Mulford, John

My Testimony

To begin with, I must say that I am finally in a place of rest for the first time in my life. I love what I feel in my heart and having a mind that is without burden. I wished to not be alive for a very long time. I am very protective of what I have now, freedom from other people’s opinions regarding what does not belong to any other human… the life that I have been gifted with.

For many years I gave my whole life to what I believed was in the service of God. I was taught and believed we were THE ‘chosen of God’, THE ‘Saints’. I was taught and believed we were God’s people and “the World” was anyone who was not part of the ‘Truth’ and one of the ‘Friends’. I believed that no one entered the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ but through Jesus and of course the Workers (itinerant minsters) who were the called and chosen of God to be THE ministry Jesus established on the Earth. This is what I learned, believed, and followed. It was RIGHT. We served the God of RIGHT. We loved right… because those who were wrong went to hell.

Since I can remember I loved God. I loved His Son Jesus. I loved His Spirit. I loved them because I belonged to the Almighty, the living God to whom I earnestly prayed that His Spirit was teaching and guiding me. I remember at the age of 8 that I wanted to ‘profess’ at the annual church convention we faithfully attended. ‘Professing’ meant making a public confession of one’s personal belief that God was dealing in their life, and that they desired to turn from their own sinful ways and follow Jesus in His way.

‘The Way of Jesus’ was the fellowship meetings in a home, and the ministry without a home. Period. ‘God’s True Servants’ AKA ‘the Workers’ were men and women who felt called of God to give their life for THE REST of their life in the ‘harvest field’ and seek for the ‘lost sheep’. The ministry that ‘Jesus established’ was ‘set apart from the world’ and was expected to live a celibate, itinerant life. If any other ministry did not follow in the same manner that ‘Jesus established’ they were considered false preachers. If one did not listen to and follow after the gospel of Jesus as preached by a Worker, you were considered an ‘Outsider’. Outsiders would not be going to heaven, of course. I felt the wonderful privilege to be part of the family of God who were just a remnant left on Earth.

I enjoyed a life growing up in a home under the influence and protection of parents who loved each other, loved us children and loved God. They taught my sister and I to love God and love what He loved and reject ‘worldly things’ and ‘worldly people’. It was a simple and beautiful life. I feel like I won the lottery to have such amazing parents who loved us unconditionally.

When I was 19, I felt ‘called to the Work’. I gave away what little possessions and money that I had and entered the Ministry. I spent a total of approx. nine years in the Ministry. Twice I stepped aside over those nine years and took a job to try and deal with the depression and anxiety that started to be a regular, torturous visitor. I would now argue that the lifestyle I was taught and believed to be scriptural was most certainly not. My mental health was breaking down as it does for so many in that ministry.

Finally in my early 30s I understood that, although I felt certain I was called to the Work of the Gospel and had a love for Souls, my mind could no longer hold up under the strain the lifestyle of the Ministry caused. I left the ministry for good, then, with very little to start a new life. I settled in Oklahoma where I had been a Worker and a state with which I was well acquainted.

A couple whom I had met in my travels and who were former members of the church, welcomed me to live in a vacant manufactured home they owned. These dear people allowed me to live rent free for several years. I will forever be grateful to them for a safe place to live and heal. I continued to attend the fellowship meetings in a home, that was deemed worthy to host it by the Workers, and continued supporting the ministry financially and with an ‘open home’ to the best of my ability.

It was a painful, lonely experience. Friends did not know how to support a former Worker in any way. It was a difficult transition from a being Worker to resume being a Saint. Prayers and good wishes did not pay the bills nor provide respite for what life suddenly demanded of a grieving, disabled former Worker. I was encouraged to attend all the meetings where God met with His people, the chosen few. The elect of God would attend meetings faithfully, of course.

In 2023 evidence of sexual abuse in the ministry surfaced. How was this possible amidst the very elect of God, by the Ministry who could not be questioned, who was never in the wrong?! The first public story opened the door to several hundred cases coming forward. I understand from AFTT there are now 889 who have allegations of SA/CSA.

It became evident that over 100 years the reputation of the ‘Way of Jesus’ was protected by moving abusers around and covering up their crimes. One wouldn’t speak against the ministry of Christ nor would the Friends bring issues to anyone besides the Workers, so it was easy for concerned Friends to be shut down.

As I observed the lack of love and compassion amongst the ministry, and many of the Friends, regarding people who had been abused and their defense of the abusers, something started to seem very, very wrong. The simple fellowship had been lovely in many ways, but now it was made clear that in other ways it had been criminal. This was far from what I considered God to be. LOVE. Love and Compassion. God IS love.

Deconstructing what I had considered all my life to be True and Right began. I questioned everything. I had to. I had believed and given myself to a fellowship/cult with my absolute all that now appeared quite opposite of what I had always believed God to be. I suddenly woke up, as out of sleep, to see I was not part of the One True Way, a remnant left on this earth…I was part of just another group of humans who had their own interpretation of the Holy Bible (King James only). We were just another group of humans who believed the God of Abraham was real and thought we knew Him personally and exclusively. We were the people of God. Period. The arrogance of the doctrine of the Workers and Saints was suddenly very frightening, and I wanted no part of it. Over a century of spiritual, emotional and sexual abuse had taken place under the guise of righteousness.

Deconstruction was the hardest and most painful experience I had ever been through. What I thought was God was being pulled out of me. I became a human being for the first time ever. Walking on the same plane as the rest of humanity. I am convinced no book nor soul has the answer to what humans have been seeking since the beginning of time. Who are we? Why are we? Where are we going? Certainty suddenly appeared dangerous and at times abusive. Certainty in what is unseen and unknown seems exclusive and harmful to the masses of humanity.

Most humans that live and have lived are bound to a lost eternity far from God depending on where and when one was born, according to the Christian faith. That does not make any sense to me anymore. I now see all humans as the same. As one. No longer do I subscribe to a certain book or certain teaching or a certain people. All are created equal. All men. All women. To think one human is less than another regarding their sex, race or creed seems dangerous and not the way of love and compassion.

It isn’t easy sharing my experience, because I know from my own personal experience that it is very difficult to hear and accept the perspective that I declare being someone’s experience. Sharing the truth of one’s personal experience can end relationships because sometimes we feel we must understand someone else’s experience for it to be valid. If it isn’t our own experience, it is easy to believe the other person is simply WRONG.

There is nothing that matters more to me than truth, whatever it is. I must be honest with myself at all cost. I desire to continue learning how to walk in love and compassion for myself and for all humans. That seems to be the closest to walking with Jesus that I know right now. Truly his yoke is easy and his burden is light. May all humans be one in love and stop hurting each other with the sin of certainty.

I end this to say that for the first time in my life, I love life. I love being alive. I love being free to love in all purity, with ALL humans and accept their personal experiences as valid and learn from them. I love being able to rejoice with others, regardless of whatever it is that teaches another human love and compassion.

I love being free to ask questions about what informs others of these things. To question opens the door to learning. The present is such a gift and I don’t want to miss it. The future will come and it will be good. This I am certain of.

John Mulford (age 46)
May 2, 2024