I decided to look and see how The Way was doing. Some years ago I had passed across a website that detailed it as a cult whereas now it has a generous place on wiki wherein it states it’s not a cult just a “high intensity christian group”. I guffawed. Apparently they don’t believe they brainwash you at all but considering my entire family still deals with issues regarding “the fellowships” to this day I believe this to be incorrect. The Way International is just so massive that the body of it cannot possibly be defined as one, I am sure. However, the branches and/or fellowships individually can possibly be, or at least the half dozen or so I was ever affiliated with whether as a member or in passing. Like a lot of large bodies of religion priests tended to use their status as a means of holding sway over mailable minds and so the person who replaced Dr. Wierwille (and also Wierwille himself as current history dictates) was accused of “sexual misconduct and rape”. Although, some of the ex-members had told me that it was not just him but multiple priests who were accused and which led to the fall out, my Father and my Uncles being some of the people who left The Way back in the 80s.
I only have the one memory of before my Father left the fellowship and that was when we all sat on metal chairs in the livingroom of our little house. My father read from the bible and I was so proud to be sitting up with the adults even though I had no idea what they were saying and I couldn’t read. That was also when I got the idea I was going to write a bible, I had written about that memory on another post. I also remember The Rock of Ages which was very very exciting. My brother and sisters and I were so happy we got coloring books and we would color in all the good and bad spirits portrayed by actors with bright lively colors. After that I no longer remember much other than listening to Dr. Wierwille’s tapes and the music from the classes my Mother had attended pre-me. My Mother taught us at the kitchen table with her own notes and studies and we had not entertained the idea of going to another fellowship until I was twelve when she had found another family member who had found another fellowship not far from where we lived. This began my dissent into becoming what The Way would define as an “un-believer” and I suppose as I read this wiki information what they would have come to “Mark & Avoid” even though they say they don’t actually do that anymore.
I was quite excited about going to the fellowship I must say. The families there were amazingly nice and as we were always a very strange group of Christians it was nice to be around like-minded individuals. I loved to learn and I loved to sing, plus they had wonderful snacks. So, I fit in nicely with everyone and sat with the ladies, etc. I got a job working with the head of the family fellowship and things were just fine for awhile. Then you just start to notice things. Things don’t seem to fit into place very well. One thing that’s really noticeable is how if you had any doubt about anything you were given a serious talking to and possibly become exercised. Not like the Exorcist, but the laying of hands and being prayed upon. Even though my Mother followed the old way of Dr. Wierwille and not so much the new ways that branched from him, we still attended. All the sudden devil spirits were apparently coming out of everything. Our toys, the T.V., our books… everything was “pagan paraphernalia”. We weren’t allowed to have friends that were not believers so how I tried to convert as many as I could just so I could talk to them. It didn’t work very well but some pretended quite nicely. Families started just “disappearing” from the fellowship which I’d later found out it was because they were either kicked out for not believing strong enough and/or there was an upset… which wasn’t clearly defined but I can understand some great upsets with that fellowship.
We were there for sometime. To understand how things went pretty wrong you have to understand a few things about what they believe in. First, when you become born again you cannot become “un” born again. You are going to go to heaven no matter what you do. This also makes sense for what the priests had been doing back in the 80s because according to the doctrine it didn’t matter. You were already forgiven for your sins so therefore whatever you do or had done was of no consequence outside of your own guilt. As quoted, “It was between them and god.” Secondly, what you think becomes manifested. If you think bad things bad things will happen. If you think good things good things will happen. You have the abilities of Christ IF you do not doubt and IF you believe strong enough, you can raise the dead if you believe and have no doubt in your heart. Thirdly, you must listen always to your first thought. Second thoughts are from the Devil to tempt you into thinking otherwise about your first thought. Your first thought is from God.
Now I explain these things because these are the areas which seriously started causing some issues. In regards to the first, the you cannot become un-born again idea, most people believed that was just a way to get out of everything. Some awful things happened to me because of the idea that heaven was there no matter what and we are pure no matter what and when brought to the attention of the adults it was always “that’s between them and god, you must forgive them. forgiveness is love.” So awful things just happen and no matter how perverse one becomes you must forgive them. No matter how awful someone is to you, even your husband, you must forgive them because it’s between them and god and not you. This caused my family such a serious amount of pain.
Then of course there was the thinking part. How hard it is to catch your first thought, let me tell you! It’s difficult, especially with a mind like mine that wants to run rampant all the time. But what was worse was that when you finally thought you did catch your first thought, which was God, if some adult didn’t like what God said well then all the sudden you were made to doubt and possibly it was the second thought or a third and that was the Devil so you were wrong. Confused yet? I was 12, imagine my confusion. Also, just as an added note: Confusion is from the Devil. So being confused with a possible second or third thought that you could have sworn was a first thought from God, but everyone was telling you that God couldn’t have possibly said that to you well……. this obviously caused some issues.
I cannot bring myself to explain the horror of what this fellowship had placed on my heart by the way of thinking that you manifest things, good or ill. That by telling a teenage girl that she can raise the dead if only she didn’t doubt or that she could heal if only she believed strong enough and that if she were to think negatively that negative things would happen to those she loved…. that by telling a teenage girl this when someone she loved was dying and then to explain that possibly, it was possible that the passing negative thought that happened to just by pass her brain telling her something was wrong was actually a devil spirit that could have happened to manifest a negative action on the loved one she couldn’t believe strong enough to raise to life. That she had too much doubt in her heart to manifest “breath”. The horror this had placed not only on me but on so many good people who lost their families and who were made to believe it was because they doubted.
