Eighteen New Stories (9/2/2018)
Story One: "I received total mental and psychological abuse from these people. Not to mention this was the reason I failed college. I was told I could only marry in the church."
My story began like so many others. I was invited to a social event from a class during my first semester in college, started going to meetings, moved into a "ministry" house, started to tithing and taking their "leadership" classes. I'd also like to mention that during this time, I received total mental and psychological abuse from these people. Not to mention this was the reason I failed college, got robbed twice, had to live in three different houses (one of which we were encouraged to keep quiet about squatting in since the landlord didn't know we were living there and we couldn't switch the utility bills in our names in the dead of the polar vortex of Jan-Feb [ . . . . ]) had to totally denounce other religions or views of the Bible, homosexuality, the positive effects of medicinal marijuana, abortions, buying myself anything that wasn't a necessity and told I could only marry in the church while still be a member and in order to get married that I should lose weight so I wouldn't look gluttonous, since that's a sin and all, just like all the others mentioned.
During this time, I became more and more indoctrinated obviously. I liked the feel of the home churches and the community since I had little to no college friends. I slowly began falling deeper and deeper not realizing I was being love bombed and preyed on and later deeply manipulated. I have anxiety and depression, which I only learned after I saw a doctor when I left the church. I was so stressed and emotional, my doctor told me I could have a full blown panic attack at any moment. I failed and had to drop several classes since I never had time to study when I wasn't in meetings and working 30 hours a week. Unlike many of the college kids from Westerville, my parents didn't pay my phone bill, car insurance, car note, give me spending money, etc. I was overworked all the time, never slept well while I was in the church. Had to bunk beds since I had a queen.
Do to being in home churches that grew and split, I had to move 5 times from June of [ . . . . . ] to March of [ . . . . ]. 5 times of moving my bed and clothes from one mice infested, rotting, flooding, cold in winter and hot in summer, unsecure house to the next. Never had a say in the matter. Never had a say in where I was going. Living on 10th Avenue during that time wasn't a very safe place for anyone, no matter the gender in the daytime or nighttime.
A few years after I joined I had to merge with what they call a "sphere leader." This is someone that teaches their big CT meetings and gets paid to teach by the church. The guy I was following made $70K a year, had a nice house in Upper Arlington, plenty of money tucked away for his family while once bragging to me that he was excited to get a raise and loved not having to pay taxes. This is a leader in their church mind you who everyone there thought was a walking reincarnation of Jesus himself.
Every negative thing you've heard from this church is true. They admire more what Paul wrote in the Bible than they really did Jesus. I would say that 80% of the Bible verses they make you memorize is from Paul and the other 20% is what Jesus said and taught or other Bible verses from the Old Testament. If you want to learn about the Bible from an absolutist point of view then this is the church for you. Or, if you want to explain to people when you leave this church that your feet would turn black from walking in these houses two steps from getting out of a shower, or that you had to use some spy program called Covenant Eyes that your church leaders used to see what you were looking at online since you couldn't be trusted or that being in this church is the most important thing over your family, friends, college and career, then this is the church for you.
Story Two: "They ask you to hang out and have drinks but when you get there you are sucked into a bible study."
I somehow always manage to get caught up with Xenos people. They ask you to hang out and have drinks but when you get there you are sucked into a bible study. Nobody wants to shake hands, they want hugs. They want to know everything about you. I made the mistake of telling someone I have a baby... but I didn't know she was in xenos until we got back to her place to hang out.
She told everyone I have a baby. They tried to tell me that I should put my baby up for adoption because I'm single mom. and then they proceeded to try and show me pictures of DEAD BABIES. They tried to make me feel wrong about being a mother. I was so scared. I got out of there quickly. That experience has messed me up and I feel like I cant trust or hang out with anyone anymore.
The reason Anne Marie Smith closed the blog "Parents Against Xenos" is because [ Xenos Elder ] told her that if she ever blogged about Xenos again, that he would kill her.
Story Four: "They went from love bombing to completely shunning him. It really messed up his mind and ruined his confidence"
My son wanted to kill himself after leaving Xenos. He was a member for 2 years. He lived in a ministry house the second year. Xenos installed surveillance software on his laptop and phone that tracked every keystroke and website visited. His leader would him to justify websites he'd visited. His leader also encouraged him to drop out of college so he'd have more time for ministry activities. He did drop out and spent all day every day doing Xenos activities.
When he started to catch on to how controlling Xenos is, his leader told him that If he left Xenos then god would hate him. It took him months to make the decision to finally move out of the ministry house and quit Xenos. When he did, he was completely shunned. All of his Xenos 'friends' refused to talk to him. They went from love bombing to completely shunning him. It really messed up his mind and ruined his confidence. It's been almost 3 years, he's back in college and has new friends, but he's still very distrustful of people. He thinks friends are only nice to him because they want something and that they'll shun him if he doesn't make them happy. His depression when he left Xenos was devastating
Story Five: "They want to rule lives and disguise it as trying to spread the word of god."
I entered the Xenos world when I was 16. This was back in 2007. I started going to home church and honestly I loved it. Eventually I met a guy through the church. He was in the college group. We started dating and I slowly transitioned to the college home group. When I left the high school group, they all kinda distanced themselves and talked badly about me behind my back.
