliation because he "would not meet dictatorial demands based on wrong thinking and wrong doing". He accused me of having "bad fruit", that I have been counseled by "false prophets", and that if I read directly from God, I would understand God's terms.
As the letters became more and more abusive, I pleaded with him to stop them. He did not and the letters continued. I endured phone calls at home and work. I shared many of these letters with my pastor, and he too was very disturbed by the authoritative, manipulative, and abusive tone.
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On a Thursday in February of 1996 I injured the ring finger on my left hand. At a Bible study party at my pastor's house, while washing dishes, I tried to catch a plate that was falling and it broke in my hand, severing the two tendons and the nerve in my finger. I was taken into the hospital on a stretcher.
My wedding band was rubbing against the cut nerve, which felt like painful repetitive electric shocks, so when I got to the emergency room, I pleaded with the nurse to cut off my wedding band. She couldn't pull the ring off, because my skin was hanging and the tendons were unattached. She pulled out this tool which looked like a huge pliers and I watched as she cut off the wedding band. I thought to myself how symbolic this was.
I was stitched up and sent home. Ned insinuated that this happened to me because of my disobedience, and that this was the beginning of the terrible things that would happen to me because I was not "right with God". At that point I was so fed up with his mind set that I chose not to debate with him. The next day, I made arrangements with an orthopedic hand surgeon to reconstruct my finger using microscopic surgery the following Monday.
On Monday, I drove myself to the hospital, which was about an hour away, to have my finger fixed. It was a long procedure, but was done under local anesthesia. Ned agreed to drive me "home" after the surgery because the hospital policy was that after this type of surgery, you must have someone drive you home. Ned was late in meeting me at the hospital, but since he told me that he would be taking public transportation, I didn't think this was unusual.
When he arrived, I asked him how the traveling was. He told me that he had gotten a ride from BG. On the drive, he told me that he wanted to take me back with him to the cottage, but I insisted that he take me to his brother and my sister-in-law's house. I didn't trust him to take care of me properly. Besides, I knew that he had just spent an hour with his discipler. From past experience, I could anticipate spiritually abusive behavior to follow.
Moreover, after surgery, I knew I was in a weakened state. Again from past experience, I also knew that this is seen as an "opportunity" by people from this cult. He was disappointed when I decided that I was better off at his brother's.
He then reached for my Bible. (I keep one on the side door pocket of my car.) He told me that we would be together again when I would follow the rules in the Bible and not the rules of men. He told me that the Bible was the only book we needed to read if we were ever going to be reconciled. I began to cry, and thought how much more could I possibly take. I told him that I read the Bible daily, was loving the Lord the best that I knew how, and that I was learning everyday how to grow spiritually. By now, the anesthesia was beginning to wear off and I couldn't get to my brother and sister in-law fast enough.
Ned continued to speak to me but the pain in my finger became so intense that I didn't hear a word. When I got to their house, they graciously gave me the pain killers that the surgeon prescribed, brought me to my room and put me to bed. Ned left in a huff.
When I got my own apartment, I was relieved, because this meant that I no longer needed to visit the cottage to pick up the dog and submit myself to those horrible letters. I went back to the cottage a final time with Ned's brother and wife, their three sons, and many of my friends to pick up my belongings. When we arrived there were eight by eleven size papers in almost every room with large bold fonts with Scripture verses all pertaining to divorce and separation. Ned's brother searched the entire cottage, removed all the "posters", and told me that I didn't need to see them -- I had been through enough.
I thanked him and from that point on decided that I no longer would allow myself to read his abusive letters.
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Ned and I continued our counseling but, after four months, it ended when the counselor told us that we had reached an impasse. He said, "Ned, you have confused your relationship to God with an unhealthy allegiance to a group, and Jodi, you won't negotiate Ned's involvement with this group."
I had made it very clear that I would not take the harshness and abuse anymore, and that Ned would have to decide between the BCC and me. Ned wanted to argue with the therapist that the Scripture says a wife must be submissive to a husband in everything. The therapist indicated to him that his exegesis was incorrect, and that he would not discuss it with him.
As we rode the elevator down after this, our last session, Ned said to me, "Don't you see the error in his theology?" I did not respond. I was so devastated. I could not believe that, after four months of counseling, we had reached an impasse, and all my husband cared about was proving himself scriptually correct to our therapist. I deeply grieved and knew our marriage was in deep trouble.
I phoned the counselor several days later and asked him, if I were his daughter, what advice he would give me? He said," I would tell her to do exactly what you're doing, and I would have told her to do it sooner." He had witnessed Ned's spiritual abuse of me during these sessions, and had seen the pain I was in, Ned's harshness and his arrogant insistence on "the truth." When I told Ned that I was disappointed our therapy sessions had failed, he told me that I would have to decide if I wanted to be "married" to our therapist or him. I responded that he would have to decide if he wanted to be "married" to the BCC or me.
