Content Warning: These submitted stories are graphic, detail disturbing content, and contain strong language.
This section contains one-hundred-and-thirty-nine stories. Thank you to everyone who shared.
I am a male in my mid-50’s. I grew up in a suburb of north Columbus.
I would never of thought of sharing my story of my experience with Xenos had it not been for those who have taken the time to write their stories first. My heart sank as I have read them all. And I pray for all of these and the many more that have not been shared (yet).
I consider my time at Xenos as a mixed blessing. I learned to love God and others from this organization. I learned discernment and wisdom too.
During the mid-to-late eighties I attended a fish-house meeting at a rented ware-house space off of Sinclair Rd. I was invited by Scot “Buck” McCallum and I could not get enough of my new found love for God, the Bible and a group of truly loving Christians. I used to borrow and listen to countless cassette tapes from Martha McCallum’s basement collection and attended as many meeting as I could. I believe that these very same teachings gave me the inner strength to survive what the future held for me.
I believe that a significant contributing factor for the problems of Xenos are centered around the circle of protection that envelopes the senior leadership of the church. When a person is surrounded by like-minded people and those who dissent are expelled, then the environment becomes ripe for abuse.
Here is one story that makes my point:
I had flunked out of college to pour my whole heart and soul into being part of this church. I was employed by Xenos around 2000. One of my jobs was to attend the Saturday morning Servant Team meeting to record them. The Servant Team was comprised of Home Church leaders and above who would meet on a monthly bases to discuss church issues with the six or so elders and the senior elders. There were several hundred attendees at most meetings. We recorded the meetings to provide copies to anyone “qualified” who missed the meetings so they could retrieve a copy from the library at the main office.
During one unfortunate meeting Dennis McCallum went off on a tirade regarding another elder who was not present at the meeting on this particular Saturday. Apparently the word got back to the missing elder that some mean things had been said about him and his family. Later that evening I met with that elder at another scheduled social event. This elder asked me what I thought about the meeting because I was known for being non-emotionally objective and truthful. I told him that I did not want to share my opinion and that he should just listen to the tape for himself. He was a sitting elder and was entitled to a copy and I provided it to him (I actually did not have the authority to DENY him a copy). I believe that I was following the biblical standard of sticking to the truth and not participating in gossip (which I knew was a huge ongoing problem at Xenos).
This elder listened to the tape and then called Dennis by phone and asked him what he had said the previous morning. Apparently Dennis denied saying anything disparaging and when confronted with the knowledge that he had heard the tape Dennis was furious.
The following Monday morning Dennis ordered all tapes of the meeting to be destroyed and if anyone asked for a copy that we were to say that the recording equipment had failed. And the search was on for the “mole” that provided the elder with the copy that he had heard.
I felt confident that I had done nothing wrong so I went to Dennis’s home to personally tell him that it was me and to explain my biblical stance for doing so. I humbly asked for his forgiveness if I had offended him in any way with my actions. He said that he understood and that he forgave me (and gave me a hug). My fears about confessing my actions were alleviated…or so I thought.
The next morning I was asked to resign or be terminated. I asked if they had spoken to Dennis because I thought everything was resolved in regards to my participation in the matter. I was informed that Dennis was not involved in the decision (yet I knew that he would have been absolutely informed, and to which he apparently did not intercede on my behalf). I did not seek out Gary (the other senior elder) to see if he agreed or not. I never witnessed Gary ever being willing to over-ride any of Dennis’s actions. I hope he can forgive me for not being willing to give him a chance to do so.
I wrote a letter of resignation that questioned why a man who follows biblical principles of avoiding gossip AND confessing of any misdoings (even face to face with those possibly offended) and asking for forgiveness for any trespasses, WAS HELD TO A HIGHER STANDARD than a person who flagrantly and publically sinned, then denied the sin, and then attempted to cover it up AND was NOT repentant?
When you work for a church they do not pay taxes or un-employment insurance. I had married very young (which was common) in the church, had two very young children and had recently purchased a little house in the Linden area. My wife was a stay at home mom and we were living pay-check to pay-check. Another church in Westerville had heard about our plight and they took up a donation to help us pay for the mortgage for the following month. I will be eternally grateful for their help.
We were told that we could continue to come to the Central Meetings, but we were being “dis-fellowshipped”. This is where a person is not kicked out, but no one will talk to you. Those who did, only questioned how I could have betrayed their senior pastor. My wife and I eventually became discouraged and simply faded away over time.
There is much more to this story that is even more egregious. But I do not feel the need to share more to protect those involved. Let’s just say that there were many times that I was falsely accused of “being in sin” where EVERYONE knew about it…except me! I am thankful for my friends who would occasionally sneak over to me and tell me what was going on behind my back because they felt sorry for me. Looking back, this is probably the worst part of my experience because I am a transparent individual, but you cannot defend yourself against accusations that you are not even aware of! How many good and sincere people have been shoved out of fellowship and never truly understood why? (Apparently hundreds; I am learning…)
Needless to say but God provided me with another good job and my faith was deepened for God ALONE (and still is to this day). Somewhere in my junk drawer is a copy of the “forbidden cassette tape” for anyone who does not believe my story. Ironically Buck was the last person that I ever witnessed being willing to stand up to defend another person (who was not present to defend themselves) and it was at that meeting. I never saw Buck again before he passed away tragically as a missionary in Russia.
Today my faith in God has never been deeper. I am thankful for my experiences at Xenos for giving me a deep love of the Bible, for loving God alone and for loving those who do not know and trust Him (yet?). I never found another church to attend that satisfied my desire for a deeper study of His Word AND met my desire to find a group that was centered around practicing Grace with each other. I have a small group of family and friends who do this on our own. I see God’s hand moving in their lives every day and I am so humbled to be a part of it with them.
Dennis’s book on Romans and his book on postmodernism are two of the foundational books that have helped me communicate better with those who are seeking God and for encouraging those who struggle with understanding the depth of God’s grace. Dennis is truly a gifted teacher and writer (as are many others). I blame those around him as much as I blame him. They all know better, yet they will allow him to retire in absurdity and I see no visible signs that the church will repent.
I brought a lot of people into the church and I remember that about a year into their involvement is where the problems would arise. The group would start mandating their behavior and actions and I was always stuck in the middle. I would have to explain to the new people that these older Christians have forgotten what it was like to be new. And I would have to remind the group that these are young believers and they might not be fully sanctified for another few months or so…lol (but actually sad,,)
I always thought that God would forgive ALL sins. But Exodus 20:7 (the 3rd out of the 10 commandments) says that “you shall not take the Lords name in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes his name in vain”(NASB). I used to think this meant that I shouldn’t curse. But the word “take” is (ṯiś·śā) in Hebrew and is better translated as “to lift or carry”. The word “vain” is (laš·šāw) and is better translated as “useless or evil”. So God is warning us NOT to CARRY His Holy Name while committing EVIL and USELESS actions, AND we will be punished if we do! (Read Ezekiel 36 for a deeper understanding of how God feels about His Holy Name being profaned). How much more judgement will we receive when a group knowingly and willfully continues to abuse adolescent and naive people IN THE NAME OF CHRIST?
I am exceptionally heartbroken to learn about the suicides, the attempted suicides and the accidental deaths that I am reading about. I was trying to stay close to God while my world was falling apart. I attempted to take my own life, not knowing (or caring) if God was on the other side to receive me or not. I was just tired of fighting my undeserved circumstances and feeling all alone. I do not blame the church for my despair, only for not being there for me when I could have used their love. I truly understand deep despair and those who are experiencing it too. I believe that this organization IS GUILTY of abusing the power that they wield in the lives of people who sincerely wanted to experience God’s love for themselves. And the tragic reality of having their view of God be harmed possibly forever.
And I grieve over this organization for all of the squandered blessings that they have “kicked out” in their immature understanding of Grace.
I pray for each of you that you would not equate the failures of an organization with the failures of God.
God does not fail us. People do.
I pray for anyone still in the church and hurting. If you have not been emotionally abused then you should count yourself as being blessed and protected by God. But I know that if you have been involved for more than a year then you have at least witnessed others being shunned or asked to leave. Maybe you should prayerfully and thoughtfully seek out those who you know were in the past (and present) if God graciously brings them to your mind. I believe that He will.
Thank you for those who have created the opportunity to share these stories. Maybe someday someone will have a burden to start a recovery/encouragement group. It seems like there are a lot of people hurting over their experiences. I would go; just to remind everyone that God wants to turn your bad experiences into a blessing for you if you would give Him and chance to do so (Gen 50:20). I sincerely pray that you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, of God’s Love for each of you!!! (Eph3:18)
With the Most Love Possible,
Attended Xenos for 25 years. Came in as a young adult, lonely, unfulfilled in life and searching for truth. Met great people who l challenged about God, who He was, etc...Everyone seemed pretty nice, engaging, patient, wanted to teach me, and wanted me to learn how to study the bible on my own. I have no regrets. Their classes and home groups were a place to grow spirituality and for that l am so thankful. They teach the life of a Savior who loves us where we are yet challenges us to be sold out for Him...and for that l am so thankful to God for pointing me there for a season. I lead and colead.
YET...they run like a business model perhaps because they are so big. They have a reporting structure that became impersonal. Numbers and growth seemed to be more important than deep friendships. If you didn't walk and talk (and think) all the same....you were made to feel you were wrong. Unfortunately l've been on both sides of this fence. People were more like "projects". I regret that l was part of it as well and ended up going back to some and apologizing.
GRACE is preached but it's works driven.
If you weren't attending the meetings, involved in ministry, discipling, studying on your own, takin a class here and there, doin cell groups.....you were missing the mark.
Our home group was great. All ages, loving , caring and really genuine. We were ordered (Ben Foust by Ryan Lowery) to break up because we didnt fit the mold perfectly. We had problems but certainly nothing that couldnt be fixed. We had older people who were so connected but chose to walk away and not stay in fellowship after our group broke up. Many hurt people. Half the home church left Xenos. 30 plus people told to quit meeting and find another group. I blame it on young new leaders who haven't had eough life experiences and certainly didnt know our group and our investment in one another.
But...life goes on. Here l am....2 yrs later...God is still good and He confirms that He exists even outside the Xenos model. Yes. I have new friends with a new church.
Xenos have a beautiful place in my heart but would not go back. I think the young adult groups are probably worse because again the kids are influenced to march the same way and don't have the life experiences. If l was a parent, i would let them go but monitor guilt tactics. They do a great job at teaching Gods word and His word penetrates our hearts. I just hope we can all pray for wisdom to know the difference between following fallin humans, God's perfect guidance and love, His desire for us to know Him better, and Satan's role in all the rederick.
I became a Christian 14 years ago and moved to Columbus Ohio after getting a divorce from a 12 year marriage. A friend of mine told me that he went to a Church that he felt would be a great place for me to learn about what God and what God had done for me. I started going to Xenos in 2004 and was quickly accepted and was filled with love and attention, great friends and wonderful nurturing relationships. I learned so much about the bible and about Christ and his wonderful gift. I found Xenos to be a great teaching Church. I grew in my faith and loved how people loved me as i grew in my faith. In moving here i only knew 2 guys and they helped me to stay in fellowship with Xenos. I went to C.T. (Central Teaching) twice a week, I was in a home Church, attended a mens group (Cell) and was in 2 discipleship relationships 2 times a week. I attended a non sanctioned bible study once a week held by a Xenos member every Thursday afternoon. I was surrounded and loved by many. I was in a position to confess sins with men who had the same type of sins, i was encouraged to share all the time. It would help me to grow and help in my sanctification, I would be stronger in my faith and grow closer to God. My sins were put out there for everyone to see, by sharing with certain people who I could trust to walk me through the sin or sins. You could say that for 12 years i was involved in Xenos 7 days a week, doing outreach and helping to reach people for Christ. I was in love with the way I was loved. I was involved in so much fellowship, BBQ's, NFL hall of fame trips, Presidential museum trips, Football games, baseball games, Pool halls, bars outreach to the community with dinners, back to school drives. My life was full.
I met a woman outside of Xenos and was encouraged to marry before my sexual desires got in the way and interrupted my walk with the lord. I remarried thinking this was the course God wanted me to take. I had not real desire to be with her (although she was a wonderful woman) in anyway. We were very opposite and she never truly embraced the Church. I struggled with that. I struggled with feeling empty inside wanting the love of a woman. I was told that Christ was all the love i need. But the fact was that it was not and I ended up having an affair. I needed satisfaction. I loved her but not as a wife. The affair became known by here and our leaders and that is when everything changed with Xenos.
Now I had to live Hebrews 12:11. I was given strict instruction as to how I would handle the divorce and conduct my life if I wanted to truly be a real man of Gods. An upstanding man who could redeem himself in the eyes of the Church.
1st I would sign any papers that she wanted signed, and give her the dissolution she wanted....take my loss and allow her to move on. I did what was asked of me and lost everything I had. EVERYTHING!
2nd, I was to confess to the Church my sin.I was to repent for my sins to my mens group and to God (FOR THE RECORD i DID REPENT TO GOD FOR MY ACTIONS). My tears were real and my sorrow was true and honest to god and to my Christian brother. I was to be open and honest about it, I was to discuss only my sin (affair) not any other sin on her part that brought me to my wrong decisions. (She also had an affair 2 years prior) I know what she did should have nothing to do with what I did, but it did play a part.
3rd I was to have a discipleship relationship with a Christian brother once a week where we were supposed to discuss my sins on a weekly basis.
4th I was to seek outside counsel from a Christian counselor once a week to work on things in my life.
5th I was to have no contact with the woman i had-had an affair with. I was told that she would NEVER be accepted by the church or my Christian family.
It was at this time that I felt I was being controlled. I was not allowed or encouraged to think on my own or to look in my heart at to what God was telling me. I was a sinner, I was the worst thing there could be. I was no longer in any type of leadership role. I was not able to question the decisions that were made, i was under strict control.
Well after doing everything I that was asked of me and feeling lost, I did continue the relationship. It was found out. I was truly a sinner following the Evil one and not what God (Xenos) wanted. I was not transparent and I was a problem. I was dividing the Church (Home Group). I had no idea that everything that was discussed with leaders was being shared with the entire group.
In 2016 I was called to the home of my H.C. leaders and asked about my current lifestyle and my relationships. I was very defensive about what they had heard and that they DID judge me for my current actions. I was asked to leave their home. 3 days later i got a letter in the mail saying that until I truly repented to God for my actions. Matthew 18:15-17 had taken place. Supposedly all the steps that are listed in Matthew had taken place and I was now a pagan.
The next day NOBODY would take my calls, nobody would come see me. I had over 120 relationships in the church and over 60 of those were close relationships. It has been 2 years and not one single has attempted to get back into my life, I have contemplated suicide, running to another state or country. I have never felt so lonely, I have never been so empty. I am a sinner (We all are). There a lot of details I have left out of this message...Like the guy that was suppose to meet with my only did so one time. The woman I slept with (My current wife) never had her emotions considered. I was open and honest with the Christian counselor about the my continued relationship with her and he was helping me to go to the Church in the right way at the right time. The discipline listed in Matthew never took place. I was to never discuss my emotions only the fact of what I did. I was to not justify my actions in the only way I knew. My repentance was considered fake.
I am not sure if Xenos is a cult or not, i do know that they have cultish type ways and they only care about the image of themselves not he emotional or physiological state of the persons they deal with. I wish I could fully explain how i feel inside and i wish there was a way to warn people of the emptiness they can feel when they get overly involved in this church. It is a great teaching church and you can have relationships as long as you follow only them. I have been forever changed by them in a bad way. I trust in God and thank God for what Christ did. They are controlling and will dictate your life if you decide to follow deeply.
You truly want to consider this “a time of reflection and learning, and asking God to reveal any aspect of hearts He would have change” … realize the TRUTH of what’s been shared, the hurts caused, the pains endured, and lies told … by the church."
The recent Dispatch article has caused me to reconsider the time I spent at Xenos. While I felt I had left it all behind me, the article provided triggers to memories and feelings that I hadn’t realize still existed. But unlike the timid woman who walked away in January 2016, I am no longer timid. I am willing to share my experiences with anyone who will listen, and felt it was time I tell you directly how much damage Xenos created in our lives. I was not a college student when I began attending. I was a 33 yr old single mother. My experiences span 14 years - single, married, mother/stepmother, and divorced. This letter is also being sent to key staff, elders and pastors at Xenos. Not that I expect a response, it's cathartic to have it all exposed to the light after so many years in the darkness.
I attended for 14 years, introduced by my ex-husband to his home church in 2002. I had recently moved back to Ohio after a very difficult situation out of state, and I was raising my 2 yr old as a single mom (with my parents, as my dad battled lung cancer). I questioned practices – or lack thereof – at Xenos that didn’t match my life long church upbringing. I was saved and baptized in 1983, attended Christian college, and was not new to the Bible. Each time I asked a question, I was told “oh, the Bible doesn’t say that … it was a man-made rule", or the ever popular "that's legalism."
In 2003, I experienced a “church discipline” that I feel was out of line and more manipulative and controlling than any church should ever be in a person’s life. My ex and I had been dating almost a year when one of the home church leaders approached him and asked “so, are you f---ing her yet?” How was this statement ever appropriate for a church leader, a man of God??
We had been dating for over a year, and planned a vacation out of state where he would introduce me to friends and show me his favorite part of the country. Immediately the church leaders were criticizing, calling the trip inappropriate and “sending hints of impropriety.” I could understand if we were college age people, but we were in our 30s. Both single parents with custody of our children. We invited leaders to join us to “supervise” or “chaperone” if they were so concerned about our behavior. We were not treated like adults in any way. A few months after the trip, we were called in for a home church meeting and told if we did not write letters of repentance for disobeying our home church leaders, we would be asked to leave the church. The letters were to be written to Phil Franck and he would approve or deny our level of “repentance” and if we would remain at Xenos. I was humiliated! Not only was I being treated more like a child, there was nothing to repent for! Nothing happened on the trip other than visiting friends and sight-seeing, and we were more of a witness to his friends by sharing we were not living together, were not planning to live together, and wanted to be the example for our children. However, because we wanted to stay “in fellowship” we wrote the letters. By the way, we were engaged within 5 months of the trip. I truly believe it was a way for my ex to spend time with me, determine if we were compatible (long road trip) and if his friends approved of me.
Within a few months, that home church was disbanded for being too inward focused. I can cite at least 6 couples who left this home church between 2002 and 2004 because of the attitude, behavior, and ugly candor of one “leader”. At the time the disbanding was announced, two women started crying and asked what they were going to do now for social interaction? Our women’s cell had devolved to about 20 min of lesson, a little bit of prayer, and pull out the alcohol. The two who complained – one brought a 48 oz travel mug with wine spritzer to every meeting, and I drove the other home more than a few times from a karaoke bar because she was too drunk to drive herself (she, by the way, is teaching in a home church today – three marriages later)
We were in 4 home churches between 2002 and 2016. After the first disbanded, we started our search for a new group. Attended one, and when I saw fleas jumping across my Bible, I decided I wouldn’t return. We learned from Gale Flowers after asking to visit his home church that they had been "warned" about us, told we might bring too much baggage and dissention because of unresolved issues with the old group. We finally landed in a group that was good, but it split in less than 2 years so we were going to a group in Dublin (we lived in Westerville). Moving across town caused a lot of people to leave our group simply because they didn’t want to make the 270 drive at rush hour for home church. However, we remained faithful and stayed in that group until 2014 when it merged with another because both were too small ... we were now meeting near Riverside Hospital.
There were times during my years at Xenos that I was interested in reaching out to friends weak in their faith. I remember one instance I was looking to so a small Bible study with a gal who wasn’t connecting with her church well, and struggling with her marriage. I was told by a few of the ladies that since she had a church, I should look to disciple someone who was at Xenos (or unsaved) and not spend time with this gal. Why? Because she had a church. I wasn’t encouraged to meet with my friend and be a source of inspiration and encouragement, teaching and bringing her up in her faith. If not a benefit for Xenos, I wasn’t supposed to do it. This happened several times in my 14 years. I asked if we’re all given spiritual gifts, perhaps I have a gift of encouragement that is stronger than my gift of evangelism, and how is it wrong to water the seed that may have been planted by someone else? No one ever had a solid answer for me. Perhaps it was simply if I spent more time with someone outside of Xenos, I might start questioning what goes on inside?
We had three kids between us – my daughter, his daughter and his son – in the fellowship. The oldest was taught about smoking, provided cigarettes and vapes by her high school leaders. When we took it to the leaders, they told us porn was a bigger issue and they weren't worried about cigarettes, even given illegally to a 15 yr old. The high school/college leaders regularly encouraged her to smoke, defy our house rules, and every effort to learn what was going on in the group was ignored. They were trying to establish “independence” with her. Clinically it’s proven that the human brain does not mature until age 25. Until that time, contact with parents to help guide, direct, seek reassurance, etc is necessary for healthy development. Xenos was encouraging cutting ties and leaving family behind. His son stayed in fellowship only about a year when he got tired of the hypocrisy, the “must know everything’ attitude and judgement within his home church.
When my daughter was ready for high school HC, she was assigned the same group that the oldest had been with (same leaders) and I said no. I was told that this was her assigned group and she “had” to go. I tried to explain that she had 4 groups she wanted to attend, and she had no interest in Jericho. Again I was told, she HAD to go to the group because it was her assigned location. After putting my foot down – she could go to her 4 choices on her schedule, or she could go to her 4 choices on their schedule, but she was not going to Jericho – they finally granted “permission” for her to go to the groups she wanted to visit. Within a few months, her group split and she was being separated from her best friend and sent to part of the group with kids she didn’t know. Again, I said no. It is a parent’s responsibility to made the best decisions and help guide their children. Not yours, not the church, not some leaders who have taken church-written classes to “qualify” as leaders.
While decisions on membership look good on paper, when leaders don’t know these kids personally, they don’t know the relationships already established, friendships, and bonds. My daughter and her best friend were introverted young ladies who had built a bond in middle school cell. While they attended different schools, we lived close enough that frequent interaction was common with the girls. I had to elevate it to Brett McCallum to get "permission" for her to decide for herself which “side” of the split she would go with. He shared that church leaders put her in one group with the only other student who attended her high school, with expectations that these two girls would be “powerhouses for Christ.” Again, my introverted daughter was not going to be a vocal powerhouse for anything … but no one took the time to know her.
However, while in high school, she was also introduced to vapes, cigarettes, even pot through her home church. When I threatened to file charges against a college leader if it happened again – contributing to the unruliness – the leaders acted concerned, but nothing changed. By the time she was a junior in high school, it was evident that my daughter suffered from mental health struggles. When she tried to share with her peers, she was told to “get over it”, “stop complaining” and “rely more on God.” Also within this high school group, there was a sexual assault committed by a young man in the group and the young lady didn't tell anyone for 8 months, afraid of being blamed or judged. I know it was reported to children’s services for investigation, but I don’t know if anything ever came of the inquiry.
My daughter left Xenos in 2016. She chose to leave Ohio in 2017. And, she spent 11 weeks in residential therapy for diagnosed depression, anxiety and PTSD in 2018. Her issues were real and telling her that medication wasn’t needed, that she needed to “get over it”, or that she needed to “trust God more” wasn’t going to magically take away her feelings. Rather than negating them, the church should validate and help navigate the emotional waters that come with simply being human. Too often I feel that Xenos focuses on the book knowledge, the history, the Scriptural meanings, and forgets that humans are emotional and physical beings as well. We are more than just our minds, our brains … and having a health mind-body-spirit life are crucial to being fully healthy. If you ignore one part, all parts of the being suffer.
During my years with Xenos, I taught VBS (1 year), volunteered as a class TA numerous times, attended classes, and volunteered at the bookstore. I attended cell group, home church, and CT. I spent 10 years with the book store, earning respect and trust to be called on to train new volunteers, open the store on Wednesdays if a teacher wanted resources available for students, and even filled in as a paid “employee” during XSI as “interim manager” so that the manager could have a break. I was not inactive with my time at Xenos. Unfortunately, I learned that if interests aren’t in line with church “theology” they are not welcome. I shared information about a two different women’s conferences and could not get anyone interested in attending with me because they were not “Xenos sponsored.” I had amazing book recommendations but they were never reviewed because they didn’t follow the church’s patriarchal stance.
No matter what the leadership would say about the roles of women, it was very clear that the church was for men. Women were to obey, submit, and be silent helpers. In a Women in Marriage class I heard how we’re not to deny our husbands access to our bodies. My husband didn’t touch me in nearly 2 years, blamed me for his need for medication and struggle with. Before we were married, yes, we were intimate. He was chastised by the same home church leader who asked if we were “f—king” for not being assertive, strong, and resisting my advances. He put it on me for our intimacy, saying my husband should have been a stronger man to say no! Anything I presented that showed women as strong, courageous, firm in their relationship with Christ, offering encouragement to other women got shot down. I invited ladies to my home for a live-stream conference one weekend. And, while the presenters are nationally known, strong women of faith, my Xenos friends had nothing but criticism … for the way one woman prayed, for the music they sang, for anything that wasn’t like Xenos.
During our marriage (we married at Xenos in 2006, after dating 4 years – engaged for over 3.5 years) my ex was identified as a tyrant by our HC leader, called a bully by a pastoral counselor, told he “lords over his family” and had a critical spirit towards his wife (by a professional counselor). If I didn't agree with him, I was called disrespectful. He controlled our finances to the point I wasn’t given password access to the family accounts, or utilities. He had computers locked down with passwords, so I could never see what he was doing online – though I suspect strongly porn was involved. He wanted to dictate the activities I was involved in, the friends I had – often bring women to me who he felt needed mentoring (he knew their husbands) so every encounter felt like another project. I was a hospice volunteer but he criticized this effort because it had the potential of taking me from fellowship (depending on my case assignment). I had a patient for 8 months, a dear 96 year old woman with dementia. I sat with her for 4 hours every Sunday morning so her 76 yr old daughter, and sole caregiver, could go to church. My ex felt this was unacceptable – I was wrong to miss CT every week. I believe God knew my heart, and forgave my absence in the Xenos building.
In our last series of counseling sessions with Katie Downs, she said if married to my ex, she'd be in counseling too because of how controlling he was. At our last session, I asked her how long I was expected to live like this and her ... no kidding ... answer floored me. “Jesus endured suffering at the hands of his abusers until His death. It's not about how you are loved, but how you love others that matters.” I remember looking at her, and just saying “Well, I’m not Jesus.” She followed up by asking if I had given up. I merely cried because she just didn’t get it … no one was willing to admit it, or accept what was happening. No matter how many times I went for help in our relationship, nearly 14 yrs together … I was told I was divisive. I was disrespectful. I was a bad mom. I wasn’t desirable or attractive.
Just prior to this final counseling session, I had a conversation with Doug Patch on how I needed prayer for the marriage. He had been an instructor for my ex and I in a class, and knew his character. From that conversation, he went to our home church leader and advised that if I left my marriage, filed for divorce, under grounds not approved by the church, I would be asked to leave fellowship. I remember when my leader, GF, shared this with me … I was in disbelief. Again, people who knew the abusive nature of my marriage were telling me I either had to stay with this man and remain with my church family, or leave the abuse and lose my church family.
I moved out two weeks later … February 2016. In the summer of 2016, I was blessed to find an amazing counselor who treated me for emotional abuse and PTSD. Seems I had a pattern of following controlling or damaging relationships – from my dad, to 2 ex husbands, to the church. At one point, she was asked by Dennis McCallum to meet and discuss the abusive patterns seen within marriages at Xenos – see, it turns out this counselor had multiple clients with stories just like mine and I had no idea when I first met her – and our stories were provided to Dennis. He had the audacity to ask for the names of her clients. Fortunately she was a licensed professional who knew enough about confidential info and privilege to reject his request … so today, Dennis … I am one of those women she shared about. I don’t know the reason you wanted our names unless it was to blacklist us from returning, talking to us as a way of doing damage control … it doesn’t matter. Other than accepting the role Xenos has played in damaging so many people, there is little you can say.
My ex is still at Xenos. He remarried in 2017 after a whirlwind courtship, brief cohabitation, and wedding at the church. I’ve heard he is controlling and isolating his new wife from friends and family just as he did with me (and his first wife). The relationship with his kids is strained, at best. But he continues to put on a good face and act the part. Staying in fellowship. During our marriage he lied about the household income, stating our annual giving was the 5% required for servant team. Our annual contribution was more like 2% of our income. He drank every day - was called a functional alcoholic by another church member – and still drinks from what I’ve been told. When confronted about it, he said it’s better than my medication for anxiety/depression – and it doesn’t affect his ability to live day to day.
I have had very little contact with people since I left. I've invited ladies to gatherings. All decline. I've offered to meet up. No one accepts. The only person who will meet with me is CF, and that’s if I initiate, reach out, ask for time for dinner. If I didn’t, there would be no contact with any so-called “friends” … I’m not a project to work on. This is another example of how those who leave the church are shunned and rejected by those who remain. If you don’t follow the expectations of Xenos, there is no place for you. Jesus spoke about the shepherd leaving his 99 sheep to go look for the lost one. Xenos would prefer to let the lost go, and remain with the 99.
Your pastoral counseling staff is unprofessional, unqualified and untrained to deal with any mental health, relational, or psychological issue. You proclaim to have “experts” to help with addiction (porn), but what is his training, licensing? From my knowledge in 2016, none of the counselors were licensed. They were lay people, no more equipped than I could be when advising a friend or family member. This is a dangerous practice. You may say that you don’t have licensed counselors for liability reasons, but I see a greater liability by having unprofessional and untrained staff performing these duties.
College students who aren’t fully mature, aren’t adequately or professionally trained, are expected to assume roles with our high school kids that they aren’t ready to handle. When faced with real life issues – addictions, depression, sexual abuse, family issues – these college “leaders” are not ready to deal with the reality before them. They are advising kids in error, and causing so much harm. It’s the same for the adult leaders. Taking classes on Bible, and how to lead, based on curriculum written by the staff nonetheless, does not give you the training to be a mental health or relationship expert. Faced with abuse within the group or by group members? Sweep it under the rug, find ways to make it go away quietly. Someone battling depression? Tell them it’s just a crisis of faith and rely more on God.
I think for me, if all of this wasn’t enough, I lost all faith and respect for the church when I realized that Scott Risley and others are on public records under oath stating that the church has nothing to do with the annual beach trips to North Carolina. I remember all the emails, newsletters and announcements tell parents to plan for our seniors to go on beach trip instead of the high school trip. The trips were supported by, endorsed by, and encouraged by church staff. You want the public to believe that 1200 college aged students just happened to take a vacation at the same time, to the same city, rent homes in the same area, meet up for lessons & social activities all by coincidence. So when Kwesi Sample’s family wanted accountability for his death … the church shunned them, and lied. With an annual budget in excess of over $6m (when I last attended), I would like to think that Xenos would do the right thing and offer settlement to his family. But no .. Xenos isn’t about compassion unless it makes them look good. Settlement would be an admission that things didn’t go as planned. Xenos is a business. I truly pray that the Sample family wins their appeal.
For Ryan, how dare you say “no one else in our city knows the pain we feel at being so unfairly accused.” NOTHING in the Dispatch article was untrue or unfair. It’s all truth! How dare you negate the pain we have suffered by the actions, attitudes, and pervasive control & manipulation by Xenos leaders. The “gruesome light” that has been painted of the church is a light Xenos has created for itself over many decades. You want to be “humble in this time of pain”?? Stop it! Take responsibility for what others have experienced, stop calling us liars or finding reasons to blame us for what we’ve experienced. Stop making the church a martyr for things it’s only caused and brought upon itself! No one is spreading falsehoods about Xenos … the saddest part? Years ago, I defended the church. But the longer I’m away, the stronger I become in Christ, and the more I realize the so-called “accusations” – are TRUTHS.
Several weeks ago, I went out with CF. Again, she didn’t initiate – she rarely (if ever) does. If we go out, I’ve asked her. I knew the question would come, and I wondered how long it would take for her to ask. Sure enough, about an hour in, she asked if I planned to marry my boyfriend of over 2 years. I wanted to ask her "why is it your business?" Instead, I told her ... "yep, eventually. Right now, we're registered domestic partners." It’s not that we don’t want to marry – we do and will. He’s a widower and we need to ensure his kids are ok with everything (14, 19 and 21), the financial implication for us, and more – that frankly isn’t anyone’s business but ours. We’re in our late 40s now … I’ll see 50 next year. I don’t need a church telling me how to behave. That’s between me and God at this point in my life. He knows my heart. He knows our relationship. And, I think He’s filled with sorrow at all the damaged people who have walked away from Xenos, and all forms of fellowship & relationship with Him. Fortunately for me, my faith was grounded long before Xenos and it will take a lot more than Xenos to take it away.
I tried attending a church in 2016 but I found myself not trusting the people, being fearful of vulnerability, and wondering if I was being judged … all aftermath of my experiences with Xenos. My boyfriend and I will return to church. We have a list of three or four we want to visit. We will find a church … we have similar backgrounds, beliefs, desires in what church will look like. It will be one that encourages emotional interaction – joy through singing, gratitude through communion. More than just the intellectual stimulation of the lesson. The biggest regret I have is not listening to my gut all those years ago that questioned Xenos. I was a scared woman who valued a relationship to being alone … I allowed him to make decisions that went against my core beliefs. Had I the strength then that I have found today, those 14 years would have looked so much different.
But through the valleys I grow, right? Because of the marriage failure, the lessons learned through my counseling, I have found joy, reclaimed hope, and enjoy going home every day to my family. I found courage to find a new job that challenges me and uses my skills in ways I never imagined. And, I am mom to 2 young adults in my home whose own mom entered His presence way too young. I am blessed today.
Before the Dispatch article, I was afraid to be known. I was afraid to be confronted. This week, I’ve had two anxiety attacks as I recall those 14 years. But writing this letter has cleared my head and calmed my heart. I speak only the truth in love for those still in fellowship – those I called friends for all those years – and those who are trying to heal from their experiences.
You truly want to consider this “a time of reflection and learning, and asking God to reveal any aspect of hearts He would have change” … realize the TRUTH of what’s been shared, the hurts caused, the pains endured, and lies told … by the church.
In the meantime, I know that I am a daughter of God. I am blessed and loved. I am His masterpiece.
My Xenos story starts my senior year of my high school. I was lonely and depressed and then one day i get texted to go out to a bible study by one of my friends in the band. I thought some of the girls were cute and i had nothing against xenos at this time so i decided to check it out. Coming from a broken family with only a couple of friends (if you could call them that) i was taken a back the level of love shown not only from the older members but some of my peers as well. I instantly fell in love with the community and wanted to become apart of it. I decided to accept christ into my life and as my salvation. I then went to as many church meetings and ct meetings as i could trying, to not only involve myself as much as possible but also too escape a worsening family situation. They became more like family to me then friends, they were more my family then my own. I felt like i could tell them anything and did tell them everything. Within the next three months i had made the decision to be discipled by the friend who brought me out to my first bible study. I found purpose so much so that i decided to stay in Columbus instead of going out of state or the other side of the state for college when i graduated as i originally planed.
Then came the summer after i graduated high school. Long talks, talking about god, what plans he has for us and it was incredible. I loved being discipled, i loved spending time with my christian brothers and sisters talking about god. They were my home, my rock and my everything. I had barely talked to either of my parents anymore, i may have still lived with them at the start of my college life but i knew the first chance i got to leave for the ministry houses i was taking it. This would all change in the fall of the same year.....
I started college and quickly got overwhelmed by the amount of work i was given. I had to choose between xenos meetings and getting homework done for my classes. Sometimes i would choose school work ahead of xenos and this would ultimately lead to my discipler yelling at me about my lack of dedication to god and xenos. This was my wake up moment, I realized something very wrong was going on here and things just continued. A friend i made during a few church meetings, who i had traded numbers with had been asked to leave the church due to homosexual thoughts. He was completely cut off from the group and no one was meant to talk to him. He kept on texting me and i kept ignoring him. A few days late i found out he committed suicide. I still have nightmares about that.
At this point i trusted no one in the group until thanksgiving when i started talking to a girl who was there during the summer but left for school during the fall. She was an outsider, just like i felt like i was and after talking a few times i realized she saw the same things i was seeing and agreed with me. This is what was sad i started developing feelings for her but i couldn't tell anyone not xenos, not my parents and specially not her. During a meeting she told she was leaving xenos and i felt my one life line slipping away. My one tie to reality outside xenos leaving me alone with people i didn't trust. I was upset, and this was the first night i started lying to my "brothers and sisters" i was done and it took a year and a half for them to realize that as well
I kept lying trying to sin on purpose to see how far they could be pushed. Lying about ex members, current members and pretending to be an alcoholic. This was simply to distance myself from them as much as possible, i didn't want them to kick me out b/c they were the only people i had in my life but at the same i was done being their puppet. I wanted to show them that by constantly not telling them the truth. Most of the people there stopped talking to me and my discipler and i decided it would be better if we didn't study anymore. At some point, I started feeling bad for doing this and decided to repent for what i did apologizing to every member of the body i felt i hurt with my lies and deceit. It didn't make any difference to them as much as they would say they forgave i saw threw them as they saw threw me
It was only a few months later that the day finally came, when they finally asked me to leave, i had done everything in my power to show i repented and in an instant it didn't matter. Everything i was making right in their eyes and in the eyes of god, none of it mattered. I remember the exact time and date, i remember what i was wearing i remember looking into the man's eyes who was asked to kick me out. I loved him, i loved them all and this is why its been such a long time for me to share this. I don't want to hurt them even though they had no problem hurting me. To this day the members of the church will say it was his decision to ask me to leave but i know it is a lie b/c he had information i had only told a few people not including him.
