Readers Comments 2004 to 2011
June 2011 "I've tried to shove the Assembly years out of my mind and pretend they didn't exist. How could we have been so stupid? Did none of us have a backbone back then? What would have happened if someone had stood up during a Workers' Meeting or prayer meeting and challenged or confronted George or David?
"I remember one Workers' Meeting, right around the time when we were contemplating leaving the assembly, and the discussion of piercing ears came up. I remember speaking up about it then, challenging David who had been pointing to chapter and verse about why it was wrong. I think I had my own chapter and verse to counter him. Ridiculous legalism. Perhaps I was beginning to develop a spine right around then, but then we left, so it was irrelevant.
"If we had stayed, and then, if we had learned about the corruption and the physical abuse going on in Dave and Judy's house, and about George's narcissism and about his immorality (and perhaps other leaders' as well...I've since heard about at least one Leading Brother from the beach having an affair), would we have had the courage to confront all this publicly? I like to think so. But what if we didn't? All the people Judy mentions in her testimonial about people who knew what was going on but didn't speak up, what kept them silent?
"I hate what that says about otherwise good people's apparently innate need for self-protection. It mirrors what took place in Nazi Germany, how decent people, normal people like you and me, became complicit in the atrocities... I'm sure there have been psychological studies done about the cause of such behavior, probably having to do with self-preservation. But it sickens me to think that I was part of a group in which self-preservation (spiritually-speaking) trumped speaking out and standing up for what's right, and that this same tendency influenced me during those years."
This reader goes on to speak about being put in charge of a "training" situation: "We complied with what we were being told, but we were way out of our league and should never have been asked to oversee this situation. Why did we agree to it? Why didn't we say, "No thanks"? This too probably goes back to that "average German" phenomenon (self-preservation). Or maybe it can be traced to ambition, the idea that maybe there's something in it for us if we prove worthy, like maybe we'll get promoted (missionary? Worker?). It's all just so repellent. I'm sure you've thought about all this and written about it, as have others."
January 2011 This website is truly a balm for those of us still healing. Thank you.
January 2011 Your web site is a great reference resource. From time to time, I check out some of your new material. Last summer I discovered your “Assembly Kids, MKs and PKs” section. Even though I wasn’t a child in the Assembly, I was raised in a Brethren Assembly. So I found this section insightful and helpful.
October 2009 Please keep that web site up! You just never know who will need it. There are a lot of Assembly Kids who will need it later in life.
Summer 2009 I wander back to look over things every so often. Still would love to find many of those brothers and sisters in Christ I knew of long ago. I am always reminded of my days and they time I finally left before the big blow up years later. The older I get the more I find middle ground by not throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I think most of the material on the site and associated sites works at trying to maintain this.
Formerly of SLO 1983-1994, SFO 1994-95
April, 2008, Diana Pletts: I must say you have some wonderful
and helpful links at your site.
Thank you so much.
Director, Phoenix Project, International Cultic Studies Association
February, 2008 from author Dee Ann Miller, whose work we link to on this site: "Thanks much for your site. It has led a poor soul, who is suffering much, to me this morning. I am indeed grateful." We are glad the website has served in this capacity!
February, 2008, Vic K., formerly of the St. Louis Assembly: "I find the articles very interesting on the Assembly in retrospect. I am just so amazed that so many of us were taken in so completely---I know I had second thoughts at times, but the control and oppression were so powerful. I think the main reason we stayed was for the sincere fellowship and desire to worship and serve the Lord in a serious way with like-minded believers. It was really special, in spite of the Leadership sometimes.
"I think each of us has to find our own way with the Lord post-Assembly. In my case, we left before it crumbled and I had to deal with a divorce soon after, so it was different for me. I am happily married (again) and walking with the Lord for the first time in 15 years. PTL!"
January 1, 2008, Editor We received an email inquiry last week from someone looking for a Christian fellowship: "I live in ____ and am really curious to know more about what went on here. The reason is that I think I know some people who were involved in [the Assembly] but I have never heard them say directly - just little bits here and there about their 'former fellowship'. I would like to know what went on and who was involved, if possible. We are currently seeking godly fellowship and have been attending a home church....I just don't want to get mixed up in the wrong thing!" We were able to give some full names in this person's locality, and point to several relevant articles. Providing information that alerts people to the lingering Geftakys influence is one of the reasons this website needs to continue to be available!