I was saddened at the realization that my husband believed his relationship with this organization was synonymous with his salvation, and that he made a choice: staying with the BCC was more important to him than our marriage.
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The next step was to tell my family of the secret I had kept from them for over a year and a half. The members of my family are spread all over the east coast from New York to Florida, so we spent many hours on the phone. They supported me immediately, and I no longer feared the wrath of Ned after telling them of this terrible nightmare. My parents, along with all my siblings were sympathetic and concerned for my well being. They were glad I was safe with my sister-in-law and brother in-law and was beginning to start a new life free from constant emotional and spiritual abuse.
My mother shared with me how much she was praying for me. She said, "I don't like the choices Ned has made, but I'll pray for him too." My family, Ned's family, my church family, my new Christian therapist, non-christian and Christian friends all became a tremendous strength for me during this time. My relationship with God grew stronger as He carried me through this crisis.
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Ned had to move out of the cottage. The land lady told me that she was disappointed in Ned's work and that the property had been neglected. I apologized to her and asked that she forgive Ned as he had gotten mixed up with something that was more important to him than his marriage and anything else. She graciously asked me to do what I could to make sure he moved out in time for the next caretaker to take over.
Ned did move out just barely in time, and had no place to go. His parents agreed to let him live with them until he found a place. Four months went by. Ned used this time as an opportunity to spiritually abuse his parents, especially his mother. His mother is a recent cancer survivor, and the entire family warned Ned to not upset her. That didn't stop him. They had long conversations with him, but to no avail.
I warned them about my BCC research, which cautioned us to not have spiritual debates with a BCC person -- that it feeds their "addiction," and it is like giving a drink to an alcoholic. When my father-in-law and mother in-law attempted to stop these debates, Ned persisted. "I am a prophet and I understand God's word the way other people can not", he told them. "Mum, you stand at the pit of hell, and as long as you cling to your ideas you are going to hell", he continued.
Finally, after four months, they became worn down and weary, and had no choice but to ask him to leave.
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There were so many occasions when Ned's brother and wife tried to reach Ned. At this point, they knew not to get into Biblical discussions with him, so they focused on his behavior.
In August of 1996, approximately one year after he officially joined the BCC, Ned (along with BG) met with Ned's brother and wife. BG admitted to them that he didn't think there was anything wrong with using deceptive means to "get a disciple", and that his ends justified his means. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law asked Ned why he couldn't leave the BCC and return to his marriage? He responded by saying that if he left the BCC he would be leaving the Body of Christ.
They were both concerned that Ned did not connect his involvement with the BCC and his behavior as to the reason for the failure of our marriage. They noticed that he had a selective memory of past events regarding the family, our marriage, and his behavior since his involvement with the BCC. Every time they suggested that Ned was being prideful, he would cleverly change the subject. Ned told them that he believed God wanted him with the BCC and also to be married to me and that if I divorced him it would be on my head. "If we get divorced , she will not find another mate and she will be alone for the rest of her life", he told them.
They kept saying to him, "Ned you forced the separation", but he would not acknowledge it.
That night on the phone, my sister-in-law told me about this meeting, and commented that it was like talking in circles. She said how frustrating it was because Ned was not rational. "He would get angry whenever we talked about feelings, as if feelings had no place anymore with relationships", she said, adding, "I just wanted to shake him!" I answerd, "I know exactly how you feel."
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I believe that our marriage is no longer blessed by God. There have been countless disputes, tension, sexual manipulation, witholding of affection, threats, unresponsiveness, and chaos. I have become a victim of spiritual abuse because I would not follow your involvement with the BCC. You have mistreated me and undermined me and have attempted to override my feelings and opinions without regard to my state of living, emotions, or spiritual well being. Our relationship has been unhealthy since your compulsive and unyielding involvement with this cult. Even when I needed medical care, you continued to pursue this cult....
I consider all the mistreatment such an insult to the blessing God gave us... each other in marriage. I thought you valued our marriage more. What I have seen is a man who used to be sensitive to the feelings of others, slow to take offense, loving, patient, kind and gentle, now insisting on his understanding of the truth no matter how it may affect the feelings and the lives of the people around him -- especially me. We enjoyed so much together and were a wonderful Christian witness to others. Now I see the harm you have done to yourself and your family, me and our marriage.
