Exit and Support Network

Fifteen Lost Years Growing Up in
Philadelphia Church of God

I attended PCG almost all my life, but can't really say I was ever truly happy. Growing up alienated from family and friends, never being normal, and striving to be "perfect." I was always some sort of role model. Kids I didn't even know from across the country would know me by name at PYC. I always felt as if I were under some sort of microscope, always afraid to slip up and "be made an example of" by suspension and bringing shame and embarrassment to my family.

Growing up I missed out on a lot. I wasn't able to go out to have fun with friends, no makeup, no cell phone. Nothing. I was never able to truly be myself. As the years passed I attended PYC [Philadelphia Youth Camp] and being of mixed race I was asked to dance only with black campers, even though I wanted to dance with every one. Camp became very upsetting. I was alienated there as well because of my race, which didn't matter until I was pigeon holed into dancing exclusively with the black campers. This made dating (when I was of group dating age) hard for me because I had to explain myself to everyone. Why should it matter? (If we are "spiritual Jews," then why should our physical appearance matter?)

I started dating a guy that was older then me. I had planned so much for us to do in groups and together at the Feast. When the Feast came, I didn't hear from him once. Then at the end of the Feast he finally invited me to dinner. He told me to wait for him at a certain area. There a girl was also waiting so we got talking. Then when he pulled up I said I had to go she looked at me and was like, that's my ride too. So we were both on a date with the same guy. We get to the restaurant (one I picked weeks before) and met up with another family, who had kids. I was 19 at the time and couldn't drink. I go to sit next to my "date" and got moved to the end of the table, with the kids. To add insult to injury I was handed a children's menu by the waitress.

After the Feast, I started counseling for baptism. This is where I believe God intervened for me. After that horrible experience, I prayed nightly for him to send me someone I could be happy with. Mid counseling, I met my husband-to-be, who was not in the "church." He was such breath of fresh air. He didn't care about anything I did and supported me when I said I still wanted to attend after I was suspended for dating him. (I later married him--the love of my life.)

I came back to PCG after a few years and the ministry told me that I was a "spiritual widow" and I needed to do things as far as raising the kids on my own, because I chose that way of life. After that, going to services was even more stressful. I felt like I was under constant scrutiny by all. Old "friends" wouldn't even give me the time of day. I was alone again--this time by the one source that made me a loner to begin with.

I became pregnant again and as I got further along I was told my dress was too tight. Really! I then had a rough end of pregnancy and no one called or showed any concern for me--only when it came down to my attendance. I was later suspended for not wanting to get baptized. Needless to say I don't think I will ever want to go back.

But like so many, I'm so conflicted because I still have thoughts of "what if they are right and something happened to my children and they aren't protected in the Tribulation because of me?" That's the most haunting thing to me and I have had nightmares about it. It makes me sick. I wish my parents hadn't made me go to services because if it were up to me I would have stopped going long ago. It's always haunting me, and I'm now in therapy because I can't handle a "normal" life. Baby steps I guess. I know God has a plan for all of us. We are all human and I'm sure God will take that into consideration when and if the time comes. I do, however, say the only thing I got out of being in the PCG were strong morals.

By Allison - Child survivor of WCG
November 5, 2011

Note by ESN:  It is very common to still have fears for sometime after leaving, but when we begin to replace the lies with the truth, we can and do recover. (Also go to: Healing From Emotional and Spiritual Abuse, Questions About Recovery and Booklist.)


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