I Joined a Cult – the World Mission Society church of God

Hey guys, it’s Chrissy and welcome to
Chrissy’s corner. Today we have a special guest. Her name is Sonia, she’s 22, from
Michigan and she’s here to talk to us about her experience with joining a cult
called the World Mission Society Church of God. Okay guys, so I have Sonia here
with me. How are you doing today? I’m doing very well thank you. I’m happy to be here. How are you? I am doing good. We’re glad to have you on here and that you
are willing to talk to us about your experience with what went on joining
that religious group. Can you tell us all a little bit about yourself. Yeah so my
name is Sonia I’m 22 and I live in the Detroit area. I grew up Catholic, I’m one
of five kids and my family we went to church every Sunday, we celebrated all
the holidays, we’d pray the rosary as a family. At times and like prayed before
every meal and Catholic faith was a big part of my life.
However I do identify as an atheist and there are a lot of things that led
up to that. And part of the journey to becoming atheist was I did join, what I
would consider, a religious cult called the World Mission Society Church of God.
And that particular part of my journey is what I want to share with you all.
Yeah, we’re super excited to hear from you about your experience. Can you tell
us about how this all began? How you joined this cult or how you came into contact
with it? My first encounter with them was my freshman year of college. I was
attending the University of Oklahoma and I was on my way to the dining hall and
these two women approached me and asked if I wanted to join a Bible study and
they said they were from the Church of God. So I’m like sure. It seemed like just
like a normal Christian Bible study. Like the church of god just sounds like maybe a denomination or the name of a church I
hadn’t heard before. They basically took my number so they can text me and set up a time of when I’m available to meet with them. And apparently I missed a
number or something, and I didn’t do it on purpose I was like trying to give
them like a fake number just to call them off or whatever, but they
literally ran back when they noticed that I put my numbering wrong or I only
entered nine digits. And they asked me just to like, you know…
They wanted to be sure that they got the right information. Yeah, which at the time
it seemed kind of normal. but looking back i think just how persisted or insistent they were and attention to detail it… I
think it is a little bit of a red sign now that I’m thinking back. So the
following week I I met them at the library.
We had a Bible study. Yeah they sound like… If I heard if I heard that cult
name, the World Mission Society Church of God, I would automatically
think it’s a break off of Christianity. It’s some sort of group of
Christianity so I can see why you thought that because that makes sense. It
says that in the name but it was very different than what you expected. What
was… what was the Bible study like? The whole format, it was basically me and one
of the women that I met who asked if I wanted to join the Bible study. Where
usually the Bible studies I was a part of in the past, it was it was like an
entire group where we would study together and there’d be one person
leading it and we’d just go through some Scripture together and we try to figure
out what God was trying to tell us and try to apply it to our own individual
lives. And it was always just kind of empowering and a way to be mindful in
our own lives and that sort of thing. Where this, it felt like I was in Sunday
school and I was five years old and I was just being preached at the whole
time.What I would consider very radical beliefs that I had never heard before.
For example, they said that it was sinful to celebrate Christmas, sinful to
celebrate Easter and a lot of different holidays that most Christians celebrate.
Why is that? So their view is that a lot of these mainstream Christian holidays
that we celebrate were originally pagan holidays that we basically stole, to an
extent, and are instead worshiping our own God. So for example, Easter derives from
the from the word Esther who is the goddess of fertility and spring. Even
though we’re celebrating the resurrection of Jesus there are a lot of
spring themes and that sort of incorporated into that holiday. So ultimately they think it is the holiday that has taken origins and the Book of
Isaiah condemns that. When Isaiah was a prophet, he was preaching to the Jews at
the time who were worshipping God Jehovah on pagan holidays and basically
saying it doesn’t matter what who you’re celebrating and what you’re
worshipping on those days. If it’s origin is and the date is itself as a pagan
holiday, it is still sinful. And Christmas was… was a holiday to worship
the Sun God originally. So it didn’t matter at all your actual like the
actual reasoning of why people do it because it started this way… It’s… for
this cult it’s not okay. Yes and even to further to go on that, they said it
was sinful to practice our faith on Sunday or to go to church on Sunday. See
that… that’s really interesting because that’s what most people meet or tend to
me, I should say, is on Sundays. Instead the people of the Church of God would
celebrate the Sabbath. Which is on Saturday. Which they felt that that’s
what Jesus taught so why is it that we changed it? And when you go back in
history, Emperor Constantine implemented a law that all Christians and all Romans
need to celebrate on Sunday itself just to kind of make the culture more unified
because that that was the Roman day of worship. And now we justify it like what
Jesus raised from the dead on Sunday, but that wasn’t really the main reason of
why we switched over to Sunday. Sounds like they’re really they really go into depth
about like the Bible and what they think about it. And like the little tiny
aspects that people really miss. Is that kind of how they are? They’re very
particular and very precise. Like there is only one way to worship God and it
has to be exactly the way the Bible said. Okay so how was the energy of that Bible study?