I have had physical weakness from the stress of seeing you and our marriage go downhill, ulcerations, and insomnia on and off for months. I have many tears of frustration and the pain of a broken heart. I will not continue on this roller coaster anymore. I am prepared to release you from your marriage to me. You obviously view your relationship with the BCC as more important. I will not continue like this. My spiritual, emotional and physical well being is at stake. I need to have my loving, gentle, faithful, humble husband back who God blessed me with in 1993. Without him, I no longer want to be married to this impostor.
In January of 1997, Ned sent me a very romantically designed birthday card. I found this most disturbing as he indicated to me that he "holds me lovingly in recall, even though his heart is crushed by my fearful reaction to discovering the truth of him and his Lordship communion." He was "grieved that my fears were used to blur my vision and that the Holy Spirit will continue to apply pressure to my heart." He reminded me of the "strength of his intelligence and as I study more the lives of the prophets and the disciples that I will see this parallel if I will". He indicated that my mistrust is most painful to him and God. He continued to tell me that I was being lied to by my support system.
In January of 1998, my sister-in-law told me that Ned was by her house to give her a hand written birthday card for me. I refused to read it when she told me that it was three pages long and included words which blamed my pastor, our counselor and others for our failed marriage.
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We met in court on March 17, 1997. It was a horrible experience. My attorney was with me, and Ned's brother also volunteered to accompany me. Ned's brother had said many months ago that, no matter what happened to my marriage, he would see me through until the end. Ned came to the court with BG and some other man whom I assume was another BCC member.
As we waited for our hearing Ned stared at me for a time -- longer than I felt was comfortable. He came over to his brother and to tell him how much God hates divorce. His brother told him everything that Ned already had heard, but never listened to. He finally came over to speak to me, to ask me if there was anything else I needed to say to him. I indicated to him that there was nothing more I needed to say.
Ned told me that he had some things to say. I was surprised that he needed to say more, as he had talked incessantly for over a year and a half. We had reached an impasse. For my own emotional protection, I told him that he had had plenty of time in the past to say what he needed to say. Now, at our divorce hearing, it was too late. He finally went back to his bench to sit down.
The judge called us to the front of the court. Ned's financial statement was very ill prepared. This became an embarrassment to me, especially as the judge became more and more frustrated with Ned's behavior. Ned was disrespectful several times as he avoided answering the judge's questions. It was evident to me that he was not answering the judge's questions satisfactorily. We had to go back to our benches and sit down so Ned could fix the inconsistencies and unanswered questions on his financial statement.
At the bench, my attorney told me that, because of this, we might not get a judgment that day. When we were called back to the judge the second time, the statement was still not correct, so the judged actually walked Ned through it. The judge was obviously annoyed at this, and became especially irritated when Ned failed again to answer his questions completely. I was shocked at Ned's irresponsible behavior and lack of courtesy.
Finally, after much turmoil, our divorce was granted.
As we walked out of the court room, I walked over to Ned. With his BCC men at his left and his right, I came closer to Ned. I put my hand on his face and said, "God will have mercy on us." I then turned to Ned's brother, grabbed his arm, and said, "Get me out of here." Ned's brother escorted me down the stairs. Had he not held on to my arm, I think I would have fallen down those stairs because I was so emotionally drained. It was if my legs were numb from the waist down.
Ned's brother took me to his car and drove me to mine. He told me how upsetting it was for him to see his brother throw his life away, and how strongly he felt about this mistake that Ned was making with the BCC and his marriage. He told me how sorry he was that I had to go through so much pain. I hugged him and thanked him. I told him that he was an incredibly honorable man, because he said that he would see me through to the end, and he did.
I got in my car and drove to the sanctuary at my church, the same church we were married in. I just sat there on one of the pews, and I prayed asking God for His forgiveness because we had failed in our marriage and we had let Him down. I felt a tremendous amount of peace come over me as I felt that my Lord would never leave me. I know that God, who gave us the blessing of each other as husband and wife, was sad about the death of this marriage destroyed by sin and evil.
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Yes, God hates divorce, and he hates a man who covers himself with his violence. (Mal-2:16) God hates the behaviors of those who don't care about other people, who cover their evil with their pride, who betray family, covenants, and have no accord for how the holy spirit works in His children. My pastor once said that our demonstration of loyalty to our covenants, i.e. the marriage covenant, is shown by how we treat our partner. How true.
I believe that God will allow what he hates to accomplish what he loves and if those accomplishments need to be done through my broken heart, then so be it. God no longer wanted me to suffer. It was time to "pull the plug" on a marriage that was dead.
I reminded myself how Jesus dealt with betrayal. His betrayal by Judas was painful and lead to His death, yet he accepted it, dealt with it and moved on. He rose again to spiritual glory. My marriage suffered betrayal and has died. Jesus knows how I feel because He has been there too. Satan got our marriage and he's smiling, but he didn't get me and I thank God for His protection.
