Man leaving Atlanta, GA

Don’s Testimony: Leaving a Cult

I am now 53 years old and in the past two years had had an enormous crossroad in my life. I will attempt to tell the story of what great things the Lord has done in my life.

I grew up in Mobile, AL being brought up in the Methodist Church. My life until 13 years old for the most part was uneventful. At 13, we moved to the “Big Peach” Atlanta. I lived a rather normal life until my senior year in high school where I began a 6-year odyssey of drugs and hippiness and atheism. After moving out of my parent’s home and into a “hippy pad”, I sold drugs to live off of and support my habit.

I also became deeply involved in the antiwar movement at that time. I was doing any drug I could get my hands on if I couldn’t get drugs, I would shoot up ice water just to get something in my veins. I remember one time having liquid phenol barbital, which was used by epileptics for seizures. It was not meant to shoot in your veins, but I’d do anything. A couple of months ago I saw where Phenobarbital is a drug of choice for euthanasia. The Lord didn’t let it work on me.

I also became a draft resister as there was still the draft lottery at that time and with drawing #65, I was assured of going to Viet Nam. I won’t go into now how I got out of the draft, as it is story in itself. Let it suffice to say my attitudes have changed and if I wasn’t too old, I would go now. I’ve found out I am even too old to be a chaplain.

One of my friends ended up joining a religious group called the Children of God, or the COG. He later left the group and came back to Atlanta where he moved in a house with me. He witnessed to me about accepting Jesus as my savior so I could go to heaven, which I did. At this time, I felt I wanted to get closer to God, so I rented me a cabin in the woods with no plumbing. I was going to read my Bible, hunt, live off the land and get closer to Jesus.

It didn’t work as I had planned as I wasn’t a good hunter, and I wasn’t a good farmer. I later moved into another house with ex-members of the COG where I started studying their publications. For somebody from my background this religious movement that was antiestablishment, anti-church, pro socialism sounded like something for me that I wanted to give my life to. In April 1975, I went to Knoxville, TN and joined the COG.

Since I had some familiarity with the group and publications, I was made a home leader right away. What I did begin to learn though was that there was more than met the eye we had Moses David “our prophet” who according to him was prophesied throughout the Bible as David of the end. I now thank God for the illumination of His Truth as the David of the end, spoken of throughout the Bible is Jesus

Through the groups use of coercion and mind control I fell for their many strange doctrines hook, line, and sinker. According to David Berg or Moses David, America was “Babylon the Great Harlot” and was always going to fall. The idea was to leave the country and escape the wrath to come on America and at the same time be a “missionary” for the cult. I first went to Mexico in August 76. I spent a couple of years there and also a couple of times in Mexican jails on immigration charges.

In 1978, the work in Mexico shut down because of some morals charges. At this same time, the group changed its name to the Family of Love or the Family. This was done basically to hide, as this was the time FFing or religious prostitution was being done worldwide. Girls in the group would go to bed with people so they could “evangelize” them and of course also for support. A girl’s husband or other male member would generally act as her “pimp”. Of course, to our deluded thinking this was all scriptural and at least a part of the new scriptures or “new wine” written by “our prophet”.

In 1978, I went to Spain and later to Italy. I supported myself by playing music in the streets and at restaurants. I continued music and I also worked as a bus driver for a campground taking tourist to Rome. All this time I was still living the doctrines of the group.

At this time, I met my wife in Rome and we decided to go back to Spain where our son was born in 1980. We made our way across Italy, France, and across Spain until we made it to Malaga in our travel trailer. It was quite an experience traveling across Europe with a pregnant wife in a 13-foot trailer!

Alba, Sam and I came to the US in 1980 where I worked for a short time while we prepared to go to Mexico. Still in the cult, we bought a travel trailer and went to Mexico where we stayed for a couple of years. At this time the group came out with something called invade the churches. We were going to be driving back to FL to prepare for what we thought was going to South Africa.

We invaded churches. The idea was of course churches are rich and they can help you. What we found out was that where we went into the churches the people genuinely loved us and really helped us out. We met some of the sweetest loving Christians we had ever met driving from Texas to Florida.

At this time, we thought it was God’s will for us to go to South Africa by way of Italy, but we first went to London bought a van and drove to Rome “What a Trip” We ended up stuck in Rome where we sponged off Alba’s parents and sang in restaurants and cafes to make money and witness.