Because I imagine sitting there and being talked at like your child wasn’t,
you know, the ideal thing and it didn’t make you feel very good. Yeah, I guess in
addition to that some of the questions she would asks at the beginning we’re
very manipulative just to pry my thinking, maybe to question my own beliefs. For example, she’d ask ‘if God were walking
among us today, the way Jesus did 2,000 years ago, would you be able to recognize
him?’ It just kind of makes you think like… that’s not an easy question to
answer. Or she went through a parable with me. Like the weeds and the wheat.
If you’re a Christian I think you know what I’m talking about.
But basically Jesus said a parable where a farmer sewed a field of wheat and while
he was sleeping Satan sowed seeds of weeds into the same crop. When they both
started to grow they both look very similar basically. You couldn’t really
tell which one was weeds and which one was wheat at first. Jesus said the
kingdom of heaven is like this. So she was kind of Prying my thinking that all
churches may look the same but there’s actually some major differences. There’s
a major difference between meat and weeds and wheat even though they may
look very similar. And she even showed me a picture of which one is a weed and which
one is a stem of wheat and I couldn’t even tell and she kind of told me but… it
kind of implies that there are false prophets out there and I’m gonna help
you navigate through which ones are true and which ones are false. So it had kind
of like this thing of let me make you question what you already think you
believed and then let me help you? Yes. That’s exactly what it felt like. So I I
left very confused and very emotionally drained but how I cope with that
negative emotion was that well, I’m not on this journey, this faith journey, to
find some warm and fuzzy philosophy. I want to really find out what is true.
So I just decided to keep going to the studies even though it made me
uncomfortable, just to kind of get a holistic view of what this faith really
is and make my informed decision based on that. So when did you start actually
attending the church services? So strangely enough, the first Bible study I
went to was a week before Christmas break and my whole Christmas break is
like a whole month. So I’ll say that she was super disappointed that break was
next week and that we couldn’t meet sooner, like she was afraid that I just forget
about this and not have another Bible study or something.
But she sort of kept tabs on me throughout the entire break a little bit
and would kind of send me links sometimes. Sometimes I’d read them
sometimes like… my mind wasn’t really focused on the cult whatsoever but after
after break I did meet her again for another Bible study because I was still
just interested in learning more about this faith. And it was probably two weeks
after break that I went to the first church service. So what was that like
what was it like to actually attend those church services? Right off the bat, what was very different was all the men would sit on one side of the
congregation and all the women would sit on the other. And it was required for the
women to cover their heads during service. So we’d have all these like all
the women wear like white veils and like I was wearing… even though I didn’t have
one, like someone loaned me one (oh, did they?) yeah I guess somewhere,
and I think it’s in Corinthians somewhere, the Apostle Paul basically
said that women need to cover their heads for modesty when they’re
worshiping and in prayer and stuff. So they took that literally. Did you think
it was weird when you went in and you just saw everybody like… males on one
side and females on the other? It was a little weird. For sure. Like I still don’t
know why they do that. That… that’s different. That’s really different. And
then the service itself it just felt like a very large group Bible study.
