This is to let others know our story. Mine began in 1977, where I made a start in the cult group of the 2×2 way and beliefs. I had a sister and one uncle involved before me. My sister had influenced me as a young man. I was raised in a dysfunctional family. There were many hardships in my life growing up which caused me to want peace. I thought I had found that in the 2×2 way.
I professed in 1977 under two sister workers. I mainly went to the Sunday morning meeting for about 6 months before they came around with meetings. They were coming for my younger brother who had spent the summer with my sister in Oklahoma. My sister worked for some of the friends there. My brother wanted to go to the meetings and I offered to take him. I learned about the -what’s- and -how to’s- from a set of friends there in Licking, Missouri near my home town. I spent most Sunday afternoons talking with them and a younger boy about my same age group. I started out doing what they did not, understanding the doctrine of the 2×2’s.
My sister was like a mother hen to us boys as she was 4 ½ years older than me. She really never had much to do with me growing up. She mainly tolerated me around the house. But when I professed she was so happy and wanted to help me. She offered a place in Oklahoma for me to come stay with her. I wanted to do the right thing and try to change my life around so I agreed to move in with her in Chickasha, Oklahoma. There were some nice people there and a nice meeting place.
I began learning more and more of the ways of the 2x2s and wanted to conform to their ways. As I was around so many of the older friends and one of the ex-sister workers, they spoke of the work. They were faithful in telling me about the work and how that was the best place for a young man. I was 18 when I offered to go into the work. I thought that was what was expected of me. I wanted to please them and they were so happy when I told them of my choice.
It was a year later that a place in the work came open and I went out at convention time. I really did not know much yet about the doctrine other than what was told me by others. I began searching for answers and sermons. My first companion was the overseer of the state at that time. I was afraid to disappoint him. I couldn’t talk with him. He started training me and corrected me a lot in the gospel meetings. I was trying to preach but I never understood much. So my companion had to teach me verses to support the meeting in the home and the way the workers were to go forth. You know–all the basic. He took me through the usual tract of verses to support the 2×2’s doctrine. I realized early that I went into the work for the wrong reasons but fear kept me in. Also, my sister followed me the next year into the work in 1979. I was a whole year ahead of her in experience at that next convention. But it also left me no way out.
My second year in the work was very painful. At first, it was ok because I was with someone new. I began to learn from him and some of it I questioned very highly. It was about mid-year or so with him that my life started to be turned upside down. He liked to cuddle at night and that bothered me a lot. I never said anything to him. I awoke one night to find his hand on my private section and that was it with the cuddling. He acted as though he was asleep but I wasn’t, that’s for sure! Anyway, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I tried to stay awake longer than him so I could keep a watch on him. But I could feel him moving toward me so I would wait until he was asleep and move to the couch in the front room.
This continued several months. I got caught several times by the friends on the couch and they began asking questions. I would try to hide from them what was going on but they could tell something wasn’t right. I started to break down and talk to the friends and they sympathized with me. And many that could, would offer us separate bedrooms. One of the friends could tell it was getting worse or should I say, I was getting worse at hiding it. They encouraged me to talk to the overseer about the situation.
I couldn’t talk to him at first so they did and he approached me at Special Meeting time. He told me if I could hold on until the end of the year he would get me a change. That gave me strength to hold on and the friends that talked to him said they would help me too. It went O.K. for two more months and then he thought it was time to get out of the city and batch. I wanted to crawl in a hole somewhere. I tried to get out of it but nothing doing. We left the city and had an R.V. to use. At least, it was an R.V. owned by my supporting friends who knew what was going on. They made sure our sleeping was separate. But in an R.V., it is tight quarters to say the least. He never made verbal suggestions to me, thank goodness, but he made me very uncomfortable and he knew I was.
Now, convention was nearing and this nightmare would be over. But I was wrong. When the list came out, I was with the same man. I had told my sister about my year with him because she and I were very close. I felt betrayed at this point and didn’t think I could do this again. It was a horrible trip to our field. At least it was the same field. He did not like it either and thought he would take it out on me all the way back. He would tell me directions when we would go to one of the friend’s homes and if I figured out where we were going, he would change his mind and go somewhere else. The friends felt the tension as well.