After a year and a half of dating this college person, we had sex. We lost our virginity to each other. Soon after they started questioning us and eventually my boyfriend told them we had sex. He lived in the ministry house so he was immediately kicked out. I was allowed to keep coming to meeting but everybody who I had grown close to and looked up to stopped talking to me as much. I got pulled aside multiple times to be scolded about “straying from my walk with God.” They made me break up with my first love. And even to this day, they don’t talk to, or associate with me. I was being sexually abused by my father through all of this and all they cared about was me not abiding by their harsh rules. They want to rule lives and disguise it as trying to spread the word of god. I have PTSD from what my father did to me, but sadly I have PTSD from what Xenos did to me.
Story Six: "The marvelous, wonderful person that you loved like crazy is gone--- and someone else is standing right there in front of you, in their body."
When Xenos brainwashes your child, it's like a death. The marvelous, wonderful person that you loved like crazy is gone--- and someone else is standing right there in front of you, in their body. Someone who now hates you, constantly judges you, is extremely manipulative, and repeatedly hurls terrible insults at you--- someone who encourages the grandchildren to pray for you, because you "don't have Jesus in your heart" and won't be in Heaven with the rest of them--- someone who sets up your grandchildren to proselytize to you.
Story Seven: "I married super young to a guy there that was physically abusive and the leaders kept telling me to stay with him."
It was weird that all the testimonies at their baptisms were about Xenos and the people in Xenos instead of God.
I married super young to a guy there that was physically abusive and the leaders kept telling me to stay with him. I finally left him anyways and didn't listen to leaders and the others but most everyone was on his side because he did not want me to divorce him. They were not ok with the divorce until he confessed that he cheated on me. Only then was it biblically acceptable for me to be allowed to divorce but it was still frowned upon. The better decision would have been to stay in the marriage even though the person I was married to was not changing and dangerous.
Story Eight: "Xenos is a cult and I encourage anyone who is thinking about going there to tread careful or just don’t do it. They will brainwash you."
I used to be a part of a Xenos college group for a number of years. I officially left a little over 5 years ago and it was probably the best decision I could have made for myself.
My experience started out fine and dandy. I like the term “love bombed” someone used on the actual website. I felt a part of something great. I had friends I thought I could be myself around and count on. I struggled with anger issues and was not getting along with my mom and sisters very well. Anytime I talked about it with girls in my group they would encourage me to distance my relationship with my mom specifically which really made me feel weird. Like that’s my mom. We may not see eye to eye all the time but I still love her and can count on her.
About 2 years into the group I started dating someone from another group and that was fine. We really liked each other. A few months into that relationship a leader in my group and one other girl started saying things like you need to break up with him, he’s not spiritual enough for you to the point that I actually believed so and did. In the back of my mind though I kept thinking who are they to judge who is spiritual enough and began to regret what I did. A few months later at a beach trip the guy and I talked it out and got back together secretly.
A few months after the guy and I got back together my best friend at the time was caught doing things she shouldn’t be doing by Xenos standards. The home church had a big meeting in which we basically gave her an intervention and if she chose not to listen she was to be excommunicated from the group. I was brainwashed and started throwing out bible verses to her trying to get her to stay. In the end she chose she no longer wanted to be a part of the group so she was asked to leave. At the end of that night they held a communion because what else is there to do after a member decides to leave? I stayed friends with the girl on Facebook and liked one of her posts. One of the leaders saw that I did this and sent me a text in all caps (yelling) at me that I can’t show her any kind of support or have any kind of communication with her because that’s not how God wanted it. She had to come to us repent full. This is where I really started to feel weird. I was like uh, I just liked a Facebook status...? Ok. Right around that time a girl I worked with was looking for a new roommate and I was looking to escape so we moved in together. The girls I lived with tried to get me to stay, saying things like it will affect your walk with God if you leave and blah blah blah. I was firm on my decision and left saying I wasn’t planning on leaving the group just that I could not keep living with them. But of course I started not showing up any more. A few months after I left I thought I’d give the group one more try. I really missed the teachings and the people I thought were my friends so I showed up one night with the encouragement from one of the girls. And it was that night that was my last because I had 2 of the girls approach me on separate occasions asking me what my intentions were for being there. Um what?! Why do I need intentions to come grow my relationship with God? I was so offended that I said screw this and never went back. I lost a lot of people I thought were friends. It took awhile for me to trust people again and make new lasting friendships. I was also turned off from God and church after my experience. I still believed that there was a God but I didn’t want to go to church again. About 2 years ago my now husband and I started going to a new church and I opened up to one of the pastors about my experience with Xenos. I even emailed him one day and said we would not be able to make the class we were taking because of wedding stuff. His response was wonderful. He said that’s ok, God doesn’t judge your attendance record. That was the biggest relief to hear because if you miss a meeting at Xenos then you must have something wrong with you.
Xenos is a cult and I encourage anyone who is thinking about going there to tread careful or just don’t do it. They will brainwash you.
