FSM 352

From XFamily - Children of God
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OUR side: In Defense of our Faith, Family, and Lifestyle, Part 1

FSM 352 CM/FM 09/00

Dear Family,

In light of the bitter accusations leveled at Dad, Mama, Peter and WS that have recently been circulated by various detractors, there was a groundswell amongst those who know Mama and Peter personally to speak up and share their experiences.

Those of us who wrote these would like to make it clear that Mama and Peter did notsolicit these testimonies. This idea came from those of us who live and work in WS, many of whom live day in and day out with Mama and Peter.

We felt compelled to take a stand against the lies, mistruths and personal attacks on our shepherds by declaring the truth. So we opened the floor to a variety of people who have lived with Mama and Peter, interacted closely with them, and who know their true nature-giving them the opportunity to share their thoughts and views with you via this open forum. The response we received was overwhelming. Many WS members, CROs, and a few field missionaries who know Dad, Mama and Peter intimately, wrote personal testimonials and firsthand accounts of their experiences.

We let people know that Mama and Peter were in the midst of addressing the most major accusations about WS, Mama and Peter’s leadership, the use of prophecy, and other specifics in the GN “None of These Things Move Me,” so most people chose to shed light on Mama and Peter, their character, their personal lives, and the way they handle people. We’re sure you’ll find this interesting. As you’ll see, the accounts in these mags strongly contrast with those that certain former members have recently circulated. Read them for yourself and decide who you’ll believe.

We pray you’ll enjoy these mags and that they will provide you with greater understanding and insight into Mama and Peter’s lives and daily mode of operation, from those who know them best.


Your WS Staff

PS. Please note that we’ve left the articles in these mags as they were originally written. This is what people had to say about Mama, Peter, WS, and the Family, in the way they had to say it. If this were a regular Family pub, we would have done more editing. The mag editors probably wouldn’t have chosen to say some things in the exact way people chose to say them. But this is the “raw truth” as seen through the eyes of these individuals. Let the truth be known!

Open Letter from a Young Family Missionary

By Sam, 26, CRO, Brazil

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Samuel, I’m 26 years of age, and I was born and raised in the Family. I grew up on the mission field of South America. I’ve been an active witnesser my whole life and have lived in and traveled through practically every South American country by land and air. I’ve visited over 100 cities in my career as a missionary, engaging in a diversity of ministries and outreach methods such as personal evangelism, youth outreach, disaster relief missions, distribution of food and aid to the poor, distribution of Gospel material, singing and performing on TV in six or more countries, giving live interviews over both the radio and TV. I’ve pioneered new cities and helped set up works, giving seminars to young and old, leading church services, rallying youth groups to get on fire for the Lord, leading and participating in countless youth Bible camps, training and helping to raise up new leadership, etc.

At present I live in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and am working with a team of people to set up a follow-up structure and base for young people like myself to bring those we have met and led to the Lord to a greater understanding and knowledge of the Word via weekly Bible classes, yearly national retreats, and monthly three-day seminars. I work with about 40 other young people who also have an undying desire to make this dream a reality-that of truly winning the world to Jesus before His second coming. Our goal and greatest desire in life is to be the best of the best for Jesus, and do with all our might that which He has commissioned us through His Word when He said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”

I state with great pride and conviction that it is because of the faithfulness of dear Dad and Mama and Peter to give the Words of Life that they’ve received over the years for us that I’ve had the strength and faith to be a missionary. Every new Letter that comes out is for me not only a refreshing cold drink of water to a thirsty soul, but also a lifesaver and rock upon which to stand. I’ve seen the Lord’s hand work time and time again as a result of implementing the rich and valuable counsel that He pours out without measure. I’ve seen lives transformed, including my own, as a result of drinking in and believing and putting into practice the truths that He’s given us.

I’ve seen His blessings being poured out abundantly both materially and spiritually with gifts such as greater faith, more love, overwhelming happiness and indescribable peace in my own life and in the lives of others as a result of reading and absorbing His Words of prophecy. I’ve lived and seen and experienced firsthand what it’s like to practice using the gift of prophecy and hearing from the Lord and those in the spirit world; and I’ve witnessed the way He speaks with such accuracy and love that heals hearts and fixes critical situations and brings back to life the hearts of those who’ve been discouraged and lacking hope and understanding. I’ve experienced amazing manifestations of the Holy Ghost and the Lord’s power through using the gifts of loving and praising Him, and hearing from Him with others.

There have been times in which I’ve been tempted to give up my call as a missionary, but because Mama and Peter have always taught us to keep our eyes on the Lord and go to Him for our strength and help in time of trouble, and have passed on to us countless words of counsel which the Lord has given the Family to stand on in difficult times, He has always pulled me through and given me renewed vision and inspiration to continue. In my teen years I was tempted several times to leave the Family and get a higher education, but I’m so thankful that I didn’t quit and give up my crown. Honestly, nothing or no one will ever convince me that the Family and our way of life is not the Lord’s highest place of service for me as a missionary.

