Flora's Experience in Ottawa 1976-1993
(Flora communicated on January 31, 2013: "On December 31st, 2012, almost 20 years after I left the Ottawa assembly, Armand and Nancy Cossette, phoned me. They said that they had just read my account, and they were phoning to apologize to me and to ask me to forgive them. At no time did they deny or refute any of the details mentioned in this story. They simply asked to be forgiven. They sounded sincere, and I forgave them.")
Hi! I'm Flora, formerly involved in the Ottawa Assembly. After the Geftakys organization began to crumble in 2003 and various people were telling their experiences on the internet, I was asked to share mine. I did not want to revisit those memories; it was history and I wanted it to remain history. My attitude was that other people’s stories revealed the oppression and control of this organization, so my story would serve no purpose. However, from time to time, I was asked and re-asked, because it was felt that since I had been in the Ottawa Assembly at the time of its beginning, I would have a unique perspective and could reveal things that others did not know.
Although this was true, I still struggled with the idea of telling my story. How would my story help others? Who would be helped by it? One nagging thought kept coming back to me: Some people came to be in that organization because of my influence, whether by invitation or by meeting with them regularly to disciple them. I met with Rose and Eileen every week for many months before they came into fellowship in the Ottawa Assembly. I met Paul while taking an evening course and invited him to a Bible Study. I lived with Marcelle, Rose and Eileen, as well as others who have now left the Assembly. I had many happy times of fellowship in the Dinakaran home. I used to babysit Joshua and Debbie, playing snakes and ladders and taking them tobogganing. Then on Sunday, I taught them Bible lessons. I still love the Lord’s people in the Ottawa Assembly and I still pray for them. Also for some of them, I have a degree of responsibility before God for their spiritual well being.
However, since they are still in the organization, it is hard for me to believe that my story will make any difference in their lives. So, will it help those who have already left the Ottawa Assembly? Maybe it will and maybe it won’t. Only God knows. Will it help others whose lives were affected by this organization? Once again, all I can say is, “Only God knows”. The only thing I know is that as I prayed about it, the conviction became stronger and stronger that my story does have a unique contribution. Although I did not want to revisit these memories, they have come flooding back to me with crystal clarity.
Before anyone accuses me of lashing out in bitterness, I want to say, with God as my Witness, that God has taken away my bitterness. I admit to struggling with anger, hate and bitterness; but by God’s grace, He has set me free. I have learned to release all my hurts and hurtful situations and give them over into God’s hands for He has seen every detail of what was said and done. They are souls for whom Christ died; therefore, by His grace, I can love them and pray for them, no matter how I have been treated.
How It All Began
My story is best understood if you know my background before I got involved in the Geftakys organization. I had the privilege of being raised in a Christian home. My Dad was an elder in a Plymouth Brethren Assembly. For those familiar with the Brethren assemblies and its many branches, our family went to the ‘Open Brethren’ Assembly. I accepted God’s gift of salvation at the tender age of five years, and I was baptized in a lake at a Bible Camp when I was sixteen years old. From childhood years to adulthood, my desire was to be a missionary, or to serve Christ in some kind of ministry.
My Dad lived his entire 83 years in the same rural community. He was well loved and respected in the general community, and in particular, in the Christian community – in all denominations. When I first became disabled, I learned I was on the prayer list of every church in the surrounding communities – Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, United, Christian Alliance, Catholic, Anglican, Pentecostal, etc. I was even on the church prayer list of the Seventh Day Adventists and the Jehovah Witnesses.
Also, my parents were well known for their hospitality. They often were heard saying, “If you are ever in the area, drop in.” Everyone took them up on their offer, and people would drop in for a visit, any day of the week and any time of the day. They were always met with a welcome. Visiting preachers and their families would often come for meals or spend the weekend in our home.
As a child and a teenager, I memorized scripture verses, sometimes whole chapters, and the book of James. I was active in my youth group, a teacher in a children’s outreach, and a counselor at a Christian camp. During my teen years, I actively fought shyness, as I saw it as an obstacle to serving the Lord. My key verse in helping me fight shyness was Phil 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
In my last year of secondary school, I was voted President of the Inter School Christian Fellowship Club. At that point in time, my shyness was so severe that I could talk comfortably only one on one. If a third person joined I clammed up and could not speak. However, I was not shy around children or family. God understood my fears and led me step by step. God took me only a little bit out of my comfort zone, enough that I had to lean on Him, but not enough to cripple me with fear. The first Bible study I led there had only three people present. I felt comfortable with all of them. Each time it was my turn to lead the Bible study, we had visitors. By the end of the school year, I was comfortable leading a Bible Study before a group of 15 people. God had led me from fear to confidence.
This experience bolstered my confidence, and that summer I led a Bible Study in my parent’s home with any of the students who wanted to continue meeting during the summer months. Since they brought friends or family, the group averaged about 20 people.
Move to Ottawa
When I moved to Ottawa in the fall of 1976, I continued to organize informal Bible studies in my home or in the homes of other friends. This was always something extra, over and above what the various churches already offered. I met Armand that fall as he fellowshipped in the same Brethren church in Ottawa that I did. I invited Armand to one of my informal Bible studies.
He enjoyed it but said he preferred a more structured type of study. Armand shared the Chapter Summary method of Bible Study with us. For about a year we did a mix between 1) the structured Chapter Summary method, 2) the informal question & answer method, and 3) the discussion method. There were between ten and twenty people coming out. We rotated who led the study, so Armand had very limited say in how things were done. Since the Bible studies were being held primarily in my home, I usually made the final decision, after I had talked with each one and tried to form a consensus.
During this time, my respect for Armand was really growing. When I met Armand, he had only known the Lord one year, whereas I had known the Lord fifteen years. I was amazed by his zeal and love for the Lord. I found it both convicting and motivating. Armand wanted to start going witnessing on Sunday afternoons. I was impressed by this, as well as by the approach that was used. “Hi, I’m Armand, this is Rob; we are a couple of Christians out talking about the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you have a few minutes to talk?” It was open, direct, not pushy and not deceitful, like asking for a survey to be filled out. I liked it.
As my respect for Armand grew, I started to listen more to his reasons why Chapter Summary method of Bible study was better – the main one being it caused people to read and be familiar with the chapter before they came to the study. By the spring of 1978, we were consistently doing Chapter Summary method of study all the time. We still rotated who led the study, but Armand was starting to lead the study most of the time.
Also, we started to listen to ministry tapes ministry by George Geftakys. A number of us insisted that we also listen to ministry by other preachers. However this didn’t last long. The tapes from Fullerton often came in a series of 7-9 lectures. Before one series was done, Armand had received another series. When we complained that we were only listening to one preacher, Armand got in other tapes of other itinerant preachers – Tim Geftakys, Jim Hayman and others. All of these other preachers were part of the Geftakys organization. I had no knowledge of who George was except what Armand told me about him. I respected Armand, and Armand respected George. So initially, my respect for George was based completely on what Armand had told me about him.
Although the Bible studies continued in my home, the tape ministry was in Armand’s home. The number of people coming to the tape meeting was about half the number that was coming to the Bible study. When George visited Ottawa in the fall of 1978, he told Armand that the Bible study should not be held in my home. I was living with two other sisters in Christ – one went to the same Brethren church where I was fellowshipping and the other one went to a Presbyterian church. When they were home on a Bible study evening, they did attend the Bible study, but neither of them went on the outreach, or went to the tape meeting. Therefore, according to George, they were not united with us. George advised Armand that the Bible study should be moved to a brother’s house. So Armand announced that the next Bible Study would be in his apartment. This upset me at the time, but I silently went along with it.
At the time, both the tape ministry and the Chapter Summary were on Abraham’s life. During this time, Armand increasingly began talking of the Lord calling us out of our current churches, and starting a new ministry based on a zeal for holy living and an ambition to please God in all that we say, do or think.
Most of those who were coming saw the danger signs, and stopped coming to both the Bible study and the tape ministry. However, I was held in its grip by the teaching of a holy Assembly, in which sin is confronted and the offending person lovingly guided to the place of repentance and reconciliation with both God and man. This teaching stated: 1) that these Assemblies had shepherds and elders that were above reproach and whose life exemplified godliness in every way; and 2) that if sin were found in the leadership, there would be firm, strong action taken to deal with it.
Also, this came at a point in time in my life when I was very aware of sin being tolerated in the leadership of a number of local churches in various denominations. My parents and other preachers warned me against this organization, but since sin was being tolerated in their churches, I did not pay attention to their warnings, as I should have done. As well, a deep respect for Armand and George had blinded me to the subtle deception of this holiness teaching coming from Fullerton.
The scriptures indicate the leadership had to consist solely of men and it had to be plural. Since Armand and Peter were the only men, the thinking was that they would be “the leadership”. This troubled me though because scripture also indicates that for someone to be in a leadership position they must be spiritually mature and not a novice. However, both Armand and Peter were too young in the Lord and lacked spiritual maturity to step into this kind of leadership role. Armand had only been a Christian 3 or 4 years and only a few months. I voiced this concern many times. George reassured me that Armand and Peter would be brothers in training for leadership under his guidance. George instructed me that an Assembly did not need elders, initially, to be an Assembly. He said that the itinerant brothers would be the ones overseeing the Ottawa Assembly. Once again, my respect for George blinded me from seeing the danger in these words.
The Ottawa Assembly began breaking bread in February 1979 with just four people: Armand, Peter, Julie and me. Our faults and the lack of holiness was plain and obvious, but the itinerant brothers encouraged us to see ourselves in God’s schoolhouse being trained in the ways of holiness.
