7 New Stories - 2/27/2019
Story One: “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.“
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.
Story Two: “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 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.
Story Three: “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.”
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?)
Story Four: “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.“
Xenos is a fucking cult! by Anonymous
My friend is doing it
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?
Taking the bait
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.
A false sense of friendship
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.
In too deep
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.
Seven days of manipulation
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!
The spell has been lifted!
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.
Story Five: “The leaders then used a bible verse to justify this horrible mental abuse”
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.
Story Six: “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.“
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.