The night this happened i came home and tried to kill myself three times and was unsuccessful all three times in three different ways with a gun (that i didn't have the guts to fire), cutting (I couldn't cut deep enough) and drowning in a tub (You can't even do this). I blamed myself for what happened, i blamed myself for being kicked out of xenos, i blamed myself for ruining my own life. I thought it was over and i wanted it to be. However, due to a stupid FB post i had posted the cops came and i was calmed down enough to go bed. i should of prob gotten help then but i just hoped to forget about it.
However when you create a world and a home its not that easy to give up and you go through withdraws missing people you see as your whole world. I still felt suicidal and started going to therapy even though that has not helped to this day, My parents don't understand and i can't have a real relationship with anyone and even have problems talking. I feel like everyone is using me just like in xenos and it has gotten worse over time. I don't talk to anyone and have no friends not b/c i can't b/c i won't b/c i am too scared what happened at xenos will happen to me again
So I was in xenos for 11 years. I love what you're doing here. These guys are insane. I always lock the bathroom door when I shower, especially when I lived in a ministry house. I got called out at cell group (Friday night guys only bible study, followed by drinking and talking) for locking the door while I showered because They thought I was masturbating every time. Lol. This group is wild, and I was in guinness homechurch (LOL, more alcohol, what do you know?) With James Rochford (one of the Sphere leader). That guy is the biggest hypocrite. I've seem him call people "faggots" and "mother fuckers". How this guy can call himself a man of god is insane.
I started going to a middle school group on and off in 2007, committed to a high school group in 2011 and officially left in January 2017. There is a ton of stuff. Im not sure what you already know but I'll list off some of my weirder stories.
1 - Spyware
They make you install covenant eyes on your phone and "let you choose" (they basically give you a list of people who you can choose) your "Accountability Partner". That way they can see everything you do on your phone in weekly email reports
I had a friend get flagged because he said "fuck me" in a text message
2 - You have to sign a contract
I’m blanking on what its called. You agree to not watch porn, be in a discipleship, have a job or go to school, go to all the meetings etc
3 - Ministry Houses.
These are single sex houses where homechurches are held. They put 2-3 (sometimes more) people into rooms. There is absolutely no personal space and a lot of really bad hygiene. There is also a questionably large amount of homosexual situations for a church house (running around naked, wrestling with little to no clothes on, masturbating while your roommates are in the room, just plain excessive and unnecessary nudity). 1-3 people are in charge of bills and everyone else pays cash.
4 - Dating
You're pretty much only allowed to date within xenos and even that has its restrictions. There is an "unspoken rule" that you can't date a non Christian. They say that the non Christian will lure you into sexual sin and cause you to not put god first in your life. You also kind of have to get permission to date. Guys will straight up tell you that you’re too sinful to date or not ready. If you go against that they will warn the leader of the girls house that you want to date and they Will tell her that she can't date you. If you manage to get past all that then you have to deal with people always questioning your motives and actions. Constantly being asked about where you have been (I forgot to mention that we had curfews if you lived in the house. And no girls allowed over after 1 or 2 am). I got sat down by the leadership team a lot because they didn’t approve of my relationship.
I was in Xenos since I was a freshmen in HS I’m now 21 and was pretty much bullied/pushed out of the church. I had sex awhile back an I told someone thinking they’d keep it a secret since we were such good friends. The next meeting I go to they sit me down an just tell me how messed up of a person I was, an they decided for me I was going to come out to my entire cell group only thinking how it will show others what sexual sin does to someone and not about how I would be. So I did an right after everyone treated me different an didn’t treat me like a human being. So after I talked to them about how it made me feel an how hurt I was they said and I quote “you did this to yourself so don’t be upset about the consequences so you learned your lesson” in that moment I knew I was in a church that didn’t care about anyone but themselves and making [people] feel like shit.
I lost one friend to Xenos. I nearly lost another.
This is what I learned.
They'll reel you in with love bombing. Hang outs. Parties at lake houses. Just doing fun stuff. People seem friendly, happy, interested in you. It works especially well on young people who experiencing uncertainty in their life. They give you a sense of community, purpose, and make you feel like you belong.
Once you're into the church they get controlling. Collective shaming from your peers is part of their toolkit. You'll be asked to confess your "sins" to a room full of other 20 somethings on a regular basis so they can judge you and tell you that you are straying from god. They will call it "admonishment" and try to cite some bible verses to make it seem like this is what god wants. It might seem strange at first, but you really like hanging out with the people in your group so you will rationalize this public humiliation as "my caring friends are just trying to bring me closer to god" and begin to accept it as normal. This will weigh on your self esteem. You will begin to doubt yourself. You will feel like the biggest sinner in the world. Everything is a sin. You will feel shame for normal thoughts and feelings, and try to self correct normal behaviors to avoid criticism from your new friends.
Xenos values will replace your values. A formerly ardent feminist, lgbt ally, and sex positive person will begin to rationalize things like "a woman must submit to her husband", "gays are sinners and have turned away from god", and "you will go to hell if you have sex before marriage" as "this is god's will and it is what it is".
If you are not married, sex will get you kicked out of the group. Once you are on the outside your supportive network of Xenos friends will evaporate. These formerly close friends will not return your calls. You will be a persona non grata in that circle. But you will also be out of their control and better for it.
You are not stupid and you are not gullible. It is not so difficult to walk into this spider's web, and it's very hard to break away. Social bonds are powerful. The sense of community you feel and the friendships you've made will numb you to what is controlling, what is abusive, what is corrosive to your sense of self. You have value. You have free will. You have dignity. Do not let Xenos take these things from you.
I went to CSCC. It was 2014, I was a believer in christ, but hadn’t made college friends yet as I was a freshman and I had no church. I got in an argument with a lreacher protester, an attractive guy started backing me. He asked me to lunch and got my number. He asked if I had a church and I said no. He invited me to the home church [ . . . . . . ]. I was immediately surrounded by love and affection ans everyone took interest in me and I felt like I belonged. Well I was open about how I was dating a guy who was Bi. They took a week to convince me to leave him. And I did. I started going to CT and home church. But that wasn’t enough. Everyone told me about discipleship and I desperately wanted it too. However this one girl I didn’t like became my discipler. Nothing qualified her to teach me the bible. She grew up in xenos and was super sheltered. I could also feel every time I did something to annoy her. She told me what I should and shouldn’t do. Buy fold for others when I couldn’t pay for my gas, and spiritually serve others. They told me to “self sacrifice” my wants for others. So, despite not liking girls or connecting with them, I was told not to hang with the guys anymore. I had my car in the shop once. No one would give me a ride to church after class. They told me to take a bus. I got extremely lost in a bad area at night. I called many people from a laundery mat. No one would come because they were in discipleship. I hitch hiked to church and was called selfish. felt alone, so I went to online dating after a few months. I brought the guy to church and they got pissed when they found out he was from the internet This boyfriend embraced the church. The first time he stayed over at the boys [ . . . . . . ] house he was sexually assaulted by another male in his sleep. That guy was out the next day. I left after that. I faced many criticism and then they all blocked me.
I had joined i was young real young my mom had just died and it had left me broken and lost and my friend who had been in there was always forcing to get me to go i had gone a couple times and i felt showered with affection they had told me so much about how they cared but then it hit me we weren’t ever really learning about god just partying and fucking around doing stupid shit i had left for a while and they had all gotten my number some how texting me about how i needed to come back that i had to that they missed me i was always quiet about how my mom died but it felt like they forced it out of me and before i knew it the whole “church” knew it made me feel betrayed i had left and then my friend who i had stopped being friends with had left me i have gone 6 months without talking to them. While i was there they had also verbally attacked someone i had known because he had left the church they claimed they gave him everything and he had thrown away his life they then told me afterwards that me and my girlfriend who i had been with for a year shouldn’t be together because she didn’t believe in god they tried controlling my entire life made me want to be with them and only them i had to leave. And when i did it was hell. They still text me saying they want me to come back. Its been almost a year.
(Side note isn’t it weird that all the homechurch names are named after massacres or large quantity’s of deaths normandy,massada and jericho?)
Xenos is a fucking cult! by Anonymous
Years ago, I had a friend that was attending a home church and he invited me to check it out. I was very leery at first because I don’t share the same faith as my friend and it sounded weird to me. What would my parents think?
He used the social atmosphere to get me interested in it. If I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to go again. He told me that there were cute girls and they play board games there. That’s the bait. It’s hard to not take the bait when you are vulnerable and looking for a sense of community. What he failed to mention is once you go for the first time, you are basically ‘in’. That’s when the brainwashing starts. There is a light bible study at the place designated for the home church, which made me a bit uncomfortable. After that, it basically is a meet and greet and everyone is so friendly. They want to hear about your background and hang out with you.
They are all being fake, it’s all part of their plan to make you want to come back. You come back though a few weeks later with your friend. Eventually, you attend a church called Xenos where you meet more friendly people. They play games in the church basement and have another bible study upstairs. More hangouts occur, and you start to have interesting conversations with your new friends. You don’t share the same faith as them, but you will still listen.
Months pass and you get invited to a fun one-week trip to a beach in South Carolina with your home church. Guys in one house and girls in the other. It sounds like a lot of fun, right? The fun is really a distraction to prey on your vulnerability. You have more uncomfortable conversations during this trip with the home church leaders and their disciples. There is a lot of praying, sometimes starting very early in the morning. There is even a communion type thing towards the end of the trip that made me very uncomfortable to participate in. If you sit out of things, you are basically on your own for that time period.
This beach trip is regulated too so you are basically with the same group of people all day. There is a date night where you get paired up with someone from the other house and you take them out for a nice seafood dinner. Other days, there is swimming, board games, and other activities where you are meeting people from other regions. It only costs you a little over 100 dollars for the whole trip because you are sharing expenses with your housemates.
When you get back from the beach trip, you have uncomfortable conversations with your friends and your parents. You start to spend less time with your family and friends and more time with this home church group. They try to convert you into their religion by talking about going to hell and stuff like that. Once you pass that test, you get invited to live in a home church. By this time, your real friends and family don’t understand you and start to question your decision making. I was brainwashed, and it was hard to snap me back into reality. Once I did, I knew Xenos was a cult!
As part of my faith, I was invited to go to Israel for ten days. I was hesitant at first but ultimately accepted as part of my family’s wishes. Once I got there, I was in a total culture shock. I wrote songs and poetry about my experience. This was a much different trip than my beach trip. I got to learn more about my culture and spend time with fascinating people.
By the time it was over, I had a decision to make. It was an easy decision for me to make because I knew that my faith was more important to me than ever. The home church didn’t take it too well. After my trip and after I announced my decision, home church people started to cut me off completely. They would no longer invite me to do things with them and deleted me from all forms of social media. I didn’t care anymore because I could no longer be blinded by the evil in this organization. I knew who my true friends were, became closer to my family, and became more invested in my faith.
I have a story from when I was in the college group and I haven't seen one like it come through but it's the most horrifying thing I witnessed in my time there.
I can't remember what year it was, but it was probably in between 2008-2012 some time. I was in a very tight knit group but it was bigger and on the verge of splitting. I never took the step into the ministry house. But I knew everyone in the guy's and girl's ministry houses for my this HC. I felt a part of them anyway and planned on moving in soon. This changed my mind.
One day the leaders got a message to everyone to come meet at the guy's house for a special meeting. I didn't know til I got there but this meeting was about one of the males in the ministry house who was caught sleeping with his girlfriend for the 2/3 time? I'm not sure but it'd been an "issue" before this meeting. Everyone was sitting in the living room like we would for home church when a leader explained to us why we were there. This guy was sleeping around, so it was time for a public shaming session. No, they didn't call it public shaming but they labeled it something that feigned concern. We sat for over 30 - 45 minutes while everyone in the group raised their hands and told this guy how wrong pre-marital sex was and how it negatively was affecting our group. We are talking 30+ people ripping into you for having sex with your girlfriend. Yes, he was dishonest about it, but a brutal public shaming? So "Christ" like.
Anyone that was in this group will know exactly who and what I am talking about and I'd like to see them excuse it or pretend it didn't happen. After the public shaming ended they had a vote to kick him out of the house. All in front of him, people stone faced voted to kick him out. Then everyone sat and watched as he was forced to gather his things and leave the house and home church. He was told he could come back if he fixed his behavior. He never did and good for him.
The leaders then used a bible verse to justify this horrible mental abuse. It was so sanctimonious and awful, I struggle with guilt for being involved to this day. I don't care if he lied about having sex a million times, it was over the line, out of hand and something Xenos will never apologize for. This was led by their TRAINED leaders so they should take responsibility but they won't.
I left Xenos about 5ish years ago and I'm really happy I did. I will start by saying I don't remember too much about my life before middle school. My parents were leaders at some point when I was really young but I truly can't recall that time in my life.
My middle school years were when the problems began. You will notice that others have said Xenos emphasizes their "fun, non-conformist" nature and this is absolutely true. We had fun cell groups, pizza, casino nights, bonfires and blow-out summer camps. One teacher made funny skits. Before the teaching there was always fun music and even an arcade upstairs for the middle schoolers. The adults get a bar at the main campus where drinks are served. There are vending machines all over the place. There are trails from building to building and we felt like the shit because we got to walk back to the adult building after our middle school teaching. They really make you feel like the cool kid if you go to Xenos, because while your friends are dressing up and singing before service, doing communion etc, you are just livin' it up. But this is only temporary.
My bad experiences began primarily at the cell groups. Calumet is a middle school owned by Xenos and the Xenos leaders send their kids there like no tomorrow. Xenos members are also encouraged to send their kids there and the idea of going to Calumet was pushed heavily on anyone who didn't go. I never went, and this affected my experience.
When I began going to a girls cell group, things were great. We had fun games, learned about each other, and got all the girl's numbers. They make you feel loved and like you will have so many friends who have your back. This is not a reality though, as over time, the girls never spoke with me. Even if I tried to join their conversations they would awkwardly listen and then talk over me to the other girls. But it was as if I was never there. Upset, I would continually approach the leaders about this, and they proceeded to blame me for not trying hard enough. They demeaned me and told me I was seeking attention. One told me well since you don't go to Calumet they don't know you so well. Sorry they’re doing that. They still didn’t help me.
Subsequently I stopped going to meetings because I felt I was alone and wasting my time. I would get depressed though because I kind of missed them. I also thought I was somehow abandoning God by not going to cell group. They would never contact me during these times I left. Any time I came back they would shower me with attention and tell me they missed me. One leader pulled me aside however and asked me why I hadn't come. When i told her i felt alone and a little depressed, she blamed me again and told me I was just succumbing to the enemy (Satan) who wants to keep me from going to church. She told me something along the lines of "it's hard sometimes when you're deep in sin." Wow. And she told me i cant be close with God if i don’t go to church.
I somehow made it though middle school and to high school. Things got a little better but then quickly worse. A friend of mine who I will just call John was previously of the Wickan faith he was super into witchcraft and spells and the whole nine--wore a pentagram to school daily. I brought him to middle school main campus and he accepted Christ that day (yay!) He went to the high school meetings with me and really flourished there. I saw him totally change for the better. He became so confident and so happy. He was not open about his sexuality but I suspected he was gay.
They did not seem to mind this (despite the anti homosexual things I have heard previously) until one day he brought a Satanic faith friend to the meeting. I will call the friend Sara. They did their love bombing thing with Sara as they do everyone, surrounding her and making her feel loved.
By the next meeting John wasn't there. I got concerned as he loved going, so I called him to to ask him if he was alright. John told me the leaders told him not to come back. I asked why and he said it was because Sara made up a rumor that John was sexually involved with another guy in the church. I immediately called one of the leaders and she continually looked for a way not to meet with me to discuss the situation when finally she agreed.
When we met she kept telling me John was in sin and could not be saved. Jesus says to go after the sheep who go astray so I confronted her with this, and she promptly refused to hear me. She told me John could only come back when he found God. She would not even consider talking to John about this rumor. I told her Sara only went one time so why on earth would they believe her over John who went with me for years? She would not hear this and encouraged me not to talk to him because he would need to find God in his own. John was so upset and destroyed by this rumor that he declared he hated Jesus and Christianity, and wished he had never gone.
I left that group and joined a friend's group, but left after some time because they told my friend they couldn't be trans and a Christian.
I left Xenos for good after that. Despite other peoples stories about them chasing after them begging to come back, my friends and I never had this experience. Actually it was the opposite as we were left alone only to come back being interrogated about what we were in sin about.
On a few side notes: Xenos leaders tend to special treat their kids and hold them exempt from a lot of rules. This comes into every age group--I watched the middle and high school leaders kids get showered each meeting and followed around. Everybody loved them. A lot of them used this to be complete assholes to anyone who was not a leaders kid. This concept was even embedded in the kindergarten age, as my baby sister had a lot of problems with the leaders kids bullying and harrassing her.
My older sister left Christianity but tried to get back in by going to a college group. She was promptly met with them partying and drinking before and after the teaching. They are hypocritical.
My mom and dad also stopped teaching because it was consuming their time and they didnt have time for us kids anymore. Their decision to leave was met with a lot of anger from fellow Xenos leaders. My mom talked to me about a big porn issue with some of the male leaders in the church, which caused divorces. And the male leaders would tell her it wasn't adultery and do nothing about it. And yet they teach men to honor their wives.
Now that we all have stopped going, everyone we know from Xenos no longer talks to us, except for maybe two people and that's only because they are long time friends. But if you make friends with anyone through Xenos, don't count on keeping them if you leave.
THE ICING ON THE CAKE: flash forward to this June when my husband and I were getting ready to get married. I thought of going to Xenos to get married because the trails around the church inspired my novel I'm writing. Its a special place and we wanted to take pics there. The lady on the phone at Xenos took my name during the quoting process and told me not only that I couldn't get married there because I wasnt a member of Xenos but SHE PULLED UP MY NAME ON THEIR DATABASE AND TOLD ME THE EXACT DATE I LAST WENT TO CHURCH THERE. This was after being gone for over 5 years--they still had me in their system!
They push the concept of saving people to everyone but don't really care about new believers as they dont nurture them. Saving someone just gets them brownie points and then they completely shatter you by giving you false beliefs that they will always be there for you when in reality they are not. They always manipulate you and tell you jf you don't come to church youre sinning and can't be close with God.
I had a friend from college, probably my best and dearest friend from college, whose husband got her involved with this bunch. Pretty soon she was always trying to talk with me about Jesus. At first I engaged in these sort of philosophical discussions but pretty soon it was always, "So have you thought about our talk about Jesus?" trying to get me involved, even though I clearly had no interest. I finally let the friendship go. They were completely immersed in it. Sometimes I read my friend's old letters -- before Xenos -- and it always breaks my heart and I literally grieve for a week or more. She was funny and smart and the coolest kid I knew. She was the last person you would ever think would buy into this B.S. And I can't tell you how much I miss her, even after many years now. I hate her husband, who should have been helping to protect her not roping her in, and I hate Xenos. Period.
Kids are given "the talk" usually in their junior year in high school about how they should stay in Columbus to be a part of Xenos instead of leaving to go to a different school. I have seen it with my children - they were planning to go elsewhere, but changed their mind because of this.
i just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing this. my home church made me suicidal and so many others have had similar experiences and they deserve to be exposed
I joined Xenos my Sophomore year in high school. I actually got invited to a "super bowl party" but it was actually a bible study in some dudes basement. My best friend ( CeCe) begged me and so I went. It was all fine until halftime started and they pulled out bibles and started praying and I was so uncomfortable because I did not grow up going to church. My best friend begged me to go to more bible studies because she thought that I would benefit from their "love" and "support". I was already dealing with years of bullying and self harm and on medication, so you can say I was pretty vulnerable at the time. I was sucked in by their love and how much they really liked me and that I could really really benefit from having a life with Christ. They make you feel welcomed and loved for like a few weeks (They literally fucking love bomb you and then you get sucked in and the lies and abuse start.) So I kept going and was put into Moonbase homechurch. I kept going and going and loved it for awhile until they made me feel bad for not going to things when I couldn't go. They want to keep you out all night and we're kids and I was under 18 and had to follow my mom and dad's rules but they did not care. I was kept for my family and my other friends. I wasn't allowed to have friends outside of their group unless I invited them and of course I did because I wanted to hang out with those friends. I was taught to groom them just like they did me. If they left we couldn't be friends anymore because they couldn't be saved now. I could see myself changing but I didn't know that it was wrong because I thought I was doing what God was wanting me to do.
I started getting depression really bad again after the love bomb died and it just got to the point where I was constantly wanting to kill myself and I was still battling with my sexuality and they did not accept that whatsoever. I was told when I first entered the church that they did not care if you were gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, because they weren't conservative and wanted to be a "laid back" and "accepting" church and I believed them. One of my leaders that came up to me who I told everything to, who I trusted told me that I could not achieve the same love that God has for everyone else in the group because I like girls and the only way that God could love me all of me was if I prayed away my sexuality. This came out of no where considering i was open about being into girls from jump. That hurt me beyond belief. I felt like I was getting slapped in the face because my best friend lied to me and then all my new friends and leaders had lied to me. I didn't know what to do after that until they showed to my fucking school to "apologize" and of course I went back because they said sorry and then proceeded to make me feel bad for making them feel bad about me wanting to kill myself. Shortly after that I was baptized by them and made me write a testimony and they revised it and basically wanted me to hurt my mom for saying all these things about them being a cult IN FRONT OF EVERYONE in my testimony.
The next incident was when my depression got even worse and I opened up about it and they had found out I was cutting and the one of the leaders wrote a handwritten letter to my mom about my issues. They told my mom that I needed psychiatric help and should see the Xenos therapist. I vented to one of the leaders and she told me that I had depression because I was sinful and God wanted to punish me to make me learn. That push me to the edge after that because they tell you that God loves you, that God wants to help you and that God can heal you and it doesn't matter who you are or what you're going through and after she said that it kind of just like unvalidated everything that they told me. So once again they fucking lied.
There was a concert the night before apple picking/bible study (I was already thinking about leaving a week before this) they wanted us to go to with them and I was too tired to go the next day, I just wanted to rest. They got upset and I eventually got fed up and just told him that I wasn't coming back. They kept messaging me and blowing up my phone and they all cussed me out in a group chat and it just wouldn't stop. My best friend who invited me to go eventually stopped talking to me when she realized that I stopped going and that is what really set me off.
I told people my experience about what happened to me and I told them not to go and I told them that they're not friendly and that they are a cult. It took a year-and-a- half of lies and grooming to realize that. They got mad at me AGAIN and my friend hated me for not going anymore and I was mad at her because she shunned me and we were fighting until they showed up to my school AGAIN looking for me because I was "harassing" her and I was "harassing" the other members. They were harassing me in reality. They just made me feel uncomfortable and unsafe.
My senior year I finally made up with my friend and we kind of just let everything go even though she was still going to Xenos and I was still upset about all the things that they had done to me. That September she had told me that one of our old leaders that we had in the group committed suicide and they didn't know why. Two months later after us getting to know each other again and being close she committed suicide. I 100% believe that Xenos is the reason that she committed suicide. I really did not believe the rumors and I didn't want to believe them because she acted like she was fine and she acted like she was happy and I know what it's like to act happy and normal and still want to kill yourself because they did that to me. I later found out that there was a suicide between my old group leader and my best Friend within Xenos. Months later after my best friend committed suicide another child committed suicide in Xenos. I talk to my friends mom on occasion and she told me a lot of info regarding the things that go on in that "church" including sexual abuse and evil things. She told me that they took her away from her family all the time.
I did not attend her funeral or memorial because I knew it was being done by Xenos. I never got a goodbye or a reason of why she killed herself. I have had dreams of her telling me things but I can't always believe them or understand them. The memorial was held at Xenos's main church. I heard a lot of things like they hung her clothes including her bra and panties that she killed herself in from multiple people.
They fucking took my fucking best friend from me. They basically killed her and I didn't get a goodbye or closure or reason. It's been a year and half since she passed and I still cannot believe or accept until something is done for her and all the others that took their life while at Xenos. They destroy lives and if I never left I'd probably be gone too.
- Faith Furrow
Hi! If you can make this anonymous, I left Xenos a few years ago they created emotional, mental trauma in my life. They left me in pieces after I left, left me depressed. Lonely with out friends, calling me “crazy” they throw at that word as soon as they don’t like what you are saying!
I was shunned out of xenos because I was hospitalized for being suicidal, & I asked for help about my sexual assault and they called me an attention whore and they said that I was psycho so they all pushed me out and they were terrible to me & made up lies about me lol
They made me feel brainwashed and I wasn’t allowed to hangout with anyone except if they are in xenos
[ . . . . . .] is a leader to watch out for. She is a hypocrite & she lies to make girls in homechurches hate each other. She is very manipulative & she talks shit about everyone.
Plus they’re Christians & they smoke in a holy building but smoking weed is bad? Oh, ok!
I was deep in xenos, at a homechurch called [ . . . .] . When you go, they will bomb you with love and they will make you accept Christ your first time out. They forced me to accept Christ my first time out and the next thing I knew I was studying with a leader. They had this secret group me for “Christ followers” and the leaders, then one group chat for everyone. The one for Christ followers they would talk shit about the non believers for their past or what they talk about. If you’re not committed to Christ the way they want you to be then you’re shunned. It’s insane.
I apologize if this is all over the place. I was in Xenos from my sophomore year of high school until my freshman year of college. I was desperate for friends, and one of the members reached out to me at school. She invited me to come to a dinner, a “light” teaching and then we would have fun after that. They latched on to me like glue, and I loved the attention. I felt love like I had never felt before, and they seemed genuinely interested in getting to know me and my story. I then started switching between the church that I grew up in and Xenos, until shit hit the fan at my other church. I was distraught, and I texted the person who brought me out in the first place, and by the end of the night, I was convinced that it was “the will of god” to go to Xenos, and sever all ties with my previous church. I then was all in. I went to every event I could for the high school group, and brought friends out. I eventually got someone to convert to Xenos (under the careful guidance of the leaders and the others in the group, who essentially harassed me into harassing her to come out). Once she had been converted, I got loads of praise. Me and the other girl were full into Xenos, and i continued to invite people out. I (naively) wanted to invite everyone out so they could feel as loved and accepted as I felt.
However, the more I began opening up, the more that I saw their bad side. I opened up about mental health issues that I have had, and they essentially told me that god is putting me through these “trials” to bring me closer to him. When I reported a lack of progress in feeling better, they accused me of not trying hard enough, or that I had committed some grave sin, and this is God’s punishment. I eventually went and saw a Xenos counselor (without my parents knowledge), and she said the same thing. I discussed the possibility of going on meds with one of the members, and she accused me of not allowing god to work, and trying to know more than him. So I persisted in hoping that I would get closer to god, and he would make me feel better.
I am also overweight, and they berated me for not progressing more into weight loss. They tried everything they could think of, from “loving” me to shunning me, and it didn’t work. It just left me feeling worse about myself.
They also wanted me to move into one of their houses, however, my parents said no (Which I am eternally grateful for). I told them that, and basically told me to keep fighting it. They eventually got tired of trying to convince me, and confronted me, saying that I have to move in with them. That if i don’t, god will punish me. I went back to my dorm, devastated. I cried myself to sleep, not knowing what to do. I didn’t feel comfortable going back after that, so they excommunicated me. I never saw any of them again. I sometimes wonder if they think about me, and if, what they think about.
About a year after I left, i heard that one of my former leaders committed suicide. I was sad, but unsurprised, as my own exit left me suicidal. A couple months later, I see a post saying the girl I brought out killed her self. I was at work at the time, and once I got home, I sobbed for hours. I know it was because of Xenos, and so it’s my fault. It’s something that haunts me today.
Thus, I completely support this movement. No one else should lose their loved ones from this. If anyone who loved her (initials C.W.) is reading this, I deeply apologize. Feel free to reach out to me (@noxenosjmt)
When I was in Xenos, I was struggling really hard with anxiety and depression, and similar to these stories they told me to see a xenos therapist instead of listening to me and actually helping me address this problem. I was suicidal and actually attempted suicide, and I had been with them that night and told them I was gonna do it, but all they did was drop me off at my moms house (?!?) and say we aren’t equipped enough to handle this. We will pray for you. Fuck your prayers, I needed HELP and when I was in a state that I couldn’t see that, y’all just turned me away. That incident made me begin to withdraw from groups, as they just kept blowing me off basically and telling me to keep praying, it’s all satanic attack... like clinical depression doesn’t exist apparently?! until I was finally just done. As everyone else has said, they shun the hell out of you when you leave. I lost my BEST FRIEND of 10+ years from this cult group. I have so much hatred for this group, but forums like this that spread awareness of the horrendous things they do to people, help. Enough people have DIED from this “religious” organization. This has to stop.
my senior year, a girl in our class who was pretty heavily involved in Xenos for a long time ended her life. the day the school learned about this, they were instructed not to tell the kids until they could make an announcement to everyone. A friend of mine had a teacher confine in her despite this after first period, and my friend with a look on her face i’ll never forget told me on our way to second period. i remember being completely in shock (...)
(...) because the girl who had done it was one of the sweetest and most well liked people in our senior class. she was involved in school activities outside of Xenos and was friends with pretty much anyone and everyone. Though we didn’t stay close throughout high school, she would still smile at me in the hall. it was pretty well known that she had been struggling with her sexuality and i think it may have played a part in what happened to her, as xenos has a reputation of being very homophobic
long story short, the whole school was incredibly broken up over what happened, and as i talked to some ex members to xenos i was surprised to find out that as tragic as the situation was, they weren’t really shocked
one friend of mine who was even in a ministry house for years made the choice to leave and was told that if that was his decision to turn from God, he might as well kill himself.
it isn’t something unheard of. even a leader in Xenos has recently committed suicide around the time she did. The worst part about this tragic situation though was her funeral. I couldn’t bring myself to come, I didn’t want to have to see her in the viewing, it was just too real. But friends who did attend basically told me it was a huge plug for the church. They, verbatim, said that “Her life stared four years ago when she joined the church”. All they talked about was the church (...)
and how positive it was in life. This obviously was not the case. I don’t want to assume that it was the main cause, but from what I know about the church and how it totally consumed your life, it’s hard for me to not point to it. People hung out with her at youth group the night that she died, and they all said she was just as happy and smiley as ever. this makes me think it must have been something she was planning for a long time, and that the church has just been wearing her down so bad
she had not choice. It still angers me to this day, even though it was almost two years ago. I cannot believe a church who cares so much about “deep connections and friendships” with people would EVER not see this coming or see her depression though well masked. It is a crime and I hate that they have gotten away with disrespecting the beautiful and kind person she was.
A current OSU ministry house member raped me about a year ago. We were at a party, i had gotten pretty drunk and had pretty much just passed out/fallen asleep on this big chair in another room with a door nearby that a couple friends had to drag me to. I woke up to this man basically sitting on my left leg telling me how pretty i am and asking me if I’m okay and if i need any help or anything. I explain I’d just like to go back to sleep, and i do. I’m not quite sure how long it was later, but i woke up with my shirt off, bra straps off and him on top of me, the rest of the details can be spared. i do not attend Xenos, never have and have always been creeped out by everything since i know a lot of people who are in it. It wasn’t a Xenos event, but around 6 or 7 members that i knew actively were in xenos were also attending, one of which was the one who helped me to the room half-unconscious. I told my story to titleIX of OSU and they basically told me they couldn’t do anything about it because he wasnt “officially” transferred from CSCC to OSU at the time due to him not making “an official payment” or something. So i went to the police after finding out that they would do nothing. Basically when the police investigated they asked the people’s names i had given if they had seen anything or could confirm. It was a [ . . . ] party, so obviously none of the members were allowed to be in attendance so they all denied ever even being there and said that they were all elsewhere together. I hadn’t told anyone my story but the police, but I’d guess the whole ministry knows now since the “accusation” got out to his ministry house leader and they had a talk with him about it and didn’t kick him out. I’ve been called a liar and a drunk whore who can’t own up to her actions by multiple people in the church. I texted the girl who helped carry me personally after i got the news the case wouldn’t go any further asking her how as a woman she could defend a rapist and never even got a text back. I only told my story to the police and now I’m pretty sure at least 40 people in the church know about it. I’ve received multiple threatening texts from this guy as well, which i emailed to a Xenos leader directly and basically got a simple “sorry we’ll talk to him about it further” and nothing more. He’s still in the church.
This is long, but it is only a small part of my personal story. I really hope that people STILL IN XENOS will read it. Especially those who were in my home church with me, though it no longer exists.
I am going to start with my biggest issue with Xenos and work through some shit from there. I “lost my virginity” (by that I mean I had heterosexual intercourse for the first time in my life) shortly after I left the church – as anyone in fellowship would have expected of someone heading off into the world. This experience happened with a guy I started dating while I was still in Xenos, but we both left around the same time. After we left, he was very pushy about sex and any sexual interaction and for a long time I felt sure that was just sort of "how guys are" when they're "in the world." I think that mindset happens a lot right before and after leaving because Xenos is sexually repressive (which ironically turns into obsessive) in the name of avoiding temptation. They are telling men that they are naturally more inclined toward being the head of the family and the leader, as the Bible says. They are told that they are meant to lead the relationship. Women are told to allow men to lead the relationship. Women are told to support men in prayer and action (or passivity) as they are leading the relationship and one of the ways this is done is in the way women are told not to tempt men sexually. This shit is in the Bible, they aren't making it up, but I would say that the way they are really really enforcing it is shockingly detrimental. They believe in the Bible as absolute truth, so it makes sense that they reinforce these Biblical gender roles. They really believe in them, but they have no idea that it is hurting them. One great example of this “don't tempt men” sentiment is the fact that there was an ongoing discussion on the college group regarding whether or not it was best for women to wear two-piece swimsuits. That is a bizarre and (to say the least) outdated conversation. To be fair, a lot of members at the time thought the conversation was too much for the email line, but they certainly still had opinions about it. None of the opinions I heard were “humans should be able to look at other humans without having an unstoppable (apart of the intervention of the Holy Spirit) need to touch them.” :)
While in fellowship, your mind and surroundings can build up sexuality as this crazy forbidden thing (side note: you cannot just turn that feeling off once you're married, shit is fuckin awkward and guilt-ridden even though God is suddenly smiling upon your holy lil union now bc of a piece of paper from the government), and that leads nowhere good. I had trouble having a healthy relationship with my own sexuality until I really worked through veryyyyy much shit -- and I faced a lot of roadblocks as a result of my initial naivete.
I was only in Xenos for three years, but I did a lot during that time, especially considering that my group was not “spiritually healthy” by even Xenos' own standards, and [ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ].
From the beginning, I reached out to EVERYONE I possibly could. A lot of people have trouble with that. I was fully convinced that if I did not cast my anxiety on him and talk to random people about God, they may never hear the gospel, and they may never be saved. People in my group were encouraged by my tenacity. I tried and tried to get people to come out to our group, because I believed it was what they needed. I was absolutely convinced I had found the key to living a meaningful life filled with purpose.
When I first joined my group, our prayer meeting was sad and short. People were disinterested. I started making charts and sending out email updates about the people that were being pursued. I was fucking IN IT. Shit turned around, people got into it!!! I was “DOING THE WORK.” I LOVED IT SO SO MUCH at the time. I prayed relentlessly. I read the SHIT out of my Bible. I LOVED IT, because I was surrounded by people who were impressed and inspired by my perseverance and I believed it was good for me, because I was good at it. I didn't believe I was actually good at it, though. I believed it was all the work of the Holy Spirit and I felt blessed and humbled that the Spirit was using me. I mean, sometimes I felt like a fuckin badass on my own, but I really believed that it wasn't me, and I kept telling myself that. I wanted to believe it, they reinforced it, the whole lifestyle seemed to be working well for me for quite a while.
