Tag Archives: memoir

The Promise: Grieving the Loss of a Friend

13 Mar

My best friend and sister, Molly, disappeared about 3 weeks ago… she became involved with a charismatic cult and abruptly cut off ties with friends, social networks and regular church events. I am afraid for Molly’s safety because the leaders all have criminal records (including charges for domestic violence and interference of a 911 call when the victim called for help). The man Molly is involved with allegedly beat his former girlfriend and forced her to sign over her life savings, he is now proclaiming he is a “prophet” and a “man whom god ordained”.

The last day with Molly, I woke up as always—eager to text her with my latest thoughts on last night’s conversation, to ask her about her day and plan to spend time together. I remember thinking that Molly and I are so close, it was like we were twins…that I could not imagine my life without her. That memory is so strong now, at any time I could reach out and Molly would be there. Now I am keeping company with shadowy memories.

Molly and I talked or text at least 4-6 times a day, we often fell asleep in conversation together. It was not an exaggeration to say we did everything together, a friend said that we are a “package deal”. Molly and I would cook meals, then pack them up and share them with each other. It was really funny because the meals we chose were so opposite. Molly was health conscious and would make gourmet meals with organic ingredients; whatever your ailment was, she would find the right food to cure it. I cooked for comfort—didn’t think twice about what I threw in the pot. Somehow we balanced each other out. We both agreed that food tasted best when we were together. We went grocery shopping for each other too. — I don’t even know how to shop anymore, I automatically pick out foods I know Molly would like then realize she is gone, begin to cry. Several times, I have run out of the grocery store with mascara running down my face. Or I avoid shopping altogether. Molly & I helped each other out when money was short, and clipped coupons or community resources to make our money stretch. And we agreed that it was our duty, as a friend and a sister, to let the other know if the man she was dating was abusive or was no good.

“You have to promise me”, Molly confided,” that if I date a loser you will stop me. Yell at me. Drag me away. Do whatever it takes because I won’t see how bad he is until it is too late.”

“Me too”, I agreed,” Even if I get mad at you, and say I hate you, don’t listen to me because I will love you later for trying to save me.”

Molly and I had both been through a painful divorce, we wanted so much better for our life…real love, a family, happiness. Molly often dreamed of the “perfect guy” for me and she stubbornly set out to find him in real life. In the meanwhile, we set each other up with “Mr. Wonderful”—a cardboard cut out of a man. Molly’s Mr. Wonderful wore a retro 1940’s plaid suit and had magnetic sayings that included “You are always right” and “I love the shoes!” He must have been really wonderful because “Mr. Wonderful” went missing, and Molly suspected her cat ate him. My “Mr. Wonderful” was a male underwear model; he didn’t talk because his many tattoos said enough. I had “Mr. Wonderful” carefully tucked into my tote bag but my son was looking for something, and to his great embarrassment found the cardboard cut out. My son dangled “Mr. Wonderful” by the tips of his fingers and with a grimace yelled, “MOM! What is this?!?!” He was too red-faced to say much else. Molly and I  agreed “Mr. Wonderful” had to be good with kids, or it was a deal breaker.

How Molly would up enchanted by this short, fat cult leader with a few strands of greasy strands tugged over his pock marked baldhead is beyond me… Molly stands at least 3 feet taller yet acted meek, even submissive to this stranger. I tried to warn her. I yelled. I acted tough. I called the police. I called everyone begging for help. For the first time in our friendship, Molly was beyond reach…my solace is in knowing I kept my promise, I tried to protect Molly, to tell her this man is no good.

A verse for comfort, we live in an imperfect world and though human promises may fail. God’s promises will not—they are everlasting: 

Isaiah 29:22-24,”Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: ‘Jacob shall not now be ashamed, Nor shall his face now grow pale. But when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst, they will hallow My name, and hallow the Holy One of Jacob, and fear the God of Israel.

Those who have erred in spirit will come to understanding, and those who complained will learn doctrine.’”

The above verse talks about the “children” and “the work of My hands”, we can apply this promise to our life. God promises to redeem us from anything keeping us in bondage, which may be your past, your mistakes, your hurt or embarrassment. In the midst of their pain, God spoke words of hope to the house of Jacob—He told them that they will not live in shame or fear, and that He is creating a new life for them…. and He will do the same for you!

Those who have erred in spirit will come to understanding, and those who complained will learn doctrine.


