16 Dec 2021

My Calling & Time in RCG – with Guest Carisa Rehbein

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Hello, everybody, welcome to the church God network Podcast. Today we wanted to pre record the introduction to this episode for a number of reasons. So today, myself and fellow CGM board member Chantelle West are going to be sitting down with Carisa Rehbein, who’s a good friend of the both of ours. And we wanted to discuss her personal experience being called into God’s Church, she has a very interesting story. And chances are maybe you haven’t met someone with her kind of background. The reason we want to pre record the introduction is because her first point of contact with God’s truth was The Restored Church of God. And we there are a couple things we didn’t get into in the episode, but we want to get into to start the episode. And that is that we don’t want viewers coming away from the episode thinking that we’re legitimizing The Restored Church of God. We believe that Dave Pack’s actions in the different offices he’s taken on to himself as the leader of that church are incredibly problematic, as are the actions of other more fringe groups that came out a worldwide, like the Philadelphia Church of God. We also don’t want people to come away from this episode thinking that these fringe organizations are the same as all the other churches of God. Church organizations, I should say, that we do serve and that are listed on our website, we do not list the Church of God, preparing the kingdom of God, which is Ron Weinland’s group, The Restored Church of God, or the Philadelphia Church of God on our website. And we just want to clarify that going in. What we are trying to communicate in this episode, is that God’s people are in these groups. There are people in these fringe groups that do have God’s Holy Spirit. And we’ve met a number of them who have come out of those groups over the last few years. And it’s important that we provide a welcoming atmosphere for those individuals when they do come out. Because there are a lot of things that they need help getting over getting past there’s a lot of psychological hurt. And we hope that by sharing Carisa’s story, you can gain some more empathy for people who might have been in her situation or might be in her situation right now. So with that being said, we hope you enjoy the podcast. Remember, if you’d like to podcast, please subscribe, and hit the like button. Enjoy.

Well, thanks for joining us today, Carisa, we appreciate having you today. I was I was thinking about this today is audio you kind of feel like a new personal friend of mine. But we’ve known each other for a while actually, haven’t we? Yeah, like 2017 2018? Something like that? Yes. 2018. Um, so for the for the viewers, or listeners, the reason why we ask Carisa onto the podcast is she has a pretty unique Church of God story. I’ll let her do most of the explanation most of the background on it. But in short, she was called from the world into the Church of God, which in and of itself in this day and age is more of a rarity than not. But she was called into The Restored Church of God, a group that many people in the church of God currently see as more fringe if they even see it as part of the Church of God, body. But Carisa was called into organization, she was there for quite a number of years. And then when certain things started happening, she started to realize things about the dynamic of the organization. And she eventually left or actually I don’t even know if it was a left or kicked out or like a mutual parting of ways we’ll probably get to that conversation. But then you are in the the Church of God, for lack of a better term, mainstream now you you attend with with other church groups. So there are a lot of unique things in here. And a couple of which I’m sure will touch upon in terms of how you came into the church. I know there were sort of like a family member that happened to be in the church when he got there and restored. So there are a lot of unique things about your story. And I’m really excited that you were willing to share this knowledge with us. But with that when he listens to the podcast. So with that. And I also want to thank Chantelle for joining us a fellow board member, we It’s not often we get three people on the podcast, and Chantelle is a much more naturally charismatic hosts than I am. So it’s good to have her balance on this one. So I’ll get started here. So just for some background for the for the listeners, can you tell us how you recalled how what was going on in your life before coming into the church and being called by God? How did that process sort of start for you?

So when you’re called by God, it’s something that you can’t ignore, and it’s something that’s always on your mind and draw you to it. And as you had mentioned, I wasn’t raised in a church of God. So my first exposure to Christianity It was somebody that I was dating, who happened to be my best friend’s next door neighbor. And we always admired their family from the outside looking in. The women were always dressed modestly and carried themselves in like a different way that you wouldn’t normally see. The men are always outside working. And you could just tell that they all really cared for each other. And it was something that you didn’t see on a day to day basis. And I just really admired it and wanted to be a part of it. As time went on, he explained to me, you know, I can’t, how you meet my parents and invite you over, because it would mean that we would be really serious as if we were getting married. And I was what? And he’s saying, yeah, like, my family is really religious. So that’s, that’s why, like, I haven’t been inviting you over, or he would use it as an excuse for why he made plans and ditch because he couldn’t tell them about me. And it kind of just drew me to the whole idea of what is this? This is what being a Christian is or what does that even mean? And I happen to be working with another Baptist Christian, which is what their background was, was a Russian Baptist belief system. And she said, you know, you’re asking me so many questions, you might as well just do a Bible study with us. And I know a Russian girl that came from that community. So she would be able to give you the cultural aspect of what what’s going on, because I’ve never heard of such a thing before. So that’s kind of how it first all started off. And we did Bible studies together. And the more I did the Bible studies, the more I was really unraveling, wow, like, I never didn’t believe in God. But I didn’t know that there were commands and things to do. And the people that were leaving the Bible study had different versions of what they interpreted the Bible to be. And further down the road, the Russian community wasn’t really accepting of me being a Christian, just because it wasn’t Russian. And it it made me realize, no, I have to start reading the Bible for myself. I can’t just go based off of what people are saying. And my grandmother on my dad’s side, she was the only person that I knew that was religious, in my family. So I went to her and I said, Hey, you know, I got saved, and I’m learning all this new stuff. And what do you think? Because these people are telling you this, and these people are telling you that? And she was like saved Carisa, was that even mean? Like, where do you find that in the Bible? And I’m like, Huh? You, like, doesn’t everyone know what being saved is you just pray to God ask for forgiveness. And you’re saying, like, that’s just like, isn’t that a thing? And she was like, No, you need to keep the 10 commandments and get baptized. needing to go to the church that she’s going to because she’s one bringing me the information. And of course, the more that I’m doing, what the Scriptures say to do, and kind of applying them to my life, the further I’m realizing that the guy that I was with wasn’t really who wasn’t as good of a Christian as his community and family were. And it was more toxic than it was good for me. And I started doing baptismal Bible classes with the Seventh Day Adventist Church. And one of the first things they were covering where was the seventh It was Sunday, Saturday. So I kinda was just doing a lot of studying online, looking for different videos on how on earth people would know that the seventh day is the Sabbath. And what does that mean? God rested on the seventh day. Okay, so how do we know that? That’s Saturday? Like, are you just making this up? Like, the whole entire world? Keep Sunday? How is How does everybody in Christianity have this wrong? Like, I’m a new Christian, this isn’t some big rocket science thing. This is very, very cookie cutter. 10 commandments for commandment, this is what it says this, that’s what Saturday is. And why is nobody doing it, you know? So, um, and that YouTube search, I found The Restored Church of God’s video.