The reason I’m writing this open letter is because recently the city in which I live was unfortunately a target of malice via an e-mail letter sent to several friends of mine from a former member named James Penn, who is viciously attacking and attempting to pull down and step on everything that I believe and stand for. I’m a pretty easygoing person, and my nature is usually to roll with the punches and not let someone else’s bitterness or hate disturb me or cause me to get upset. But when this fellow came out with such hateful accusations and lies against the people who I most admire and respect on the face of the Earth, I said to myself, “No, I won’t keep quiet this time!”

The thing that gets me most upset is that in his struggle to sound believable, he’s basically trying to face all 10,000 Family members and tell us that we’ve been deceived all along and we are victims of oppression. I ask myself, who the hell does he think he is to stand in front of all of us and basically tell us that we’re stupid idiots?! I feel like telling him the same thing that the preacher told those two old ladies who came to criticize him after his sermon. He looked at them and said, “Ladies, the world has heard about me-who the hell has ever heard about you?” He claims to have had some sort of “red telephone” relationship with Mama and Peter, and because he’s lived with them for many years, he seems to think that, of course, his story will be believed by all.

Well, it all comes down to the simple decision of who you’re going to believe. Though I’ve never lived with Mama and Peter, I’ve had the opportunity to meet both of them, and I want to tell you that they are the kindest and most understanding and humble people that I have ever met. They are truly a man and woman of God, and their love for Jesus and the Family is indisputable.

What truly impressed me about Mama is that she is so kind and humble and friendly, a special light shines in her eyes. She has such a look of love and understanding. I had the opportunity to go out for a walk with her, and she held me by the arm the whole time as I led her along, and we talked and laughed and enjoyed such a wonderful time of conversation. Along the way she would stop and exchange some sweet words with the people we would pass and give them a salvation tract. She showed such genuine interest and concern and love not only for me, but for all those she would cross paths with.

She is so natural and spontaneous in the way she asks the Lord about everything, you truly feel that His loving presence is right there with you. As we went, we would ask the Lord for a word of direction and encouragement, and I was the one who got the guidance from the Lord. She’s so obviously the opposite of everything James says she is.

The first time I met Peter was at a leadership meeting in 1996, which several of us young people from around the world were invited to attend. In these meetings, we, the young people, were the guests of honor, and both Peter and Gary and the CROs were so humbly and genuinely interested to hear our viewpoints about the Family structure, modes of operation, and anything we had to say about any subject. They were so kind and understanding, and I’ll tell you, some of us, including me, were quite honest and straightforward with our questions and with the things that we didn’t understand.

If what James Penn says is true-that no one has the right to express anything that they don’t agree with or have questions about-there wouldn’t be any of us left standing! Because let me tell you, the Family is full of people with convictions, and to prove it, just visit a Home or look around your Home and tell me if you don’t live with a batch of opinionated people. Will they let you get away with anything without telling you the truth? It takes people with personality and opinions to dedicate their lives to the Lord’s service. The Family members that I know are full of conviction and are veterans in leading people to the truth, so to think that someone would actually go as far as insinuating that they don’t know right from wrong is absolutely outrageous!

I had a chance to talk with Peter several times while at these meetings, and I remember telling him that I was quite worried and concerned about what would come out of these meetings, as the focus was on passing on leadership training to us young people. I told him that I was worried about what it would be like when some of these young people began taking places of leadership within the Family, as many of us were so outspoken, self-righteous, difficult to get along with, etc. And what he told me, I will never forget.

He said, “Sam, the Lord is just looking for people who are dedicated and willing to do anything that it takes to reach the world with His love. He’s looking for anyone who is willing to go through His school of humility and learn lessons of love. Leadership is a role that few people are willing to take on, because it requires forsaking all, learning to love and care for people instead of yourself. So the Lord is seeking for willing hearts to forsake all to help save others.” Peter is someone who you look at and can’t help but think, “Wow, he’s such a sample of true humility.”

What is your definition of “getting a life,” James? Is it spending time and resources and energy writing hate letters about sincere missionaries? I don’t mean to come across in a disrespectful manner, but I think it’s important to call a spade a spade. I know that there are people who have left the Family because they were hurt, or maybe they were misjudged or misunderstood or unchallenged. Granted, there are for sure mistakes and shortcomings that the Family has had to face and apologize for. I also know that there are some who have left because they simply don’t “bear witness” to our beliefs as a “truth.” But is this a good enough reason to try to discourage the rest of us that are still here and want to do something lasting for the Lord?

