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What to do when you've really hit rock bottom.

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wimstrydom

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So, I know this probably won't be read by anyone but I really just need to get this of my chest. (I started writing this thinking it's probably gonna be a couple hundred words, it turned into almost 7000. If there's some rule against this, the mods can feel free to remove.)

So basically this is the story of my experience with a radical pseudo-christian cult from South Korea, and how I went from living with my family in an 800m2 mansion on the beach with a picturesque lifestyle in 2013 to living in a tiny 2 bedroom apartment smaller than my parents' bathroom in our old house with no income and a lease that's expiring at the end of the month.

As a member of this cult I travelled a lot around South Africa, I spent countless nights without sleep, I lived in Switzerland for three months under false pretences, spent three weeks in London organising events, also under false pretences. I was shouted at and verbally abused by people on a regular basis, and I shouted at and verbally abused other people. I dropped out of school without completing grade 10, and was responsible for more than R 1,000,000's worth of computer, camera, and sound equipment. I lied to people as if it were nothing and forged documents. And while doing all of these things, I was just so happy that I was doing the right thing. I relished in the fact that I was well and truly righteous.

My reasons for making this post are threefold:

1. To organise my thoughts and force myself to write all this stuff down, so I can think objectively about this.

2. To just put my story out there.

3. To find out if maybe I'm just a whiney little twat that shouldn't be complaining.

Ok, so if you've read this far you already know way more about me than almost everyone except my direct family. I am 21 years old now, and the shit really hit the fan when I was 16, in 2012.

At that time I was home-schooled with an American school system called ACE. Before this I had been in a couple of start-up Christian-based private schools. We were a pretty religious family, but at the time I thought we were rather normal in terms of religion. It's not like I carried a Bible around everywhere with me. My family went to the local Baptist Church on Sundays where I volunteered in the Sunday school equivalent of the church, and I went to the youth on Fridays where I volunteered as the guy who clicked next for the lyrics on the projector. I would also occasionally participate in the church plays. That was the full extent of my religiousness. (Damn, come to think of it, I was pretty fucking religious.)

My friends and I were the nerds of the church, we were the guys who would hold LAN parties in the church hall, and would spend all our time talking about computers and games.

Back in the early 2000s my father made a boat load of cash when he sold his share in the company he worked at. We fully owned our house, he was driving the newest Audi A6 of the time (which he had bought cash) and he had a couple million in the bank. Life was pretty darn excellent. Then the Holy Spirit became involved. (Now at this point, I would like to say that I mean no disrespect or offense to those of the community who are religious, I'm just stating things as I perceived them).

My mother, who came from a farm in the Free State, has always been the more religious one of the family. She took notes in church, held Bible study sessions, and baked for the church bazaar. She was also, I think, the one who most strongly felt we should leave the "NG kerk" and move to the new Baptist church, where they didn't baptise people as babies, but as adults! Big deal at the time. Now all of a sudden salvation required being dipped under water in a hot tub by the pastor in front of an audience.

My dad became very frustrated at this time because most of his entrepreneurial ideas thus far hadn't really worked, and he'd been losing money. He learned at our new church, that God speaks to you. And that you must listen to the spirit who whispers in the back of your mind. Eventually after much trial and error, my dad had built a business that was generating a stable income for the family, based on a part of his old company that he had bought from them. This was around 2008. The spirit then whispered to my dad that he should sell everything. All my dad's friends supported this and finally even the pastor advised him to do what God was telling him. My dad was totally convinced that God was telling him to sell everything we had, the house, the other house, the business, the cars. EVERYTHING! We needed to start over.

That having been in 2008/9, I'm sure most of you guys can imagine how well that went. We moved to a house (the above mentioned mansion) where we rented at a rate we really couldn't afford, thus draining our savings. My dad was screwed over in the process of selling his business and barely made any money from it, and we were pretty fucked at this point.

Things carried on at this rate for a couple of years, with my dad struggling to make the new business work, and the family blowing through our cash reserves on our monthly expenses. We were quite thoroughly racing to the cliff's edge.

Okay, there's some background. Back to 2012. At this point both my parents had started losing faith in the church, and were sort of freaking out. My older brother had started his first year at Stellenbosch studying Engineering and I was just having the time of my life. We lived in a palace, I had an uncapped internet line and a really nice gaming pc at my disposal, and most of my friends were even walking distance. It was heaven.

One day my dad gets a call from one his friends he knew from our "NG kerk" days. He wants to invite my dad to a life-changing Bible Study that happens on Skype, at 6am. Now this was a super religious sort of guy, he's about 70 now I think. He used to go on outreaches into Zimbabwe or Mozambique, and would organise retreats so he's really your hardliner CHURCH kinda oom.

For my dad this Bible Study was just "Amazing". It explained the Bible so well, and it was just so exciting. Pretty soon my mother was also doing the Bible study. They were learning about how the Bible was full of figurative language and how to decode this language to get to the true meanings of things. Turns out, when Jesus said he'll be coming again in the clouds, that meant that he was coming in Spirit, since Clouds = Spirit. And this spirit of Jesus will be working through a person. This person is spoken about in Revelation, etc. Bottom line, there's a guy in Korea and the spirit of Jesus is working through him, so he's basically the mouthpiece of God.