Christ was around resurrection, not Friday, not Sunday. And that kind of just blew my mind because that was the one sign that Christ had that he was the coming Messiah, that He would be three days and three nights in the tomb as Jonah was in the belly of the fish. And he clearly went over the Hebrew calendar and how they look at their days and what a true three days and three nights would look like and that That’s exactly where mainstream Christianity gets their day of Sunday worship is the day they believe Christ is resurrected. So I’m finding that that that’s not even Sunday. I was just kind of like, I need to figure out where this church is. Because the Seventh Day Adventist Church was still keeping Easter. And based off of that, you know, Passover isn’t on Easter. And it was just kind of really rocking my mind that there’s all this pagan worship and, and there’s different things I needed to learn about our calendar, and its origin or origin, and where it came from. And when I had gotten a call back from a minister from there, or starch, or sugar God, they were telling me, you know, you’re being called by God, because you’re understanding these things. And most people wouldn’t understand these things. And you’ll find, if you go and try to teach these things to other people, they are not going to understand your eyes are being revealed to these truths. So I was just really blown away like, this must be true, because I’ve been praying to find the right church, and all these things are just kind of falling in line really perfectly. And the more that I’m doing them, the more God showing me what’s true, even in my personal life, and he was saying, you know, we don’t keep holidays, like the world does is one of our other main things different from Seventh Day Adventist Church. And I was going, Oh, my grandmother, on my mom’s side just stopped keeping holidays, like last year. And I believe it was because of her belief system from like, some church of God with churches, this and he said, they’re searchers of God. And I said, I think then my grandma goes to this church, and he goes, what’s her name? So I tell him and he goes, she’s in my congregation.

That’s wild to me.

What I found is random video online, and you’re gonna tell me that I found out what turns my grandmother goes to and then to further make it extremely weird. Um, I run back to my dad’s mom, my grandmother that I’ve been going to Seventh Day Adventist Church with and I’m telling her all this stuff, and she goes, Oh, yeah, like your great grandfather went to that church. And he is the one that when he was building our house, he would do Bible studies together, took everybody in our family out of Catholic Church because of the Sabbath, the Seventh Day Adventist Church. And then he left them, they went to church because he didn’t believe Ellen G White was a real prophet, and that she was a woman and shouldn’t be preaching. And he found the Worldwide Church of God and a lot of people went with him. And I went, what? And she goes, Yeah, I was like, my parents were Seventh Day Adventist. She goes, Yeah, they were married Seventh Day Adventist. So I’m going, Why in the world is going on, right? I didn’t know any of this. It just seemed like it was all very God led and guided and that I was chosen in some kind of way and being led to this church. So that’s kind of the lesson.

So if you didn’t have any contact with your grandma, or your family didn’t talk about, like, keeping the Sabbath or any sort of like faith based traditions that like what influenced you even subtly, like, was it have you had you heard, or just it was sort of like, Oh, Grandma has this, this odd faith practice that she just started doing?

Yeah, um, as that minister had mentioned, you know, if you go to try to tell these people, things they’re not going to hear you or listen to, it’s a part of the belief system that you don’t preach to people. So my grandmother was just letting us know that because of our belief system, that she wasn’t going to do these things anymore. She wasn’t sitting there trying to teach us why we shouldn’t do it anymore, or, or get really involved in it. So it was because her dad, the great grandfather that I had, that kind of led the way for my whole family had passed away recently. And so it was her way of kind of like dealing with a grievance and finding her faith again. So it was only a very recent thing that she even started attending again, and my dad’s mom, I would see her sometimes on the weekends because my parents were divorced. So I would be over his house and he lived with her on the weekend. So I knew that she had the commandments on the wall. And she would say things sometimes, like don’t say the Lord’s name in vain, but it wasn’t like somebody was praying with me every night and teaching me and and explaining to me God’s ways, like even when my friends from that I had mentioned as Baptists that I worked with, I was like Adam and Eve like what is Adam and Eve story? Even I didn’t know that I didn’t know the Tower of Babel. Like all these little stories that seemingly are just common sense. I was like, I haven’t ever heard this in my whole life. So I was like a brand new Christian coming into Christianity and restored, like, I was only like maybe a couple years into my religious walk and knew maybe a handful of verses off the top of my head. So I was just very new to the whole idea of Christianity.

Sure. I mean, I just I’m just saying that that just kind of blows my mind, like, imagining like, your own parents, like had almost kind of like, a secret life like before you kind of thing. I’m sure, you know, like, what, like, why don’t you? I mean, I can’t imagine I feel like almost like I’m found out I was adopted or something like that, you know what I mean?

Because it sounds like it sounds like your, your great grandfather was in worldwide, then your and your grandma grew up in that, but she wasn’t really observant until her father, her great, great grandfather died. And it was sort of a way issue is sort of exploring his beliefs. So you all sort of had a very unique calling experience. I mean, there was no overlap. In that story. I feel like y’all had a very unique journey and God’s Church. Before I know, Chantelle has some questions for you too. But before we get into her first one, when you were looking at Restored Church of God’s videos on YouTube, did you just like punching keywords, and that was the first video and that made an impact. And then you went down that sort of YouTube wormhole kind of thing. So you didn’t you didn’t get exposed to United Church of God or cogwa, or living or any other small groups, it was just like you went, it was right into restore, that was like the first thing that came up. Okay. Now imagine that that plays into some of the story later on to when you when you started coming out and attending with other groups. Yeah, I was just I want to clarify that because I thought that was the case, but just want to make sure, yeah.

Okay, so what was like, what were the early? Or the early times? Like, what at RCG? Like, what was that like for you kind of like your beginning into that church.

It was really intimidating, because you’re, I feel like it’s generic, that people that are coming to God from the world are in a really broken space and are looking for answers and, and guidance and some kind of healing. So I felt like I was coming in broken or damaged goods first, like you could say, and God had just forgiven me of my sins, and I’m coming in and you have all these people that have been here for years, that are like crisp cookie cutter trying to put on their best like, face to be an ambassador of God. And I don’t know anything in terms of like, religious conversation. And I was off doing like, getting like little corrections here and there, and I wanted to be, you know, fitting in or just to be like, one in the group and not the one that’s sticking out, you know, but that’s just even now how it is, it’d be very awkward for somebody to come into any of the local congregations that I’ve been in, because there’s not like a lot of random growth like that, like generally people are born into the church, and I’ve been around forever. So it was it was really intimidating at first coming in. But as time went on, and you start putting into practice, you know, one of there are a couple of their main standards were having everything decently in an order, doing everything as unto God not unto man. And that in terms of how you spoke, how you dress, how we kept the congregation was was like how we would keep things for God. So everything was held to the nth degree standard, and I was trying to change how I spoke and and have more etiquette and be more modest and like and, and grow in modesty and grow and etiquette and all these different types of ways. And that was there was like a hard emphasis on that. And so it was very intimidating at first but the longer I stayed the nicer it was and I could tell the difference in and what I tolerated and the talk around me and and how I drew myself to people based on like, how they dressed even like, I felt like it was just putting me into a different A different, I don’t know how you explain it like a different way of life and in drying myself to like more positive, peaceful people. So I mean, I loved it there, I love all those brethren. And to me like that was like the family that I saw and my Russian boyfriend that I had originally had been drawn to that type of like security and family, I felt like I had that with that place, and those people. So to me, it was just like, the best feeling ever. And I felt like, you know, this is truly the one and only place that keeps these things. And it’s evident that these are God’s people, and everything that I’m learning is true. And I can stand on this, and I defend this with my life and these people in my life. And don’t try to say that they’re a call or this that or the other thing, because I’m going to ask you out.