I started discipling one of my friends from high school. I deeply regret this. I think about it almost daily. I wish she were not in Xenos. She is so smart and so funny, but so stifled. I loved knowing her, but I would trade the pleasure of our friendship for the opportunity to go back and never invite her to home church. She initially had the most brilliantly crude sense of humor, and we sort of took that away from her, as a group. We thought we were helping. We wanted her speech to be edifying. We told her not to talk that way around “our guys,” and backed it up with some verses. I miss her so much. I still try to hang out with her. She texts me back sometimes and we make plans to hang out somewhat regularly (certain holidays when we are both in our hometown), but EVERY time, she cancels at the last minute. Like clockwork. This last time, I didn’t even shower or get ready because I KNEW it wasn’t gonna happen. I have not actually seen her since December 2015 and when we hung out at that time, she told me that she wanted to hang out more. I don't blame her for not doing so. I am not at all angry with her about it. I was for a while. I just miss her now. She wrote me a painful letter shortly before I left and I still read it all the time to remind me of how much she changed and how much of an impact the group has on its members. She is right where I was, how could I resent her for that? She believes it wholeheartedly and I really do regret that I ever believed that God was working through me to put her in that place. She is so cool, but I really don’t know that she is aware of herself anymore. She's just a part of the group via "giving it all to God," like I was.
A few months before I left, I became a sit-in leader and got to teach home church for the first time. I fucking loved teaching. I was told to rely more and more on God as I was balancing two part time jobs, going to every meeting, leading a group of 4th and 5th graders on Sundays, and taking leadership training classes. Members will say that they encourage each other to prioritize their health, but this is only to a certain extent. If you start missing more than a few meetings here and there, things really go downhill as far as anyone’s view of your “walk.” It makes sense in that it's a high level of commitment. It's unsustainable for some (I’d say pretty much everyone, but some people are able to fight through it longer), and when it becomes unsustainable for you, you're gonna be on your way out in one way or another.
I never felt like I was doing too much, because I believed that the Lord would sustain me and I would not grow weary. I got the same amount of sleep as most of the other leaders and I had the same dietary habits. I tried to be a decent steward of my body. I know now that I require more sleep than some others might, and I am very sensitive to the food that goes into my body. This lifestyle was not physically or emotionally healthy for me, but I did not realize until it was too late, because I was so thoroughly convinced that God was providing me with supernatural energy, as many people I really respected, constantly prayed that he would do for all of his servants.
To make a long story slightly shorter, I will get to the part where I had what was basically a gradual mental breakdown. It was subtle at first, but things escalated quickly.
My boyfriend at the time (who was also a sit-in leader) and I went to reach out to some of my high school friends. I really really really wanted them to know Christ personally, because I believed that this was the most meaningful decision they could make. I wanted to make disciples of them, because I believed following God was the most fulfilling way of life. I told myself this, I told others this, they said it to me, we said it together in prayer – I really believed that my life was the best possible life, because I believed I was living the life God wanted for me.
Anyway, I did not know how to drink without getting drunk. That's what you're supposed to do in Xenos. You can drink, but you can't get drunk. People get drunk all the time, but they call it a little tipsy. What is the difference? There's not, it's totally subjective. I didn't know that. I never drank before I was in Xenos, and this vague distinction was impossible for me. I had no idea how to drink without getting drunk! My friends were playing a drinking game, and I thought that if I played only one round, I could get to that appropriate place. I could meet them where they're at, without being “of the world.” I even prayed in the bathroom beforehand.
That is not what happened. I got drunk as fuck. So did my boyfriend. We started doing shots together. I blacked out and I regained consciousness in a room with him. I remember making out, I remember touching his dick, I remember touching myself in front of him, but it's all fairly blurry. As soon as I really realized what was going on, I felt a huge sinking feeling. I had sinned against God and against my brother in Christ. I immediately (still super drunk) texted my discipler and my best friend/house leader, confessing what I had done. I knew that was the only way I would be able to continue my walk. I had to confess as quickly as possible, so that Satan couldn't get a foothold. I wanted God to use me to do his work, despite my brokenness and my mistake. I'd seen him do it before with countless people in the Bible (namely David, my favorite person in the Bible pretty much the whole time I was in the church), I was sure he could do it again.
As soon as I told my boyfriend what I'd done, he said we had to leave. He was still drunk and we were a couple of hours from Columbus. My discipler and my roommate both insisted that we get out of there quickly so that we would not have sex. My friends from high school told us that we should stay longer until we sobered up, but my boyfriend was cocky and convinced them he could drive. He told them we couldn't stay because if we stayed, we would have sex. One of my friends told him that if we had sex, it would not be consensual, because he was sober enough to drive and I was obviously and certainly NOT. I love her for that, even though I didn't fully appreciate it at the time. We left. I don't know how we got home safely (I thought it was God at the time), but we did, and my roommate that I texted that night was so kind to me about the situation. As was my discipler. I have to say, they both initially really encouraged me that this did not define me or my walk with God
However, things quickly changed. My boyfriend was encouraged to break up with me, so he did. I understand that the leaders thought this would be best, and I respected that. I'm deeply grateful that they didn't encourage him to marry me, as that sort of thing happens a lot and I would have been agreeable to it (in retrospect, my relationship with him was the worst relationship I ever had. He's probably more cool now, he was just also dealing with leaving Xenos and we were just not compatible once we started being ourselves apart from the church). We were both no longer allowed to be sit-in leaders. I was no longer allowed to lead the 4th and 5th grade class (that broke my fucking heart because I had been doing it for awhile and I loved those kids and I loved teaching). I was no longer allowed to make the charts and send out the emails for prayer group – even though no one had ever done it before me. I was told that I was given grace, but it really felt like my role became very limited by the leaders to make an example of my sin. At the time, I trusted that the leaders knew what was best and God would still use me. I tried to see these things as consequences, not punishment. But it fucking hurt. Looking back, the creepiest part was when all of the girls in my group had a meeting to discuss with me what I had done. They all went around and shared Bible verses and personal journal entries involving losing respect for me, questioning past interactions/losing trust, or at the very least, letting me know that this was a huge mistake, but God could still use me if I showed signs of repentance. I also was accused of having gotten drunk at the beach a few months before and breaking a chair. I wasn't even mad, but it was so random and that's sort of why it sticks with me. This accusation came out of nowhere. It came from the senior leader. My discipler said it wasn't a big deal and that he may have been mistaken, but I wondered why it came up then, after I had confessed to a different drinking incident, rather than when he initially thought it happened. She said they were trying to determine whether or not it was a pattern, which made sense to me at the time, but I still have no fucking clue what they were talking about, so it's kinda funny to me now. My ex did not get this treatment. What he did made sense simply because he is male. Men want sex and get tempted. There was no pattern of sin to look for apart from his biology. It was pretty rough for me then. I was hearing that my sin didn't define me, while being subtly shown that I was indeed defined by it at every turn.
I felt alone. I felt more punished. I felt misunderstood. Still, I believed that these feelings were not truth and I ran to God. I truly did. I believed Satan was trying to take me out. I wanted this to grow me in my walk. I felt I was being forged and molded into a better worker for him. I believed I was experiencing “spiritual breaking.” I cried quite a bit. I shared openly, all of my thoughts and feelings during this time. I felt I had nothing to lose and I wanted to give it all to God.
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.
One of the leaders told me she didn't think I was repentant. She was especially upset because her husband had a long history with this “outreach” dude and he had been wanting to disciple this guy for years. Honestly, their marriage was kind of scary (I'm not gonna get too into that, and I didn't recognize it at the time, but the dude was so sexist and condescending, especially to her – there's no incentive not to be like that in a Xenos marriage, because men are the leaders and they are supposed to do a lot of the shit which makes them seem inherently more capable....even though they aren’t – it is deep rooted. It's still shitty though). I think she saw this potential discipleship as an opportunity to serve which would grow her husband spiritually, and now it was possibly ruined because I had sinned against this guy.
I was really not eating at this point. I was not sleeping. I was in a manic daze. I went from REALLY wanting out of fellowship to REALLY feeling horrible for wanting out in a matter of minutes, all day, every day. I was juggling so much in my head, until I was essentially incoherent. My mind was always racing.
My discipler called my mom and sister without telling me, and let them know that she thought I was having a mental breakdown. This sucked, but I think she did the best thing she knew at that point. They came to get me. I went to a mental hospital near my hometown. I took a semester off and stayed there. I did outpatient therapy for months. I got diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
I started to see the hold this group had on me, but I still loved God at the time. I thought they were right in saying that I should follow God with my life, and I really didn't know how else to do it. I DID NOT WANT TO LEAVE, because I loved these people. Even if I look back and see shit that they did that was fucked up, there was shit they did that was fucking amazing and that's part of what makes it hard to leave. I went through some crazy shit with these people and I LOVED THEM and I still do. I did some fucked up shit myself, when people left before me. I didn't know. They don't know, a lot of them don't know the extent of their actions, they think they're doing God's work. They are in the same place I was. The same place so many of you have been in. It doesn’t diminish the pain they are causing, but the cycle needs to end with an understanding that we need to help them if they will let us. This is so important. They are trying to do what's right in a way, but they are isolated. The only time they are in the outside world is for outreach. Work is outreach. School is outreach. Family is outreach. Friends are outreach. You have no “outside influence,” because every time you are “outside” you are trying to “influence” based on what you hear inside!!!!
Anyway, I loved them, and I didn't want to leave, but I started realizing I couldn't do it anymore. My best friend and my discipler both came to visit me a few times in my hometown and it meant so much to me. They told me about other people in fellowship who lived in ministry houses and how they made it work, and I LOVED THEM and I wanted to follow God, so I wanted to make it work. However, being apart from the group and getting enough rest and talking to people that did not live that life, led me to realize that I didn't believe it anymore. I didn't agree. I didn't know what to do or where to go, but I wanted to leave.
Every time they talked to me though, I started thinking I wanted to stay. I missed them. Finally, I remembered something my discipler said to me. She told me that you can't stay for the people. It's not a social club. It's a fellowship. You can't walk with God for anyone else – it's your walk. I thought if I could be honest with them about the fact that I wanted to stay for them but knew that would be a lie, we would at least maintain some sort of contact, even though they would be busy.
I got an apartment and moved back to Columbus. I went to one last home church meeting.
I approached every individual girl I'd lived with and told her that I loved her. I told her that I loved her and I wanted to have her in my life, but I no longer wanted to follow God, and I must leave. I had no bitterness, no resentment, it was just a choice I had to make. Each one was so kind and said we would still keep in touch.
That didn't happen. I have spoken to a couple of them a handful of times since January 2015. I went to a reunion for the home church, and I had a great fucking time with some of the girls I really missed. A lot of them said we should hang out again. We didn't hang out again. We probably won't as long as they're in there, and they're all committing their lives to husbands in the church – one by one, I've been watching, because I miss them and I love them still. I hope they aren't miserable/unaware of the misery bc they are so focused on eternal life (...that's a hard pill to swallow).
If you want to maintain a friendship after you leave Xenos, it's not gonna happen until they leave too. Then you'll be BEST FRIENDS. And it isn't because people who leave just happen to find each other and be bitter together. That is a common narrative within the church. It's because after you leave Xenos you have no one and you have no idea how to function outside of Xenos anymore. You're a fuckin weirdo for a while honestly, and it's not totally your fault, but it takes time to figure shit out. The only people who get you until you learn how to be a normal person again, are people who are also trying to figure it out. You basically have to recover and rebuild your life by yourself, apart from people who understand what you're doing.
One creepy (but just as “Biblical” as any of this other shit) explanation for getting ostracised after you leave:
FELLOWSHIP IS A PRIVILEGE only for those who are following God. It is one of the “means of growth.” One who is not seeking to grow with God, should not be allowed this privilege. Therefore, within Xenos, they have a Biblical basis for ignoring people who they once claimed to have a deeply meaningful relationship with. Plus, people are in and out of your life as outreach, so why would you still be thinking about someone from 3 years ago when you didn't even have time for them right after they left? You have to be able to refocus for your group to grow and split. It is not healthy to be able to attach and detach like this, no matter how many times you read “Cultivating a Tender Heart.” I gotta tell you, this shit destroys your ability to connect with other people when you leave the church. It's hard to make friends for a very long time. I am not surprised that people have attempted and completed suicide during this time. It's horrible.
IF YOU ARE IN XENOS AND READING THIS RIGHT NOW, I know it is so easy to write this off as Satan's attacks. I know it fits the bill in a lot of ways and I wish I could say something to convince you, for your sake. Please consider it, though. I promise that there is a better life for you. Not inherently. That's the trick. Being “in the world” doesn't necessarily mean all good stuff or all bad stuff. It means you have the opportunity and the time to learn a lot more about yourself and about the people around you. You get to do stuff that you think you can't do (I don't mean the stuff that's sinful, I mean the stuff you want to do but you can't do because you're too busy doin other stuff every second of every day)! I don't feel like I have to get married and have kids quickly or at all. I don't feel like I can't watch TV or play video games or read leisurely or pursue knowledge apart from spiritual things. I don't feel like I don't have time to cook healthy meals or enjoy nature. I feel like I can have a conversation with a stranger about what is meaningful to them rather than trying to steer the conversation towards what I think God says will be most meaningful to everyone. I learn new shit every day about the world and about humanity and about my own perspective. Everything is so fucking interesting and there is so much out there. You have to get out and I love you and I've been there and I wish you the absolute best.
So here’s a story for you my parents heard from a friend that it would be a good faith based place for me to go and have some people to lean on after I had just been sexually assaulted. I got there and at first they were really nice eventually after they found out about what happened to me I was pulled aside and talked to about how that wasn’t assault that was just someone fulfilling a beautiful act from god. I got pissed and started saying how bad of a place they were and from then on I
Would bring someone with me after awhile they kicked me out by saying I was too rebellious and everyone stopped talking to me. Years later one tried reaching out to me and said she was sorry to hear I left which was not true at all
What they condone there is so sick.
[ . . . ]
The worst part was they let my rapist join the group and basically praised him
I was in xenos for seven years. I ruined almost all of my outside friendships and changed every career goal, life plan, and all of my values for them. My counselor and discipler convinced me to alienate my whole family. I was committed to the point of 5 meetings a week- not including discipleship sessions, hangouts, and events which took up whole weekends. When I started a relationship with a “non-believer” everything went downhill
I was told I couldn’t talk to the girls I mentored anymore or explain to them why I wasn’t talking to them anymore. I was forced to share personal intimate details about my sex life in front of a group- only some of whom I was close with. And then when I left I was shunned. After leaving it took 1.5 years to get out of the guilt and fear from the mind control. Mine is not a unique story at all- people are being hurt my xenos
About 6 or 7 months ago I left xenos. At the time, I was on antidepressants. There was a guy I dated in xenos and he also happened to have grew up in xenos however, we were forced to break up after a year since we were in sexual sin. We still continued to talked and we're still committed to each other. I finally ended it when I decided to move into a ministry house. Another year goes by and we start to talk again and actually went on a date. Of course, it was discouraged and we decided we
Weren't ready to date. Well we still ended up talking and since I wasn't taking my antidepressants regularly I ended up having an episode where I was hypersexual. I messed up with him by being sexual on the phone with him and so he took advantage of that. He told me he loved me and wanted to marry me so I ended up having sex with him. He ended up texting me a few days later telling me we were bad for each other and we could never be together. I knew this meant he confessed. He also told a friend
Of mine that he was only using me for sex and that he didn't actually love me. I loved this guy for five years. Xenos said they had kicked him out of the ministry house for taking advantage of me and possibly kick him out of the church. However, they lied. There was no punishment taken since they were trying to protect their product of the church. I had to protect myself and move out of the ministry house since my ex leaved right behind me.
I could not control my hypersexuality from my antidepressants and they knew that and they knew my ex took advantage of that but they still decided to protect him over me. They protected him because he grew up in the church. I don't think that's very fair or just.
I am happy it happened because it gave me an excuse to leave the church and now I found someone who actually respects me as a woman. Being in the church for over seven years taught me that I could only find that in xenos which is far from the truth. And my ex was brainwashed by xenos by doing things like making a chart of the pros and cons of dating me... That is manipulative. People should have freedom to date without others interfering. During my relationship my ex who was supposed to be a Good Christian product of the church would pressure me into sexual acts without my permission. For example.. he put his hand down my shirt when we were in that car with my family. I couldn't say or do anything and I was confused.
Xenos has weird rules on gender and sexuality that aren't okay.
Real quick, I would also like to note that when he confessed he pinned me as the agressor when we both had a part to share. I also want to say I was not always completely perfect as I am only human however, I was very wronged by xenos when they thought they could just have me leave like I was the mistake and they thought they could bury the evidence if I was gone and they could still try to build him into some xenos monster.
Shortly after I got to Columbus, someone I knew invited me to go to her church with her (that's how all cults get started - they have you try to reel your family and friends in). Since I was in an unfamiliar place and wanted to meet people, I figured I'd go. I saw red flags almost right away and got a weird vibe from the people at their meetings, but the longer I stayed, the weirder it got. No one in the church had any friends outside the church, their lives literally revolved around religion and that was all they wanted to talk about when I spent time with them, they tried to force me to be in situations that made me uncomfortable (I have anxiety and don't handle big crowds well, but they were always trying to get me to go to the megachurch's big meetings), I was told that my anxiety and depression issues were Satan trying to take over me, they shamed me for missing prayer meetings if I had to work (my bills weren't going to pay themselves), and they also shamed me for liking literally everything I like (examples: John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, American Girl dolls, Glee, skating, the teams I like). When I confided with two girls in the group who I thought I was friends with about a traumatic experience from my past, they pressured me to tell EVERYONE in the group. They would always harass me about going on their retreats, telling me to power through, even though I made it clear being in a cabin with that many people and that much noise would be too much for me. My grief for Finchel was something I was very much struggling with at the time, and whenever I tried talking to the friends I thought I'd made about my grief, they'd tell me, again, that Satan was taking over me and that I should just trust God. These people also made anti-LGBT and anti-abortion comments a lot. (Even after I quit, I kept several of them on my Facebook and they were all supporting Trump because he's against abortion.) At first, I thought they genuinely liked me, which is why I stuck around for a while even though I was uncomfortable. Eventually, I realized they didn't see me as a friend, just a person they needed to save from myself. When I did some research, I discovered that the deeper people get into it, they do even more disturbing things, so I'm so glad I got out when I did.
Thank you for creating this account, I have watched this church hurt many of my friends over the years. It makes me feel helpless when they leach on to another one of my friends. I try to tell them about my past friends stories and my own.. how one friend came out as gay only to be shoved back in the closet by members of this cult and told that God could heal her depression. How another friend was bullied to believe that her suicidal tendencies made her selfish and a sinner.
How members of Xenos tried to make me participate in a ceremony to “reclaim my virginity” even though I wasn’t ashamed of my sexual life... until I went to home church.
They are truly manipulative and evil, and I just wanted to thank you for having the courage to expose them.
So, a couple year’s ago I would use to go to their “CT” night’s just to see friends honestly. I ended up not going anymore because the way they did things was really not my taste and they where always really shady. I started dating my one friend who was apart of a home church and agreed to start going with her. The home church KNEW she was gay and always supported her ( so we thought. ) I was hesitant to go again due to the fear of being judged for our relationship but she assured me that HER
Home church was REALLY accepting of it. I started to go and they invited me to the events outside of the actual church and I started becoming friends with the people in the home church. One of the girl’s ( we will call her like.. Kelly. ) Well Kelly started becoming really shady all of a sudden. One day we were at the Church and the leader’s of the home church approached me and my girlfriend and asked to talk to my girlfriend, I started to go with and they immediately told me they need to talk
To her alone. They came off really tense and you could tell it was shady. I ended up going in an area where I could still see them talking and in a matter of minutes I saw my girlfriend crying, hard crying. I go to where they are even though they didn’t want me there and made sure she was okay. The “leaders” left and she stared telling me that if she didn’t dump me they she would have to leave the group ( remind you she had a strong bond with this group. ) Turns out “Kelly” told the group we
we’re sexually active. Apparently they “supported” my girlfriend’s choice of being lesbian but didn’t support her ACTUALLY being in a relationship WITH a girl. We never went back and ever since all those people turned even more shady as well as the whole church to not only us but our friends. The church loves control. If they cannot control your actions, they threaten to kick you out completely. They are crazy. That place is basically a cult and Ive been saying it for years.
Also, Id love to help in anyway I can. That place hurt many of the people close to me.
I was actually kicked out of the high school ministry called [ . . . . ] for getting into a relationship with this trans ftm who I met within our group a few years ago. They said our relationship wasn’t godly and that we would have to leave if we didn’t break up lol. So we left. I’m no longer with them but goes to show that Xenos isn’t worth losing my happiness lol
I was in Xenos from 8th grade to the middle of my junior year of Highschool. In middle school I didn’t have a lot of friends and I was just coming out of a church that treated me like I was a horrible person for no reason. People in Xenos acted like they were different, that they were not judgmental, and that they would love me. I stayed and as I “grew in the church” I was looked at as a key component of the group. My sister was in a middle school group but was kicked out because they couldn’t Handle her exploration of her sexuality and her issues with major depressive disorder. My sister went on to have multiple suicide attempts and lots of lasting pain. I obviously struggled with this and it carried over to my group. I was honest with everyone about how I felt but obviously I needed to be at home sometimes to help with my family. I missed a few meetings from being sick and one for trying to outreach to two of my friends. The “nail in my coffin” was that I had hung out with a boy
That was a non believer. I developed feelings for him and told people. I had told maybe two people and they were supportive. Soon everyone in the group knew and were less than supportive. Within the next few days I was at my weekly hangout with my “ministry leader” and I was accused of being distant, being in sexual sin, not following god anymore, and the greatest one was being selfish because I wasn’t ready to donate money to the church. I left shortly after and the only way I could get out was
Begging my mom to ban me from going. They caught on and sent someone to my house to accuse me further of being in sin that never happened . They treat walking away from the church as walking away from God. No church is a God. This place fucked me up so bad that I still and always will have trust issues.
I attended Xenos Christian Schools from age 3 to age 12, taught vacation bible school at the church from age 10 to 13, and was an active member of the church all through middle school. I am currently age 18. I am here to reaffirm that what goes on at this church is not normal.
In a school setting, the issues with the church were not so noticeable, other than in middle school specifically, my bible class teacher consistently talked bad on other religions, especially Catholicism. My parents stated that they pulled me from the school system after the school "began telling us what we ARE going to do, such as sending you to Xenos church camps and meetings and stuff. They became very pushy with us too, saying that we needed to be more involved in the church and it was very uncomfortable. We weren't comfortable sending you to school there anymore."
In the church setting, the oddities with the church became very noticeable. The people of the church have a very odd overbearing way of showing you this love and welcoming nature that at first just seems friendly. However, later on I realized that this love they have for their people is not unconditional, rather it is used as a distraction from the abnormal things they do. Here are the main problems that I have experienced with Xenos, a church claiming to be non-denominational:
The people of the church, while overbearingly friendly at first, are incredibly judgmental. They have a tendency to bash other religions and are very quick to judge those who are non-members of the church. Not very Christian-like.
They are constantly in your face about donating to the church. Even when I attended the middle school Blowout (central teaching) every week, they would ask you to donate money to the "church fund" and pass around a bag right before and during the teachings. This is incredibly inappropriate, especially at a middle school teaching when the audience is kids aged 11-13. In addition, anytime a church member may be struggling financially (this has happened on multiple occasions), that church member just expects that the people of the church have them covered. In other words, "mooch" is a good word to describe the church members.
This church is very homophobic. They are not at all outspoken about this.(obviously, because that would be judgmental, right?) I came out as gay my junior year of high school, when I was still friends with people from the church. Immediately, I stopped hearing from anybody I have ever associated with at the church. I was cut off. This has happened to a few of my LGBT friends that attended the church. They will ask you to leave the church if they catch wind that you are LGBT.
This didn't happen to me personally because my parents were not members of the church, but I watched it happen to one of my family members who has been a member of the church for 20+ years. She became very distant from our family, putting the church members before us all the time. We would never see her. She has gotten better at this after some family intervention, but Xenos is still her number one priority, and it's too late to change that, she's in too deep.
The whole idea surrounding the college ministry houses is strange. It's like they want their members living together so no outside influence can derail them from putting their ultimate focus on the church. The process of getting into a ministry house is also quite odd. They make you prove your devotion to the church for MONTHS before they allow you to live in one (my cousin is in this process, unfortunately). The second they see doubt, you no longer stand a chance of getting into a ministry house.
The church has this ongoing theme. They're all about showing your devotion to them. They make you feel like you owe your life to them. The moment you stray your focus from the church, you can say goodbye to it and all of its members. If they can't lure you in and keep you devoted completely to Xenos, they suddenly become unwelcoming, very opposite of their initial attitude towards people. There is none of this going to church with your family on Sunday morning and going home type of deal. It's more like, come to church every week, but also come to every home church meeting, go on every retreat, quit your job and work for us and our schools, and only associate with our members. The same goes for the middle and high school cell groups/home churches. If you miss a couple meetings, you will notice that you are not as welcomed by the people of the groups.
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.
Do not fall for the fake love this church shows. Stay clear of Xenos "Christian" Fellowship.
Hi man, thanks for creating this page. I was a part of Pyro for some time and then they kicked me out because I was gay and wasn't afraid to show it. They were scared that it would "affect" other people almost. They tried to send me to Arsenal to "get some help". For Xenos it's like if you're not like them, you're not accepted. They kicked out another boy for the same reason as I. Pyro is a cult. Xenos is a cult. Get the message out before anyone else has to experience this horrible feeling.
I was in Xenos from my freshman to my junior year, I knew something wasn’t right by the first meeting. My mom got a divorce and I was alone home all the time so I turned to someone that invited me out to a meeting. I was raised not extremely religious but very spiritual with my parents being non denominational. The first meeting they all crowded me and asked me if I had given myself to god and asked him to be my savior and I told them “I had always felt that he was there.” They told me that it Doesn’t “work that way” I got scared after a few months, I would go through phases where I felt unworthy to go by something that I might’ve done or felt. If I missed one meeting they all surrounded me and asked me questions
And then after a few months I’d come back, but the people that I went to it with wouldn’t talk to me. There was always new people, more people to convert and when you were the new one they treated you like a new puppy. That’s why they always went after younger kids, they targeted the loners and weird Kids at my school, they wanted us to feel the attention, you know you want to be apart of something even if it means having to learn about a being you didn’t believe in in the first place.
After 6 months I came again. I wasn’t going because I started dating a guy I liked and I had not reached out but every single week they were messaging me trying to get me to come again, I felt like a kid who had to go to a family event I didn’t want,to but my gut would tell me I should. When I got in the car my old leader asked me about the guy I was dating. The first thing she said was “does he believe in god”. When I said no she yelled at me like I was a bad dog. She yelled at me at told me it was my responsibility to make sure he went or it would be my fault he would burn in Hell. I said of course and went into the bathroom and cried, I sat in service and left. I haven’t been back since.
Basically I was involved with Xenos and now about a year removed from leaving I can more clearly reflect on how the manipulative tactics of the group really ate away at my life, my friends lives, and my core identity.
I was involved in a high school group for quite some time and was even considering moving into a ministry house. I was pressured and made to feel like my life was absolutely meaningless if I chose a different path.
My dream school was out of state and I worked damn well to go there. I had a pretty good shot at being accepted too, for months I would have conversations and was made to feel guilty because I wanted something else for my life. At one point we even had a parent night for our group and the whole meeting was about trying to convince parents that living in the ministry house was what was best for their children. They used financial incentives of it being more cost effective, safety reasons-
( no crazy partying etc).
I was furious. For so long I was told I would have options, I would be able to chose my future plans, but then I felt trapped.
I couldn’t leave because I would be made to feel like a sinner and an outsider. I would loose my friends, and I already didn’t have many friends outside the group because all my time went to meetings. Eventually I did leave and I haven’t looked back since. Nobody really has tried to contact me or see since. That hurts. To think that’s all that I meant to them. Another body to feel a seat in the teachings.
Sorry for the typos, I was trying to fast I guess
I was not religious and was going through a really tough mental spell when they reached out to me and invited me to a meeting
being in high school I ignorantly agreed and was a victim of the infamous love bombing. I remember I was made fun of at school for being a part of a cult and I stood up for xenos saying there was no way it was a cult. I was in it for two years and during my third year I was coming and going.
during this third year I got a boyfriend who I loved very much, but was outside of the church. I knew he was religious so I didn’t mind. but my disciple/discipler did (idk which is which but she was my mentor essentially) she told me that I should either bring him out or break up with him because he was “an outsider.”
I knew something was fishy because normal churches just don’t say that.
later that year a friend of mine committed suicide and I was so heartbroken. I was torn up and never left
the house, including going to group. when I did go back, everyone had turned the back on me for having a falling out with god. I tried to explain everything and about how I myself was feeling suicidal, and I was ridiculed and told that suicide was the ultimate sin and that I was going to hell for even thinking about it. so I stopped going. then xenos people started showing up in the city I lived in , 20 minutes away from them. randomly at the restaurants and coffee shops. once I saw one of them
and they cried begging me to come back. but I was no longer ignorant to that fact that it’s a FUCKING CULT. so I refused.
I have some other super fucked up stories as well
it took me an entire year of therapy to start telling my therapist about xenos and the effect the organization and its members had on me
I was in one of the high school groups for a year or so. I struggled with some personal problems, and I was open about them with one of my home church leaders. I had missed a few meetings sometimes because It didn’t feel genuine to me being at the home church. The following time I had gone to home church, I was pulled off to talk privately with one of my leaders. She told me if I wasn’t going to be consistent in coming, to stop coming in all.
She told me I loved sinful temptations more than I loved god when I didn’t come to home church, so I stopped coming then and there. I still speak to one member occasionally, only when she’s inviting me to come to a CT meeting. I don’t understand why they keep inviting me when they know what state I left the church in.
I have also heard one of my leaders stating transgender people think they need to change their identity, but they just need to find god instead. Which I thought was very narrow minded. Again, please keep my anonymous. I am sharing because it is so good to see people finally expose Xenos.
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.
Hey, I’m willing to go public. My story isn’t harrowing. I went to Pyro a few times in middle school, because my friends were going. But I’m not a believer, and it started to get tiring after awhile, constantly being told I had to change my mind. My friends never told me that I had to believe in God to be their friend. But that’s what happened, because, in the space of six months, their entire social lives changed. They stopped hanging out with anyone but Xenos.
They would only agree to hang out if it was at Pyro or with Home Church people. And then, when it was time to go to college, they all went to OSU. I doubt they even considered other schools, they were determined to live together. I visited one old friends house once- more people were living in it than was agreed to on the lease. She said they planned to split into smaller groups soon, but I didn’t realize overcrowding was a common practice until finding your page
I never had a really terrible experience with XENOS, but I never had a good feeling about them, either. Pyro meetings were madhouses of peer pressure and judgement. I’ve heard too many bad stories from others to ignore your page. Nothing that isolates it’s members the way xenos does is healthy. If you use my name, please use the whole message
Important correction, it all happened freshman year, not middle school. It feels like it was a long time ago, a lot has changed.
- Meg E.
Hi, very supportive of everything you're doing
Was in xenos for about a year in highschool, lost four friends so far to the cult.
[ . . . ] While in college I spent time with xenos of a few occasions. Always thought they were harmless until I lost a friend or two to them. I tried for several months to get interviews and first hand accounts for a documentary about xenos in Columbus, but so many people were scared to go on the record with their accounts. Organizing the interviews is difficult, and many people who I talked to who had left were still sympathetic to their motives.
[ . . . ]
I appreciate your resolve.
I joined xenos my freshman year of high school. The girl who befriended me used the lovebomb technique and became a really close friend. During my time at Xenos I saw really weird behavior. Gay people were told that they were wrong and they needed to pray the gay away. Home church leaders took notes on everyone who was there (HS & college). Boys and girls were coerced into dating by disciples and leaders, so they could be molded into homechurch leaders. “Covenant Eye”
[ . . . ]
Yes! Everyone in college groups has it on the cell phones and laptops. especially the guys
They’re pressured into getting it installed, my discipler tried to get me to get it
After college homechurch one night, everyone gathered around a laptop to go through the deepweb to look through the worst links. Laughing at the fact that there were pictures of murdered people, dead babies, and child porn. I felt so sick after that meeting that soon after i never returned. That itself was enough to leave that disgusting church. So holy right? Can this please stay anonymous
pissed off neighbor here, thank you so much for this, i am glued to the feed and rooting for you. I am so sorry that so many people are traumatized by this so called church. Even I, who has nothing to do with them is so paranoid that they're going to catch my house on fire. Two questions though...why do they feel the need to be so loud/scream everything/pontificate dumb shit all the time? My frat bro neighbors were more quiet and considerate even while doing keg stands. And also what the hell is with the [ . . . .]? It's really obnoxious and [ . . . . . . . . . . . .] They clearly think they are like chosen or special or something but they are the weakest link on the street and everyone hates them.
[ . . . ] It's campus... we're used to noise but they take it to a whole new level. [ . . . . . . . . . ] Straight up. Much love!
I can’t even begin to explain the stress I was under being in a group with Dennis and joe botti
This cult needs to end.. it has ruined sooo many lives.. leaving people broken and alone
I’m lucky to have had friends who stood through with me through it all... I would have never made it if my friends from before didn’t accept me back with open arms
[ . . . ]
I know from reading the website now that he was essentially afraid of becoming homeless
I remember one time fighting with my roommates, my house leader was on a mission to rebuke me each day for something, and i was screaming and crying and trying to leave and all my roommates blocked the door and wouldnt let me leave. I dont remember what we were fighting about....probably the dishes.
My parents met in xenos, got married and had me and my brother. I grew up going to church all the time, multiple times a week. I loved having friends and something to do and then i got into high school. I joined a group and i really enjoyed everyone but now looking back the older kids (including the leaders) joked around very harshly to the point where i would avoid certain people at times. End of freshman year i started dating a boy who i really liked at the time. my first ever boyfriend. Later in our relationship we got more physical i was very hesitant because i was not ready for something like that. I also wanted to obey the rules in the church. This boy manipulated me into thinking if i i didn’t go along with it i would be in the wrong. On multiple occasions he forced himself on to me. one time in particular i started crying because he wouldn’t let me go. I was manipulated to the point that if i didn’t do this or that he wouldn’t talk to me. After this abuse i ended up trying to get away and with this being my first relationship i had no clue how. i ended up self harming and once my learners found out they almost blamed it on me. being under control of this boy changed me and made me distant and anxious. my leaders realized this and called me out on it by telling me my relationship with god isn’t where it should be. I was hiding this secret about my boyfriend and i was afraid if i told someone i would be kicked out. xenos was all i ever knew so that really scared me. my relationship with my parents suffered and one time a leader witness me lie to my mom and ever since she never believed a word a said. even tho i had never lied to her or anyone in my group. i didn’t fit their mold so they kept sitting me down and telling me my relationship with god wasn’t good. i had no clue how to help myself and when i asked they told me i already knew what to do. the boys in my group were really nice and i enjoyed their company so obviously i spent time with them. this encouraged rumors and once the leaders heard they decided to discipline me out. i didn’t go mostly because i felt so trapped in the whole situation and by this point my anxiety was at an all time high. i skipped school and had panic attacks in my car. leaders would text me saying they needed to talk to me but wouldn’t say why... they just insinuated i did something very wrong. once i got kicked out nobody talked to me. i haven’t heard a word from some people who were my “close friends”. i came out about the sexual assault 2 years after and nothing happened. i’m pretty sure he works with the middle school groups and that makes me really uncomfortable. I have a lot of ptsd from the assault and i to this day do not feel comfortable sleeping with anyone. my body clenches up and i will sit there wanting to cry. I know my business was spread around to many different people and that just proves i was never respected by anyone. i’ve tried to make amends with the people in my group and they still can’t get passed all the rumors made up 3 years ago. i wasn’t perfect but i forgave myself and them but why really gets me is that the point of christianity is to love your neighbor. treat others how you want to be treated. xenos holds them self on a pedestal and if you aren’t involved you’re below them. how the fuck is that loving??? i’m still working out issues they caused but for anyone reading this i encourage you to be strong and to honestly just stand up for yourself because i didn’t and they got the best of me. oh and it’s 100% a cult.
so i just wanna say i agree with all of this. my mom and dad are both [ . . . . . . ] at xenos and im emotionally detached from them i really feel mentaly fucked because of it and my mom always wants me to come back but she knows not to push me about religion too hard i think because shes afraid of knowing that im an atheist so we just dont talk about it..plust i had super anger issues for awhile.. and my brother feels the same. its just an organized christian breeding ground that makes you feel like shit if you leave..
[ . . . [ I left over 6 years ago and still have nightmares about it
[ . . . ] I’ve actually thought for a long time that someone needs to do this, and it’s great that you took that step.
I was raised in the church my whole life. I even attended their private schools all the way up through middle school.
Yeah definitely it’s just so much that it’s hard to know where to start. I’m an open book if you have any questions.
I don’t wanna say the same thing as everyone else but it really is a consistent experience. They convince you that they’re everything and they give you so much love, but then when things get real or you start to doubt their teachings, they isolate you and eventually cut you off. My high school discipler called this “pruning” and referred to the passage about the vine and the Branches, and she basically made it sound like it’s the church’s responsibility to remove people who are no longer functioning for them the way they want.