I made it another 6 months until Special Meeting time. I told the overseer if he did not give me a change, I was going home. He, at that time, agreed to send me with a worker of whom I adored and loved very much. This was also messed up as he knew there were problems, and he did not want to talk about them. Little did I know he already knew about him and at convention time, when asked, I refused to go out with him. All the other men on staff refused to go out with him as well, but no one bothered to tell me the secret. My year with him was horrible as well, as he thought the way to keep me happy was to find things to get my mind off of it. At this point my trust in the staff was going downhill fast.
I wanted out of the work but felt trapped with nowhere to turn. One of my companions really broke the camels back as he had an affair with a sister worker. And he hid it from my sister and me until we went out of state to Rogers, Arkansas for convention as visitors. They should have just got married, it was that bad. He shattered my hopes in all workers. My year with him built my confidence and I really enjoyed my time with him, and then he took me to a deep state of depression in 7 days. I never felt good after that.
My final year was with the overseer again. He knew all that had happened and he tried to nurse me back but I kept dwelling on all the wrong and since I had no trust in them, I began to get sick at my stomach. But it was deeper than that. I didn’t want to do this any longer and needed to find a way out. I thought and thought of freedom and wanted it so bad. I remember one night in a gospel meeting, I couldn’t take it any longer. I got up and started walking out the door and one of the friends came after me. They told the overseer I needed a doctor and an appointment was made. I started doctoring and everyone had all the answers for me to get better but no one knew my mind had already been made up. I wanted out! My sister added so much pressure to stay in the work and did not accept any other answer. To this day, she still adds pressure about my decision of leaving the work.
My one professing uncle made a home for me to recover and it was there that I started to work for Olin Mills in Wichita, Kansas. I still had pressure from my sister, as she would not give up. Even when I went to convention with my uncle the pressure was great as my aunt believed, ‘once in the work always in the work’ and I knew it, so I talked mainly to my uncle.
At last, I was beginning to start to think again for myself. I had made up my mind not to go back in the work and to take second best and make a home. I went to a convention in Clever, Missouri and it was there that I exchanged addresses with my wife-to-be. She and I wrote back and forth and one thing led to another until I asked her to marry me and she accepted. When I told my sister I was going to get married, she wasn’t happy. I wanted her approval but only got more pressure. She had begun thinking the same. ‘Once a worker always a worker.’ She felt, and still feels, if God calls you into the work that could only be the place for you. I knew it was not the place for me. Even at my wedding rehearsal, she tried her best to add pressure. But the wedding came and our life began together. We had our first child in that same year and faced many hardships with her birth as she had some medical problems.
I enjoyed my professing family and once again had come to trust them. It was great for several years. Our son was born 3 years later and he too had a medical condition. They are both doing fine now, I might add.
Our family trust soon was broken as Linda’s father sexually abused my daughter and he was an elder of our home meeting. He was also convicted of two counts of sexual abuse and spent 18 months in jail. This broke up the family unit that I had trusted in.
This took my wife and I down a road that also destroyed us. We left the cult group at this time out of anger. Being out of the group was difficult for us because the 2×2 Way had been drilled into us so much, we could not get it out of our minds. We were out for about a year and my wife and I separated as she couldn’t cope with what had happened to our daughter. We continued to talk to each other and started a couples communications group together which helped us to deal with strong issues about the family. We knew if we were to have a life together it would have to be in a new place where no one knew us. We put our house up for sale at 3 p.m. and it sold at 5 p.m. two hours later, a cash deal. We felt that was our answer that we needed to move on.
I left my job of 8 years and found new work in Tunica, MS in a gambling hall. We felt like this would be a place no one would ever look for us. We were in hiding. We left Linda’s family without a forwarding address. We changed our number to an unlisted number and moved on. We stayed hidden for 4 years not going to church nor talking about God or anything. We felt condemned about this and still felt like the 2×2’s was the right way of worship. This was embedded deep in our minds and of course my sister kept our whereabouts from the group a secret and she kept in touch with us the whole time. For the first time, she didn’t add pressure those 4 years.