Now I know you might be thinking, "Oh come on, how gullible are these guys?" Keep in mind that my parents were pretty much desperate for some answer to their troubles, and it's really convincing. I mean REALLY convincing. To get to what I explained in the previous paragraph takes around 6 months of bi/tri-weekly study sessions, where everything is explained to you in very easy to understand lessons. All the while only ever revealing a little bit at a time. Also, my parents are by no means stupid. My dad has a Master's Degree in Microbiology and my mother is a qualified high school math's teacher. Conversations about science and math were normal dinnertime talk for us.

Fast forward 1 year to 2013 and my brother is in second year at uni and we had moved from the beach town to Durbanville so that we could be closer to my dad's new job and the newly opened Centre of the Bible Study. The centre was an office unit in a business complex converted into two lecture rooms and a couple small offices. Later on in the year, my brother and I started doing this Bible Course. Initially we attended one-on-one sessions with a Bible teacher twice per week, and then we moved into the next stage where we were in a class of about 15 people. My brother drove down from Stellenbosch twice a week to attend this. In the time between lessons I couldn't stop thinking about all the hidden secrets we were learning. It so exhilarating knowing something that no one else knew.

I was so shocked at finding out that I didn't really have salvation. However it was totally normal to be shaken by this discovery, I was assured. You see, Satan was the one controlling me before and now I was getting rid of him, so naturally there would be intense internal conflict. After more than six months of this we finally passed over. Passing over means that you spiritually pass over from death to life. The full extent of the organisation is then revealed to you and you are invited into the inner community of Shin Cheon Ji (Which translates to New Heaven New Earth). We attended a service with lots of clapping and singing praise songs at their new temple in Cape Town. There was a high-quality projection display up front with cameras all around showing a live view onto the screen, it was like Hillsong or some important event, but more holy somehow.

Soon after this we learned that among many things, believers who hope to attain salvation have three basic duties:
1. Give tithe and offering of at least 10% their total income.
2. Attend services on Sundays and Wednesday evenings and any other meetings or lessons you are called to attend by your leaders.
3. Evangelise new people into SCJ.

These things are crucial if one hopes to become a priest. So in SCJ they believe that heaven isn't a place you go when you die. Heaven is SCJ. And God and Jesus and all the angels will come to Earth and will either convert or destroy everyone on Earth. So you should be trying to be a Priest, one of the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation. All this is backed up by the Bible and only the Bible, verse for verse they explained everything.

So by this time, it was December of 2013. I had given up all dreams of becoming an engineer or scientist. I was going to be a Priest! I was going to rule the world alongside God, Jesus and all the other priests! What did I even need a matric for? It was just a waste of time from my perspective! My parents were so happy that I had chosen to abandon school to become a full time worker in God's holy eternal kingdom. My brother meanwhile also decided to become full time and dropped out of his studies.

Come 2014, we didn't have anywhere to live. The lease was up on our house in Durbanville and we didn't have the income to renew it. My brother and I went to live with the Young Adult department leader in his flat in the heart of Cape Town who used to be in marketing but quit his job to become full time. My parents meanwhile temporarily moved into the apartment of a family friend who we had also evangelised. After that my parents soon started renting an apartment in the city from one of the SCJ members for a really low price.

My brother quickly showed himself as a capable person and was drafted to become a pioneer. He was sent to the United Kingdom with a handful of SCJ veterans to start a new branch in London. I, on the other hand, became a member of the Arts and Culture department, to which I donated my gaming PC. They were responsible for creating documentary videos of SCJ, recording of events, managing the Temple and Centre media systems and computers, and creating designs and printing pamphlets. My job in the culture department was to take the video recordings of each days lessons from the various centres and burn them onto DVDs for record keeping. These DVDs numbered in the hundreds and in addition to this I later also became responsible for filming certain events and organising all the video and photographic records of the South African branch of SCJ.

I quickly showed myself capable with filming and editing videos and understanding the doctrine of SCJ. So much so, in fact, that I was put in charge of all the produced videos in South Africa. In SCJ they often talk about "wisdom", the type of wisdom that Abraham used on his wife when he took Isaac away to sacrifice him. Basically lying. Good old lying. Plain, old-fashioned not-presenting-the-facts-and-saying-something-that-isn't-the-truth lying. The videos that I made were used for things like, "giving hope to the congregation", "using wisdom to motivate them", and "strengthening their faith". It was very Orwellian I must say, the whole changing the definition of words thing.

In SCJ there's a very strict standard that must be upheld. Everything from how you dress and what your hairstyle is like to your way of speaking is regulated. The entire life of an SCJ members is governed by SCJ. There's an extremely rigid structure in place, with the Promised pastor on top, 12 tribe leaders below him, 12 or less church heads below the tribe leader. Below the church head there is four departments, Young Adult, Men's, Women's, and Ministry. Each of these departments have a head, and then below the head are the cell leaders with every cell consisting of around 4-10 members. Your leader is your contact point with God, therefore you must see your leader as if they are God. Totally unquestionable obedience is required. If you don't do as you're told you don't have the correct mindset, and you're given mindset training. Mindset training = shouting and manipulating people into submission. Even if you did as you were told, if you didn't achieve the desired result you get mindset training. You are constantly told to "Die to yourself", meaning you have to throw out all desires and feelings you have personally. All that matters is God's will.

