One day when I was a twenty-three year old youth pastor in a church in Illinois, I was asked to come to the pastor’s office. When I arrived he asked if my wife Shirley and I would be interested in doing something that could be dangerous, and then proceeded to tell us the task.
He had received a call from someone from another part of the country who had a daughter who had become a member of a religious cult. The cult had assembled a compound made up of several houses, about an hour away from our city. This person was asking if anyone from our church might be interested in helping their daughter escape.
It seems that this cult didn’t only keep people on their compound by mental manipulation. They kept them there by force. However, this twenty year old girl could neither embrace their doctrines nor their coercions any longer. She wanted out. But she was afraid to try to leave on her own because others who had tried were physically detained and watched more closely after escape attempts.
The girl didn’t have a car and since the compound was in the country, anyone leaving by foot could be found out before they would get to far away. Someone would need to speed in with a car, pick her up, and speed away before anyone in the cult’s leadership would know.
So, in effect my pastor said to me, “Your mission should you decide to accept it…would be to risk life or possible injury to free this girl.” I’m not sure it was as serious as he made it seem. But he didn’t want to misrepresent the possible danger involved.
I have always been a risk taker so the decision wasn’t a hard one. Ideas were discussed, strategized and finalized. Phone calls were made. Times were synchronized. The date was picked. Plans were devised.
She was staying in a two story house on one side of the compound. The houses weren’t surrounded by a wall. The compound was made up of several houses in a country setting in which the cult members lived.
I remember the adrenalin beginning to run through my body as we approached the area and pulled up to the designated house. I was relieved to see that no one was around. Yet, I recall my heart pounding out of my chest as I exited our car. I located the back door and quickly scurried up the back steps of the house.
I recall an extreme urgency in my heart as I located the second door on the left at the top of the stairs. I knocked on the door. She opened it. There was a quick exchange of names. I grabbed her two bags and we were down the stairs in a flash and into our running car as my wife hit the gas and we sped away.
I recall that we were about two miles down the road before I was able to take a deep breath, a sigh of relief and finally talk.
This girl was ready to leave. But I have had other people in a few of my churches who were in cults who needed to be captured and deprogramed from their cult’s influences.
I have come to learn that there are cultic doctrines and influences everywhere. One doesn’t need to be on a compound or be kept by force to be duped by erroneous theology.
It is a cultic doctrine that assumes that there is one God but many ways to that God.
It is cultic because the scriptures teach that Jesus is the only way to God and eternal life (John 14:6). Yet this cultic opinion is rampant in our world and taught in many churches.
It is a cultic doctrine that believes our good works can get us to God and heaven without a surrendered relationship with Jesus Christ. While God’s Word says, “It only by grace through faith (in Jesus Christ) that we are saved and not of works lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). And this cultic idea is perpetrated in every corner of our world as well as from many pulpits.
No, we don’t have to be held captive by cult leaders to be misled. We can be misled as we go about our normal daily activities.
Here is the truth: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).