So what was what were those early days? Like in terms? I’m sure it was, first of all, how long were you in RCG?

I was baptized in 2015. And 2018. So three years? I mean, I was baptized in 2015. But I started attending in 2014. So, five,

was that was that a period of a lot of growth for you? In terms of understanding, too, I know, you talked a lot about the like, the cultural, nothing, minimize it, but like the cultural trappings RCG in the things, the way people did things, the way they spoke in the way they dress, but was it a time of a lot of growth? I mean, for people who grew up in the in the Church of God and sort of knew the basic tenants. It some of that stuff might sort of be the givens by the time you’re, you’re in your, your 20s. But was it a time of like, oh, just an overload of understanding for you?

Yeah, I mean, I didn’t like I said, I didn’t want to be the the odd some in the corner, or the ones sticking out. So I made it my duty to learn all of the different fundamental principles. And I listened to all the like, the sermon CDs on my drives, everywhere I went, and if you know, me, I drive around everywhere. So I mean, I was just being filled with knowledge filled with knowledge, filled with knowledge. And then I also like, went out of my way to go volunteer at their youth camps. And you get like, one on one training there of what all of the principles are. And you’re an example for the young ones. So they make sure that you are in line and, and with the belief system, and you’re keeping the standards there. So you have to know all those things. And I also did their Ambassador Center, which is like a college for increased learning, and the origins of history and health, and just overall, well being, you’re getting like an extra dose of ambassador there.

Yeah, so what was it like? Did you feel like in your personal life while you’re going through this? Did you have people in your life who were like, Whoa, like something’s changing? Like this is weird, like, did you have anything like that, like your mom or family members or anything like that,

um, I had to deal with a lot of that because I was first in the Baptist Church mind you making friends there connecting with people there and leaving there and you have to explain why and what’s going on. So then leaving to the Seventh Day Adventist Church, creating all those friends and then leaving there explaining why and moving on. And then just world worldly friends that I had. Prior to even knowing God, where I was really drawn myself to like toxic relationships and, and gossiping, and just like listening to bad music, and swearing, and all the different types of things I was trying to avoid, so I couldn’t hang out with them anymore. I just felt like I didn’t want to not that I couldn’t. But I didn’t want to be around that type of thing. Even just going to my mom’s house. I remember. She wanted to watch a movie. And it was either a scary movie or just like, I don’t know, something that I knew. I was gonna have like some type of confliction or weird feelings watching. So I was like, alright, well, I’m gonna leave and she was like, Well, you just got here. And I was like, I just I really don’t want to watch this movie. Like, and I was just really convicted over it. So she was kind of with me throughout the whole process. And I’m very transparent with my mother. She’s always been like my best friend. So since she has a religious background that I didn’t know, it was easy for her to understand and be supportive and respectful, especially with her mental health background. So she’s She kind of grew with me on my own journey in a way. And now she she shoots Bible verses that me.

Can you expound upon your mom’s mental health background? What do you mean by that?

My mom is a doctor and occupational therapy specializing in mental health. She’s done an enormous amount of research to reduce restraint, and the mental health setting. And educated people around the world created books, articles, taught classes on sensory integration, which is like different techniques in order to help calm yourself or even people that are depressed to help elevate their mood. So she has an extensive understanding of mental health.

Okay. I before I ask my next question here, the thing I thought was interesting about your first series of statements about restored and what you liked about the early days and things like that was that I didn’t hear daypacks name mentioned once, which I’m like, it’s just curious, because I think a lot of people in the church of God, look at certain groups, and certain groups have the reputation of being very leader centric, leader driven. And you know, the Philadelphia Church of God. Preparing the kingdom of God, I think is Ron Weinland’s group? So I’m just curious. I mean, was, just because you didn’t mention it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a big part of it. But what to what extent did the speaking power or style or the person of Dave Pack? How much of of him was convicting to you in those early days? Or was it more about like the local congregation for

you? It’s funny that you say that because in the early days as you want to, as you put it, it was more other ministers that were giving the sermons and restore generally, everybody listened to the same sermon to kind of emphasis on unity. So there were ministers at headquarters, not Mr. Pac that would be switching off given sermons. Sometimes the local congregation where to go or local minister in congregation would give the sermon but he only gave sermons like very seldomly, and key was more giving, like the broadcasts with the booklets in mind, and as you know, the booklets, were Mr. Armstrong’s booklets, and it’s really hard to go too far off into the deep end, just reiterating and expanding on his booklets. So he wasn’t he wasn’t going off. He didn’t seem to be off track or, or it wasn’t a concern of mine, I or he wasn’t really influential. But he did have a presence and he spoke well, and he commanded perfection. And he had a military background. And there was that feeling of these ministers are over you. I’m not serving you. type of feel.

Yeah, it’s it. Actually, the question didn’t even occur to me until I heard you answer the question. We’ve talked a lot about this, the three of us and it never really registered with me that for you coming in the draw. I mean, of course for I imagine for most people the draw is this new understanding that that is so powerful and use want more of it. And then you come into this body of people, and there’s other people who are sharing it and then you get to know them and you love them. And then there’s everything that you can do locally to serve them or you go to you know, the gap year colleges or the camps and things like that. So I’m not to say just because that was your experience, it was everyone in the store is experienced by think for maybe some of the listeners. I’m just kind of was a wrench into some of those stereotypes about it just being a cult personality, especially back then, like I know a lot, we’ll get into how things changed. And that’s actually the next question want to ask you is like, how did it change and when, but at least for part of it, it seemed like there, it might still be this way that there are people who are there for the local brethren or they were they happen to just be called there, that it’s not like a one size fits all calling experience no matter what group you’re attending with. Right. So so with that? At what point? I mean, I don’t know if you if you remember exactly the moment in time, or if it was a process for you. But when did things start to change? For the worse? Like, when did you first start to be a bit skeptical that, you know, what were the warning signs for you? either emotionally or scripturally? Like, I don’t know, if it was a scriptural issue first, or if it was sort of like a, you witnessed something manipulative or culturally that was wrong? Could you walk us through that?

