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Date: 30 Apr 2001
My life growing up in The Family.
My name is John Paul and I am 20 years old and have decided to write about my experiences in The Family, my views and perspectives on growing up in this group and about my life generally before and after leaving the group.
I guess I don't really know where to start, but I guess I should give you a little bit of background information about myself. I was born in England in 1980 to English Thaddeus and Icelandic Sarah. I have one brother, Christopher who is 4 years older than me and is currently still in The Family although I do not know of his whereabouts. My parents were involved in the video ministry around the time I was born, and we moved to Hong Kong and Macau when I was very young and then to Thailand when I was 2 years old. My earliest memories of daily life were when I was 3-4 years old when we lived in "The Combo" in Bangkok.
I guess I should start from the beginning or what I can remember. I remember the Combo vividly, and my memories of it were happy ones, I was a happy and content child. I do think that this was before The Family really went astray as far as children were involved and their upbringing. Anyway, I remember that the Combo shutdown sometime around September/October 1985, and that we moved into this home with Isaiah from New Zealand and his children and then to another home with a Canadian couple with a lot of children, and then shortly after to Hat Yai. I think that this was when the problems started. It must have been late 1986 by this time, and we were living in this home with French John & Meekness and my parents. From this point forward, my whole life just somehow continued to get worse and worse, I do not know why but I was always getting in trouble, always doing something wrong, and had turned into some problem child. I have asked my mother what happened and why everything just went downhill at this time, and she says that I just stopped listening to anyone and just did my own thing and turned from being a lovely child into a problem child. Now I am sure that anyone who remembers me from The Family, at any time will have a totally different story to tell than me, but this is just life from my perspective. I remember that we started getting visits from people around this time, and everything just seemed to be getting stricter and stricter, for example we had always been allowed to play outside and be quite free and just were allowed to have fun, but everything somehow started to change. After we had been in Hat Yai for about a year I think, we moved to Bangkok to a home called the "RC" (Reception Centre). I was now 7 years old I think and things had not gotten better, and also I had very poor health at this time which also made things very difficult. I remember that it was at this time that we were no longer allowed to sleep in our parents room, and remember how I used to demand this and how unfair I thought it was, but this was just an example of how The Family was tightening up.
I am not sure of exactly how long we were at the "RC" but it must not have been long before we moved to a new home called the "SC" (Service Centre) and it was there that things changed completely with the "School vision". I don't have much to say about this home before the School vision took effect completely but I will continue from that point.
The School Vision.
I remember that we were all called together for a big meeting where there was to be a big announcment. We were told that we were all the children from all over the country were to be grouped together in different homes and that there were to be 4 different groups. JeTTS (11-13/14), Junior JeTTS (10-11), Belwethers (8 - 10) and Super Dupers (6 - 8). I was 8 years old at the time and was put in the Belwether group. I was very happy to hear that we would be remaining in the same home, but this home was not going to be selah anymore, and also that my mother was to be one of the Belwether teachers which m I was put on temporary silence restriction and spanked heavily on multiple occasions, I was called in for a meeting with the "Home shepherds" and my parents. I already knew that I was in big trouble, although I do not know what for but I was called into the meeting and it was explained to me that my mouth was like a sewer and that it was not possible to let me influence all of the other children constantly, so I was being put on permanent silence restriction and that I would have to wear a sign saying "I am on Silence Restriction, and something to the effects of I'm dangerous, don't talk to me". I cannot remember the exact wording, and that I was to wear a mask as a sign to everybody of my spiritual illness. I can still remember the feeling of utter despair when I was told of this as I was also told that I would not be allowed to speak to anyone but "David" who was one of the Belwether shepherds, but we'll go into more detail regarding him later.