Itinerant brothers fly in for a few days to preach, give counsel, and fly out again. You don’t see them on a day to day basis interacting in various circumstances. So it is easy to put them on a pedestal of holiness. We tend to believe that the sermon that they just preached is exemplified in their daily life; but we have no proof of it, because they just got on an airplane and left. They won’t be back for six months or a year. However, our lack of holiness has just been made perfectly clear to us by the visiting brother. Everyone is very aware of his own struggle and that of everyone else in the Assembly to try and implement the almost impossible standard of holiness just given to them by the itinerant preacher.
In this way, the new Assembly stumbled and bumbled along growing slowly, but steadily. Actually, we were very similar to other small churches that I had known. The oppression and control of the Geftakys organization wasn’t very evident here yet. Yes, we had personality clashes and many conflicts, but we rarely had someone using their so called ‘spiritual authority’ to intimidate us and control us. This oppression and control only started to gain a hold when the Zach influence began.
Instructions Regarding Submission
In the spring of 1979, I went for my first trip to Fullerton. My visit was a month long, ending the week after the Spring Seminar. I stayed in a sisters training house that was under Betty's direct training. The first morning is quite memorable in my mind for I woke up to a rooster crowing. I couldn't believe it. I was in a city. I learned that it was permissible to have chickens in the back yard in that area of the city of Fullerton. Then it was explained to me that the reason for the chickens was to supply those on the Gerson diet with 100 % organic eggs. This was my first exposure to the Gerson diet, an alternative cancer therapy. Until this trip, I had never even heard of organic food. There were fifty chickens in the back yard and one of my assigned tasks was to take the kitchen scraps out to feed the chickens.
Then about a week or so before the seminar, the sisters had a house meeting with Betty. I wasn't allowed to go, probably due to the fact I was a visitor. One result of that meeting was an instruction that all fifty of the chickens had to be slaughtered. Betty had said so. When I asked, "Since these chickens supply organic eggs for those on a special diet and since organic eggs are hard to purchase, why are you killing all fifty chickens? Why not only kill ten or twenty and leave the rest for producing eggs?" I could never get a satisfactory response. I was told that Betty's instruction was to kill all fifty and our role was to obey Betty's instructions.
A few days later, I was visiting with Tim Geftkays and I brought the issue up with him because I didn't like the fact that nobody was giving me satisfactory answers to my questions. Tim pointed out to me that I was staying in a training house and one of the things sisters need to learn is submission. Then he explained the operating principle of submission. Tim's instruction was to obey all instructions given by leadership without reservation, even if I disagree or have doubts, or questions about those instructions. He said that after I have obeyed, then I could voice my questions and doubts and ask for an explanation. He ended his advice by telling me that if I didn't want to submit, I didn't have to stay at a training home; I could stay somewhere else. I assured him I would submit, participate in killing all fifty chickens and hold my questions till afterwards.
Betty's specific instructions were that the dead chickens had to be dunked in boiling water and then the feathers plucked. The smell of boiled chicken feathers stayed with me for months. For a good four months after, just the smell of chicken would make my stomach want to roll.
During the plucking of feathers, I was unable to restrain the questions. Why did we have to dump them in boiled water first before plucking? I was only told that Betty insisted we do it this way. I had helped my parents pluck feathers many times; but we always hung the chickens upside down and then, plucked the dry feathers. I had other questions as well: Where were the dead chickens going? Were they going to be used as meat? Answer: Betty will decide.
After I submitted and participated, I then asked my original questions: If only twenty were killed, there would still be thirty producing organic eggs, so why kill all fifty? Were they diseased? Where will you get organic eggs? The response was still the same, "I don't know, we only did what Betty instructed us to do."
So in order to demonstrate to the leadership a submissive attitude, you have to hold back your questions, doubts and concerns until after you have obeyed. However, the leadership doesn’t feel obligated in any way to answer those questions, doubts or concerns. Nevertheless, I implemented these instructions to the best of my ability all the years I was with this organization. During these years, the leadership may have given me satisfactory answers 40% of the time or less.
Since leaving the organization, I have now rephrased these instructions regarding submission. In essence, they are asking us to put our brains in neutral, ignore all the inner warning signals your mind is telling you, and just be a happy robot obeying their every instruction. This is definitely not the Bible’s meaning of submission. In fact, God honoured Abigail for not submitting to Nabal, and God punished Sapphira for submitting to Ananias.
Many people have expressed surprise that the Ottawa Assembly would still be standing, when many others have crumbled. However, I am not a bit surprised. George was personally never a very strong influence in Ottawa. He definitely had an influence, but if the leading brothers didn’t agree with his advice, they would not follow it. For example, at one time George advised Armand to give up on what was happening in Ottawa and move to Toronto and start a work in Toronto with the contacts that George had there. Armand said “no” because his job was in Ottawa. George also wanted all three Cossette brothers--Armand, Ron and Bernie-- to be in the same city, working together as a team in the same Assembly. Obviously, that advice was not followed either. Also, George wanted Armand to phone him regularly, but Armand only phoned him a couple of times a year.
However, with Armand’s engagement (in 1984) and marriage (in 1985) to Nancy Zach, things changed. The Assembly came under the direct influence of Mike and Sheryl Zach. Mike is Nancy’s brother. Mike had been trained by George, and many believe he was also groomed by George to be his successor. I understand that Mike talked to George every week. Armand began phoning Mike regularly (weekly?) and getting advice and direction from Mike. So the influence in the Assembly was the same as those Assemblies under George’s direct influence. The control and oppression found in other assemblies was now in operation in Ottawa as well. Ottawa received their direction from Mike before the collapse of the Geftakys organization, and I understand that they still continue to receive their direction from Mike.
When the change began to happen in 1984 and 1985, everyone noticed the change in Armand – in particular, the Dinakaran family, Marcia, Marcelle, Rod A. and me. Initially, none of us liked the changes we were witnessing. Armand became more authoritative, more rigid and unwavering in a decision. At the same time, he became less compassionate, less approachable, and less willing to listen to another perspective. When he had made a decision, it became next to impossible to reason with him.
About a year or so after the Assembly came under the Zach influence, Armand gave me some advice that he thought would help me in my work of teaching other sisters and children. He was passing on advice Mike Zach had given to him around the time he got married. He said, “If you give advice or direction, stand by it, even if your advice is wrong. God will honour your position of authority and turn your wrong advice into the right thing to do. God will be standing with you, so don’t waver. Since you are in a position of spiritual authority, God will vindicate your direction. God will alter the circumstances and cause the direction you gave, to be the right direction and having done the right thing.” Suddenly, I understood the changes in Armand, and the way Armand’s mind had started to work. I still didn’t agree with the changes or like the changes, but at least I now sort of understood them.
Years later, I can really see what a delusion Armand was under! I view that advice now as total, complete trash. In fact, the Bible teaches that when we are wrong, we are to humble ourselves, apologize and acknowledge our wrong. Then we are to turn our direction to go the right way. To believe that God will turn your wrong into right has no scriptural base whatsoever. To believe that God will stand with a person’s wrong decision because of their position of authority is arrogant, proud and a deluded sense of authority that is completely false. God is holy. He will not identify Himself with sin, nor with oppressive false authority.
My own personal nightmare clash with the oppressive and controlling new system began in a very small way shortly after Armand’s engagement, and then really intensified about three months after Nancy moved to Ottawa. Below I share a few of these stories to give you some insight into what life became like in Ottawa.
Money In The Lord’s Treasury
Publicly, there was very little said about money. Usually the only public statement was an announcement on Sunday mornings that if we wanted to give to the Lord financially there is a box at the back of the room for that purpose. We can put our money in the box privately. We are informed that the money will be used for the Lord’s work, both here and abroad.
Believing that the money was available for the Lord’s work here, and since I was teaching the children, I wanted to purchase a blackboard as a teaching tool. I went to the store and priced them. Then I met with Armand to request money from the “Lord’s treasury” for the purchase of a blackboard and chalk. I told Armand the approximate size I needed for teaching the children, the store where I priced them and the approximate cost.
Armand informed me that there wasn’t enough money in the treasury for the purchase of a blackboard. When I expressed my disbelief and mentioned that I knew a number of people gave quite a bit of money into the Lord’s treasury, Armand explained to me that the majority of the money was sent to support George and the itinerant ministries.
Then he informed me that if I want my money gift to be used for something specific, I needed to put the money in an envelope with a note for its intended purpose. Then put this envelope into the money box. When the brothers go through the box and do the financial accounting, they will see the note and honour the request. I believed him and followed his instructions, stating that the money in the envelope was for the purchase of a blackboard and chalk to use as an educational tool in teaching the children.
Instead, Armand and Peter used that money to purchase a large white board that used markers instead of chalk. It was installed on the wall of the meeting room for George’s use, when George visited. It was also to be used for the Chapter Summary Bible studies.
It was too large to move easily; and I could not bring it into the tiny room where I taught the children. When I mentioned this to Armand, he just shrugged his shoulders and said that the brothers thought a whiteboard for the use of the whole Assembly was a better use of the money. The brothers were one mind on this decision.
Consequently, in order to have this educational tool available to use in teaching the children, I borrowed a child’s blackboard from my mother, and then went out and purchased chalk with my own money – not with money from the treasury.
That experience was the last time I ever put money into the ‘box at the back of the meeting room’. I no longer trusted their judgment in how that money would be used. From that time on, my financial giving to the Lord was done in a way that I knew exactly where and how the money was being used.
