“It’s the devil playing tricks on you…” A Former Member’s Story
I used to attend WMSCOG in Bogota, NJ back in the summer of 2005. It was the summer break of my second year in college. I was a member for 5 months and I spent my entire summer break attending feasts, prayers, etc. I am still affected by their behavior. At the time the church was trying to transfer to Ridgewood, NJ where they are now located. I can honestly say that the people involved in that church destroyed my spirit.
This is my story — I was preached to as an undergraduate student at the university by a Peruvian woman. Back then I was very thirsty for the word of God and passionate about the bible. The woman preached to me about the Sabbath day and how the Catholics are not following the word of God. I was convinced and decided to attend one of their lessons. I went to one of their lessons and was convinced again and got baptized. I kept attending the church, learning the lessons, learning how to recruit others to attend the church (a fruit for mother they will call it), clean Zion, everything that I need to do to have a nice house in heaven they would say. I followed their teachings, prayed, and bought their books. I even used to take the bus with few members of the church since some of us lived near one another.
One day I was walking home with a female member late at night, and I suggested that we accompany each other half way. You know because we are two young ladies walking home late at night. She seemed a little uneasy walking home with me. I was confused but I just didn’t want to walk home by myself, but then I just left her on her way. By the next day I went to church, I was pulled to the side and I don’t know what she may have told the missionary or pastor, but it seemed like I did something horrible to her. At the time I was feeling confused and it did not know why she would say negative things that about me. Then I started noticing that some members would look at me funny as if did not believe anything that I would tell them.
One time I got kicked out the mall because I was preaching with them, and according to them if you were kicked out because of preaching, it was considered a blessing. When we returned to the church some members didn’t believe that I got kicked out of the mall with the group I was preaching with, they wouldn’t believe anything that came out of my mouth, until another older member told them same thing I told them. Then the person in charge of my spiritual growth started looking at me funny too when I started questioning her about certain things. I believe when you question somebody it is for understanding not to offend them. She started looking at me as if there was something wrong with me. I was just getting confused and I called the lady that invited me to the church and I told her the situation and her words of advice were, “It’s the devil playing tricks on you, I thought the same thing.”
Everything before that seem to be going okay. I even went on trips with them but I was a very shy person and my social skills were not as good as they are now. I thought people from the church would understand that. Shy people usually interact with one or two people, not in a group. But I guess me being shy was also being looked down upon.
Anyway, since the church focused a lot on the end of the world, I started to become very afraid about the end of the world and the outcome of my life, my family, and friends. One day I started having a panic attack because the church would constantly say the end was so near that it felt it could happen at any moment and I just didn’t felt ready. As soon as the panic attack started the church leaders, members, and the women that brought me to that church turned their back on me. Now you would wonder why? I called the lady that invited me and with anger and rudeness, she told me to pray about it and that it’s a “test.” I called a few people that I thought were my “sisters” because naturally I was scared and the church was the reason I was scared. What I expected was compassion and sympathy to calm me down and not to worry. Nope. I got the opposite.
My mother started to worry about me and I saw that I started to mentally break down and started experiencing psychosis (in other words not being all there mentally). I really wanted to be part of the church and did not want to miss Sabbath day because you know for salvation. But according to the leaders, I was not allowed to go to the church on Saturday because according to them, I needed some professional help. Before I got the help my mother made me take her to the church. The church leaders allowed her inside and took her to a room and I don’t know what was discussed because I was not there. But as soon as they were walking us out they told us if I get professional help that I can come back. I took their advice and got help. I was tested and nothing was wrong me. But I felt deeply depressed because I was not in the church. Then I started to go back to show proof that I was alright because according to their words, “if you get better you can come back,” but deep inside my gut I knew they were lying. When I went back I got sent home and afterwards received a phone call by the spiritual leader that was in charge of my spiritual growth saying, “Don’t come near any of our members, and to our church again or will get a restraining order against you!”
After that I went into a deep depression that lasted for six months or more. I really thought God had rejected me, I felt awful, my spirit died, I walked the earth like a zombie, I didn’t feel anything. No emotions, nothing. I wanted to laugh I couldn’t. I want to get mad, I couldn’t. I wanted to cry, I couldn’t. Also, you must understand that since I was going through this psychosis, I called the members because I was scared and needed some support. Obviously that did not happen. I was treated like I was a freak, a dangerous person, and just unfit for their church. How can this church want to save everyone but when they have challenge and someone gets sick they just throw them to the pit? A person they used to call brother or sister? People that are representative of the “true God.” A person they used to say I love you to? I was also told once you leave the church you will have a terrible life and you will have the worst luck ever!
After I was kicked out, I dropped out of college in 2006, which would have been my junior year. I used to attend William Paterson University where I was recruited. I was pursuing a degree in public health with a minor in psychology. I wanted to be a Nurse and I was volunteering in a hospital so I could gain experience for my nursing career. One day after all my tears and depression I said to myself, these people are not going to point the finger at my situation and say “see what happens when you don’t follow.” I started working in the summer of 2006. Working helped me get over the whole situation and it helped me focus on myself. One day while I was walking to work I saw two male members of the WMSCOG and they looked at me in like I was ghost. I asked my aunt who also witnessed my whole ordeal, why they would react that way. She told me that they probably thought I was never going to lift myself up and that I would always be sad and depressed. Also while I was working, I came across a member at the drive-thru and she looked at me like we never met, so I treated her like she treated me. I end up working in clothing store after that. I put my experience with the WMSCOG to the side. I was feeling better and getting good experience at my job. I started experiencing life again and decided to return to school in 2008. Since my experience affected me so much that I couldn’t go back to my previous school, so I end up transferring my credits to Rutgers University. I really wanted to make up the 2 yrs of the college experience that I missed. I am a different person now and have a new perspective on life. I recently graduated with B.A. in psychology. I really thought my life was going to be cursed. When I was in the WMSCOG, my family lived in an apartment in the projects, but we moved into a house 2 years ago. It’s ironic how life is. I went through mental breakdown and got educated in the mental health field. I must say that at the time I was preached to I was weak minded and very gullible, which made susceptible to being recruited.
As an educated professional I can see how many young people, especially those in college, are very gullible and weak minded. However, my mistake was not being very educated in the teachings of the bible. I believe that if I had been more educated on the teachings of the bible when I was preached to, that could have change things. To WMSCOG members that may call me a liar, satan, etc… You believe in God right? Well, let God be the judge of my situation with your church. As of now, my belief in God is not there anymore because of your members’ behavior.
At the end of the day I realized that the only “true family” I had was the family that I was living with. The family that took care of me during my time of sickness. The one that worried about me late at night. The one that will never kick me out if I need help. The one that loved me unconditionally, because true love is unconditional. My faith in God is still weak because I questioned why this happened to me, but my will to move on is strong. I must say everything got better and things do get better. I am living proof of that.
I still get approached by WMSCOG members. I know that some members have no idea what happened to me because the church covers it so they can look like the “perfect church.” But I say to them, “Sorry I didn’t have a good experience your church.” They just look at me with a puzzled face. They remind me of a combination of the Jehovah witness and the Moonies. One of my sister’s friends started going to the church and I told her about my experience. However, she choose not to believe me and said that they would never do something like that. That it was my fault. I believe everyone has the right to believe in whatever they want to believe in. However, when someone shares their personal experience, and many experiences are similar, you start seeing a pattern. I can understand why she would believe them over me, because when I was a member, I would have done the same.
*This testimonial was originally submitted in 2012.