Escaping From the Fellowship - to Vicki
Here is a post by icdeadworks that she posted to Escape From the Fellowship to a woman who recently left the fellowship.
Hi, Vicki. We have not met. I'm a Yank from Arizona but grew up in Texas so technically that make me a 'Southern Girl'. I became a born again Christain in 1986. I'm in my early 40's and was in a CFM church in Arizona for 15 years, starting in Dec. 1989, having left over 2 1/2 years ago. Met my husband there; no kids. We're both out, I left first but he never ascribed to all they said, smart guy, thus he was one of those 'chronic backsliders'... wooooo.....
Nice to meet you <hand shake>
Sorry, this is going to be a little long but it's important.. feels like council in trial prep. Church should never feel or be that way. Just this bit for now:
I've learned, when dealing with the fellowship that they use the same tactics they used on you throughout your stay when trying to get someone back in who's left but they beef it up since it is likely their last shot at getting you to stay. Your pastor will even bring up points of his most recent sermons since he liked them so much and may even share w/you bits of what he "just preached, but you missed it since you weren't there", as if that sermon would have saved you from leaving and anything and everything else that ails you. Besides, keep in mind that he's not just meeting with you but "headship" is there and believe me... pppffft... he is there to not just talk to you two but self interest runs deep in CFM, he is out to impress Vicary. Especially if he is a small fry. He'll be crass to impress Vicary and demonstrate a loyalty to the fellowship and his own commitment to it, it's teachings, it's doctrines... .
If you decide to meet with them watch out for them to attack your "commitment". If you can't keep your "commitment" to the church i.e God, then they will hurl warnings at you that you're marriage is next since that requires a "commitment" as well. That's why they say that a persons marriage is in trouble the moment they stop going to church. They 'say' that since all the other churches are lukewarm that marriages are loose. The reason for that is because no other church, in their eyes, teaches "commitment, faithfulness, etc..." like they do and they're right. Most Christian churches, as it should be, teach a commitment to Christ. A natural outflow from that commitment and relationship with Christ is an endearing and patient [emphasis mine] love for your mate whether you're in a church or stranded together on a deserted Island for the rest of your lives. Christianity teaches kindness & wisdom in a relationship. CFM does not teach that but to be fair they may make mention it. Rather, CFM teaches 'go to church [their church] and somehow everything will work out'. And if you're a woman, commitment and faithfullness to your local CFM fellowship church is all you'll ever need in this life and it is the cure-all for any and every problem that may ever arise. Their commitment teaching is specific and there is an anchor draped around the members neck to keep your focus and commitment to the Fellowship. ...are ya with me so far saints... can I get an 'amen'... They just call it God but if I told you enough times that my blue Honda is a red Toyota at some point you may begin to question if something is going off on your vision.
So a responsible, sane, mature 'believer' in the Fellowship keeps his commitment to the Fellowship because they erroneously teach that that is the same as a commitment to God. But that is not true. They say you should stay in the church where God saved you but I personally can testify that that is a crock since I got saved on the side of a mountain while skiing in Queenstown N.Z. while on holiday. I was living in Sydney at the time and when I got back started going to CLC Watterloo. Frank Houston was still the Pastor back then & Brian Houston was asst. pastor. Hills church was a novelty just starting to really grow. I moved back to the states after three years there and then to Arizona. So if staying where God saved you rings true then I should have stayed in New Zealand or atleat Sydney, since at the time that was where my flat was. I personally have no problem with that and I'm happy to be packed and on my way by weeks end.
When I first heard that in the fellowship, to stay where you got saved, I questioned some people and stood on my testimony that God himself put it upon my heart to go back to the States. I didn't get saved in CFM. Their answer to this? Without any clue of Gods will for my life their response was that God wanted to get me in a church where the people were 'really saved, really serving God'. If you think about it, they were in essence saying that of themselves, standing right there under the roof of what they also said of themselves is the 'best church in town'. And they meant it. That is called 'Pride', worlds away from the humbleness and awareness of the gift of Salvation.
Sadly, <kick, kick...> I believed them and for many, many years people never knew how or where I got saved, of my years in Sydney, my friends there and all the wonderful testimonies of the things God did in my life during those days. Shame on me. I even would talk bad about them, only hitting the bad points but truth is there was far more good and good people in there. I hid my days in Sydney and time at CLC under a rock because anything before CFM or without them is unimportant and pretty much doesn't exist, which is why when you leave it will become as if you never did either.