Yeah, so I think there was always little red flags here and there, but you’re relearning how to think everything that you ever thought was right, you know, so even if you thought something was kind of off, you would kind of just kind of put it on the backburner. And, and not forget, but overlook it for the time being, because I was learning a different way to talk a different way to dress a different way to everything. But the big thing, for me first was at camp. It put me into a leadership role as the head girls counselor. And I took that very seriously, I thought of those girls as my, like, little children, and I needed to be a role model for them. And I needed to make sure that they were protected, and in this time, and that I was being good example for them. And I wanted to be sitting at the tables and in their conversation and hear what was going on, and just have my own way of caring for them. And it was very like, No, you can’t do that you have to sit up the counselor table. And then there’s the upper Minister table, and we have to abide by what we’ve always done before. You know what I mean? Like the camps, even at the other churches of God tried to embody exactly what they did in worldwide. So it was like, nobody could go out of the norm of, of what the air could be like. Yeah. So I was kind of like, well, this is kind of weird. And then Christ came to serve and, and he would be washing his apostles feet. And if I were to be trying to show that kind of compassion to these girls, would that mean that I wouldn’t be having them clean the bathrooms, and I’d be cleaning the bathrooms? Or, you know, how could I embody, that wouldn’t be separating myself and sitting at a higher table and acting like I’m holier than thou. And I did bring that up to one of the ministers. And he heard me and he went, and he told the head minister, and that head Minister ended up serving us a meal that day. So even though I kind of saw a little bit, then it seemed like, well, we’re all men, and something’s being done about it. And the major falling out was when Mr. Pack started giving sermons every week, for two, almost three hours, some weeks with a new prophecy series.

So that was the linchpin for you. Because I know we’ve talked about this. I didn’t know if that was like the first big red flag. But it seems like it might have been.

Right. So I mean, it was exciting at first because we’re having some kind of new understanding. And it seems like Christ’s return is now imminent. And we’re in the era right now that this is going to happen and and it further confirms that Mr. Pack is the apostle because he’s being revealed this information. And then, as things went on, everyone’s getting more and more confused. Things keep changing and changing. And he has the minister sifting through his old sermons and deleting What’s no longer right, to the point where it wasn’t just deleting some of the things he just got rid of the first like 40 sermons he ever 30 sermons he gave, so they’re no longer accurate. So that was like a Alright, do I even keep listening to what he’s gonna say this week? Because it’s just gonna change next week. You know, it was kind of it was kind of like a going joke like we were all trying to keep up with it. But in all honesty, like, Christ is just going to return soon. So

If I hadn’t listened to one of these, in my understanding is it’s still going right?

The series. So the last time I tried even following up with it, he was on his like, 200 and some odd sermon. And it had been going for three years or something like that. Is he still doing it? I have no idea.

I know the one I don’t remember. forgot who said it to me. But I got got to listen to one. And like you said, they were multiple hours this point, we’re in the middle, they’re like, Okay, we’re gonna take a break and eat something and we’ll come back and we’ll finish it. But always the kind of thing that you’re that you were dealing with. And I don’t, I don’t remember I remember the the gist of the at least the message that I heard, because I’m sure people listening because this series did not circulate the, the Church of God or anything it was internal to restored. Because this prophecy series is sort of, I guess, for lack of a better word, infamous, because I think this is what started a lot of people leaving, restored over the last couple years, which I don’t know, necessarily, if people know about a ton. But for what I understand, and it was actually it was it was pretty hard to follow. But one of the things that I remember was that now you correct me if I’m wrong. It was something like, um, Christ, or maybe was the father was going to return before the millennium, and the world wasn’t going to be able to see it happen.

Correct. So he used a lot of the parables in the New Testament in regards to the kingdom, growing as a mustard seed in measures and having three different parts. And that it would be similar to Christ working with Moses, and Moses time and Israel, and that he would be the Elijah as Moses, and be working with God maybe in or working with Christ in the cloud. Like you might not be able to physically see him as a human like that. But you’d be here working with Elijah and God’s people as like the last hurrah to usher everybody to his way before the fallout of the Antichrist then they’d be going back and forth

there I remember there being elements that like it wasn’t just a subtle Hey, this is what this holiday means maybe our timing is different than what we had assumed in the past like there’s some of that in the in the Church of God some some disagreement or different takes on it. This was like taking everything we did church God is traditionally taught about anti events and how things were going to happen and sort of you know, going against pretty clear scriptural evidence of certain things happening and it was a really put it mildly a unique take on in time prophecy and I think the more it went on the more people sort of like you said, I think God it seemed like people got confused or like no that we can’t reconcile this and people started to drift off now we don’t we don’t want to necessarily get gossipy or anything on the on the podcast, we sort of want to inform people like the high points of what happened what’s what seems to be happening last couple of years and what affected you personally. But Chantelle do you have any follow ups or anything, coming to mind any questions listening to Carisa? Um,

no, I mean, like, so like, what was what was the next part? Feeling? It’s just kind of forward a little bit unless you have something

No, I don’t have any necessarily follow up. I think that’s, it seems like the the main warning sign to you was was the prophecy series. And without necessarily belaboring it, it seems like from from our previous conversations, the maybe talk a little bit about once that veil was lifted a bit that maybe the group could be wrong about this. Did you start noticing other warning signs like hey, maybe this is toxic, or that’s controlling or whatever it was? Or Did Did that come after you you were away from restored for a while.

That’d be honest. Even though these were things that I could see weren’t right, it wasn’t like, This must not be the church anymore, or I must leave now or this isn’t doctrine or scriptural it was always he’s gonna find out what he’s searching out in the end or Christ will return and one of either one or the other is going to happen. So you just have to be patient and wait and and people are people and they make mistakes. And so it is If God’s apostle and I was just kind of there to wait it out, I did have a lot of troubling experiences with his mania, because he would literally have word salad where he’d be going off going off going off going off. And he wasn’t actually connecting the things that he was trying to. And since nobody could keep up with it, and it was like verse after verse, But if you actually went back home, and tried to figure out how he was connecting those verses, out of context, it didn’t make any sense at all. And you could easily pull it apart. But you would really have to sit there and sift and sift. And I was feeling like, high and anxious from trying to keep up with that having dealt with somebody with a mania and my my personal life and my upbringing. It was just like my natural mechanism to one try to figure out to the nth degree, how to follow this person to help them understand why that’s not right. But also, when I can’t keep following and doing that anymore. Just shut down. So I was having all of those kind of like, anxious, like, flashback, you type feelings. And I’m like, This is not right. Like, I in church, I don’t feel at peace anymore. And I feel confused. And something must be wrong with me, like, Am I doing something wrong, or like God’s blocking my understanding, and I can’t understand anymore. And I just felt like I needed to study like, I just needed to try to study this more and hash it out more, and the more that you tried to listen to his sermons versus actually just read your Bible, the more confused you were. So it wasn’t until after I was out, trying to understand because I was fully under the persuasion that you know, Christ must be here because things are just getting out of control. And and I’m understanding things that the apostles not understanding. So Christ must be here now. So, it wasn’t until I was doing my own Bible study where I went back to Christ warning that there’ll be antichrist and people saying that he’s here on Earth, like Mr. Pack is saying that we’ll come back to the earth and don’t go looking for him, don’t go here, don’t go there. Because that’s not how he’s returning when he returned, everybody will see like a lightning flashing from each corner of the sky. And it’s not going to be some secret thing and to stay away from those people. And I was just kind of like, and I was ready to accept at that point, that Mr. Pack wasn’t right or on track and it was further confirming that I didn’t do something wrong to be kicked out of that place. But this was like God’s guiding me into who knows where