Story Nine: "But the homegroups? Oh my gosh. They are awful. The drama and the treatment of home group members is terrible. You are SO close with this group of people. It starts out great and then the judging begins"
All the stories about Xenos have very similar elements but mine is a bit different because I'm a happy married, not isolated or depressed older woman. I first began going to Xenos in 2003. It started with just going to CTs by myself. My husband doesn't go to church. After a few months, I started bringing our daughters to the OASIS programs. I joined a home group that merged and split several times, always a weird painful process. There was never any contact with the people who split off, even if I considered them to be "good friends". There was always just weird stuff going on. One time a leader had a big whiteboard with the name of every "regular" member of the group on it and beside their name, the number of people who they had brought as guests to our group. The people who had brought very few, if anyone, were called out in front of everyone and admonished for their lack of outreach. With one split, I was going to go to the group that was led by the leader who I'd considered to be one of my closest friends but she came over to my house and told me privately that I was not welcome to come to this new group because it was for couples only and my husband did not come with me. This group was meeting very close to my house. I was SO hurt. It was awful. She always avoided me after that when we'd run into each other. So I started going to another group that met over in Gahanna because my best friend had chosen that group. The man that led THIS group was horrible. He was on a major power trip, being leader of this bible study home group. He loved to confront people so seriously over their sins, their words and actions. Meanwhile, per his wife, he struggled with his own pornography addiction and treated her terribly when no one was around. She couldn't leave because she was on disability and didn't have enough money to afford to live on her own.
I left this group after only a few months. I didn't go to a group again for another 2 years or so then joined Jim Leffel's home group. I was with this group for about a year and, truth be told, it was everything a group SHOULD be. Jim and the other leader were really laid back. Very chill. No one in the group every called out anyone for their problems as had been the case with the other leaders. I actually really liked this one a lot but they met Friday nights at 8pm, teachings started at 9 for about an hour and then by the time it wrapped up it was close to 10:15-10:30 and they'd sit around and drink, hang out, etc.... It was really fun and relaxed but as a married mom with a spouse who had NO interest in coming, I just didn't like the hours! So I stopped. Within a year, I'd met another lady, this time thru one of my now college aged daughters and she invited me to HER group. I didn't start going right away, not wanting to get pulled back in but this group was a small group of people around my own age who had been in groups that had split, merged or fallen apart and they'd had nowhere to go so they started their own group. None of the people who did the group teachings were actually certified and it was an independent group. It was really great for a good year or so and then cracks began to show. One couple left to go join an "official" Xenos group and others began making noises that they wanted a "real" certified xenos leader so they could volunteer and do stuff at church. You can't volunteer for ANYTHING or do ANYTHING at Xenos unless you're in a homegroup.
The women in the group, there were about 8 of us, were really pretty close. They had all known each other for years. I was the new person. One evening, right before a meeting, one of them pulled me into a side room and started crying, saying she was jealous of my close friendship with her sister - the woman who'd invited me to the group to begin with, the one who knew my daughter. She said she was hurt and upset that we'd hung out without her. It was all very weird to me. I sat thru the home group meeting and then left. I never returned because the meetings were at her house and I was just very uncomfortable. I sent her an email telling her how it was ridiculous. We are freaking adults....MATURE AGED adults!...and this just felt like high school. Over the year, I tried numerous times to hang out with her - we'd been quite close, too, but she wouldn't go anywhere with me. No lunch. No shopping. After a year, I just quit. Her sister, the original one who'd brought me, couldn't understand it either. Our friendship fell apart, too. That was the last straw for me. I quit the church. I still enjoy the teachings, listening online once in awhile and I visit the library on occasion to pick up some books. But the homegroups? Oh my gosh. They are awful. The drama and the treatment of home group members is terrible. You are SO close with this group of people. It starts out great and then the judging begins. Not too much really happened to me but the stress of what I'd witnessed towards so many others over the years took its toll. I thank God my husband never came to anything because he helped me when I quit. It literally took me about 6 months to a year to feel better about myself and to trust other people. I joined another church, got really involved and met some really great people, all at a mainstream church that Xenos frowns upon. This church is totally committed to serving God within our community and in the world 10x more then Xenos every will. I'm very happy to have left.
On an aside, I mentioned at the beginning of this story that I'd brought our kids to the OASIS program when I first began going. They each have their own story. One stayed long enough to move into a college ministry house for about a year. Two others quit in high school. There stories are all the same as everyone else's. It is great at first and then, once in, the weirdness begins. As teens and young adults, they felt like they were in a group in which they fit in, they had great friends, etc...and then came the weird stuff about who they could date, who they should consider friends (no one outside of Xenos, having to attend all these different meetings during the week, the hypocrisy with the leaders, etc...) All of them left the church and only one followed me over to my current church. The others are so burned by Xenos that they don't trust ANY church at this point. I pray that changes.
I still get emails of Xenos newsletters and I see many of the top, original elders are retiring or semi-retiring. I have heard through the grapevine that the place is losing members, that the youth program is not nearly as big as it once was. I think so many people have experienced this negative side of Xenos that the word has gotten out - certainly among people my age as well as with people who are now young adults. To stay away from it. I just know, from years and years of reading my Bible every day, still to this very day, that Xenos has become its own worst enemy. The leaders and elders have allowed it to disintegrate and become the very thing they preach against. They do not love. They are not like Christ. I believe it is just a matter of time until it collapses and is no more.