I'm not proud of this. I influenced a lot of people with the videos I made. Videos that were basically just propaganda used to brainwash those watching them. The videos I made were definitely not single handily responsible for people giving up their lives, but it I'm pretty sure it contributed to creating a false idea in their heads. (I mean that figuratively, no one actually died)

After six months, my brother came back from England. He was different. I won't say too much about him further, that's his own story. But he was a changed person, colder, less human, I might say. SCJ does that to a person, and he got a pure undiluted dose of that. After another six months he left SCJ. I cried my eyes out. To me, it was as if he had committed suicide. I genuinely felt as if he had killed himself. Looking back on this now, I am very happy that he left, but at the time it was devastating. He went on to finish his studies at Stellenbosch. Luckily through a bursary from a company and support from his uni friends he made it through and is now working as a civil engineer.

I kept becoming better and better at my job, and instilling the same mindset into my team members by means of manipulation and occasionally screaming. My dad was asked to quit his job and become the full time general manager of the South African Church. (Officially second in command, but he didn't have any real control over anything. That was left to Koreans, who silently regarded themselves as superior to South Africans.) In early 2015, the promised pastor, Man-Hee Lee, (The Jesus-but-not-REALLY-Jesus-cause-that-would-be-heresy guy) came to SA for a visit. He's always going on international trips to spread his message of the Bible and of Peace. SCJ is also the spawn point of HWPL (Heavenly Culture World Peace Restoration of Light). HWPL is supposedly a global peace organisation, but really it's just another way this promised pastor guy gets people to suck his figurative cock. (2015 was actually the second time he came to SA, the first time was in 2012, when he had a private meeting with Jacob Zuma, and held a massive Bible Seminar in the City Hall in Cape Town.) So, during this trip I was working beyond my normal hours of 7 days a week 8:00-21:00, many times working days on end, with little naps caught in between. We had to race between venues to prepare sound systems and video materials for this guy at all the high profile meetings. Under the guise of a peace activist he met with all sorts of important people. In particular he held many meetings with the then minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, who is now the minister of finance.

Then in September of 2015, the promised pastor went to visit the UK church. Since South Africa was crucial in the creation of the UK church a group of 30 or so people were dispatched to the UK to go assist in the preparation of the promised pastor's trip. I went there with the main purpose of organising and managing all external relations regarding technical things. I had to rent walkie-talkies and arrange for the sound systems to be hired and arrive on time at the right venues. I had to make sure all the cameramen were at the locations they needed to be, on the days they needed to be there. Among a couple other events, the pastor held meetings and spoke to judges and international law experts at the Supreme Court in London, he also spoke to hundreds of students at Oxford University. All this was arranged in a few weeks leading up to his arrival in the UK, while we were trying to get anyone who seemed important to have a meeting with the pastor so that we could create publicity for him.

I came back to South Africa feeling very important. I had been involved in TWO trips of the promised pastor. And even though we weren't supposed to regard biological family as important anymore, I felt very proud of my dad being the general manager and my mother being a strong part of the women's department and an excellent evangeliser and Bible teacher.
 

wimstrydom

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In February 2016, on a Saturday evening shortly after having arrived home I received a call. It was from the Young Adult department head. I answered and he asked me if my passport was still valid? I broke out in a cold sweat, my heart started racing. I told him it was still valid, and he asked me to get my things in order as I would be leaving in a few days. I freaked out, I didn't know how I felt about this. I didn't even know where I was going, and for what? There weren't any major events coming up. It couldn't have been for anything culture department related, because then I would have been called by the culture department head not the YA head. I reasoned that this could mean only one thing, I was going to pioneer some new region. I really didn't want to. That would mean way more evangelising, and almost no media work. I liked my current life, it was okay. I was living in a house paid for by the church with my family that we shared with four Korean teenagers who had been sent to South Africa by their parents. All in all life was sort of okay by some twisted standard.

I eventually accepted that I was going to pioneer some new branch somewhere. I knew about a couple places, in particular Zimbabwe was being established around that time. I didn't want to go to Zimbabwe. I remember hoping and praying that it wouldn't be Zimbabwe, and as it turned out it was Switzerland. I was being sent there together with a couple of Koreans and members from the UK church (who at that time had reached about 100 members). Also coming with was one of the photographers from the culture department. She and I had worked together extensively up to that point and I was happy to be going with someone I knew well so that I would have at least one familiar face. For the purpose of getting our Visas and travel insurance we posed as a couple going on holiday. Nowhere was this thought of as strange, rich kid using his dad's money to take his girlfriend on holiday. If anything, the officials at the visa office seemed jealous.

