by Beth (Conover) Joseph
Posted on FactNet Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 1:18 pm:
I am still reeling from some of the reading I have been doing about current events of RAG.
I ache for the original founders of this group. I have tried very hard to keep good things from the group, not to "throw out the baby with the bath water" you know, and I really think that what is going on now is a corruption caused by a gradual grabbing of power. Power corrupts man, and perverts are known for digging into people's private lives in order to control them. It is very disheartening to hear of sooooooo many people who have been devastated and led astray as my family and I were. I encourage anyone reading this that is considering breaking free, consider no longer, jump out now! God is in control, and He will not abandon you for making a move that only frees you to serve Him better. It is He you are serving as a Christian, not RAG, not Tom Collins. There is nothing in God's Word that says we are to follow man-made rules. Compare what you are being taught to His Word, people. The ultimate authority is Jesus Christ. Ask Him to guide you in your study so the Holy Spirit can speak to you through His Word, THIS is scriptural and right!
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 1:35 pm:
I have to come back and say something else. You people have no idea how many things I want to say and I am trying not to react in a knee jerk way.
What I want to say is this: I have earned a college degree and in the process of doing so, realized fully why the group does not want their members to go to college. Knowledge among their subjects is dangerous to the leadership. Just a knowledge of the outside world alone is helpful to live in it and learn how to not be of it. I encourage even you have come out of the group to take some classes. Learn some of what we are up against as soldiers of God. I appreciated a posting that said to be knowledgeable about your opponents is a wise move when you are fighting a battle. Well, ultimately, we are fighting Satan every day of our lives. In so many ways, we don't even know them all until one pops up and we say "oops, I wasn't prepared for that one". So, don't we need to know something about the world he rules? I think so. Education has been wonderful for me, I feel more obligated than ever to use what I've learned to not only live a better personal life with God, but to also be a better witness. And to know what our children are up against if they want to get anywhere in life. My daughter graduated from college also, with a stronger walk with God as a result. But the pull out there is tremendous! We need to be being equipped by the saints to know how to live for Him, not be marked, criticized, ostracized, and belittled for common human fallacies. As if RAG is perfect! I am appalled at the men in the group that have allowed their women to be subjected to these men! My husband would never tolerate this kind of thing. He would get the Bible and beat them senseless. Then he would gather the flock and use the Weapon on them. "What are you people thinking?" He would say. Have you considered God's opinion on this? Where is the Holy Spirit in these activities? Nowhere that I can sense.
Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 1:50 pm:
One more thing. I am preparing a subjective, as in-depth as I can, testimony that I want to share. I am still reeling, and it will take some time to be able to write without stumbling all over myself. I am full to the brim with things to share. I want to be clear and without malice in what I have to say. As I have stated earlier, I am still struggling with some bitterness, and the group people still have an adverse affect on me, but I so want to help others if I can. I want to let people that I know that I have overcome for the most part, the devastation of our family. I want to witness to strangers who might come upon my testimony. I want anyone still in the group to know what pain and heartache I have experienced and the victory I now enjoy. I love you all! God loves you all!
It might take me awhile to compile the above mentioned testimony. In the meantime, it would very much please me to hear from any of you that are interested to write. Thank God for all of your efforts.
Posted on Saturday, January 15, 2005 - 12:01 am:
...the AUTHOR and FINISHER of our faith! I am completing the verse Betty Dunton began as a closing phrase on her posting. Thank you Betty, I remember your name but I get you mixed up with Damon and Artie Dutton, and can't put a face on you. I appreciate your response though, I want to shine without any shadows, oh God knows I do! Thanks for the reminder. I pray daily for help to not let my past dim my light.
To all of you who responded, thank you. I shall continue to write, this is a blessing and I think it will prove to be wonderful therapy. God is so good! He knows all of our uprisings and down sittings, and He knows what we need at exactly the time we need it. Praise His Holy Name!!
Posted on Tuesday, January 18, 2005 - 9:21 pm:
Anyone who is still in there, It is your life and testimony as a Christian that is in jeopardy! Your children will be adversely affected, I promise! Do you want to pay a large price for going along with false teaching and mind controlling activities.
Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2005 - 2:30 pm:
Forget the long term preparation. I have been delayed by my insecurity to share such negativity. However, if I can help someone else, then to God be the glory and forget any personal embarrassment I might experience.