For me, this happened during my freshman year- which was a hard time for me. I had just transitioned into public schools from the xenos schools, my parents were getting a divorce, and I was struggling with various mental health issues (self harm, anorexia, suicidal ideation, etc). When I reached out for help, I was told I was being divisive and seeking attention. Then I was slowly alienated and eventually I couldn’t take it anymore and left my homechurch.
In middle school I had tried to get counseling through xenos for my eating disorder, and let me just say, it was very damaging and not productive and the counselors are not equipped to handle the issues they try to confront. My counselor basically asked me a list of questions, she probably just printed it off of google, to see if I had an eating disorder. The first assignment she gave me was to keep a journal of what I was eating and how I felt about it to see if I was actually anorexic.
Anyways. Leaving xenos was a lot like leaving an abusive relationship, and I know because I’ve done that too. They reel you in with love, isolate you from the outside world, and become your identity. They convince you that you need them and that everything outside of the church is dangerous and evil. There’s a lot of gaslighting involved. They take up all your time and that separates you from reality further and further, making you easier to control and manipulate.
I think I experienced this on a deeper level having been raised in xenos and attending the schools.
Before I left, I fought hard to make it work. I tried to resolve my issues with my disciples, even with a mediator. I eventually tried to switch homechurches because I was being isolated so much that attending didn’t make sense anymore (this was very painful at school because my close and main friends were all xenos and they stopped talking to me). When I tried to transfer, my homechurch leader sent out a mass email to all the other leaders in the entire sphere to not let me join another group
And to redirect me to [ . . . ] (that’s the name of my homechurch). So eventually I started attending only CT but eventually just drifted from everyone because I was a black sheep. I had at this point realized I was bisexual and that was a whole issue as well. I was outed to my family and the whole experience was so traumatic that I broke up with my girlfriend exclusively because I was too anxious to be around her.
I had tried to visit another homechurch with one of my good friends at the time and was confronted and cornered by one of the leaders, someone who had been a close family friend for years. She essentially told me I wasn’t welcome to come back until I resolved my issues at [ . . . . . . . . ] which had proved impossible. I had a massive panic attack.
I’m sorry this is so scattered, I’m just sharing as I’m remembering details
The thing about xenos is that when things are good they seem really good but then when you look closer and start asking questions it all comes crashing down
And even when you do realize it, it’s so hard to leave because of how deeply ingrained their teachings become
I wondered if there was just something wrong with me and that’s why I couldn’t make it work
That’s how good they had me
Did you know that there are multiple people who have committed suicide because of xenos? And I’ve also heard something about a team of psychologists dedicated to helping people who have left xenos because of how intense the damage can be
That might be a good resource to look into when you build your website. Maybe have a section for people who have left or are thinking of leaving who need some help
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!
Please make this anonymous, I was in xenos from age 13-17, my first time there I knew it was sketch. I only went because my best friend went, she believed everything. She was so brainwashed by them, she lost all her friends that weren’t in xenos and even almost lost me. I went off and on but everytime I skipped a meeting all the leaders would bombard me with messages asking where I was. Towards my end with xenos I brought my crush to a hc meeting
They judged me almost immediately because I liked someone who didn’t believe in the things they did. They practically attacked him with questions and had almost rehearsed rebuttals when he said something that actually made since. They treat god as a ruler and king. He’s supposed to be our father and friend
People say cult have 1 true leader so xenos can’t be one. I believe the true cult leaders are all the home church leaders
Including the main people at ct
It’s so terrible young kids and teens are getting stuck in something terrible. They never see it coming.
Did home church a few times as a friend had invited me when I was down on my luck. It got weird when the group leader was almost begging me to tell him that “I accept Jesus Christ in my heart”. I adamantly refused lol even tho I was raised Christian. It was Uber pushy and freaked me out so I stopped going.
The members texted me every week begging me to come back but I was “busy”. Then they said they got me a bday present so at least come to pick it up... okay I love presents so I went
Sure enough it was a bible! Signed by each and every one of them telling me they will pray for me and are worried about me blah blah blah.
I cut them all out then and there. It was only after my experience I started to hear horrible stories from other former members....
Thanks for making this page and the site exposing this group. [ . . .]
I know you get this a lot but I wanted to say thank you for making this page. For a long time I thought I was only one who had bad experiences with the Xenos church. I’m happy other people are sharing their stories.
Of course. They need to be exposed for what they really are i appreciate you
I’ve been familiar with xenos since middle school. Was tricked by friends in to attending several events that were disguised as hangouts (until a propaganda minister who was a random young adult Male showed up to “play a movie) i was ridiculed by friends who were completely brainwashed because I was Muslim. I have many stories also involving breach of privacy by means of monitoring internet history.
This is great to see I had my share if dealing with xenos. Everything youve stated happened to me. The real you in with a pretext relationship. Then butter you up when youre low. Then try to bring you in as much as possible. And once you dont follow along with their plan. They keep pushing to get you to fit back in line. As much as they say they care they drop you like you never existed. And any solid relationship you thought you had created is completely over. People i thought i would
Still be close with i dont ever see or talk too. And that was the worst part because I'm the type to build long lasting meaningful relationships and for them to not exist hurts. I also watched as the manipulate relationships to futher their mission. Its very inside dating. I was interested in a girl who was new and was only coming out to meetings every once in a while but they kept pushing me to get her to visit more often.
I fell out because my job had me working on the days of meetings and when they finally stopped reaching out for me to return i felt like i had lost everything. I met up with a friend who had also left at the same time and we would just talk about everything that happened. We felt kind of alone. And just having someone there who knew what you felt or went through was amazing.
Hey there. I messaged you from Instagram (literally created an account just for this) basically saying you are a badass for calling out Xenos. Thanks so much for creating this Mark. You are seriously awesome for that and this is definitely going to help a lot of people that feel trapped in Xenos. It is honestly about time someone did because they are so out of hand and crazy. Sorry this is so long in advance. I know you are busy and if you don't get to my story, it's alright. I hope I didn't miss any errors. I proofread but I am pretty tired.
So my story may be a tad different as I never actually joined the cult, but still a typical Xenos encounter nonetheless. I don't want to get into great detail about how I met them and what not, but I met a few out and about town on the OSU campus of course. They invited me over to hang out and because they were young college age kids, why not? But I had no idea they were part of any church at first. When I first got there, I got a frat house vibe so I didn't really question how many people lived in the ministry house. I wasn't even sure and didn't think about it too much. I remember being loved bomb and thinking it was just college kids trying to get to know me. It wasn't until I started having casual conversation with one person who became a close friend for about a year. She suggested I can come to bible study if I want. I didn't say anything as I reject all gods. I didn't want to mention that because I got the vibe they are religious. But because they seemed really chill, APPEARED very secular, and I didn't really have friends nearby, I figured I'd hang out anyway. At first, when I did mention I was an atheist, they said it was ok. I thought 'oh! well this great!' They aren't bothered by that. BOOOYYY was I totally wrong...
I hung out with them often but refused to go to their bible studies and all that. I'd come afterwards or spend time with them if they went out to eat, watch movies, etc. I genuinely enjoyed hanging out with them. But every now and then, someone would ask me about my stance on religion. Nearly everytime it would lead to some unnecessary argument and I'd go home feeling annoyed. It hardly happened at first, but as time went on it only got worse. My closest friend that I made within their group always mentioned over and over again despite me refusing many times. She'd follow up with 'ok, but if you ever change your mind you know you can come to our meetings.' No matter how many times I said no she'd ask me again whether it be the next time we hang out or a month later.
We became really close friends despite that (love bombing at work and she was a fuckin expert). I really thought she cared for me as she stopped harassing me to join. Then I swear when she stopped, others started. I swear almost every time I came to hang out a different person was asking me to join and bringing up god despite being irrelevant to the conversation. Why didn't I just stop hanging out with them you ask? As I mentioned earlier, I didn't really have friends as I was struggling to make some as a transplant. Plus, I got along with them and they loved my company. Or so I thought.
One time I came over, and this was the straw that broke the camel's back. I was hanging out as usual and someone dude (new dude as they move groups around every year which I didn't know of until around the time it happened) asked me what I believe in. I tell them I am atheist, and at first they talk like they actually respect people outside their comfort zone. It then got into an actual argument. What's worse is that other people joined in and I felt attacked. My close friend actually defended me basically saying I don't have to do anything I don't want to do. It ended there.
I had been hanging out with them for a year at this point. Strangely enough, they have no issue confronting you about religion but can't say 'you aren't welcome unless you join' to your face. That was when I started to see that they probably do not care for me as a person. It was hard to believe and I didn't want to at first. We had been friends for so long now. Surely if they had an issue they'd tell me to leave, right?
I didn't see them for a few weeks because of that argument despite a few of them asking where I had been. Th close friend I made said I could still come if I want to because it was obvious I didn't really feel welcome and said I wouldn't. I did later on and then she is asking me why I am coming. So I stop coming and you say I should anyway, but then I come back and you say I don't have to be here? Her and I talked in private about it and I basically said that they give off a 'one of us' vibe. That they don't seem to be open to being friends for the sake of friendship. That you have to be part of Xenos to be their friend. I basically called her out. She acted like she didn't know what the hell I was talking about. She asked me to be more clear but I couldn't have been clearer. She was so not used to someone eventually seeing through them and telling them to their face so she just straight up pretends to be confused. Bullshit. Despite never coming back as we both agreed on that, we stayed friends as she was the only real friend I had there. We agreed we can just hang out with each other rather than me come back to see the others. Or so I thought.
She only texted me a handful of times and we never hung out. Anytime we were supposed to hang out, she'd 'forget'. Yeah sure. I actually thought despite how crazy they were, that she was the one person who valued our friendship. Told me we'd always be friends. I actually believed it at one point. But after some point, I let it go and realized she was never a friend. After all the private and deep conversations we had about our lives, my struggles, hanging out on a weekly basis..it was all a lie. They went out of their way to lie to me for a whole year because they were still holding onto the idea I'd join their goddamn cult. I am 25 years old. I know who I am by this point in my life and don't need Xenos to "help" me figure out who I am or some shit. I am not a lost teenager like a good chunk of them seem to be trying to fill a void at the expense of others.
This was late last year when I stopped hanging out with them so I have since emotionally recovered for the most part. Although, I am still frustrated I never called them all out once when I noticed red flags. But I am doing much better these days. :)
Stay far far away from hardcore religious nutcases, especially Xenos. Be an individual. Think for yourself. Embrace your inner wolf instead of willfully ignorant sheep.
Xenos' main focus is outreach, inviting new people out to the meetings in hope of converting them. It does not sound too sinister when you hear their pitch: "Hey man, I am part of a bible study, we meet on Thursday nights. It's super laid back, a bunch of college aged people. We even drink a beer or two after the meeting, would you want to check it out?" If you do not have many friends/are bored and think the Xenos member is cool, you might go check it out. They did not tell you all that is hidden beneath the floorboards. Imagine if they had said: "Hey man, would you like to come out to a bible study on Thursday? I have been telling the members in my group about you, and praying that you would come out during our weekly prayer group. Also, we will pre-plan who gives you a ride, who talks to you after the meeting, and who gets your number to follow up with you. Then, after you come out Thursday I will meet with my group on Friday and tell them all about what you thought of it, and everyone will share what interactions they had with you the previous night. We have a list, and you are now on it. You will be prayed about, and we will continue to bug you to come out again." No one in their right mind would go to that, they would call you a psycho. This is what Xenos does, this is not made up.
So every year Xenos does a trip down to the beach it’s either north or South Carolina and 2 people died 2 years in a row. That’s pretty suspicious to me
Also I was part of the group [ . . . . ] ran by joe Botti for about a year. I started to feel weird going and they tried to isolate me from all my friends outside of xenos.
I left and they came to my house asking where I was
Hello I went to this so called church for a few years with a few friends of mine that still go, I'm a quiet person so I never really talked to them and they thought that was a problem and would ask my friends about me instead of asking me themselves. Well one day I don't remember how it got brought but but the fact that I've already had sex was put out there and for two weeks straight all they would talk about if that it was a sin and I need to stop that lifestyle to get back on track. I didn't
Really care because it's not there life, but the most mest up thing that they did was tell me I needed to leave my job because I wouldn't make it to CT but I could make it out on sunday's. Then my "leader" told me that she didn't like the fact that I liked a guy that I worked with and that it was a problem because he has a gf. Well I never tried to get with him I just said I liked him. Then I gave them money to go to epic and they didn't even come get me to go to epic. They lied to my friend
That went and tod her that "if I wanted to come I should've made more of an effort to come out" well news flash you guys aren't paying my bills and I got the week off of work to go just to be woken up at 7am by my friend asking me why I'm not on the bus. They are asswholes that judge you over everything little thing then ask about you behind your back like it's nothing. They even get married just so they can have sex without feeling bad about it. I hated that "church" my second year in
I was in a relationship for almost four years, it was amazing. We never had any issues, and we always supported each other in anything we did. Long story short, she started getting distant with me when she started hanging out with this new friend. The new friend is an active member of the Xenos Church. I never saw it coming but she broke up with me just a week after meeting this new friend, and days after went on a church retreat to the beach with all these new friends. This girl was my absolute best friend, and she literally fell off the face of the earth and acts like I don’t even exist anymore. The whole thing was extremely shocking and the most painful experience of my life. I had planned to marry this girl, and had absolutely no doubts about our future together at the time. She never once told me she didn’t think we would last, or gave any signs as to why. This girl was in a vulnerable state, she had just failed her final exams, switched her major for the 3rd or 4th time, and was basically lost in life. Felt she needed to find a purpose... so now she’s got all these new people she’s with, and it’s terrifying to think what will happen when she wakes up one day and realizes what she has done. Anyone that knew us thought we would last forever, no doubt. The bad part is her family is heavily involved in the church as well so even if she got out of it, they would have to wake up as well. I’m Afraid it’s a lost cause now, I just want others to know that they aren’t alone and I’m sure I’m not the only story like this as I’ve read hundreds. I hope this cult is totally dismantled and I support this website 100%.
I have been reading a ton of the submissions on your website over the past few days, and now want to share my story.
I was invited to Xenos my senior year of high school through a friend (we will call Anna) I grew up with. I honestly wasn't interested in going at first - I grew up going to a different church and believe in God, but attending church was never for me. After being invited several times by Anna, I decided to accompany her because I hadn't seen her in years. She was one year older than me, so it was a college group home church I went to with her.
As a lot of other people have stated, when you first attend one of these gatherings, you are SHOWERED with love. They make you feel like the most important person in the world, and express that they are truly happy you are there. I was pretty clear with the leaders from the beginning that I wasn't big into religion. They told me that it didn't matter and that they were just happy I was there to hang out with them.
A couple weeks in, they started bombarding me with questions I didn't know how to answer. Things like "how is your relationship with Jesus Christ?" It was so intense, and typically a one on one conversation. I felt compelled to lie and say that I was growing closer to God when at that time I really wasn't.
Then came the beach trip. Anna was going and talked me into going too. However, a couple of weeks before we were to leave, Anna announced that she was pregnant (out of wedlock, I must add). Shortly after, I received an email from one of the leaders of the home church telling me that they told Anna she couldn't come to the beach with them, but that they still really wanted me to come. I said I'd have to think about it but that I probably wouldn't be comfortable going. She said she understood and that there was no pressure.
That wasn't true. I started receiving messages several times a day from the leaders and members saying they wanted me to come - people I barely knew. They told me I could come for free, they just wanted me there. I finally accepted, because that was a very generous offer on their part. I ended up going, and I don't regret that decision, everything went smoothly. However, what happened when we got back is a different story.
At one of the homechurch meetings, homosexuality was a topic of conversation during the reading. Afterwards, I asked one of the leaders if being gay was a big enough sin to send you to hell. She said "absolutely not" and showed me a verse in the Bible that supported her response. But that response fell short when a couple weeks after that, they told one of the girls who attended the group, that she either needed to "stop coming" or "stop being gay." She stopped coming.
Shortly after that, they allowed Anna to start coming back to the group. Her "sin" was forgivable by their standards, but being homosexual is apparently not.
Honestly,the event of me quitting the group is a haze to me. I do remember that I stopped going because I didn't want to support that type of negativity. I was obviously harassed, messages upon messages of invitations to come back and questions about where I had been. Eventually they stopped. I hope anyone who is trying to leave understands that eventually they have to stop.
An extra fun tidbit - I attended a funeral last year and a few members from the homechurch were there. It has been 6 years since I stopped going. One of them talked to me. The others acted like I wasn't alive.
Anna is still a member of the church, but she didn't shut me out. I attended her wedding last year. Not everyone who attends Xenos is a bad person. They are simply brainwashed.
My friend got put in a closet with a camera and the told her to accept god now since she had been going for to long to still be questioning. Later that month my friend was in the car with her leader who locked the doors and pulled off to the side of the road telling her she had to accept Christ now or she was going to drive her back home. Xenos acts nice until you aren’t falling into their trap like your supposed to.
I don’t know where to start because I struggle at times to accept I was in Xenos for so long. Sorry, if I don’t make sense, in advance. I guess this is where Xenos has taught me my words never made sense to anyone. They ridiculed how I communicate and process. I’m Autistic with a few other issues.
• I started Xenos 10 years ago, a year or two after my mother died. They told me I need to stop grieving for my mother because I’m dwelling on her death. Hmm, why I took care of my Mom the last couple years of her life, working full time and going to college. This is before I was diagnosed with autism. And my mother was my adoptive mom. Though, I called her Mom because she’s my Mom!
• My boss committed Suicide 2006, I told this to other xenos members in my bible study I called it BS. I would share about this as it was traumatic for me. I was the first one to be notified by the police at work. I hate talking on the phone after that. Anyways they told me I was attention seeking I need to stop talking about it. Even though they knew other people have lost their loved ones through suicide, they let them talk about it.
• I lived with one of the BS members for a few months, I was constantly treated as a child even though I was an adult. I was always questioned who I was texting or talking about. I hung out with friends (not xenos) accuses of drinking. (I do not drink alcohol as it’s ny presences).
I was told I wasn’t allowed to wear bikinis.
There was so much I wasn’t allow to do but others were allowed
Fast Foward to October 2016, I was sexually assaulted by a Xenos member. I informed a few people from my old bible study and new bible study. They told me oh he’s a nice guy and we still like him.
Both my old and new BibleStudy merged back in 2017 in August.
Anyways. Between August 2017 to October 2017 there was a domestic violence situation occurring upstairs that I had contact the police several times.
I shared a powerful post about how I’m standing up to this guy when several xenos people kept telling me I need to pray for him (not the victim).
This person that was my discipleship mentor argued with people on my FB about crap she took away my power by degrading me.
That was the last straw. I left October 2017 never looked back.
There are more to share though I’m not ready as I’m still coming to realizations they only cared for me for their expansion. They only care for me to look good for them. I’ve lost at least 200 more friends, however I’m regaining my life by creating new journey without them. It’s my choice now as I’m in control, not them.
Do I miss them, no. they seem not to miss me either.
If they truly care, they would reach out... though we all know they only reach out if you are part of Xenos or a new person in a vulnerable state.
Well.....I have been in the church for about 9+ years. I am still involved and have a love/hate relationship with Xenos. There are more times that I want to leave than stay. But here's the sad part....the only thing making me stay is that I have no where else to go. Being in Xenos for so long has made me lose old friends from high school and has made it hard to make new friends. I should be starting my senior year of college but am still a sophomore due to the overwhelming amount of meetings held each week. Therefore, I haven't had time to meet anyone new except for my occasional walks around the oval for stress relief. My home life with my family is pretty bad so living in a ministry house is a good escape from that.
I love following God and having him apart of my life. I think Xenos has great teachings and I DO have good friends that are real. BUT the problem I have with Xenos are a majority of the leaders, bashing me for "being too complacent", "not reading my bible enough", "doesn't think i have a deep enough friendship with my roommates", "called me OUT because i missed ONE meeting to be with my family", "questioning my faith". I get mad at them for accusing me but then they blame me for having a "secret sin" because if i was truly good with God, then I wouldn't be talking back. Whenever I try to stand up for myself or my beliefs and my own personal time with God, I become the victim because they start getting on the defensive mode and eventually shut me down. I feel like I have no voice, no rights, no freedom. I've wanted to leave several times but every time I get to that point, I feel like i'm brainwashed into staying because XENOS is where "God has placed me" and by leaving, that would infer that im disobeying God or "walking away". I'm very shy and quite the pushover but what these college leaders and the disciplers that they're brainwashing are doing is NOT ok. I never had this problem a few years ago in High school group and I hear nothing but great things about the adult group. But for some reason, the college group has been on an attack to people in their groups that arent doing well....but then they call it "pruning"..., its been absolute hell ever since I graduated from High school and joined college. I love the group im in now, except for 6 out of 11 of my roommates who believe that I am secretly hiding something and often get very skeptical. They also never talk to me or build a friendship. The only time I conversate with them is when they're rebuking me. I will tell them the truth about how I feel and say that its unfair that they are assuming things about my life because ive barely talked to them and that they arent my friend outside of these harsh conversations. They will turn around and tell me im wrong because its not wrong for someone to want to speak "truth" into my life. These people are hypocrites! but they get away with it because they have the title of leadership and do things the "xenos" way. They project 1 Cor 13, to love one another, but ive experienced nothing but the opposite. I
want to leave so bad. I just dont know how. Xenos is great for coming into a relationship with Christ, without joining, I never would have had a personal relationship with him.,,,but when it comes to this "second decision" crap, that's when I agree with everyone about the "love bombing" acts dispersing and tension rising so they can form you to be the person they want you to be. It should be your own decision, and on YOUR OWN TIMING on whether or not you want to be a leader, not pressure. ALSO, a personal relationship with God should be PERSONAL. I would love to share with people about my time with God, but I cant because I know I will get judged or asked a million of the same questions by different people because they've totally talked about me with each other behind my back and how they want to share the same passage of truth. I was also asked to take a leadership course. I told them I wasn't ready, but by saying that they said I was rejecting God and thought there was a weird alternative of why I wasn't wanting to take it so soon. They really do wanna get you wrapped up ASAP.
This used to be a community that I loved bringing my friends too. But I stopped reaching out because im scared for those friends and don't want them to experience the things ive gone through in the past years. This church used to be awesome. 2014 was like a prime year, but shits gone downhill. And they need to be called out. Glad we can take a stand. Holy shit. this used to be an awesome church....or maybe i was just blind. who knows. Cause you dont get threatened until you do something wrong that jeopardizes their "pure reputation" or creates a bad image for your group. And MOST of these things are small like sleeping in for too long, or working on homework too much because it rejects time with your roommates, or hanging out with friends from other groups too much because they arent your "main people". like wtf. its gotten to me so much that i find myself gossiping and talking about people the same way they do to me, im like conforming without realizing it and i hate it. i feel gross talking about the new guy and how he's sleeping with his gf and what we can do to break them up so they can either both live in the house or so we can "win" one of them. THATS NOT LOVING.
sorry this is so long, ive got years of baggage and this is only a sliver of what ive gone through and my opinions (that other people agree with but are scared to admit). Jeez. With that said, i think people should be open-minded and the teachings are true! Pray to God for a relationship by asking for forgiveness and his death on the cross to pay for your sins. And by coming into a relationship with him, you are given eternal life, NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE. But Xenos is NOT the only church that teaches this. Don't let them tell you that and be careful and weary about if this is the church for you. Im not saying dont ever go, but if you do, be honest, stand up for yourself. and lets not tear them down, but lets make a change. because this is still a church that God wants to use. but lets show them how to do it the right way. Thx.
I was in the church for about 5 years. I had some really good times, made some really good friends, and of course did the whole Jesus thing. I went to HC and CT up until about junior year when I left on my own terms. At some point right before I left, I had a member of the same group come out as gay. I was proud of him for opening up to the world but apparently the church was not
I guess at some point he mentioned he kissed a boy, and after that things got crazy. The leaders immediately hanged up on him, and told him he needed to be discipled for 2 hours, 5 days a week. When he asked about it, they said that they wanted to help him. Apparently, there has been “cases” of gay males that once they became devout followers of Jesus, he suddenly they were able to fall in love with women
They told him being gay was a sin, and that he didn’t disciple under them god wouldn’t love him, and that he would have to leave. He was heartbroken because of this and left the group. This destroyed him. His best friend who was also in our group stopped taking to him, everyone but a friend and I stopped talking to him. This sent him into a spiral of depression and self harm. When I asked the leaders about it, they told me “we tried to help but he decided to take a life of sin
Shortly after this I stopped attending Xenos affairs. I am still upset by the actions and when I told Xenos members from other groups about it they all couldn’t believe this had happen. I don’t know if it was my particular group, or the whole
Church as a whole but I didn’t want to continue as a follower if my friend couldn’t.
Also I will have you know that the leaders that kicked out my friend are still leading groups in north Columbus today
Well at some point I dated a Jewish boy, and they told me to bring him just to hang out, and so I did and they hounded on him about coming to xenos and becoming a follower and that was so very awkward for both of us
I was very into band, I did many band related extra curricular and one happened to fall on Sunday night, then at some point for 3 weeks I also had a conflict with CT also and they told me if I wasn’t as devout as I had been in the past they may had ask me to leave
Also, there was a girl with severe fibromyalgia and was constantly in pain. She was offered a “breakthrough” treatment but somewhere in Cleveland. She turned it down to stay with the church because it would have been too long to go or something silly
I had COUNTLESS friends turn down scholarships to countless school out of town/state just to stay with xenos. Those that took them were asked to not return
There was one instance I was teaching a middle school group, and the school I was in I mentioned I might be going away for a couple months to learn outside of the country! The leaders then pulled me aside later that night to tell me that I shouldn’t be planting those images in children’s head for whatever reason
Then I asked why I shouldn’t, this was an opportunity of a lifetime and they asked me what I would be doing so far away from the church
I had one friend, she was close in middle school but we grew apart in high school. We went to the same middle school group but separate high school groups. At some point she apparently became “wild and rambunctious” dating all sorts of guys, but she still went to church. Eventually the leaders pulled her aside and mentioned this, and said if she didn’t stop this behavior she would have to leave.
Well she was kicked out, and once again the spiral of mental illness and depression and self harming. She needed the church the most and they turned her away. She ended up killing herself
I talked about this with a friend from the same group she was in, and she gave me every reason to believe the church is what drove her to suicide
One leader my friend had in her group sexually assaulted her, but he was kicked out thankfully
Oh back to the scholarship note:
I had the possibility to graduate early and had a position to go to the Cincinnati conservatory of music and they told me to turn it down
I definitely wanted to kill myself too at one point during me being there but there were many factors in the mix
When I was in the church and people called it a cult I would just laugh it off but
I really is a cult
And I mean don’t get me wrong I have a reason to be mad about my friend and the gay thing but
I feel like I left the church on my own terms and good terms. I never did anything crazy. I wasn’t asked to leave. But this place is psycho
I also had one friend that was obsessive over another kid in the group, and everyone kind of enabled it, but it was so unhealthy. And the other guy was obviously not into it but she was. Leaders wanted him to date her but he didn’t want to. It was a messed up situation cause she was crazy
All this talk is bringing up weird memories that I’ve blocked it lmao
I do recall opening up about a childhood trauma and the leader made me so a teaching based off of that trauma
That was FUXKING WACK oh my god
That was probably the most uncomfortable I had ever been
And then for them to come up and criticize it
Ooo I was so angry
I won’t lie middle school was lit but that’s how they get you in
The amount of obliviousness is absurd
Or they just don’t know any other way
God, imagine that that’s all you know
I remember reading a story about how some mad moved to Columbus
He met one guy and guy brought him to xenos and they all were cool but he was skipping classes to go to CT and whatever and failing so he decided to put school first and they stopped talking to him and guy was very very alone
That would suck so much
I’m not against spirituality either. Like I mentioned, I’m not at all spiritual anymore and those who are props to them. But also xenos is mandating every move you make then it’s not your move, it’s theirs
they have "counselors" within the church that people recommend that you go to because they are the only ones that will "understand" and its for your "spiritual health". they make you go to a counselor specifically in xenos and shun you if you choose an outside source because they want to keep you under the ropes within the church and know all of your problems. not only that but they do this so they can brainwash you even more to stay in the church and explain to you why you're messed up. they go behind your back and tell your group leaders, who then tell your roommates. before you know it, everyone is involved and knows your personal problems and are coming up with the same ways on how to get you back on track as if you need to be reprogrammed to be able to function "properly". they also get mad that you arent being vulnerable with your rommates, and tell you that you are complacent because of a "sin issue" that you are unwilling to resolve. so now, this personal issue that you thought your roommates wanted to help you out on by sending you to church counseling has turned into a rebuke session and if you don't fix your depression or anxiety, you will eventually be asked to pack your things and leave. this is a slow process because they want to make sure that you know this is "your" problem and will brainwash you to make you think that these are your decisions by moving out, leaving the group etc. when really they were behind the decision process the whole time. emotional manipulation. literally everyone has been saying this and i cant agree more. once you leave, they never talk to you again.
my senior year, a girl in our class who was pretty heavily involved in Xenos for a long time ended her life. the day the school learned about this, they were instructed not to tell the kids until they could make an announcement to everyone. A friend of mine had a teacher confine in her despite this after first period, and my friend with a look on her face i’ll never forget told me on our way to second period. i remember being completely in shock (...)
(...) because the girl who had done it was one of the sweetest and most well liked people in our senior class. she was involved in school activities outside of Xenos and was friends with pretty much anyone and everyone. Though we didn’t stay close throughout high school, she would still smile at me in the hall. it was pretty well known that she had been struggling with her sexuality and i think it may have played a part in what happened to her, as xenos has a reputation of being very homophobic
long story short, the whole school was incredibly broken up over what happened, and as i talked to some ex members to xenos i was surprised to find out that as tragic as the situation was, they weren’t really shocked
one friend of mine who was even in a ministry house for years made the choice to leave and was told that if that was his decision to turn from God, he might as well kill himself.
it isn’t something unheard of. even a leader in Xenos has recently committed suicide around the time she did. The worst part about this tragic situation though was her funeral. I couldn’t bring myself to come, I didn’t want to have to see her in the viewing, it was just too real. But friends who did attend basically told me it was a huge plug for the church. They, verbatim, said that “Her life stared four years ago when she joined the church”. All they talked about was the church (...)
and how positive it was in life. This obviously was not the case. I don’t want to assume that it was the main cause, but from what I know about the church and how it totally consumed your life, it’s hard for me to not point to it. People hung out with her at youth group the night that she died, and they all said she was just as happy and smiley as ever. this makes me think it must have been something she was planning for a long time, and that the church has just been wearing her down so bad
she had not choice. It still angers me to this day, even though it was almost two years ago. I cannot believe a church who cares so much about “deep connections and friendships” with people would EVER not see this coming or see her depression though well masked. It is a crime and I hate that they have gotten away with disrespecting the beautiful and kind person she was.
I was involved in this church for too much of my young and adult life. I will share only a few examples of my experience with Xenos, but I could write a book on it. I wish I could tell my story in full, but I would be easily identified by dozens if not a hundred or more people. I experienced a trauma during my attendance to this church that became known to everyone. It was something so deeply personal and devastating and every detail of the most difficult time in my life became the subject of leader’s meetings and discussions among people I had never even spoken to. Anything that was said in confidence was then quickly shared and spread. People in the college ministry have a unique way of making a horrible situation a living nightmare. They are way too heavy handed with advice that they likely shouldn’t be giving in the first place. They are experts at hurting their wounded even further. I felt as if my life was held hostage by them for years until I decided leaving was my only recourse. A therapist I later spoke with had experience in counseling patients with PTSD specifically from Xenos and he helped with my transition out of the fog that I was abandoned in. My story with Xenos is something that is almost out of a fictional novel, but it’s unfortunately true. I wish I could share in more detail but I will only share a few stories.
There are so many that are guilty of creating the cult like, group think atmosphere in this church. Before I elaborate, it is important to qualify my criticisms; the behavior of this church that has recently been buzzing is unique to that of the college and high school ministries. Unfortunately, that is the dominating and over zealous half of the church. They wear their zeal like a badge of honor and shame their adult counterparts as licentious with a lost luster. There is plenty of good that is overshadowed by the college ministry. There is plenty of good that is done by the college ministry as well, but they’ve shot themselves in the foot. The “adult” half of the church is what I would describe as a normal, healthy group of people living out their beliefs and nothing much more complicated than that.
Something that has stuck with me through the years is the memory of a test we had to take. In our Friday night “cell” group, we were forced to take spiritual evaluation tests. I use the word forced thoughtfully. It’s strong language but you didn’t really have a choice of your own as to whether or not you took the test. One was given to you, and the other was given to your spiritual leader to take the test ABOUT you. This pages long test consisted of dozens of questions that mined your most personal information from your finances to your “thought life” to your sexual life or sexual thoughts, to your relationships and so on. Then your leader answered these same questions about you. I never had anything to hide and I was always a very genuine person and an open book but this jolted me awake. I was in good standing with the church but I didn’t want to take part in this nonsense. I had the forethought to keep the test to later publicly publish it if I felt that it was needed. I understand that they have a pride in having a “high commitment ethos” but the problem is, is that they are defining what commitment should look like. A gray area defined through black and white lenses. This next part pertains to disagreeing with taking the test and also disagreeing with leadership as a general concept. They would never tell you that you had to take the test or you have to do something, but the repercussions would actually be significant if you didn’t listen to leaders. Socially you would feel ostracized, and the relationships between you and the leaders of your group would become tense. The relationships with your peers would become stressed as they often listened to the leaders. It would create an opportunity for them to fabricate a new issue where there wasn’t one. “There are deeper issues here. Why won’t you take the test?” Or “you should take this step of faith.” And until you cave, you will be “rebuked” and counseled until you fall in line with their thinking. Never mind that often I was standing on a principle and I was alarmed by the content of some of their views or more specifically, I was alarmed by this test. They were creating a paper list of my flaws that the leader would document. I just saw the bigger picture. It was a small piece to a large problem that I saw festering in our group and church. To disagree with ANYTHING leadership did would result in fall out. The discomfort was unbearable. I was shaken by these micro analytics of someone’s personal life along with control, heavy handedness, repression, micromanagement of your relationship with God and others. The word often used in Xenos culture is accountability. This eventually became a dirty word. An excuse to exercise control, manipulation, and gossip that were practiced under the guise of accountability, love, and concern. Any human can be guilty of these things, but it became a part of the church culture and they developed a blind spot to these problems. Beyond that, they justified it and taught it.
When I was in the college group, I was in school and working 2 part time jobs because I paid all of my own bills. I never spent extraneously, had any credit card debt but had barely enough money to just to scrape by. I doubt I bought a stitch of clothing in the years that I lived in a ministry house. I decided I would take a trip for a few days to visit my friend who was out of state; cost - minimal. When I returned, I was interrogated about my financial priorities because I still had not made monthly pledges to the church yet I was “able to take a trip” (where I spent gas money to get there and stayed with my friend, basically I spent money on eating in). If I wanted to participate any further in certain meetings (pertaining to leadership) I had to tithe to the church. I was in no place to be donating any kind of money as a college student who was barely surviving on my earned income and who was soon about to have student loan debt. The first instance that they suspected I spent money beyond that of my monthly necessities, they sat me down and pressed me to give to the church.
You can’t imagine how traumatic it is to be controlled and watched by your peers, having to explain yourself at every turn. Down to justifying necessary purchases of personal items to your leaders, or why you have a credit card, and having to explain why you missed a meeting when all you want to do is spend time with people you never see and scream that you’re stretched too thin. It became so terrible where I had to explain why I spent time with my family when I was only seeing them every two to three weeks. If I missed a Friday evening meeting, or any meeting really, my phone would blow up even though I told them I was with my siblings or parents, even worse, if I was spending (rare) time with friends who weren’t in church. Friendships that are fractured and lost to this day because of my commitment to the church for so long. After missing a meeting, the following week would be tense and people would show concern for you. “Haven’t seen you in a while, how are you?” I SEE YOU 4 TIMES A WEEK! Your good standing with the church would be set to zero. Any “growth” you made would be negated.
The watchful eyes and their critical nature created an atmosphere of competitive spirituality and emotional suppression among members of the group. People would put on a fake spiritual affect to get ahead, for spiritual accolades, and recognition from leaders. The genuine aspect of seeking out God became a game. Each person should take responsibility for their motives, but the critical and controlling atmosphere fostered it. The church created people pleasers and caused paranoia. Paranoia that is founded.
Peers were subtly threatened with church discipline or social ostracization if they sought higher education and accepted job offers that would demand more of their time than meeting schedules would allow. I knew so many people turning down great opportunities because it conflicted with meeting times. The tunnel vision was infuriating. You in the near future will likely be providing for a family and you are sabotaging your life to not miss meetings or to not have a crowded schedule. Someone close to me was removed from the house for pursuing his master’s degree. Few times were things ever as explicit as “you will be disciplined if…” but historically you knew that you were screwed if you didn’t obey. It never had to be explicit, but sometimes it was. In the instance of my friend getting removed, it actually was specifically said “you can choose school or you can choose God”. How can someone speak so confidently for God that way?
