LEARN FROM MY EXPERIENCE WITH MARANATHA
I crouched down on my knees the phone cradled against my ear, straining the cord and almost pulling it out of the wall. Tears streamed down my face and my stomach felt like someone was kicking me there, hard. And someone was, but not physically. The voice on the other end of the line spoken in a deep baritone with an eastern Kentucky twang. "Tik, I am very very fearful for your eternal salvation and for your soul", he was saying. It was Joe Smith, second in command of Maranatha Ministries and the chief [and proclaimed] "prophet" of the movement. "If you leave the ministry I will tell you that there is almost a 100% chance that you will backslide into sin, but there is an even more serious matter that concerns me." I grunted, and had now fallen almost face down into the shag carpet in my parent's family room. "The Bible", Joe continued with his voice now taking on the tone of Gospel preaching, "says that it is better to have a millstone tied around your neck and to be thrown into the sea than to lead the little ones astray. When you moved into full time ministry you became a leader with greater responsibility. If you leave it could cause members of your congregation and those you are shepherding to lose their faith and their blood will be on your hands! And you will be cut of from the vine and your spiritual family!" "What he said was true- if I left it could cause people to stumble and I would lose the "family of Maranatha" that I had had in for 5 years. I had no other "real" friends outside of Maranatha Ministry, and in fact, they were my only source of income. I knew what happened when people left "God's movement": they were shunned, apostate, dirty, and of Satan. Was my soul in jeopardy? Would I go to hell? But I knew what the movement was (had become, or maybe had always been) wrong, destructive, and dictatorial. Despite its good intentions, at least at the "sheep" level, the leadership was arrogant, vindictive and controlling. If I stayed I would be part of the destruction that was ongoing and part of a movement that preyed on people's fears and used them as long as they performed or conformed. However, if I left "God's Green Berets" I lost everything, my friends, my "family", my work and, possibly- no probably, my mortal soul. I began sobbing uncontrollably. What should I do???- there seemed no way out!
I would like to relay my story as a warning for others who are tempted by the vision and come on of Every Nation (aka Morning Star International, Champions for Christ). To use an analogy, my personal opinion is that Maranatha and Every Nation are various strains of the same virus. I hope, from time to time, to post my musings on my experiences and that these will serve as a warning to others. I also want to educate people who think "it cannot happen to me." Please note that most names have been changed unless they are the well known or public leaders of Maranatha.
[ What an introduction! This guy might have missed his calling as a best selling novelist - minus the punctuation nightmare. Several other former members have offered vivid, detailed, revealing memoirs explaining how easy it is to get sucked into Maranatha/EN, the abuse and destruction that follows, the agonizing effort to get out, and the long, difficult road to recovery. But he has far outdone all of them.
Having spent many years in Maranatha, in more than one chapter, I can tell you that no one could describe the inner workings of this group better. I've had more than one encounter with several of the people he discusses, so I can also tell you that you'd be hard pressed for a better profile of any of them. The conversations are obviously not verbatim, but anyone who's been through the "discipleship" process and the "deliverance" process knows that the scenarios are pretty typical.
And in his post memoir at [everynationmsiexposed.blogspot.com
] , he preceeds to demostrate that life inside Maranatha and life inside Every Nation are IDENTICAL.
In short, if you want to understand Maranatha/EN and how to respond to it, whether as a potential member, a current member, a former member, a cult watcher, or a journalist, THIS STORY IS MUST READING.
Let's hope we see this bombshell in the bookstore soon. Such a book would take exposure of this group mainstream in a way that newspapers and websites cannot. If he can't find a publisher, former members need to distribute it underground; starting with a copy to every fraternity, sorority, student affairs vice president, and campus editor in the country; followed by assignment editors and investigative reporters; then talk show hosts, etc. Anybody for running ads? College media is cost effective, as is radio. One or another of these ideas should be enough to prime every pump. ]