I was raised in Arizona, where my parents moved just before I was born. They had heard Maurice Johnson on the radio and wanted to be a part of this non-sectarian group of people meeting in the name of the Lord.
My mother experienced great anxiety of mind, heart, and spirit. Her background and the beginning of my parents marriage explains this. Her anxiety began with past physical abuse, infidelity in her marriage, and then four girls she did not want, in her own words, "I did not want children". With this background, our family was in trouble from the get-go.
When they joined the assembly their were faithful brothers and sisters that tried to help, among them, Brother Maurice Johnson and his dear wife. I have wonderful memories of them at our house with my mother in real agony and them praying, trying to calm and reassure her that it was God she needed to turn to, it was Him that could help her and heal her hurts. I don't know how much of her background she shared with them, but they were not professional counselors with methods to draw out hurtful pasts and cause ugliness to spew forth and be purged and relieved. God bless their efforts, they were at least pointing her in the right direction, to God, not to their own opinions and rules. There were others, not as etched in my memory, though, as the Johnsons.
As time went on, my father began asking the men of the assembly for advice as to what to do with the daughters who were now starting to act out the results of a very unstable home, and rebellion against the strict, abnormal rules of the assembly, such as, no participation in school athletics, no going to school football games, no associating with unsaved friends, no pants, no skirts above the knee, no bathing suits, no movies, no TV, no radio unless it was Christian music, no make-up, etc, etc. But was there as alternative offered? Yes, there were some two faced "Christian" friends who would do some of these things and when caught, blame it on the Conover girls because everyone would believe they were the instigators, the family they came from....no doubt. What teenagers can hold up under this regimen? And who set up these rules? Not God, there are no verses in His Word to back up this foolishness, and man pleasing false doctrine.
As my mother got worse, so did we. I was the "best" of the four, because as I turned nine, my sisters were all out of the house and I could pretty much do as I pleased. The whipping and browbeating was almost over. I got it a few times, but not near like the others. I didn't want to get into trouble. I wanted so badly to please the Lord! I ask Him into my heart when I was nine. But was I taught either by example in my home or assembly teaching how to depend on God? How to talk to Him and trust Him to hear me and answer my cries? No. I was taught to wear my skirt just so long, not to cut my hair, not even to keep it healthy, wear no make up, etc, etc, etc. The reason for this? Because the leadership that we financially support will be very unhappy with us. Because Sallie does it, because Mr. Jones says it is so, because it was preached on Sunday. You will be pleasing man, Beth...was the message.
I could do this, I thought, and I did, for a very long time.
This does not come with any real rewards, only looking around at other people with trepidation that you are not good enough. You begin to count on other people for the standards to keep. and with that comes self-righteousness and a judgmental attitude. This mind set is very difficult to change, believe me, I have been working at it for 20 years. I will have to continue at a later date.
Posted on Friday, January 28, 2005 - 2:50 am:
I grew up amidst physical beatings of my sisters, horrible fights between my parents (a lot of them stemmed around the advice the men gave my father as to how to deal with his girls) and much judgment of my family by the assembly.
I was told by Lois Gardner many times that my father was a "spineless wonder" This description stuck and was passed around, amid snickers. My mother was deemed "feeble minded" and we girls were the product of that union. How could we win?
Did anybody think of the damage they were doing to us?...putting our parents down and laughing at them? this was a sin, as was the meddling into our family affairs.
Again, I believe there were families who really tried to help. Jack and Joan Bowman, Marcel and Jeanette Jean, and others. Bill and Dixie Nichols and The Carrolls took we girls in and took care of us while my mother spent many months in the county hospital, drugged out of her mind, etc, etc... I appreciate this very much.
Things got worse. They finally told my dad that Renee needed to be locked up. She was 14 and very much out of control, but not a criminal! She ended up in a state school for girls. She came out of there much worse for the wear. She has led a life of drugs, alcohol, you name it. And has ruined the lives of two more unfortunate people, her children.
When I was 17, I was sent to Texas with the Gardners to get some help to overcome problems at home. I ended up in the company of Jack Langford's family for about 3 weeks. What an eye opener that was. I will not go into that because of the family on this site who still grieve with the separation involved.
When I returned home, I decided to leave home for good, and with the help of my sister, Marta, flew to my other sister's home in the Sacramento area. She, (Louise Brutsche) and her husband immediately called my parents and discussed with my dad the situation. He ended up giving them his blessing and permission to let me stay.