Usually sermons are…. they’ll talk about Scripture but they’re also supposed to
be a little bit inspirational and teach you how to live your life. Where there’s
none of that. They see the Bible as just a book of prophecy. Which is how you’re
supposed to interpret it in their eyes. In this third and final age which I’ll
I’ll get on to that later. Again, it just it was just that feeling…. Like this
cognitive dissonance I’ll say of just so different from what I grew up
believing. It was it was just a very stressful circumstances when everything
that you used to know to be true and actually still means a lot to you and it
gives a lot of meaning to your life, is completely false. Did you keep going
because they would ask you those questions like from the Bible study
that would make you question your own current beliefs and then say it I can
help you…. Like is that kind of why you kept going to like those meetings? Because you were just trying to figure out really what was true and what
wasn’t? Yeah, I was I was taking a very objective approach to truth instead of
this feels good therefore it’s true. I wanted to avoid that as much as possible
and just basically be honest. (“and you didn’t…) So that’s why I kept going. And you didn’t really care like if it seemed like negative or positive. It was just, you just wanted the truth from
it. That’s all you wanted? Yeah, like me as an individual I can’t control if what is
true feels good or not. And I think a lot of people associated truth with what
feels good. To me that was a very flawed sense of reasoning. So that’s why I kept
going. I couldn’t think of a reason not to and I kept trying to find excuses of
like this can’t make sense because of this or I kept trying to find gaps and
their sense of reasoning. (yeah) and I just couldn’t. The only way that I was able to
find any kind of gap was either God isn’t true or the Bible isn’t true. And I
guess personally, I wasn’t really willing to go there yet. Which, eventually I did
start questioning that a little later. I think as human beings just in general
like we want to find the truth. And I think that’s a very logical way of
thinking and being truthful with yourself and saying: okay, truth doesn’t
mean that it’s always positive, It can be negative to. And so I think that’s very
appliable to lots of different people because people want the truth. so as you
started attending these meetings, what were some of the beliefs that you picked
up on that weren’t in the normality of Christianity? They believe there is both a god the father and god the mother. And they
back the scripture with the book of Genesis when it says that men and women
we’re created in the image of God. So and if man is created of the image of
God, women must be as well. So there must be a woman version. In addition in the
the book of Genesis, God often refers himself as us or our. So it kind of
begs the question is like why is he addressing him in this way? Or there
there’s a parable in the New Testament, it talks about a bridegroom and there’s a
celebration at a wedding. So they asked a question like where’s the bride? She’s
implied, but where is she? Basically how these Bible studies go, these teachings go… they take a verse in one chapter. Then they’ll like go all the way to another book, maybe in the New Testament, and pick out a verse there and then go back to the Old
Testament. So they do really cherry pick (like a cross reference) a lot of beliefs and really
kind of put them together in a very very complicated ways. And in addition to God
the Father… So there’s God the Father, God the Son
God the Holy Spirit. They do believe in the Trinity. But they believe that
each aspect of the Trinity has a different age. There was the age of God
the Father, then there was then Jesus Christ, started the age of the son and in
this day and age started the age of the Holy Spirit around the 1950s or so. And
they believe that the Holy Spirit came to earth and the flesh in South Korea at
some point in the 50s. And the Church of God worships him at the same level as
Jesus Christ and god the father. And partially in order to be saved, you have
to you have to believe and worship we pray to him as well. Which that’s a
very strange concept to wrap your brain (yah that’s very different ) around. So do
they believe like us right now like we’re still in that age? Yes and this is the
last day. This is the last age before the rapture. And another belief was that we
have sinned in heaven. Like we had we had a past life in heaven and there
there was a war between Satan and God. Where Satan tried to take the throne. And we, as people, took the side of Satan and fought the war on Satan’s side. So god condemned us to earth as punishment and it’s up to us to make up
for the sins we committed in heaven. So everybody on the planet right now,
with their belief… everyone on the planet. There are angels in heaven. Like we were angels. There are
other angels in heaven that were on God’s side and they’re still in heaven
and we would still be there too if we hadn’t Sinned against him. That’s extremely
different from Christianity. Yes. Very different. So like with that view,
did they… like how did they view hardships in life? Would they view it as
you deserve it because you chose the devil, you fought for the devil? Basically, so
it was very guilt trippy and I think part of the reason why they justified
that a lot of people don’t really know this truth, and a lot of people would
ultimately be ending up in hell, as well we kind of deserve it anyway. So I think
that was a way for people to just kind of justify the fact that most of their
family might be going to hell or most of their friends because very few people do
believe this particular faith. That was a very hard concept for me to wrap my head
around because I knew for sure my parents were very devout and all my
siblings and that they would not really accept these beliefs. But during the time
like when they were teaching you everything it just made sense and you
couldn’t really figure out a way around what they were saying? Cuz for me when I
hear like okay man’s created and God’s image. Okay God’s like a man and then
it’s like when you are saying well there has to be a woman too because who are
the woman created after? Another thing, like women give life,
women give birth, so our life can’t actually come from God the Father who is
a man. Yeah. Like that that’s a strange concept but I can see how that would
make sense. Yes, basically and I guess the way they backed it in Scripture was very… Seemed convincing to me. Like I’m Catholic. A lot of the believers there were… a lot
of them were originally Catholic and converted. Like you didn’t see very many
protestants (that’s interesting) or people of other faiths. Which I thought was kind of interesting. (yeah) so… I don’t know. (that’s really interesting) so they also believe that 144,000 go to heaven and are saved. It
says that in the book of Revelation somewhere. Then God takes the mercy on a few other souls that are outside the 144,000. Like… who
aren’t as good but are kind of closer and those people are considered to be a
part of the grand multitude, which the grand multitude also goes to heaven and
then there is everyone else who is just kind of doomed. Basically to get to heaven,
like you had to work really, really, really hard. That’s a lot of people who are just doomed. Yes, as scripture says, the lake of.. you end up in the lake of fire.