We then decided to make a new beginning and again we stood up in a meeting never understanding salvation. You see salvation by Grace through faith is not taught among the group.
We re-professed again in 1995. Everyone thought it was such a miracle our hearts were softened after going through sexual abuse issues. We kept our distance from Linda’s family although the things we had run away from, we still had to face. We had to forgive them. There was one worker who did help us with doing this. He encouraged us to do the right thing and we did open the door again to Linda’s family. We were able to talk to her dad but he never would admit the truth to the rest of the family, friends and workers so we were on the outside of the family’s trust. Most of them think we made it up and some think it was a lie but we know it was true to this day, whether anyone else believes us or not. It was covered up by the workers and we were told to keep it quiet. We have lived with it for years as our daughter had nightmares for a long time. She has been affected by the attack and has gone through counselors for the sexual abuse and she has learned to deal with it. She has never forgot it but she has learned to cope with it. It did help her at the day of his death to see he could not hurt her any longer.
The only one in her family that has anything to do with us is her mom. She calls us but makes up excuses for not coming to see us. She spends most of her time with her son in Clever, Missouri. Over the years she has missed out on seeing our kids grow up. The kids still love her and want a relationship with her but they can’t compete with the other grand kids who live next door to her. Our kids don’t know their own cousins either as they have been told the story the way the parents see it. So the kids find themselves outside of the family unit. We have been forced to be a guarded family looking out for one another. We don’t speak of the problem to them. We have broken the cycle and become a family unit beginning with us. On my side of the family, we have fellowship with most of them.
It was not until this year, 2000, that we saw through the 2×2 group. Our son began asking questions about professing and we started thinking of all the things he needed to know and accept and it just didn’t sound right. On a visit from my sister in the work, she told us of a letter that was passed among the friends a few years ago that took several out. She told us not to read it if we got one. “Just toss it away” she said “it is garbage.” I asked her what was in it and she mentioned the internet site that was packed with lies. I wanted to look for it then but was told not too. After she left, I thought I would try to look it up. Time went by and we forgot about it.
The more we thought of our children going through what we did, the more it made us search for answers. It was about then that we found the site and spent several days and weeks researching all the information. We found out from the site we had a wrong beginning and it also explained why we found ourselves without peace through all of this. We had struggled through all of this pain without God’s help because we started off wrong. Our SALVATION was THAT OF WORKS. You see, if the workers don’t teach God’s Grace to be right with God, then how can you know true peace?
We decided to leave the group then. We wrote a letter to the overseer and one of the friends to say we no longer wanted to have the Wednesday night meeting in our home. We also told them not to bother us about this decision. We prayed about what was right and started asking questions of outside people we knew. We went back to the internet site and compared notes to the Bible. We looked for a place to continue our relationship with God. At this time we still thought we were O.K. We visited the churches in town and came to find one we liked. We began a class to learn of their doctrine.
We went every Sunday and Wednesday to the service for about a month and discovered we had to take steps for Salvation. Romans 10:13 haunted us: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” We started talking to each other about this. And we told the kids about Salvation. We shared that verse in Ephesians 2: 8-9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” We realized all of us needed to take heed. I had never told my wife that I hadn’t ever realized this in my life. I was ashamed being the leader of the household to admit I was still a sinner after 24 years being in the group.
The church was having revival services that coming week. That morning when we went to services, I forgot my pride and admitted to God I was a sinner and got right with God and found peace for the first time. Also, my whole family got right; my daughter and son and wife.
We all understood for the first time in our lives that the process of Salvation was through repentance. Our salvation came to us that day as a free gift. It is not something you have to earn like we were taught in the 2×2 group. It will take us years to undo the damage from the group.
My sister thinks I am a mental case because she doesn’t understand. It is being free at last that she will not understand until she admits to God she is wrong. Not to me!!
I hope this will help you as you think about what is right. For me and my family, we will serve the Lord with thankfulness knowing that He has paid the price.
Thanks for letting us tell our story.
Mike and Linda Kiser
November 28, 2000