Author’s Note: I would ask folks to read the disclaimer on the front page of my website. The stories on this blog are the sole property of their authors. These people have been abused. They have been traumatized by that abuse. It has affected their whole lives in many harmful ways. They have been silenced for years. They have lived their lives in fear. This said, it is not the intent of this blog to let arguments break out in the comments due to the stories on this blog. As stated on the front page of my website, I do not wish for these victims to be further victimized by harassing comments from those who disagree. One must remember that these are THEIR stories. I will, however, change, with the approval of the author, anything that needs to be changed to ensure peace while still allowing the victim to have his voice. the goal is for victims to have a voice and to tell their stories. This allows for healing. John is being inundated with emails as a result of speaking out. The sad part is that we all want victims to come forward, yet refuse to believe them when they do. Unfortunately, this is the norm for all victims. I have made the appropriate changes to this story, with permission, to save John the harassment and those who read it from attacking him further.
John Brooks’ Story:
My name is John and this is my story …
My Father had a bathtub conversion (after attending a fundamentalist church and taking hallucogenic mushrooms) when I was about 5 years old. It was not long after that “conversion” that we began to attend a church in Torrington, Wyoming and I found myself being indoctrinated into a cult. I was constantly bombarded with how much of a sinner I was and that hell and the devil was waiting for me. I hated going and would feign sick just to get my Mom to stay at home so I wouldn’t have to go to that place. I would have horrific nightmares of the devil and hell. When I went to my first vacation bible school, I was told that I had to accept Jesus or I would surely die. It was terrifying and traumatic and I remember wishing I could just disappear and never be found. About 4 days in, I wished I could be a girl because they got all the treats and all the prizes. Little did I know that they were being groomed for a life in hell.
About a year later that pastor left and a new pastor came in. He was a lot more liberal and it was the first time I had ever heard Christian rock. I was ecstatic for once! I felt that I had found something that I could enjoy. This elderly lady got up in the middle of them playing and shouted “If you can’t play well then play loud!” I was appalled.
Unfortunately, my Dad got a transfer to work in Douglas Wyoming. So, off we went and within a week we had found “the right one” (church). I was again thrust into a hell fire and brimstone Bible- banging Baptist Church. I was seven years old and the preacher’s wife was not going to let “her precious children go to hell”, so, I had to go up front and beg God to save me. I was seven years old! I did not understand anything except the fact that I did not want to die and go to hell. I was scared to death.
Often, they would bring in evangelists and their families to have revivals. One story that I remember well was the one an Evangelist told about a Dad and his son who were working in the fields with a combine. The little boy slipped and fell into the combine and was torn apart. As he lay dying, he told his father that he had been going to church behind his Father’s back and that he had asked Jesus to save him last week. His Father began to weep and told his son that his grandfather had been a preacher but, he had walked away from them and started his own life with God. The Father began to weep and asked God to save his son and that he would give his life back to God. But alas, to no avail, the child died in his Father’s arms. The Father then went to the church and re-dedicated his life to God.
When I heard this story, I began to cry uncontrollably and my mother had to take me outside just to calm me down. I was devastated for that child and his family! I was not needing to be born again. The preacher came out and told my mother it was the Spirit of God moving in me. It was the heart of a child feeling sorrow for the death of another!
As the years progressed, I was forced to go to summer camp at Camp Grace by Wheatland. I was forced to learn verses and recite them or I didn’t eat. I was belittled as I was a small child and much smaller than any of my peers. The older counselors would take my clothes and run them up the flag pole as punishment for not doing their bidding. On more than one occasion I was instructed by the counselors to become a preacher as that would be all I would be able to do with my life as I was so small.
A friend of mine was told that because his Father had died in a oilfield on a Sunday and was not in church, that he was “burning in hell” for not going to church like a “good christian” should do! My friend was devastated and I remember him crying all night long. I tried to console him, but it was to no avail. I hated camp and would beg my Mother not to send me, but my Father had other ideas, and not going wasn’t an option.
By the 9th grade, I was informed that we were no longer going to public school and instead, were starting a private christian school and that we would be taught in “God’s way, not the way of the world”. This began my “training”. I would become a missionary or preacher and this was to be my fate, no free will, no deciding what God’s plan for me was. It was simple. I was to be a preacher or missionary; nothing else! This is what the church, Youth Pastor, Deacons and Pastor had decided for me. I was furious!!
It was at this point that I began to rebel and secretly fight the system. I would be their little preacher when they were looking and a demon when they weren’t! I was told to find a girl from the church and they would set her up to be my wife when she was old enough. I had no choice other than to pick one of the girls in my younger sister’s class and they would do the rest. I would take certain girls to the side and have them come over for sleepovers with my sister so that I could decide which girl I liked the most.
In tenth grade, I began to work at a hotel and found out what the real world was like! I loved it!! One night as I was leaving, I was asked to come back and work a banquet that evening. I knew it was a Wednesday night and my Father would be furious but, I accepted. The night went well and I made over $100 in tips. It was the most money I had ever made and I was overjoyed! This was short lived as the very next day my Father was called into church from work and I was accused of prostituting the teenage girls at the banquet! I was blown away! My Father came home and began to beat me until my Mother begged him to stop! I had bruises from the top of my back to the souls of my feet. I asked through my tears and pain what I had done wrong and was told. I was also told that I was not allowed back into church until I went forward on Sunday and confessed to my sins in front of God and the world! I refused and was beat yet again! Finally, I agreed to go. By that Saturday, the truth came out. The Youth Pastor’s wife and one of the teachers admitted to lying about me after one of the new converts had seen me at the store on Friday and asked me what happened. I told her what they were saying about me. She was appalled and went to the Pastor to tell him what really happened. I went forward that Sunday and re-dedicated my life to God. Within a month, the Youth Pastor and his wife were asked to leave to pastor a new church and the teacher was moved to another school in another state. Nothing ever happened to the Youth Pastor’s wife or the teacher.