Story Ten: "Beware. They have over a hundred houses on campus, plus own and operate many other organizations under different names. I wish I had listened to family who warned me about xenos from the start. Would have saved a hell of a lot of pain and heartache."
I started going to the college group when I was a senior in high school. I remember thinking how cool and progressive they were: I mean they all smoked and drank... my underage self included.
I knew a couple people from my old church who had started going before me... they were the ones who brought me out. By the time I graduated I immediately moved into a ministry house. I look back on that time as a blur. Within a couple months of me living in a house my best friend was brought before our entire Homechurch and excommunicated. I being his best friend was manipulated into coming down hard on him. It was horrible. I still have nightmares about that night.
I started dating a non Christian who was a coworker, and had to hide it the entire time. One night we had both left work holding hands when all of a sudden Everyone of my roommates were in front of us blocking our way. They told me that I was in sin and needed to end it with him or get kicked out.... I told them I did but we still dated in secret. I eventually left the house church etc. but I never fully lost contact.
Years later after an accident I was pulled back in. They would bring me out to meetings and retreats... so I fell in love with it all again. I was extremely lonely and down at this point in my life, as my accident had left me disabled and scarred.
I was taken under the wings of an extremely possessive and controlling discipleship relationship. She would berate me, talk down to me, reduce me to tears daily... and over all broke me down. She talked bad to everyone around me. When I got engaged to a man from another Homechurch she flipped. Told me how it wasn’t right, how I wasn’t ready, and how it wasn’t in god's plan. She did everything to stop me and him from having a successful marriage. But much to her extreme disappointment we followed through with the wedding. ( Side note we are still married and she is still talking crap)
Me and my family left a couple years ago. It was down to a decision about what was right for our family or the Homechurch. Our family’s needs won.
I without a doubt believe this isn’t a church. It’s a cult. It preys on the weak and lonely and vulnerable under the guise of God. It makes you choose between family and roommates. My husband remembers the good times... and I have learned not to call xenos a cult in front of him.
Beware. They have over a hundred houses on campus, plus own and operate many other organizations under different names. I wish I had listened to family who warned me about xenos from the start. Would have saved a hell of a lot of pain and heartache.
Story Eleven: "The children underwent personality changes and turned against anyone in the family who was the most outspoken against Xenos."
Xenos brainwashed two of my minor children, young teenagers in the early years of high school, against the consent of their parents. The children underwent personality changes and turned against anyone in the family who was the most outspoken against Xenos. Brainwashing minor children, especially against the stated wishes of their parents, should be a felony. This has completely ruined our family. People who do this should be treated as the predators that they are.
When I would tell my daughter that she couldn't go to Xenos, there was an adult woman, the mother of young children, who would call and offer to drive my teenage daughter to Xenos after I had firmly told my minor child that she could not go. I wonder how many other families this woman has interfered with over the years. I know her name.
Xenos wanted to take my teenage minor child on a "mission trip" to a foreign country on another continent when she was still in high school. I managed to hold them off. When she was 18 and old enough to move into a ministry house, I had no legal way to stop her. Or Xenos.
Story Twelve: "[ . . . . . . ] fondled women. Dodd Hall is a rehabilitation hospital, which means that these women were among the most vulnerable. His home church leader, now an elder, Scott Risley did not report the crimes."
There were meetings every couple of weeks after college central teachings that were basically pray away the gay meetings. They weren’t called that, but everyone knew what was going on. Since they met RIGHT after CT, everyone in the group was outed.
Why no one talks:
Almost as soon as you’re in, they start talking about what kind of person badmouths a church. The only people who do are those who are unwilling to admit their own failings and sin. They talk about their reputation and how that is stronger than a few dissatisfied people gossiping. It’s like an abusive man grooming his wife before the more extreme abuse starts, sowing the seeds of doubt that anyone will believe you.
Then the elders, like Dennis McCallum and Scott Risley will go onto forums where people are talking about their experiences with Xenos to discredit them. They say that they’re angry, bitter and never were willing to face their sin, take criticism, were anti-social, wanted to have sex.
Scott has done this to me, even saying that my story would have more weight if my husband agreed with me.
So, people leave and they don’t talk. By the time we leave, much like any victim of abuse, we’re totally broken down. The Christmas after we left, a friend on the internet was living in Minnesota after her husband left her. She had holes in her shoes and there weren’t going to be presents for the kids. I sent messages to people in the web community we were involved in the make sure everyone had what they needed. I’d meant to stay anonymous, but she found me out. She thanked me and told me that I was very caring.
I cried. I’d spent the last 10 years hearing how selfish I was. I only cared about myself. I was a bad wife, a bad mother, a bad home church member bc I didn’t care about anybody or anything unless it benefited me. Now, I don’t even know who this person they were talking is. She’s not real. She’s a figment of their demented imaginations.
