An Adventure in Oregon
“Spiders, spiders!” Kathy screamed. Her beautiful sable eyes covered with a glassy film were frozen in fear. Her disheveled auburn hair shook in a frantic frenzy as she lashed around. Her clothes were spotted and torn from food droppings and tearing of their materials. Her mood would swing from horror to calm yet crazy laughter. Again, she’d stare at the spooky spiders then break out in chuckles at some silly jokes, a symptom of audible hallucinations.
Truthfully, Kathy was suffering a psychosis from the major mental illness, schizophrenia. It was not a case of fiendish demons being exorcized from her body and spirit. Instead Clayton gave the diagnosis of invading demons. Clayton was the pastor and leader of the church and made all the decisions and gave all the directions.
I reflected upon this memory in horror and shame. From the distance of Michigan to Oregon, the scales from my eyes had fallen and I could see the foolishness of my participation in this cult.
When I first met Clayton, I thought he was the epitome of perfection. At first glance his appearance was meticulous; shiny white teeth, fashionably long hair, and expensive suits. Along- side was his gorgeous wife, Kathy, his glory. His preaching was brilliant and seemed true to the Bible. In all senses he was dynamic, charming, and charismatic – almost better than Ronald Reagan. The churches’ membership grew, and I could see its potential for great changes in itself and the community.
One day Clayton approached me. With all his smiling charm he told me that I was an excellent Christian soldier, and he would be delighted if I would go to Bible college. “In time we’ll take the cream of the crop to Oregon, my birth place, and we’ll establish a great New Testament church.”
Being insecure and with no direction, I jumped at the chance. “Praise God, of course I will.” My heart pounded at the thought of pleasing God but more so of pleasing Clayton. What he really offered was false hope.
As soon as I graduated from Bible college, I flew out to Oregon. The church, populated with young people from Michigan, was already established. It was small, but it was powerful.
At first I felt comfortable as Clayton had placed me in the high position of elder. I fell more “in love” with him in the awesome background of mountain scenery. Its distance set me far apart from the problems of home and family.
But, quickly things changed from worship of God to worship of Clayton. We were persuaded to give more and more money to him. In sacrificial time we were told to repair and up-date his expensive Victorian home. We did all sorts of unusual things for him.
Worst of all, the gospel changed from the Word of God to the Word of Clayton. Instead of preaching Bible messages, he would teach doctrine from his own revelations. These revelations were figures of Clayton’s imagination and included visions and the audible voice of God. The Lord said to serve Clayton and give all to him. Demons were to be exorcized from all church members. We had fun exorcizing demons, laughing as the “possessed” either laughed or cried from their release. In my heart I knew this doctrine was wild and wrong, but I couldn’t let go. Pride in my position prevented me from leaving.
The big test came when Kathy became ill. Clayton would ramble from room to room announcing, “This church will prevail!” But, I could hear him crying in his bedroom with his new lady by his side.
Reality slapped me in the face when Clayton declared that him and Tom, his sidekick, were the witnesses of Revelation 11 (KJV). They were even planning a trip to Israel.
Without a doubt I knew all this was false, evil, and sin. While packing, I thought of the sad situation in which the other congregation members were bound. Most came from dysfunctional families where alcoholism, drugs, and weak fathers reigned.
I fled without a word to Clayton or any of those folks. When I arrived back in Michigan, my old problems and insecurities greeted me. But, I was much stronger. With the living God’s help I would overcome them.
Rescuers intervened and placed Kathy in a mental hospital where she recovered.
Matthew 24:4,5 (KJV) nonfiction – relative’s POV
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