Life at the Christian School was a nightmare. We were constantly under intense scrutiny and forced to do ungodly amounts of homework “to catch up” on our godly training. We were under fear of the Principle and the Pastor because when we messed up, we got “the board of education” applied; a paddle with holes in it. The Pastor saw one of them when he went and taught school at Maranatha Bible School. We hated that thing with a passion! And to add insult to injury, our Parents were notified as well and then they also gave us beatings. You know the “spare the rod spoil the child” saying went a long way here. I lived in constant fear and hated my life. Many times I would BEG God to kill my Dad or Mom or even me!
I hated school! We were told that Lester Roloff’s homes were a possibility for those that did not “conform” to their ways. They even went as far as bringing Lester and his group of reconverted bad kids up to have a revival with us. It was horrible! I had to share my room with this teenager from New York who had been in a rock band and was sent by his folks to the home. He begged me to help him run away but I was so scared of being caught that I refused. But, I promised to never tell anyone about our conversation. And I haven’t until now.
As the college tour groups came through to perform and recruit, I felt the call to go to Pillsbury Baptist College and was welcomed with open arms by the President of the College. But, I was told “NO! YOU ARE GOING TO HYLES ANDERSON!!! You will be a Preacher or Missionary !! NOT a laymen from Pillsbury!!” I graduated from High School and for the first time, I felt freedom.
It was a few weeks later that we moved to Denver and started attending another Baptist Church. My brother was almost molested there, but I managed to stop it and was abruptly asked to leave the service immediately.
After the “incident”, we decided that South Sheridan Baptist was a better fit for us, so we left Mile High. South Sheridan brought on a whole new array of problems that I was not ready for. My Father decided that if I were going to go to college that I needed to get a job and work. Work meant that I would go and earn money to go to college not for things I thought I needed. So, I went to work. A few weeks before I was to leave for college, I was told that Jack Hyles was coming and wanted to meet the new batch of students that this “wonderful church ” was sending his way. So, I met the “Great Preacher and soul winner” Jack Hyles. He spoke as if I would be his right hand man at the school and I would be well taken care of!
What a lot of hooie! I was sent on my way and when I got there I was sent to Baptist City to live … no car, no ride, no Hyles, no one, just me, all alone and scared. I was thrown into a room with 5 other guys and one shower. There were no locks so, your things were gone through on a daily basis.
Within the first week, I was told that I would be on the bus route “as this is how young preachers learn the ropes”. I was given my schedule for classes and was told this is what has been planned for you by your Pastor. I was stunned… I had Jorgensen, Coombs, Godfrey and Mrs Moffit as my teachers that were to turn me into a “man of God”. I was also to be Mr. Hyles’ personal helper at church on Wednesday nights and at the conferences. With the buses, I was sent to Joliet, to the bad side of town and into the welfare apartments to find those kids for Christ. I had a gun pulled on me, was chased by a gang and was held against my will by a deranged man and wife for 15 hours until I escaped and caught the Sunday morning bus with a story that I had missed the bus and had to stay at a kids home.
I made it 1 1/2 years at Hyles and then told my Mom I had had it and was coming home! I had seen Jack Hyles coming out of his office and his secretary adjusting her stockings and dress as he zipped his pants up! I knew what was up, and I knew that was not his wife!… I wanted out! I had been propositioned by Mrs ___. for sexual favors to get good grades. She had shown me her panties and flashed me so that I “would feel comfortable with her”. It was very unnerving for me and I began to shake uncontrollably. She let me leave her office and I was to return after the Christmas break to continue my “training”. I ditched her classes after that until I decided to go home. I also got thrown out of Mr. Comb’s class for confronting him about me catching him looking up girls’ skirts as they sat in his class. He was furious with me and that is where I got my 99 demerits for the last semester I was in Hyles Anderson.
So, I got home and was disgraced by the Pastor of my former church as a quitter and a no good useless Christian that would never amount to a hill of beans. Within a few months, I joined the Air Force and found freedom. I became a wild man and dipped into alcohol like it was the last thing on earth! I walked away from Christianity and went crazy! As I was about to leave the Air Force, my mother passed away. It shook me to the core! I became depressed and began to contemplate suicide. I remember my brother’s girlfriend walking in on me getting ready to slit my wrists and she talked me out of it. I became uncontrollable and went into drugs and heavy drinking. The meth and Pot would get me up and the downers, alcohol and Pot would put me to sleep. This went on for a number of years until I was homeless and living in my car on the street. I was a functional drug addict and alcohol abuser. I could work and keep a job and party all night. There were times I would not sleep for 5 or 6 days in a row. Yet I kept on drowning my guilt and losses.
One night, after partying for 4 straight days, I passed out at my friends place. It was a mess and he had to go over the road so, he left me in charge of cleaning and straightening up the mess. I passed out only to be awakened just hours later by a vision. It was my Mother, my Grandmother, and all those who had gone on before. All in one voice saying that “this is not your time” and with that they disappeared. I got up sober and took a long look in the mirror and it was at that point that I told myself no more! NO MORE!! So, here I am, 20 years later, and I have been clean from drugs and have the very occasional drink. But, I am in a better place in my life now no thanks to the Fundie cult!