Every time that I had conflict with someone, it would always get turned around and end up being my fault. In 10 years, I can think of 2 times that someone apologized to me sincerely. The rest of the time, I was over sensitive, expected too much of others and of course, selfish. But, when I hurt another and tried even to just explain myself, I wasn’t submissive to authority or open to hearing about how I affected others.
The summer of 2009, everything really started falling apart. It was becoming really clear to me that I had none of the support that Xenos loves to brag about. My youngest child, we now know is autistic, but she was very difficult. My husband had been out of town for 6 weeks and I got no calls offering help. The only contact I had from anyone, was a demand that I watch another woman’s child. I started thinking about leaving. A couple of months later a typo in a post on Facebook led to such a huge conflict that we had to meet with the other couple for formal resolution. They told me that they didn’t believe my side of the story and spent much of the meeting telling me everything ALL of the women thought about me. Then they turned on my husband. He was antisocial, failed to get a job that allowed him to be completely involved, didn’t keep me inline and was obviously an alcoholic (he’s not).
In the midst of this, [ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ] was excommunicated from our home church. He had brought a prostitute home while his wife was out of town and had sex with her. In their bed. How disrespectful. During the excommunication meeting it was also revealed that while in the college ministries he’d been made to quit his job at Dodd Hall at OSU. He’d fondled women. Dodd Hall is a rehabilitation hospital, which means that these women were among the most vulnerable. His home church leader, now an elder, Scott Risley did not report the crimes.
I started making more concrete plans to leave. Like any abusive situation, you can’t just leave. There’s this idea of cults and cult-like environments that leaving is dangerous. The reality is that you just lose everyone. You lose your support system, your friends, contacts.
One thing that churches that are spiritually abusive, like Xenos, do is manipulate how their members get information. They start by planting seeds about dangerous information. Or, it’s not really reliable if a good Christian organization doesn’t endorse it (unless it has something to do with OSU football, then they don’t want to know the truth, they just want the Buckeyes to keep playing. Seriously, they pray about Buckeye games.) I started making new friends online. Opening up to them about what was going on. I couldn’t quite tell them that I was leaving yet, so I waited for them to encourage me. That gave me the push I needed to be able to go. After an argument between my husband and I where he thought we should seek their advice to resolve it, I finally refused to go back.
It’s taken me 8 years to get “over” Xenos. Every time that I think I’m ok, something crops back up. I see someone or hear a story and the fear and anxiety come flooding back. Xenos would blame it on my unforgiving heart. What it really is, is the result of over a decade of abuse.
Story Thirteen: "I sincerely warn people to stay away from the xenos college group at all costs...you will be discussed, gossiped about and xenos will have a plan for you life that I know you won't agree with until it is too late!"
I spent over 5 years in the xenos college ministry and was a leader..I no longer attend and have opened my eyes to the brainwashing, indoctrination, spiritual abuse, and downright nastiness of the college ministry.
Attend a xenos college group and have you life and beliefs discussed extensively behind your back and without your permission...I call that gossip and slander.
I have a document here that I think is important for people to see, a list coming from a typical xenos college group prayer group that will be emailed out to all members of the group each week. Xenos college groups all have a weekly “prayer” meeting where any new potential convert is discussed extensively. Their beliefs, upbringing, relational status and living situation are all discussed at length with between 15-40 people all at the same time. This is done without the permission or knowledge of the person who is being discussed, since the new potential convert/group member is never invited to the homechurch's prayer meeting. The main point of these meetings is to share with the already established group members... any new potential converts or new potential members who may be showing interest in joining. The intricate details of peoples lives discussed at these prayer meetings a lot of the time was straight up gossip and slander. People bashing/making fun of new potential members beliefs, relational status, upbringing and style of living is downright appalling.
I remember countless times where a new person would show up to homechurch a few times and word would get out that they had a significant other that may be stalling their meeting attendance and growth. We would discuss at these meetings strategies to get the new potential member to breakup/or gain space from their significant other so that they could attend more meetings, looking back it is sickening. The only relationships xenos members approve of is dating within the church... and that a lot of times isn't enough for people there to approve of a relationship. I will save that topic for another post though. Each new potential convert is also assigned a point person/or point people. This means that 1 or 2 maybe 3 people from the group are assigned to this new person to text them, hangout with them, and have extensive conversations with them on a daily/weekly basis...all in hopes that this new person will get more involved with the group. Everything about these prayer meetings and wining new members is very calculated.
These weekly prayer meetings are not the end of discussion surrounding new potential members personal lives. Any new potential member is discussed extensively on a daily basis between people in the homechurch. The more serious a person seemed about becoming part of the group and devoting time to the group the more they are discussed. Within xenos discussing new members and the intricate details of their lives is considered to be a “spiritual conversation”. The word spiritual conversation in xenos is very key to understanding how they operate. A spiritual conversation...a lot of times involving discussing new potential converts is considered with very high regard, something that people strive for. The thing that the college group members don't realize is that if they were to ask the new potential member how they felt about being discussed in front of upwards of 40 people I guarantee they wouldn't be ok with that in any sense. They don't realize that all they are doing is gossiping and slandering another person in the worst way possible...in front of a giant group of people! I sincerely warn people to stay away from the xenos college group at all costs...you will be discussed, gossiped about and xenos will have a plan for you life that I know you won't agree with until it is too late!
