I was born and raised in a 2×2 family. My dad was a second-generation 2×2 and I think my mum was a third-generation. They did not talk much about the early days. Once I tried to talk to one of my ex-2×2 cousins to see if she knew who was the first in our family to go into “the truth,” and she did not know either. I think my mum professed through Bill Carroll, as he wrote to her a fair bit and I have the letters still that he wrote to her. My mum is deceased, and my father is in a nursing home.
I find it interesting that no records were kept of anything important in our family like dates or who anyone professed through or was baptized by. Both sets of my grandparents died professing. I have some cousins who have gone out and some others are still professing. I come from a very large family and while many of them have left meetings, there are still many of them who remain inside.
I professed in 1977 at age 14 under pressure from my mother at the Education Centre in Warragul, Victoria, Australia. My brother also professed, but my two sisters never did. My brother left meetings in the early ‘80s.
Two years ago, I was lost walking in darkness. I was frustrated and angry that I could not find God. I figured God did not want me and I did not want Him–that was for sure. I was lost and I knew it. I was mad with God for putting me in the cult, and I had no way of escape and this caused great anger frustration and sadness.
I had heard the word “Cooneyite” associated with meetings because my aunt told my cousin that was what the Catholics called her when she was younger; and she used to call the Catholics “dogs,” so there was a bit of name calling going on. My cousin asked her mother why we were called “Cooneyites, and she gave a bit of a story about Edward Cooney going off on his own and forming a group.
At the May 17, 2009, Special Meeting that year held at Mirboo North in Gippsland, Victoria, something was said that really made me sit up and listen. It was the second meeting of the day and the last speaker (Claud Punke) was on. He mentioned that the first workers came to Australia in 1904. This puzzled me, as the settlers came to Australia in the late 1700s and Christians had come with them and set up churches. Where were the workers?
I got desperate a couple of weeks later and I prayed to God to show me His way and help me find the light. I was sure that He would not hear my prayer.
He did hear my prayer!
A couple of nights later I was on the internet, feeling depressed and down. I really wanted to find information about the truth and was unable to find anything. It was bugging me and getting to me. I was absolutely irritated to the max. Finally, I thought to type in one word that would change my life forever:
Amazed, I looked at the websites that flashed before me and read the words “2x2s,” “Cooneyites” and others. I opened one wondering what I would find. I stared at the information before me. Started by a man? Not from Jesus? I could not believe what I was seeing.
Stunned I trawled and felt my world that had been safe within the walls of the cult for so many years crumble around me. I floundered and felt lost trying to grasp the reality of it all. For ages I explored and dealt with the betrayal of it all. For the next two weeks, I looked and read and wondered what to do with the information I had found.
I wrote to the Telling the Truth website (TTT), convinced that I was betraying the Friends and Workers, but went with my feelings about it and I felt comfortable doing it. To my amazement, the TTT owner, Cherie Kropp, wrote me back. Little did I know that my journey out had just begun. She put me in touch with some lovely ladies who supported me. I started to find out things that I had never known before, like the deity of Christ; that Jesus was God. It took me a while to get my head around that one.
One of these women sent me a website with sermons on it and encouraged me to listen. So for the first time in my life, I listened to one of those “false” Pastors and he made sense. He was good and he brought the bible to life. I was hooked and the scales started to fall off my eyes.
Another lady who is now one of my dearest friends also started to work with me. She helped me and supported me all the way. She was there when I vented, cried, got angry and despaired as I fought to break out. Later that year, she put me in touch with a Pastor near my town. I went to a Christmas carol service and loved it a lot. In the start of the New Year, I started to see him, and he opened his Bible and taught me from it. I learned things I had never known before and loved every minute of it. He gave me books, DVDs and a lot of other things. I read watched and learned about God and his wonderful plan for my life.
I went to a ladies Bible study group and met with a wonderful lot of ladies who I love very much today and they are very dear to me. The year went on and I learned and got more and more frustrated still going to meetings and was unable to get out.
God was at work telling me to leave, and I resisted Him, convinced that I should stay just a bit longer; that it was not the right time to leave just yet. The end of the year came and with it came convention…the convention that was to change my life.
My father had a stroke halfway through it and while he was sitting in his car waiting for an ambulance, I was standing dazed and anxious about him. Around me, people stood telling me to come back to convention the next day and go to the meetings instead of staying home. I wanted to be with my father and had to organise for my sisters and brother to come and be with us. The last place I wanted to be was at that convention. I left the grounds and went to the hospital. The next day which was Christmas Day, some of the family came, and I went to the Sunday morning meeting, mainly to get my things and leave. I left after the meeting and I had made up my mind. I knew my father was sick but I did not want to go back to another meeting. A struggle was going on in my heart but I knew what I wanted to do.
The next Sunday morning I woke up wondering whether to go back to the meeting or not. I lay in bed thinking and praying about what to do. Going to the meeting made me feel sick and anxious. I thought about church. Would I have the courage to go there? The answer came. My mind was made up. I got out of bed showered and dressed and drove to church for the first time in my life. My intentions were good; maybe a couple of weeks of church and then go back to the meetings. That was the plan. I loved the service the atmosphere and the singing. I went the next week and the next week and so on. I still intended to go back for a meeting but God had plans.
On the 27th of February this year (2011) I made a commitment to Christ. I was finally free from the 2x2s. I walked up the aisle feeling the chains drop off. I made a decision to be re-baptised into the Body of Christ, and on May 1st, I was baptised and was welcomed so warmly by my church family into my new life in Christ.
Today I am a member of God’s family and I am a keen church-goer of the Baptist Church. Through His Blood I am Free!
If my story can help someone who might be questioning and needing the courage to make the break, then it will be well worth it. God bless.
Your Sister In Christ,
By Verena Speers