Upon arrival in Switzerland, I realised one major fact about the country. It is cold there. I had dressed in my warmest clothes and the cold bit straight through my meagre layers of protection. The guys from Korea and Switzerland had already arrived a few days earlier and that evening we had a delicious welcoming meal consisting of six Dr Oetker frozen pizzas heated in the oven. The second thing about Switzerland I came to realise was that it is ridiculously expensive. When I was in London, I couldn't imagine a more expensive place. In Zurich a Big Mac meal from McDonald's will set you back around R300. The 2 bedroom apartment we were living in cost around R70 000 per month. All paid for by tens of thousands of hard working Korean members who pay their tithe, and construction offering, and mission fees, and all the rest of the plethora of ways the church uses to leech away at their income.

In Switzerland we spent almost all of our time evangelising. The day would start with the eight of us watching Daily bread. Daily bread was a speech given by the tribe Leader in Korea that is recorded and sent to SA to be translated and then live streamed from there to Europe and Africa. After this we eat breakfast and leave to our respective destinations to try become friends with random Swiss people. The two main universities, ETH and university of Zurich, in Zurich are conveniently located right next to each other. They also feature no access control whatsoever, so it was rather easy to just wander about and pretend you're here on some postgrad project. Every Sunday we would attend every service of the biggest church in Zurich trying to get contacts. After initiating casual conversation with a stranger we would try to suss out whether they are religious. If they aren't we would move on. If they are we would try set up some future meeting, coffee, lunch, church, or anything if we can just get an excuse to see them again.

There's a wide range of strategies that are used to connect them to the Bible Study. Sometimes, after the first few meetings, you would introduce the prospect to some mentor (who is really a Bible teacher) of yours that happens to be in Zurich and is really great to have conversations with about the Bible. The three of you then meet up and then it's easy. You just start talking about the Bible and faith. You outnumber him two to one, but he thinks you're on his side. So the person, if you selected them carefully, would glance at you for confirmation when something is said they don't agree with. When this happens, you question whatever the mentor just said, and they would answer with some verse and you would be satisfied, which makes the prospect satisfied. All the while in your head, you're thinking, "All these lies are surely for the greater good, he'll be so happy at the end that we lied to him".

I'll admit I wasn't a very good evangelist. I had started to feel like a predator. Like I would be trapping and ruining the life of the people that I was trying to evangelise. So I started spending considerable amounts of time in secluded areas reading fantasy books on my phone, while everyone else was out trying to evangelise. I found one particular university toilet that was seldom used, smelt lovely (for a bathroom that is) and had jazz music playing 24/7. This became my reading nook. I would try for a few hours to evangelise then I would retreat to my hideout where I would read for hours on end. At the end of the day when we all met back at home, I would say I met a couple of people who I'm going to try set up meetings with. I would then proceed to make up names and faces who unfortunately just never got to the right stage. They would not be "Worthy". Maybe I found out they smoke, or they're gay, or they're not really THAT religious or they're too arrogant, or too shy, anything really. I had started to use "wisdom" on my leaders. This was very much forbidden.

The three months came and went and I found myself back in Cape Town. I had been told to initiate the process to get a longer visa for myself and the girl who came with me so that we could get back to Zurich ASAP. I deliberately dragged my feet with this task, so much so that I knew it was only a matter of time before they would get some UK members to fill our places in Switzerland. After all UK citizens don't need visas to go to Switzerland. Eventually that's what happened, and we were told to postpone our visa process.

When I came back I found that my dad was no longer the General Manager. Apparently he had gotten tired of being given R2000 a month to feed his family (While I was away, that was my mother and little sister who is six years younger than me) and taken up the issue with the head of the SA church. He was promptly demoted to department head of Enterprises (Another meaningless title, just a little bit more meaningless). He retaliated by getting a sales job. After that we also had to move as the church saw no reason to house us anymore since my dad had gotten a job. We moved into a small two bedroom apartment. My mother and father would share one room, my sister got the other, and I slept on the couch.

I continued working in culture department and resumed leadership of the video team. However I found that I was no longer as motivated as I was before. Every now and then I would be horrified by something I had said or done, but then the feeling would pass and it would be business as usual.

Near the end of 2016 I worked on what I considered my greatest work. It was a video documentary about the lives of three members in SCJ and how they became members. I invited each of them separately to the studio where we would sit down, I would turn on the mic. Then we would talk, sometimes for 45 minutes, sometimes for 2 hours. I would prompt them to tell me their story. What makes them get up in the morning, what was the moment they realised the importance of SCJ? After that, I sat down and edited the audio. I left out the depressing parts like people sobbing on bathroom floors, people losing their jobs, people avoiding and lying to their family. No, no, no. That won't do. Only use the parts where they talk about how happy they are now that they know the truth. Only reveal the small patches of sunlight in an otherwise dark and sinister landscape. After I had used their words to tell the story I wanted, I went out with a camera and filmed B-roll of the three to go along with the story.

After that I decided it was a sham. Fool's gold. You pretend to be happy because the reality is just too horrifying. A system built in such a way that it rewards you when you successfully ruin someone else's life cannot be good. I was in a cult. A cult that turned good, decent people into monsters.