·Afif is Luke’s friend from work. He had a good time at home church. His family is Muslim and he believes in God and wants to come back! Pray he comes out and for follow up conversations maybe with Amy in class.
·Joel came out to hear Tommy teach. Joel has been depressed and secluded. Huge answered prayer that he came to group! Joel opened up with Kevin and was honest about his depression. Pray for him to respond to God and spend time with fellowship.
This guy mentioned Joel had been out to one home church meeting and all of the established members are aware of his depression??? xenos groups like to do this often, that being discussing openly within the established group new potential converts/members struggles and difficulties. Never tell anyone there anything personal or the rest of the group will find out at the weekly prayer meeting all about you.
·Erica is Alex’s friend from class. Grew up in church and decided to know God in high school. Seemed like she has made some sort of decision to have God be a part of her life. She liked group and chatting! Pray she comes back
· Eming came out again and enjoyed the relationships. Not quite understanding the teaching due to language barrier. He will probably come back!
· Katie is out of town but still very interested and wanting to come back! Katie and Kimi had a spiritual conversation with Sarah. Pray that more conversations follow and that both girls come to group.
·Steve (biker) came back to group and wants to be committed to fellowship. Pray for clarity if he is a believer or not.
·Robert came out who is Tommy’s friend, he is from 7th day Adventist church. He enjoyed group and seemed to believe in the gospel. Tom is going to church with him. Pray for clarity as to his salvation.
·Sarah is Tommy’s friend from high school, she is a believer and enjoyed group last night
·Audrey liked group but may not be very much interested in God.
·Ben and his girlfriend are having a hard time. But she seems interested in spiritual things! Pray for God to move in her heart and Ben to move forward in his walk.
Xenos college group prayer meetings love discussing details of new potential members/converts dating lives. Why is it necessary to openly discuss relational difficulties with the entire homechurch 30+ people. Would you want details of your dating life discussed with over 30+ people you aren't friends with???
·Dustin and Libby are broken up, Dustin trying to walk with God is hard with a non-Christian girlfriend. Pray that he would be consistent at group. Pray for him to understand the forgiveness of Christ and bind back Satan.
Another prime example of gossip from a xenos prayer meeting. Discussing new potential members who have broken up??? Why is it ok to discuss intricate details of a couples dating life with people who don't know them. This is gossip in its finest form.
·Mitchel is Steve’s friend- pray he can come around!
·Eric Alex friend from Brown- started reading Discovering God!
·Pray for people coming to Black and White, Alex (Maddy’s friend) and Maggie (Amy’s friend).
This is a prayer list that was sent out to over 30 people via email. It is from a weekly prayer meeting that I attended in the past when I was part of the college ministry. The document goes into great detail about new potential converts and new potential members lives.....a total invasion of any individual mentioned here's privacy. There are three very important aspects of the way xenos operates in recruiting new members that are on grand display here in this prayer list, I have put in bold those pertinent posts and will discuss each one. Under certain "prayer requests" I posted a discussion relating to classic xenos tendencies and how they discuss new potential converts/members lives. Important to know: the people in this list that are being prayed for were not in attendance at this prayer meeting and were not forewarned that intricate details of their lives would be discussed with all members of the group at the weekly “cult gossip meeting” oh wait I mean prayer meeting as the xenos folk call it.
Xenos college group parties are huge recruiting events. These are discussed openly at prayer meetings and continually within members of the group. The point being that any “xenos party” is not just a typical party where people have a good time, not its much more sinister. “xenos parties” are recruiting events....a way to convince people to join the cult and submit their lives to the cult.
Story Fourteen: "The emotional disorders I exacerbated during my time at Xenos are fading and I finally think I have a fighting chance at joy and peace in this life."
I'm a former long-term Xenos college group worker with experience and some success in the vast majority of both recognized and behind-the-scenes roles including house leadership, winning people to Christ or into a house, discipleship ministry, student ministry, LTC completion, FCA, servant team functions, etc. across multiple home groups and several ministry houses.
I am here to voice my anonymous support for this website and for the people who have taken the time to post about their experience.
Before I decided to leave the church, I spoke about the abuse problem in the church with one of the elders for about an hour. It was a respectful conversation, and I felt heard and understood, but I found myself disappointed and unsatisfied by the conclusion.
I think it would be interesting to recount for readers of this website, and for those wondering whether Xenos is a place where they would like to join or remain. I felt after the conversation that there was nothing more I could do to contend against what was happening in the college group and I never returned to a Xenos function.
It is not my intent to gossip or slander. I believe this particular elder cares about the well-being of the church, and would have had this conversation with anyone who approached them on it, and would have said more or less the same thing, publically or not. So here's my memory of how it went:
I said that I was not there to complain or vent about my emotional trauma from my time in the college group, although it was ever-present, but rather I wanted to understand how the elder could know about the ongoing claims of abuse in the church and still be able to move forward with leading the church in a positive manner. I also wanted to understand if there were plans to address the problem of abuse, of if the eldership team understood / agreed that there was a problem.