Like I said above, I’m working with a group of on-fire young people in my city who are a truly dedicated bunch, and are making a difference in the lives of many lost and destitute young people out there who are searching for true happiness and fulfillment in their lonely and aimless lives. My friends and I do believe in our Family beliefs and do bear witness to them as truth, and know that we wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing without practicing our faith. Would you like to see us give up our faith because of pressure and defamation?

I would like to address you who have left the Family for some reason or other, but who still have a child or brother or sister or friend in the Family. Please honestly ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do I really want to see my loved one give up his or her life as a dedicated missionary?

2. Do I sincerely believe that my son or daughter or brother or friend or loved one is making a mistake by giving all their time and energy for a pure cause and one that will last for eternity instead of living a “normal” life in society?

3. Do I think it’s necessary to share all my dirty laundry and complaints and bitterness about the past? Will this truly make me feel better, or do I just have an urge and desire to see others suffer and fall into discouragement?

Dear ones, words are real things, and one day, the Bible says, we’ll have to give account for every one of them. Are you sure that you want to face the Lord with those things on your conscience? I ask you, let us live our lives for the Lord in peace. Don’t try to discourage us and tempt us to come down from the wall that we are building. We aren’t doing this for men, but we’re doing it for God. “If this counsel or work be of men, it will come to naught: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it, lest ye be found even to fight against God” (Acts 5:38,39). If James is right, then this Family won’t last. But if he’s wrong, I believe he will have a lot of answering to do before the Lord one day. If he is guilty of causing one of these little ones to stumble, he will have to bear the weight of whatever that will mean when Jesus returns.

The Heart of a King!

By Elliot, WS

My name is Elliot, formerly Shemariah Books, and I joined the Family in 1970. Before joining, I had graduated from university and was an accountant for a large C.P.A. firm in the U.S. known as Ernst and Ernst and now known as Ernst and Young, one of the largest C.P.A. firms in the United States. After joining the Family, I began keeping books in 1971 at TSC. I worked at the Office of the Americas in Texas in 1973, at the London International Office in 1974-75, for the Northern European and then Southern European Prime Ministry Offices in 1975-77, and for WS since 1978.

Ever since getting saved during my last year of college I wanted to serve the Lord, and after joining the Family and several years of witnessing and litnessing even while doing office work for the Family, the Lord called me to full-time service using my talents behind the scenes.

I know what it’s like to live under an oppressive leader. During the early years, I spent much time living under Jethro’s leadership, and I truly know what it is to be oppressed in the spirit by a carnal-minded “hireling,” so to speak. In 1976 I began living with Peter and his wife Damaris [now called Abi] and their family, and I lived with them with Peter as my shepherd until he went to Mama and Peter’s house in 1979. Peter has been the overseer of my ministry since that time, so I have had constant monthly communication with him since 1979. I’ve met Mama on several occasions and lived with her for a brief period of about one month in 1982, and have visited several times since then.

I also lived with James Penn (Phil) for about 10 years, roughly from about 1985 through 1994. I know the difference between Peter and James, and the kinds of people they are.

Never in my 24 years of close personal contact with Peter did he show himself to be any of what I’ve read James describe in his letter. There was only one time, in 1976, before Peter went to Dad and Mama’s house, that he yelled at me for getting in an argument with my wife while we were out witnessing and becoming a bad sample to the sheep. And through the years he has apologized to me for getting so upset and yelling and told me he was sorry. Peter is in no sense of the term oppressive, closed-minded, or a person who treats people badly. He is, in fact, the exact opposite of these terms, and in my 24 years of knowing Peter personally, I can’t think of a more loving, concerned shepherd who listens to people and not only listens, but changes his opinion and adjusts his attitude after listening.

Earlier this year I was at a meeting with Mama and Peter and several members and shepherds of WS Homes. At the beginning of that meeting, Peter outlined the four or five points he’d like to discuss during that important meeting, and asked if we could all try to stick to these points as our time was limited, the number of days we were meeting was limited, and we needed to try to cover as much as possible before it was time for us to return to our Homes.

Shortly after making this request, one person at the meeting raised his hand and brought up a point that he felt was important but which was not on the agenda. Peter tried to answer that point and move on. But the person was not satisfied and raised his hand and brought up the point again. Peter tried to consider what the person was saying, we all discussed it briefly, then we tried to move on to the main agenda points. This person raised his hand a 3rd, a 4th time, and then after about the 5th time of insisting that we cover his point in more depth, I myself was pretty frustrated that we couldn’t move on to our very important agenda points, so I raised my hand and requested that we shelve that topic and move on. Peter responded to me that, no, this was an important point and we needed to discuss it.