Giving As Unto The Lord
In the fall of 1984, during my morning time with the Lord, I was reading in I Samuel 9. It is the story of Saul and his servant looking for donkeys and deciding to ask advice from Samuel. Saul’s servant said they must not go empty-handed; they must have something to give the seer. George G. was coming for a visit in a couple of weeks and I wanted to have something to give the “Lord’s servant”.
I asked Armand if I could have George over for a meal while he was here. Armand informed me that Sunday night was the most likely available time, but George liked to visit with all the saints on Sunday night. So I extended the invitation to include George plus everyone else – approximately twenty-five people. Armand wouldn’t give me a yes or a no; he would only say, “We’ll see, closer to the time.”
Cooking for twenty-five people requires planning, so I went ahead and planned out a menu and made a grocery list. I pulled out all the stops, and planned a turkey dinner with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, various vegetable dishes, buns, etc., with two kinds of baked Alaskas for desert. Then a week before George was coming, I asked Armand again. I received the same non committal answer. I explained to Armand that a meal for twenty-five people couldn’t be put together at the last minute and that I would need to begin preparations that weekend in order to be ready. Armand just shrugged his shoulders and refused to give me a yes or a no.
After spending time in prayer, I decided to proceed in making preparations for the meal. I really wanted to show my gratitude to the “Lord’s servant” by serving this meal. Also, I didn’t want to not be ready if Armand said, “Yes, they would come.” So I purchased a turkey big enough to feed twenty-five people, and the ingredients for the baked Alaska and made the desert that weekend.
At each meeting leading up to George’s arrival I asked Armand about the invitation to dinner Sunday night. All week, I received the same non-committal answer. At the end of the week George arrived; and Armand continued to give me his non-committal answer, except now he added, “I’ll have to discuss it with George and see if he wants to go to your place or go to a restaurant. Sometimes George prefers restaurants over private homes.”
As of Saturday night, Armand’s answer had not changed. So I began meal preparation. I got up early Sunday morning, stuffed the turkey and put it in the oven and made other preparations for the meal. Before the morning meeting Armand once again gave me his non-committal answer. I slipped home between breaking of bread and ministry in order to baste the turkey. Then I went home during the lunch period in order to advance the meal preparation. By the afternoon meeting I had everything ready with only one hour worth of work prior to sitting down to the meal.
At the beginning of the meeting Armand still refused to tell me whether or not they would be coming to dinner. After the meeting I told Armand the meal would be ready in an hour. Only at that point in time, did Armand then inform me that George had decided they would all be going to a restaurant and not to my place for supper.
I went home to have supper by myself while all twenty-five others went to a restaurant. I got on my knees and poured out my heart to the Lord. The Lord reminded me that I had prepared the meal as unto Him and for His “servant”. Therefore it was not in vain. The Lord valued it even though the others did not. I cried and prayed as I dealt with all the food – freezing what I could, and throwing out what wouldn’t keep. The Lord knew I needed comfort and encouragement and I had a wonderful surprise visit that evening from my mother.
The following Sunday I served the meal to about 18 people. Most of the food had been frozen and just needed to be reheated; however, the rest of the meal needed to be freshly prepared. Every one seemed to enjoy the meal – including Armand.
Advice that Contradicts Scripture
In the early summer of 1985 a brother asked me to go for a walk with him after lunch on Sunday. As we walked, he expressed a desire to start spending time alone with me, for example, going out together to a restaurant for a dinner. He said he had discussed it with the Leading Brothers, and they supported the idea.
Although I liked this brother very much as a dear friend, I was already aware from previous things that were said and done, that he wanted the relationship to develop beyond friendship. I knew myself well enough to know that developing this relationship would eventually lead to disaster. I have a very strong will, and I knew that whoever I married had to be someone that I held in very high respect or I would never be able to submit to them. I did respect this brother, but not enough for the inevitable battle of the wills.
After I verified that his intention in wanting to spend time together was, in fact, to develop the relationship beyond friendship, I declined his invitation and explained my reasons why. I emphasized that I liked and respected him as a brother in Christ, and I viewed him as a good friend. But I let him know I had a very strong will. He laughed and said he was aware of my strong will, and that that was one of the things he admired in me. Then, as gently as I knew how, I told him that at this point in time, my respect for him wasn’t strong enough to develop the relationship beyond friendship. The brother took the information very well, and we ended the walk on good terms and as good friends.
At the end of the meetings on that Sunday, Armand detained me for what seemed like a social chat. Then, he got this huge grin on his face and he asked me if there was anything I wanted to discuss with him or get counsel about. Suddenly I realized that he wanted me to seek counsel about spending time with this brother. I told Armand, “No”, as it was such a non issue with me that I saw no need to ask for advice. Armand just gave me a very puzzled look.
About a week later, Nancy came to visit me in my apartment. She was very upset with me for saying “no” to this brother. When I expressed my reasons, she told me that respect was not important. She said respect can develop over time, but its okay to pursue a relationship even if you don’t respect the person. She added that she knew a number of sisters who had married brothers they didn’t respect. Then she shocked me with the statement, “I married Armand and I don’t respect him. You are making too big an issue out of the need to respect your husband.”
When I firmly responded that God commands a wife to respect her husband in Eph 5:33, Nancy just shrugged her shoulders. Then Nancy tried one more time to convince me to start spending time with this brother. I continued to say “no”, and Nancy got angry with me and left my apartment.
After a few months, and after a few more clashes with Nancy over a number of different things, I decided I needed to talk to Armand. I reiterated everything that was said between Nancy and me in my apartment. I pointed out to Armand that Nancy was giving advice that went against the instructions in Ephesians 5.
This was one of the rare times when I actually received an apology from Armand. He apologized to me for his wife’s behaviour and comments. However, Nancy never apologized to me for those comments.
Stewardship of Providing the Bread for Worship
Each household is given Assembly stewardships (jobs) to do. Our home was given the stewardship of providing the bread for worship. The instructions we received from Nancy was to use the frozen dough from the supermarket. The thawed dough was then formed and baked into tiny loaves of bread.
One Saturday evening, Rose came to me and told me that the dough was not rising. We decided to wait a few more hours and tried different techniques to get the dough to rise, all to no avail. The dough refused to rise. I advised Rose to not let it worry her and suggested that we pick up buns on the way to the meeting Sunday morning. This is what we did.
To my knowledge, everything went over alright without any difficulties. It wasn’t until I got back home that evening and found Rose crying and upset, that I found out there was a problem. Nancy had taken Rose aside and said that since we had not provided the bread for worship according to the instructions, we had not been faithful in our stewardship. Consequently, the stewardship of providing the bread for worship was being taken away from our home.
Nancy’s home took over the stewardship. In particular, Nancy herself took over the stewardship. The next Sunday I approached Nancy and tried to explain the situation and let her know we were faithful to the stewardship, because even though the dough didn’t rise, we still made sure there was bread for the breaking of bread meeting! The bread was not in the specified form; it was a bun. But the Bible does not give specific instructions as to how the bread is to look. Nancy stated firmly to me that specific instructions were given to us and we did not follow them. When I argued in response that the dough did not rise, Nancy just shrugged her shoulders and walked away.
After that discussion with Nancy, I made the determination to talk to Jim Hayman, the itinerant brother who was going to be visiting the Assembly in about a month’s time. I wanted to know from him whether or not our house had been unfaithful in our stewardship, because I refused to believe Nancy’s assertion that our house had been unfaithful.
A week or two later, Nancy herself had problems with the dough not rising. Instead of coming up with a different solution, she decided to go ahead and bake the unrisen dough. Then it was placed on the plate as the bread for worship. When Rod A., who was tall and strong, went to break the loaf, he could not do it. He quietly excused himself and took the loaf outside the meeting room. I don’t know how he split the loaf in half, but he came back with the loaf in two halves. Then, trying to hide a grin, he proceeded to pass the loaf around. As the loaf came to each person, we discovered that the bread was so hard that we could only scrape a couple of crumbs with our fingernails. Everyone was fighting laughter. Some of us actually cracked up and could not contain our laughter. Obviously our minds were distracted from remembering our Lord’s death and resurrection.
The next week Nancy, once again, had problems with the dough not rising. This time Nancy’s solution was a slice of bread. That day, Nancy took me aside and said she was giving the stewardship back to our house. At no time in this, did she acknowledge that she was experiencing the same difficulties we had experienced, which was very obvious by the results she had achieved. Nor did she acknowledge that she was wrong to remove the stewardship from us. Our house never received an apology from her.
Interestingly enough, Jim Hayman was going to be coming in one or two weeks. This effectively averted my bringing this problem to Jim’s attention.
We bought other brands of frozen dough and it worked for a bit. Then, inevitably, one Saturday evening about 10:00, Rose came to me with tears streaming down her face. “Flora, what can we do? The bread is not rising and I have tried everything I can think of to try. I’m scared Nancy is going to take the stewardship away from us again.”
I did my best to reassure her that in the Lord’s eyes she had been faithful to her stewardship. I said Nancy may not believe that, but the Lord has seen her endeavor to fulfill her stewardship and the dough not rising is not her fault. I encouraged her to go to bed. I stayed up all night and made bread from scratch. This meant that I went over thirty-six hours without sleep – I had been up all day Saturday, and I stayed up all night making bread. Sunday was the meetings and I had to teach the children. By the time I got to bed it was over thirty-six hours. This was at a time when I was already experiencing major chronic fatigue and it was only two years before I became disabled.
Consequently, it really cost me in my health to provide the bread for worship, and to take adequate action to provide Rose with the reassurance that our stewardship would not be taken away from us again. Yet, Nancy noticed that the bread was a different size and shape. Nancy took us aside and commented on the size and shape. When we told her again that the bread had not risen, and that we refused to buy frozen dough again, she agreed with us, but still had to assert her authority. She then proceeded to give us specific instructions for the size and shape and appearance of the loaf of bread to be used for worship.
