My Son Just Joined a Strange Church
"My son just joined a strange church and I am worried about him. Who are these people?"
This is a question that many parents have shared over the years, including my own. First of all, please understand that this group is not dangerous in the physical sense. They will not coerce people to drink Kool-Aid! This group is abusive in the spiritual and psychological sense, although with some members, the spiritual abuse has led to physical abuse, mainly domestic violence. However, domestic violence is not the norm for the vast majority of the members.
In many cases, new recruits may actually benefit from their first months and years in the group. Due to the controlled, busy lifestyle expected of an Assembly member, it is common for young people to learn a measure of discipline which can be quite helpful for some people. Also, if your son or daughter was struggling with drugs or alcohol, or some moral issue, the Assembly may provide quite a bit of peer support to encourage people to "clean-up."
Even more importantly, keep in mind that the Assembly is preaching Jesus as the only way to salvation. This means that members are Christians, in the most orthodox sense, they are not to be confused with groups like Watchtower or LDS.
The trouble with the Assembly comes gradually, over time. As the Bible says, "A little leaven leavens the whole lump." If your loved one begins to exhibit drastic changes in interests, to the point where the group is the central focus for their entire life, or if they suddenly drop career goals and refuse to consider jobs that are "away from fellowship," then you have cause to be concerned. Most people who join the Assembly, end up leaving, and virtually all ex-members express regret and sorrow for the time wasted serving the group. Sadly, some of these people need professional help and remain damaged for the rest of their lives. Even worse, a significant number of ex-members suffer shipwreck concerning their Christian faith. It is this aspect of the Assembly that is dangerous, and it is for this reason that this website exists.
"What should I do?"
First, read the material on this site to familiarize yourself with the Assembly and its teachings. Be sure to check the reading list on this site. Next, contact a Pastor of a sound evangelical church. They can offer support and may be able to talk to your loved one, especially if your family attended their church in the past.
Do not cut off contact, or "persecute" your loved one. The Assembly programs its members to expect persecution from family and especially other Christians. Many times, when a parent or friend forces the issue, it only cements the idea in the new member's mind that "I am in God's will, and my family is worldly. The Enemy is trying to get to me through my family or pastor." Intelligent dialogue is the key, not panic! Remember, your loved one thinks they are involved in God's favorite church, at the cutting edge of true Christianity.
Don't despair. A majority of new members leave the group and stop attending their meetings within a year or two of joining.