Peter listened to this person’s point in full and completely changed his mind and our agenda for the meeting to let this person air his point of view, and in fact, the point became a cornerstone of some of the changes in store for WS in the era of action. Rather than squelch the person, Peter in fact allowed his own mind to be changed as to what should be discussed during this important meeting, and dropped his own pre-prayed-about agenda to accommodate another person’s point of view. This is the Peter I know and the one who is the shepherd and king of our Family.

At another meeting I was at, there were representatives from NACRO, EURCRO and SACRO, and we were discussing administrational changes that would affect all the CRO areas of the world. At the beginning of this meeting Peter cautioned us all to be careful in our comments, suggestions, and ideas, because we didn’t have representatives from ASCRO and PACRO there, and that we needed to be sensitive to the concerns of these areas too.

By the end of that meeting we came to some tentative conclusions, and I remember Peter saying, “I dare say if CRO representatives from PACRO and ASCRO were here, we would have come to different conclusions.” The conclusions we came to were not final, this was a preliminary meeting and this meeting was going to be followed up by subsequent meetings covering the same point but including representatives from all areas of the world. But what Peter was trying to get through to us was that our conclusions were biased because they did not include points of view from these other areas.

That’s the way Peter is. He is anointed to be unselfish and to look at other people’s points of view, and he is keenly aware of the fact that in our own selfish, carnal minds we naturally represent ourselves, often not considering others’ points of view. He has isolated this as a pitfall of human nature and is keenly aware of its false leadings, and he tries his best to get the rest of us to see this so that we will be more open-minded representatives of all facets of our Family.

This is one thing I came to see very clearly during these meetings. Mama and Peter told us they wanted to turn more responsibility over to us and to others, but their biggest concern was whether we were mature enough to make decisions that didn’t represent what we wanted to do or the way we saw things, but rather were decisions that we prayed about and had gotten the Lord’s unbiased, unselfish mind about that included the needs of everyone.

He gave the examples of us shooting off the top of our heads “cheap ideas.” He told us that when he did the business for Dad, he could never shoot off cheap ideas. He had to pray about all of his business suggestions, write up a complete, prayed-about report to Dad, and then submit it to Dad. He cautioned us against making unprayed-about, biased decisions that didn’t include the points of view of all areas of the Family.

I remember his words. They were: “We are a government, and as such we have to consider the needs of our minorities!” His comment had nothing to do with nationality, but everything to do with remembering all the constituents in our government. He went on to explain that if we were going to propose something, that it was our responsibility to be sure that we considered how our idea would affect all aspects of the Family.

He said that, for example, let’s say we wanted to get out a new book, but we didn’t have enough funds from the tithes to produce it, and we shoot off the top of our head, “Hey, we can sell this book for $5 to each Home and they’d all be eager to get one and that would pay for it.” “Well,” he said, “I dare say that the Homes in Russia couldn’t afford it and just wouldn’t be able to get one.” He said this as an example of how we need to consider the Homes in Russia when coming up with ideas. We need to realize they are poor Homes, they usually have no support from their field, they live in dire situations, and when throwing out ideas we need to consider their particular situation. He said it didn’t mean we couldn’t do certain things just because they weren’t conducive for some minority or area or part of the Family, but that we needed to consider the minorities before throwing out ideas. Cheap, unprayed-about, biased ideas were just that: cheap, unprayed-about, and biased.

The same went for single parents, married couples, SGAs, FGAs, children, adults, teens, all the various facets and faces of the Family, the various strata shuffled a hundred different ways. If we were to be in responsible positions, it was our responsibility to consider all of this before making decisions. That was our responsibility as representatives of the Family. And this was his and Mama’s main concern in turning over responsibility and authority to others: Were those people really going to be open-minded, concerned individuals who took into serious consideration the needs of all strata of the Family?

From those meetings I left with this as the biggest challenge to my own personal spiritual growth: Am I really making unbiased decisions? Am I really considering the needs of others before my own? What kind of decisions am I making? Am I really making the kind of unbiased, thoroughly prayed-through decisions the Lord wants me to make?

This, my dear Family, is the Peter that is your king and the shepherd of the Family.-And Mama is the same, in fact more so. I do not know another person instead of Peter that I would rather entrust the business and administration and finances of the Family to. Peter is unselfish, open-minded, and has the concerns of the minorities as well as the overall vision of all the Family at heart. He has sacrificed his own personal concerns and laid his life on the altar in order to be what the Lord wants him to be. I am so desperately thankful to the Lord for giving us someone who was willing to sacrifice his desires for us. I have seen Peter change from those early days of 1976 and sacrifice to the Lord his own desires and needs and points of view, in order to grow and become the kind of person the Lord wanted him to be. I have always said to others I know that I do not know another person that has changed in his personal views as much as Peter.

