SIXteen New Stories (8/18/2018)
Story One: "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 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.
Story Two: "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’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.
Story Three: "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."
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.
Story Four: "What I want to say is there is no real accountability."
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.
Story Five: "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 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.
Story Six: "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 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.
Story Seven: "It’s like we had to worship the leaders and not god."
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
Story Eight: "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."
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
Story Eleven: "They got me smoking cigarettes. There was always something to do. But then it started taking over my life."
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.
Story Twelve: "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."
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.
Story Thirteen: "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."
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.
Story Fourteen: "People who claim to be friends will quickly drop you just because you didn’t want to be in the group anymore."
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.
Story Fifteen: "And they love bombed the shit out of me."
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.
Story Sixteen: "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."
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.