and so that’s it that seems to be the A since we I know that the next thing that Chantelle is gonna want to ask is about so your experience in the in the the rest of the Church of God now that you’ve been in sort of other groups for for a while. But But before that, was it like you you would bring questions to ministers? Again, for the audience listening? What was the thing that that had you part ways was a you asking questions, the ministry didn’t like it. Without getting into too much detail, obviously, again, to avoid gossipy just so people know. Or even just in short, was it sort of like, you were removed? Because you were you were recognizing this? It’s not like you just pick up picked up and left, right?

No. So to Yes, I was always asking questions. There was a point in the series where the Antichrist and the man of sin were two different people. But then in the next week, they were the same person. And I believe he even changed it again. And they were separate people again. And I was recording the series on CD because I would always listen to stuff in the car. And I was giving copies of it to my minister, my minister told me to stop doing that because the newer sermons were no longer relative to the old ones. So there was that happening, but no, that’s not why they kicked me out. I had been staying up watching my grandfather, so he wouldn’t pull out his oxygen asleep. He was very ill and losing his lung capacity and needed oxygen and 24 hour care. And I had the schedule to be able to do that and I also awake very easily out of my sleep to because he had almost killed himself a couple of times in asleep, and I woke up to it at one night and my mother didn’t. So I took it as my responsibility that I needed to stay up and watch him every night. And while doing that, I’m trying to listen to these sermons. And I did it so many days in a row, that I started becoming delusional. And I didn’t know that that could happen. I didn’t know what was going on. I just knew that, like my mind was racing and making all these connections. And again, I was figuring out things from my own Bible studies and doing that, that Mr. Pack was getting wrong. And I thought that Christ must be here, like he’s saying, and he was saying that one. Christ pounds that the church itself is going to have, like, a certain heightened level of spirit. And I was like, then Christ must be here, because I’m understanding all this stuff. And I feel like I have this heightened spirit. Christ must be in me, and I’m really like, out of it, and I’m explaining all this things my Grammy and getting even more outlandish, and my my thinking, and they bring it to the ministry. And Mr. Pack said in that sermon of 2018, and November, around Thanksgiving that Christ was going to return in that month. So this wasn’t like, oh Carisa’s, like, yeah, come up with this. Like this was being fed to me, that he’s gonna be here this month. So I thought, this is what’s happening. So anyways, um, my grandma goes and tells the minister, along with my auntie, they bring it to the upper people at headquarters, and my head Minister tells my grandmother, I’m no longer allowed to come to services anymore, because I’m demon possessed. So she has dementia, and my grandmother, her husband is passing away. And you’re gonna tell her of all people and not me, not counsel me. And the week prior, the minister’s wife I had called because I was supposed to make the salad that we for the potluck, and I was crying and emotional and out like and freaking out, because I didn’t make it because I was watching grandpa, and I didn’t sleep and not like people didn’t know what was going on. And she was like, Chris, you don’t have to bring this out. I don’t have to find the salad if you need to sleep and I was like Christ is gonna return this month. I have to come so you removed because you couldn’t bring the salad. Okay. So you so, yeah, I was like, Well, this is just further proving that this is the end because the ministers will be like, dressed as in sheep’s clothing and like, they’re not going to protect the flock like this is all prophesied like, this is what happened, though, like this is happening is really happening. But now, as time went on, and I, my grandfather did pass, and I got sleep. And then I understood what on earth happened. I felt terrible, because I was making all these assumptions and accusations towards Mr. Pack and got some really bizarre things. And I felt like I had doomed myself. And they didn’t give me the option to return. They just said, I’m never allowed to come back.

And I even had a conversation with the minister on the phone after this. And he even started crying on the phone, because I was like, This isn’t fair. I know other people that have left the church and they’ve been counseled. And you need to let me know what I needed to come back. And he said, I go seek psychiatric counseling, and I’m not allowed. It’s a math. So I hung up the phone on him, because that’s not biblical. Like that’s not the unpardonable sin. That wasn’t me not trying anymore. And like I’m trying to figure out like, what I need to do like, and if anything I did wrong, it wasn’t purposefully,

it’s hard to see God’s hand in that a little bit.

Yeah. So even like after three months went by, and I don’t know where to go, I don’t know other churches even exists. And I’m just alone, and I still can’t like I’m having panic attacks and like, I have so much anxiety. I feel like I need to make this right. Like I never those people I’ve always seen as my family. And in my family. If something’s wrong, you don’t just abandon them forever. You make amends with them, and you do whatever you can possible to make peace. So I thought, You know what, this is another test. And this is just next level tests to do. So go and talk to them industry and make this right and everything will be fine. And I went to talk to them and they didn’t have they didn’t hear anything that I had to say and we’re just ready to accuse me of being prideful. And I’m needing to, like, basically like, kiss their feet to come back. And I would even if I did come back, I would never have the privileges that I had before such as camp or going anywhere. And I needed to do everything by myself in terms of Bible study. And, again, just stuff that’s not biblical. So it was just like further affirmation that, okay, this truly isn’t the right place. And I did bring up to them like that whole, Christ says that he’s going to return and everyone sees it. Where does that fall in line with what’s being preached right now. And again, it was just like, that’s the old way of thinking. So you’re gonna need to do your own Bible study on that. It’s kind of like at that point, I realized it wasn’t going anywhere. So I just like yeah, okay. All right, have a nice day. Sure. So they

kind of just like left you high and dry. Like, they’re just like, oh, you figure out by yourself, probably just to make sure that you didn’t come back.