I started thinking a lot, and came to the conclusion that there cannot be a good all-powerful God. Once I realised that, I didn't know what to do. I was 20 years old, I didn't have matric, and both my parents are in this with me, they can't help me. They'd try to stop me. I wasn't totally convinced though. What if this was Satan getting to me? I had a long chat with my dad about this, and both of us realised we want out. We weren't sure what exactly to do. I decided in December that I would go up to the Free State and visit my Uncle and his family on their farm a couple weeks ahead of Christmas. I called my cousin, arranged everything, and asked my dad to give me a couple hundred rand so I could book a bus ticket to Kroonstad where my cousin would pick me up.

On that day I just disappeared. I still had an appointment with my leader later that afternoon. I had so many unfinished projects. I climbed onto the bus, waited until we were an hour out, and sent a message to my leader saying that I'm leaving and that I don't believe in SCJ anymore. I then turned on flight mode on my phone and slept, trying not to cry. I had just left everyone behind. I had no more friends, everyone I had worked with, laughed with, sung with, cried with, was disappearing behind the horizon and I would never see them again. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I didn't even know what I would do when I got back from the farm. All I knew was for the next few weeks I would be away from it all. A chance to think and plan.

The next morning after picking me up from the Kroonstad Ultracity my two cousins and I were on our way to the Farm. We stopped in the town at the retirement village to greet my grandparents and made our way onto the gravel road towards the farm. When I got out of the car at the house I saw a car pull up behind us. On our way up there my one cousin had noticed a white Hyundai Getz driving behind us. I didn't even think to turn around and see who it was. I assumed it was someone coming to visit my uncle or cousins. Both of them said however that they didn't recognise the car. Stepping out of the Hyundai was the Young Adult leader from Cape Town. This MOTHERFUCKER had gotten on a plane, flown to Joburg and driven 240km to my family's farm. To try and get me back. I was dumbstruck. This was what I was trying to avoid! He claimed to be on his way to family for holiday, but I knew that was bullshit. He knew I knew that was bullshit. It was solely for the benefit of my Uncles family.

Eventually I agreed to get a coffee with him in the town and then he would bring me back afterwards. We drove in silence for the first couple minutes until I broke out laughing, astounded that he would go to such lengths. It was sort of like your older brother making a funny face to stop you from being mad. We sat down and had some of the worst coffee I've ever had and I explained to him my viewpoint. I asked him a bunch of questions I had, to which I said there weren't answers. He said that he could answer them, I must just give him some time. But in the meantime I'm allowed to have a holiday. I agreed that I would meet once more with him when I'm back in Cape Town to give him a chance to convince me otherwise.

I spent the next couple of weeks on the farm reading books on my phone, like The God Delusion and On the Origin of the Species. For the first time in months I was eating decent meals on a regular basis. Of course my family on the farm knew nothing about our situation for the last couple of years back home. While I was there I also witnessed from a distance my father leaving. He did it in a much more direct way than I did. Instead of just leaving he sat down with his leader and told him that he's leaving. He sent an email detailing all of his reasons why he was leaving. I was still regularly getting messages from people who didn't know I had left. They would ask me questions about the internet accounts and how to do this or that in video editing software. I mostly just ignored all of the messages. I felt a little bit like a disgrace, that I should be ashamed of leaving. In SCJ people who leave are seen as literally called betrayers (not "traitors" thanks to weird translators). I had betrayed God, I had forsaken my duties and would burn in hell for all eternity for this. Of course I had made my decision and didn't believe this anymore but it's not easy to just change your entire worldview over to something completely different.
When my parents arrived on the farm for Christmas (Our annually allowed off days so that we could "maintain our environment" and not arouse suspicion) things were rather awkward between me and my mother. But we just didn't speak about it. I didn't try to convince her to leave and she didn't try to convince me to come back. My father and I talked a lot about everything. My brother and I spoke on Whatsapp; he was very happy that I had left.
My big problem at this time was what I was going to actually do now. I didn't have a matric, I didn't have any friends, I didn't even have any contactable references for the work I had done the last three years. I only saved a couple GBs of my work onto a flash drive before leaving and I couldn't possibly use that to make a portfolio for myself since it was all very cult-y. While we were in the Free State my father and I made a trip to go pick up a laptop I found on Carb for R5000. I now at least had something I could do work on or study.
After getting back to Cape Town I sent a list of questions to the YA leader and told him if he could answer those questions then I would come back. On a beautiful day at the waterfront in Cape Town I met with him. After speaking for a while he told me that it's impossible to convince me of anything since I now have an atheist worldview. So I left it at that. Right after leaving the meeting with him I met up at the waterfront with my one friend whom I hadn't seen in years. He was really happy to see me and I told him briefly what I had been doing for the last three years. He invited me to a New Year's braai he was going to. The braai was a very Christian gathering. There was praise on the grass with guitars, praying and lots of conversations about how great Jesus is. I was so starved for friendly human interaction though that I just went along with it. We decided on a whim to go watch the sunrise in Fish Hoek. As the sun came out and reflected off of the wet sand, I remember thinking it looked like sheets of beaten silver. I was so hopeful of the coming year. 2017 was the year I would finally get my life back together and start over.
I decided that I wanted to go study computer science or engineering at university and that I would finish my matric. I started exploring what options I had. As it turned out there aren't many options. I could enrol at a normal high school as a grade 10 and spend three years going through school. Which would mean I would be 23 years when I graduate High School. There was no way in hell that I would do that. The best option I found was an online high school called Brainline. Through Brainline I was able to do grade 10 and 11 in one year and then a whole year for grade 12. So that would be only two years. I decided to start with this and we paid for the first six months. After a couple of months I grew extremely frustrated. Brainline's so called School Software was just a glorified PDF reader. It constantly crashed and the material was riddled with errors and inaccuracies. Furthermore there was no real support for it. The package only really included a couple of third party textbooks (which you could purchase online or at a bookstore for a fraction of the cost) and one set of final exams per grade.
Eventually I gave up on Brainline and decided to go with an American curriculum. I studied for two months for the SAT and I scored in the top 5 percent. I then also went and wrote an official US based high school equivalency exam and passed in the 90s. Based on this I've been accepted into Stellenbosch University for a BEng in 2018. In the time it took me to do that however, my father was retrenched from his job and hasn't been able to find employment since and I haven't really made any friends since I have no money.
I have no idea how I'm going to pay for university. Our lease expires at the end of September and we don't have any income other than UIF which pays barely enough to keep us fed. Our two cars' payments are so behind that the bank's probably going to come repossess them in the next week. My brother gives us what he can but he himself is in debt so he can barely survive. My mother does after school math's tutoring to high school students but she uses all that money on fuel to get to and from the temple every day. She leaves before 7 every day and only comes back at around 10 at night. I'm so anxious and depressed I can't sleep, neither do I have the energy to get up out of bed each morning, I just don't see the point anymore. On good days I learn maths so that I can be prepared for next year or I help my dad with business related things; trying to generate some kind of income.

