Looking to find out any info on World Outreach Ministries/Roger Houtsma/Novato, CA
Date: January 25, 2020 05:49AM
I was born into what I would call an evangelical cult based out of Novato, California 24 sum years ago. I believe it began in the 80's under the leadership of Roger Houtsma who eventually passed the role of leader onto his son, David Houtsma, and whose other son, Nathan Houtsma, was also involved. It was briefly mentioned in a 1994 book called "Churches that Abuse" but was relatively untouched outside of that.
In the early 2000's there was a split and many families from this cult (including my own) moved to Atlanta, GA, with the intent of starting a new branch on the East Coast. It was originally called Northside Family Worship Center. I believe they did not account for the difference in environment between California (a comfortable ecosystem for spiritual extremists) versus Georgia with its infamous bible belt culture, and after years of failed attempts to get a movement going, they adapted and became much more traditional/conservative in an effort to compete with the mega-churches of the area, undergoing the name change to Eastgate Church and all-but fizzling out entirely.
It's been probably 7 years now since I stepped foot inside their church but the impact that the original California cult had on me is something I still struggle with. In the least dramatic way possible, it ruined my life before it even started and I am still trying to put the pieces together. This isn't easy when you're dealing with such a lack of information, however. My parents have moved on to yet another cult (albeit much more mainstream in the form of Bethel Church in Redding, CA) and refuse to acknowledge the "church" they raised us in as what it was: a cult.
I will be posting another topic under the "former cult members + families" forum on the subject of how people recover from this kind of stuff and how you deal with the resulting isolation, but for this topic, I am looking for anyone who might have any information whatsoever on this cult. It is not a super well-known one and the only people I've been able to talk to about it at all have been my siblings and a couple young women who were also raised in it, but we have the disadvantage of having been children and, therefore, excluded from a lot of things that might give us some insight, as well as the fact that memory is not the most reliable source of information.
So if anyone has any knowledge on World Outreach Ministries/ Christian Life Church in Novato, CA/Northside Family Worship Center in North Atlanta/Roger Houtsma/David Houtsma/Nathan Houtsma/Robin Houtsma/Greg Mervich/Edison Fowler/anyone else you know of being involved, I would appreciate any information I can get as I try to get a clearer view of what I was raised in so that me and other victims can move on with our lives.
Thanks in advance for taking the time to read my story.