“The Lord opened the understanding of my unbelieving heart..” — Saint Patrick


When Life Changed

25 Feb

In Feb., the unthinkable happened–my beautiful, vivacious sister and best friend left her life behind to join a cult masquerading as a “christian” organization. In a matter of hours, her personality had completely changed. Her values and relationships no longer were about the things that once mattered in her life but now were in allegiance with the cult and joining it’s way of life. She did not even look like herself–her eyes were huge and her face was blank, everything she said was defending this cult. Every day since then has been a nightmare. I am afraid for my friend, who  desperately needs help. I pray for her safe return.

The day began like any other. She texted me around 9 am to say good morning and ask how the baby was. She sent me a beautiful Bible verse, and we joked around. I had a light work day so we planned to meet later. She had gifts for us. We were thinking about having dinner and looked forward to a fun weekend together.

At 2:45 pm, she texted me to say she was meeting at a boarded up church at in a bad part of St. Paul. She expressed fear of Bill in that past but that was overcome with prayer at the House, where she was told that something was wrong with her–and that her fears were a sign of demons working in her life not based on real concerns. Over a course of weeks, she visited the House where she underwent extensive psychological pressure and prayer in which she revealed her financial situation, sensitive details of her life and her beliefs. This information was then used to control and brainwash her.

I could see my beloved friend was going down hill after going to the House–she was tearful and having vivid flashbacks of horrible past memories (and told she was a sinner and did something to cause these things to happen–a lie) , she gave all her money to the point she could not buy food or gas, she was getting lost in familiar places, she was tearful, she was having nightmares and became sleep deprived, and she was questioning everything about her life to the point she could not make a simple decision on her own. I was terrified but could not  stop her from going to the House–she was convinced her life depended on being part of this ministry, and that they were doing “god’s” will.

She never made it to dinner, and over a course of hours I lost contact with her. By 9 pm, I was seriously worried. I could feel–as only a sister can–that something was wrong. It was not like her to go this long without talking to me, and she was so excited to see me…and then nothing. I called the House, spoke to John, and could tell he was lying about her whereabouts when I asked. I texted everybody I knew, explained what was happening and raced down to the church.

NO godly minister meets with a vulnerable woman alone in a boarded up church, and especially late into the night. When I got to the church, I pounded on the door, honked my horn and yelled into the mailbox slot–no response. Out of the darkness, a suspicious Black man came walking up with a pizza, said he was a friend of Bill, and began questioning. I was immediately suspicious when he asked if I was married–I grew up in the city and know where these type of questions lead. I frantically called her, and told her she better come out, everyone knows where she is, and if I don’t see her I am calling 911. Soon after, Bill drove up  in his Black Mercedes.  Bill was smirking at me and seemed to want to provoke a reaction. I was scared, upset and yelled at Bill and told him he “is not right” and “no minister meets with a woman alone at night”. She was making excuses for Bill and seemed totally unconcerned with her bizarre behavior.

By the end of the night, I called the police to do a safety check. Bill was attempting to speak for her, and had his hand on her arm like he was controlling her. She was totally focused on defending Bill and nothing she said made sense. It was like my friend had turned into a stranger–and I was forced to leave her behind. At midnight, she disconnected her phone number and since then cut off contact with her friends and home church. I am very afraid for her safety and well-being.

BFF if you are reading this– I love you. Please come home. No matter what happened, it will be okay. I am your sister and will always be here for you.

Her last words to me–
 Im here with him (Bill). He ran to get something and will be right back. God is working and its strange i dont feel threatened by this weirdly uncomfortable yet comfortable man? …Its weird. He is very intense use to be a bad man and he understands my past and doesn’t judge and is truly wacked like the rest of us! I am asking for prayer for us both, U can come here in the daylight or I can meet you two later, up to you. The guy lives outta his trunk like we do! Super scattered and been abused and said I didn’t need to be baptized in the spirit or slain the spirit or deliverance God has called each of us and sometimes we have to lose everything to gain new life
Most cults can recruit and control a person in a matter of three or four days…

..a potential recruit broken down (is) physically and mentally and made highly vulnerable to suggestion. This pressure usually continues to a breaking point referred to as ‘snapping’ by Conway and Siegelman (Conway & Siegelman, Snapping. New York: Delta Books, l979). After snapping, the subject is left in a state of hyper suggestibility where the critical ability is severely impaired. Simultaneously there is usually a sudden personality change, a change for the worse.

It is this change of personality and the relative inability of the subject to critically evaluate, that provokes family and friends of the average victim to react. Unless they are given some guidance in how to cope, the cult member will rapidly become more and more alienated from them….”Cult Concerns and their Harmful Methods in the UK: http://www.cultinformation.org.uk/article_cult-concerns.html

UPDATE: Molly has decided to remain with the religious group. After just a few days, she announced she is going to marry Bill. I have since lost all contact with her. And will continue to pray for her.