On the other hand, I lived with James for approximately ten years without a break-ten consecutive years. It’s amazing to me that people like Priebe and James (James Penn) put themselves out to others as if they were top leaders and shepherds in WS. James was anything but a leader. He lived in my Home at that time, and while being an intelligent, thinking person, he was at the same time rather carnal-minded, never desiring or getting enough Word time, always having his head buried in the newspapers and worldly business, and constantly having to have his socks pulled up to get back on track with the Lord.

In fact, you can read about James yourself in “On Guard” (ML #1377), where Dad pinpointed his carnal nature years ago for the bad influence he was in dragging Peter away from the way the Lord wanted Peter to be.

James had a talent, and that was literature, history, and the adept manipulation of words to make a point. He perfected the use of metaphors, was able to explain something succinctly, and give word pictures to enhance his point. When James was turned towards the Pillar and doing his best to follow the Lord, the Lord used this talent and the Lord’s Spirit came through in his writings. But James has now turned away from the Pillar. He still has the same talents. He still has the ability to use metaphors and word pictures to enhance his speech. But in my opinion he no longer has the Lord’s Spirit.

He wields the words of his mind adeptly, but skill with words that don’t contain the truth is not skill at all, just folly. He is joined to his own mind. Let him alone.

Their Unforgettable Love for the Japanese

By Sweetie, CRO, Japan

Everything I know and have experienced and have seen about Mama and Peter, and Dad before too, when I lived with them years ago, as well as on my visit to Mama and Peter’s Home several years ago, points to the fact that they are very loving, caring, and concerned shepherds who put us, their flock, before themselves in every way. Mama doesn’t try to control people! That’s the furthest thing from the truth! She is faithful to let you know what the Word says about any subject that’s being discussed, and she has real conviction towards the Lord and the Word, but she certainly doesn’t try to force people or control them or their actions!

During the times I spent personally talking with Mama, I was impressed at how she would sincerely ask me how I felt about certain issues and she would listen to my ideas about things. When I shared a trial about something that was happening or how something was done in the Family, she didn’t try to justify why it had to be done that way, but instead she would be eager to get any input from the field so she could better understand the situation. Of course, she would patiently answer my questions, but not in a “this is the only way it can be done and there’s no point in arguing or even thinking about anything else” type of spirit. If anything, I found her more open to different ideas and ways to look at things than most Family members I’ve talked to.

Once when I visited, it was right at the time of the Austin accident, and I personally witnessed her grief over the death of the people in the accident and her love and concern for Jesse and the parents and brothers and sisters of those who went to be with the Lord. Those of us in their Home were called to get together to pray for the brethren in Austin and the Lord spoke that day and in the days to follow through quite a few channels. It was so, so beautiful to hear not only what the Lord said to the families and to dear Jesse who was battling so hard with condemnation, but to see Mama’s personal love and concern is something I’ll never forget. There’s no way anybody could tell me that Mama doesn’t love each person in the Family and that she is in this business for any other reason than because she loves the Lord and wants to obey Him and because she loves us and wants to help us!

When we would go for Sunday drives in the country around the HCS, Dad was always happy to enjoy the view and point things out to Techi and me and teach us about whatever he saw or whatever came to mind, or he’d ask me questions about the Japanese and their customs. But I remember Mama, always with her bag of papers that she and Peter would go over together whenever they had a chance. She was just trying to redeem the time, I guess, but she would hardly ever take a break because she wanted to keep up with all the work she had to do for us!

She would often ask about someone by name, someone that, of course, I knew well because I’d lived in Japan for so long, but I was always surprised to find out that she also knew them and their backgrounds very well-not because she’d ever met them, but because she read so much, and remembered it too!

Her and Dad’s love for the Japanese is something I’ll never forget either! I know Dad was supposed to be security-minded, but if the Lord told him to witness to somebody he was sure to do it, or to tell us to do it if they didn’t speak English.

Dad and Mama both gave their lives for us in Japan. They knew they had to go to Japan in order to get a real taste of the field and to be able to learn about the people and be a help to us. Because it was so very, very cold the winter they came to Japan, Dad got very sick. He had been living in the hot Philippines for quite a while, so it was a big shock to his system to experience such cold and even snow, which was pretty unusual for Tokyo. Anyway, I remember after Dad got better he told us that even though at one point he was so sick he thought he was going to die, it would have been worth it because he loved the Japanese so much that he felt he had to come here to Japan even if it killed him. I loved Dad so much for that! I could see his sincerity in everything he said and did, and Mama and Peter are just the same! They don’t have any airs or pretenses about them, no false fronts; their lives are whole-heartedly lived in simple service to the Lord.