Everything just feels so hopeless, I don't know what to do anymore. My dad drives for taxify and does other chartered trips to earn a couple hundred rand here or there but that just barely feeds us and covers fuel costs. I know there's probably nobody that will ever read this, but I thought it might help to type it out and post it somewhere.
 

adamr

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I have read your entire story and felt depressed reading it. You have and are going though allot. The one thing people would say in times like these is to have faith ... And it's seems that is what got you and the family in the mess.im sorry

And just when you think things are coming right ... Life turns around and kicks you back to the start :(

Only thing I can say now is to talk to people. Just for them to listen to you ... Not give you solutions right now. It helps and there is always something therapeutic about it.

Edit: on people. In my life the amount of Ill intentioned people I've met are numerous. Always someone looking at ways of swindling something from you. Humans in general are the only species in this world that can be pure evil ... And I truly despise those that do it in the name of God.

But what life has taught me is never to judge anyone based on their race, culture, religion, sexual preference, geographic location. Judge a person on their actions

Despite the world seeming filled with negativity and darkenss ... There are some super bright stars. Some pure human gems. Doing things ... Because they want to see others happy. They still exist.... Albeit rare af. So don't lose faith in humanity
 
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tman

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Byt vas meneer, ten minste is jy nog jonk en jy sit nie meer vas waar jy was nie.

Dink aan waar jy 'n paar jaar terug was, en nou. Tenminste maak jy progress. Baby steps.

Sterkte!
 

Blood_Bought

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Just hang in there!
You are stil young! 21 really is not that old, id give anything to be 21 again.
If there is a will there is a way.
Depression and anxiety is terrible, I understand, I have it myself and especially now I had a really hard, committing in the mornings, cant sleep because of it and medical issues.
May you and your family overcome this hard time, and may you find peace and a career that you are happy with, just dont ever give up. I know its hard, life is hard, money seems to be everything and without it once really struggles. I get that. Just be strong man!
All the best.
 

NGCtech

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BRU . TBH i did not read the whole post . Jeez 7k words . Just an idea . Start looking for people to write blogs for . You love writing by the looks of things .
 

Acidburn

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Never lose faith bud.
God test us day after day and in the end he gives what he think is best for us.
And he only wants what is best for us.
 

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Never lose faith bud.
God test us day after day and in the end he gives what he think is best for us.
And he only wants what is best for us.

Sorry to dislike your post mate. Just felt like something like this is probably not a good thing to say towards something like what OP has gone through. IMHO.

To OP, I completely understand. One of my best friends recently got out of a cult. Was born into it. He is having a hard time. His family no longer speaks to him and he is living very difficultly. But you will get there. Promise mate.
 

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Remember, God did not send His Son to die for us so we can be wealthy, own fancy cars, big houses etc. Jesus died so we can have eternal life, so that we will not perish but be with God the father for eternity where there will be no more pain, no more sorrow.
You cannot serve both God and money. Mathew 6:24
Satan is everywhere to deceive and inject his lies into the lives of others, even into the church.
In money you will find emptiness, in the lies of atheism and the teachings of the great atheists you will find nothing but emptiness. I've been there, its empty, dead, cold, worldly things will bring you temporary pleasure and security, what good it is for a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?
Seek first the kingdom of God and the rest will be given to you.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
 

wimstrydom

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Seek first the kingdom of God and the rest will be given to you.