In response, I heard that the church leadership is aware that the structure of the college group can breed conformity, which can then create damaging situations, but that the structure is preferable to leaving the students more open to the dangers of college and it is necessary to give students the opportunity to get their "spiritual feet" under them and stabilize their walk with God. Also, I learned that there would be an effort to mitigate the instances of abuse through increased home-church coaching and follow-up from more experience leaders.
I thought the elder's thoughts here were reasonable and thoughtful, but ultimately out-of-touch with the systemic issues of the college group and how they are affecting the flock. I ended the conversation by saying that I would stand alone, regardless of the eldership, in thinking that we are asking too much of young people and that I intended to look for another church.
In response, I heard that I would be leaving the "cutting-edge" of American Christianity, and that I would not find another place like Xenos, and that many people decide to return after taking such pilgrimages.
Well, it has been about 6 months since I've left and I am doing better than I have in nearly a decade. I believe that the Lord has led me to a much healthier fellowship and I look forward to serving in ways that He brings to me, instead of working so hard to do things for Him within the Xenos structure and being directed by leaders who may or may not be hearing from Him on issues that they claim to be.
The emotional disorders I exacerbated during my time at Xenos are fading and I finally think I have a fighting chance at joy and peace in this life. Also- the physical/mental manifestations of the stress and anxiety that I was enduring in the college group, which developed into a diagnosed sleep disorder, pre-hypertension, and regular stomach pain, have largely been erased and I have been able to discontinue sleeping medication that would've been cognitively harmful in the long-term.
Here are some of my grievances with the manner of thinking expressed by the church elder in our conversation:
· Is believing that your church is "on the cutting edge" of Western Christianity really the truth, or does it perhaps imply a pride that might blind you to the need for a much more radical shift in the culture of the young people in your church?
· During Christ's ministry, do we see him setting up the kinds of limitations on his disciples or followers that we find throughout the Xenos college group in order to "protect them from the world"? At that point does this become overbearing and unnecessary? I think, at Xenos, the problem has crossed far beyond what is reasonable, and into a place of intentional negligence and consistent abuse of pastoral authority, which can be discerned from reading many of the hundreds and hundreds of stories cataloged on this website. Stabilizing a new believer's walk with God is a great thing; enslaving them to an unsustainable lifestyle of essential spiritual work when they likely have no other experience with modern Christianity or fellowship is not so great
· I think that even the attendee of Xenos would have to admit that adherence to the Xenos system is used as a barometer of someone's spiritual aptitude or willingness more often than not, and that people who for whatever reason are not able to live up to the full expectation are seen as lower status or dubious in their faith (I'm thinking here of things like attending the full meeting structure and succeeding in or at least performing outward spiritual works like aggressive evangelism for the "mission", intense sacrifice of time and personal space for "community", and so on). Which early church adhered most closely to such a system for sanctification? How is Xenos not emulating the Galatians more than any other early church?
· How can we be confident that increased home church coaching will mitigate the problems? Is it not possible that the home church coaches themselves are the ones primarily responsible for leading and protecting the disturbing culture? Having looked at the Instagram page for this website, I notice the Equipping Division Coordinator of the church referring to this website as "an insecure kid menacing our workforce". Is this the kind of person that would be able to compassionately recognize legitimate instances of spiritual abuse in the church, and counsel people against them? How about (what I assume to be) a responder to the Equipping Division Coordinator's email, who insinuated that the creator of this website must have done it because his Xbox is busted? I don't know Mark Kennedy personally, and I am not aware of his motivations or gaming habits, but these are not the kind of responses I would want to see from the people responsible for shepherding a church away from its current reputation in the city as a quasi-cult. There is also a lot of evidence on the Resources page of this website that certain high-profile Xenos leaders have been making a mockery out of abused people for over 20 years. Frankly, that is embarrassing. Shame on all of you.
If you believe the Lord is leading you away from Xenos, you are in very good company. I've met an overwhelming amount of people outside of Xenos, former leaders or not, who were either spiritually abused there or know of people who have been. These people have been so supportive of me and kind to me.
The most heartbreaking thing about all of this is how cool of a church that Xenos could be if it were to humble itself, reformat many of its wineskins to better fit college-aged youth and show true grace to them instead of enslaving them to a system of works, and move forward in a less militaristic direction.
To conclude… the Old Testament is full of stories about how the Lord cares for and leads His people away from situations of harm.
You do not need to stay.
Psalm 18:19 "He brought me into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me"
Galatians 3:11-12 MSG "The obvious impossibility of carrying out such a moral program should make it plain that no one can sustain a relationship with God that way. The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you"
Matthew 5:4 MSG "You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you"
Zephaniah 3:17 "The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing"
Story Fifteen: "You could tell at this point the guy being accused was so worn down mentally and emotionally he really didn't have much to say and sat there with his head down tearfully looking at the floor. Then there was time for other members to berate, question and accuse this guy. He was taking a mental beating and it was seriously difficult to watch."
Xenos has an obsession with sex and everything surrounding it.