At this time, we made the decision to return to the US, but I would first have to return by myself and get a “real job” so Alba could immigrate. In Sept. of 1983, I started working in apartment maintenance. In Feb. 84, Alba came to the US, and we settled down for the next 3 years with me working and us still in the group albeit like part time members as working secular jobs is a no no.

In Jan. of 87, we decided to try to go to the mission field again with the group. We went to Bogota Colombia, which lasted 3 months. We came back to FL where I was able to go back to work where I left.

I was with this company until Jan. of 2004 when I was terminated because of too long on disability. As the years rolled on, we had become more disillusioned with the group and its perverted doctrines. For me after 9/11 was the last straw as the group was basically in solidarity with the terrorist objectives.

It’s a big thing to leave a cult because you feel you’re leaving people that have the only truth. It was the only truth I had known for almost thirty years. I joined in April 75 and finally broke all ties in March 2003. It was then we started regularly attending a local church with some of the most loving Christians we had ever met. We fell in love with the church, and we learned more in one year there than in 30 years in the cult.

This brings me to some present history in this lengthy story. In May of 2003, I started feeling the effects of Hepatitis C, which I most certainly contracted during my drug days. In Sept 2003, I started treatment for the virus and started on short-term disability from my job until I was able to return to work. The treatment which is similar to a chemotherapy lasts for 48 weeks and I was unable to return to my job in a reasonable time and was subsequently terminated because of the length of time I was out. Things were not been too bad financially as I had a disability policy and Long-term disability.

It also warmed our hearts and made us feel so loved when we had the anonymous checks given us from our local church. It made us know God is in control and how much He loves us. It was during my time of treatment that God did something great in our lives. One of the many side-effects of the treatment is depression, which along with losing my job of 17 years increased the depression. Along with this came insomnia.

I knew after the treatment was over I would need something to go back to work to, but at 50 something I was not encouraged with possibilities. Before the disease, my life was pretty well planned out. I had been a maintenance supervisor for the same company for almost 17 years, was at the top of my field, had wonderful benefits, and was taking college courses online to move up in management with the largest owners of apartment in the US but at the same time not really using any of my talents or life experiences for Jesus.

One night in April while not being able to sleep I asked the Lord, “What’s next?” “Do I somehow return to what I was doing, is there a place for me to do something at our church or another church?” At this time God’s still small voice spoke to me and said, “you can work for me, get your education go to Southeastern College.”

It was at this time I looked into the EXCEL Program at Southeastern College, after seeing a brochure about it at church and the Lord moved me to that vision. All I know is that everything I’ve been through in life has had God’s touch on it. If not, I would not be here alive to write this. I’ll sum this up with a devotional I read. “In the Palm of His Hand” I am glad to know and to be comforted in knowing that whatever tomorrow holds for me, God holds tomorrow in the palm of His hand.

Behold, I have indelibly imprinted (tattooed a picture of) you on the palm of each of My hands; {O Zion} your walls are continually before Me. _Isaiah 49:16 Amplified Bible.

In Sept. 2004 I began attending Southeastern Bible College which is now Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL pursuing a degree in Church Leadership. After my decision to go to college, I was blessed with several scholarships and hopefully more on the way. Things have gone very well in college being the first time I’ve been in my life. I’ve been able to carry a 4.0 average and after completing my Gen. Ed credits this summer, I started my major in Sept.

The leadership in our church has taken me under their wing and getting me involved with hands on training in different ministries in church, which has been a great blessing for someone who didn’t know how to do church. They all know we came out of a cult, and I’ve been able to teach a class on cults to the young people at our church. Each day of life is more exciting than the day before. I hope my testimony might inspire someone to see what the Lord can do in the life of one person. Please remember we are all in His hands and we are very precious to him.

A song that catches the essence of what my life has been is below:

Trading My Sorrows

I’m trading my sorrows
I’m trading my shame
I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord
I’m trading my sickness
I’m trading my pain
I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord
We say yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord Amen
I’m pressed but not crushed persecuted not abandoned
Struck down but not destroyed
I am blessed beyond the curse for his promise
will endure
That his joy’s gonna be my strength
Though the sorrow may last for the night
His joy comes with the morning

Darryl Evans 1998 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music

One Response

  1. Fr. Norman Fischer 3/22/2007

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