Story One: "they all denied ever even being there and said that they were all elsewhere together."
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.
Story Two: "IF YOU ARE IN XENOS AND READING THIS RIGHT NOW, I know it is so easy to write this off as Satan's attacks."
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.
Story Three: "that wasn’t assault that was just someone fulfilling a beautiful act from god"
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
Story Four: "I was forced to share personal intimate details about my sex life"
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
Story Five: "There was no punishment taken since they were trying to protect their product of the church."
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.