They will tell themselves that anyone who has written a story on your site, Mark, is bitter and Satan has a foothold on them. That just isn’t the case. If there is so much smoke, you should be able to identify that there is likely a fire. There are TOO MANY STORIES. You cannot dismiss us. We are not alarmists. PLEASE DO SOMETHING. Do not disregard these statements as made by people who are bitter or who don’t understand your “ethos” or that this is caused by their tension between “following God and being in the world” because they have the Holy Spirit. What are you going to do about this problem? They are so unaware of the problem that exists, that those reading these stories may think “It’s a real shame they had such a bad experience with others” But these same people are likely a part of the problem. They just can’t see it because they’ve created an art of justification.
You can leave. You can speak up. You do not want them in your life if they threaten a broken friendship if you leave. Get the support of your family or your friends and tell them you are going to need them for a while. If you live in a house, you can slowly move out some of your belongings or leave behind what you don’t need. Have friends help you move during homechurch or CT if you are unhappy. You do not have to stay there. Life is good and it’s ok outside of Xenos. They tell you that you cannot be happy “in the world” but finding your own life isn’t a sin, it isn’t horrible, and you won’t be doomed to unhappiness. There are other churches that can help support you, I know. They can help you transition or move out. Don’t be afraid.
I was a member of Xenos for over 16 years. I was in leadership and have led ministry houses, home churches and cell groups. What you’ve read about the tactics, manipulation, Love bombing and shaming is all true. I fell for it all. I gave this cult my most formidable years. I’m in my 40s now with no college degree, no friends and no self esteem. I spend most days in regret because of it all. Please spare yourself the damage this place can do. Get out.
I joined xenos for a few months during my sophomore year of high school. I was already religious and attending a church with my family regularly, but my close friend from school/band invited me so I decided to go. I have read all of the other stories about their “love-bombing” technique, and it is very real and they for sure used it with me.
Everyone was super nice at first. They asked me a ton of questions about my church and how strong my relationship with God is. I answered these questions and told them that my faith was very strong being raised in a Christian home, but they kept asking and asking more questions which annoyed me and was kind of an invasion of privacy eventually.
The atmosphere is very strange. A ton of the kids vape and smoke cigarettes, there’s a lot of cussing and even the people teaching at CT would cuss DURING the “lessons”
So a few months in, I notice I haven’t hung out with my family or friends that much. I plan to do something with my friends from middle school that I haven’t seen in a while. When I told my leader that I wouldn’t be at the hang out that night because I am seeing old friends, she literally told me “Well why can’t you do that another day?” She got mad because, you know with Xenos being a cult and all, XENOS DOESN’T APPROVE OF PEOPLE OUTSIDE OF THE CHURCH
After this I decided to leave. They would text me and blow up my phone wanting me to come and try it again, but they would never check on me or ask how I’m doing, they are only concerned about their cult group. I was fine mentally just annoyed that I spent so much time with these people who never cared about me in the first place, and who tried to take me away from my friends and family
My close friend Cece, who invited me initially, commit suicide halfway through our senior year. I am convinced that this happened because of Xenos because she had been apart of the group for several years and they took over her life. I miss her so much and wish she would’ve left Xenos. One of the leaders from that group also commit suicide a few weeks before her. Not ONE person from the groups that they were in posted about the passing of Cece or the leader that took their own lives. I asked a girl from my former group about it during my first year of college, and all she said was “yeah it was pretty sad”. Xenos is doing some really messed up stuff behind the scenes.
If you are thinking about joining, don’t. For your mental health and happiness, please stay far away from this “organization”. And if you are in Xenos, please please find a way out.
- Hannah Lang
Back in February 2017 I went to a house show and I met these two guys. They seemed pretty cool so we sat outside and talked for a while. I got their number and we decided to hang out a week later. We meet up for coffee and they invite me back to their place to hang out. They told that SOME of their friends would be there.
I go back to the guys house and I walk into a room full of people all sitting in the living room with bibles. I was Instantly uncomfortable because I'm not very religious, more spiritual than anything. But I play it off because I don't want to be disrespectful. I sit through a big long "bible study" or whatever. As soon as it was over I was Instantly "lovebombed", yeah you all know what I mean. Hugs, everywhere. They started questioning me about my religion and of course I told them my views. They didn't agree with anything I said and told me that I could make life changes. They kept being super pushy and wanting to know every detail of my life. So I go to the bathroom to get away and to try to figure out how I'm going to escape.
As I'm walking up the stairs I notice they have 4 bedrooms. All which are empty except two. One room had a couch and such and the other room had multiple bunk beds. THIS WAS A HOUSE FULL OF MEN AND ALL OF THEM SLEPT IN THE SAME ROOM. That's not right if you ask me.
I thought I had gotten in the mix with some knock off heavens gate people. I left the house and never returned. They all tried texting and calling me for months until I changed my number. And I still run into people who are apart of that group.
It's not fair how they try to suck you in. How uncomfortable they make you feel.
I was afraid to write this because I am positive that many people who read this will know exactly who I am. But here I am, writing it anyways because I need people to know the truth. This will be a long story. Xenos tried to ruin my relationship.
A few years ago, I met a boy. We worked together and when I met him I had no idea he was affiliated with Xenos. I, myself, am a non-denominational Christian. I believe in God and the bible and praying but religion was always something kept to myself. Anyway, upon getting to know this boy, he made it clear to me how important his church and God were to him. I thought that was great. He seemed kind and I could tell he was a good person just trying to establish a good basis for a potential relationship with me. He wanted to bring me out to “group” (a Xenos teaching) to meet his friends and learn more about his fellowship. Still harmless at this point. I agreed to go. What I experienced was like nothing I have seen before. Immediately I was overwhelmed with everyone's interest in me and how much they wanted to get to know me. I thought they were just curious because my boyfriend, a long time member of Xenos, had brought me in.
As the story goes, my boyfriend had good intentions but the church group did not. The members of the church latched onto me like they were feeding on my soul. I was blind to this and took it as kindness. They were super overwhelmingly loving, always making sure I had a ride to the meetings, very inquisitive about my relationship with my boyfriend, trying to make plans with me all the time, and pretty much trying to fill ALL my time with all things Xenos. When I couldn’t make a meeting they made me feel awful about it because they had “invested so much in me.” Well, anyway, I should have known something was off when a leader was “assigned” to me. (“disciple” as they say.) I could tell that the other leaders were making sure this woman was always breathing down my neck. She was my main ride to meetings, I HAD to sit by her during teachings, we HAD to talk to about the teaching together after (I know she then would report back to other leaders about these convos), and she was constantly questioning my position with God and my relationship with my boyfriend. It’s one thing to be curious and care about a friend, but it’s another to be constantly monitoring someone.
A few months passed and I felt like I was starting to understand that Xenos is intense. I wrote it off as just a “church thing” but I always had a red flag in the back of my head going off as if to tell me something was not right about this group. I never listened to my gut because I knew Xenos was important to my boyfriend and he meant a lot to me. Xenos also puts it in your head that once you join, anything other than Xenos is bad and you should never leave because you’d be disappointing God. It sounds stupid but these people have brainwashing down to an art. And it’s scary. Anyway, back to the story, just when I thought me and my “disciple” were in a good place, she repeatedly made a point to hangout with me one-on-one because she did not believe that my walk with God was legitimate. She forced me to tell her the exact moment in my life that I accepted Christ and then she proceeded to tell me that I didn’t do it right so I have been living my life as a lie. According to her my relationship with God was a lie, too. She pressured me into accepting Christ the “correct” way because it was “the only was your relationship with your boyfriend will prosper.” To this day, I have kept her wording of that a secret from my boyfriend. I can’t explain why.
That isn’t even the beginning of the craziness. I fell for her pressuring comments and did as she told me. I felt like was doing everything “right” by trying to follow God the way she said was correct. Another thing that is important to this story is to know that their meetings were held in groups, usually with a group name, and that was the name of that particular home church. Well the home church my boyfriend and I were in was growing significantly. We were told by the leaders that the group was running out of space and needed to split off into another home church. I get it, a small campus house can only hold so many people. I didn’t think much of it until my “disciple” came to me with a predetermined idea of what was going to happen to me and my boyfriend. She told me that my boyfriend would be going to the new home church and that I HAD to stay with her in the old one. When I asked questions or tried to rebuke she told me that I will never grow with God if I keep prioritizing my boyfriend. She also told me I was holding him back. I told her I refused to go to a different group than him because I thought that would be a bad relationship move for us if we really are trying to learn to incorporate our faith into our relationship. She insisted I was wrong. I did not talk to her for a while after this.
When I told my boyfriend what she said and was trying to make us do, he told me that the guy leaders were telling him the same thing about me and basically gave him the same exact reasoning. This is when it was clear that they were trying to sabotage our relationship. Through all of this, my boyfriend and I were very happy and didn’t ask for any member of the church’s opinion or advice on our relationship. It was so beyond disheartening and it was so clear to us what they were trying to do to us. He and I talked about it, cried together, and even though it was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done, we made the decision to leave Xenos. It was like we both had a feeling that our relationship was bigger and more important than the toxic behavior of a corrupt church.
It has been years since we left and to this day we are happily together. We live together, and are actually engaged. We have built a happy life together and honestly, I have grown more in my walk with God recently that I ever did while I was under the influence of Xenos. Since leaving, I have found out from friends who left that after my boyfriend and I left, the people in the church started telling lies about us. They were spreading rumors that we got married without telling anyone and that I was pregnant. My boyfriend proposed to me because we are in love, not for any other reason. We have not gotten married yet because weddings are expensive. I am not pregnant, never was, and don’t plan to be any time soon.
My boyfriend, though I love him dearly, still does not believe it is a cult and has fond memories of his time in the group but I wish he understood the truth. Some of his best friends who are still in the group (that my boyfriend still cares about deeply) have not spoken to him since we left. He won’t say it but I know that this has broken his heart time and time again. I hate to see him hurt over a church so awful.
The point of me writing all of this is to broadcast the message that Xenos is not what is seems. There are lots of lies and shady things going on. I would not trust them or get too close to them or their members. They are manipulative and will try to destroy the things that are special to you. And if you are dealing with this, please get out.
Hopefully something here is new / helpful. God used the church powerfully in my own life, but the issues I either personally witnessed or uncovered with some studying are too great to justify staying silent about them.
At a servant team meeting maybe a year or two ago that I attended (servant team is a group of 700 or so established, long-term church workers who have been invited to attend), I remember hearing 1992-1994 referred to as a "time for pruning in the church", but a careful reading of Xenos' annual reports and a couple essays written around the time reveal that the spiritual abuse problem was around then just as it is now, and that those 1,000+ defectors perhaps didn't leave because they decided they didn't want to follow the Lord anymore, but instead because they recognized the abuse for what it was. And, they were probably helped in their decision to leave by the following books, both of which had response papers written by Xenos elders:
[ . . . ]
Wish I had this one, but I deleted my LTC material recently in an effort to distance myself from it all. This document contained statements about the importance of pastoral or professional counseling being more of a last resort, and that lay counseling should be tried first. This was also read out loud to students during an LTC 3 course. What is unfortunate here is that the paper was addressed to Xenos kids instead of psychologists. This kind of paper is what led me, as a 21 year old trying to start a career and lead a ministry house, to not recognize or question the great danger of living with roommates struggling with suicidal depression, spectrum disorder, sleep disorders, dyslexia, and a number of others that we as a leadership team were in no way qualified to handle. My roommates & I all desperately needed professional therapy, but are implicitly discouraged from seeking it out by the church culture.
(This story with links can be read in full here.)
I know you get this a lot but I wanted to say thank you for making this page. For a long time I thought I was only one who had bad experiences with the Xenos church. I’m happy other people are sharing their stories.
Thank you for this Insta and website. You’re doing great work and helping people. I have close friends who have been in Xenos leadership for years. Somehow we’re still friends even though I won’t go to Xenos. I am praying that one day they will open their eyes and leave.
In the early 2000s I was an Ohio State student. My friend was involved in the church and would always invite me to go. I did and it was beyond weird. People were using me, referring to me as “outreach,” and being very, very controlling. One day a girl and her sister went full throttle on me about why I wouldn’t commit to their “church.” They ripped me a new asshole. I was embarrassed, hurt, and confused. I never joined because they were trying in a DESPERATE way to control me.
You website has brought me so much solace and relief because I can read stories and finally see that it wasn’t just me. They are as harmful as my gut was telling me. So many people on this site have put words on Xenos’ controlling, manipulative actions that I had not been able to express. Thank you.
I was first connected with Xenos when I was 15. My brother joined the group when he left for college. The two of us grew up extremely close, and he decided to invite me out to see this new church he was involved in. At first, I loved it. Everyone was so friendly and nice, and I immediately felt welcome. However, a couple months after my first visit, a good friend of mine was killed in a car crash. I blamed myself and fell into a period of depression. This, of course, is when those in Xenos decided to strike. They pressured me into conversation after conversation about this extremely painful topic, pushing me to lock away my feelings and my emotions. I still deal with the fallout from this almost a decade later, struggling with feelings of guilt and sorrow because I was pushed to ignore and bury my feelings during that time. I spent the next few years being pressured into moving into a ministry house, and when I graduated high school, I almost immediately was pulled in. My brother put pressure on me at every moment that he could, assuring me that I wouldn't be able to be proper Christian unless I was part of a ministry house. I was a member of Xenos for 4 years. I wish I would have had the strength to leave sooner. I was wracked with anxiety and stress, afraid that I would step out of line and the leadership team of the church would kick me out. I tried to plan a way to leave again and again, unable to put up with the constant pressure that was placed on me. I struggled to go to school full time, work a part time job, and fit in Xenos's packed weekly schedule.
The stress of it all hit me hard, pushing me back into depression. I didn’t feel like I could be open and honest with the people I lived with, and it wore on me. By this point, that initial love I had felt was long gone at that point, my days filled with excessive meetings and events. I felt completely exhausted and drained, pushed to the point of breaking. This is where Xenos wants its members. They push you to the very edge of exhaustion, restricting you so much that you fail to see the full scope of your bindings. You're tied down by so many different things, other groups, discipleship, house requirements, that you see no escape. they make you believe that there isn't a different way to live your life, that you need to be restricted by all they have to "offer". If you feel tired or burnt out because of this, it’s not because of them, it’s because you failed. Because you weren’t a strong enough follower of God. The onus is on you.
I finally reached the point where I couldn’t take it anymore. I packed up my things and moved out, fleeing this group that had tried to consume me. I came back to say goodbye the day I left, and I was told that I was never truly one of them. I apparently had never actually been following God, or been a Christian. Once again, the blame is placed on the one leaving, not on the church. And to top it off, my brother, one of my best friends, cut me off after that. We saw each other at family events, but after I left, it was over a year and a half before he said a thing to me. No matter how friendly, or welcoming I was, he would ignore me, shun me. I had a couple friends who stayed in the home church for a bit longer after I had left. I heard from them that he was spreading malicious rumors about how cruel and hateful I was. That I viciously mocked and berated him. My own brother. It’s been years since I left, and even after I have cleared the air with him, he treats me like a stranger. I guess that whole "Love one another" thing doesn’t count if you’re not in their "Church".
I was in Xenos for 4 years and lived in the ministry house. They love bombed me and claimed to be my friend even though no one wanted to do anything with me that was unrelated to church activities so I always felt lonely. They told me that I shouldn’t be investing in friendships if they don’t want to join the church so I had no friends when I left the church, not that I really had any when I was in the church.
I was treated differently for having mental illness and that I’ll never become a leader because of my mental illness.
I was told there’s no point in living a life without god so I was very suicidal when I left because I believed this even after leaving.
I got a non xenos boyfriend and was accused of having sex with him when I wasn’t and kicked out of the house with absolutely no evidence. Even though I was completely honest and open about talking about my relationship, they completely lost all trust they had in me and started accusing me of all kinds of things. I honestly only lost my virginity when I did because I was mad and fed up with the church I wasn’t even emotionally ready for my first time.
Rent for the total house and utilities was $1200 and there was 7 of us but we each had to pay $350 a month to go to “house savings” that got spent on really expensive furniture from ikea for the house that we didn’t need,
I was guilted every time I spent money. I always got the “that money could have gone to the church” lecture, even if all’s I bought was a soda, but most my homechurch smoked cigarettes and that was okay.
As someone who studies cult activity and lives among many members, I’ve had many members urge me to join and when I explained I’m not interested nor religious they got very angry and next week rolls by and at least 12 of my friends hated me. They manipulate and abuse their members and literally excommunicate people its insane.
I have greatly appreciated reading all of the content on this website, I found it when a dear friend sent me a photo of the fliers that were circulating.
My story started in 2011, I was 20 years old when I joined Xenos. I had a friend "Z" that had made friends with several Xenos members at CSCC and continually badgered me and harassed me to come out to one of the home church gatherings. While I resisted for a long time, I eventually gave in to the constant nagging. My very best friend "G" started coming to the same home church as me at the same time. People were overly nice, made me feel special and wanted, all the typical Xenos jazz. So I kept coming, but still was a little hesitant to jump all in.
"G" and I were looking at getting an apartment together in that general area, and when we made an off hand mention at an apartment we had looked at, it suddenly became everyone's soul purpose to talk us into moving into a ministry house. There was a lot of pressure to do this, and us both being fairly easy going we decided that is what we would do. The house was disappointing, and incredibly expensive considering how many of us had to share rooms. The price was high since a portion (how big I do not know) was being used for "house funds" (which I think essentially picked up the slack for our roommate that was not working).
The church I was in was pretty unhealthy in general, and our house leader "N" more so - she was about 15 years older than all the other girls in the house, and constantly fighting with one of the other girls. I developed an absolute fear of her and would dread coming home if I ever saw her car parked out front. She was consistently emotionally damaging, telling us what we could and couldn't wear/telling us we dressed like sluts, getting in yelling matches, and manipulating people against each other by talking behind their backs. When I would bring concerns up to my discipler she would simply just tell me that is how "N" was and we should show her grace. I started feeling depressed and incredibly anxious constantly.
My church schedule started getting more and more overwhelming, leaving considerably less time for family, friends outside of Xenos, work and school. None of these things were supposed to be priorities. Luckily I still very much considered my family my safe haven, and would often sleep at my parents house when I felt distressed about my ministry house situations. They did not like/strongly discouraged me from doing this, which my parents found alarming. My mom started voicing concerns about it being cult like. I got to see my roommate "Z" kicked out of the house for sexual sin, again the amount of rumors and backstabbing circulating is just ridiculous.
Around that time a guy at school asked me out on a date. Feeling that this was my own choice to make, I said yes. This is when I started to have major issues with all of my leaders and friends. On our first date, he picked me up from the ministry house. When I returned I was informed I definitely should not date him, because he was obviously gay (from their five second observation of the color of his tie). I really liked him, so I continued to see him. Until I was talked to and told I had to tell him I could not see him anymore, because he was not a part of Xenos. So the next time I was with him I told him I couldn't be around him anymore, but I did end up continuing to contact him without really telling anyone [and we really stayed in contact forever since..we have been married almost five years now].
This ended up being the final straw for me. I told everyone I was leaving, and then faced a lot of backlash. When it came time to leave the house, they tried to tell me I had to pay rent even if I was not living in the house because of the house covenant I had signed. I told them that since I was not officially on the lease I was not paying. Or I would be happy to live there if I could have my own room, and not be a part of Xenos (this was obviously unacceptable).
My best friend "G" was going to leave when I was, but then decided last minute to stay. She is still in it, we still see each other from time to time, but it will never be the same that it was before. She is not the same person as before Xenos in any way, and has given up on many dreams along the way to be in the church.
The usual happened to me when I left, most of the people I knew from before didn't hang out with me anymore...Rumors were spread that I had to leave because I got pregnant.
I still battle with anxiety and panic attacks that get triggered by certain types of social situations, which I feel is because of how I was treated in Xenos by my house leader. But I am mostly just happy that this is the worst of it since so many people have experience much worse.
What You NEED To Know About Xenos Christian Fellowship:
“Xenos is organized by divisions. Our six divisions each have their own coordinator on staff, and usually several staff department heads. The coordinators meet with the lead elders to form the management team. They are in turn responsible, through the lead elders, to the board of elders...Xenos student ministries group reaches out to children (Oasis), junior high, high school and college students. We also oversee the Xenos Christian Schools.”
So what does that all mean?
What that means is that Xenos is a big ole’ group with lots of people in it and they’ve figured how to organize the bitch. If you were to follow Xenos’ preferred timeline, your life would look like this (and dammit, you’re gonna be happy about it).
You’re a kid at Oasis, Xenos’ elementary school. Once you get older and get to hang with the big kids you join a junior high “cell group” which are group teachings separated by boys and girls that meet once a week at the home of one of the group leaders and also collectively at “CT”. “Central Teaching” happens across all age groups, just on different nights of the week or at different locations. To visualize, just imagine yourself in a huge gymnasium with a hundred or so other people your age learnin’ about Jesus. Once you grow out of that, you get to high school and graduate from cell group to “homechurch” which is exactly like cell group but now the boys and girls can hang out, sorry, fellowship together. And when you graduate high school and go to college, guess what happens? You go to OSU or Columbus State Community College (because those are where you have to go to also be at Xenos), choose a college homechurch (because you didn’t really get to choose the college you went to, right?) and then based on which homechurch you choose you move into that homechurch’s ministry house which is just a regular 3-4 room apartment in Columbus, OH that typically houses up to 8-10 men or women. Note: OR, not and. People typically live in the ministry house until they get married, at which point they move out and begin their lives with their partner (who is almost always another member at Xenos). You grow up, have kids, and sign them up for Oasis, Xenos’ elementary school. The cycle continues.
I am aware of the amount of information I shared, however I provided it because it is paramount to understanding truly how organized Xenos is. They have a school, a library, mental health services (we’ll come back to that), multiple locations to attend central teaching. They start their programs very young and have a system that initiates growth within Xenos. You get excited to go to homechurch in the same way you are excited to get to go to high school. Xenos is an entire part of your life and it makes sense because you are realistically spending at least two nights a week either at a Xenos facility or homegroup. And that isn’t even taking discipleship into mind.
Once you become a real person with real formable thoughts and feelings (so around early high school) you are asked by one of the group leaders to be discipled. And what that means is that once a week you will meet them at the Panera on State Street to read the bible, talk Jesus, and discuss your entire life with them. It’s serves functionally as a sort of therapist within your homechurch that helps guide you through your spiritual journey. Also, a person to track your following within Xenos. Once you are strong enough in your spiritual journey you can begin discipling others at the same time. Once you are in college, you realistically have a discipler and (if you’re not screwing around) a disciple (or two or three) of your own as well. Think of it kinda like how you’re chosen to be someone’s little in a sorority or fraternity. Except your big is statistically someone that is gonna be around 4 years older than you and will never offer you jello shots.
I entered the Xenos system in sixth grade, right before the system goes into hyper drive. This is my story.
How I Got Into The Whole Cult Thing (The Good):
In the summer before I went to middle school my “best friend forever and always” (who I will rename as Tara out of respect) invited me to a church group that her older sister had been a part of. Tara’s sister was four years older than us and was just the coolest person in the world because she was in highhhh schoool. She got Tara to start going to the middle school version of her group (she was at homechurch at the time) called “Cell Group”. I went one week and had a fucking blast. There was free food, annual camp programs, fun games, cool outings, and a group of people who had to be nice to me. For a lame-ass insecure middle school I had found the Mecca (except not, whatever) for getting out of my house and having something to do. Tara got me and our other friend, “Cassie” to come with her and over time it became just what we did. We went through middle school as best friends and every week we would go to cell group on Friday nights and CT on Tuesday nights. Always.
Once we got older we were told to visit high school groups and choose which one we wanted to go to. We went to a few but let’s be real, we knew Tara’s sister and all of her friends already so it was way easier for us to choose a group we were comfortable in. Which was a relief because once you chose a high school group you were highly encouraged to stay in that same group the whole time you were in high school so you could form stronger fellowship within the group. So “Mobile” homechurch is where I went and it is where my struggle with Xenos began. Because cell group and junior high CT were fun as hell, the teachings were short and you got to just hang out and play with other kids your age. I fell in love with Jesus and all He had done for me and went into high school with God behind all of my actions.
The bad time I had with Xenos followed what I would consider a very successful time at Xenos. I was a bit rougher around the edges compared to a lot of the other kids at Xenos. My parents did not ever invoke religious thought into me because they didn’t spend a lot of time giving a shit about anything that they didn’t need to give a shit about (rent, food, oh, and drugs drugs drugs). So I was there on my own account and really wanted to be there. I preferred being there to being home so I poured all of my time into it and Xenos loved it. I was the poor girl with a tough home life that despite all odds of how I could have turned out (that would be a completely separate blog post), I was there, at Xenos and eager to learn more and grow more with God. I was Xenos’ sitting duck.
Shortly after joining Mobile homechurch I was approached by a leader named Becky (her actual name because you’ll see) and asked if I would like to have a discipler. I had been waiting for this shit for years, I had seen Tara’s sister get discipled and wanted “a big” so badly. I agreed and Becky became my discipler. She was also my last discipler.
I think one of the hugest lies that Xenos spreads is in their description of “non-evangelical”. I think that Xenos elders might not know what evangelism is because Xenos’ entire foundation is based on expansion. People were applauded and respected for bringing new people to homechurch and it was highly encouraged and discussed. How were you going to have friends if those friends were not going to be able to spend eternal life with you? If you want to keep those friends from hindering your walk with Christ, you need to compel (insist on) them to follow Christ (have them verbally or mentally accept that Jesus Christ died and resurrected for your sins and you accept that he is the son of God). So basically: Go to church, bring people to church, get them to stay at church, insist on them bringing more people to church. The cycle continues.
My competitive nature and need to be the center of attention benefited Xenos a lot. Tara and I invited literally all of our friends to cell group and then eventually homechurch as well. If I made a friend in any way, I hit them with the, “Hey, well what are you doing Tuesday night? There’s this thing…” Teachings were occasionally led by non-leaders if the leaders felt you were spiritually qualified so you bet my ass was teaching other people my age about Jesus. I also wanted disciples of my own and by the time I was a sophomore in high school I already had two disciples as well as continuing my discipleship with Becky. So between homechurch, CT, and discipleship I was spending the majority of the days of the week spiritually. I converted people in Pizza Hut parking lots, I led group prayer in a cheap microphone, I prayed and prayed and prayed and everyone I loved in my life was a part of Xenos too and probably because I got them to be there. There are people I brought to Xenos and converted that are still at Xenos today.
In a twist of morbid irony, Xenos was also the first place to ever teach me what depression was. Rather, it was the first time someone articulated how I had felt for my whole life. In sixth grade, a friend’s mom (keep in mind, everyone was in Xenos) was acting strange and her daughter told me it was her mom’s depression. Sometimes it would act up but if she prayed enough it would go away. Sure, okay.
I got older and because of life I started to “grow” into the mentally unstable person that I am today. I was depressed due to a multitude of factors (and also because I would later learn that “depression” is just a part of my factory settings) and spoke of those openly with my discipler, Becky. Part of the reason I loved Becky was because toward the beginning of our time together she explained that she had suffered through a lot of the same transgressions. She was clinically depressed but was treated (through medication but medication that only works because of our faith in Christ) and she had also won her battle against self-harm which I also had struggled with. We worked together weekly to battle my depression and find consolation in Christ. I was cutting myself all throughout high school and looking back, Becky was probably assigned to pursue me as a disciple because of this. I stopped cutting for a long time when I was in the thick of Xenos. And part of that was because I had no way to hide me doing that.
There was no hiding anything at Xenos. If you were following Christ in the way they suggested you should you were open about everything that you were doing. And if you weren’t open about it, your friends (who were all at church with you) probably were. And they had all the same rules as most Christian churches: No sex. No drinking. No illegal activity. No talking shit about Jesus. But Xenos usually took it extra steps farther and never “officially”. One of the biggest examples I can recall is that I was told to never shave my pubic hair. Why? Because boys don’t like it when you haven’t shaved down there and if you shaved that must mean that you are trying to have sex. So don’t shave down there, okay?
The beginning of the end for my time at Xenos started when there was anything else in my life to fill my time. I had started to become more active in my high school's theatre troupe and became the secretary for the department. I started to hang out with those friends and while a lot of them were also in Xenos, not all of them were at Xenos. Like my ex-boyfriend (Bob, sure), who is an atheist.
I started catching signs of Xenos being bad news bears when I began dating my high school sweetheart, Bob. I didn’t agree to date Bob for a couple of months because he was a vocal atheist. I needed a Christ-loving boyfriend to spend eternity with, okay? This guy wasn’t hopping on the Heaven train any time soon. So I shrugged him off even though I had a crush on the guy. I had told Becky and Tara about him and they were pretty clear on their instructions: Don’t date Bob. That would be horrible and bad for my walk with Christ. Satan was tempting me to date Bob but that wasn’t God’s intentions for me and it would only cause complications for my walk with Christ.
I felt like I was different than other girls who went off and dated non-believers. I wanted to eventually convert the guy and how would that happen if I wasn’t close to him? I had an in for conversion and it was dating him. Meanwhile, I could also be a normal high school girl with a boyfriend and I was in high school so basically I really wanted a boyfriend. I wouldn’t never fool around with him, I would stay pure till marriage. I wouldn’t miss teachings or stop discipling my disciples at all. So I agreed to date Bob and was really happy about it. The weekend after I went to a Xenos retreat at a camping grounds about an hour from Columbus and planned on telling Tara the news.
Tara and I walked out into the woods on one of the last nights we were there. We were just walking and talking the way we always had, talking about Christ. I told her about Bob. It didn’t go well at all. She screamed at me, she cried, she was devastated. She was so scared for me and truly felt that this was me saying goodbye to my faith, which I hadn’t intended on being a departure just because I was dating an atheist. We were young and she was angry. She ran back to the cabins and left me alone in the woods. I walked back to campground feeling like I was on my way to Fellowship’s Death Row.
Becky learned of the relationship that same weekend and responded in a more mature yet still disdainful way. It was as if I had told everyone that I started dating John Wayne Gacy. Becky began to explain that Bob and I would never be on the same page as each other because of his lack of salvation. Bob was (as Xenos loved to say), “of the world” and would only invite sin. As soon as I began dating Bob there was a strange filter on my entire relationship with Becky that made me incredibly uncomfortable and anxious. She was disappointed with me and I felt that every time we studied together.
As I dated Bob I also started becoming more and more needed at rehearsals and theatre meetings. I began missing Central Teaching occasionally because of those rehearsals. Any time I missed a meeting it was met with that same face of disappointment from Becky. As time went on she became more and more transparent. One day we were shopping for snacks for homechurch and she told me that a new member had accepted Christ the week prior. I was delighted to hear that because I was trying to convert him myself. I said, “That’s awesome! When did that happen?” She responded with, “Well maybe if you were at the meetings you would actually see the Lord’s work.” At this point in time I had only missed two meetings. Ever.
This also began to drive a wedge between Tara and I but also everyone else at my homechurch. I was still there doing all of the same things but what was I doing when I was alone with Bob?
Which brings me to the answer to that question. Like all high schoolers, I learned on accident that I would have a hard time with the whole Bob wanting to have sex thing. I explained that I didn’t want to do that until marriage and he didn’t protest. We would make out and make out and make out. After that we would make out some more. But eventually I wanted more. And so I agreed that I would have sex with Bob but only after we had dated for a year, at least. Which I thought would have been a deal breaker but Bob stuck with me. At 6 months I let him run to second base. 9 months we both ran to third. And then, a whole year after we began dating, Bob and I did the do after watching the “Makin’ My Dreams Come True” scene in 500 Days of Summer.
I felt really guilty for having sex. I didn’t regret it and I definitely didn’t stop having sex but it was a secret. I felt like the worst sinner Satan could have created and everything that Becky had warned me about had come true. I was happy about it but knew that it was wrong for me to be happy with Bob. This was around the same time that my family politics had flared up, I was over scheduled with theatre and Xenos, and I felt all of my friends had drifted away from me. I started cutting myself again.
Becky found out about me cutting and was, wait for it, disappointed. She explained to me that if I was spending enough time on my walk with God that I wouldn’t want to to cut myself. I must be doing something wrong. I believed her. I felt like God was mad at me and that was why I was more depressed. But the idea of God being dissappointed in me didn’t help much and I definitely kept cutting myself, regardless of how much I prayed. One day after the teaching, Becky approached Tara to ask her to lead a teaching the next week on James. It was a passage that Becky knew that I enjoyed about overcoming struggle. She had always approached the both of us but it was at this time that I was deemed spiritually unqualified to teach. I was destroyed.
There was one night that I felt especially low. I remember it very well, I was laying on my bed with my green Envy cell phone, texting a friend (from Xenos). I told her I was depressed and felt horrible. I told her I wanted to die. While I understand the gravity of those words I did not anticipate the gravity of what would happen next.
My friend’s mom drove her to pick me up at 9pm on a school night. They took me to their house and my friend consoled me. I remember feeling that it was unnecessary and had really scrambled with my parents trying to explain why I was leaving. I didn’t talk to my parents about my depression or self-harming at all and it was to the understanding of everyone at Xenos that it wouldn’t be beneficial to tell my parents about my struggle. I mean, they were non-believers so what were they even gonna do? So I stayed the night and woke up the next day with no fucking idea of what had already happened.
My friend’s mom (also in Xenos) had contacted Becky and told her that I had contemplated suicide the night before. And Becky had a plan and her plan was to tell my mom about everything.
I understand the need for parents to be notified of important stuff with their kids, this was not a situation that justified the amount of bullshit I would have to go through if my parents knew that I cut myself. There are situations in which parents knowing can hurt the kid more and I was one of those cases. Becky knew that and in the three years that we discipled together we had the mutual understanding that my parents wouldn’t be able to provide support for me and we looked for support in other ways (LIKE JESUS).
But Becky had thrown that out the window. She called me the next day and told me that she needed to speak with my mom. She had my mom’s number (Xenos registration) and told me that she would be calling her soon to explain that I had been cutting and that I was suicidal.
That wasn’t going to happen if I had anything to do with. When I think of what happened next, I just imagine Richard Gere from Chicago doing the courtroom tap dance. Because that’s essentially what I did. In a matter of an hour I went from a Xenos rockstar to completely and totally out of the organization.
After getting off the phone with Becky I instantly went to my mom and told her she was about to get a call from Becky. She asked what it would be about and I said that Becky “thinks I’m suicidal and cutting myself”. But Becky was a liar and I wanted nothing to do with her anymore (not a lie). My mom asked if I was lying and blam-o I lied and said that I wasn’t lying. She said that if Becky was saying this that she never wanted me going to another Xenos meeting again. That’s when it hit me...I wasn’t going to be able to go to Xenos anymore. I didn’t have time to process any of that because I was focused on one thing: Making damn sure that my mom didn’t believe a word that Becky said. Becky couldn’t have known the gravity to which me cutting myself would affect my home life and I feared the idea of my family knowing. I told her to just get off the phone with Becky as soon as she could and we would talk after. The phone rang. My mom picked up the phone and I watched her the entire length of the phone call. She shrugged off most of what Becky had said and hung up. I spent another hour cleaning up the mess Becky made with my mom. I can’t even imagine how worse it would have been if I hadn’t gotten to my mom first.
I called Becky and explained that I wasn’t allowed to go to Xenos anymore. She yelled at me and said a plethora of inappropriate things for a 32 year old to say to a 17 year old. I kept it simple and insisted that my mom wasn’t allowing me to go to Xenos anymore (which btw, I told Becky before that if my parents knew about cutting I would probably not be allowed to go to Xenos anyway). She told me that I lied so much that I didn’t even know who I was anymore. That I was completely delusional. That I was becoming part “of the world” and that I was jeopardizing my place with Christ. And that one day I would realize how horrible I was and hopefully repent. And then hung up on me.
I invited Tara over and explained the situation to her. I told her that I wouldn’t be going to Xenos anymore. She cried and stormed out of my house in the same manner she stormed out of the woods. 7 years of friendship. Completely shattered. We were never the same again.
When I was in 7th grade I had heard of one of Tara’s sister’s friends leaving the church. Her name was Melissa and her and I clicked really well. When she left I was told to stop talking to her. She wouldn’t know that she missed the power of fellowship if she still had all the same support from us. So everyone stopped talking to Melissa and I never heard from her again.
Tara was only the beginning. I lost all of my friends that day. And I knew exactly why and that only made it worse. People would see me at school and avoid me. People were never rude or mean or aggressive but I honestly wish they had been. It was worse knowing exactly what they were thinking and knowing that they felt it was morally wrong to be friends with me. And I didn’t even want to leave Xenos when this happened, it was just what I felt was my safest option. So I was cast out of Xenos under the pretense that I wanted to live “of the world” and have sex with my boyfriend and become corrupt.