December, 2007, "Alison": "I came across your website while researching St Paul's Christology online. I'm studying theology at Glasgow University....
"I just wanted to express my sorrow at the terrible experiences you and your brothers and sisters have had through this one man and his malignant teachings. I thank God that you have been given the strength and vision to act as God wills, and will pray for you and those who are still being affected by George's false ministry.
"I will pray also for George that he may see the error of his ways and repent. However, I fear that the type of man he seems to be have hardened hearts even to the exclusion of God, never mind their neighbour, such is their own self-belief.
"I am sure that your witness will be of great help to anyone who is experiencing the same kind of abusive church relationship, and wish you all well. Love and peace in Christ to you all."
December, 2007, from a former Assembly kid: "I spent the first 15 years of my life in the.....Assembly. I am so sick and tired of the moaning and groaning about Assembly life.....George screwed us over, big time. But spending almost 5 years bitching about his mistakes is giving him a power that he does not deserve. Not to mention it says that God isn't big enough to rely on for forgiveness. I in no way support George and Betty in their former lifestyle choices and in the way they are living now. But I do not hate them. I pity them.
"How does this site show Christ's love? It gives people a chance to continue on in bitterness. It gives no room to heal and grow in the love God offers. As an Assembly child, I learned how to fake my faith. And I am not proud of that. But all those years of "faking" exposed me to Christ. And when I was ready to truly accept Him as my savior, it was then I found what a wonderful foundation had been built for me.
"Not everything about the Assembly was bad. I made dear friends there whom I still spend time with. I have wonderful memories of Assembly camping trips, potlucks, and countless get-togethers. How is that a bad thing? I grew up preferring to do crafts, and read, and write. I am...holding a good job, getting ready to go to college, and have so many wonderful friends. Most of the people my age who I went to school with (and had no affiliation with the Assembly) are drug addicts, teenage parents, idiots, jobless and so much more. I am thankful in many ways for the Assembly. Because in the end what man (George) meant for evil, GOD used it for good."
Editor's reply: "Thank you for your email. It's great that you are getting on with your life in such a healthy way, and can see benefits of your upbringing. Obviously not everyone is at that point yet. I am not sure what to make of your comment, "How does this website show Christ's love?" There is a section on Biblical Exposition that is loaded with encouragement and seems to me to be helpful in growing in the love of God. If you have some suggestions how to make improvements we would be very glad to hear them. One area that does not have a lot of coverage yet is forgiveness. We plan to work on that.
"Certainly we agree that not everything about the Assembly was bad. However, it depended quite a lot on where you were in fellowship and/or what house you lived in. In Fullerton, the camps, potlucks and get-togethers always had an agenda of indoctrination by the leadership - pure "fun" was frowned on, almost everything had to have a serious lesson attached. See Scott McC.'s article on Being an Assembly Kid, written almost 4 years ago. (Since then Scott has moved on.) I'm glad your experience was not like his!
"One thing to keep in mind is that not all the readers of the website or the bulletin board are in the same place. Quite a few folks who left some time before GG's excommunication are only just now hearing about it and reading the website to put together the pieces of the puzzle. For that reason the website has to remain up, but certainly the rest of us don't have to go back and keep reading about the problems. It seems to me there is a lot of helpful stuff on the site for folks at every stage of recovery.
"We'd be interested in hearing more about what you think. Thanks for sharing."
December, 2007, Flora from Ottawa, posted on the Assembly bulletin board: "The Assembly Reflections web site and the Bulletin Board are great tools to help us understand the turmoil in our lives that was caused by the Geftakys organization. I very much thank the Lord for these two websites, and for those of you who give of your time and energy to make this information available to us. Probably only eternity will reveal the extent that these web sites assisted many of us in our healing process. I can truly say that these two web sites have helped me tremendously. Thank you!!"
September, 2007, Brian Steele: "The website is fantastic, very comprehensive. I especially appreciate the original documents that have been scanned. (Uggg, the sample daily planner schedule isn’t a pretty sight is it?) Keep up the good work."