After a couple of days, David had handsown a white mask for me which I was to wash daily and wear at all times. This totally shattered my self respect as I was a sort of natural leader and it was easy to get other children to follow what I thought was cool and funny and all of a sudden I was the laughing stock of the group. I remember that one time I hid the mask because I could not bear wearing it and David improvised quickly and tied a large diaper around my mouth which was really even worse and told me that I would be spanked hard if I did not find it (which I of course did very quickly). I remember at this time that I acted even worse and tried to do things to draw attention to myself and just act like a idiot because I was already portrayed as one and at least maybe I could get the other children to laugh with me when I defied the teachers and did things that they would not dare do but of course this only made matters worse for me.
About two months had passed, and the leadership had decided that the Belwether group were to move to Chonburi. This meant that I would be moving away from my parents for the first time, and we were to get to see our parents once a month which was of course very difficult but since everybody else was doing the same thing I guess that made it easier. Well, with all the moving going on and all the changes my Silence Restriction somehow got forgotten. I stopped wearing my mask and nobody seemed to say anything about it, and I think I even stopped wearing my sign and thought that everybody had forgotten about it and that the mask had gotten lost somehow, but oh was I wrong. When we moved to Chonburi, a few days later David called me in and explained to me that I was like a cut that had healed but still was full of dirt and impurities and that it would need to be re-opened in order for it to heal completely. I then knew exactly what he was talking about and my heart sunk. He produced the mask and the sign which I thought had been lost and told me that I was back on Silence Restriction and everything would continue as it was before the move.
This was absoutely horrifying for me. I was in a new home with new people which I did not know and was walking around with this horrible mask and sign on. I started contemplating suicide and one time I opened a bottle of AJAX and tried to eat loads of it but nothing happened.
I watched as others were put on silence restriction, and taken off very quickly, and had decided at this point that I really needed to work on my problems (my NWO's) (need work ons) and started trying to write really detailed OHR's (Open Heart Reports) about how I was learning all these lessons and was really getting the victory, but nothing seemed to happen, I was still on silence restriction and still wearing my mask. I then gave up hope completely and started to do really idiotic things just to draw attention to myself, I used to walk up the stairs like a spastic and just do stupid things. One time during "Word Class" I had requested to use the bathroom which was denied but I really needed to. I waited and waited but I knew if I would run off then I would be spanked so I decided to shock them and pee all over the floor,.. I know this is disgusting but I was happy with myself for having shocked them because I could see that it had some effect on them.
After a month or so of my antics, David had a "chat" with me and explained that my name (John Paul) was too proud of a name for me and that I was to be called "John" from then on. This was so strange for me because my name is John Paul and not John. This was to me similar to calling "Simon" "Si" because "Simon" is "too proud". I remember that I found this very difficult and when I told my parents about it, they found it absolutely ridiculous, but somehow we weren't supposed to tell our parents about what was going on at Belwether camp, everything that happened was all a part of our training.
Anyway, one time when we went back to visit our parents, I refused to go back and just was not going to, no matter what anyone said, but I was spanked and thrown in the car to be sent back to Belwether school.
I eventually got taken off Silence Restriction on the 14'th of December 1989, and I remember this date so well because I engraved it into a tree on the property, it was such a meaningful day in my life.
After a little while we were all informed that we were being sent back home because of "persecution" which was the raid at the Training Centre in Bangkok. I was so happy to be able to go back to the SC without the "Belwether group" and life was actually quite nice for a while.
End of part I
(in part II I will write about my move to Junior JeTT school)
Re: My life in The Family part I From: SSam to John Paul Date: 30 Apr 2001 Time: 22:39:18 Comments I believe that what you have done here is one of the most important things that could happen on these boards. It's your point of view. It's your story, and you have tactfully left out emotional tirades, and kept it quite factual, and explanatory, which adds to the devastating effect it has. WHat a great thing for other young people to read. My hat's off to you, bro. Way to go. It's sad, but needed, and a big help to many. It sounds so different when put into words, and without all the hype of "damage control" teams. You have done a good job. GOd bless you, and give you your heart's desires. Don't give up on Him! That's the worst thing about many young people who leave with good reason. They see the craziness, and decide that it's a result of christianity instead of what it really is. A bad trip!