Living life “of the world” turned out to be better for me in the long run. I rebuilt a friend group from friends in the theatre department. After an entire year of being sexually active, I let people know that I wasn’t a virgin. I applied for colleges not in Columbus, Ohio. I went to college in Florida, notably far from Ohio. I actively chose to not pack my bible with me. I stopped identifying as religious and lived my life the way I wanted to, which in Xenos’ book is tainted with tons and tons of sin. But I’ve only ever done what I have wanted to do and that is obviously better for me.
However, on my darkest days, I still think of Xenos and the warnings they gave me. When I was sexually assaulted I remember feeling that I was being punished for “living of the world”. I still have a lot feelings of guilt attached to sex. I still sometimes think that my depression would maybe be gone if I prayed more. Sometimes when everything feels like it's collapsing in on itself I think about how easier my life could have been if I had just stayed at Xenos and married some Xenos guy and had that life. Xenos is still a voice in my head but thankfully it has become a whisper.
This is just my story. There are countless stories of people that have left Xenos whose experiences reflect mine. Countless college students have been kicked out of their homes because they were drinking or having sex while living in a ministry house (IN COLLEGE). Multiple of my friends in the LGBTQ community were encouraged to go through conversion therapy. Those friends were not comfortable coming out of the closet until months and months after leaving Xenos. There is now a website with submitted stories of people’s experiences. You can check those out at www.xenosisacult.com.
Last year I visited Columbus during the holidays. My sister told me that she had seen Tara out at a bar recently. Which was wild for me to hear because people were not allowed to be drunk at Xenos. Like, you can have a glass of champagne but you were never supposed to get crunk if ya know what I mean. But apparently Tara was turning the fuck up lately. I got curious and shot Tara a Facebook message and asked if she wanted to get together soon (something I hadn’t done in 5 years). Toward the end I said, “I don’t know if you’re allowed but would you wanna grab drinks together?” She said she was down and was no longer in Xenos. We agreed to meet the next day.
Tara was kicked out of Xenos. She was living in the ministry house and was a part of the college ministry at Xenos. had been going through a tough time in the church and felt pretty horrible all together. She developed an eating disorder but kept it a secret because she knew that would be unacceptable in the eyes of Xenos. She suffered silently and was eventually hospitalized after she attempted suicide through starving herself. The elders of her group and other women in her ministry house visited the hospital and explained that they had put Tara’s place in the group to a vote. They felt her actions and behavior would be bad examples for the other women. Because of these reasons, she was then asked to move out of the ministry house and leave the church. They told her this while she was still in the hospital bed. Her sister was in that room. Life long friends were in that room. Her relationships with them have never been the same.
But she left and found herself a boyfriend and a good job and she is figuring it out “in the world” just fine. She is aware of how toxic Xenos was and has apologized about the way things ended with us. She is doing really well for herself and I’m proud that she has come so far after being in Xenos for so long. The longer you are there the harder it is to get out of.
You know, like a cult?
I have 3 stories to share. the first one is from my friend, the second is from my dad, and the third is from me.
My friend was extremely invested in her home church; she went there for almost 4 years, and it was all she ever talked about. she does a bunch of sports and is involved in band, but her homechurch told her to quit all her extracurricular activities to focus more on god. they also told her that she could only go to 3 different colleges because they have ministry houses, so she eventually had to leave.
My dad told me that he's always been wary of homechurch because when he was a teen, his friends got involved in xenos, and they got so clingy to my dads friends to the point of asking them the worth of their parent's house. it's insane.
I remember when i was there, someone had said that their friend can't come because their parents wants them to go to a catholic bible study, and another person said their friend couldn't go because they had homework, and at the end, our leader said "let's pray that god helps these people stop making bullshit excuses and actually come out" like wtf.
I attended Xenos for nearly 20 years. I came to the fellowship well into my 30's so never had the college/ministry house experience. I will share that the youth-college-young adult demographics are the main focus of the senior leaders, now. I found my time with the church to be educational in terms of the Bible and spiritually, I grew and started my walk in the fellowship. I am a critical thinker and think for myself so I didn't relent or rather, give myself completely over to my home church or small group. I was not one to just share all my business.
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.
Nearly 2 years ago a good friend of mine at the time invited me out to her home church, I had heard about this church before but I didn’t know much about it so me and my best friend decided to go out. From then on I went out to my home church for about a year before finally leaving at the end of 2017. All things started out well but after a couple months of going out me and another girl in the church became best friends. We would always hang out at the teachings and we’re always around each other but it wasn’t long before the leaders in the group started to start watching us all the time. I should now mention that I’m a lesbian and before going out I was scared Xenos would be homophobic but I was reassured multiple times that they loved and accept gay people (ps they don’t).
Flashing forward to about a year into me being in the group we went on a retreat to one of the leaders lake houses, me and the girl who became my best friend had decided we would room with two other girls for our stay. Nearly right after everybody chose their rooms one of the leaders came into the room and said she needed to talk to me and the girl by ourselves, she proceeded to tell us that nobody was comfortable with us sleeping together in a room together and that If we did she would be forced to take us back home. I was completely humiliated and was in tears for the rest of the night.
Me and the girl never did anything romantic and we’re just friends yet because we were close and I’m gay they assumed we were doing romantic stuff. Besides the complete humiliation for the rest of our time in the group we always had somebody watching out every move while straight couples in the groups could do as they pleased with none of the leaders bating an eye.
This group made my mental health decrease(to the extreme because Xenos was once a place I found comfort in and I thought that the leaders and other people in the groups loved me for who I was. I warn any LGBT+ people or anybody in general to steer clear of this horrible place. Even about 6 months after leaving the group people in the group are still saying extremely homophobic things about me and the girl. But I most definitely have been absolutely happier now that give left that toxic cult. I just hope other people leave before it’s too late.
They don’t care about you if you make “ungodly” choices. There was a girl in college group that I knew who lived in the ministry house and they were all basically like sisters because she’d been living there for such a long time but her depression got to her and she tried to commit suicide, the group didn’t give one fuck about her, they didn’t visit , they didn’t care and they kicked her out and not formally they removed all of her items and had her friends come remove it from their property and they don’t speak of her name or talk to her now when they should’ve been there.
I went to a Xenos wedding and I was disgusted in their vows they basically had the bride say that she would cater to her husbands every need no matter what and that he and controlled her basically and it was all for god.
Leaders make close relationships with some of the kids so if something is happening that they don’t know about the certain kids will report it , me and my friend hung out by ourselves one night instead of going to homechurch and we posted about it and they had the same 3 people asking us both why we weren’t there and then info about other people and they try to control us and make us go to everything and especially stay on campus which isn’t all that fun.
don’t go to xenos camp epic if you aren’t entrapped in their trance before you go you most likely will afterwards, it’s where it’s secluded and they have you with group members and teachings almost every hour. Even when you come back they want to hang out with you that night or the next day to talk about what you learned and every time after ct and homechurch they always go over the teaching again to make sure we understand it.
At Xenos prayer=church-sanctioned gossip. Above all: do not share anything you would not be willing to tell to the whole church. I have known, and known of, too many people, especially young people, who have been deeply hurt by what occurred after a "private" conversation.
Don't expect anyone to have time for you any more if you don't go to home church . . . Even if you have been the best of friends for 18 years.
Don't expect the college ministry house to give your kid enough time to go to school, work and actually study. It would interfere with their spiritual life and/or what the leaders want them to do.
If said child moves out because he needs to study and actually still sleep, don't expect even one person from church to still have any time for him, even if he was still willing to go to teachings and home church.
If said child had a friend with whom he was best friends from age two and with whom he even had a shared graduation party, don't expect that "friend" to behave as if there was ever a friendship.
If you go to home church and someone else has not come for a couple of weeks, expect to be told that you are "wasting your time" hanging out with them because they won't join the church, even if that person is a friend. Apparently one should never put the love of a friend before Xenos.
If you question anything and don't immediately accept the answer you are given, expect your Christianity to be called into question.
If you want to experience true love and friendship . . . Look elsewhere
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.
I thought it was strange, but didn’t think too much of it. I attended a couple Xenos functions here and there, and they were fun, but I kept on being prodded to come out to a home church teaching. I did enjoy the friends I had made, and thought I might as well see what Home church was like. I made quite a few friends the first night, and was asked when I would be back. I truly didn’t know, because the large group smushed into a small basement honestly gave me a lot of anxiety. I didn’t always feel comfortable around the leaders because I felt like they were scoping me out and trying to determine if I was worth talking to. However what made this whole experience turn sour was two of my close friends getting kicked out. One of my friends was dealing with deep depression, and was falsely accused of many things that frankly just didn’t happen.
Another friend was in the process of coming out, and took a break from home church, only to find out that she had been excommunicated basically. Both friends were cut off completely, in the most disheartening ways. It’s hard to imagine being best friends with someone, and thinking that they truly have your best interest at heart, and then the next day they decide you don’t love God the way they want you to, so they cut all ties. The last instance that I knew Xenos was beyond messed up was several years later when I was visiting with a friend (I truly feel she is a good person who has been brainwashed beyond help). She invited me to her ministry house, and I agreed to go over and visit for a while. This house was jam packed with way too much stuff, and reason being because there were 13 girls living in ONE house. I asked how they possibly figured out a rooming system, and as I am looking in rooms, I see rooms designated to closet space, which has everyone’s stuff compiled into two rooms. And lastly we come to the attic (decent size) and there are 13 beds. In one room. With “curtain barriers” between some of them. I don’t understand why anyone would choose to live like a pack rat, but she insisted it was like a fun sleepover every night. Sounds pretty awful to me.
I could say so much more about the people I know who have been hurt and wounded by Xenos, but I hope they become brave enough to share their own story. It is possible to maintain your faith without giving your entire life to a man made, power hungry, hypocritical, and cruel church. There are some truly wonderful people that attend Xenos, and I sincerely hope they can find the courage to question what they are being taught, and see if it really is what God wants. Something tells me that God wouldn’t want his sons and daughters to manipulate, falsely accuse, judge, or shun others.
I started attending Xenos sometime before I was 5. I had made friends with two of the neighboring kids, and their parents had befriended mine and brought them to Xenos. I went through the middle school cell groups and the high school home churches. The two neighboring kids remained my best friends through all of it, and I ended up going on to join the college group with one of them being in my home church. I moved into the ministry houses with him and entered a discipleship with one of the guys who quickly became another very close friend of mine. The home church was eventually shattered, where everyone was scattered to different home churches. To my knowledge, this was because we weren't getting enough new people to come and stay at our home church. Me and one of the other guys from the home church were placed in a new home church with one of the leaders of the college group as a whole. I lost the discipleship with the guy I was good friends with and was setup to study with someone new whom I didn't feel a particularly strong connection with but was willing to try with him. The dissolving of that home church was hard because the close friendships were not sustainable afterwards, it ended my discipleship with my first discipler and made it so I rarely got to see my childhood friend. All of the other obligations took enough time that those friendships didn't really feel like they could endure.
I was pressured into taking LTC, their Leadership Training Class. I didn't want to be a leader, however, it was what felt necessary in order to fit in as someone actually getting somewhere in the church. At that point in time I was working 32 hours a week, going to CSCC full time, home church Monday night, house meeting every other Tuesday night, LTC Wednesday night, Central teaching Thursday night, and cell group on Friday night. Then, there would usually be parties on the weekend which there seemed to be unspoken rules of if you weren't doing anything else, you should really go to. I also had meetings with my discipler, whom I still hadn't really felt connected with. It was exhausting. There was never time to sit around and I eventually started to feel trapped with people who were not close friends, and in an environment that I did not feel I could continue to be in. I knew from what I had seen before that when people leave no one really seems to talk to them anymore. One guy left the church before my first college home church dissolved. I remember asking a leader about continuing to hangout with him and was discouraged from doing so for reasons that felt thin. They were something along the lines of “he should come back to us” and not the other way around. The Home church I was placed in tried to tell me they didn't do that kind of thing. I was challenged with "have you seen that happen here?" sort of questions, which I felt I had not been around long enough to see them do or not do.
I decided to leave, and I want to think I did so respectfully. I called each guy in my ministry house up to my room after home church and explained to them what my decision was and why. One of the leaders after my explanation then questioned me on if I was really a Christian seeing as I was making this decision, which felt very insulting. Evidently, if you don't like their church you are not Christian. When I went to talk to my discipler, he said something along the lines of "I think I’ve figured out what you're going to say, I don't think we have anything more we need to discuss.” That was the last thing he said to me before I left the church. After leaving I had thought I might be able to maintain my friendship with my childhood friend and my first discipler. My first discipler invited me to hangout mostly because he had heard I had left and was curious as to why. I thought it went okay, he didn't like my decision but I thought the friendship might still last. He and his wife were going to be moving to a new home and having a truck at the time. I suggested that I could help and they both said that would be great. Then they never called about when they were moving which had me wondering if he was going to ditch me too. He also had suggested I find a new church, which I was interested in doing because I was already missing the feeling of community. But I came to find that I now felt like I was looking for things that felt fake at each church I went to, this is perhaps also because my only church experience was Xenos. My childhood friend never contacted me until about two years later after I had left. I reached out to him first to tell him Happy Birthday. We hung out and I again thought it went well and that the friendship might last, despite making clear that I had no intentions of coming back. He has not contacted me since, although I am honestly not sure if it is because of my decision or because he wouldn't have gotten to it again anyways.
My first discipler ended up messaging me about two years after he had moved to his new home and asked how I was doing. I responded shortly not being sure what to expect from him and he responded with this big long message about what had been going on with him. I responded with a long message back and instead of responding to any of the things I said in it, he asked if I had found a new church. When I said I had not, he stopped responding. There really is an ongoing idea of only loving those who do what they want in this church. To leave will cut off friendships. No one in that church, with the exception of those two have reached out to me since I left. No one in the Home church who had said they “weren't like that” have spoken to me since I left. They will say their home church isn't like this or defend how they do not try to hang out with those who leave because they know we will not want to hear what they have to say. But that's not how real friendships work. In the time since leaving I felt unwanted enough by people and discouraged enough about real friendships actually existing there was a brief time where on my drives to work my thinking was "if a train happened to be coming when I cross the rail road tracks today that would not be the worst thing that could happen." Leaving this church and trying to get my life back on track again is the hardest thing I have ever done.
I’m writing this as a mother of a former Xenos member. Me and my husband are Christians, active in a nondenominational church and my daughter was homeschooled and raised in this Christian environment. My daughter joined when she was attending cscc. A good friend of hers joined and convinced my daughter to join. At first she seemed to enjoy it and was very active with meetings and new friends. Throughout this time however maybe unknown to her house church she still attended church with us. After she moved into a ministry house I started to notice some changes with her. She became more anxious and afraid. She shared with me how she was pressured to go to parties and to “hang out” with certain guys that the leaders had wanted her to “hang out” with. Some of them made her feel very uncomfortable. She also didn’t like the living conditions at the house. Initially she was told she would share a room with her long time friend but the house leaders felt that wasn’t right so all five of them shared 1 small bedroom as an accountability kind of thing. It was high rent (paid to a xenos member landlord of course) to share a room with 4 other women. She started dating a classmate that wasn’t in xenos and was told she couldn’t date him and still be in the church. Under much pressure she told him she couldn’t see him but later ended up going against her church and dating him. I liked her boyfriend and thought it was really strange for a church to dictate who she dated when as her Christian mother who respects my childrens adulthood, I didn’t even do that. She was also tired of all the parties and commitments on her time when she was trying to go to college. With all the required parties and drinking, I thought it sounded more like a sorority then a church and told her to just leave and move back home.
When she told them she was leaving the church they told her she would need to move out and pay her share of the rent through the end of the lease. I called her landlord and asked him if he was kicking her out of the house because she was leaving the church and if so was he aware that that was religious discrimination. He told me he was not kicking anyone out of the house. With this knowledge I met with her roommates and informed them that the landlord was not kicking her out so they had two options: let her out of the lease or she would stay in the house and pay the rent under her own terms ie. not go to their church, have one of the spare rooms and date whoever she wanted. They told me it wasn’t possible for her to stay and not be part of the church and under the authority of the house leader. They brought up a church covenant she signed and I told them that we all knew that wouldn’t hold up in a court. I asked them if they thought that all of this was strange. I said my daughter is an active Christian going to a different church and you can’t be friends or roommates with other Christians that go to other churches. I told them when I was in college me and my roommates didn’t go to the same churches. I told them point blank that they must be part of a cult if they couldn’t live with another Christian just because they didn’t go to the same church.
Faced with only those two options they took her name off the lease and she moved back home. At the meeting with her roommates I saw how oppressive this environment had been for her. She was cowering in a corner like an abused dog especially when the house leader would talk. They wanted to talk with her alone but I wouldn’t have it. She has been out of xenos for over 6 years now and while much better still has issues with fear of people and anxiety that she didn’t have before Xenos. They took my beautiful child of God that before Xenos has been confident in her knowledge of Gods love for her and made her fearful and anxious with their intimidation and oppressive environment. I pray for her complete healing that she may be the wonderful and confident person that God created her to be. Confident in His love. Xenos is an abusive church run like a sorority and fraternity where people are made to be like puppets under leaders that have too much power and no relationship with God. They rule though intimidation and control. So thankful that my daughter maintained an open relationship with me through the whole experience and still attended our church. This gave her wisdom and a Christian experience outside of xenos that helped her to recognize that it was an abusive cult and gave her a desire to leave.
I joined Xenos my freshman year of high school. From the start I knew something was sketchy because at my old church I wasn’t use to the whole “home church” thing but I tried to understand because it is was becoming more popular. My freshman year at Xenos was ok at first but I would get super uncomfortable when the leaders would take me to a separate part of the house and question me about every aspect of my life. I tried to tell them I was uncomfortable and they would tell me “you’re just not use to confessing, you’ll get use to it”. It almost felt like they were doing the good cop bad cop thing. As most ex-Xenos and current Xenos people know, it only gets worse the longer you’re there. Fast forward to my sophomore year, I was dating this guy from my school (not a Xenos member) and my leader flipped! She said I needed to find a guy that was in the “boys house”. I didn’t understand what that meant so she explained they had college housing and college groups. Fast forward to junior year and I go to college connections. Basically it’s a weekend to meet the college students of Xenos and experience “the real world”. This was the weekend I’d never forget. It was fun at first with all the games we played and being able
To have a bible reading with the girls in the house but, later that night we went to the boys house. I met all the guys of the house and something didn’t feel right. So like any teenager would do, I found an “adult” I told my leader I was uncomfortable and wanted to get some air, she said “ok I’ll be right back wait on the porch”. So I went out side and waited (mind you I’m 16) she never came out side but instead she sent one to the guys of the house to walk with me. I didn’t want to go so we sat on the porch and he tried questioning me. I went back inside asking the leader if she could take me home and she refused. Later that night all the girls in the house started telling me I needed to date the guy that was in the boys house. I told them no because I was 16 and he was like 26. After I told them no I was ignored for the rest of the night... but long story short I was treated like a piece of meat and after the love bombing didn’t work I was completely shut out and called a skank and whore. Fast forward senior year.. my “best friend” (the one that got me to attend Xenos) completely shut me out, she wouldn’t even make eye contact with me in the hall. One minute her and I were inseparable and then after the incident at college connections night it was like I was nothing. Everything was a lie and a bribe. A lot more happened but I never reported any of it because I was brain washed into thinking what happened was normal.. my senior year was the hardest and I felt so alone and shut out. But now that I’ve graduated I want to speak out and warn everyone Xenos is not your everyday church.. it’s a cult and they will lead you to think it’s a church but it’s not and the parents who force their kids to Go there are just as guilty as the leaders at Xenos. Parents need to listen to their kids because sometimes we aren’t over reacting. Xenos made Me Suicidal and I was put on several medications..I will never forget what it felt like to be sexually harassed... I will never forget what it feels like to be back stabbed and used.. I will never forget what Xenos did to me.
I could share countless stories. I was in the church for many years. Most of what these people are saying I have witnessed personally. What I want to say is there is no real accountability. Years after I left I tried to go to them and address some of this. I was asked who my former leaders were and they asked my name. They would ask them if what I said was true. This would require my former leaders to be honest about their behavior. Otherwise it was my word (despite leaving on my own accord, I was demeaned and trashed as not following God anymore) vs the word of people still loyal to Xenos. That’s it. That’s their accountability. They have none. Despite countless similar stories about behavior, we are all dismissed.
I never was a part of Xenos , but I have a story. I worked with someone who was a part of Xenos and he took me to Homechurch a few times where I met many other Xenos college students . They were all really nice . Well , the guy that I worked with , we were also seeing each other in private . As in , multiple times a week he’d get a hotel room and we’d sleep together . The night that I decided to cut it off , I was raped by this guy . In return , I told one of the girls I had become close with in the Xenos group and she in turn told the leader of that homechurch . They kicked him out of the house , not for rape or sexual abuse , but for violating the rules of “dating” or some shit . I remember him calling and texting me multiple times telling me how I got him kicked out of his house and that he was going to kill me for labeling him a rapist.
I believe those who haven’t encountered this group directly can very quickly see the warning signs and think “How the hell can anyone fall for this?”
This line of thinking the follows those who have joined and later on see the warning signs- they think “How the hell could I have fallen for this?”
This may make it harder to convince someone to leave. If they are directly or indirectly being told that they were naive, ignorant, or desperate enough to “fall” for cultic tactics, the cause for defensiveness on their side will naturally incline. Even if they do not grow defensive, these people are enduring an emotional trauma and critical self esteem can be wrecked by these words.
Cults thrive on the manipulation of human psychological needs. Vulnerability is not weakness- the need to show vulnerability in order to attain closeness with others is entirely natural. The strongest, smartest and most popular figures in society all hold this same need. IF you conduct any research on cult victims, you will find people of all nationalities, educational backgrounds, interests, core beliefs, occupations, etc. Countless insanely intelligent and seemingly social people have unfortunately fallen victim to countless cults.
I am not attacking any particular comment or idea, as I believe that everyone here has genuine and good intent. I simply hope that those who have not encountered this group understand that some are simply blinded from the warning signs entirely, or are incapable of seeing them. These stories prove that victims have encountered the group in various ways. Please do not place your judgment on any members or ex-members as “dumb” or inferior or any way.
I have witnessed many extremely intelligent, wonderful people join this group. A victim is a victim. They are not the perpetrators. No one who joined this is dumb for doing so. IF you want to help those in Xenos, it's important to raise the self-esteem of these good people who deserve to know that they are worth the exit. Reliance on the group is critical, so give them something else to rely on.
I was in Xenos and everyone told me it was a cult and I should’ve listened, the stuff that when I’m in that church was to say the least weird and forceful
About 2 years, it was good at first they make you feel safe and special and then things went down hill and my personal business was being spread around. And when I say personal I mean like depression and stories from my childhood. When I left, none of them talk to me. They were all fake and they change everyone to be a spitting image of the leaders themselves
It’s sickening to say the least. I had friends in xenos that were never the same. It’s like we had to worship the leaders and not god.
Thank you for this page, xenos made me hate myself
2 years ago. October 30, 2016 I was brought out to Xenos. When I had first came out to xenos I had actually no idea what it was, in which my friend had told me that we were only going apple picking. I get to there and I just assumed that I was going home once we were finished with the apple picking. Then I was informed from the people of the church that I was in fact going to a bible study. Right away I was drawn into this church because they were saying everything I had ever wanted to hear in friends. I come back out the next week for the first home church part and everyone was vaping. I mean everyone. So what happened to me? I was influenced into Vaping. Fast forward a couple months after my current best friends and I had gotten close and it is now summer of 2017. My mom is preparing to go pay for epic, but the first thing that pops up is “ xenos is a cult”. My mom immediately freaks and tells me she doesn’t want me going out anymore. I didn’t know any better at the time because I had never even heard of xenos until I was brought here back in October.
Epic comes and right away this was all so weird. a girl I had considered my best friend would take everything I was telling her, run back and tell my girl leader. This specific leader would make plans with me and then once I was ready to hang out she would say she was busy but then turns out she was actually hanging with my best friend. Epic passes then there’s parent night. Where this church was able to convince my mom that it was in fact not a cult and that “ outsiders “ just had it all wrong and were haters. We are now in October and my best friend is gay. Her and I had kissed once at first but jokingly. It had got told to one leader as a joke and then the next time her and I had come out, everyone in the church knew. We were then watched with every move we made and we could not sit by each other and be alone. A retreat had come for the first weekend of November and they told us that her and I were not aloud to sleep in the same room. Although there was atleast 4 other people in the room with us. We were miserable. Soon enough weeks after my best friend and I had started messing around. And I had got in trouble for giving a hickey. My first instict was to tell someone in the group because I still believed I could trust them. So I tell a leader. Next thing I know the whole group knew. I soon enough identified as not straight and They kept asking me if I felt pressured into being gay. I soon after stopped going out but I’ve heard that they still ask about the group of my friends and they don’t understand why we stopped going out. I do know that they told my transgender friend’s sister that her transgender brother wasn’t right and he shouldn’t of transitioned it.
"They literally made us do a thing called “2 minutes of vulnerability” where we had to like spill our insecurirties and stuff out in front of everyone to “offer it up to god” (and) they outed my friend at EPIC last year."
[ . . . ] When I saw your account and read stuff about it, I saw the similarities. I basically forced to meet with one of the leaders before we met. I was forced to pray out loud before we went to ct. Me hating praying out loud or even speaking in front of a lot people. They seemed fun at first but I was asked way to many questions for my liking and -
Way to many personal questions.
Even thought it was just the two of us, I still didn't want to do it and she seemed uncomfortable with it. And before we'd "study" And even while we were I wasn't able to go off food. The most recent time I went I was forced to spend $10 of my moms money (that she could've used) to buy a prayer journal, which I now just use it for drawings
I first heard about xenos through friends in high school. It was the place people went to hang out at. Everyone would go. I went at first just to see friends and hang out. One of my friends invited me to their home church where one of the leaders took to me and asked all about me. She kept inviting me to meetings and wanting to hang out to talk about how I felt connected to god. The church seemed cool and laid back. They did fun things and it allowed me to see my friends outside of school. So I started going regularly. Once I was a senior and graduated they started talking to me about joining the college level group. Told me about living in a house. They had a whole weekend set up called college connections. It was a weekend filled with fun stuff. Stayed in the house did all the things they did. I wasn't sure if that was what I wanted to do but a week before my 18th birthday me and my mom got in a fight and she kicked me out. They let me move in as long as I didn't tell anyone because I wasn't 18 yet.
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 harrassed 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.
Well, in my sophomore year, I was really into this girl. And she started bringing me to Xenos meetings and after like a month I was consistently attending Xenos meetings three times a week. I wasn’t affected too terribly because I’ve never really been very religious so I didn’t get too deep in it. I watched it help to destroy her life though, we were incredibly off and on, because group leaders were constantly telling her she was devoting too much time to me and not enough to the church.
Eventually she and I broke up for good and I watched her continue to be manipulated by the group in every way, I believe she left for a bit, but then one day she just went silent on all social media and everything and apparently they drove her to a point where she ended up in an OSU mental ward for a while. It was crazy. It still feels like a curse sometimes because sometimes those same people will text me trying to get me to come back.
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.
I’m not fully sure when this happened but around a year into xenos we had a trial to kick a fellow high school student out for inappropriate contact with some of the females. Before the student showed up to the meeting we had a pre gathering to pray and talk. Within 5 minutes everyone had already determined to kick the student out. They brought the student in sat him in front of the church and instead of ripping the band aid off humiliated him and then made us do an “official” vote to kick him out. I remember that the only “inappropriate” contact that happened was the student face timed a girl from the cult with his shirt off and empty bottles of alcohol in the background other than that harmless flirting. He was humiliated and shunned with out being able to defend him self.
Although I wasn’t in the group for a long time, for the few months that I was I knew something was off. I experienced the love bombing and it sent chills down the back of my mind. I had no idea why something so “positive” made me feel uneasy. Once the leaders started talking to me there were somewhere I felt okay with and could trust. But some seemed to get too close and cross the personal space line without asking. I didn’t ask to be touched by strangers I just met.
When it came to the time where I felt I accepted Christ there was a leader who asked me repeatedly why “I” thought I accepted Christ. I told him it was a feeling I had and that I wanted to talk to my mom about it more first. But he kept picking at me although I said multiple times I wanted to wait. He just wouldn’t take no for an answer. I never did tell him and that’s when I started to feel more off about the group. When I did leave it was like I never met most of the people. They went from saying hi in the halls to cold stares and just passes in hall. In that moment it’s as if they treat you as an alien. People who claim to be friends will quickly drop you just because you didn’t want to be in the group anymore. What kind of friendship and mentality is that?
I always had a bad feeling from my first day there, and the question I asked myself, “How can something that’s supposed to be ‘good’ make me feel so bad?” With the recent light being shown my answer has been found.
I probably went to about 10 home churches in college. I was depressed, and one of my friends would text me multiple times a week to come. So, I did. And they love bombed the shit out of me. I loved having all of the ‘friends’, but I was NOT falling for the religious/cult aspect. Finally, another member approached me and asked if I was going to join the church for good. I said no. My friend immediately stopped talking to me.
I had also brought another outsider friend along and she was texted EVERY DAY by a girl she BARELY knew after going to 1 home church. This girl is known for trying to get people into the church, and she does not give up.
I used to hang out with a bunch of them for an entire summer, so I saw a lot of stuff, and it all resonates with the stories posted here. Love bombing, pushing to get you into the house, making things look super fun.
It also makes me incredibly sad because I feel like I’ve ‘lost’ friends to this cult. Sorry for all of this, I just found this account and was like wowww my gut was right.
I felt it was a cult when they first started telling me about it. As time passed, I watched my child change so much and not for the better. Very defensive with family, especially me. More and more distant from family. They barely have anything to do with me unless they need financial help. They live in one of the ministry houses and has reached a point that they don't seem to care about them self. They have recently stopped talking to me and has cut off all family members who have been there for them and care and love them. They are telling untrue things about me to others. I have always been supportive and it is as if though I am non-existent.
They are my life and I love them both more than anything. It has been nerve wracking as a parent. I am so scared for my child. I want them to have a happy and normal life and achieve all that they deserve to achieve in life. There is no normality in their life right now and as a parent I am so worried about them. I cry every day with worry about my child and pray every day that they will leave this place and get their life on the right track. Following God and wanting religion and/or spirituality in your life does not mean you have to shun your family and friends who are not a part of this brainwashing Cult that destroys who you really are as a person inside and out.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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"
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.
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!
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
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.
Back in 2000-1 my girlfriend moved from out of state to Columbus to attend OSU. She started attending Xenos, I went to a few meetings with her, most of my experience was not direct with them, but what I saw change in my girlfriend at the time. I was not religious and the relationship probably would not have lasted anyway, but I feel Xenos had a big role in our breakup.
Some of the changes... we were not having sex but we were fooling around, this changed because it was a "sin". One of the meetings that was one of the topics, the speaker said when she and an ex got together they always ended up having sex. That is a sin so the solution is to remove the person from your life. Along those lines she told me she was removing anyone from her life that wasn't a Christian. The friends she cut out of her life were not a bad influence in any way, it's not like they were telling her religion is bad and to go lie/cheat/steal/murder/kill/do drugs etc. They were good people, but you can't have gay and non-religious people in your life.
The relationship ends, I "ended" it, but I was all but forced to. Keep this in mind, she moved from out of state in order to live where I live, before we were together we had not dated anyone else, for me at the time it was a pretty devastating event. I also know she was doing things outside of the normal church meetings with some of the leaders, going to their homes, etc so I am sure she was telling them what was going on in her life, getting advice, etc. I'm trying to give some background information, because two days after we break up, probably not even 48 hours later, someone from the church asks her out on a date and she agrees to it.
To her, this was God answering her prayers of having a Christian boyfriend. When I told my friends about it their thoughts were that she had to have been cheating on me (she wasn't) because of how soon she started dating someone. Before this nobody had ever asked her out on a date. I can't prove it, but I absolutely believe she was being pressured to end the relationship, and when it ended they arranged for someone to ask her out. She went on to marry the person she started dating right after we broke up.
To me it is not normal to start dating right after a serious breakup, it wasn't rebound dating, she wasn't terrified of being alone, and I had been her only relationship, so it wasn't like she was serial dater. I also believe it was too much of a "coincidence" she was asked out right after we broke up. The usual advise after a serious breakup is to spend some time not in a relationship.
I said before I think the relationship would have ended on it's own, so I'm not writing this out of bitterness for Xenos causing the break up. What I find disturbing is people in the church pressuring members to end relationships with friends and to breakup with people. It's also disturbing that they then arrange for member to date each other. With members sharing every impure thought and detail about their life, you can be sure they share any problems they have in their relationship. The opposite now becomes the norm, instead of encouraging a break-up, because you are both church members, now you should pray to God to solve your relationship problems.
I don't know where else it is acceptable for someone in a position of authority to dictate how someone should live their life (sinner!) and who they should date. Especially to vulnerable people, many of whom are from a different country or state, or are living away from home for the first time. Somehow because you say this is what God wants it makes all of this acceptable. Unless you have been someone an Xenos member was dating or a friend of one, it's difficult to explain the changes you see in someone that the church has it's claws in. Everything they say is accepted and followed without question.
It began in my senior year of high school. "The recruitment" as I would later come to find out. A innocuous invitation to "hang out" by someone I regarded as a friend. Someone well known and well-liked throughout my school. At this point I did not realize he was involved with Xenos, I did not even know what Xenos was. The hang out, which conveniently occurred right before a home church meeting took place, eventually lead to questions about my spirituality and relationship with "God." When the time came, I was invited to stay for a bible study, and I did (albeit mostly out of respect for my friend). Afterwards, the probing began of "what did you think about the teaching?" I personally knew a handful of people already at the home church, being ignorant to what was happening went back a couple more times (mostly to see friends). I was not raised in a religious household. We went to a church for Christmas and sometimes Easter, but that was about it. So all of this was fairly new to me. I had no knowledge or understanding of the bible. I was intrigued, but my family and other friends in high school kept me out of arms reach of the Xenos group.
Fast forward to my freshman year of college at The Ohio State University. I had just moved into my dorm room, perhaps my first or second night on campus. I'll bet you can all guess who texted me and asked to hangout, my friend from high school who was now living in one of the "ministry houses" off Indianola. Freshman were not permitted to live off-campus, however, with a letter stating he was living at home (which his parents graciously signed, as they were in the church as well) he circumvented that university rule. Now, being away from home, not having many friends around me, it was time for the big push. The first hangout was simply that, one of the older members of the church stopped by with a case of beer which was handed out to everyone including my friend and I (who were both underage). You see drinking was okay, getting drunk was not. Smoking cigarettes was okay, smoking marijuana was not. Getting drunk and smoking weed impaired your ability to "talk to god." After a couple more hangouts, spending a night or two on their couch, I was becoming entrenched. I still hung out with people I met in my dorm, went to some parties, but before long the Xenos jaws were closing in around me. I was asked to hang out more and more. Fun activities such as parties, kickball, and movies. Spirituality started being brought up more and more along with invitations to their campus home church. I relented. The first bible study came and the "love bombing" began. Everyone within the church wanted to talk to me, get my story, recruit me. I felt loved. I felt like I had friends. Pretty soon, my dorm mate hardly ever saw me. I was attending the CT (central teaching) each Monday and home church every Thursday. I stayed up too late on weeknights, hanging out after the bible studies, answering questions about my thoughts on "god" and the teaching. I began missing classes and pretty soon my 3.8 GPA turned into a 3.2 and then into a 2.6. It was church over everything. If I said I was going to miss a meeting because I needed to do school work, I was admonished and told that missing meetings was a big deal and I did not want to make it a regular occurrence. By the end of my freshman year, I was completely indoctrinated. I was invited to the cell-group meetings on Fridays as well. Then as I prepared to move home for the summer, I was asked to live in the ministry house. I wanted to live at home that summer. I missed my family. I missed my own bed. Yet, I was pressured into moving in early because this house was not just a "college house" and other members lived there year round. In my first big act of defiance I moved home that summer. I was farther away now, but still went to the meetings as it was expected of me. My parents began to see how much time I was dedicating to Xenos and grew concerned that this was the cause of my lackluster performance in school. I played it off as a problem that came from living in the dorms.