Consequently, I went out and bought specific bread pans and got Nancy’s approval for the size of the pans. From that time on, I personally made the bread for worship from scratch, making enough for a couple of months and putting it in the freezer. I continued this until I became disabled.
Nancy had taken something very simple and added her rules and regulations, all for the purpose of controlling and asserting her authority. In essence, Nancy turned the bread for worship into a tool to oppress and “teach submission” to her authority.
In early fall of 1985, it seemed as though I could never do anything right. I was always breaking someone’s rule about something. I was constantly being corrected about a wide variety of things. I can no longer remember all the issues, but I do remember feeling crushed under the weight of criticism. I remember trying to explain situations, and then having my words twisted to give a different meaning. I remember crying myself to sleep night after night because of one more thing that I did wrong.
During this time, I had a major struggle with chronic fatigue and muscle weakness. One of my household jobs was to sweep and mop the stairs that led to our apartment. Then, after I had finished the task, my work was checked, in the same way a mother checks the work of her eight year old child. One Saturday, the person checking my work, found a bit of sand on one of the steps. The consequence I received as a result was to re-wash them using a scrub brush. I also had to do the stairs leading to the basement with a scrub brush.
I was completely exhausted from washing the stairs the first time. It was inconceivable to me that I would have to do them again with a scrub brush. However, I was told that if I didn’t do it, the consequence would be increased.
With each stair, I prayed for strength to scrub it. With tears streaming down my face, I poured out my heart to God. I was really struggling with anger and hate, but I knew God’s way was love. I remember praying, “Show me how to love in this situation.”
That evening, as I knelt by my bed to read my Bible and pray, I lost my battle. Anger and hurt swamped me. I slammed my Bible shut, threw it to the end of the bed, and said, “If this is Christianity, shove it.” For a period of about three weeks, I could not read the Bible and I could not pray. I still went to the meetings, basically only so that I would avoid further reproofs; but I did not pray at the meetings and I did not prepare my Chapter Summary. I arranged for the children to be part of the outreach, so I wouldn’t have to teach them.
During this time, although it was obvious I was struggling, no one reached out to encourage me or to find out what was wrong. However, I do remember being asked by someone, “Where is your joy, sister? We are to come to the meetings rejoicing, trusting in the Lord, and ready to edify others.”
Silently I was making plans to leave. My plan was ready and just needed some phone calls to put it into action. However, if I had left at this time, I would have been leaving the Lord, as well as leaving the Assembly. In my mind, this Assembly was practical Christianity. It was taking Biblical principles and putting them into action in daily living, and I had decided I wanted no part of it. My attitude was, “If this is practical Christianity, let my out of here”.
However, God in His deep love and mercy reached out to me. I was outside going for a walk, trying to get my emotions under control, and a hymn kept going through my mind. I could not get the hymn out of my head. Although I had not read my Bible or prayed for about three weeks, the words of this hymn hit a chord deep in my soul. It was, “O Joy that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to Thee; I trace the rainbow through the rain, and feel the promise is not vain, that morn shall tearless be.” With tears streaming down my face, I quickly ended my walk, grabbed my hymn book and read the words of the entire hymn.
Then for the first time in three weeks, I prayed. I poured out my heart to the Lord, but in brief my prayer was simply this, “Lord, don’t let me close my heart to Your love. Don’t let me ever leave Thee.”
Over the next week or so the Lord guided my thinking and led me to many passages of scripture that convinced me that what I was experiencing was not practical Christianity. Instead, it was identical to what Jesus warned us to be on guard against in Matthew 23. It was the Pharisees in action.
The Pharisees make many rules that God did not make. They expect you to fulfill all their rules to their specifications, yet don’t lift even a finger to assist you. In my mind, that summed up my experiences in the Ottawa Assembly. By this time, I had lost every drop of respect that I had for Nancy and my respect for Armand was disappearing fast.
In Matthew 7:15-21, the Lord also reminded me of a test to use to verify whether something was of God or whether it was of man. Verse 16 states, “You will know (recognize) them by their fruits.” The identical verse is repeated again in verse 20, indicating that God is emphasizing this fact and wants me to take special note of it. In Galatians 5:22&23, God makes it clear how to identify the working of His Holy Spirit. It says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; …” The fruit of God’s Spirit working in a person and in a situation is clearly contrasted with the fruit of man’s own thoughts and schemes. Consequently, by applying this test, the fruit will make it clear and obvious whether this is God at work, or just man’s thoughts and schemes attempting to manifest a form or appearance of godliness.
At this point, you may be very surprised at the fact I still stayed in this Assembly for another 6 years. This was the fall of 1985 and I did not leave the Assembly till February 1993. What I need to interject here is that I did not know that the whole organization was oppressive and controlling. At this point, I believed that it was only the Ottawa Assembly that was Pharisaical and oppressive. I still held George and Betty Geftakys, Tim Geftakys, Jim Hayman, Roger Grant, and Mike Zach in very high respect. I still believed almost everything I was being taught in ministry. I just strongly disagreed with how the local Ottawa Assembly was implementing it.
As my health fluctuated, my ability to hold down a job also fluctuated. There were times when I was working for nursing agencies and I would have to tell them that I was too ill to work. I might only succeed in seven nursing shifts in a month. Then, I would still have to pay my portion of the rent, phone bill and household groceries. I remember money being very tight.
Growing up, my parents were not dirt poor, but they were poorer than society’s norms. My parents taught me good habits in managing my money and in setting priorities on spending money. One incident in my teen years left a very strong mark on me and it still influences me even to this day. I remember walking into the kitchen, and seeing my mother, with tears streaming down her face, trying to plan the next month’s menus and groceries for a family of eight. Mom asked me to help her stretch $60.00 to cover one month’s groceries. We went to the cupboards, the garden and the freezer and took stock of what we already had. Then we figured out what missing ingredients we still needed to buy. We succeeded in stretching that $60.00 to serve a family of eight nutritious meals for a month.
Over the years that lesson has helped guide me through times of financial difficulties. In one of the living arrangements, there were general household groceries for the meals we shared together as a house. However, for any meals that we did not share, we had to buy our own personal groceries. During the time I lived there, I went through a period of being very ill, working only a rare nursing shift and having my financial resources become very low.
At this same time, the sisters in the house felt we should be paying gas money to the brothers who drove us to the meetings. Although I agreed with the gesture, I could not afford to do it. I literally had no extra money to give anyone for gas. So, since I had to buy a monthly bus pass for going to and from work, I decided I would use the city bus system to take me to the meetings and back. The sisters could get a lift with the brothers and pay gas money, but I would take the bus. I did this for about three weeks.
Then Armand talked to me about it. Armand put pressure on me to accept the drive from the brothers and to pay my portion of the gas money. When I told him I could not afford the gas money, he did not believe me. I was boxed into a corner. Here were my choices:
1) Continue as I was doing and have the reputation of being ungrateful to the brothers for their offer of a drive to the meetings and of being too stingy to pay for the gas. This choice was unacceptable because it would cause a false impression to be given. In fact, I was very grateful for the brothers’ offer of a drive to the meetings and I would gladly pay for the gas, if I had the money.
2) If I really could not afford it, then I needed to have Armand or Nancy go over my finances with me and help me with a budget. Then I would have to meet with them about once a month to demonstrate how well I was keeping to the budget. This choice was also unacceptable. I knew more about holding to a tight budget than Armand or Nancy would ever know. There was absolutely no way I was ever going to give them control over my finances. I had witnessed their control over other people’s finances and I refused to go through the same experiences. I was not going to let them see my finances.
3) Give in. Accept the offer of a drive to the meetings. Pay my portion of the gas money. This is the road I chose to take. In order to pay my portion of the gas money I had to take the money out of my personal groceries. Consequently, I went from having three meals a day to only having two meals a day. They were skimpy, basic meals, as it was all I could afford. My health, which was already in a weakened condition, became even more fragile.
The main brother who drove us to the meetings and who received most of the gas money, was a single brother, living in a brother’s house. He had a good paying job and he drove two very good cars. He definitely was not poor.
Dwelling Together In Love and Unity
In May 1986, Nicole, Rose and I moved into a four bedroom garden home together. Delila joined us a few months later. As we were setting up how the home would function, one of the sisters told me that Nancy wanted to be part of our house meetings whenever we had them. She wanted our house to operate under her direction and to be accountable to her. After discussion, we set up our first house meeting on one of the few available evenings and Nancy attended.
After the second house meeting, one of the sisters complained that it was consuming a whole evening. She suggested we have our house meeting during breakfast, one morning each week. We decided to try it and we all liked it. Since we were having breakfast together anyways, it was simple to just focus the conversation on the house meeting. By doing it this way, we freed up an evening. All of the sisters in the house were one mind about it being the right decision for this house.
However, Nancy was unable to join us at 6:00 a.m. for the house meeting. So the house did not come under Nancy’s direction and was not accountable to Nancy. This did not go over well with either Armand or Nancy. I remember once sharing with Armand some of the lessons the Lord was teaching our home, and he just shrugged. He told me that that wasn’t how they saw it. By not having our house meetings at a time Nancy could attend and by not bringing our house under her direction, we were demonstrating that we did not want to be taught of the Lord.
Sometime that fall, Nicole left our home and the Assembly. Before Nicole left, she told me, “Flora, you are not the reason I’m leaving.” Then she gave me a hug and a gift. Nicole’s leaving left a huge hole in our home, but it drew Delila, Rose and me closer.
