This blog post is my personal history on how I, a small town Christian girl, found herself in a cult Part 2
The early 70’s was an exciting time for me. I was a new adult, a new RN, and the new bride of a young man in the walk who would enter the kingdom under the leadership of the Apostle. The vision of Shiloh was becoming a reality.
I got my first nursing job in Ottumwa because my new husband got a part time teaching job for a near by rural school district. It did not matter that I worked the 3 to 11 shit full time, come hell or high water we had to drive to Washington for services. I a “was a bad Influence” as a “helpmeet” or what ever spiritual sounding term that described the fact that I hampered my husband from being present at every service.
Harvey Bender had given the land in Kalona for what was to be Shiloh. As I said in my previous post that my personal vision was to be a year ’round conference and camp.
I went an got pregnant with hyper emesis. that did not set well with my father-in-law because I was a distraction from “God Moving”.
My father-in-law had been out to the land and they were going to break land.
I inconveniently went into labor top safely deliver the first grandchild and great grand child on both sides of our families. And the baby was 10 pounds- we survived a difficult natural birth in a crappy hospital Was that a joyus occasion? NO! The priority was that my Father-in-law was out at Shiloh breaking ground and my mother. My husband called his mother. My mother-in-law when called was un-nerved with her son’s phone call worried her husband at gotten hurt.. This was the beginning of when I saw that having a baby was all too worldy as compared to ushering in The Kingdom at Shiloh.
The “shift” was unsettling and unbalanced. “Personal ” began to no longer matter at that point in my view.
The town of Washington had not forgotten the winter the town square was terrorized by the CA youth. ( did not matter that it was a small % of youth it was too much) so here we are building some kind of conference center in Kalona.
I was very difficult driving in the winter to Washington from Ottumwa with a new baby. But, we were directed to sit under the teachings no matter what. My husband quite frankly was not good at his job nor was he a good provider. His focus was on that he was chosen to speak for god. There were unsettling things with his teaching job- the Word came to send us to Waukegan. My husband was to be the organist. He had to go out into the world and get a job to support this growing family. I was pregnant again and gave birth in Illinois.
Well, things over all did not go well in Waukegan. My husband could not keep a job. So some of the home town brothers drove up to north of Chicago from Iowa to move us back home. Shiloh was “the city being built on Rock ‘N Roll” according to some. My father-in-law encouraged us to ‘press-in” because “god was moving”. He expected us to have jobs, 2 babies and be out to Shiloh.
My husband worked in an early “Kingdom business.” did not pay enough to support a family
Why I knew what the leaders in Washington, Iowa feared.
I got hired in an instant as the nurse for a new day-care. A day-care at the time was very bold move to have day-care in town. Many thought it was “communistic.” The day-care owner knew I had all kinds of volunteer experience with kids at the library. Also as part of my nurses training I had volunteer for the newly organize Head Start. I was paid minimum wage and my kids could be in one of the 3 centers while I worked. My position was innovative- i had the opportunity to create the position plus be a teacher.
Please bear with my story because it is my introduction to Shiloh as far as the children were concerned and why I spent time in the upper room with the apostle. I was not that special in the inner circle.
Taking on this new position meant I had to set up medical records to the like that had not been done before. I created health forms that including immunization records ( Immunizations were still fairly new in 1976) Since i was from Washington and already well know and respected I knew who’s door to knock on for the tools I needed to do my job for the group of dad-care centers. I talked with doctors and nurses and public health. i read every document I could get my hands on in order to be sure food served safely; things were cleaned properly; diapers were changed sanitarian; immunizations were recorded and expected; teacher to child ratios: safety, safety safety _ had to be sure we practiced all kinds of safety from fire drills to not leaving a baby on a changing table and how to clean i then I had to instruct staff and do regular inspections…. you get the picture. People had known me my whole life. They knew I was a Christian Tab girl- it was small town. They’s ask, “What’s going on out there in Kalona?” They were not just curious. They were afraid hippies were going to take over and had not forgotten the terror on the square.