September, 2007, Kevin S.: "Thanks for the website. I was loosely associated with the group in Goleta about 16 years ago. There were some genuine folks involved and they were good friends, but the cult-like structure was a problem, and a few of their fundamental beliefs were less than orthodox. Keswick thinking on steroids has never produced good fruit. God bless your efforts."
July, 2007 , Anon:
"Thank you. Needless to say, my wife and I are amazed at the level of fraud
this man perpetrated on humanity. Your research in this area [GG's possibly
false claim of military service] has been invaluable to me personally. I am so
glad we have been able to go on from those days, albeit with a wariness of any
pseudo-spiritual claim. I find these days I value integrity and honesty above
so-called 'vision' claims of self-proclaimed prophets."
Anonymous AK: "I would like to say THANK YOU for this website, and your dedication to bringing the truth to light. This website has been comforting and healing in so many ways....Again, thank you for the hard work and effort you all put into this incredibly helpful and consistent site you've created. I am sure the positive effects it has and will have for many years to come will help those who were sucked into the good "Work" and "heavenly vision" of G.G., and who now see the deception and lies. THANK YOU!! "
Anonymous from overseas: "Thanks be to God for the website. I believe God has many ways of delivering His people. I think this website is one of such. Reading the website does offer much relief; it gives one a good understanding of what the Assembly really is.
The planting cannot be said to be of the Lord--and this is the reason why GG and the so-called Leading Brethren are using crude/primitive and most times abusive methods to be able to control their followers. Our prayer should not cease that the Lord provides deliverance for those who are still under the evil influence of the Assembly.
Our heart aches when we think of the vulnerables (children & women) who have no choice than to feed and swallow hook-line and sinker on the falsehood teachings and practices in the assembly. It is only God that can deliver them, and we know He will. We are on our knees daily before the Throne of Grace that the Lord continues to uphold you and the website. More grease to your elbow!"
Feedback Received in 2006
August, 2006: It has again been some time since I was on the website, but spent some time there today. You are doing a great job of keeping it "fresh" and updated, which keeps it interesting and alive. I am glad this has not been disbanded, as the Assembly influence continues even now. You have added a lot of good features as well, and I love the "movie" section! I always feel sad as I read many of the articles, but believe God is using all of these life stories to help others in the healing process. The history and background have been greatly updated as well and it is quite interesting. May God continue to bless your ministry in this website. Thank you again!
Former Assembly member who left in 2003: "Quite often I visit the website and view things. A lot of helpful information."
"Anonymous," who came into an Assembly in 2005, and left after a year and a half: "I want to thank you for your website. I spent over 3 hours today poring over every part of it, and though it shocked me at first and made me sick, I came out very relieved and with a measure of peace regarding the whole ordeal. It helped to see so many people have also gone through the same types of procedures I did. And I thank you for being loving in your critique. I still deeply love the families in the_____ Assembly, but it was still a very rough experience (and honestly, I didn't know how much I internalized until then!). Thank you again for your service and ministry. You will never quite know how much it helped."
"The Internet opened the way for people to talk and receive information. With information comes freedom."
"Praise God that Brent got the site up and that you are maintaining it. My wife and I and some friends helped Brent and Suzie come out of the Assembly in San Luis Obispo a few years ago. They are friends of ours and my wife and I are now in Edinburgh, Scotland church planting and beginning an apologetics ministry here.
"May I link your site to our new Spiritual Research Network site under the heading ‘The Assembly’? Our site is to help people out of cults, the occult, etc and get them on the road to recovery. We basically link people to other sites that have done the footwork. It is a Christian site and will have Bible apologetics and resources available in the future.
"I had been praying nine years ago that the Assembly in San Luis Obispo would disintegrate and people would be set free. I am thankful for all who sat in my office that I got to pray with and see come out."
Pastor Chris Lawson
(Formerly at Calvary Chapel San Luis Obispo, CA. We were sent out as missionaries to Scotland in Jan 2003)
"Just another note of appreciation for taking this website to a new level of clarity. As you state on your website, "We know that having the pieces to the puzzle is necessary in order to make sense of what has happened." Back in January, before the collapse, it took me about six hours of reading to put enough pieces together to see a pattern. I left the assembly in Fullerton the following Sunday after seeing that George was still partaking.