The three of us learned many practical lessons together – the main one being love and compassion override rules and regulations. Yes, we still had our house rules, but they were tempered with compassion. The only rules our house implemented were ones that the three of us had unanimously decided on.
During this time, one of the things that consumed a lot of my time and energy was trying to undo some of the harm caused by harsh words from Nancy, a leading brother or someone else. Nancy is married to a leading brother and her words carried a lot of weight. I spent a lot of time comforting a crying sister wounded by harsh words. I found the hardest words to combat were, “You have been unfaithful in …” or “You have failed in fulfilling …” Yes, she had not met the impossible standard, simply because it was impossible. I found it very hard to convince the sisters that God saw that they did their best, and therefore they were faithful.
This enjoyable living arrangement came to an end in April 1987, due to the landlord putting up the rent to a rate that we could not afford. On the last day together, both Rose and Delila paid me an amazing compliment. Each of them gave me a hug and individually thanked me for teaching them what a home of love was all about.
Armand and Nancy may not have believed that we were learning any spiritual lessons in that living arrangement, but we knew differently.
Interfering with Family Relations
In early August 1986, I received a phone call from my mother to inform me that my uncle, who lived in Iowa, had made a spur of the moment decision to come for the annual family reunion. He had turned eighty years old, and he had decided that this would be his last trip to Canada. It was Thursday evening and the family reunion was Sunday. My uncle phoned as soon as he decided. The news quickly traveled amongst the relatives. Mom phoned me as soon as she knew the news and she emphasized to me that this would be my last opportunity to see my uncle in Canada.
On Sundays, one of my responsibilities was teaching the pre-teen class. There were two pre-teens, Josh and Debbie. I was accountable to Nancy for teaching the class. I needed to discuss the lessons, etc. with Nancy. One of Nancy’s ideas was to teach for three weeks and every fourth Sunday do a fun event with them. The Sunday of the family reunion was to be a fun event, not a lesson. The fun event that was planned was to go to a nearby park and have a picnic and a scavenger hunt.
The family reunions on my mother’s side were always on a Sunday in August. The majority of my mother’s relatives were not believers. So for them, having a family reunion on a Sunday was a great idea, because they didn’t go to church anyway. I had never been to a family reunion of my mother’s relatives since I became involved in the Geftakys’ organization eight years earlier.
As soon as I got off the phone with my mother, I immediately phoned Nancy and asked to be relieved of my responsibilities on Sunday so that I could go to the family reunion. Nancy refused me and told me I was not giving them enough notice. I put up a very strong argument. I told her it was the last time my uncle was coming to Canada as he had turned eighty years old. I was giving her all the notice I had, as my uncle had made a spur of the moment decision. I told her that I hadn’t been to a family reunion in eight years. I told her that the only thing planned for Sunday was a picnic and a scavenger hunt. I asked if she or someone else could replace me so that I could be free to go to the reunion; or if no one could replace me, Josh and Deb were old enough to go on outreach with the others. She told me I had made a commitment and if I was not going to be there, I was being unfaithful to my commitment. I argued every angle I knew to argue. Nancy did not budge in her refusal.
In anger, I asked to talk to Armand. When Armand came on the phone, I reiterated all my arguments to him. He wanted to know what Nancy had said. Then he didn’t budge but totally supported Nancy. At this point, I decided to argue more firmly. I reminded Armand that he and Nancy go to the Zach family reunion in Nebraska. On the way back, they stop in Saskatchewan and visit Armand’s family. So he and Nancy visit their relatives every year. On the other hand I had not seen my relatives in eight years.
Even though I made this contrasting argument, Armand did not budge. He reiterated Nancy’s words that I had made a commitment to be there on Sunday, and if I was not going to be there I was being unfaithful to my commitment. Armand also used the verse, "If you love father and mother more than Me, you are not worthy of Me." Then, he told me that by going to the family reunion on a Sunday, I would be putting my family before the Lord. After I hung up from talking to Nancy and Armand, I phoned my mother back. To this day, I can still remember the pain and hurt in my mother’s voice when I told her I couldn’t come.
So Sunday arrived. The arrangement was that each person brought their own bag lunch. After the Sunday morning meetings, I gathered Josh and Deb and we got ready to go to a park. And surprise, surprise, Nancy decided to join us. So there were two adults and two pre-teens going for a picnic and a scavenger hunt. During the scavenger hunt when Josh and Deb were out looking for items, I bluntly asked Nancy why she joined us. She just shrugged and said it was a nice day to be outside. She seemed to get enjoyment out of the fact that I was upset. Nancy’s desire to control and her love for power is the only reason I was unable to attend that family reunion.
That Sunday proved to be my last opportunity to ever see my uncle. Less than a year later, I became disabled and very ill. My uncle has since passed away. Years later, after I left the group, I apologized to my mother for not being able to make it to that family reunion. Mom accepted my apology with tears streaming down her face. The hurt I had caused my mother was still evident seven years later.
Depriving Children of Their Earned Reward
In my responsibility of teaching Joshua and Debbie on Sunday, I was accountable to Nancy for all that went on in the class. I met with Nancy regularly to decide on lessons, and activities. When I had the lesson prepared, including what verse they would memorize and what choruses we would sing, I had to give Nancy a written copy of it.
During one of our planning meetings together, we decided to challenge them to read through the Bible in a year on their own at home. They could work at their own pace. We decided to challenge Joshua to read from Genesis to Revelation, and since Debbie was a couple of years younger, we decided to challenge her to read from Matthew to Revelation. In order to demonstrate that they had actually read a book, they were to do a book report after each book and hand them in to me on Sunday.
Nancy and I decided that if they rose to the challenge, and accomplished it that they deserved a reward of some sort. We brainstormed about what their prize might be. Initially, we couldn’t come up with a good suggestion, except to decide that it had to be more than just a trip to the Dairy Queen. We concluded our discussion by saying we would continue to try to think up a good reward idea.
So the following Sunday, I gave Joshua and Debbie their challenges, informing them that they would receive a reward if they met the challenge in a one year time frame. They responded to the challenge with enthusiasm. I was really surprised at how quickly and steadily the book reports came in all through out the year.
About a few weeks or month into it, Nancy said she had come up with a reward idea and we needed to go shopping together. The money for the reward was to come out of the Lord’s treasury. When we went shopping, we stopped in front of a store that sold bulk leather. Nancy’s idea was that I would sew each of them a leather Bible case, similar to the Bible case she had given to Armand as a gift. The idea seemed like a great idea, except, I had never sewn leather before and I had never made a Bible case before either. I told Nancy she needed to either get someone else to make the Bible case, or she needed to provide me with a pattern and very specific instructions.
Nancy went into the store bought leather, handed it to me and said, “You can do it, I know you can.” Nancy ignored every protest and argument I made. She insisted that I would be the one to make the Bible case. Also, she wanted a specific pattern of a Bible case, but she refused to provide me with a pattern or instructions.
Over the months, there were many times that I pulled out the piece of leather and tried to figure out how to cut it. I tried to come up with my own pattern. I had no way of gauging whether my pattern would work. I didn’t want to cut the leather wrong, because there is no way I could patch it and have a good finished product. I did not want to give them a botched up gift. They deserved a good reward, not a botched up one.
Nancy continued to ignore my protests and arguments, insisting I could do it without either instructions or a pattern. Also, she continued to refuse to get someone else to make the Bible case. Then to top it off, Nancy would not consider a different idea for a prize. She steadfastly clung to the homemade leather Bible case idea and would not budge on the issue.
For the entire year I battled Nancy on this. It was inconceivable to me that Joshua and Debbie would actually complete the challenge and then not receive a reward of some kind. Yet that is exactly what happened. I will never forget the looks on Joshua and Debbie’s faces when they handed in their last book report. They had this triumphant, radiant joy that said, “We did it1” Then, when I informed them they would have to wait to receive their prize, their faces became crestfallen and deeply disappointed. Their radiant joy completely evaporated.
In Joshua and Debbie’s eyes, I had not kept my promise of a reward; and in fact I am the one who promised them a reward and I did not deliver. I really, really wanted to give them some kind of a reward for their year long effort, but I could not deliver because Nancy refused to be flexible and refused to give me any maneuver room. However, that was a fact that I could not explain to them. So I had to bear the brunt of Josh and Deb’s deep disappointment.
This happened shortly before I became disabled. After I became disabled, I stopped teaching Joshua and Debbie. In my last discussion with Nancy regarding teaching the pre-teen class, I pleaded with Nancy to make sure Joshua and Debbie received some kind of a reward for their year long effort. I do not know what happened after that.
Trapped, but God Delivered
In March and April 1987, as my living arrangement with Rose and Delila was coming to an end, I was meeting with various sisters to try to decide on my next living arrangement. I met with one sister who owned her own condominium and wanted sisters to move in with her. Our rent would help her pay her mortgage. The two of us met at a restaurant, and stated clearly what details each of us would or would not be willing to implement. Then we made a tentative agreement with each other, as I still hadn’t definitely decided to move in with her or not.
Part of that agreement stated we would set our own rules of how the house would function. Any disagreement that arose among the sisters would be settled between us. Nancy and the leadership would not direct the home and we would not be accountable to them. In the case of a dispute that we couldn’t settle between us, we would then, and only then turn to Nancy or the leadership for direction.
About three weeks before move day, after confirming the things that we had agreed upon, I made my decision to live with this sister. Two other sisters had made the same decision. So there were to be four of us living together.