In fact, when I first started to attend services at CFM in Arizona I even had people tell me I should answer the alter call to get really saved and be baptised agian. Hearing them say that made me angry because a.) they weren't there and it was only to satisfy them to 'see' me get saved, they couldn't accept the testimony and b.) they were not there, have not even a sense of what God did in my life that day I got baptised down in the salt pools at Bondi Beach. And that I was not about to give up and I didn't. I forced them to live with my testimony and it didn't take long for people to back off and leave me alone about it.
Playing on your emotions and your commitment is something you need to really watch out for. Personally, I owe no explantion to a group of people who at the end of my life are no where going to be found. My life began with God, it will end with God and in between it is my sole responsibility to maintain the same throughout it and recognize those who are against it. Therefore, I have to cling to truths like He saved me, He keeps me and my name is written in the Lambs Book of Life and He's the one that scribed it there long before I ever knew what a CFM was.
My relationship with Christ is incurable, it is remarkable, it is genuine and it is something over which I constantly marvel and it is something to be happy for and yet these people, people in CFM, have proven to be enemies of it when they slaughter and accost my heart simply because I refuse to play their emotional games, do the 'works' that please them or because I left their insignificant dwindling little church. Another warning sign.
I could be here all day but the bottom line is my advice to you, to anyone contemplating a meeting with people after leaving CFM is just cut them loose. I rolled my eyes when I read the post yesterday, and I think it was yours, about the couple who was ALLOWED to speak with you? Good grief. ALLOWED? Since when is a Christian allowed or not allowed to speak with another Christian. Since the pastor in CFM let them. And to them that is normal, that is true Christianity per CFM, that the pastor has the last word in your life. That's called 'bondage'.
Vicki, you have before you an opportunity to grow in your relationship with Christ. Don't let them steal that or have any piece of it. When I resolved in my heart to respond to Gods proddings to move away from Australia, leave Sydney and go home to the States, my church gave me a going away party (Nancy loves this story). They prayed for me, prayed over me that God would protect me, provide for me as I set up a new home back in the States, that God would save my family and friends and use my life to do that, they put money in a coffee can (my best friend did that - didn't know she was) and presented it to me at the end of the night. The very night I told my two flat mates that I was moving back home they both agreed to stop charging me rent, to save the money because I would need it when I got home. They gave me a going away B*B*Q and another send off at my gate at the airport with more prayers and buckets of tears since we all knew that because of distance I would likely never see these people ever again. I tear up when I think of it because I was so lucky to have those people in my life - every single one of them. They helped build the foundation of my faith in God. It is from those days, my days in Sydney that I often refer to and draw my strength and confidence in Christ.
I can ultra guarantee you... you will not find any of those things come from a meeting with Vicary and your former Pastor. Rather they will freely hand you guilt, warnings of curses that will come as a result of you trying to live without THEM and call themselves the same as following God [which is a lie]; they will say your hope that your family and friends that you've had for many years is pretty much dead since God won't be able to use you anymore [which is a lie]; the list of curses that you have 'opened yourself up to' is now endless [which is a lie]; they won't pray God's blessings and protection on you as you leave. None of that.
They're not for you as long as you are not with them so ... why bother? Spare yourself the grief and politely decline. Or if you are up for it then take care to guard your heart and be on the look out for how they are making you "feel".
That's all for now. Best of luck, best wishes -
P.s. one last suggestion. Set up a time, day and spot to meet with them for coffee and then pass that info to George so he can show up in your place while you and your family go do something together. I would venture to say that George would be happy to. ;> Meanwhile, for the ocassion make it a moment of personal celebration and go somewhere you've never had time to go to. Just getting out and seeing the developments over the last several years was something I never was able to. My town has a LOT in it and some of it is really nice. Or stay at home and relax, go see a film or go see a relative that the fellowship had driven or tried to drive out of your lives. Healing relationships with family and former friends is one of the first things people are confronted with when they leave CFM. Either way, just know that it's o.k. to acutally enjoy being alive, so live.
One of the pictures I keep out around my home is a shot I took one day when I had a day off from my job in Sydney. It was mid week early morning and I decided to grab the bus & train from Eastern suburbs where I lived, Coogee/Randwick, transfer at Central and boarded the train heading south that went as far down the end of the line, the furthest south along the coast of NSW that time could afford. I don't remember the town I ended up in but I do recall the view. It's a popular spot for hang glidding. Standing on the cliffs edge, facing south and overlooking the ocean, I took a shot of Woolongong (sp) just on the horizon on a crisp clear afternoon. I get comments on that picture all the time. Australia is a beautiful place. I miss it and the people very much. I'd trade houses with you in a second.