Our income was not paying our basic bills. and I was offered a 2nd job at the hospital in OB. Well, that interfered with my “walk with god”. I could not be 2 places at once Work- and Worship, and be sure to double tithe. yes, I did pray and read the bible and listen to tapes,
My OB supervisor was an amazing nurse and woman. Io can’t say enough good things about her. She was kindly curious about Shiloh and she knew hat I was a Christian Tabernacle girl. Yes, people knew where I went to church because for years on Sundays I represented the church as In volunteered to sing at the nursing home.) Again, I did not offer any information nor try to convert any one. I was asked, “What’s going on in Kalona at the Shiloh place?”
Apparently, young mothers form ‘Shiloh were coming into the town’s very small hospital to deliver babies- they ALL had problems with the births. We were a low risk hospital. Also the ER where the floor staff had to manage as well were having injured patients including children coming in form Shiloh. Shiloh was listed as their address and the nurses on the later shifts did the admission forms.
I don’t really feel like most of the nursing staff was prejudice against Shiloh. Tho’ they did stand out- they did not grew up in Washington and they had “different” ideas than “standard medical protocol” we staff had to abide by. Some of the things said by Shiloh people and the nature of injuries waved RED FLAGS!
Stuck in the middle of a rock and hard place
On one side my father-in-law was pressuring me to “press-in” and be at Shiloh and minister and obey to my husband. he did not want to help take care of his grand children when I needed an evening baby sitter, yet my mother-in-law and him seemed very proud that I was a nurse at the hospital. – SO OUT of BALANCE
I was running back and forth from Shiloh to work not getting sleep and not being with my children enough. I could not trust my husband to care for them. I did not understand why a man with a teaching degree could not hold a job and had not clue about the basics at home. I needed time off- yet I was pushed and pushed and pushed.
As I was trying to sleep after working graveyard at the hospital after going to Shiloh I started getting phone calls, ” When are you going to make this check good. It bounce 3 times all ready?” The mail had shut off notices. I was working my tail off- my husband made me go to work. I was beyond exhausted. Ministry was not positive for me to get my spirit right….then I talked to the bank. It was my husband who was writing excessive checks to the liquor store.
Was does my personal family life and my job have to do with the Church of the Living Word? Plenty!
In the early years of Shiloh when I was still in my 20’s and naive is when I first started seeing the COVER -UPS, the booze, the drugs, the neglect, the exhaustion….you know what I’m talking about, right?
Ministry, intersession and listening to tapes did not fix my spirit. They called me “crazy” and if you don’t get your spirit right you will be just like you mother.” I was warned. here I am respected for my professionalism in the community who was afraid of what was going on at Shiloh. At Shiloh was some crazy witch.
I was so exhausted that I could not stop crying. My dear doctor sent me to Iowa City the U of Ia for “Rest Therapy” I was put in Psych- no longer ashamed to say. That was the safest place for me. When the resident talked to my husband he told of how I would work and work with out stopping then could not get out of bed. Well, yeah- except the resident diagnosis-ed me with Bi-Polar when I was not ever manic but pushed beyond the limit. I took me until last year to get that wrong diagnosis ruled out on U of Ia records.
The thing was that my husband had enough education to know what to say to perk up the doctors ears enough to take the heat off of himself. I definitely do have plenty of issues – but let’s get it right because wrong medication and treatment opens a new can of worm on top of the chaos of having needing to get my “spirit right.” Then among-st the elite upper room the was not confidentially Everyone seemed to know I was “crazy”. For years after I walk members would come up to me and talk loud and slowly, “we-kn-o-o-ow al-l-l a-bou-t you! We loose you of this spirit.”
My father-in-law arranged to have me stay at Shiloh. A number of very dear” sisters’ that were nurses helped look after me. My sister kept my children- one of who was recovering from chicken pox.