The BCC was involved even at our engagement. I believe now that Ned's engagement to me was out of obedience to BG. I believe he asked me to marry him because he believed, through the teachings of these men, that it was the right thing to do. In other words, he was motivated to marry out of duty, fear and obedience to these men, not out of the sacrificial love that Jesus says a husband should have for a wife. So, when I refused to join the BCC with Ned, our marriage crumbled.
Perhaps the BCC pressured Ned to try to convert me because I was the one with the money. Maybe subconsciously they thought, get Ned to join, get his wife to join, mandatory tithing, more money.... Get the picture?
There is definitely an agenda. Although they claim it is for "Kingdom purposes", I know otherwise. This group uses mind control and doctrines which instill fear, guilt, and anxiety among its members. Friends and family relationships are destroyed, and in some instances their destruction is even encouraged. Ned allowed evil to enter into our marriage, even when he saw that our marriage was being destroyed.
Perhaps, the BCC fulfills a need for Ned. Alcohol and drugs are a crutch for many people with psychological problems. Once a person understands why they need to use these things, then there is hope for them. I have been told by many that most people join cults for psychological reasons, and those psychological reasons are covered by their spiritual convictions. Perhaps marriage was too much of a responsibility for Ned, and joining the BCC against my wishes was "a way out."
I often wonder what Ned is escaping from. Life and responsibility, perhaps. It saddens me deeply because Ned has so many gifts that God has given him. It grieves me to think that many people who are with the BCC think that they are with the only saved people. My friend once told me that if the BCC were the only saved people, then God is not doing a very good job in using his people to spread the gospel.
It is not merely enough to know about God. A person must strive to know God if they want to develop their relationship with Him. I have learned that people do not get into heaven by their intellect, but by a teachable heart and desire to have a relationship with their Creator. He reveals Himself to those who will come to Him.
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There are many articles, books and personal accounts written about the effects the Boston Church of Christ [International Church of Christ] has had on the lives of the individuals involved. This group is banned from many colleges and now I know why. The BCC has earned its negative reputation. Although they may purport to do "many good things", their overall approach is wrong and destructive.
Many of the members boast because they say their group is growing. Well, just because there's growth doesn't mean it's healthy. Heaven's Gate grew rapidly at one time too. So do many destructive cults. Cancer grows quickly sometimes, but more often quietly and over a long period of time. Does that make it healthy?
The members of the BCC have confused their relationship with God to an unhealthy allegiance to "a group". Jesus said, in Matthew 22:37, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all you soul and with all your mind." I say , "Yes" to this, but stay away from the BCC.
As for Ned, I pray for him regularly...Forgive him Father, for he knows not what he's doing or what he has done. Forgive him for false teaching and guide him in accordance with Your will...
As for me, I am grateful for my friends, Ned's family, my church family, my family, my pastor, my attorney, my Christian counselor, cult awareness people, Ex BCC members, and most of all the love of Christ. I don't know how I would have survived this horrible ordeal without them all. They were all there for me and they all made sure that I would get through it.
I am so privileged to have the relationship I have with God, and the people he so graciously put in my path during this crisis. I am also thankful for the healing God has put in my heart. Healing has taken time, but I have come a long way. I can now write about this and clearly see the abuse I endured. I desire to see to it that others will not have to go through what I went through.
I pray that somehow God will use this personal account to educate others of the terrible effects this cult has on individual lives, families and marriages. I honestly believe that the BCC does not care if they break up families in the process of " making disciples". They will make their "disciples" at any cost, because their focus is about getting people to join, controlling their minds, taking away their God-given gifts, and getting them to tithe large amounts.
This is a dangerous group. I know it is not God's will for families to be disrupted. I pray that those people already involved with this group will educate themselves and have the courage to leave. My research of this group indicated many instances where families are destroyed. College drop-outs are frequent. Mental illness and suicide are common, and there is more. I don't understand why anyone would want to be a part of a group where so much evil abounds. Through the Holy Spirit there are ways to witness to people, give your testimony, and demonstrate the love of Jesus without causing terrible pain in the lives of other people.
God does heal broken hearts. He has healed mine. Without Him, I could never have gotten through this. From Psalm 71 verse 20-21, I am reminded:
"Though you have made me see troubles,
many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up.
You will increase my honor
and comfort me once again."
I am truly grateful for my comforter, my counselor, my refuge, my Prince of Peace. I know I will never, ever be alone, God's mercy and grace are always with me. God will never leave me, nor betray me, He will never try to manipulate me or deceive me. He will simply love me.
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©1999 by Jodi Llacera <firstname.lastname@example.org>. All rights reserved.
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