Family, friends and workers: Most of you know that we no longer come to meeting. Or maybe you haven’t been told or noticed yet. In this letter we want to tell you WHY we chose to leave “the truth” last June.
We professed in February of 1971. And we have been wondering what we were thinking and feeling during those 22 years. We loved the simplicity of the gospel story, meeting in homes, a homeless ministry, the humility of the people, etc. We were told you could not trace “the way” back to any man, and that there was no need for any formal organization or headquarters because the people were knit together by love. It made sense to us and we knew that we had found the ONE TRUE WAY of God! We innocently accepted what we heard and never REALLY QUESTIONED whether we were being given accurate, scriptural information. We just wanted to “fit in.”
What happened during those 22 years? We tried to “fit in”, but our service always seemed to be inadequate. We heard constantly about “dying to self”, “love not the world” and having the “right spirit”. We often wondered how much do you sacrifice to become like Christ? We would scoff at false religion (which included EVERY religion but ours) because we knew the “right way” and others might be “sincere, but sincerely wrong.” Deep down we wondered what kind of God we believed in who approved of that kind of attitude. But if doubts crept in, we would go back to the “homeless ministry” and that would leave us with no alternative but to keep “faithful.”
We have never been able to figure out all the inconsistencies and double standards in a way which was supposed to be perfect. For example, why did one worker describe Thomas as a very FOOLISH man for doubting Christ? Another worker described Thomas as a very WISE man because he wanted PROOF that this was Christ? Why would a worker in California tell us that if we were to move to another part of the country where professing men and women do not swim together or wear wedding rings or watches that we should abide by those same restrictions?
Why do people badmouth Christmas in their testimonies and then hide the fact that they buy presents for their children? Why do some workers think you should not celebrate birthdays? Why are there so many differing opinions among the workers on the issue of divorce/remarriage and taking part in meetings? Why does pleasing the workers and friends seem more important than pleasing God?
Why are you considered “worldly” or “not hearty” if you have a television or watch movies, if you have bangs or you don’t show up at meetings regularly? Why would we send our 7 year old daughter to school in a dress in subzero weather? Because it pleased God? Why did we always live in fear of “losing out” if we didn’t conform to the unwritten rules regarding appearance and conduct established by the workers? Why were we never comfortable telling someone THIS IS THE ONLY WAY and that NO ONE CAN BE SAVED EXCEPT THROUGH A WORKER? Why did we often feel burdened with frustration, inferiority and GUILT? Doesn’t the Bible say that we are saved by grace, not works? And why is there more emphasis on suffering and self‑denial than PRAISING GOD?
These are just a FEW of the MANY issues which have troubled us for years. Last June we had had enough. We were weary IN “the way” and yes, we were weary OF “the way”! We no longer want to compromise our self‑esteem by being dishonest and hypocritical about things that do not pertain to salvation. As soon as we made a definite decision to leave, we felt a TREMENDOUS BURDEN lifted off our shoulders. We no longer worry that we are offending someone by breaking “unwritten rules.” We are not stifled by a self‑righteous, judgmental outlook on life.
Did you know that “the truth” was started in 1897 by a preacher named William Irvine in Ireland? You can read about the early days in a book called The Secret Sect by Doug and Helen Parker. (We have extra copies if you would like to read it for yourself.) When we heard this years ago, we refused to let it “disturb our peace.” When we quit in June, we thought that WE had failed somehow. But last December we began to read other accounts about the “Two‑by‑Twos”, and we have learned that there is no scriptural basis for a homeless ministry and meeting in homes as the sole means of salvation.
Workers have lied to us about the origin of “the truth” while imposing unscriptural outward standards. We spent 22 years following and trusting the word of MAN, not GOD! For this we have no one to blame but ourselves, for not truly searching out the scriptures and demanding answers. We certainly don’t claim to have all the answers now. But we have finally rid ourselves of the GUILT AND FEAR that kept us from leaving sooner!
Our PLEA to each of you is this: Investigate your beliefs. Don’t let others do all the thinking for you. Don’t assume that because “the truth” works that it has to be right. Follow your conscience, not unwritten rules. Ask questions and demand scripture to back up answers.
Only one person has asked us WHY we left. Do you THINK you know the reasons, or are you afraid to ask? We understand because we didn’t contact others who have left either. We knew there was something wrong, but we didn’t want to hear it. Please call, write or just come over. We would love to share more with you.
With heartfelt concern,
Jerry & Bette Stom
Boise, ID 83704
February 28, 1994