Very early on in my experience in the college ministry my home church had a “discipline meeting” One of the men in the group was thought to be in “sexual sin” with another female member of the group. The guy had been in the group for a couple years while the girl had only recently(3-4 months) been a part of the group. There was so much gossip leading up to this meeting between members of the group as to what would happen, everyone wanted to know all the juicy details. This meeting took place at one of the ministry houses in our group. The whole group met up and the senior leader of the group began the meeting by letting everyone know why we were there. He began by throwing accusations towards the guy accused of sleeping with the female member. He also questioned the guy as to why he thought this was OK. You could tell at this point the guy being accused was so worn down mentally and emotionally he really didn't have much to say and sat there with his head down tearfully looking at the floor. Then there was time for other members to berate, question and accuse this guy. He was taking a mental beating and it was seriously difficult to watch. He still didn't have much to say so the senior leader read a few bible verses from the book of Matthew and said that now it is time for the group to take a vote and decide if we want to keep this guy around our group or kick him to out. WE voted and he was voted out by every member. This voting process was all so premeditated. The leaders beforehand told people that we all should vote him out and that was “god's will” I remember him walking outside after being voted out with the look of extreme sadness and despair on his face. He sort of stood around for a few minutes then walked home. After this meeting we were all instructed to not talk with this member and avoid any interaction with him, the reason being that he needs to learn to trust god on his own. The girl in this situation that he had slept with was allowed to stay as long as she cut off all contact with him. She agreed and remained in the group with a watchful eye on her from all the leaders. At this point she couldn't be trusted. WOW looking back I cannot believe how easily xenos will turn there back on anyone. This guy had consensual sex with a woman a couple times and now had to start an entirely new life because of it. No one in the group spoke with him or spent time with him ever again. He was shunned and viewed as complete scum for doing something that consenting adults do every day. The “friends” in this group are not real friends they will turn there back on you at any moment and you will lose every friendship you thought you had.
Story Sixteen: "I was so afraid to leave, so I didn’t. But here I am having courage now and leaving and not looking back. It's been 2 months since I've left, and I may not have as many "friends" but I SO much happier."
I was in the church since end of 8th grade I’m 20 (7 years) and to give you some context about me ; I deal with depression, anxiety, PTSD. And I’ve attempted suicide,and the leaders and people in the group knew this. I'm open about my mental illness for many reasons, but one specifically being so people don't feel "alone" or like "the odd one out" which is how Xenos members and the church as a whole made me feel.
I would get told what I’m doing wrong and how it’s not biblical and not right in their or God’s eyes. For example;getting into a fight with a friend or smoking or drinking(which actually was started and influenced by Xenos members) or hanging out with certain people or not coming on time or enough commitment, or being “too much” and the leaders have told people “they were fed up with me”. After multiple conversations with leaders and “friends” in the church I would sometimes feel suicidal and always felt alone! And it sucked! I would run to people I thought i could actually trust and explain what was going on. I was so afraid to leave, so I didn’t. But here I am having courage now and leaving and not looking back. It's been 2 months since I've left, and I may not have as many "friends" but I SO much happier. I was treated like I was too much and every time something i did wrong came up no matter how big or little I would “get in trouble” and I got suggested to find a new church because I “can’t respect them”.
I’m sad it took me this long, but if you are afraid to leave or what to do, reach out to someone, IT IS worth it!
Story Seventeen: "She gave a 17 year old high schooler wine"
So this girl I was “discipled “ by and hung out with regularly (before I left), at this years beach trip, (May 2018) gave a 17 year old high schooler wine and to keep in mind this 21 year old girl in Xenos IS a high school leader. AND has gotten upset, furious, and very disappointed in me for underaged drinking (which was originally encouraged by Xenos members)and also she hypocritically gives minors alcohol. She admitted it to the leaders, and sphere leader James R. and they did NOTHING about it, instead they covered it up,and is still leading in a high school group. I have specifically gotten told by her "do NOT underage drink, it's a bad example.".
- Anonymous Age: 20
Story Eighteen: "Nepotism at its finest"
Dennis’ mother, Martha, was instrumental in Dennis and Gary’s founding of Xenos.
Dennis founded and is employed with Xenos. Dennis’ wife is employed by Xenos. All three of Dennis’ children are employed by Xenos. Dennis’ son-in-law is employed by Xenos. Dennis’ brother is employed by Xenos. Dennis’ extended family and wife’s relatives are employed by Xenos.
I would guess the amount that Dennis’ family (immediate and extended) extracts from the annual budget is at least a half a million dollars on the payroll.
Dennis’ son-in-law is an elder. One of Dennis’ son is a “missionary” in Granville. Dennis’ other son is an elder. A number of the senior leaders and elders have been “discipled” by Dennis since they were late teens/early twenties.
Make no mistake, this is a family business.
Dennis is one of the most effective business men I have met but he lacks empathy, genuine concern for others, and many of the characteristic one may consider Christian. When asked once about the criticism of others who had left Xenos he simply responded, “Ah, fuck ‘em.”
No one is exempt from this family’s criticism. They even outcast their own family members for having different perspectives of the bible as their view of family is very unhealthy, yet they feel is biblical.