They didn’t care that they lived in a small house with hardly even a yard, in the middle of uninspiring Tokyo, during a very cold winter in a typical Japanese house without very good insulation. They were just happy they could serve the Lord and help us! I felt so ashamed sometimes by comparison and resolved to never murmur again about my blessings when I saw how happy they were with whatever the Lord provided for them!

The last time I visited them it was the same as far as their physical surroundings. They weren’t living in a fancy place; in fact, not even as nice a house as the kind I’ve been used to living in-but that really doesn’t matter to them at all! During that time Mama couldn’t use her eyes, but sometimes we would go for walks with her holding on to my arm, and we had such sweet fellowship. She hadn’t changed at all, even though now she was “in charge,” so to speak, since it was after Dad’s graduation. She wasn’t bossy or demanding or anything like that; she was just as caring and willing to listen and as open as ever.

I had many walks with Peter too, almost every other night for a while there, and he would often ask if I had any questions. So I was free to ask anything, including “Why this?”, and “What about that?” type of questions. He would answer in such a way that I could tell how much thought and prayer was put into each decision. Sometimes weeks of prayer went into decisions that he and Mama made, all because they wanted to be sure they got it right. Peter and Mama are so desperate to “get it right” because they don’t want to fail the Lord or us! They don’t take things lightly. They have a very serious responsibility and fear of the Lord about their position as leaders of the Family and I truly admire them for their utter dedication to the Lord and us.

When I read the recent accusations that Mama is a control freak and that she and Peter bully people into submission, I almost had to laugh! I can certainly testify that that isn’t true! Recently, just within the last few months, in fact, I went through a major ordeal in my life (which would be a very long story if I got into all the details), but the end result was I got to the point that I thought I needed to leave my CRO job and the CM Family in order to do what I felt the Lord wanted me to do. (It involved helping my former mate who is a Fellow Member.) I wrote to Mama and Peter and shared my heart a number of times. I didn’t want to disappoint them or fail the Lord, but I was pretty convinced that I had to step out of the mainstream CM Family for a while.

If these accusations about Mama and Peter trying to control and bully us were true, then I imagine I should have expected them to write me a letter telling me how “out of it” I was, and ask me, “What in the world are you thinking?” and give me a “hurry up and get your hand back on the plough!” type of message. But did they do that? No, they didn’t! They took time to pray about my situation, and then very sweetly and meekly let me know what they felt was the best thing for me to do. But at the same time they told me they wanted me to have the faith for what I did and that I needed to be sure I had a peace about it.

They didn’t send me a bunch of prophecies telling me what to do in no uncertain terms; in fact, they didn’t send me any prophecies at all! I admired them for that, because I felt they didn’t want to send me prophecies (although I was pretty sure they got some), because they didn’t want me to have the burden of later feeling that I was disobeying the Lord if I chose to go against their suggestions and what the Lord showed them.

Instead they asked me to pray and also to share my heart with my teamworkers, whose love I felt very secure in, and who I know and trust dearly, and ask them to pray for me and hear from the Lord for me. I did that, and I am so very, very thankful that the Lord punched through in one very clear prophecy after another, answering the deepest questions in my heart, some of which I had never even voiced. I made the decision to stay as a result of those prophecies and what the Lord showed me personally.

I’m sure Mama and Peter were glad that I made the decision to stick with my job and keep fighting, but they never made me feel bad or that I would have been failing if I had chosen the other route. They didn’t try to control me-in fact, they showed me a lot of love and understanding and made it very clear that the choice was mine.

One other thing I wanted to mention is about how Peter was during the time he visited Australia during the court case, when he had the meetings with the lawyers in Melbourne. I was very impressed then at how willing Peter was to admit times when the Family was wrong or made mistakes. I even remember arguing that I thought Peter should stand up more and tell the lawyers off because they were being too critical of the Family. But he told me clearly that we can’t be self-righteous and think that we’ve never made mistakes, because we have, but we’re learning from them and we’re changing when we see things that need to be changed as a Family.

My 10 to 1 Challenge!

By Matthew, Mama’s Home

Dear Family,

I love and respect and admire each of you so very much! I am so proud to be a member of this wonderful Family the Lord has given us and to call you my brothers and sisters.

After hearing about some of the things former members have been saying about Mama and Peter, I prayed and asked the Lord how I should respond to those things, seeing that I have lived, worked and closely interacted with Mama and Peter daily for the last seven years. He said rather than trying to personally respond to the accusations, I could instead give you a character assessment of Mama and Peter from my time of observing them while living with them, as well as my experiences in working with them.

I’d like to address first the contention that Mama and Peter are authoritative and control freaks. I’d like to start this by saying that I had a problem with authority since I started kindergarten at age five. I just didn’t like being controlled and always told what to do and how to be by authorities. This rebelliousness and disregard for authoritative rule continued throughout my school years and into my time in the military, university, and with various jobs, until I finally dropped out of the System to become a hippy at age 25, totally rejecting the System and its mores, values, and authority. I just didn’t see truth, fairness and honesty behind it all. Thank the Lord that eventually He gave me the honor of joining this great Endtime movement!