The next school year came around and I moved into the ministry house. I was completely involved with every meeting and it drew even more dire reprimands if I had to miss a meeting. Missing CT was okay for the most part. Missing home church or cell group, however, was not. The house was cramped. Ten guys living in a two bedroom house. Four in each room and two slept in the attic. One bathroom upstairs and one bathroom downstairs. House chores were assigned each week to the tenants. If you did not do your chores that week (amidst school work, bible studies, and hang outs termed "fellowship") the person who drew your chore the next week got to slap you as hard as they could across your bare back. Needless to say, my grades continued to suffer. I was barely getting by. Failing classes here and there. My parents threatened multiple times to take me out of school, but I always found a reason or excuse other than the church. It was required I install "Covenant Eyes" on my laptop. A form of spyware to track what websites I visited. If I browsed through anything too risque, I was reprimanded by my discipler, which was now my friend who recruited me. While masturbation was heavily frowned upon (the door was taken off the upstairs bathroom to remove the "temptation"), sex was outright banned. No women were allowed upstairs. If you did not come home at night you were heavily questioned as to your whereabouts. It was severely frowned upon to "talk to" or date someone from outside the church. If you did, it was required of you to recruit that person into the church so you could be "equally yoked." I can think of three relationships that I gave up on after a couple weeks of hitting it off with someone because of Xenos. I pushed them away when the burden became too much. Finally, towards the end of my sophomore year, this controlling nature became too much and I started acting out. I viewed pornography without any guilt, partied, got drunk, smoked marijuana, and ended up meeting a girl and spending multiple nights at her house. I wanted out. Finally, after the leaders of the home church had a pow wow, the elder and my discipler sat me down and gave me an ultimatum. Either repent my sins, break it off with this girl, and agree to stop partying or move out of the house. I moved out and moved home.
I wish my story ended there, but the tentacles that are Xenos are not that easy to break away from. After leaving the house, my "friends" stopped talking to me. Everyone except my discipler. He was someone I considered my best friend. I could never tell if he felt similarly about me, or if I was a relentless pursuit. Was I just his trophy buck that he'd been stalking for years and determined not to let me walk away? I figured this separation of myself from the house and church would reveal the truth. He continued to talk to me, hang out with me on occasion, and after a few months of being removed from the house he told me that I was welcome to come back and be apart of the home church meetings. I was distanced from campus and felt alone, I longed for the friendships and closeness I felt as a part of the home church. So I began attending home church meetings again. I was slowly welcomed back by the leaders and elders of the group. This time around, I began really diving into the study of the bible. I was more active at meetings, asking questions and theorizing what various passages meant. My interest caught the attention of the leaders and they invited me to come back to cell group meetings. My discipler talked to me and tried to get me to go to their "leadership training" classes. I was even "baptized" in a swimming pool. I went on a fun Spring break trip to Holden beach, which was dampened with even more spiritual talks and religion than I had back home. I was pressured more and more to reach out to "non-believers" and recruit them to be my disciples. I should note that members believe that they are providing "salvation" to those who do not follow "god" and thus are justified because they are doing "good." Moving up in the church is not just about taking the classes, it is also about who can get the most disciples underneath them. I was never really comfortable proselytizing. I have always had the moral that a person should be able to believe what they want to without having the beliefs of others shoved in their face. I did invite a few people out to home church, but never gained a discipler. Meanwhile, I also was learning a lot about the bible. A book as I said before, I had no real knowledge of. As a history buff, I began seeing it as more a window to the past and not a "holy book." I grew up with a tremendous interest in the natural world and sciences. I am not saying that a scientist cannot believe in "god"; however, as a free-thinking individual I began questioning some of the things I was hearing and reading. I saw time and time again, "cherry picking" of the bible. If this book is supposed to be the word of "god" and all truthful, why are there parts that you choose not to believe? Women are servants to their husbands? Slavery is okay and homosexuality is not? I began having "spirited discussions" with my discipler and other members of the church about these things, evolution, natural law, and other things that science and logical thinking brings into question. I was told that I could believe in evolution and the bible, I would just have to rationalize it in my own way. It was at this point that I began moving away from religion all together. It did not make sense to me that people could pick and choose parts to believe and not. It was all or nothing to me because if its only parts then that negates all validity the bible has in the first place, rendering it completely powerless.
I was on the rise in the church, but that did not matter. Not only did I feel very uncomfortable trying to befriend people with the sole purpose of bring them to the church, but I began to not even believe what I was talking about. Before my senior year, I got a new job and made some very good friends there. I began dating a girl outside of the church and before long I had left the church... again. This time around, everyone stopped talking to me. Most removed me from social media. This time around, I had finally broke free. Unsurprisingly, my grades rose and I felt better about myself as I had the freedom to pursue the hobbies and activities that I enjoy. It took most of three years and really studying and reading the bible for me to see the tremendous fallacy that religion is. After taking a history class on religion my senior year, it was clear to me that religious beliefs are a product of where you were born, who raised you, and what life events have happened to you. I digress from the overall topic of the controlling and manipulative nature of Xenos church. I was taken advantage of because I was a young, lonely college student and they thought I would be easy to mold to their will. This is the one true goal of the college ministry of Xenos. Find and convert as many college students as possible all while notching your discipleship belt and moving up in the corrupt enterprise that is organized religion. Control them because if you lose control, the individual finds itself and moves on from the manipulation.
On occasion, I ran into some members of the church at a local campus bar. At one time one was trying to recruit a couple of my friends there, until I walked up and entered the conversation. Immediately the would-be recruiter slunk away and went back on the prowl for an easier meal. Seven years have now passed since I was a member of Xenos. I have heard from my former discipler two maybe three times. No one else. All those great "friends" who made me feel so loved, gone in a wisp of smoke. Inevitably out looking to shroud the vision of some other hapless young adult. I write this not because I hate the people in Xenos. I had many fun times as a member of the church. However, I look back on my time as a young college student, some would say the best years of one's life, and I cannot help but think with sadness and a tinge of regret the opportunities, relationships, and experiences I missed out on because of Xenos. I write this, in the hopes that some other person perhaps in a similar pair of shoes may read it and understand it. Not see it as hatred, but caring and a desire to not have young adults looking back on their college years with the regret of opportunities lost. It is okay to believe and follow "god", but it is not okay to manipulate and control others, force your beliefs on people, and be disingenuous. It is also okay to focus on being a college student and not a prophet. There is enough for a young adult to worry about these days without feeling that they need to take on the weight of the world as well.
If you're reading this and you're currently involved in xenos, know that God loves you, and that you CAN get out. Just because you leave xenos, that doesn't mean you're leaving your faith. There are plenty of other mainstream non-denominational Christian churches that hold actual Bible studies where you'll feel just at home. You can get out. If you're worried that your xenos friends won't be your friend anymore if you leave, then they're not really your friend to begin with. Jesus suffer on the cross for you to have conflict with your non-xenos friends and family about your involvement in this organization. God is love, and xenos is not this. Confide in someone who can help you get out today. Your relationship with your family IS worth saving.
My sister has been involved with Xenos for 1.5 - 2 years now. At first, I thought it was okay since she was reconnecting with her faith after a series of events in her life caused her to fall away from Catholicism. I thought she was just meeting up with a new group of friends to re-connect to her Christian faith through a weekly Bible study. Seems harmless, right? Well, now it's escalated to a point where she spends almost every day with Xenos. Between home church meetings, her women's group, Central teaching on Sundays, and a one-on-one session with another 24 year old who's classified as a home group leader, her time has been overtaken by this organization.
My family believes the group of girls who started the "meetup to meet new friends" was just means of recruitment for new members. She attended a meetup, set up by one of the Xenos members because it was centered around meeting other young 20 somethings in the Columbus area. After they all went out to dinner, the members asked my sister if she wanted to attend their Bible study. She said yes because they called it a Bible study, they didn't mention that their "Bible study" was actually their "church". It's no surprise that this same group of Xenos girls who set up the meetup haven't been involved in any other meet ups. That was just a ploy to recruit new members.
Additionally, I've attended one of her home church co-ed meetings. It was weird because it wasn't like an older, more experienced pastor or elder who went to seminary school was leading the teaching. It was a younger xenos member who was roughly 26 years old who was teaching everyone else. He created an entire PowerPoint to teach the rest of the Millennials. That was a little off to me. My question is: what qualifications does he have to teach the Bible?
Lastly, my sister is involved in a one-on-one Bible study/ teaching from a girl, who's around 24 years old, once a week. She's a home church leader who has paid xenos for teachings that the 2 founders put together. This home church leader is teaching my sister from curriculum that DeLashmutt and McCallum have formulated themselves. If this doesn't sound cultish to you, I don't know what does.
Our family has ALWAYS been very tight knit. As a sports family, we went everywhere together as my children were growing up. We attended Catholic mass weekly. We taught life lessons through the Bible. And then my family hit a rough patch.
We had problems with one of my daughters as a result of mental illness. For nearly a year, I didn't know if she was dead or alive. As you can imagine, this was very difficult on our family, and especially on me, as the mom. This rough patch happened just about the time that my daughter attended a "MEET UP" of 20 something women. (Reading about Xenos, this is the 2nd and most common way to recruit ... at a point of despair and vulnerability). It seemed innocent enough, and of course I encouraged her to throw herself out there. From there, they went bowling ... the next day to a bible study. Before I knew it, she was deeply entrenched in the "church". She began lying, breaking promises, and changing our relationship. Our very tight friendship quickly turned into "I'm embarrassed to be seen with you." Next, there were church-organized weekend retreats, then vacation retreats, 2 then 3, then 5 or 6 nights a week at the "church". It became all consuming VERY quickly
We were open, talked and pleaded with her to bring balance to her life. But the more we pleaded, the more time she spent with them. She is now dating a member of the church, and her connection with this cult is thicker than ever. Last weekend, I went to a "fellowship center" on campus. Where is the crucifix? Where is Jesus? When I researched, I read from the "elders" own writing that it's because they worship in the home churches, not in the fellowship centers. What alarms me about this is that a year ago, my daughter invited me to a special event at the home church. I accidentally showed up an hour early. I was escorted to the door, and asked to come back in another hour, as they were about to pray. I told them, "I don't mind staying." But, in response to that I was told, "you'll just be praying for a bunch of people that you don't know. That'd probably make you uncomfortable." Really? Uncomfortable? Isn't praying for other people publicly what EVERY church does? Why does theirs need to be closed, then?
For years, I wondered, "why is this happening to our family." But after recent events, I realize it's happening to a lot of families -- and the ONLY way we can fight this is with education and awareness. Please TALK. Spread the word. Ask friends to talk to ANYONE about these stories. If you save one kid and one family -- it's worth it. And to my beautiful, smart and intellectual daughter and to so many other daughters out there ... you are LOVED -- by your family and by HIM, more than that entire "church" could possibly love you. Your are bright, beautiful, intelligent -- and now YOU have a story to tell. Please, if you're considering leaving DO SO. Use your courage. The world will greet you with open arms. I know because I'm waiting for my daughter to return.
My experience with Xenos was not as horrific as many others who have shared their stories, but I do believe it is worth sharing if it can help someone see why this organization is problematic. I began attending Xenos meetings/teachings a couple of years ago as a freshman in college with my then boyfriend who was a member. His friends in the church kept asking him to bring me out, and trusting his judgement, I eventually agreed. I'm a pretty shy person with bad social anxiety, specifically when it comes to being around large groups of people that I'm meeting for the first time.
After the first home church meeting I went to, a pretty big group of girls came up and introduced themselves to me - which seemed kind and normal. However, they all kept talking to me, asking pretty personal questions (for someone they had just met), and made me the absolute center of attention for at least an hour after the teaching. For some people, this "love bombing" wouldn't be that bad of a thing, but for me it was awful and they didn't seem to notice or care that I was clearly uncomfortable and anxious. I had a panic attack on the way home, but my boyfriend convinced me to give it another shot the following week and I agreed.
Flash forward a few months, I had gotten used to the bigger group and everything seemed to be fairly normal. I wasn't overly involved with the church yet and still had steady relationships with my friends and family outside of Xenos. Things started to change when the core group of girls (who mostly lived in the ministry house) invited me to their cell group that met every Friday night. I was already going to the large CT and smaller home church meetings, and committing another night each week, especially on a Friday, didn't sound very appealing. Again, my boyfriend and many other members repeatedly pressured me into going to the cell group meetings until I eventually agreed.
This was definitely the turning point in my experience with Xenos - when I became completely sucked in by this organization. With three nights of the week devoted to church activities, I saw my other friends and family less and less, and they noticed. Some close friends openly expressed their concerns with my involvement, but I wrote them off as overreacting.
The real problem started with my family, whom I have always been extremely close with. The cell group girls wanted me to move in to the ministry house for the upcoming school year, so I decided to talk to my parents about it and get their opinion. They had researched Xenos, found the same extremely concerning information that you all have seen, and were rightfully, for lack of a better term, freaked out. They wanted me to leave the church, but I was so far in at this point that I refused. We had pretty much always agreed on things, and they supported all other decisions I had made, but there was constant fighting and tension over me being in Xenos. This was very damaging to our relationship, but the Xenos girls kept pressuring me to continue talking to them both about my involvement in the church and their lack of a "relationship with God."
Not long after this, my boyfriend and I ended things (after almost 2 years), but everyone still encouraged me to attend church meetings. It was obviously very difficult to be in the same room with someone I had dated very seriously for so long, so I used that as my excuse to slowly stop going to meetings. At first, many members form my home church group reached out to me, asking where I was, etc. very often. Once they realized that I wasn't planning to come back, everyone - including people I considered to be some of my best friends - completely cut me off. No communication, unfriending/unfollowing me on social media, everything. That in itself I found very concerning; ending close friendships simply because I left the church.
So, long story short, even if you aren't having extreme experiences with Xenos, I truly believe this group is severely problematic and concerning in many ways. Finally, my boyfriend at the time recently left the church as well for some truly awful experiences that are not mine to share.
Reflecting on my experience at Xenos is incredibly challenging for me. On one hand, I had never felt more loved and cared for than I did by the Xenos community. On the other hand, the two years I spent at Xenos were the darkest of my life. I left the church during the summer of 2015, along with five other girls in my home group.
During the fall semester of my sophomore year of high school, I was invited by a senior at my school to attend a casual bible study at her house on Sunday night. I had never been exposed to religion and didn’t have much of an opinion on it. But, I was attracted to the friendly people and genuine conversation, so I came back. I quickly accepted Christ and began being discipled.
After a few months, I fell into a depressive state that was extremely out of character for me. My parents connected me with a therapist who I began seeing regularly, and I was diagnosed with depression. This is when my time at Xenos began to slowly turn dark.
I was encouraged by the leaders of my home group to see the church’s therapist instead of the one who my family’s physician recommended to my parents. When my treatment conflicted with meetings or hangouts, I was made to feel guilty. My discipler privately reached out to my parents several times to inquire about my treatment, medication, and diagnosis.
All the while, I continued to be an active member of the church. I became obsessed with bringing others out to my home group and attended meetings 3-4 times per week. As my mental health continued to deteriorate, my friends at church comforted me with bible verses that reminded me of my strength.
Several months after my diagnosis, I began self harming. My parents and therapist were immediately aware of this, but I initially kept it private from my friends at church. I eventually told my discipler, and soon everyone in our home group knew. I was looked down on and viewed as unstable and emotional. In an attempt to juggle my mental health while remaining an energized member of the church, I found myself lying to my friends and leaders constantly. My group members and I regularly gossiped and judged each other in the name of “spiritual growth.” I am deeply ashamed of the person I became during my time at Xenos. But, I’m thankful that I had the courage to leave the church. I’m so, so much happier.
An absurd highlight:
During Epic, the male leaders held a meeting with the female members of our home group, and vice versa. During this meeting, we were given advice from our male leaders about boys and dating. We were advised against wearing leggings, so as to not “stumble a brother with temptation.” We were also told a bizarre analogy about our virginity. “Women are born with a bag of diamonds. Every time you have sex, you lose a diamond, and therefor lose worth.”
I was originally very nice to the boy who enticed my daughter into Xenos when he came to our house. He grew up to be a teacher and administrator in one of Columbus's wealthy suburbs. I often wondered if the parents of his students knew that their child's teacher/administrator belonged to a cult that specializes in brainwashing teenagers. I know his name....
I was best friends with a girl for 12 years until a little while after she joined Xenos. She was raised by a single mother who worked so damn hard to provide for her, she wasn't rich. She joined in high school and would always try to get me to come with her to bible studies or meetings or whatever. I never did, telling her that I was happy with my religion, and then she would start belittling my religion and telling me that me and my family were going to hell for not being Christians.
During senior year of high school she moved into one of the ministry houses and shared a small attic room with at least 5 other girls. The house was in shambles and there was a step missing that was so dangerous. I hung out there a few times but all anyone did there was smoke and try to recruit me. SO MUCH SMOKING. I noticed that they all smoked cigarettes all the time. My friend then started dating a boy she met through Xenos and went on sanctioned "date-nights" with him and other Xenos couples.
I remember mentioning the movie 'The Sacrament' to her, just saying like "isn't that scary? Isn't Jonestown scary? Cults are so awful, I feel so bad for those who got sucked into them," hoping that she would get the hint and realize that she was in a cult just like that. But she said "haha yeah I love that movie" and missed the point completely. As she realized I was not going to join, she slowly stopped talking to me. I haven't spoken to her in four years now. She chose this cult over a deep, decade long friendship.
I have had numerous guy friends attempt to lure me into Xenos. It was most prevalent in late high school and early college. Interestingly enough, my parents had known some older adult folks in Xenos, and I was raised knowing to avoid it, though I was taught to respect my family friends as my elders. In high school, my lifelong friend, whom I had always admired, started showing me attention and telling me about campus parties, encouraging me to go with him (what felt like date-style). My teenage, hormonal, self wanted to go, but my Father reminded me to stay clear because he knew a lot about the organization. As sad as it made me, I resisted, and did not go with him. In college, I saw him a lot, and he constantly asked me to go to parties with him. I really liked him, and wanted to go, but I continued to keep my wall up, and maintained my busy schedule, not making time to see him despite his attractive looks and charming personality (sigh...).
Also in college, I made several other friends who were extremely active in Xenos. Living on the Ohio State campus at the time, I would frequent the ministry houses to visit with friends, but always left before bible study would start. I had several invitations to join, but I always stayed strong in my convictions to remain faithful to my own church and life. I found that the easiest way to repel interest was to surround myself with friends from the outside world, and show that I was very active and strong in my personal life and activities. One guy friend invited me to a house party, where I ran into my parent’s friends. They seemed so thrilled to see me at a Xenos event, and tried to fix me up on a date with their son. A co-worker and friend who lived near me used to ask me to go on walks with him, where we spoke about religion, our lives, our feelings. He would leave gifts and flowers on my doorstep. I grew to have very deep feelings for him. I now feel that he was really just trying to get me to move into one of the women’s ministry houses.
I can’t decide if it was lust that made my guy friends want me to join, knowing that it would make me “available” for them to date or have a relationship with, or if the flirtation and prospect of dating was merely a ruse to get me to join the church. Love-bombing. Either way, I’m glad I resisted. All of those guy friends are now married to girls they met through the church. Their beliefs and thinking are definitely more in line than mine would have been.
I have witnessed Xenos and it’s cult-like habits for almost 20 years. They have always tried to force me to join, even going so far as to assign a ‘handler’ to me. Ex.: someone in the church that is my ‘friend’ and always tries to push their agenda.
Let’s see what else...one of my best friends had a mental breakdown after they bullied her to the point of mental instability and then excommunicated her.
People I thought were friends...WERE my friends until they joined told me they could no longer be friends with me and I quote ‘if you don’t accept Jesus you’re going to hell and I don’t want to waste my time with someone who won’t be there eternally for me.
Their ministry houses are run down. You are forced to share bedrooms. Every day of the week you have some group meeting or rather. If you miss one, it’s almost like being interrogated by the CIA.
They DO flaunt the ‘we are so cool because we drink and smoke’ but it’s just a lure. I’ve seen members go ‘courting’ which is pretty much being paired up with someone else in the church. They have chaperoned dates since they don’t trust you to behave yourselves.
They out LBGTQ kids who are looking for a safe place. Xenos is exactly the opposite. But that’s what they do- they prey on the weak and lost.
I joined xenos through my childhood online friend because I grew up my whole life moving around constantly in different states (army parents). So I was super excited to finally meet my friend, and his group of new friends that completely changed him for the worse and convinced him to stop skyping me and playing video games with me. I bypassed this initial warning sign becuase I was so happy smoking black and milds and drinking beer after a routine homechurch at 18 years of age with him.
I grew up in church. Can't say that I am a Christian, but I am really good at faking it. Good enough to be invited to live in a homechurch within 2 weeks coming out. Good enough for noone to ever question my gender or sexuality or mental health or my actual beliefs. Xenos encouraged this behavior. They totally nailed groupthink. If you started saying something positive about LGBT anything or brought up any controversial topic, they would write that down, keep tabs on this, and sic their most homophobic or anti-whatever member after you and hound your beliefs.
I am intersex and mtf trans. I am...not straight, idk what sexuality I am. I have two ldr's with other trans women. I am a huge furry, a stoner, I draw porn, watch porn, make porn, play tons of video games, watch tv and smoke weed by myself all day, have sex, go to school, am a lesbian, polyam, wiccan with messianic tendencies, I am a person, an individual, with identity. All of these things, Xenos actively discourages.
I know more about the (NASB, gotta be NASB) bible than anyone at a homechurch I could randomly walk into. I know all of their rhetoric, I was taught it. My roommate, another ex-xenoid, went to LTC and paid his dues. We know all of their bullshit. We encouraged it and reinforced it for the longest time.
Xenos casts a large enough 'sin-net' to make sure that all of its members are constantly 'suffering' through something. Porn, sexuality, self-image, not-focussing-on-homechurch-enough, too much tv use, too much video games, everything but the cleanliness of the house, being hospitipal to guests, or your walk with God was labeled sin. You encourage or discipline people out of sin, with more group activities.
I'll leave with two of my worst xenos stories, and I have so many more from the two years I was in this cult, but I have mentally blocked them out probably or they are just as worse, or just plain evil. Keep in mind, I was a very inactive Xenos member. I was depressed as FUCK most of the time living in the ministry houses, and always found ways to avoid going to the 5 meetings/trunkball games a week.
My one solace in the first ministry house I was quickly forced into (they convinced me to do it without telling my parents and blamed it on my current OSU dormmates), was my desktop computer, for obvious reasons lol. I grew up online, I study human computer interaction (at the time, physics engineering and computer science, but xenos made me fail out of that, another story), I play video games, and I need alone time.
The ministry house leader at the time (my best friend's discipler) decided that, because he was also super into video games and computers, but if he played them as well, it would set a bad example for the rest of the house. So he made me place my desktop and monitor and shit (as well as another friend's gaming equipment) into a storage unit so that noone in the house could game or get excited about video games. We all decided that it was for the best (God's Calling) and it wasn't until half a year later that that house leader got engaged and "got out" of our ministry house, so that we could take our stuff out of storage.
During one beachtrip (yes, they kept doing them, even after multiple deaths, you are taught to grow jaded to death unfortunately) Dennis was making his rounds through all of the homechurch's ministry houses. He was pretty boozed up (and I THINK he was smoking weed secretly, he would be way cooler if he did) and he was 'initiating discussion' while chainvaping in the back of our cabana. I found out he was there, because our house leader ran into the house, banged pots and pans, and announced 'HEY YALL MY MAN DEN IS HERE' and people excitedly scurried around whispering and muttering his name, searching for their smokes and a few beers to try and grab the best spot to soak up his eternal wisdom.
He mainly just talk about how good his vape was (it HAD to be at least a CBD vape) and started on some bullshit tangent about God and spirituality and not falling into sin or whatever. But at the end, he made sure to address all the 'youngins' or, highschoolers, that had not fully decided on moving into a ministry house yet. That scene is etched into my mind. If you have seen Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, it felt perfectly like a scene that L Ron Hubbard or some other extremely influential cult leader would cultivate. He had us on the edge of our seats, and compared himself to Jesus multiple times. The entirety of the beach trip, if you don't know, is to entice, no, beyond entice highschoolers and those not fully convinced, to reside in a ministry house. They throw everything they have at you on these trips, including the mystical Den moments.
OH also I am very, very sorry, but if you have been involved with Xenos, or around Xenoids, and heard the phrase 'Dude, nice!', I coined that. I wish it didn't take off as much as it did because every once in a while walking through campus I will hear a residual 'Dude, nice!' but I do find solace in the fact that a key Xenos phrase was created by a gay polyam trans woman.
Why it is so challenging to leave the xenos college ministry.
Current members of xenos will say that those who leave have sinned and decided to leave god behind and just want to waste their life. They will make a mockery and unfriend those who leave and claim that they are examples of people who have really veered off the path god had for them. Well Id like to point out why none of that is true and give some reasons why people actually find it so hard to leave xenos in the first place. After years of being deeply entrenched in the college ministry myself and leaving I can now say that those challenges are a plenty and an uphill battle for anyone who decides to leave, and this is why anyone who does leave is truly courageous and I applaud you. Most people who are heavily involved in the college ministry have had at least a few passing thoughts of leaving and others think about it daily. The reason they do not entertain these thoughts and act on them is based simply in fear. Fear of what you may ask? Well here are some of the things that people fear most about leaving xenos and why it is so hard to leave this CULT.
Loss of friendships
People that leave xenos will unanimously agree that most if not all the friends they had in xenos were not there when they left. Once a person leaves xenos the “friends” they have in the group will become people they used to know almost instantly. The person leaving will go from spending daily time with ministry house roommates and at least 3-4 days a week with homechurch members to not seeing these people at all. The person leaving knows that they will be gossiped about, slandered and viewed as a lost sinner who is broken almost beyond repair by everyone in the group. They know that losing their friends and being gossiped about will 100% take place because they have seen it happen to other former members who have left. I have seen it first hand with members who have left being viewed and treated exactly this way. Why is this so easy to fall into treating people this way while being an active member in xenos? It is so because it is part of the xenos culture and creed to view and treat members who leave with utter disdain, it is the ego and power that xenos has to brainwash and indoctrinate people into this sick and twisted pattern of thinking. People who leave know their friends will leave them in the dust, gossip endlessly about them, and basically stab them in the back upon leaving. This is something that is heartbreaking to think about I know because I've been there.
Many people in the xenos college ministry do not leave because they were raised in the church and them leaving would mean ridicule, scorn, and tension from family members. Xenos is all they have ever known and even though they can see the light at the end of the tunnel they are terrified of what it will look like to utterly disappoint family who are involved in the church. Xenos members are terrified of leaving because they know their family will view them completely differently and in a negative light after leaving. They know that they will become a shame in their family and dread what living that way will mean. I know this from personal experience, the dread of hurting family ties is terrifying. When I came out and told family members I was leaving xenos those were the most challenging conversations of my life. I was terrified because I knew what it meant to leave xenos. If a person has family members in xenos and leaves it is very similar to leaving the Jedi and going to the dark side in star wars. Family members will think that you have turned your back on all that is good and that you are wasting all your potential. That is not a picturesque family life to be living and why many people are so terrified to leave xenos....rightfully so. But there is hope I have experienced it first hand, all of those thoughts are pre-programmed into you with xenos's propaganda, they are not true in the slightest. Leave if its best for you and yes your family may scorn you, gossip about you, and think you're wasting your potential but do what is best for YOU, you can find happiness outside the cult.
The words “god” and “xenos” become interchangeable
Xenos and god become interchangeable and the lines become blurred. Xenos members start to believe that if they were to leave xenos they are leaving “god” and abandoning the faith. They think this because xenos teaches them this many times from a very young age. Xenos has pre K-8th grade schools teaching children that they need the church. VBS programs that indoctrinate children that they need the church. They have blowout camp and epic, trips for middle school and highschool students to experience more of the xenos brainwashing. They have college connection where high school students are told that they shouldn't leave Columbus because god has placed them here to be in xenos in college, and that if they do they are turning there back on “gods plan” for them. They have college group leaders who make decisions about where members will move when groups split up on campus. A homechurch will split when enough new recruits join, and a new homechurch will be formed. The college leaders will tell people they are moving in this house with these people and the non-leaders will not have a say. But this is supposed to be “gods will” when in reality its xenos leaders will disguised as being from “god”. Xenos leaders will coerce members into breaking up with significant others and claim it is “gods will” but once again this is xeons's will disguised as gods will. Xenos leaders will bash other Christian churches and denominations saying that what they have at xenos is far superior, and that xenos is really where god is working most. You can see how xenos's will and god's will become interchangeable in the college ministry and people really begin to believe that what xenos says god says. This is why they are so powerful in manipulating people they claim their will is gods when in reality the word of many xenos members is their own calculated thoughts that come from years of brainwashing and indoctrination.
Loss of hope that life outside of xenos can be fulfilling
This is the most devastating reason that people do not leave xenos, and the most challenging. Xenos does such a fantastic job of convincing people that life outside of the church is so bad that even living a mediocre to below mediocre life inside the church is more desirable. The so called “world system” is something that xenos has a focus on in nearly every teaching at every meeting whether it be homechurch, central teaching, cell group, or prayer group. It is constantly beat into the heads of xenos members that the way in which the rest of the world lives outside of xenos is pure evil and gluttony aka the “world system” People in xenos talk constantly about how dangerous it is to live outside of serious christian fellowship, and how miserable it is. They discuss coworkers who go home and watch TV after work and are bored, people who have sex before marriage, and those who cant find happiness and how if those people seriously committed to xenos everything would change, their lives would be amazing. This is the lie that xenos sells people: life inside our church and fellowship is so much better than anything else out there, why would you want anything else, You don't need anything else besides us. This is blatantly false and as many of us have opened our eyes and realized how this “xenos truth” is all smoke, mirrors, and deception. It is based in the teaching of FEAR. Xenos uses fear to keep its members around, fear that life without xenos is terrible, that I should stay because I wont truly find happiness outside the cult. Well me and many others have found that happiness can be found outside of xenos. It may take time to adjust to the real world once leaving xenos but it is all part of the growing process in removing the chains that xenos has put around you. Once you are able to break free from those chains it is so satisfying and exciting, you will look back with great delight that you are no longer a part of this all encompassing cult.
The "Devil Mom" Syndrome
If you are the mother of a Xenos member, then you are probably a "Devil Mom" and there are a lot of them out there. If you are the member of the family who protested the most about your child's entrance into Xenos, then you must be Satanized. This must be done to minimize your influence on your own child and maximize the influence of Xenos, and it must be done repeatedly, because your child is an asset to the cult. Your child recruits many members and thus increase the riches and power of Xenos.
Every cult turns the kids against the family. The family is the #1 Enemy.
Therefore, you will be told various things such as "You're not a Christian", "You're materialistic", "You don't support me in my efforts to raise my children in Xenos", etc. This is an ongoing thing, with a constant effort to look for, judge, and point out your flaws. It's also profoundly hurtful.
A cult exit counselor told me, when I was assuming the blame for everything that was said to me: "It doesn't matter what your family was like, when this group gets a hold of them. Even if you had been the Cleavers, the group would have found something wrong with that. They would have said that you were lacking the mission of God, leading a self-centered life, or whatever."
Every recruit was told that they came from the most horrible family. All of their families were "the most horrible". But actually, the family is "more horrible" after Xenos interferes with it.
From an article about the harmful effects of being raised in a predatory cult:
Harmful Effects Continue as an Adult
People cannot form their own identity when being told what to believe all the time, especially when this starts at a young age before their brain is fully developed. Their ability to trust is affected and this continues into adulthood, even if they leave the cult. They have trouble forming intimate, lasting romantic relationships and friendships. For others, they trust too much, possibly joining another high-control group.
The trauma of being raised in a destructive group is real and causes lasting harm. “Mind control can cause an unnatural state in a human being and cause them to form a new identity or use defense mechanisms to protect themselves. The cult experience can turn into a traumatic event leading the member to become traumatized and develop symptoms of posttraumatic stress (PTSD)…PTSD symptoms most commonly observed in ex-cult members are anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, sleeplessness, violent outbursts, memory loss, vivid flashbacks, and somatoform disorder.” (Ilona C. Cuddy)
Children are precious and need our help so they are not harmed. As I said last week, “This is an issue that needs immediate attention from everyone! Let us all speak out against these harmful practices demanding change and protection for children, inside and outside, any and all religious groups. This is not religious freedom but child abuse. Enough is enough. We need to come together to better protect children from the damaging effects of cults!”
Hassan, Steve. Freedom of Mind Resource Center. "Children Are Harmed by Destructive Cults: Part Two".
If your child is the victim of a mind control cult, the good memories of their childhood can be destroyed. They can possibly see their parents forever as less than they were:
"... the member's past is rewritten. He tends to look back at his previous life with a distorted memory that colors everything dark. Even very positive memories are skewed toward the bad."
Hassan, Steven. Combatting Cult Mind Control. Vermont: Park Street Press, 1990, p. 83.
"Former members of many different cults are beginning to initiate civil law suits. They charge fraud, negligence, involuntary servitude, and harassment. The also sue for lost wages, for money and property turned over to the cult, and for psychological damages caused by the group's programs."
Hassan, Steven. Combatting Cult Mind Control. Vermont: Park Street Press, 1990, p. 194.
There are dozens of stories I could share about myself and other people. However, this is the one that impacted me the most and really started the end of my tome in that church. I had been dating this guy, who was also in the church, for years and we got engaged. Now, in the college group it was RARE to get engaged and married if you weren’t in leadership, which we weren’t. We didn’t exactly have much support from our home churches. I should also mention, I saw a few other non leader couples get the same treatment. Later I found out that the leaders in my group were pressuring my best friend to get us to break up. I also discovered a close family member (who was a leader) was emailing my leaders and trashing me, my fiancé, and our impending marriage. They had decided we were going to fail and shouldn’t get married. Over a decade later we are still married, quite happily.
Anyways, my wedding rolls around and a large majority of people I had been in home church with and considered good friends didn’t show up. Marriages that have the stamp of approval in Xenos are packed with people. Marriages like mine, well, let’s just say they make it clear just how much they don’t support you. Okay so we are married then and happily. In an attempt to become closer with the couples (who were all in leadership) in our group, we throw Buckeye parties and invite the the entire group. A lot of the single people came. Not once did anyone in leadership show up. We invited the marrieds to do other things. Not once do they respond.
Finally, around Election Day, the senior leaders invite us over. My husband is happy. They finally wanted to hang with us. I was not so optimistic. We get there and they tell us we are no longer welcome in cell group and we should go to the adult group. After that, the only time they spoke to us was to ask how our search for a new group was going. Eventually we found one we thought we may belong in. Cue various love bombing and so forth. We joined. It honestly didn’t last long. We left maybe a year or two later. I’ve been through some horrible things in my life. The last few years in Xenos and leaving were easily the hardest. I’m grateful I’m gone. At this point all I care about is Xenos taking responsibility for what they have done to people. I’m not interested in bringing them down. I’m not concerned with what happened to me anymore. I’ve moved on. I wanted to share so someone who has gone through the same or is knows they aren’t alone. My life after leaving far surpassed anything I ever thought it would. I’d been trained to believe if I left I wasn’t a Christian anymore and would be miserable. I wasn’t. I was happy. Fulfilled. I’ve been blessed extensively.
I joined Xenos when I was 19 years old it was shortly after my grandfather passed away... a friend from work that I was interested in dating asked me to my 1st home church meeting after hearing my story of and desire to follow a life of Christ. I made friends my 1st night there and soon started going to the weekly home church cell and central teachings less than a month later I moved in to one of the ministers houses a few years later I started working with high school girls and I enjoyed helping them and for a few years I was busy day and night and was barely able to do anything but meetings and classes I didn’t have a job that had a good income ... was pressured into give them money... then I lost my job I thought I could count on them to help me while I looked for a new job because others had joined our group that we completely supported till they found a job and got back on their feet... however they kept an account of how much I they “helped me” which was right about $800 dollars once I got a new job and started paying my share they asked me to pay everything back ( they had not asked others to do so) we as a group came up with a plan of action to pay what they asked ... I moved in with a married couple and would pay a certain amount back towards the house account as well as rent to the married couple... several days into this venture I shredded the tendons in my ankle.
I took several days off because my doctor told me to, before returning to work making a payment a few days late and even though this happened I was able to pay the full amount back and more by 200. At this point a family member became very ill and I went to the hospital to visit, I missed a few meetings and was called out for it as well as told that because I made a late payment that I need to repent from my financial sin that because I made a late payment it was my refusal to summit to god in and told that I should move into a homeless shelter until (they thought) I had made up and repented enough to rejoin a house ... at this point they told the leaders of the high school group I worked with that they had made me move in with the couple and that I hadn’t done what we had agreed upon and that I wasn’t moving back into the house.
I was then told that I was no longer welcome to help the high school girls that I had been working with for three years and called a liar by the leader. At this point I felt very attacked and hurt and small everything I had been working for for years had been taken away from me... and then I realized that I had cut my family practically out of my life that I had missed out on my nephews 2-5 years that I had given up my cat that I had raised from birth, disconnected from childhood friends that meant the world to me. I realized that I had nothing, that they took everything from me and when it wasn’t enough I was casted aside. I tried to keep going to meetings and the friends I had there that were not part of leadership but when people are set against you it is healthier to leave destructive people behind!