They were very gracious to take me in and just love me and keep me busy with healthy, family, household things. With their five children, that wasn't hard. I was happy with them and felt loved for me and what I could give to them.
When the leader of the Sac assembly got wind of my leaving home, he and his cronies stormed the home of the Brutsches and practically kidnapped me from there. He took me to his own home and made it known that I had been "rescued". When my family adamantly refuted this as asinine, they marked my sister and her husband and proceeded to monitor all my moves so that I would not contact my sister or my niece and nephews. It was a very chaotic and heartrending experience. My sister got physically sick, she felt so helpless against them about her own sister.
I did not see my sister again until about 10 years later. I observed the marking because I did not know what else to do. That family was very traumatized by the assembly in Sacramento. Not every person is guilty, again, in every case, there are a few who actually try (in secret, mostly) to maintain some decency and love.
There go seven more people. There is much heartache and confusion in that family. Has the "leadership" once thought about the havoc they wreaked in their lives? Was there any love shown to them? Not at all. It is a tragedy. An unnecessary, ungodly, sickening tragedy!
I thank the Lord that I can have fellowship once more with Dennis Brutsche and his new wife. They are loving the Lord and His freedom.
By this time, I was feeling pretty badly about myself. My parents were losers, so I was told, my sister was now marked, and I was in the midst of relative strangers, trying to find my place. It was the thing to do to get married and have kids, I never even thought of the idea of going to college and taking care of myself. How could I, wasn't that against the rules? You bet it was. And I wasn't about to break the rules. So I finally settled into Art Lake's home with Debbie Tarwater. We cleaned houses to make some spending money. We cooked, cleaned, babysat, and made jam. Any preparation for our future? No, we were looking for a husband for that.
I met a man who was plucked from the Mendocino outreach. He had a friend. They both became interested in Debbie Tarwater and she responded to the friend. That left me and (I will call him "Charlie").
We saw each other for a few months and eventually got engaged. I immediately saw something that was not right in this person. I had no clue what it was, but I broke the engagement. At the same time, I began questioning about the marking of my sister and her family. I wanted to see them, and have some questions answered about this awful occurrence. This did not set well with the leadership...one thing led to another and before I knew it, they were telling me I needed to mend it with "Charlie" and marry him, after all who else would want to marry me? He was a "nice young man" been through a lot, etc, etc. He was reformed, had learned a lot from his trials and all kinds of BS. He was dependable, hard worker, "nice".
I heard later that the men in leadership of the Sac area did not know what to do with me. I was too inquisitive and unsubmissive and rebellious. They should just marry me off and let my husband take the load. This was factuated by one of the people who was involved in the mtg where this was said! I was shocked out of my wits to hear this!
Well, we married. After six years of physical, mental, and verbal abuse I had the man arrested on spousal abuse.
When I tried to tell certain men about our problems and what to do, I was told that I had to endure, that I had to submit, that this was the role of a Godly wife. There is nowhere in the Bible that backs that up.
There arose a dispute in the group about certain people having TVs in their closets. One of these people happened to be "Charlie's" friend, who had married my friend. A staunch and loyal friend, Charlie stood up for him in a confrontation with the leadership. The friend was marked and Charlie would not go along with it. We were marked also.
Now I was alone with Charlie. I had four kids, most of my friends were estranged, and my parents wouldn't even talk to us or their grandchildren. The abuse got worse...after I had him arrested he went back to the assembly and begged for forgiveness...what for...?
Thus ensued the fight of my life to make sure that my children didn't continue to suffer at this man's hands. He, with the assembly's help, tried to get them away from me. There was nothing to say that I was unfit and they had no case. They even asked my parents to testify.
This "nice young man" that these men encouraged me to marry turned out to be a pervert. A homosexual, people. He came into the assembly to find a woman who would give him the children he wanted. What better place to come? what kind of discernment is this? What kind of people are in this group? Who would tell a young woman who didn't know anything about life to marry a creep like this?
He terrorized our lives for about four years before the investigators finally uncovered the truth I tried to tell them about his behavior while with the children. He was told not to see them again until he got counseling. He never did.
I have made choices for which I will suffer the consequences the rest of my life. I cannot blame everything I have suffered on the assembly. But, I can and I will blame them for the lack of teaching the Word, the lack of acting in Love, the self-righteous judgment of people, and the wrong, unbiblical advice given to my family and me for many years. They will answer before the Lord for their false teaching and their man-made rules that have confused and ruined so many families and lives.
