By Sue X., former member of the Lombard Assembly. This was originally posted on the website on January 5, 2003.
These are notes that I have kept from a "word" Roger Grant gave several years back ( maybe even 10 years ago or less--not quite sure of the date) on "A Great Friendship," from I Samuel 20, the chapter on King David's friendship with Jonathan:
- A friend is someone who is special to another person.
- A friend gives more than he takes.
- A friend loves the other person and that love is tested.
- A friend loves when that person is unlovely.
- A friend has a love with commitment, and loves when there are reasons not to.
- A friend is a shepherd and a companion with the other person.
- A friend has respect for the person because that person was made by God; you respect their preferences and feelings.
- In a friendship there is an openness and a clarity.
- In a friendship there is a real ability to confront.
- Friends can look one another in the eye with an open face.
- In a friendship you have a common interest.
- To have a friend, first you have to be a friend.
- A friendship is a living thing and you have to take care of it!
- Friendship with Jesus involves obedience.
- You can’t have a casual relationship (friendship) with Jesus. You have to let God have His way in your life.
I have kept this set of notes because I really liked the ministry. Even then, I would look at these notes and try to see if there were really friendships in that place that fit this criteria. Back then I thought to myself, "Roger preaches this, but he is not this kind of friend himself." Yet there is supposed to be a love there, in "the lodge"*, that resembles this. This is the kind of friendship that the Lord would want to see there.
However, ninety-eight percent of all friendships there are not like this. Relationships there are all surface, working relationships. If you do what they say, do not question them in any way, and are fully submissive to the point of being a doormat--then you will thrive there!
Some of the points in this set of notes really floor me, because they so point out the hypocrisy in "the lodge". For example the word "love" is used in light of friendships. What a crock! Love is a word that is used flippantly in the lodge. Oh yes, everybody "loves" everybody else. That is why the moment you question something you are labeled a "rebel".
If you LEAVE the lodge, there is no more love, or friendship or relationship of any kind…you are an outcast, you are full of shame and of course, no matter what the reason, you are in sin. I mean, there has to be sin involved; why else would you leave, right? When my family left the lodge, I received cards, letters, calls, and e-mails insisting that I was in sin and needed to repent. Some even listed reasons why I needed to repent. These "friends" assumed to know my heart and relationship with God better than God and I did! If you are "in" the lodge, you are "loved", but if you leave, you cannot be loved anymore.
Another point that I would like to focus on is the word “respect.” Roger said, "A friend has respect for the other person because that person was made by God; you respect their preferences and feelings.” What respect? When our family left the lodge, we asked to be left alone. We wanted time to think and seek God, and to go forward in life apart from them. What we got was an onslaught of nasty letters, e-mails , calls and visits. The lodge members disrespected our request. This onslaught has continued until very recently, and we left over three years ago!
Now I have to say that not all the lodge-members have harassed us. But those that have have been relentless. Some who called themselves my very close friends have shown me such disrespect that I am absolutely appalled. None of the contacts have been positive--they've all been negative. Honestly, do the present lodge members think that by disrespecting our wishes they can make us ever consider returning?
Another important point I would like to comment on is Roger's statement, "In a friendship there is an openness and a clarity; friends can look one another in the eye with an open face.” But in the lodge, there is a secrecy, a hidden agenda that uses God’s name for self-profit….be it money, status, control or what have you. Openness? NO WAY! People are soooo afraid to be real for fear that if they had a blemish on their person or personality they are ungodly in some way. This form of brainwashing is what the lodge teaches.
Especially if you are in leadership there is no openness or clarity. If there were, then those in leadership would have exposed the beatings taking place in SLO. How could an elder, or a Leading Brother, who is supposed to shepherd the flock, not take action when this was heard of? Even if he were told that it had been taken care of, is it too much work to call the family and see if they are okay, or if there is some way to help? If this was not done, there could be no reassurance that it had indeed been taken care of, so that open or clear? Could not any attempt have been made out of “love” the brethren? How can they call themselves shepherds?
Friendships for the most part do not exist in the lodge. They are spoken of, played out, and temporary, but they are not real. True friendships are not based on how much you can control the other person. They are not based on secrets. They are not based on what step of the ladder you sit on to George’s throne. They are not based on how committed you are to the "Work" of George and his clones. True friendships are based on trust, love, truth and respect, with God right in the center.
But you won’t find that in the lodge, for the most part. There is always a “CONDITION” to the love shown there. You are committed “IF” you go to all the meetings. You are loved “IF” you stay in this ministry. The type of love in the lodge is not God's love, which we are commanded to have for one another, it is a conditional love, based on certain terms.
That is not what God calls love. The Bible says “ Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” John 15 :13.
* [This phrase refers to an article written during the collapse of the Geftakys Assembly in which the Assembly was termed a lodge type of group.]
Comments from readers....
November 8, 2006, Anonymous: Isn't this sad?! Unfortunately, that's how it is when someone leaves the Assembly. After all, how DO you leave a cult? I bet every single person who left the assembly experienced very similar things. I know my husband and I did. People (oh, excuse me, "saints") said some pretty awful things to me and my husband. I won't repeat everything they said, but most of it was the standard spiel, "They're in darkness", "They sold out", "They're worldly". I was even told I was "spewing defilement." A leading sister inquired if I was still walking with the Lord.
Well, needless to say, these comments hurt from people who you thought cared about you--from "sisters" I spent many hours with planning Bible club lessons, witnessing, etc. etc. I have not spoken with my "friends" for nearly four years now. Wild. It doesn't hurt as much now, but I do still hope that someday someone from our Assembly will contact me and apologize. I know they probably think I need to repent, but I don't have anything to repent of. I did nothing wrong--I left a cult. (My parents were so happy, by the way.)
Editor's reply: The subject of Assembly friendships is very painful for many us.. But we have to give ourselves credit for having really cared about our friends, in a place that militated against it. Probably some of them truly cared for us, too, but the automatic defense reflex of the Assembly mindset was set in motion when we left, and it took another chunk out of their personhood and their humanity. I think it's doubtful that anyone who remains in the Assembly will even think of apologizing until they leave. And maybe not even then, at least not right away. It's part of the mind control that isn't necessarily easy for everyone to break free from.
November 28, 2006, Bob B.: Yes, this article hits it to the core. This is exactly how it was leaving the Assembly. But what really hit me were the thoughts about friendship. That has been and still is a major road-block in my life. I really truly thought I had some very deep and meaningful friendships, but came to find out they meant nothing. Of course, what was I thinking? It was always preached God was first (the Work) and then others (only those committed to the Work) and finally last of all was self, which there was never time for, so not much thought ever went into thinking about what I might want or think about anything. There was no time to pursue a friendship with anyone. And why, for that matter? What did friendships have to do with the work of God, anyway?
Unless of course you were pursuing a relationship for the sole purpose of getting married. Then you’d have a help-meet to enhance and support the work of God that you were already doing and increasing in. Well, I digress. Even now, going on 4 years later, it is still just so painful to be without the relationships that I thought were so deep. Whenever I think about someone, or see a picture and a memory comes back, or I speak with my wife about someone or something, I just ache all over again. It really is just like the pantomime we did so many times where the guy gets his heart taken out, squashed up, and then stomped on and ground down under foot. It’s just terrible, and so hard it’s all I can do to put it out of my mind. Even writing this brings tears. I don’t even know why I bother, I don’t know if the pain will ever go away. Sorry to vent.
For more about friendship in the Geftakys Assembly, read Chris and Mary's Story - Ottawa Assembly » »