Dating within the cult (xenos)
People in the xenos college ministry do not date others that are outside of the group. The very few that do I would say less than 1% are looked at with disregard by other members of each specific group. I spent years in the college ministry and can only think of one person that I know of that dated a person who was not an active member of xenos. My friends girlfriend was also a christian and involved in another church. This wasn't good enough for xenos members to grant their approval. My friend was continually questioned by members of the group relating to his decision to date someone outside of xenos. Most of the hostility towards this persons own personal decision as to who he wanted to date was passive aggressiveness and slander behind his back. I was very close to this person and people would come up and me and ask what I thought about my friends relationship. They would ask if I thought it was benefiting him spiritually, if he was having sex with his girlfriend and if he was really serious about God. This was all because his girlfriend was a christian who didn't attend xenos, ABSOLUTE ABSURDITY! How can you say that your church isn't a cult when anytime a person decides to date someone outside the group it is looked on with such disregard? A group that is that insular is a cult in its finest form, holding the belief that members must be protected from anything outside the group. My friend ended up leaving the cult thankfully and now has a great relationship with the same girl he was dating while in xenos.
People in xenos follow very rigorous structures in their dating lives. Each relationship needs approval from leaders for the relationship to really flourish. If a person in the college ministry decides to date someone that may be a great fit for them but isn't looked at as being too “spiritual” then the relationship will most likely not work. A persons discipler, other members of the group, and the leaders will continually question a person who is in a relationship that they don't approve of. They will also display passive aggressive tendencies towards the person who's relationship they do not approve of by making snarky comments around them and behind their back. They will question the person about the relationship to the point where guilt and shame are brought on the person who's dating. This in hopes of getting the person to end their relationship and see “gods” will. Xenos leaders and members love to say that they see “gods” will in other peoples dating lives. These people actually believe that god specifically speaks to them about other peoples dating lives, while their so called “god” allows inhumane suffering to happen all across the world. But he cares about the dating lives of xenos members? ..... Does not make a whole lot of sense does it? But take it or leave it xenos members have the self proclaiming ultimate connection to god and his insight so we must trust them! It really is mind blowing that they don't see what they are really doing in these situations. All they really want to do is control a very intimate part of someones life and choose who and who they do not date. This practice is so prevalent throughout the college group and will affect anyone who attempts to date while being an active member in the cult. If you date within the college ministry also do not expect to spend much time at all with your significant other. People in xenos will have one “date night” per week and this is typically on Saturday night. The rest of the week is filled with other xenos related functions. I dated while in the college ministry and was questioned more than a few times for hanging out with my girlfriend more than once a week. Also if you plan on being out past 1 or 2 am be prepared to be questioned by the members of the ministry house that you live with as to what you were doing out so late alone with you significant other. People will wonder if you made out too long, touched each other, or oh no had SEX! Most people though are so scared of this questioning that they will obey the house sponsored curfews typically 1 or 2 am. Curfews for grown aged college students living on campus, is this what you want your college experience to be? Members who are dating are never allowed to spend the night with each other because of the risk of anything sexual happening. We all know if it does then church discipline(shunning) will be a likely possibility.
I was a part of multiple house meetings in which another guy from my ministry house was interrogated over some form of “sexual” contact he had with his girlfriend. These allegations were usually admitted by the member committing the offense or drawn out by questioning from a persons dicipler of a leader in the group. These meetings were set up so that the accused person was front and center in a room and sat there getting questioned about what they did. Typically it was some form of “excessive” making out, or groping with clothes on not even sex. People would question the accused person as to specific details of what happened? How long did you touch? In what way? Why did you put yourself in a situation where this could happen? What are steps you are going to take to make sure this doesn't happen again? How will this affect you walk with god? These are some of the most typical questions asked, and don't forget the insults and personal attacks that were present at these meetings as well. I took the mental abuse at one of these meetings once and let me tell you it isn't any fun at all...its actually quite horrible and mentally scarring. It made me really start to wonder about who my “friends” in the ministry house really were and if they really care for me as a person. These meetings in which a guy confessed some form of “sexual act” if you can even call it that took place about once every 2-3 months. After the meetings were over that wont be the end of the questioning from other members of the group. This will be a continual process with more questions coming from other leaders and the members of the house for an undetermined amount of time. Once a person “messes” up at all sexually they are looked at differently and with the potential to screw up again being highly likely, they must be kept in check by other members through questioning. This really is all so mentally draining and I wish this on no one.... it just isn't humane.
I write all of this in hopes of reaching people who are members of the college group/ or considering joining the cult to think for yourselves and don't let group think take control of you. Consider all the stories people on here have posted about the oppressive xenos cult, we are here to share our stories and experiences and help people gain freedom. You can fight back against the xenos culture and leave or never start going in the first place. You will lose most all of the friends you have there if you do leave just like I did, but you will be able to start a new life without the stresses of the oppressive xenos culture wearing you down day in and day out. RISE above the oppression, you all have it in you, and your life will be drastically better!
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 appauling. 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 wont agree with until it is too late!
Here is the prayer list from a typical weekly homechurch prayer group meeting. Important to note that this list is only the basics of what is discussed between group members to help them remember who the new potential members/converts are. Names are changed for privacy of these people that were openly gossiped/slandered against in front of 30+ people at the time... they have suffered enough gossip already!
· Sarah is Tammy's friend from class. She is also a freshman and is Catholic. Has hung out with us during the game. She has softened up about her desire to come to protestant group. She does feel devoted to her Catholic church. She loved home church but probably hasn’t received Christ. She probably will come hang and watch football. Pray for good conversations to see where she is at!
· Katherine is Eric's girlfriend. She initiated coming to home church. Catholic background probably isn’t a believer. Katherine seems a bit closed about her faith. Pray for a receptive heart in Katherine. Pray that Eric and Katherine can come for the teaching part of home church.
· Anna is Jordan's friend who prayed to receive Christ a month ago. Pray that she can spend time with Anna and see the work God has done in Anna's life.
· Adurey, Anna's friend, liked home church and wants to come back. Pray that God can stir in her heart and that she would return.
· Alex has been coming our pretty consistently. Seems really excited to start following the Lord. Pray for his girlfriend as well, that Alex will follow the Lords will for their relationship. Thank God for his willingness to hear the Lord! Pray against spiritual attack.
· David is Kyle's friend who might come hang with Kyle, pray for spiritual conversations!
· Alex’s friend Dan has lost touch a little bit. Pray for God stirring in his heart and contact with Alex.
· David is going to have lunch with Joe, he is a 7th day Adventist. Seems into spiritual things!
· Yanni, thanks to God that he is willing to come around. Pray that God would move in his heart and that he could be
· Sammi came out to home church again, and has initiated with Kristen! Thank God that she has been more open and willing to have consistent time with Kristen.
· Morgan seems to be hesitant and nervous about deeper commitment to fellowship. Pray that she would begin to act on her convictions to be more involved with fellowship.
· Tim is Mark's friend and they are going to spend time this week. Pray for spiritual conversations. Also pray for Scott, Mark's old roommate, that he would be interested in God!
· Russell has invited his roommates to home church. Pray for Russell to be able to have free time to attend fellowship, pray that he would have too much stress. Thank God that he wants to be involved in fellowship.
· Jim has been coming out for a while, pray that it would be clear what the next step is for him.
· Hector's Chinese friend might be busy on Thursdays, pray his schedule would be cleared up.
· Pray that Paul wouldn’t feel alienated.
- All names below have been changed.
- Mary and Sally are two high school students who participate in a Xenos home church.
- The home church is led by two college students, Catherine and Ethel. Catherine meets with Mary and Sally individually, outside of meetings, for discipleship.
- A fellow high school student, Amanda, has recently become a Christian after conversations with long-time friends Mary and Sally, and attending Xenos meetings.
- While addressing members of the home church after a recent Central Teaching, Ethel angrily declared it was “f#@!ing lame” no first-timers were coming to Xenos meetings.
Initial Meeting: Mary and Sally met with Catherine to express these things:
- They felt the home church seemed to be focusing too much on performance.
- For example, they felt unduly pushed by Catherine to pray and share in meetings. After proposing such “challenges” Catherine would send text messages reminding them she was looking forward to hearing from them in the next meeting. If they didn’t pray or share in the next meeting, she’d ask why they hadn’t prayed or shared.
- They also felt pushed by challenges to get together with specific girls outside meetings by specific deadlines identified by Catherine. Intermediate goals proposed by the girls, such as spending more time within meetings getting to know the other girls, were rejected.
- They felt Catherine wasn’t listening to them. For example, Amanda had told Mary and Sally she’d be unable to attend a Xenos meeting until swimming season ended. Catherine responded to this information by challenging them to continue inviting Amanda anyway.
- They felt Catherine wasn’t working with them to identify spiritual challenges, but simply telling them what their steps of faith should be.
- They felt Catherine did much to challenge, but little to encourage.
- They felt disturbed by Ethel’s remark to the group that it was “f#@!ing lame” no first-timers were coming to meetings.
Follow Up to Initial Meeting: Ethel joined Catherine to talk with Mary and Sally
- Ethel indicated that because Mary and Sally knew they had been inviting people to meetings, they shouldn’t feel personally accused by the “f#@!ing lame” comment.
- Catherine was unable to verbalize any “takeaways” in terms of her own character or actions after reflecting on input she’d received from Mary and Sally in their previous meeting.
- Catherine considers her “challenges” to the girls appropriate because God is already commanding them to do these things.
- Catherine and Ethel believe concerns raised by the girls raised point to a serious underlying perception problem on Mary’s and Sally’s part. They’re misunderstanding the church’s calls to action and feeling they’re being judged for not following up on action steps. The fact they’re expressing concern about focus on performance suggests they’re likely viewing themselves and others in the group “under law”. Even if someone were treating them as though they were under law, the bible says they’re not under law. Therefore, if they feel they’re under law, they alone bear responsibility for those feelings.
- Ethel and Catherine argued Christians should already have received the full encouragement needed to accept “challenges”: this is true because we know Christ died for us and the Holy Spirit is present within us. Nevertheless, the body does have a role to “come alongside” and “spur” us to take steps we don’t want to take. Ethel referenced Hebrews 10:24, which discusses considering how to spur one another on to love and good deeds. She indicated the Greek word doesn’t suggest encouragement or gentleness, but rather pushing, dragging, squeezing, or irritating.
Topic: Pushback and Pushing
Catherine indicated she felt “pushback” from Mary and Sally with respect to her suggestion that they continue asking Amanda to participate in still more bible study meetings.
Mary and Sally had met with Amanda a few times but felt she seemed distracted, uncomfortable, and disinterested. Given that Amanda had gone from zero to two bible study meetings per week, that Amanda was making spiritual progress, that Amanda faced time constraints with schoolwork and sports, and that as friends they knew Amanda has a hard time saying no, they decided to not press her further at the time.
Ethel indicated that because Amanda hadn’t explicitly said she was uncomfortable or disinterested, it was safe to assume Mary and Sally were projecting their own feelings onto Amanda- that their time together was just another meeting
Ethel indicated the bible says equipping a believer is important and doesn’t talk about comfort. So long as Amanda showed up to study, Mary and Sally should have continued even if Amanda seemed uncomfortable.
Mary asked whether there’s ever a point at which we’re pushing people too much. Referencing a teaching she’d heard, Catherine indicated she didn’t think God would ever say He wished they’d have pushed a new disciple less or taken the pressure off a little bit.
Topic: Consideration of Spiritual Fruit
After referencing James’ instruction that faith not put into practice is worthless, Catherine asked Mary and Sally to consider what fruit their faith had produced in the past year, answer honestly before God, and let Him convict them. She added that she wasn’t saying this to make them feel bad.
Topic: The Radical Call (comments from Catherine and Emma)
- Their home church was once failing but is now growing because its call to members is one of radical high commitment.
- Mary and Sally should examine how their lives line up with the radical call God’s making.
- The radical calling is only going to intensify. Unless Mary and Sally can trust and act on truth, it’s only going to get harder and worse for them.
- Mary and Sally should consider what they are going to do in the home church unless they’re willing to get on board with the radical call.
- God’s always calling people to be radical, and God is OK with losing disciples if that’s the result.
- If they feel the call is too much for them, maybe Xenos is not the church for them.
I would not consider myself an ex-member because I was never truly a member. I was invited to a home church group for high schoolers, which are lead by the college aged members. The first outing I made to the house was pretty normal because that Sunday was actually Super Bowl Sunday. It wasn't a normal bible study, just a party for the football game. They still managed to bring Faith into it, but I didnt see any red flags yet. So I decided to show up the next week for their bible study, to actually scope it out. A couple things.
1) perhaps I may have spilled too much personal info about my childhood, as I attended a catholic school for three years of GRADE school. Maybe they found out. Who knows. Im not a practicing catholic or practicing anything. But that whole bible study session, everyone was bashing Catholics and explaining why their fellowship was superior. It was quite funny listening to the ignorance and misinterpretations of an institution they clearly have no knowledge of. But yeah. I felt pretty singled out and felt a lot of hateful vibes, since they have this ego of being the superior religion or something.
2) they gave me a spare bible and expected me to flip to Corinthians like I knew exactly where it was. After flipping through it for a couple seconds to get my bearings she snatched it out of my hand and flipped to it, asserting dominance and proving my lack of cognitive ability or something haha. Weird vibes.
3) this is where I'm creeped out. They make you Recite this verse in order to be truly.. in ? If that makes sense. The verse is about how you must utter with your mouth out loud that you accept Gods grace or something along those lines. Perhaps deuteronomy 23.23 or something I dont remember. I said Ok but not with the intention of doing it right there. She watched me and waited for me to say it. I said I was uncomfortable. Next week she revisited me with her bible and asked if I was ready to say the verse. I never did. Made me feel weird. Extreme pressure.
4) one of the college aged leaders would give me rides and tried to bribe me to join their group by taking me to UDF. I ate the free ice cream but ended up saying no in the end.
Lots of mysterious deaths around high schoolers tied up in Xenos. I know some Ex members who said they controlled and stalked your life outside the church. So invasive.
Everyone I spoke to sounded so uneducated and in their weird Ego bubble of superiority. You cant be inviting while also being condescending. They're literally trained to be little recruiters. You know them when you see them.
When I was in elementary school my mom joined Xenos (when it was located in a warehouse off Sinclair Rd) and as an 8 year old I was put in the Sunday school rooms. I never had a bad experience for those random Sundays we would visit. Fast forward to middle school and I met a friend who attended Blow Out the middle school hang out for Xenos. I went with her a few times and loved the social aspect of it. We played dodge ball! I never really ended up attending that often to feel included, but rather as a guest, in the middle school program. I did however, start attending the high school program more regularly as a freshman and really enjoyed the social aspect of the whole church.
As a (barely) high school student I was going to campus for Cell group meetings. I went on a few missionary trips (one to South Dakota and another to the UP Michigan) and I absolutely loved the trip and the friendships I made. However, I never truly believed in the Bible and the teachings. I also was weirded out because they let kids smoke cigarettes (under age), but kicked kids out if they found out they were engaging in sexual activity. Eventually, I stopped attending Xenos and the friendships that I thought would be long lasting ended. My best friend from middle school and the beginning of high school stopped talking to me. She confronted me and told me she couldn't be friends with others who didn't believe in christ. Even though we attended the same school for two more years, we hardly spoke. Eventually, 10+ years later, she left the church and we were able to reconnect.
About 7 years ago I was introduced to the High School Home Church segment of the college group I later became apart of. At the time I wasn't even aware of Xenos and the umbrella of influence. At the time I thought it was ok that college students were reaching out to high schoolers about the word of god. I liked the group so I kept going back.
After participating with the college group on OSU campus for a month or so I was taken to Xenos. I went for a few months, 8pm on Thursdays with [ 8 Names ], and people from this branch. I discovered that the interpretations were different and I didn't know how I felt about it. I accepted that the word of god can have many interpretations and left it be.
It wasn't until about the 6th month mark that I noticed everyone bored out of their minds during a lecture. First, I noticed Xenos were only attending for the socialization aspect but then I noticed it within my group too.. people falling asleep everytime, playing on their phones, talking, goofing off, and realized nobody is even taking this seriously. It pissed me off but I let it be.
One day, I decided I wanted to drink a little bit. I turned 21 months prior and hadn't really gone out to drink too much. [ . . . . ] took me to a bar one time and it was fun, and the college students have alcohol in their home so I figured I'd go get drunk. I thought about how I even attended a birthday party sponsored by Monster and people were drinking beers so why not?
[ . . . . ] came out, picked me up from Gahanna and took me to Kroger to pick up a 6 pack. I already drank 10 in the previous 2 hours and I was feeling pretty good. I told him in the car on our way there that I had already drank 10 and he couldn't even tell that I had been drinking. We got to the college student's campus home and I grabbed a beer and started drinking it. Another girl there asked if she can have one so I told her yea!
One of the guys didn't like that I was drinking and told me to stop or he'll call the police. His name is [ . . . . ]. It was the most ridiculous thing I ever heard knowing that they all drink, and party, and bs around. I told him that I haven't bothered anyone but if I do, I'll stop. I didn't want to go home but he gave me no choice.. he still threatened me telling me to go home. To this day I don't even think he lived there. [ . . . . ] offered a ride home but I declined. I told them I'll walk home and jumped down off the 3 steps without losing balance. I told them that I'm not drunk and told [ . . . . ] off and started walking home.
I walked down to the corner going left. With 2 shirts on I flipped one inside out to hide the graphic on the front. Afterwards I walked the other direction at that corner going north instead of south. It took me about 6-7 hours to walk home from downtown Columbus to the west side of Gahanna. I ended up walking the wrong way about an hour on morse road, missed the last bus of the night by mere seconds, and a homeless man asked for money so I gave him $10 so he wouldn't try robbing me. I did it though.
That night was one of the hardest challenges I ever experienced in my life. I discovered confidence within myself, and hope for a greater future. They tried reaching out to me but I closed them out after that. Supposedly they went looking for me but couldn't find me. After 11 beers in a 3 hour window, I outsmarted half a dozen 25 to 27 year old college adults. I have always felt good about this.
This Xenos cult crap creates inner circles and groups within groups within groups of friends who exclude people from certain things. They're not always forthright about what they say or do, and I didn't realize that until after the fact. It was weird hearing my sister come to the same conclusion after she attended.. and I didn't even know she was. And she's someone who these experiences can both influence the most and hurt the most. That's scary.
I saw this Xenos is a Cult group and felt like maybe my story (though not entirely bad) can help people better protect themselves. An old friend of mine [ . . . . . . . . . . ] was truly changed by this group for the better I assume. He found god and gave up some of life's bad habits. I think he quit the group for similar reasons.
This group absolutely needs to be shut down because I absolutely believe it's a cult in disguise. They're trying to reach into you and manipulate you from within, to see exactly how they see.. I just imagine that it's been 7 years and how many more people are being drawn into this? How many more are discovering it's a cult?
Hi I have a story I’d like to share. I wasn’t apart of Xenos but my best friend was. I had just moved to Ohio for my dads work when I met this girl at school who I instantly clicked with. She invited me out to this huge party type thing, she told me there would be a small bible session before and after wards we would all just hang out. I grew up in the Catholic Church so I was like ya whatever a bible session is fine because I wanted to hang out with my friend. So I go to this place and it is huge. There had to be like 100 people there easy, maybe more. Someone comes out on the stage and my friend calls me over and we all sit down. This dude talked for over 2 hours. Finally after it was done my friend introduced me to other people and they were very nice, I ended up having a great time. I end up becoming really good friends with this girl, we lived right down the street from each other, she started driving me and taking me home from school, etc. Then every time I asked her to hang out she couldn’t because she had to go to meetings. I quickly found out that the only way I would be able to hang out with her was if I attended these meetings with her. I started going pretty consistently, once a week or so. I grew up in a church so I was the master of tuning people out so at the beginning I really didn’t pay attention too much. One day I decided to listen in, they were trying to discredit all religions. They claimed Christianity was the only religion with actual evidence. I laughed, then everyone looked back at me. The leader asked me what was funny, I said actually theres evidence of Buddha dating back well before Christ. Everyone was silent for a minute and then they all started whispering to each other. The leader was scrambling, didn’t know what to say. Basically said I was wrong and that I needed to “find god”. I shrugged it off. The leader came up to me after the session and told me that she really wanted to help me find god. I told her god and I were old friends (she didn’t laugh at the joke, she just stared me down) she then asked me to keep coming out. My friend started to have medical issues so she started missing the meetings. She called me crying one day talking about how her leader told her if she stopped coming to all the meetings that she’d be throwing away her relationship with god and shit. I told her that wasn’t true, your relationship with god is your own, you don’t have to go to church every week let alone 3 times a week.
She started dating this guy in the group, a real creep. They started messing around. She told me that he told his leader that she was tempting him to sin and some insane shit like that. They pulled her aside and basically told her to stop being a slut, she had to change her wardrobe and they were no longer allowed to be alone together. She started getting depressed. I watched the girl who I would laugh with for hours turn into someone who would barely speak two words to anyone. I told her to talk to her parents about seeing a doctor but she told me that her leader said “depression isn’t real, get over it”. This is the first time I told her to get the hell out of that group. She didn’t. Fast forward a year or so later, she was a year ahead of me so she graduated high school and dove head first into the “church”. She moved into one of their houses where she shared a tiny ass room with 3 other girls. She paid $300 a month to live there. She showed me the contract, rent was listed as $200, the other $100 was listed under “Water, Electric, Garbage and church activities”. She’s living there, not going to college because they convinced her to become a Leader. She starts getting sick again as well as working her ass off so she’s not attending all meetings, activities etc. They threatened to kick her out of the house and the church if she didn’t attend. Once again saying she was neglecting god. This was the second time I told her to get the hell out of there. She didn’t. Then they started to pile on house duties. If she didn’t attend all meetings than she would be punished by having to do all the work in the house. So she was forcing herself to go to work even though she felt like garage and then coming home to more work. I stayed over one night, they were having a party. My friend forgot about the reading so her and I came in late. Everyone stared at us, I looked at my friend and she was red and swearing and cowering. Not like her. We sat down. They were preaching about how weather could not be predicted, that it was an act of god. I couldn’t help myself from making a face. The people around us starting whispering, pointing. I ignored them. After that the leader came up to her and I with beer, we were 17,18 so we happily accepted. The leader started talking to about god and what I believe in, etc. 2 drinks later I was a little tipsy. The leader begged me to “accept god” and join the group. He put another drink infront of me. It was at this point I realized he was still on his
First drink. I told him no thank you, and started to back away. He grabbed my arm and said “God loves you even though you don’t love him” I yanked my arm out of his grip and ran away. I told my friend about what happened, she apologized profusely and said she’d report him. One of the leaders told her that no one saw this take place so there was nothing she could have done. She was horrified, so embarrassed. That’s when I stopped going over there, but I continued to be her friend. She started to date another guy in the group to whom she lost her virginity to. They dated a long time without anyone knowing they had been intimate. She only told me, no one else. She was paranoid (and rightly so) that if she told anyone else they’d kick her out. A year went by with no one knowing. One day they were caught. The guy ended up coming out like rose, saying it was her fault and that he was sorry. But she was crucified. Everyone she thought was her friend turned on her. They called her horrible things to her face as well as behind her back. This was the last time I told her to leave, and she finally did with her parents damn well near disowning her for it.
These people are mentally disturbed to say the least. They fabricate all these lies to try to discredit all other religions and science. And their followers just believe everything they say. Once I encouraged a few of the girls to google other religions as well as Christianity to show them that what these leaders were preaching was complete bullshit. I was told that that would be a “distrust in both god and the leaders” and that I would be sent to hell for even suggesting it. I also know several of the members have committed suicide, 2 of them were good friends with my friend. I remember when the second young girl committed suicide, my friend was distraught and said “I can’t believe this is happening again”. At the time, I didn’t know about the first girl, so I said “what do you mean again?” And she talked about another girl a year before I had moved to Ohio that had also committed suicide. Both of these girls reached out for help, my friend told me they were both severely depressed, but were told just like her, that depression wasn’t real and if they were put on medication or even saw a therapist that wasn’t a church therapist, they’d no longer be allowed to stay in the group. I believe the leaders of Xenos should be held responsible for these suicides. The amount of emotional abuse these people endure is truly frightening. They use your relationship with god against you if you don’t do what you’re told. The reason these people are so scared to leave the group is because they tell them if they do that they are throwing away their relationship with god and that he’d never be there for them again. I hope your website and Facebook page will shed some light on these individuals and hopefully authorities will one day be involved. Thank you for doing this!
I wanted to send you a message because I’m at [ Coffee Place ] and there are 2 girls sitting next to me that I was suspicious are apart of Xenos, I swear I have a 6th sense for people who are apart of that cult. They are talking about how they are trying to recruit people into the church and they are angry because a girl is prioritizing taking her SAT’s/ACT’s and that they are going to keep pestering her to put Xenos first and put school on the back burner.
I swear I know when they are apart of Xenos before they even talk!! It’s crazy. If people are overly nice to me and ask me for my contact info or act like they want to be friends right off the bat, I’m 100% sure they are Xenos folks
That cult is so disturbing, I have literally lost friends to them because they don’t allow their members to hang out with anyone outside of their organization. It’s sad. Thanks for spreading awareness!
I lost my best friend to Xenos, she can’t go anywhere without a member of the church. I invited her to a yoga class and she had to bring someone with her and then they both pestered me to believe in god and come to their “taco Tuesday” at their ministry house. I was like PASS. I have already been a victim of being recruited by them!
She just says she has to be with someone from the church. I had a coworker in 2012 ask me to meet up with her for lunch, she asked me to drive her back to her house, I knew nothing about Xenos at this point. Her house was on campus off of indianola, she invited me in and I met her room mates, all seemed like nice people. I was on the fence about my religious beliefs at that point. They invited me to an event at the central teaching building off of 4th street, I went and met a ton of nice people, again completely unaware that I was being recruited, everyone just seemed like nice normal college kids. They drank, smoked, partied. I went to a few home church meetings and just sat and listened, attended some other events with the group, they didn’t pressure me to talk about god at first.
Then they started to get angry if I couldn’t make it to the 5-7 events a week they scheduled, the summer was ending and school was starting again, they asked me what I was going to give up now that school was starting- my job, my family, etc. they told me I needed to move into the ministry house, I told them no. I tried to stay friends with the people because I had low self esteem and not a lot of friends at that point and I liked the social aspects and they kindness of the people. I attended a home church meeting and one of the members told me that god puts me on the back burner because I’m not dedicating my life to Xenos, that I can’t just come and go as I please, I’m not allowed to sit and observe or just listen to their central teachings. They basically roasted me in from of about 50 people until I cried, it was the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. My friend that originally brought me there just sat there and didn’t say a word. I just got up and left and I never talked to any of them again.
My experience in Xenos is similar to many others’ in the college group. I attended from 2001-2005.
After becoming increasing active in my home church, I decided to move into a ministry house after receiving some pressure from leadership. Even though it meant that I could only attend school part-time (ODU had a weird policy about off-campus housing), my discipler (who was pretty much making all of my decisions for me at this point) convinced me it was the "right" thing to do. This was on top of my Xenos principles classes, CT, home church and cell group. I was devoting pretty much all of my free time to Xenos, effectively forgoing any non-church relationships and activities. I was put in charge of finances for the house and [ House Leader ] (the house leader) was put on the account as well. As an account holder, I started to notice strange things happening with the statements -- a large purchase at the CSCC bookstore, movie tickets at AMC theatre, etc. When I brought this up with [ House Leader ] (the only other person who had access to the account) she seemed surprised and said only that she was planning to pay it back. Then I noticed that some of my personal items were also missing. A pair of socks, a scarf, little things like that. She denied taking them. Her father, also a leader in the church, was arrested around this time for soliciting prostitution from a man in a public park.
Also around this time, I started dating [ . . ], against the will of the home church leadership. They would question me about our relationship constantly, giving stern advice and direction. I remember my discipler would drive around looking for my car and calling my cell phone to check in on me. Eventually, [ . . ] and I fell into "sin." Because we were both living in ministry houses, and because of [ . . ]'s "history," we decided to keep it a secret. After all, we knew we could get excommunicated. I had no family in town, and had alienated my non-Xenos friends long ago. I decided to move out. [ House Leader ] threatened to take me to court.
Eventually, plagued with guilt, we admitted our "sins." We were put on display in front of our home church and made to confess embarrassing details of our sexual experiences (in our current and previous relationships). We were voted on like we were participants in the worst kind of reality TV show ever, the church members deciding whether or not we were sincere in our repentance. [ . . . ] was excommunicated. I was not, but chose to leave anyway. After spending a few weeks in more or less isolation, I decided to come back to the church and was given a number of assignments to prove my sincerity (even though I hadn’t been excommunicated). One of the leaders invited me to a church dinner. I attended. While I was at the dinner, the leaders were on a retreat and found out that I was at the dinner. They asked to speak with me and told me that I had been wrongly invited and shouldn't be there. And I could stay if I wanted now that I was already there. It was humiliating. But more than that, it was the last straw. I threw out my half-eaten meal and left immediately. And that was it. A while later, I heard one of my housemates had been pregnant while living there.
I did not feel loved, appreciated or accepted. I had given my all for years to a faith and to a group of people who were willing to cast me and the people I loved out of their lives. I know no church is perfect, but the blatant hypocrisy and unloving actions at Xenos made it clear to me that I wanted no part of what it had to offer.
I attended Xenos for about 2 and a half years. Everything that I've read so far on this website is spot on. The false friendship, the shame, the pressure, the gossip.
I was invited by someone I met in Art History my second year of college. She invited me to go to the art museum downtown, and I happily accepted because I was having a hard time making friends on campus. We talked and had a great time, and she brought up Home Church. She said it was a small gathering of people that hang out and go over Bible verses. It sounded interesting so I went with her the following week. I'm not religious, but it seemed like something new that I hadn't done before. Vinyl, is the name of the group. The greeting was warm and welcoming and I met so many people that I had great conversations with, was exchanging numbers with and planning hangouts. After a few months I had really started to feel like I was making friends.
About a year into me attending, I had broken up with my emotionally abusive ex boyfriend. It was hard, and I felt lonely and in pain. There wasn't much support; only the usual "Have you tried talking to God?" Which, I understand that that may work for some people, but it didn't work for me. I wanted to talk to someone face to face, in person, that I could poor my heart out to. But no one was willing to listen. I was only met with Bible verses and cold shoulders.
I had spent the next 6-8 months going on a couple dates and becoming too attached to the few guys I dated. Being in an abusive relationship does that to you. You long for true love and compassion and someone that doesn't use your mental illness against you. I spent some time crying over the failed relationships and tried talking to my "friends" about it. But again, no one would listen. I was met by my "friend" with a harsh comment, and she didn't even look me in the eye when she said it: "Do you really think you can be happy work someone who's not a Christian?" The amount of insensitivity in her voice was crushing. I went home right after.
Fast forward the next few months towards the end of the year, around mid September. I met someone. Someone that I am going to be celebrating 3 years together with this year. A great, loving guy that helps me with my anxiety attacks and ASD. Someone who actively is looking for ways for me to be comfortable. I was excited to tell my "friends" and they appeared to be happy for me, but the falseness in their tones was deafening. Never the less, I pushed it to the back of my mind. A year goes by and my boyfriend and I plan to move in together. And this is when my "friends" repeatedly pulled me outside the ministry house to tell me that I am a sinner for doing this and "there can't be a bad seed in the church, because it dismantles everyone." (Or something like that). They immediately assumed that because we were moving in together before marriage that we were having sex. I never told them anything about our private life but they came to assumptions. GASP! Moving in together? Before marriage? Because we want to see what living with each other is like before we even think about getting married? And I was dating someone who wasn't part of the church? THE SIN!
The dating part is 100% accurate. They don't date outside of the church, they don't marry outside of the church, and they aren't friends with anyone outside the church. I remember when my "friend's" sister was getting married. I went to her bridal party and they played a game where she had to answer a question about her soon-to-be husband before she could open a present. Questions like his favorite color, hobby, movie, place to visit, etc. The only thing she could say was, in a slightly irritated tone, "I don't know!" I left and went to hang out with my family after that. It was so cringe-worthy. You're going to marry someone that you don't know anything about, but it's ok because he's "part of the church"? I can name my boyfriend's favorite EVERYTHING, because those small details are what make a relationship so beautiful. They were shaming me for my relationship, but their own was failing right before their eyes.
I remember learning that my "friend" was talking about me behind my back, saying that I was a sinner and that "I wasn't my own person without a guy with me". It hurt me deep, because I had told her so many things that I never told anyone. My abusive relationship, the lying and the mistreatment of other guys before I met my boyfriend. I trusted her. She didn't understand and refused to try.
It wasn't even just me she was talking about. Two other girls who I can proudly say have left the church with me, who were there longer than me, who have become my best friends, were also victims of this horrible two-faced snake. One of them is from Ghana, and my "friend" accused her of sleeping around when she was in her home country because she saw a picture of this girl with her boyfriend. The other has a lot of mental health issues like me, and they basically kicked her out of the house because they didn't want to deal with them. I confronted someone about it after learning what they did. I said, "What you guys did to *blank* and *blank* was absolutely disgusting and shameful." His response? An embarrassed chuckle, followed by, "Yeah, we can talk about it later..." And he never did.
And when I confronted them about why they weren't being the friends I thought they were? One of them said, "If you think this is the place to make friends you're wrong." They straight up told me I wasn't in a place to make friends. The hangouts, the road trips, the shopping together; I was just part of their plan to keep growing their Church. I was just a number, nothing more. And when I asked about why they we're kicking one of their own, original members out and abandoning her? My "friend" said, "Because it's what God wants us to do, and honestly I don't even feel bad about it."
Xenos is nothing but poison. They will shame you for having raw human emotions and yet behind your back they have the same feelings about something going on in their lives. They act like they are saints and can do no wrong, and try to deny their actions even after admitting them to you. They take pride in their wrong-doings and shame people who are not like them. Pure, pure snakes. They are about equal to those you see screaming "FEAR GOD!" on the corners of the streets.
Those two girls that had the same problems as me? We couldn't be closer. My boyfriend? We moved into our first house together last October. Leaving that group was the smartest decision I have ever made. If I could give anyone any advice as to whether or not they want to join a home church, I would say this: There's a great church called Cypress. They are pro-LGBTQ, pro-love, and start every session by telling people to turn to those around you and introduce yourselves to someone new. They sing amazing songs, and the atmosphere is truly warm and welcoming. The battle real life issues and are an amazing community of people.
STAY AWAY FROM XENOS.
I was out with classmates in 2017 at a bar when a couple people started chatting with me and were very friendly. I remember being really excited because of how open and cool they were. They asked to be friends on Facebook and then a week later invited me to a "birthday party" at one of the ministry houses. It was really weird. There was alcohol and snacks but in the middle there was a bible study that they hadn't told me about. It was all of the sudden like being at a multi-level marketing meeting that you thought was going to be a fun party. It just felt icky and I felt embarrassed about how excited I was to have these new friends, who turned out to have an ulterior motive.
I lived at home in the spring of 2017 after dropping out of my freshman year of college, before I moved to off campus housing at OSU to start school up again. My high school was absolutely laden with xenos kids and I’ve known since I was very young that xenos was a cult, I had a family member who was active within the church throughout my childhood. Living at home during my off semester I was somewhat lonely and wanted to have more friends, so I was the perfect candidate for xenos members to attempt to recruit. I knew from the first day I hung out with 2 xenos girls that I had previously known, that they were deeply into the church and wanted to recruit me, but being in my position I decided to go along with it for a while to firsthand experience xenos and see if all the tactics and cultish ways were really true.
I didn’t stick around long enough to get in deep, but I can certainly say that everything people say about this “church” is true. From the absolutely overkill cigarette smoking to the love bombing to the very weird and generally uncomfortable bible studies followed by people you hardly know asking you afterwards what you thought of the “teachings”, I was uncomfortable very quickly. Within maybe a month I was invited to meetings very frequently and shown around a ministry house and told about how cool it was, only to be totally ghosted by these girls once I finally very nicely told one of them to stop inviting me to bible study as I am an atheist and would never ever attend. All around weird stuff, just wish that I hadn’t gone to a xenos Christmas shindig in 2016 while super trashed, that’s definitely written down on a xenos record somewhere
I attended one home church event in high school with my friend who were all members. Immediately it felt uncomfortable and I was cornered being asked if I believe in god. I didn’t answer the question and a member told me that it’s sad that I will be going to hell. I never attended an event again.
I did stay friends with the girls at my school who remained in Xenos. They began to change, and performing extreme acts to get people’s attention. This meant wearing crazy outfits to school like morph suits, sumo suits, painting their bodies so people would always have a conversation with the individuals about something. One summer, the girls went to a summer camp with Xenos. There was a video posted of the large group torturing gold fish in 2-liter bottles of soda and then actually eating the goldfish for shock value. I believe the group utilized disgust, talking about harming animals and doing extreme acts to draw emotion out of people- making people feel like they were missing out on something by not being apart of the group.
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