Then, about thirty-six hours before the actual move, everything changed. I was informed by this sister that Nancy would be directing the home in every aspect of the running of the house and we would be accountable to Nancy. This was exactly the opposite of everything we had agreed upon. I felt betrayed. I spent considerable time trying to figure a way out. There just was literally no time to arrange something different. I went from being excited and looking forward to the next year in the new living arrangement, to suddenly, dreading the next year. So, I prayed for wisdom and help to endure. The new living arrangement began May 1, 1987.
Prior to my move, my health was the strongest it had been in over four years. I was actually working full time again in the nursing field of work. I was doing nursing in private homes, as my health still wasn’t quite strong enough to return to hospital nursing.
Shortly, after our move, the sister who owned the house had to leave for a business trip for two weeks. She put me in charge of the home when she was gone. I would be accountable to Nancy for my assigned tasks. Nancy had a key, and would be checking on us. Before she left, she piled on an incredible amount of jobs that I was to do each week, which included checking the work of the other two sisters. After the first couple of weeks, I was totally exhausted trying to accomplish all the assigned tasks. It was taking me from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. to do my full time job plus the assigned tasks.
Knowing my situation had to change immediately in order to prevent my health taking a turn for the worse, I met with this sister as soon as she got home from her business trip. I appealed to her to lighten my task load. I told her that my health could not sustain this heavy load as I was becoming more and more exhausted. If it kept up, I was afraid I would loose my ability to work again.
As I talked, initially I saw a look of compassion and understanding on her face. Then, this hard, callous look came over her face. She then told me that she had just talked with Nancy. Nancy believed I was capable of doing even more than what I was already doing. So, no, she would not give me less responsibility. She then proceeded to add even more jobs to my assigned task list. Apparently, she was getting ready to leave again for another business trip, and I had to have these additional jobs done by the time she returned from her trip.
No matter how much I begged her to not add to my load, she would not budge. I begged for mercy and compassion and received this smirked grin in return. I cried myself to sleep that night. For the next couple of weeks, I cried to God for deliverance out of this living arrangement. This prayer for deliverance became like my very breath. I prayed it all through out the day, every day. I could not see how my health could survive being in this oppressive home. In some small way, I tried to be a buffer for the other two sisters.
The Mid-West Seminar was the last weekend in May, and Betty was going to be there. Although I really didn’t have the energy to go, I decided that I needed to go so I could meet with Betty and appeal to her regarding my living arrangement and the incredible work load. Three car loads of people drove down to the Seminar from Ottawa.
As soon as I got there, I made an appointment to meet with Betty. Betty understood my predicament, and responded with compassion. She agreed with me that my responsibilities in the home needed to be reduced immediately in order to prevent my health going worse again. Since the sister that owned the home was also at the seminar, Betty talked to her on my behalf. This sister was not pleased about Betty’s intervention, but she agreed to implement Betty’s advice.
On the trip back home, I was exhausted. The two brothers in the car with me agreed to let me have the whole back seat. I made myself as comfortable as possible, stretched out and slept most of the way home. I also continued to pray for deliverance from my living arrangement, as I was convinced Betty’s intervention would only buy me a very short reprieve.
We arrived back in Ottawa about 11:00 p.m. the Tuesday after the seminar. I woke up Wednesday morning with a swollen left knee. That swollen left knee was the first indication of my becoming disabled. Over the month of June, I went from working full time as a home care nurse, to being almost bedridden and barely able to care for myself. I moved home to my parents the first weekend in July because I now needed assistance with personal care, dressing, and I was completely unable to do any cooking. The arthritis had hit both knees, both hips, both elbows, and both wrists. Over the next couple of years it hit almost every joint, including my jaws.
From July 1987 when I moved to my parents’ home, I never lived again in Ottawa. I have moved a number of times, but each place was about an hour drive away from Ottawa. I received Sunday ministry and Chapter Summary ministry on tape, as well as the tape series from Fullerton. When my health was strong enough, I would come into Ottawa for Sunday meetings or when the itinerant brothers were visiting.
Although I was still in the organization, I could now hold them more at arm's length. The reason I was still persevering to stay part of this organization was that I did not know that the oppression and control was a characteristic of the organization. I just thought that it was only the leadership in Ottawa that was on a power trip. So I continued until February, 1993.
Over the twenty years I have been disabled, the status of my health has always been in a state of fluctuation. I can become bedridden to the point I need help even rolling over in bed and where I am fighting to stay alive, or I can become strong enough to do most things for myself and go for a three mile walk. It has been a twenty year roller coaster, always moving towards one end of the spectrum or the other end.
A few months after I had become disabled, my health began to improve again. I still needed my parents help, but I thought I might be strong enough for a part time clerical job. Even though I was still quite disabled, I moved to an apartment in a town close to my parents. The Ottawa leadership was upset with this and thought that if I was able to leave my parents home I should be moving back to Ottawa. Dina, one of the leading brothers, mockingly asked me, “So sister, what do you do to entertain yourself in this town?” I replied, “Dina, I am still very much disabled. It takes me over 1 hour to get dressed in the morning. It takes an hour just to button my blouse and another hour to put on my socks. Then I have to do my own cooking, and I am looking for a part time job.” Dina apologized, but then wanted to know when I was returning to Ottawa. I told him that my health needed to recover more before I could make that move.
My chemical sensitivity diagnosis still hadn’t been confirmed. I was living two blocks from a tape factory and in the winter of 1987/1988, my health started to nose-dive. I can no longer remember the details. I only remember being very scared. So I phoned Armand and asked him to pray with me over the telephone. I explained the situation to him, told him I was scared, and I wanted him to pray for me.
Armand responded by telling me he had been reading about Hezekiah being deathly ill. Isaiah came to Hezekiah and told him “Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live”. Armand read the verse to me over the phone. Then he advised me that I needed to put my house in order. He told me that there was a good possibility that I was dying and I needed to make sure I have everything in order.
Then I shared with him the one verse that was really standing out to me and giving me strong encouragement. It was John 11:4. “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”
Armand told me not to make my decisions based on wishful thinking. The reality was that my health had drastically declined, and death was a possibility, so set my house in order. Then he wanted to know if that was everything, because he had other things he had to do. I had to re-ask my original request, “Will you pray for me over the phone?” He said a quick prayer, and then hung up. He did not pray about my fear or about health recovery. He only prayed that I would actively be getting my house in order, and getting ready for the possibility of death.
His response left me in a state of shock and disbelief. I phoned for comfort and encouragement, and instead I felt like I had been hit with a ton of bricks. His advice and perspective was opposite to what I believed God was saying to my heart. I strongly believed God was telling me to fight. Yes, death may be knocking at the door; but I believed God was telling me to fight it in every way I knew how. Don’t give in to death without a strong fight.
A few months later, in April 1988, two things happened at about the same time. The first thing that happened was I was diagnosed with severe life-threatening chemical sensitivity. During this time, I was back living with my parents, completely bedridden, and needing total care around the clock. Only a few days later, the second thing happened. The doctor phoned and gave me less than a week to live. My parents and I sat and discussed what it meant for a Christian to die. Then we prayed together, and committed my life into God’s hands praying that His will would be done.
With my parents help, I made the radical life style changes that are necessary for a person with chemical sensitivity. As I implemented these very difficult changes, my health turned around and began improving again.
My health continued to improve to where I could live on my own in my own apartment, with health care aides coming in to do housework, cooking and personal care. At this point the Ottawa leadership believed I needed to move back to Ottawa. My doctor disagreed and in January 1989, I moved to a small village two blocks away from one of my brothers. Even though I wasn’t living with my parents, they were still helping me to a very large degree.
In 1990, my health was strong enough that I could attend the East Coast Conference. At the conference Armand was asked to give the history of the origin of the Ottawa Assembly – how did it all begin? Since I had met Armand 2 years before the Assembly began, I was very familiar with every painful step that led up to the beginning of the Ottawa Assembly. The Assembly began in February 1979 with four people – Armand, Peter, Julie and me. I lived through it and was an active participant in it.
Consequently, you can maybe understand my shock, anger and hurt when Armand stood up in front of the Lord’s people at the East Coast Conference and insinuated a very different picture. He did not technically lie, but he insinuated a lie.
He publicly stated that the first breaking of bread meeting was held in Julie and Peter’s apartment. This statement was true. Then he went on to say that there were only three people at the first breaking of bread meeting. This statement was also true. He did not elaborate any further, but instead he went on to talk about the Assembly’s growth. Consequently, if you did not know the beginning history of the Assembly, you would assume that it began with three people – Peter, Julie and Armand.
The information that Armand left out was the fact that Peter had to work that day. So the three people at the first breaking of bread meeting were Armand, Julie and me. The Assembly began with four people. I was definitely there.
That public snub hurt; but what hurt even more was the look that Armand gave me when he made those statements. He had a smirk and a look of gloating on his face, as if to say, “I just put you in your place." I felt like he had publicly stated, “Your contribution lacked any value worth mentioning”.
Leadership United – But Wrong
By the summer of 1990, my health had a bit of a set back as a result of exposure to pesticides. I began searching for another place to live that was away from pesticide usage. When Armand learned that I was once again planning to move, he stated that the leadership believed that I needed to move back to Ottawa. I informed him that I would never again be living in Ottawa or in any city. He argued that the leadership was of one mind believing that I was to move back to Ottawa. He reminded me that I only moved away in order to get my health stronger. Now that I can live on my own, the leadership believed that I needed to move back to the city. They were united before the Lord on this matter.
I explained to Armand that my chemical sensitivity was so severe that I would never again be able to live in a city. I might occasionally be able to visit in a city, but never again would I be able to live there, due to the smog, industrial pollution, traffic fumes, etc. I told Armand that for me to move back to Ottawa would be equal to me committing suicide. When I mentioned ‘equal to committing suicide’, he just went quiet and ended the conversation shortly after.