I think that they truly couldn’t defend their own understanding of it, either. So it was just kind of their way of just slapping it under the rug. But recently, in visiting ucg last week, there was a brethren that had been kicked out of the church, in my time frame there that came, that’s now coming back. And he said the same thing that he tried coming back recently. And it was, this is all on you. And you got to do your own Bible study. And you got to do this. And you got to do that. And it wasn’t like, Hey, I’m the prodigal son returning to my home. You know,

and I know after I don’t know how long after this, but I know. You and I met at a living church for God’s service. My brother, was there a bunch of our friends were there. That must I mean, it must have been fairly close after that event, right? Like, how did you? How did you discover because I know Chantel is gonna ask question about like your church, he got experience. But how did you discover the fact that there were other churches that had similar core beliefs, not the fringe beliefs, but the core being similar?

Oh, um, so it was very weird. There’s a brethren in Canada that immediately reached out to me as I was kicked out and was like, I heard that you were out. And I was like, I’m not talking bad things about RCG. I don’t know why you’re contacting me. Like, I was still like, I’m, this is my people, like, don’t try to gossip of me. And he was like, no, like, I’m just here for you if you need it, like, hey, and a week went by, and I kind of like realized I was by myself. And I was like, All right, like. And I was like, What are you doing now? Like, how are you dealing with this? And Passover was around the corner. And he was like, come over, come down for Passover. And so we all kept Passover together, me and him. And like a couple other French brethren that were also out, just a couple of us because we didn’t know where to go. And they had said that they had gone to the other churches of God. And I was like, there’s other churches and God and they were like, yeah, and they didn’t talk badly about them that they hadn’t committed themselves to them. Sure. So I just felt like alright, well, if people are keeping the Sabbath, then I might as well go and keep it with them. Because I’m alone here crying by myself. And nobody thinks the same as me. And I’m just doing forever. So gotta do something.

Yeah. Okay. So basically, you’re, you’re saying that you’re at a point where you’re like, Okay, there’s other churches. What was it like, like the first experience like going to a church? That was like, not RCG What was that like for you like emotionally?

It was shocking, because I thought that that was the only place that kept the holy days in the Sabbath, and that that was the one true church so to walk into a different place, and they have the same exact booklets, and they’re meeting on the same day, and the seals all very same, but very different. It was just a total shocker to me. And it was also saddening that I didn’t know that these other people were even existing. But also, I was just very used to the seats being like perfect and and the shades in the walls just being just so and the men with their suit coats needing to be button and the woman not allowed to wear pants and makeup as a thing. And so I’m looking going these can’t be guys people because they’re not doing X, Y and Z and they don’t care about the fellas. But at the same time, when I’m talking to them, I can tell they have God’s Spirit and and they’re caring or like scriptural conversation with me like, they’ve applied these scriptures and God themselves here and they must be aware to the truth because God revealed it to them. So then they must be God’s people. But then what what is going on, I was just very confused by the whole thing and how we got like this and, and this, I always have assumed that the other church has a God fell away completely didn’t keep Sunday, or kept Sunday worship and did holidays and things like that and weren’t, weren’t following our belief system at all. So to find out that they were, it was just like,

alright, so like, you’ve been like, lied to,

not lied to, but I felt like it needed to be my mission to make it better. But now realizing that that was completely out of my control, but at that time, I was just very silly to me, like I can remember going to one in particular, and the minister gave a sermon on how the ministers are shepherds of the sheep. And like, they hold weight and responsibility to, like, maintain them. And I had just seen us all as God, as God’s people in that moment. And immediately, like, place blame on the ministers for the way that things were like, that just was a very obvious thing to me, like, how do we all end up like this? How do these people not reconcile with each other? How did these people go to the Passover? If they didn’t make a mess of their brethren? Like, how, how was this? Okay, so it was a rude awakening. Nice to have people to go with, but just like a very still concerning it wasn’t, it wasn’t like, Oh, now I have any place, you know?

Yeah. Yeah. So like, what would you how would you say, I know, you kind of said, the way that they had maybe more decorum than like the big three, or like the general Church of gods, but like, how would you say other aspects like compared to like, being in RCA versus like another cog?

Well, a big thing for me even now is the meeting halls, like we would always meet in a, either a brother and home, if it was a small enough congregation, or in a hotel and a meeting space. And it was very, like neutral setting, very clean, and like, I don’t know how to explain it, like, we wouldn’t have crosses are anything that we would wear. So to, for instance, now in the churches of God, you go to church, and a mainstream Christian church, or a call, and you’ve got all the symbolisms everywhere. And it’s not like, it doesn’t feel like you’re coming out of the world or it just has a different feel to it, then coming into like a very clean, nice space that people are working very hard to, to worship God and show like their appreciation for the people of God. And you know, that’s just one aspect.

What else would you say like is different as far as like, culturally,

I’m, I’m positive, not culturally, um, it doesn’t feel like people are scared to be perfect all the time. People are more open about their shortcomings. And they’re there because they want to be and not because they’re forced to be. For the things that they’re doing is just strictly from their genuine want to. It’s not the, this is what we need to do, because I’m telling you type of feel to it. So that is a positive outlook on the the other churches that I have experienced. But it’s also different in the sense that if you went to one church in one area versus another church in another area, depending on the minister, you’re getting a completely different vibe. Whereas in RCG, it was the same standard wherever you went. And if you weren’t doing it, then there’s a door. And that has been a bit but also its downfall because if you’re not baptized to you’re just coming in how would you know to do all these things or, you know, or hold How can you hold your somebody to that standard, and sometimes it was like inappropriate to do so.

We just want to let all the listeners know that a gremlin doesn’t live with Carisa. That’s her But interesting, I wanted to if you don’t want me jumping in Chantelle, there’s, you made a statement A while back, which I thought was was interesting because I know I know a few people who have come out have restored and you know, the same people that I do. And they have such an energy like a zeal to just do things and I think they all struggle the same way you do with the coming out of the sort of the decorum and there’s nothing wrong to a point with with wanting to do things well, and being you know, buttoned up and everything I’ve worked in environments in the in the nonprofit and corporate world where you’re putting on an event and things need to be right and you have whatever it is, like say Sanders coming in, you want to put on a good, a good look. So there’s nothing wrong with that, but but coming out of looking upon that as some sort of gauge of righteousness and in looking to another aspect of things. But what I wanted to hone in on was, when you came out for the first time, like you felt this personal responsibility to fix it. And I think there’s an interesting thing to talk about, just because, like, you realize that one person can’t fix it. And it’s not within the power of one church group or one organization to like, just fix everything. But I think there is a, you know, we’ve talked a lot to three of us and about the fact that everyone has like an individual responsibility to do what we can to help make the situation better, because it just whether or not we like it, it just sort of is the way it is right now in the Church of God. And, you know, you mentioned leaders, and it’s a very like, normal thing for people to go to like, well, these, you know, you an organization is created, because leaders are in charge of everything. But really, you know, none of us think that this is like the leaders fault solely or that, you know, the if they would just, you know, get out of the way this would all be fixed. It’s not true. Like we all the church guy doesn’t get into doesn’t get to be in the state it’s in without everyone having ownership in that. And therefore everyone having an ability to help improve the situations. But it’s, I think it’s interesting to have, you almost have to go through to I don’t even know what you call them, like deep, not deep programming, but you come out of the world into RCG. And you get like this deep, this really serious down payment of God’s truth is understanding you’re baptized, and then you have to come out of that into this group of people you didn’t even know existed, and like make sense of this whole new culture. And this these group, this group who didn’t know existed before, I’m sure that was really challenging,

