Brian was deprogrammed out of the Santa Barbara Assembly in the 1990's. He writes here about his time in recovery at Wellspring Retreat. Afterward, he wrote Robert Lifton's Criteria for Thought Reform Applied to the Geftakys Assemblies. Brian is now a pastor, and author of The Kingdom Field Guide: Keys to Finding God's Really Real Kingdom. He talks about it with Rodney Olsen on the Bleeding Daylight podcast.
My name is Brian Steele. I was involved in the Santa Barbara Assembly in the early 1990’s. My parents kidnapped me (literally) and hired cult expert Rick Ross to convince me to leave the Assembly. I’m thankful that Steve Irons made himself available to me in a number of very helpful conversations soon after I left. Fortunately, only a small portion of my life was consumed. After leaving the Assemblies I went to Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center, a rehab/counseling center for cult victims. The time spent at Wellspring was HUGE in my recovery, helping me understand the manipulation I went through, cult dynamics, and the psychology of thought reform. They also helped me rebuild my Christian faith. I can’t understate the impact that Wellspring had in my recovery to become a whole person socially, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually.
After being a client there, I returned a year later and volunteered for a summer to help them. Wellspring is such a dedicated, godly group of people (all ex-cult members themselves) and the work they do is invaluable. They are professionally trained and certified for the work they do and have helped people across the world in a variety of cults. Many ex-Assembly people have attended Wellspring, so they are well acquainted with George Geftakys and his particular brand of theology and abusive practices.
I know that many others suffered for decades under George. I would be glad to talk to anybody about my personal experience at Wellspring.