I'm sorry bud, but I have to laugh at this. Really? What precisely do you think my family has done exclusively up till now? Do you think it's some great test of God that my father's brother who doesn't even practice religion at all is a millionaire and us who have spent all our energy and effort to serve God have nothing to show for it. I'm sorry to say but that's not a very solid argument.
 

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I'm sorry bud, but I have to laugh at this. Really? What precisely do you think my family has done exclusively up till now? Do you think it's some great test of God that my father's brother who doesn't even practice religion at all is a millionaire and us who have spent all our energy and effort to serve God have nothing to show for it. I'm sorry to say but that's not a very solid argument.

I have read your post and up until this message i felt sorry for you. Faith is Faith you either fully believe or you dont , whether it is in God or any other religion if you dont belive it will not work .
In your own post you concluded that what you and your family in was a CULT , how is that now serving God ?

If you want to have anything in life you have to work for it, i dont recall someone who simply knelt down and praid to be a millionaire and it wad given, Belive in God or dont but do not blame Him for what has happened
 

BillyBob

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I have read your post and up until this message i felt sorry for you. Faith is Faith you either fully believe or you dont , whether it is in God or any other religion if you dont belive it will not work .
In your own post you concluded that what you and your family in was a CULT , how is that now serving God ?

If you want to have anything in life you have to work for it, i dont recall someone who simply knelt down and praid to be a millionaire and it wad given, Belive in God or dont but do not blame Him for what has happened

Soooooo, you're saying god completely forsakes his strayed sheep? If you're not 100% happy clappy religious, he won't provide?

And by the same token, if OP and his family pray harder (which his mom seems to be doing), food and shelter will miraculously appear?

Come on mate - you're smarter than that.
 

wimstrydom

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I have read your post and up until this message i felt sorry for you. Faith is Faith you either fully believe or you dont , whether it is in God or any other religion if you dont belive it will not work .
In your own post you concluded that what you and your family in was a CULT , how is that now serving God ?

If you want to have anything in life you have to work for it, i dont recall someone who simply knelt down and praid to be a millionaire and it wad given, Belive in God or dont but do not blame Him for what has happened

Nobody willingly joins a cult. Where was God when we were stuck in this cult? Why wasn't he doing anything to try and save his sheep? Since God is almighty wouldn't he be able to at least prevent the cult from growing wherever it puts its roots down? Instead I've seen it grow at an astounding rate in a very short amount of time. When we started it wasn't more than a couple hundred; when we left the South African branch numbered in the thousands. Having set up branches in Cape Town, Joburg, Durban, Pietermaritzburg, and P.E. Also it's not like we believed in God only for some worldly benefit. My dad literally gave up all his worldly possessions because God told him to. Now if it had worked, "Praise God, hallelujah." If it doesn't it must've been Satan, or you didn't hear God correctly, your own pride came in the way. That's a cop out.
 
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wimstrydom

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But I don't mean to start a religious debate. That's not going to solve anything but make a lot of people angry with each other. If there's one thing I've come to realise is that almost everyone believes with absolute conviction that their worldview is correct and they understand the fundamental way the world works.
 

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Yeah... This theological debate will go well. Let's see :)

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Soooooo, you're saying god completely forsakes his strayed sheep? If you're not 100% happy clappy religious, he won't provide?

And by the same token, if OP and his family pray harder (which his mom seems to be doing), food and shelter will miraculously appear?

Come on mate - you're smarter than that.

I do not say or insinuate God forsakes his people who stray or make mistakes, i do pickup an issue with OP laughing of a suggestion to find God,
Especially after he conceded that what he and his family went through was not God driven, there just seems to be a belief that you pray all will be fine or God is supposed to protect us from making wrong / unpopular decisions,
which is not true, this is why we have the ability to make decisions, correct our mistakes and thus grow as people.

Either way i really do not want to get into a religious argument or rub people the wrong way.
[MENTION=34820]wimstrydom[/MENTION] i am sorry if my response offended you, i do hope one or the other you come out on top on this.
 

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Keep it clean - no insulting of people's beliefs will be tolerated (this thread hasn't headed that way yet, keep it that way). I ban on sight.
 

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this is why we have the ability to make decisions, correct our mistakes and thus grow as people.

Agreed on that.

Those who know me will know that I am not religious at all. If prayer or belief in God protected us from the bad in life then everybody would be doing it.
I believe that your choices and how you act on them is what sets things in motion and define whether you are a good person or not, not religion.
The Creator is not going to judge based on your religion or beliefs, but rather on the choices you have made in life and whether or not you have at least tried to write your wrongs.
 