Even in the Family I had a lot of problems with authoritative leaders who pushed their own desires and programs. Sadly, I was that way myself at times when I was a leader. I know that the Lord has let me look back on the times I was authoritative so that I wouldn’t get self-righteous about the authoritative leaders I was under at times. I’m truly sorry if I was that way with any of you. Please forgive me.

I don’t hold any exclusivity on rejecting authoritative rule by unloving and totally off-the-Godly-path leaders. This is evidenced by the many Family members that dropped out of the ungodly System to become hippies and eventually Family members just as I did. My point in sharing the above is to show that I simply have never been able to bring myself to submit to ungodly authority, no matter who it was, in or out of the Family, even when there were dire repercussions.

Okay, have you ever felt you were most definitely right about some spiritual principle, or the way you judged a situation, until your shepherds or leaders shared what the Lord had shown them, and you marveled at the wisdom of God?-At just how much greater the Lord’s love and wisdom was, and just how wrong you could be in your own spirit? I’ve personally experienced this power of God’s wisdom many times over the years of working directly with Mama and Peter, not to mention the many times that I’ve seen this wisdom and love clarify spiritual principles through the GNs and expose any wrong views of mine, as I’m sure all of you have.

It is that authority that I respect and submit to in Mama and Peter-the Spirit of God!

In all the time I have worked intimately with Mama and Peter, I have never felt they were trying to control things through prophecy or any other way, for that matter. They are so prayerful that I know it would astound you, as it has and continues to astound me. They simply do not make hasty, unprayed-about decisions, but look at all sides, as there is simply too much at stake, which they have lovingly pointed out to me when I have made hasty, unprayed-about decisions.

They really do want the Lord to control things. They are well aware that they do not have the wisdom and answers or know what to do unless they ask the Lord. They are human, like us, and need the Lord just as much and a lot more because of the awesome responsibility they carry, which they take extremely seriously.

Even though the most important thing to Mama is that we are prayerful and ask the Lord everything, she never gets upset or critical when we are not prayerful enough or don’t seek the Lord on some matters and consequently make mistakes because of it. But with infinite patience, she continues to encourage us to be more prayerful and seek the Lord about everything. I have never felt from Mama the spirit of “Come on, Matthew, can’t you get it through your thick head?!” I can say the same for Peter.

In the seven years that I have worked with Peter directly and almost daily, he has never made me feel that I am being forced to submit to his authority or viewpoint. I have never felt that he’s tried to control me through any means. And at times I’m sure it was tough for him not to be authoritative, as I sure needed controlling sometimes.

Peter is the most easygoing guy, who doesn’t get rattled or angry. He has a lot of faith to just let things flow until the Lord shows exactly what to do. He is never in a rushed or impatient spirit. Maybe being fellow Taureans helps us get along so well, but I’m sure it has a lot more to do with Peter’s ability to love people and accept them the way they are. He doesn’t get bothered if things don’t go just right or even the way he wanted or had hoped, but he just adapts to the way things are and prays about what to do or how to handle the situation in light of the way things are. He’s a realist and accepts things the way they are and doesn’t try to make it look differently.

Another thing I really like about him is he always tries to put himself in the other person’s place and follow things through to their conclusion to see how they will play out in reality on the other end. In other words, he tries to see how what we’re discussing or planning will affect others. He wants things to be realistic and for everyone to get a fair deal.

He always seeks others’ advice and counsel and listens to their ideas and what they get from the Lord. Both Mama and Peter trust the Lord and have believing faith. They don’t get worried that things are going to fall apart. They trust that the Lord is totally in control and that He won’t let things happen that will sink the ship. They both continue to trust us, including all of you, that because we love the Lord and are seeking His will and plan, that things will operate just the way the Lord intended, or that the Lord will correct us and teach us how to proceed if we do things wrong.

You’ll probably find this next statement hard to believe, but since it’s my testimony, you’ll have to believe it or call me a liar, as Dad said, ha! In all the years I’ve been with Peter, living, working, traveling, relaxing or whatever, I can never remember him putting me through a trial or battle about anything he said or did. Isn’t that amazing? So either I suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or he’s just really a nice guy. And on top of it, to me he is one of the meekest, kindest, most unassuming and understanding men I’ve ever known, and a great friend. And he’s got a great sense of humor, as does Mama. They are almost always smiling and laughing and telling funny stories or jokes, often about the funny things that happen in their marriage and their lives. They’re fun to be around.