I left when I was 16 by writing a note and telling my Mother I was pagan. Ha! Of course I wasn’t really pagan I was just studying other religions and that didn’t seem to go over well in a household of my Mother & Sister who were both currently devout in the Fellowship. So I eventually just ran away and hid out in a house. To tell you the fear that was in me while wearing a wig and dark glasses around that town and hiding under a bed while the door was being banged on for hours to find me. It wasn’t my Mother or Step-Father out looking for me, they knew I would come home eventually. It was the Fellowship, bound and determined to bring me back to God and I was afraid. So I stayed hidden under a bed. After finding out I was pregnant and having starved for weeks I realized the best thing to do would be to go pretend and get back into the fellowship somehow so as to not be sleeping in the forest or eating old cans of Hash. The first time I went back they told me that I should really think about my pregnancy and I should talk to God about it. I went outside for a long time and just sat there talking to my belly, not to God, just talking to my belly and having a delightful conversation actually and I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel so much peace in that moment. Sixteen, pregnant, having some reason to live and having some purpose finally. I felt a peace that everything would be just fine, I just had to hold on. So I went in and told them that God said I should have my baby and a few of them went on to explain about how perhaps that wasn’t God and I finally was old enough and smart enough to say they should stop “planting the seed of doubt in my heart” and “how do they know what God is telling me” to which they were taken aback and finally shut up. I only went to the fellowship when I had so as to play the part well. I was being shunned there as it were considering I was pregnant, but at least I had a bed and some food.
Thankfully my Mother left long before she gave me a home to live in and she was back to her own studies and listening to her Dr. Wierwille tapes and I loved sitting with her listening to her Christian Rock studying the bible so that’s what we did. She told me how the Fellowship had hurt her and what wrong things they had done then and I opened up and we kept those things to ourselves. Eventually the rest of my family would leave and a few of them also having to hide out undercover of night to escape their hunting them down. And then those people that were doing the hunting would leave and finally everyone was out. Though it’s sad to say that after all those years there were many families who lost so much, so very very much, one family who lost their ability to get their children back and some who lost all their money trying to afford the classes so that they may not doubt and be stronger believers.
It’s taken years for some members of my family to go back to attending an actual church. They’re all very differently “faith’d” and thankfully they don’t believe that there is some hierarchy of believing they have to reach. There is a peace there that they can love God and not have to worry about certain things that were once so prominent. They can watch T.V. or read a book and not worry about having their brain taken over by devil spirits. They have their own will back, the will to be Free. And thankfully they all believe in personal responsibility. People should be responsible for their actions, even ourselves. All bad things aren’t because of “Evil”, sometimes it’s just because people think that they can just get away with crap and it’s okay. The sad thing is is that you can hardly look at them as bad people since they were all good people that were all “indoctrinated”.
I’m 30 years old and I still have issues regarding all my years inside of what I will always believe to be a cult. Perhaps not The Way International but certainly a few of their branches. I still have a lot of respect for the stories my Mother had told me of Dr. Wierwille and I still love the music and songs I’d learned as a child which remain some of the best and most accurate loving songs of Christianity I’d ever heard. I appreciate the way they had taught me how to study the bible accurately and be capable of interpreting it through itself instead of by self interpretation or by a churches interpretation of it’s work. This had led me to be capable of studying a lot of religions and also studying the history of religion itself. I like being capable of thinking, researching and studying for myself but I still put up very strong religious debates when it comes to Christianity as it’s been stained into my spirit. I may not believe in a lot of things people believe in but I do believe that if people chose a faith they should study what that faith is and what in the world they are trying to preach to people. You should be intelligent in your belief. I had always respected my Mother in that regard that she was capable, by her own studies, of acknowledging the wrongs inside of her own fellowship.
There were a lot of good things that I had been raised with, that I suppose I had been “brainwashed” with and those are the ideas of forgiveness, of love and acceptance but mostly that is because of my Mother and not so much the Fellowship. I am proud to say that they are not corrupt and they are not biased and they are the foundations of what I believe in. But now in these mid years of my life I keep my faith to myself. I just found it interesting that after all these years of being so messed up that I find that I just belonged to a “high intensity Christian group” and somehow in my amused state of mind I chuckle and wonder if they got to them too. The foundations of The Way International are beautiful in Christian values, but I cannot get past how corrupted they become and how they use those values for corruption. At least it’s given me the ability to be completely nonconvertible.
I found this early this morning which is why this post was down for some time. It’s called the Ex-Way, written by an ex-member of the early Way International. I bet his book gives a lot more insight into the actual goings on in the early times instead of my hearsay accounts. He also has a different look at Dr. Wierwille to whom, like I said, I cannot say anything bad about considering my upbringing was centered squarely around his teachings and the stories of his positiveness. I am going to email this guy my blog post.
Lots of other websites for Ex-Way Members. (Of course all “High Intensity Christian Groups have help sites!) Also, The GreaseSpot Cafe.