"The website in its current form would allow a careful reader to reach significant conclusions in only an hour or two.
"Special thanks to "Kristin" for telling her story. I appreciate her willingness to step into the light. It adds another dimension and shadow to the evil portrait that is George Geftakys. It clarifies George's hypocrisy, lack of honesty, and inability to acknowledge his ungodly behavior. Please pass my thanks along to her.
"The website also clarifies the roles played by Betty, other leading brothers, and other "ex-communicados." One thing that rises in my thinking is this: It's hard to stand up to entrenched, authoritarian evil. But I appreciate the men and women who found the courage to confront the evil--come what may.
"I am reminded of many of the warnings George used to pronounce on the apostates, the hypocrites, and the pretenders. I'm guessing that many of those pronouncements will be read back to him on the day of judgment. And then, "every mouth will be stopped"--even George's big, self-justifying, other-blaming one. Oh, happy day."
Your brother in Christ,
Don E., Fullerton
"Thank you. I don't have the words that can describe how much relief this site has brought to me. I am a member of several on-line forums that pertain to the growing trend of turning churches into cults, unleashing the un-natural, or "supernatural" , and teaching people that it is Christianity. So many of the victims of that type "leadership" are just plain afraid to do what you have done. Fear, and the idea that such an effort will be futile prevent most people from doing what you have done.
"It all seems so right in the beginning, and what harm can come from "going to church"? Many people are afraid to leave. That fear that "god will get them" is instilled with "the anointing". Fear and futility permeates many congregations. Your work is an inspiration. God bless your endeavor.
"I hope this site will encourage the many hundreds of thousands of people "caught up" in that type of church situation to have the courage to step forward, tell their stories, and spare others the pain of becoming involved with something like that."
"I was in the Assembly from day 1. My name is Curtis. I have found healing and am doing very well. I left the church in Fullerton, but I left with no bitterness toward anyone. I have maintained friendships of 35 years and have formed new ones. I have felt the embrace of Jesus.
"I always lived an open life and God will always honor that. I don't think this was a cult, but a church injured by selfish ambition, specially by one man, but we all enabled this guy. I am, along with my wife, involved in a very loving church family.
"Finally, I think all His people should be able to worship God anywhere and any way God shows them. I want to be a peacemaker and a source of healing, but not the judge of which church should meet or not meet. However, I do not agree with letting GG meet or preach anywhere. He should be held to the very standards of discipline he spoke to us for those 34 years. Thank you. "
"Thank you for making available the many encouraging articles on your website. It is difficult to go to church Sunday after Sunday and not hear the gospel. I especially appreciated Rod Rosenbladt's article, "Christ died for the Sins of Christians, Too". I have talked to my pastor about the need for preaching the gospel more often, more directly for the whole church and not just when there are unchurched people in attendance, but he doesn't get it. He just goes on preaching "example" and beating us over the head with the law."
"I enjoy this website. It is therapeutic for me and is a vital part of my recovery from my three years of control and legalism. Just recently the scriptures have started to come alive for me--something that I had never experienced."
April 22, 2004, Brian Dierberger: I have read part of the recent article: Collapse of the Geftakys Minstry [Steve Irons' updated timeline of events from the Fullerton perspective - very controversial.]
Months ago, I mentioned to some friends here in Arcata, CA, that I hoped somebody would take the time to write about what had happened. A research project was clearly needed. I’m grateful that you have done this work, and I want to thank you.
I hope more writing comes out of our experiences. While the Lord could have used our labor in countless ways, I know that policies of restriction, which we all practiced and allowed to be performed upon us, limited what could have been. If we each had decided to preach about the things we individually saw in the scripture, without being bent regularly to the stayed principles of “the house of God,” or “God’s eternal purpose in Christ Jesus,” many great truths of the scripture could have been enlarged.
When my wife and I stepped away from the work in Arcata, even as changes were taking place, I decided never again to allow a man to tell me what God did or didn’t want. Moses said, “Would that all did prophesy.” I hope that we all spend more time thinking about Him, and much less about the will of men.