However, his perspective never changed. Anytime the topic came up of my trying to find another place to live, Armand would reiterate the fact that the leadership was united in believing that the Lord wanted me to move back to Ottawa. I would reiterate the reasons why I couldn’t. Armand always went quiet when I told him that for me to move to Ottawa would be equal to me committing suicide.
Over the next year, we had this almost, identical conversation numerous times. In the early spring of 1991, as pesticide season approached, I increased my efforts to find another place to live. The identical conversation came up again, but this time I told Armand that my doctor totally agreed with me that I will never live in the city again and to do so would mean my death. Armand challenged me on this and then insisted that I get a second medical opinion. I was so angry at him that I said, “You want a second medical opinion; fine, I’ll get a second medical opinion”. Then I slammed down the phone.
Fortunately, I was also seeing a medical specialist, as well as my regular doctor, and the appointment with the specialist was only a week away. This doctor’s opinion totally agreed with the opinion of my regular doctor. However, the specialist went a step further. She threatened to have this ‘church leader’ investigated for using his authority to challenge the doctor’s directions and instructions to me.
When I told Armand that the second medical opinion was the same as the first medical opinion, and that the doctor would launch an investigation if he continued to challenge their directions, only then did Armand back off. However, the leadership never changed it’s opinion; they just changed tactics. Now the leadership was united in one mind to support me in my decision to live in a rural community, until my health recovers. Then when my health recovers, I am to move back to Ottawa. They refused to accept that I will never again live in a city.
The Lord’s people in the Assembly knew the leadership believed that God wanted me to move back to Ottawa. One brother shared verses with me from Isaiah that indicated to him that my health would recover when I moved back to the city and to the house of God. Another brother challenged me on my reasons for not moving back to Ottawa. I explained that my chemical sensitivity was so severe that my reactions to things like smog, industrial pollution, pesticides, traffic fumes, etc. were life threatening. I explained that for me to move back to Ottawa would be equal to me committing suicide. Then he looked me straight in the eye, and asked me, “Sister, why are you afraid to die?” I told him I wasn’t afraid to die if that was God’s will, but I didn’t believe God was calling me to commit suicide.
By the summer of 1991, I still hadn’t found another place to live, so I had moved back to my parents’ home. My health was deteriorating rapidly. Both medical doctors stated it was urgent for me to find a place to live in a low-toxicity house in a low toxicity community. If I did not succeed soon in this, I would probably die before Christmas.
Since I knew many of the Lord’s people in many assemblies gave a lot of money into the Lord’s treasury, I phoned Fullerton and talked to Tim. Both George and Betty were away. I told Tim my situation and inquired if the Assembly could buy a low-toxicity house for me to live in, and that I could rent from them. Tim told me that I would have to talk to his Dad about it; but he didn’t think there would be money available for that. George was going to be away for a while, so I knew I couldn’t expect any help there. I appealed to Armand, and was told that they could not help me either.
A brother in the Lord named Eric fellowshipped at the same Brethren church where my parents went. Eric was witnessing my dilemma and was with me when I made the phone calls to Tim and Armand. After spending time in prayer before the Lord, Eric offered to buy a house for me to use. He cashed in his Registered Retired Savings Plan and used that money for a down-payment of a house for me. In doing this he literally saved my life. I moved into my new home in October 1991. Then Eric proceeded to renovate the house to meet my unique needs.
Although the Ottawa leadership appeared to rejoice in the fact that the Lord had provided a house for me through Eric, they still stated that as soon as my health recovered, I was to move back to Ottawa.
Impossible To Correct Leadership
Over the years, I tried many different ways to raise different issues with Armand or Nancy and seek an explanation and an apology. I always got one of two responses. 1) There would be a period of silence, followed by a change of subject. 2) An “If... ” apology would be given. For those who don’t know what an “if apology” is let me explain. First, it is not an apology at all, because there is no acknowledgement of a wrong done. It goes like this, “If I offended you by what I said or did, I’m sorry. I did not mean to offend you.” They are not acknowledging that what they said or did was wrong. They are only sorry that you were offended by it.
So, in their minds, their oppression and control should not have offended me or upset me. I should have gladly received it as from the Lord, except I knew that God does not oppress. Instead, God delivers us from the oppressor.
There is a famous saying, "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Using a position of spiritual authority to oppress and control is sin. In Matthew 18:15-17, God gives instructions for how to deal with sin in the church. It gives four progressive steps to try to bring them to repentance and bring about reconciliation.
Step 1 (vs.15) we are to talk to them privately.
Step 2 (vs.16) if they didn’t respond to step 1, then you are to take a witness and talk to them.
Step 3 (vs.17) if they don’t respond to either step 1 or 2, then you are to tell it to the church
Step 4 (vs.17) if they don’t respond to either step 1, 2 or 3, then they are considered no longer part of the church.
Yet I found I couldn’t get past step 1. For years, I tried talking to them privately. I could never get an acknowledgement of doing anything wrong. So I tried to go on to step 2, talking to them with a witness present. However, this was tricky, because if the witness was anyone in the Assembly, we would be accused of speaking against the leadership. So I determined that the witness would have to be Betty or one of the itinerant brothers. My approach was to talk to the itinerant brother privately and tell them my concerns, with the full expectation that he would immediately insist on Armand, Nancy and myself meeting together with him as a witness. This never happened, even though I talked to Betty, George, Tim, Jim, Roger and Mike about my concerns. Without fail, they all said, “Leave it to me, I’ll deal with it.” However, nothing ever changed.
Finally in 1992, I went into Ottawa to meet with George. I thought maybe I wasn’t expressing myself clearly enough. Did they know I had tried step 1 for years, and now I wanted to move to step 2 and I needed a witness? When I met with George, I went over some of my recent difficulties. He asked me to tell him about Eric, which I did. I told George that Eric had saved my life by purchasing a house and adapting it for my unique needs.
Then George shocked me. He said to me, “Forget about Eric. He is Brethren, which means he is not walking with the Lord. His Christianity is dead, he is only following a form of godliness. Ignore Eric, and listen to Armand. Armand is walking with the Lord. Follow whatever instructions Armand gives you.” Then he got up and walked out. The appointment was over.
That was the point where I stopped respecting George. I knew that Eric had done what he did for me as a result of a deep conviction before God, that God wanted him to help me. There was no doubt in my mind that Eric was walking with the Lord. However, with Armand or Nancy, the scriptural test, ‘By their fruits ye shall know them,’ pointed to the fruit of the flesh, not to the fruit of the Spirit. One proof of this was the fact that Armand didn’t seem to care whether I lived or died.
It started to be obvious to me that I needed to leave the Ottawa Assembly. I now realized that I would never succeed in doing step 2, because I would never be successful in having a witness present. Therefore, I believed that the only way to address the oppression and control issues was to leave. By leaving, I would no longer be under their authority structure, and consequently, I would no longer be in a position of submission to their authority. By taking this step, I hoped a door would open where I could talk to them as equals before Christ, and bring the oppression and control issues out into the open before the light of God’s Word.
Leaving was very difficult, so I kept procrastinating. I was torn. I had many friends in the organization and I didn’t want those relationships severed. Yet I knew that that was probably what would happen. I wrote everyone in the Assembly a letter, reminiscing about my relationship with them, and giving them an invitation to visit me or phone me anytime. Then, I wrote Armand and Nancy a letter, and told them they were not welcome to visit me, except for the purpose of reconciliation, and that I would insist on having a witness be present. I also wrote to Betty and George, Tim, Jim, Roger and Mike telling them I was leaving, but desired reconciliation with Armand and Nancy. All the letters were sent out at the exact same time in February, 1993.
The only response I got was a three line letter from Armand and Nancy, acknowledging my news that I was leaving and saying, “Lord Bless”. They ignored my request for reconciliation. I was totally shocked by the lack of response from everyone. Since this organization teaches that if sin is found in the leadership, there would be firm, strong action taken to deal with it, I fully expected the itinerant brothers to contact me and try to work out a reconciliation with Armand and Nancy. At the very least, I expected them to demonstrate shepherding attitudes towards me, reaching out to bring back the wandering sheep. None of them wrote, phoned or visited.
Also, I received zero response from my friends in Ottawa. I couldn’t understand it. After three months, I decided to phone and verify that they got my letters. Their responses shattered me. I cried for weeks after those phone calls. Here are three of those responses:
1) We are a family; and you left. It is like a divorce happened, and you are the one who left. Until you return, there can be no fellowship.
2) You need to repent of your sin. I don’t know what your sin is, but you know what it is, and you need to repent. I can’t fellowship with you until you repent and make things right with the leadership.
3) Don’t phone me, write me or visit me until you make things right with the leadership.
About this time, someone sent me the book Churches that Abuse by Dr. Ronald Enroth. As I read it, my blinders came off and I finally understood that my conflicts with Armand and Nancy were due to the fact that they were reflecting the values of an oppressive and controlling organization. Suddenly, the pieces of the puzzle started coming together. I now understood why none of the itinerant brothers answered my letters and why talking to them never brought change. It became obvious that there was a double standard in the Assembly regarding the dealing with sin. There was one very strict standard for the sheep, and one very lenient standard for the shepherd. However, in scripture, the strictest standard is applied to the shepherd.
Since oppression and control was a characteristic of this organization, the itinerant brothers could not confront one person in leadership without acknowledging that all of those in leadership were also guilty. I concluded that this organization was refusing to take firm, strong action against the sin of abusive authority and oppression in the leadership. Therefore, in contrast to their own teaching, they were refusing to uphold the Biblical standard that the shepherds must be above reproach, and they were making a mockery of God’s standard of holiness.