(Yeah) That’s hell. No big deal. Just the rest of the world. Yes, it’s a very fear based faith. So what do you need to
do in order to be saved according to this belief? First of all, you have to be…
have a valid baptism. You have to be baptized in the name. That’s key. Of the
father and the son and the Holy Spirit. The name of God the Father is Jehovah,
God the Son is Jesus obviously and the Holy Spirit his name is Christ Ahn Sahng-hong. Since he was born in South Korea, that was his name. I actually was re-baptized at one point and they re- baptized me in the name of God the
Father Jehovah, God the Son Jesus Christ and God the Holy Spirit
Christ Ahn Sahng-hong. Can you tell us the backstory behind you deciding to be
baptized? So this was definitely a part of their manipulation. I literally broke
down crying in one of the services at one point, basically just fearing my
family and all my friends fate. I wasn’t completely convinced that this was the
truth at that point but my fear that it was true. Sarah her name is, or I’ll say
her name is Sarah, the person who was doing all the Bible studies with me and
spending a lot of time and just trying to teach me about the faith. She kind of
took me outside and she just kind of just asked what’s wrong, covered me and she just said something along the lines of not letting your family get in the way
of your biggest opportunity. Which is eternal life. And she did it as a way to
try to be comforted… comforting. At that moment I was feeling really emotional (vulnerable) it was kind of a way of love… she was kind of loved bombing me a little bit too.
And then that moment of when I was really vulnerable I decided okay
I’ll be baptized. Immediately after that she went to the pastor, and she’s like
all right we need a baptism. And then they threw it together, like just like right then and there ( just same day?) Yah (just right then?) right then. Which i think is an interesting
concept because that doesn’t give you time to really think about it, you know?
You were in a vulnerable state and feeling very emotional about, you know,
what’s happening or what could happen. They kind of took advantage of that
opportunity and just… hey let’s get you baptized! Right here, right now. Yeah and… Sarah I don’t see her as a bad person. Now looking back I just see her
as so brainwashed and I really hope she gets out. She is a very kind individual
and I’m not trying to bash her any way. I really think she was trying to do
what she thought was best for me so… Yeah and a lot of people in cults don’t
really recognize that they are in one. And for them, maybe they’re just
recognizing, you know, this person needs my help with this because this is the
one true belief, so they’re trying to help you but they don’t necessarily
realize kind of the tactics that they’re taught to bring these people in. So what
other things do you need to do in order to be saved? There’s a total of seven
feasts that you need to keep. There’s the Passover, which is receiving the body and
blood of Christ. Which is only done once each year. The Catholic Church does it
every week as well as the Mormon Church or a lot of the other Christians who
only do it once a month, that’s wrong. It has to be done once a year on Passover.
There’s the Sabbath which was worshipping on Saturday. And then there’s
like five others, which I… since I was only in the group for three months, I
didn’t ever really learn about the other ones. I know there was a Feast of
Tabernacles and I asked that during one of my Bible studies. So I’m like so what is
this feast? And they’re like Oh

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