Greetings to All, It has taken some time to reach the stage where you feel free to talk about your experiences and life in the “way”. So many of us are now at different stages and still wrestling with the past and it takes some time as 42 years of one’s life cannot just be forgotten in six months.
The “truth” came into our family in 1917 with my Dad, his Mother and brother professing. I was therefore born and raised in the “truth” and professed when I was 12 (1956). Some years later I questioned my Dad about the beginning of the “truth” and he told me about William Irvine, that he had had a revelation from God and this Way was revealed to him. He also explained that prior to this it had been hidden through the “dark ages” and we were very privileged to have it revealed in our lifetime. I have accepted this although it had never been discussed or been an issue.
As a result of circumstances, I became divorced in 1979 and my two children stayed with me and we continued to go to meetings. Although we never had a meeting in our home, I did have the responsibility of leading the Wednesday evening bible study for a number of years. In 1980 I met someone who had great concern for her salvation and after many discussions, she attended Gospel meetings with me. She later professed and was baptized in 1983. Our friendship then continued. She was also divorced and our affection for each other grew so we decided to marry in 1985. Her two children and mine became one happy family.
We were visited by two of the local workers with instructions from the head worker of South Africa and immediately stopped from attending all meetings. What a blow! I called our head worker and asked if I could visit him and discuss this matter. I was prepared to drive 800 miles to where he was for the discussion. He was not prepared to see me or discuss the matter. I asked him whose rules these were and whose decision it was to excommunicate us. He said it was his decision and his rules and he was NOT PREPARED TO DISCUSS THE MATTER WITH ME!
Excommunicated by most of the friends and workers, although I had been in the “Way” all my life! Marriage was something we did not go into blindly but after reading and searching the Scriptures and examining the reasons for my divorce and that of my future wife’s we felt free to make that choice. My ex-wife who had left the “Way” in 1979 was now another man’s wife and had since had a daughter from him. We were told by our friends to be patient, trusting and obedient and that God would open a door.
Another “friend” who had been in the work and left for health reasons married a divorced man and she had been patiently waiting for 25 years to be allowed back into the “truth”. Well, we waited and waited but continued with our own meetings in our home with the children and they also would contribute their part. The children were allowed to attend gospel meetings and we would take them to the meeting and sit in the car outside. This went on for about 5 years and we were just told to be patient. One by one, as the children grew up, they left home to pursue careers and also get married but none remained in the “truth”. Eventually, it was just my wife and I but still continued together – just waiting patiently.
We had several opportunities to travel to Europe and USA and made contact with old friends there who were professing. Things were different there. We were welcomed into the meetings there and even asked if we wished to take part, which we declined as we felt we didn’t want to take advantage of another country. (Different rules there) News had reached our head worker in South Africa that we were attending meetings when we went overseas.
On our next visit to Austria, the head worker of Austria had received correspondence from our head worker asking him to not allow us to attend meetings there. What a blow once again. However, the worker there spoke to us and we were able to continue attending the meetings.
There came a day when we decided to disobey the head worker’s ruling and attend all Special Meetings, Gospel Meetings and Conventions. Well, the walls did not fall down although there were mixed feelings amongst the friends” about our presence, most welcomed us back. We continued like this for about 3 years then about two years ago, the senior worker in our area of his own visited us in our home and gave us permission to attend all the Fellowship Meetings. HOWEVER, we were not to take part in the meeting or partake of the bread & wine, as this would have to be sorted out later.
Our waiting for this to be sorted out dragged on for nearly 18 months, and several attempts to discuss it or resolve the situation were thwarted. We began to realize that when we were in—we were in; when we were out—we were out. Then we were halfway in, so we were neither in nor out. Our desire to serve the Lord has been made stronger because we have proved His love, His power and known His grace so we both continued to read and pray more earnestly knowing that He who has led will lead.
Towards the end of last year, there were so many things we were questioning. By whose authority were we banished? Who had the right to prevent us from speaking or praying? Who gives us permission to take the bread and wine? We had been judged and sentenced by man – the head worker. A decision taken in ignorance and born out in stubbornness. We heard about V.O.T. website from one of the “friends” who visited New Zealand recentl, and then we started to download pages and pages of information. I’m sure you all know what I mean. Mid-November 1997 was our convention and we attended, listening carefully and trying to weigh up every word. Was what we were reading on the Internet the real TRUTH?
That was the last meeting we attended. The TRUTH had set us free – and we were free indeed.
Revealed to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. We have both read “The Secret Sect” and “Reflections,” which has helped put many things into perspective and given us a better understanding and background. As we read the experiences of others, we saw ourselves in so many instances and realized we were not alone. To all who are on this List, thanks for listening to me. The last 12 years have seen so many experiences and caused many tears, so it would take a long time to tell it all. This closes a chapter in our lives and now we can start living again–free from the bondage of the so-called “truth”.
Port Elizabeth, South Africa