I was born into Worldwide Church of God in 1961. My parents were a deacon and deaconess in New Jersey and Texas. My father was also choral director for the New York City area. My three siblings and I attended Imperial School in Big Sandy in the early 70’s with my oldest sister doing a year at Ambassador College. We followed Raymond Cole to Eugene, Oregon when the WCG divided in the mid-70’s. Long story short, my parents divorced and we children were given the choice of staying with or leaving “the church.” At 16 it was a no-brainer. I was finally able to partake in school activities, eat my first pepperoni pizza, watch TV on Saturdays, celebrate birthdays and Christmas!!

I didn’t think much about how WCG had molded my personality and decision making process as I was too busy living life. Now after reading about the Feast Days, the Lake of Fire, fleeing to Petra, two hour services, tithing, Bible Study, etc., it  has brought up so many mixed emotions it is truly overwhelming. On the one hand I feel betrayed and cheated. Even as a child I was aware of the hypocrisy and scare tactics used by the elders to manipulate the congregation. I was totally unprepared for adulthood. Because the world was going to end, I never learned about savings and finances, was never encouraged to attend college (even though I belonged to the National Honor Society and an Oregon Scholar), and had absolutely zero good examples of equal partnerships in personal relationships.

My marriage failed and I had struggles with obesity, alcoholism, and anxiety. Real doctors and therapy have helped, unlike the campus “doctor” in Big Sandy who gave me a Tylenol for third degree burns I suffered at an Imperial School barbecue and swim party at Lake Loma.

I once emailed my father (who became an expert at interpreting scriptures to suit his needs, go figure) that I was raising my daughter to be independent, involve herself in community and politics and most importantly question authority. He still followed the basic teachings of the false prophet HWA and his response was that of a bitter, brainwashed old man.

Although I could recount many, many negative experiences, I have resigned myself to focus on the few positive aspects of my cult upbringing. I consider myself a good person who doesn’t lie, r**e, pillage or steal. I now make decisions based on what is right in my heart, not out of fear of a vengeful, jealous and wrathful God.

I still keep in touch with dozens of friends I made in WCG, many of whom have moved on and dealt with the repercussions in their own ways…and a few who are scarred for life.

By Cheryl (Child Survivor of WCG)
March 23, 2024

Comment from ESN: No one has to be “scarred for life” by being in the WCG. Please see our Recovery articles in the Child Survivor section and in “Healing From Emotional & Spiritual Abuse.”

 

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