What happened next, I will not share as it is still very close to my aching heart.
I am now married again to a gentle man who has helped to raise my children and heal the terrible scars that break open and bleed when knocked. Bless his heart, life has been hard, sorting out all the confusion, learning new things that explain the heartache. I have been somewhat of a basket case. I have been homicidal, suicidal, and so depressed I could not get up from the bed.
In writing essays for credit while taking a Bachelor's program in college, I was able to purge a lot of pain, while writing what I was told were excellent papers on subjects I did not know I knew so much about. I believe God provided that venue for my learning and relief.
I have finally found a woman counselor who, though not licensed, has pointed me to scripture after precious scripture that has saved my life, literally. I have said before that God's timing is perfect. He allowed me to suffer all this time for a reason. He wants me to learn to trust Him. Men have let me down, one after another after another. I do not trust them to this day. I do not trust man.....
God wanted me to learn not to try to please man. Not to lean on them for my understanding. Not to depend on them. He wanted me to lean on Him. To trust Him. To believe that when He promises something, He will bring it to pass.
Proverbs 3:5&6 are verses that I memorized and quoted over and over as a kid. They now are the daily prayer for my life.
I love the Lord and I can honestly say that I am thankful for almost all of what I have gone through. I know I am a better Christian for it. I know that I have a better understanding of God's powerful love because of it. I can now help others with compassion and true empathy go through similar experiences.
I am truly thankful and grateful for my children, I believe four out of the five are saved. They have saved me from completely losing it many times. I had to stay above the water because they needed me.
I thank God for his faithfulness. His unfailing love, and His patience. I have found refuge singing and worshipping Him in song. He has blessed me with a talent that I can use for Him.
He is using me and I am eternally grateful that I am on my feet and rejoicing in the Lord in spite of Satan's efforts to snuff out my light.
Thank you for listening, all of you...I hope this can help someone who may be experiencing similar things. This has not been fun. It is a heart felt outreach to you.........
Posted on Monday, January 31, 2005 - 2:05 am:
Thank you for the verses and wishes for healing.
I am also blown away that the Creator of the Universe cares so deeply and wonderfully for me. There is a song that we sang this morning in church based on scripture...Jehovah Jireh, my provider, His grace is sufficient for me...my God shall supply all my needs, according to His riches in glory. He will give His angels charge over me, Jehovah Jireh cares for me, for me, for me, Jehovah Jireh cares for me.....This is one of my favorite songs, as it says it all. "according to His riches in Glory" my, my, what do we have to worry about?
Thanks all of you who responded, sorry Jody, for ruining your day...Satan is cruel and cares nothing for the saints...
I really did not post all that for sensationalism or sympathy; it took me awhile to pray and see if it was the thing to do. In righteous anger against the wrongs done to other people, I felt God could maybe use what I had been through. And there are those who could attest to what I say as TRUTH.
Thanks again for all your prayers,
In Christ, Beth
Posted on Tuesday, February 01, 2005 - 1:15 am:
First of all, I love your attitude and totally agree with it. Especially the part of "liberty that gives complete freedom to serve Christ" I applaud this statement and your desire to be humble and loving and forgiving.
I will speak for myself on this. I am definitely not out to get anybody, especially with false information. I believe that God is much better at that than I am, with the truth. But, it is with love for those who are suffering with the indecision to stay or go that I write. Love that says, don't let these things happen to you. Love that wants to reassure them that there is life after the assembly, with or without all of your family. And most of all, love that says, "God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind". Do not fear man! I say. God is in control. Search the scriptures for the Truth. Read with the Holy Spirit looking over your shoulder, guiding you, not to man who will tell you what you should think.
Do you really think that we would make up things that we have written, when we all know each other in some way or another? Things that I have read and written are not things that someone wants to "wish happened to them". These things happened, dude! And they are not nice things!
I know what you mean by questioning all this. what is the point, you ask. Well, the point is that we are righteously angry and want to rid the temple of God of blasphemers and corruption and power drunk leaders. And maybe even help to rescue hurt believers.
Thanks for participating, I don't know who you are. why don't you id yourself? We can worship together. I love to worship...there are so many ways to do so. And who better to worship than the Creator of the Universe?
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