It took me approximately ten years to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff in their teaching. Much of their Bible teaching is good, solid Bible teaching, identical to what you will find in most evangelical churches. However, much of their oppressive and controlling practice is identical to what you will find in a cult. They have successfully and masterfully interwoven these two opposites together, so that they very convincingly demonstrate that their oppressive and controlling practices are exactly what the Bible teaches. How very deceptive! Therefore, those that teach these things and those that implement them are false ambassadors of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Always remember that by their fruit you shall know them. Our God is full of compassion and kindness; and our God never oppresses. However, our God does deliver us from the oppressor. May the Lord richly bless you all.
If anyone wants to contact me, please feel free to do so. Contact information is on my website, Health Risk Navigation. If you want to know more about chemical sensitivity, chemical injury, chronic fatigue, etc., you can find this in the General Information Section and Link page of my website. Also, I have written a book giving a basic understanding of chemical sensitivity / chemical injury. Two of the chapters in my book are autobiographical. If you want to learn more about the book or purchase information, you can find the book in the Store Section of my website.
Also see Flora's article, The Value of a Human Life.
November 18, 2007, Editor: Note that George himself was not often personally on the scene; the Geftakys pattern was mediated from Mike Zach through his sister, Nancy Cossette and Armand. Callousness and hardness of heart are especially clear in this account, because Flora's issues were ultimately a life or death matter. Armand's response to Flora's health situation is a shocking example of one of Robert Lifton's thought reform criteria, "dispensing of existence".
September 20, 2007, Delila Jahn-Thue: I wanted to also thank Flora for her posting on the Ottawa experience. As I survived life in all three Canadian Assemblies and spent four terrifying years under brutal leadership in Ottawa, I can say that Flora speaks the truth. What amazes me is the clarity with which she was able to make the account, despite the passage of time. Here's to keeping good notes, eh?
What I also want to attest to, is her love for others, which nobody can deny. I was told about 'that sister' Flora even before I moved to Ottawa. The leadership told me that Flora was unable to accept Nancy's authority and the fact that Armand had not chosen Flora as wife. Of course, once I actually moved to Ottawa and lived with Flora, I saw no evidence to support this claim. However, I did see a determined and consistent push to crush her spirit (for the good of the Work, of course) as time went on. Nancy and Armand obviously 'had it in' for Flora, perhaps because she represented something that they had no place for in George's army: unconditional love.
How many times was I beaten down by Nancy after a 'schedule review' or a budget review or some other 'sin' of unyielding in my life, and I'd come home and find Flora with a look of compassion on her face. How carefully she'd validate how I felt, pray with me and yet somehow resist the temptation to diss Nancy. To this day, I don't know how she did it.
And Armand, what a guy eh? Put your house in order Flora, Armand has decided it's time for you to die. Imagine! No doubt the direction came down the pipe, the sewer pipe of Assembly command. I am so thankful Flora didn't allow herself to be flushed. How she triumphed, and without bitterness!
I've had my own time to work through anger and pain from the Assemblydays. I am thankful that although there was Assembly control in both Estevan and Calgary, the leadership in both places, I believe, had love and the best intentions to see me through to God's best. I'll especially say this of Dianne and Bernie. Though Bernie had been sucked in to some extent by the power trip, he had a true father's heart. And I still love them both. Dianne was pure love, no matter how you measure it. Ron and Elodie also took me in and provided for me and treated me as their own daughter. And they have suffered and still suffer at the hands of the Assembly, though Ron may not see it that way due to the warping of the Assembly brain.
"One last thing I wanted to say is that I've been thinking of the children of those who rose to some position in the Assembly. In particular, I think of Armand and Nancy's kids. How much damage would they do if they admitted to their children what a lie they've lived. Nancy looked at her kids with amazing hatred sometimes--if looks could kill...We all remember Nancy as the 'ice lady' if we lived in Ottawa. Now her children face university, free thinking, challenges of thought, adulthood, freedom from Ma and Pa. How will they define themselves? How will they recognize controlling relationships and hypocrisy (as if they haven't seen it already).
"I watch my kids and have always had such concern for what kind of people they will be. This is how I pray for them too: for kind hearts and for a good conscience and love for their fellow human beings. Above whatever status or station they achieve in life, I want them to love others, to be a light that shines hope to others. This is what Flora has achieved, despite the many opportunities Assembly folk took to snuff her out. So cheers, Flora, I want my kids to be like you."
September 19, 2007, Tom Maddux: Reading Flora's story caused me to reflect on many experiences I had during my Assembly years that involved wrongheaded loyalty and thinking. As I read I could not help but revisit the feelings I used to experience when I faced these situations. I was reading of the sufferings of yet another victim of GG's twisted beliefs and practices as he and his loyal underlings abused the sheep by taking advantage of our human weaknesses.
One of experiences I thought of involved Tim McCarthy of the San Fernando Valley. It took place around 1983 or early 1984. I was talking to Tim in my garage as he worked on his bicycle. We were discussing the "overcomer" teaching and its implications for our lives.
I had recently read a chapter in E.S. English's book Rethinking the Rapture that showed the weakness of the arguments supporting GG's partial rapture theory. I had been aware that this belief was only held by a minority of a minority in the Evangelical world, (a small number of Plymouth Brethren teachers). I had been contemplating verses that clearly contradict some of the teaching's supporting ideas.
I asked Tim what he thought of I Corinthians 1:4-8. I read the passage to him. When I read verses 7and 8, which say, "So that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."
"Tim looked up at me with a surprised look on his face, and said, "What? Read that again." (In other words, he saw immediately what this verse would do to the Assembly's idea of being an elite company.) When I read the passage again he got up and said, "Let me see that." I handed him the Bible, which he immediately carried into his room and began checking other versions.
I do not know how He dealt with the verse as he never spoke to me of it again. However, it was enough information to cause any reasonable person to at least begin to question overcomerism. But questioning in GG's ministry was not appreciated. Tim went on to become, from all I have heard, a faithful leader in the SFV Assembly who gave the sheep the standard Assembly treatment.
Another experience I was reminded of involved a brother in Fullerton shortly after I moved there in 1984. He asked to talk to me about a problem. It seems that his roommate that he shared an apartment with sometimes got supper on the table 10-15 minutes late.
I asked him why this was a matter of such concern. His reply shocked me. He told me that he had discussed this with David Geftakys. David, he said, had reminded him of the verses about being faithful in that which is least. He had then applied this to the overcomer teaching and had actually warned the man that he would "miss out on the kingdom" if he persisted in this lateness. I informed him, as tactfully as I could, that David simply did not know what he was talking about.
To me these memories illustrate two things. The first is that legalism always leads to hard heartedness and abusive treatment of God's people. The second is that most people are prone to place their trust in the acknowledged leaders of their church and accept what they are told by them. In this way the attitudes and practices are passed down the "chain of command" and the evil and harm is multiplied.
May God deliver us all from men who do not tremble when they open the Bible before God's people.
September 19, 2007, Mark Campbell: "Thank you so much, Flora, for taking the time to tell your story. I was moved deeply and I'm sure others were as well. It was very insightful to see how the innocent beginnings in Ottawa became twisted into the cruel and heartless machine that are so obviously opposed to God's heart.
"You were able to weather that storm with your faith intact and in your story have provided help for those who are still struggling that they might find comfort in the truth and love of God as you did.
"I also hope those that were involved in administering that abuse will read your story and be moved to have a change of heart and get right with God by publicly acknowledging their wrong doing to all those that they have injured.
"Just because Ottawa no longer acknowledges George Geftakys does not mean they are clear of the very serious charges of beating God's tender lambs nor will such actions be forgotten by Him whom they will stand before one day! Are these former leaders without conscience and totally past feeling?! I call on them to offer a public confession and apology in keeping with the clear word of our Lord that you quoted in your account (MT. 18:15-17). The potential healing of such an effort would have a huge result in both the offenders as in the offended.
"Your story, Flora, will provide, yet again, an opportunity for these unrepentant abusers of God's people to get right with God. May we all read and consider well what you have shared and benefit from the clear instruction it provides. God's blessings upon you and all former members who read what you wrote!"
September 17, 2007, Bob F., Omaha: "I just read Flora's account and am sick to my stomach. That verse that Armand twisted, "If you love your father and mother more than me blah, blah, blah," is almost identical to the same B.S. "counsel" that Tim Geftakys gave me back in 1992. Unbelievable. Are Tim Geftakys, Mike Zach, Armand, etc. still in positions of leadership or influence anywhere? If they are, what steps can we take to make sure that people know the harm they cause?"
Editor: To the best of our knowledge, Tim G. and Ginger are in leadership in the Placentia Assembly, and Armand and Nancy Cossette is still in leadership in Ottawa. The Omaha Assembly has disbanded, but Mike Zach is presumably in touch with Armand, as they are brothers-in-law. Other than reporting on this website their past actions while with the Geftakys movement, so their names can be Googled, we are not sure what else can be done to alert people to potential harm from these men and/or their wives.
September 15, 2007, Marcia: "It was surreal reading Flora's story, especially after pondering all day whether or not I should write a brother (mainly because I feel sorry for him) about how Geftakysism has influenced him, though he denies that it has. I do believe response #1 came from me to Flora when she called me after she left. How devoted I was, eh? I have apologized to her since. How typical of Armand and Nancy to "go the second mile" and give their blessing, when what they really need to do is ask forgiveness and work towards true reconciliation.