I think you and I actually were navigating that same thing together, kind of because I didn’t I didn’t come out of a group like RCG or anything, I was just, you know, smaller group and I had my circle and the church was was limited. And when I met you, I always just starting to, like visit other groups to get to know people, again, not not leaving my individual group the same way. You know, you don’t want that you said something before about when it’s your family that you don’t want to separate from them, right? It’s like ever we’re all family. But we grow up in these I was talking to Chantelle about this recently, we grow up in these smaller families within a family, whether it’s COGWA, or a small group, and you get to know them and you want to serve them. There’s no reason why you need to leave that group to get to know the rest of your family or to build community or to foster pursue unity. But the unless Chantelle you any more follow ups on this question? I don’t think so. Okay, because it’s a decent segue into the next question, which for someone like, well, this applies to both of us, but for you in this situation. In particular, people tend to ask the question, why haven’t you formally joined a church organization because, you know, I kind of have a home base because I grew up in a particular church of God circumstance, so I feel an allegiance or like a responsibility to serve there. But since you came out of restore and you know, you can’t none of them do not want to go back at this point, but like you couldn’t anyway. How do you how do you navigate the Church of God now or what? To answer that question, why haven’t you just joined I picked a group and joined it.

Because I, I genuinely feel like I joined when I baptized and RCG and If these other places aren’t going to discount that baptism, where and the fact that I am learning truth, and growing with people, not just in one place, I feel like how could I possibly go backwards with my thinking that I can only worship in one place and worship a man that I just I can’t even fathom doing that. And it’s not like, I don’t believe that I’m a member of living or I’m a member of cogwa, or I’m a member of United, I believe I’m a member of all of them. To be quite honest. I know that that’s not a common belief and, and some people would even poopoo it and say that other churches are heretics and sowing discord by preaching different government structures. But I honestly don’t 100% agree with any of the government structures that are in place. So I it’s hard for me to commit to just one one cog and I have brought up my concerns to ministers, and that’s a great answer. Yeah,

I think it’s, I think it’s a great answer. And I don’t even think it’s something we’ve, you know, I’ve talked about explicitly, but that’s how I know I’ve talked with Chantelle, but that’s how I feel in terms of their I’m part of all of these churches, and I promise, like, that’s not a cop out just to say, ya know, when you say it’s not a cop out, like, I remember, someone asked, and maybe you’ve gotten this question, too. But if someone asked, well, you know, your local group down there in New York, you’re, but you guys don’t? How do you preach the gospel? You’re such a small group, like one of the Commission’s of the churches preach the gospel, like, preach, we preach the gospel, but you do. What do you mean? Like you only have 20 people like, you see preaches the gospel and living creatures, the gospel, and all these groups preach the gospel. I’m in the Church of God, I just happen to attend and downstate New York, why do I want to do the same thing? You see? What can we do with? I don’t know how many 1000 I don’t even know, but especially a church group that they can’t do with 20 million or 10 million. Like they’re preaching the gospel, they’re part they’re part of my family. We’re the same people. We might disagree on things or, you know, that’s, I mean, that’s not news to anyone that groups of people would disagree, but

apostles when they’re like, that, man, he is like laying hands on people. And should we go stop him? And he’s like, No, leave him alone. Like he’s doing his thing. We’re doing our thing. You chill.

verbatim quote, chill, bro. Yeah.

Yeah, it is interesting. Like, I would probably say, like, I’m the odd one out in this in this group, which is weird for like most people, like, if they’re potentially watching this, like, it’s more likely that you would be raised in more of a church situation like me, you know, like, I was raised, you know, going to ucg transition to cogwa. But honestly, like, after that split, that’s, that’s really when my mind open to like, oh, there’s other organizations out there. Like, I used to always be like, Oh, just United is like the one true church. And I don’t think we ever really necessarily preached that. But it was more so like, just like a subconscious thing. Like, I just didn’t even like think about other churches, and we just didn’t talk about them that much. But then after the split, that just made me go what, like, this isn’t this is weird, like, there’s so my brothers and sisters, I can’t just stop like, going and seeing them and like, and so I just, like immediately started like, you know, going with ucg and cogwa. I was even at that point, I was just like, I can’t like rectify this in my brain that these people all of a sudden that I’ve like grown up with are no longer like, it was it was like a divorce. And it’s still really hard. But no, in a weird way, it was actually like really good for me because it opened my eyes to be like, Whoa, there’s so many other like, God’s people out there. And it’s not just like one org. It’s all of these people who believe pretty much like fundamentally the same thing. And now like I would say, like I don’t identify as being a member of one organization. I totally see myself as just being a member of the Church of God. And I might have like a home congregation that I go to like more frequently, and then I see are a bit more frequently just because I think there is like some healthiness and having the consistency of routine and service. Yeah, I think that’s really healthy and really good to have like a home base. But like, once, pretty much once a month, if not twice a month, if I can, like I try to go visit other organizations and, or other congregations and, and I think that’s for me, I don’t even I think at this point in my life, I don’t view myself visiting other organizations, I literally just view I’m visiting a different congregation than my own. We’re all brothers and sisters in Christ. And it’s not like, you know, I’m going to go visit living. It’s like, Oh, I’m gonna go visit this other church that’s in Dallas, you know what I mean? Like? So I feel like, for me, that’s actually been really helpful in my eyes. Because I do think some people have like this barrier with other people, if they’re in a different organization, and somehow they see themselves as like, separate or different, because it’s like a mental block. But it’s not. It’s not we’re exactly the same. Like, we might have some differences of opinions here and there. But don’t you have like differences of opinions with your family members, and you still love each other dearly, and you’re still gonna hang out at Thanksgiving and like, you know, eat together, it’s been time with each other. And I think for me, that was just like, huge and really helpful.