Death the Kid

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[MENTION=34820]wimstrydom[/MENTION]

So I read the whole thing. All i can say is, damn. You definitely have some mileage behind you, and its not all bad. My personal belief is that in life we are all given a test and how we handle these tests determine the people we become. The fact that you knew what the good life was like should motivate you to get back there. I don't mean to make light of your situation, but there are a few people that can tell you similar stories (Myself included). You seem to have your priorities in order though, education is key. The next few years will be rough for you, I can tell you this from personal experience. The first couple of years of my working life was paying off student loans and debt. Stay the path, educate yourself, don't loose hope, you'll come out stronger on the otherside.
 

MR.C

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I've read all and hope you get back on track soon. Judging from what you have experienced, you got a good head on your shoulders and what you did, people don't experience that in 10 or 15 years and, well, you been schooled very well. Very high priced school fees but you learned a lot. The 1 biggest problem I have in trusting a church is that you have to pay a fee. Doesn't make sense.

Near where I work, there are so many churches and every 6 to 12 months a new church opens up in exactly the same space as the previous on and 9 out of ten times it's a foreigner that's the pastor.

And followers from many churches spend most of the little money they have on the church cos it's for God, but my take is that it's not for God, it's for the pastor's own benefit. Feed a starving person, buy clothes for a poor kid, help someone, anyone that's not doing good, that's for God's sake.

That's no difference at any particular religion, I myself am a religious person and know where to draw the line, at least I think I know where to draw the line.

What do you do now ?
My answer is to pray to God. Remember that there only is 1 God. It's not like the Christians were created by a Christian God, and the Muslims were created by a Muslim God, etc. Everything and everyone were, are and will be created by the same One God. Pray at night when it's quiet and there's no one around and let your heart out and ask for help. It won't happen instantly but what you need is contentment in your heart, and that takes time to attain.

Just remain trying to be a good guy and don't give up. I know it's easier said then done but when you do something wrong and feel guilty about it, you know your heart is in the right place.

And good luck on the rest of your journey, life is interesting and we will never understand everything but the to be content with what you have right now, and try to improve day by day, spiritually, financially and psychologically.



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After reading your novel, it looks like you need a good long break from religion.
Typing this also looks quite weird admittedly.

Crank up your fav playlist (No PSY), keep your head down, be positive and keep working.
Use the negativity to fuel you going forward, as you are already ex communicated might as well raise a little hell.

Good luck mate.
 

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Religion poisons everything.


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Read up on the cult. Scary shit dude. Glad you got out so young - this shit will fuck you up for life. My 2c for what it's worth:

I would take a break from any religion and focus on myself if I were you. Put your faith in yourself and your own abilities and work towards your goals - and when you reach them you know you earned it by your own hard work and effort.

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wimstrydom

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I'd like to say thank you to everyone for their words of encouragement. It really does mean a lot.

I don't believe there is a creator or any supernatural being/s. But I would like to reiterate what I said before. Almost everyone (myself included) believes with total conviction that their worldview and beliefs are correct.

I may be wrong; I was definitively wrong in the past. The big difference now is that I will believe based on evidence. If there is evidence of any sort, one way or the other, I will adjust my beliefs accordingly. To simply have faith without any proof does not have any objective value.

Feel free to PM me if you wish to hear more of my story, clarify something, take the discussion further, or just chat. I do after all have a lot of time on my hands.

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no?

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To simply have faith without any proof does not have any objective value.

Isn't the definition of faith to basically believe without proof?

Only advice.
Don't let your past experiences mold who you are now.
 

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FFS. This guy has just been through YEARS of trauma in the name of religion and half the people in this thread are telling him that religion is the thing that can save him? All you're doing with your lack of empathy is demonstrating precisely how religion is a cancer of humanity.

OP, I have also been through a traumatic time in my life whereby my father lost everything (including our home) and we essentially had to start over (including traumatic experiences such as having the sheriff of the court come to our property and literally remove some of our possessions to settle outstanding debts), so I sympathise fully. Thankfully we are in a better space now - although I am currently supporting my parents who have no income other than their pensions, I am in the position to do so because of my own hard work and efforts, not some imaginary sky fairy.

I can't really tell you what to do in your situation, and it honestly isn't my place to, but I think you need to start off by figuring out what you're good at and see if you can get a job doing it. Even an unpaid internship maybe, because if you are a hard worker and a good worker and you are working for a half-decent company, they will quickly notice you and make sure you are rewarded. From that you can hopefully earn enough to go ahead and get your degree.

I would strongly suggest you see a psychiatrist. "I'm so anxious and depressed I can't sleep, neither do I have the energy to get up out of bed each morning, I just don't see the point anymore" sounds exactly like me before I attempted suicide during the worst days of my father's idiocy, and thankfully being a UCT student at the time I had access to their student psychological services, which got me back on track (although I didn't manage to finish my degree, but my own hard work and competence has allowed me to build a successful career). There is NO SHAME - NONE - in seeking medical help to assist you in coping with what you've been through, because you've already shown that you have an enviable inner strength by managing to free yourself from the brainwashing.

There is so much more I could say to you, but all I will leave you with is this reminder: YOU control your destiny, even if it may not seem like it at times. YOU have the potential to do great things, regardless of what has happened to you in the past. YOU are your own man and nobody else controls who and what you say or think or achieve. The only belief you need is belief in yourself.
 
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