HAPPINESS IS A JOURNEY
Former member of Florida GAC
I write this letter because of the recent up-roar to this website and ex-members of a GAC receiving threats of federal prison and lawsuits. I too escaped from this group (the one God is Good to All talked about) about 9 years ago, after spending most of my life there in mental and spiritual torment. I know it is easy to remember the bad things and not the good, however, I look back and try to find the good it in all. I have friends and family (that have come out from here) that would go to the ends of the world with me. I have learned how to discern between good and evil. I have learned self discipline probably more than the normal. I know how to work hard because laziness was not an option! And I have learned valuable life lessons that I hope and pray I will only better myself as a person.
I must say, this is a very difficult situation for me because I have family that I love dearly still in this compound. My mother and sister are still held captive there by a force that they can not even see for themselves. They will read this and will be very upset with me, and I am sure that they will make sure it gets back to me that they are not by any means being held captive or feel they have to stay. But the truth is, I have been there and I know that there are times they feel insecure about the environment in which they exist. We all did at some point and time, but because of the deep-set mind control, you ignore those feelings and continue your mere existence in the world that has been “created” for you. So mom and sis, I do this because I love you!
I was one of the so called “fortunate” ones that got to actually live with the pastor, [name withheld]. This was a very weird time for me, and thankfully I have been able to block most of these memories. I knew things that would make your hair stand on all ends, from evil plots to intimidate and destroy families and individuals, to stalking members at work, home, or family vacations or one day trips, to embezzling monies from the tithes and offerings as well as family savings, to tapping phones lines, and the list goes on and on. I guess the most traumatic thing for me in leaving was my children, then ten and seven. They were the reason I lived! And the “leader” knew it and she would use this against me. It was embedded in me that if I dare left the flock, my children would be lost and their souls would burn in hell for eternity. My kids were very close to their grandmother and aunts there, and I knew that if we left they would be cut off. Sure enough, to this day, they still have nothing to do with them. Yes they occasionally receive a birthday card, Christmas card, etcetera or maybe a dinner night out once a year but wait did I mention that was only if the church wanted to pump them or information about those of us that had left. My kids tell me all their grandmother can talk about when they are around her are how good and special two other kids that are still there at the compound are. My kids say it is like they don’t even exist to their grandmother. I still struggle to believe that my mom truly realizes what she is doing and has missed some of the most important years of their lives. They are now 18 and 15.
I was the back up piano player for church since I was about 15 until a couple of years before we left, when I was FORCED to play on a regular basis, all the while, criticizing me most of the time, that I was not following the lead of God, or wait, I think she meant “her lead”, or that I didn’t have my life in order so I wasn’t being “blessed” and would just sit on me. By that I mean she would “lead” the congregation to either get in and worship or just sit there while I struggled to play for the song services…whatever! I would go home at night and cry for hours because of the mental torture, throw up, and get myself back in check for the next service, just to go through it again and again and again! My kids were in 4th and 1st grade when we left. We tried to leave in good graces, wrote a letter to the “pastor” asking that our kids be allowed to remain there for just the remainder of that year and that we were not angry with anyone, but we felt that in order for us to grow spiritually, we needed a change. That weekend, two trustees from that place, showed up at our front door, with our kids personal belongings in a black garbage bag, and we were told “May God have mercy on your souls.” Needless to say, I was absolutely petrified leaving, my kids were sure to be struck by lightning and killed by nightfall. Going from school to school, trying to find a place I felt secure with for my kids was another story in itself. Every Pastor I came upon would stop and pray for me, telling me they could see the hurt and pain in my eyes, and would lovingly try to express to me that God was a caring and loving God, not a malicious, murderous being. It took months for me to even begin to lighten up and realize I didn’t even know God! All those years, 25-plus, I had been serving a person, the “pastor”. I slaved for her, cleaning buildings at all hours of the night while holding down a full time job; when I prayed, I was praying in an unconscious manner, because I knew if I didn’t pray through as she thought I should, she would be down on me, criticize me, mock me, and ostracize me. So I prayed in a fashion that would be pleasing for her. I played the piano, not for the Glory of God, but that I might please her. I studied the Bible, testified, not for the Glory of God, but that I might please her in all I say and do! As sick as this may sound, it is the truth!
I was not able to even have my own family over without her (the pastor) permission. She would decide for us when we could go out for dinner, family vacations, have birthday parties for my kids, or have someone over for dinner. If we did not get her permission and she found out, we would be lashed out upon from the pulpit. Many times, she would buy us things when she knew she had gone too far, which would put us back in that “feeling obligated” mode. We did not have much, money wise, and at times we could not tithe like we should, plus knowing what happened to the tithes, didn’t help matters either, but during a very hard time when we couldn’t tithe like normal, she told me to my face, I had no right to pray or ask God for anything!
One service, out of the clear blue, she accused me and another member of the band (both of us being married) of lustful feelings for each other, right from the pulpit, and had me move my seat to the other end of the room. My jaw dropped to the floor, I turned 20 shades of red, I had no clue that was coming! It wasn’t until just a few years ago, I finally found out what that was all about, it was because we were having a picnic, a 4th of July holiday at the church. I had started blowing up a slide for the kids to play on, and because this other member came over and offered to help, and DID NOT WIPE OFF THE MOUTH PIECE AFTER ME, that we had a fling going on!
I, at one time, had come rushing home (at her advise) to pack my bags, my husband was corrupt (even though he had not done anything wrong other than disagree with her) and it was imperative that I leave him and my kids! Packing my bags in a rush to get out of there, something came over me and I truly believe that was when I began to see that something was really wrong up there. My kids would cry at night and wouldn’t go to sleep because they were afraid their mommy wouldn’t be there for them in the morning! This was the beginning of the mental abuse for them… How absurd this was!! The way it would work, she would pit couples against each other, so when one was doing ok, she would pick on the other. Do you see how warped and demented this is?! And this is just my story.
I could go on and on and tell you of things that would just floor you, but I have to stop somewhere, so here is where I will stop. Since we have left about nine years ago, we are doing wonderful and we thank God everyday that we finally saw the light and our kids did not have to be raised in that environment. I pray that my family left there, will one day come to an understanding too that will allow them to see it for what it really is. Once you have been out, you begin to heal, it is a long process, and it is not easy.
Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
-- Father Alfred D'Souza
From “God Is Good To All”
From another member of same group: