"Half way threw my junior year of high school I was introduced to xenos by a close friend. At first everything seemed fine and normal for a “Christian” youth group. The only odd thing I noticed was that the leaders were allowing underage students to smoke all forms of tobacco, which is how I started smoking at the age of 16. In one of houses that xenos rents for its younger members there was a room dedicated to hookah and was a place for leaders and high school students to sit down and smoke. If we didn’t smoke in that room then me and another student would go out around midnight to go to a hookah bar that didn’t I.d. The leaders never really seemed to care that two 16/17 year olds would leave the house that late regardless of the recent muggings in the area. This was my usual weekend after the first month of being in xenos."
"So I had numerous experiences with Xenos, both directly involving me, or through close friends that were mentally and emotionally abused. Between middle school and high school I tried going to several different groups, based on which friend had invited me. My parents were okay with me trying this out, because my church youth group was rather small, and they felt that this would be a good way to connect with “Christian” friends. The first that that struck me as odd (even as a freshman in high school at this point) was that after the Central Teaching, kids would gather on the back deck and smoke. Some of them had alcohol concealed in some not so discreet bottles. The adults running the function proceeded to carry on like none of this was happening, acting as if it was totally normal to have 15 year olds smoking on their property."
"Forgot to add, the ministry leaders at one of the houses are buying alcohol and giving alcohol to their underage roommates that are 18-19 years old."
"One night, our cell groups went out to Suzie Cue to play pool. I was still having trouble finding a way to drink without being drunk, but everyone was drinking and I loved the camaraderie (that's also why I started smoking and continued to smoke cigarettes for a year after I left), so I did shots with a few people. I tried to make friendly conversation with my ex-boyfriend – nothing inappropriate, just “how have you been” and he looked at me with absolute coldness, simply disgusted, and asked me to stop talking to him. This killed me. He was my friend before we dated and now he was disgusted with my presence. It hurt. One of our outreach guys, fresh out of “fringe people” (lingo: “fringe person” is what you call someone who is on the edge-ish of the group – comes to some meetings but doesn't live in the house YET and probably doesn't come to the more intimate weekly Bible study – cell group – that consists only of other committed members of the same sex OR has JUST started coming to that exclusive group on a trial basis – like in this dude's case), had been sort of flirtatious with me the entire night. I was drawn to this warmth after my ex had been so cold, and I found him physically attractive, so when he invited me to get pizza after everyone was ready to leave, it felt good and I went. You could say it felt good and I “gave into my flesh,” and I would say that you’re right in Xenos terms and I am so so so glad I had my first very conscious lapse in commitment, because it got me to where I am today. We ended up going to another bar, drinking, and making out. I don't remember how I told everyone about this happening. I think I confessed it to that intimate all-female study group. Everything gets hazy around this time because I fucking LOST IT after this, as a lot of the girls did not trust me anymore and they were very direct about this."
"There are a ton of heavy smokers (college population) and drinkers (all adult ages) at this church. Adults drink DURING the central teachings. The high school and college home churches are loaded with smokers. The church has made it known that they are fine with smoking and drinking (because they know they can't be too strict) but are very NOT okay with sex- because that's a bad, bad sin to them."
"They did tons of fun things to keep me interested and happy. Trips to new orleans, North Carolina for a week in a big ass nice beach house. Some weekends we would go camping or something like that. We would play beer pong all the time. They got me smoking cigarettes. There was always something to do. But then it started taking over my life. The girl who took to me in high school had become my discipler and we would meet a couple times a week to talk about what I was doing for god. If I didn't spend enough time reading or studying the Bible she would get on me. It got to the point where I had no time to actually study my school work because I had to focus on god. I failed out of college. I was pretty much living off my student aid and lost it because my grades were bad. I started going to my mom's house to study. Then they got on me about spending time with my family and how I needed to bring them to church too. I had to move out of the house because I had no money coming in. I left after that. Slowly quit going to meetings. They harassed me for months about how I wasn't coming anymore. Finally I told them I was smoking weed and they left me alone because weed was not cool."
"I prefer to remain anon but my here’s my experience: I grew up in the church, going to the Xenos schools. We had Bible class where we were “preparing to go into the world” (high school). I transferred into the high school group eventually, and even when I thought I was most involved it wasn’t enough for them, they never thought I was ready for a disciples like everyone else. Finally junior year I go to a party with my friend from group, and we drink. She confesses to a leader, and she outs me so I’m bombarded with questions from leaders. Finally I’m sat down and a leader opens a passage in her Bible about “the drunk man” and threatens to kick me out if I do it more. (However now I know the college group is riddled with drunkenness and they drink straight moonshine, obviously not for the taste). So I come out less and less, almost everyday getting texts from everyone in the group about coming to group or hanging out. They catch on to me leaving and move me up to a college group early I went a few times, but ultimately was able to leave. A leader had a talk with me saying I have to choose between “complete dedication” and leaving, so you know what I chose. People still hit me up trying to hang out and stuff. I forgot to add too, when I was in the high school group they literally told me not to hang out with my non-xenos friends, and to hang out more with them. It sucked because I loved people I’d met but they want nothing to do with you once you leave. Everyone is super manipulative and there’s a total hierarchy, there’s such a stigma about people that “walk away” (leave) to stop people from leaving, and they’re looked down upon and dehumanized so much. Thanks!"
"While single, I was questioned many times about sex with my boyfriend and it was like an obsession with them. When engaged, it was the same. We never answered them. The church was known to kick people out for having sex before marriage but yet would not address the drunkeness at homechurch or the gossiping. Everyone knew your business which is why I would never allow myself to be "vulnerable" and disclose all of my personal life. The home church leaders report up to their sphere leaders and share everyone's business. Love bombing is real and It is creepy. This was my experience and very similar to other people I know. This church does do good, the Central Teachings are stellar, especially if you get Gary Delashmutt and I do hear that there are some good home churches there despite the senior leadership. Just beware."