This was when I was “living” at Shiloh with no work responsibility comparatively.. I was weak ans exhausted and on meds with the side effect of making me sleep. I was cared for very well. When I was awake I was expected to go to services and listen to tapes. That was reasonable.
I really wanted to be with my children and JRS allowed it some. At some point my kids got to go the school there.
I council ed with the Apostle- he had known me since I was a little girl. I tried to address the issues how can I be a helpmeet when my husband was irresponsible, reckless, negligent, and spending my salary on alcohol instead of food for the children? I thought that was a legitimate concern to get help for- JRS did not want me to go the therapy in Iowa city- It was forbidden. I t did not understand the conflict of professional medical attention and the laying on of hands and violent intersession. So JRS had me sis in the upper room- no I was not all that special to be in the inner circle. i was not elite. I can see very clearly now that I was a threat and I was being heavily guarded.
I was allowed to go into the nursery a bit. – Remember all the details of my job for the day-care center as a nurse? Well, did I get a bad spirit on this one. i saw infection control horrors and unacceptable injures and abuse I had not idea who these parents were. BTW the other nurses and I had concerns from the infirmary over RH. RH ended up having meningitis. The kids was trying to get rid of a terrible head ache and fever that he was over dosing on Tylenol. That could have become a medical crisis for everyone. Yet, the leadership had other medically inappropriate ideas.
Some how on a rare visit out for medical check that my hospital release required or they would not have let me go, I ran into my contacts form public health. I don’t think most of Shiloh was aware of the fact that PUBLIC HEALTH was about to shut down the whole operation at Shiloh.
What a conundrum I was now in. On one hand I did not want to be left behind when the KINGDOM CAME – so I wanted to have right spirit…I was recovering form exhausted 9 who was at the root of that if the truth be told?) on the other hand- as an educated professional with experienced knowledge base how health issues that were current at Shiloh.
Who was I to go against Apostolic direction? Jrs had me write up my concerns and how I would fix what I saw as a problem. That kept me busy for a while. I do know that I was not at my best. However, when I addressed extremely important issues like neglect, abuse, infection control, balance of rest and work ( I was a prime example running on empty)…
…not received in the light in the best interest of the children at Shiloh. the adults could make their choices but no the children and I knew it. I spoke up.
When people ask why no one spoke up to the leadership – I spoke up. They KNEW! all too many things. They were all at the core of the beginning of the abuses that started at Shiloh. Their method of operation I suppose out of ignorance and blindly following a socio-pathic cult leader. They were told.
As I sat in the Upper Room under heavy guard I felt – I got an earful about the cover ups of DUI and how JRS made his charming calls to get some one released with the SCOPE mouthwash excuse.e
I also knew that there were concerns out of Kalona in town talking to the county sheriff about fire arms at Shiloh, Kind of weird- Washington county farmers had riffles to protect live stock and men loved to hunt. tho’ I don’t think the Amish used guns. There was fear from the long time residents of Washington county. to make it worse some our leaders were boozing it up at the bars. Not a witness of Christ for sure…. and no one had a problem with my husband spending the rent and grocery money at the Liquor store.
What was they going to do with me? I could not be sent back to town. I could not stay there to cause problems.
My husband and I were given a fresh start. My husband was to take new kingdom job at the bible cover factory in CA.
That is how the cult leadership operated form the early years of Shiloh as I saw it.
They ignore. They cover up. They move people around. They label good people to discredit and shut them up.
I end my history Shiloh and Washington being terrorized when this ‘fear” provoking words” Jezebel, whore, bitter, death to the whore. rebellious…golly, this would make a real good movie, don;t you think. It is so crazy that it is almost unbelievable.
That is my perspective- do you still love me now that i can dance for joy that I survived?. I hope what i wrote helps fill in the gaps in this puzzle. I am sorry so many got hurt. I tried. I did. I grieve because I could not do enough.