Yeah, and you you hit on a couple points there, Shawn. So what I think are important to highlight the first being the importance of a home base, because I think a lot of it is a good point of clarification for church, you got network and that is like we do not advocate church hopping. That’s a very common thing to put on folks who might want to pursue unity a certain way or build community certain way. And some people do church up, and we’re not, we are not advocates for that. Because it’s having a regular home base, where you serve where you know, the people who you’re praying for, and know their burdens, you can share their burdens, and you you develop that routine, and you get to know people deeply, is enormously important. But like you said you perfectly. That doesn’t mean that you know, once a month, or even literally twice a year, you know better than nothing. But you can’t visit someone else is another congregation as you put it and get to know people. And that’s really one of the ways that we as individuals can can affect that change. But the other thing you mentioned in passing, that you mentioned, ucg, COGWA, split kind of being like a divorce. And it’s interesting, because to your point you you had a different calling experience as Carisa and myself, actually, I think the three of us are about having bodies, different background, church backgrounds you could possibly have. But the way I always describe it, I don’t think I’ve said this on a podcast yet. So it’s I think it’s worth putting on record that from for me, when when I get asked the same? I’m sure you do. Chris, why haven’t you joined the church God organization? I feel like because this what I say is it’s an impossible choice. And it’s like choosing between mom or dad after a divorce. Like imagine asking a 10 year old kid, sometimes it’s depending on the age, they’re asked for that. Or they’re they’re put between their parents, it’s having the biggest side. I feel like that’s what’s happening. How am I going to choose? How are you going to plant my flag in one organization and to the to the, to the exclusion of another? Why do I need to feel like my allegiance is there because I you know, if I visit ucg, or I visit COGWA, or living or an independent group, or I go to winter family weekend with an independent group or something or another organization, like I’m going to tie a portion of my time there because when I visited they provided services to me and I was reaping the benefits you don’t want to be a you know a leech to the to the places you go, you want to serve there. You want to get to know people and you want to support things financially. So that those are excellent points, Chantelle and like really key things, I think to talk about in this conversation. Because I think our age group like late 20s, early 30s is encountering some of these realities for the first time because it’s the the first age bracket that completely grew up post the major splits in the early to mid 90s. And so we’re reconcile and like we’re working through all these things in real time. And like you said, you know, you might have a very unique or a lot of listeners might have a why only grown up in one organization. It’s bigger, and we have a lot of resources. But like I tell you don’t know what the next 25 years is going to bring or 50 years you don’t know what’s going to happen. You know, we’re starting to encounter these issues now. The kids that people are starting to have now in rearing they might I mean these might be questions to deal with now so that those generations have a better handle on how to navigate it. You know, it’s I think if history recent history has taught us anything is that things can change very quickly in the church looks like,

I feel like for myself, this has been such a helpful conversation. And I think a lot of other people will find this really helpful too. So just kind of wrap it up Carisa Is there anything that you’d like others to know, in the Church of God about RCG, or kind of more fringe groups, similar to theirs.

Um, I would say that I wouldn’t not consider them still family, and, or God’s people, or look down on them, because they, they don’t understand what I understand. Now. I very much feel for those people that are still there, I’m sitting in those seats. And I just wish that more people were aware to the fact that there’s other churches of God. Now, there’s other people with our same belief system because of the amount of benefits that it brings. And it’s more that I wish that people and churches of guy that I go to now would realize the, the benefit of of knowing your local brethren and other churches of God, because even though I will be the first to tell you that I mainly attend with living right down the street from my house, are a minutes away as members of United. And I often visit over there, they often feed me, they often not only just physically if you’d need to, like, give me spiritual encouragement. And if I didn’t, if I close them off, because they’re in a different church of God, I just feel like what a shame. And there’s often times where I would drive to, I drove two hours to church. And sometimes I’ll do like, I can make it by myself. And I can hop along with them and still make it to a service and be with brethren. And meet people. For instance, this past weekend, I met people that knew my grandmother from worldwide that didn’t know that she just passed away. So I wouldn’t even I wouldn’t have gotten out of the opportunity, I wouldn’t have met up with somebody that had exited RCG, prior to my exit this past weekend, if I didn’t go to UCG, and be able to comfort him and returning and re evaluating his belief system and, and discuss the overwhelmingness of it all. There’s just not that. Because I feel like it’s often the stigma that we want to be the bridge and we want to be the the ones bringing the churches into one church. And that’s really not what we’re all trying to do. We’re just trying to, like, be as great of a Christian as we can be. And honestly, I don’t think I could do that if I was just by myself here with my other friends from church two hours away. Like that’s just not realistic. I’m sorry. I wouldn’t be paying I’m still I don’t say no. If it weren’t for Dan and his family I’ll like taking me into and again, just being somebody that I can have spiritual conversations with and lean on for support and come help me with my leaves. Like, they don’t do hours, or an hour and a half to come help me with my leaves. And I have family and friends that live 8-10 minutes away. And you know what I mean? They’re not here, this is Dan and his family. Again, like a just a shout out maybe like Roger nettles and his Biblical awesome group like that, that helped me through COVID and not being able to meet half the time like that Bible study. I wouldn’t have joined that or known about it or anything if I hadn’t been open to the other churches of God and I often the second that I was out of RCG I had to explore my local churches are bad and making those connections to those people would be like, it would be it’s to me it’s like a slap in the face for them to be like no, I chose not to go with your room. You know, and I’m just I can’t I have way too many friends at work and outside of church that I accept their ways and doings and hang around with and not be would be friends somebody or to not continue to worship with them. When it’s benefited. It’s only benefiting me. You know? That’s the

that’s the thing like we get a lot of are occasional statements about you know, well, it’s how important is it to get together with brethren and have like cookouts and hamburgers together? Like that’s not what, what we’re valuing here like in meeting people from other groups, like if I think if people think that’s all that we can, can gain or give, frankly, all that we can give to people of other organizations within the Church of God, they’re they’re sort of missing the point because I know at least with the three of us, like it’s like you said, it’s, it’s not just the coming in and helping out with with your work stuff. It’s like it’s sharing emotional burdens, is going through tough times be able to call someone like, Hey, I’m struggling with this, like I’m having a tough time pray with me or getting together and talking and like just hashing out whatever it is, we’re going through. I mean, you’ve known me for a handful years and I’ve known you I’ve known Chantelle for a few years, like we’ve all the last two or three years gone through some pretty major life things together. And I couldn’t imagine going through it with without the two of you. It’s like, four years ago before I thought at all about people in other groups, like I envision what life would have been, like, had that switch not been flipped. And I imagine it’s similar for you to like Chantelle, with with the split ucg COGWA or Carisa, when when you came in RCG if that moment hadn’t happened in my life would be so much worse or less spiritually edifying, because all the people that wouldn’t be in it. Right. Drew, I think that’s about as good a place to end as any as a good note to end on. Thanks, Carisa. I really appreciate you opening up about this. It’s my hope and I’m pretty confident it will help a lot of people and now people see things from new perspectives. Really appreciate you sharing. Yeah, thank you. Thanks for listening. Absolutely. Thanks, Chantelle for CO hosting. It’s so much better with with another host. Anytime. Awesome. Take care, everybody.

About the Author

Daniel Russo is a lifelong New Yorker and currently resides in Albany, New York. He currently works as the Manager of Business Operations at Parent to Parent of NYS. He previously worked at the Empire