I could say the same and more for Mama, except that her attention to detail and thoroughness has caused me a few trials over the years-no fault of hers, all mine! (Maybe this is where the accusation of “control freak” comes from, ha!) Mama is meek, kind, and unassuming, the most understanding and wisest woman I’ve known.

In all these years of working with Mama, she has always given the benefit of the doubt to the accused. Mama is the epitome of the belief that you are innocent until proven guilty. And even when someone is proven guilty, the Lord will show her why the person thought the way they did, which caused them to do the wrong thing, and she will then extend mercy and understanding. I know, as it has happened several times with me. If Mama and Peter supposedly “shoot their wounded and dump them overboard,” I would have been gone long ago and wouldn’t be writing this to you.

I have never known Mama or Peter to hold mistakes or sins against people-and to believe that they would fire or kick people out for the same is way wrong! That to me is as far from the truth as you can get. They have infinite patience with everyone in the Family, because they love and respect and admire each of us so much. We are truly their children, and just as the Lord always forgives us and takes us back into His arms, so do Mama and Peter.

It’s been nothing but pure pleasure and a continual learning experience to live and work with Mama and Peter, and you have the exact same Mama and Peter in the GNs; they believe and live what they write. Their characters and attitudes are exactly what you read in the Letters. They are a king and queen with great integrity. “The just man [woman] walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.” We certainly are blessed.

Mama and Peter’s generosity is almost beyond belief. They give of their time, their strength, and use the Family’s tithe money to help each one of you. Mama will stop her pubs or other work to spend hours or days of her time to help someone in need of shepherding and love. I have experienced this love and shepherding firsthand, as you’ve read in ML #2975, “Lessons of Love.” So I know from very personal experience just how loving Mama is! Also she wasn’t hesitant to share with you in that GN her wrong attitudes and mistakes.

Not only we in WS, but a great many of you have received personal letters and prophecies from Mama, which shows just how much she loves us all and the importance she places on each one of us.

Peter is very much the same. He always shares his mistakes, wrong perceptions, etc., and asks for prayer and even correction. He is very open to being wrong if he hasn’t gotten a direct revelation, and even after he has heard from the Lord, he still seeks others’ counsel. He and Mama counsel continually with others and do not send out dictums or give orders. They ask what others think and how they feel something should be done, and are happy when others can pray and get the answers from the Lord and take care of things. They have delegated a great deal of their authority to others and continue to do so.

Peter has made grueling and demanding trips to visit you in all parts of the world, from which I have seen him return home bone-tired after having held meeting after meeting and personally standing on his feet for hours afterward to hug and encourage every single person he met. So to me, for someone to say they saw Mama and Peter not as shepherds who gave their lives for the sheep, but as those who hoodwinked the sheep into laying down their lives for the shepherds is totally beyond belief. Get out of town! It’s simply not true. Not even one time have I ever seen a selfish hireling spirit in Mama and Peter. They would give their lives for any one of us, and I see them do so daily.

I’m sorry if I’m saying things that are obvious to you from knowing Mama and Peter through the GNs, but I feel I need to give my personal, firsthand experiences with Mama and Peter to answer those who are attempting to assassinate their character. Dad said there is nothing more powerful than a personal testimony, and since I have lived with Mama and Peter 24 hours a day for a long time now, I just can’t hold back from validating their true character as has been pointed out in the GNs over the years.

I’ve seen Mama and Peter very willing to take responsibility for their mistakes and I’ve even seen them willing to take responsibility for my wrong actions. They’ve apologized for mistakes I’ve made as though they were their own.-A true sign of love and strong character to me.

I have never heard Mama and Peter speak disparagingly of people, in or out of the Family-even those that have debased and slandered them. They speak well of all men and have great forgiveness and understanding for those that wrong or misuse them.

As far as giving people self-determination, they are and have always been for it during the time that I have worked with them. I’ve never seen them plot or scheme to have control over people’s lives. Why would they have written the Charter if that were their desire? They wrote the Charter because you told them that you wanted less control from leaders and shepherds and to be able to chart your own course and go according to your own faith. I worked on the Charter with Peter and Gary, and Peter very much crafted it to give every Family member the right to self-determination and the right to operate their Home in counsel with the other members of the Home as the Lord led them. I believe that is the fruit that has come from adopting the Love Charter in the Family. Peter and Mama are not telling people how to run their Homes; in fact, they don’t even tell the CROs how to run their own Homes or offices or Service Homes. They tell them and all of us to pray and hear from the Lord and follow. That’s what Mama and Peter have been preaching to us until they are blue in the face!

I could go on and on, and time would fail me to tell you of the many wonderful qualities of our king and queen. But, hey, you already know them.

I’ll give anyone 10 to 1 that they can’t find a more loving, thoughtful, giving, understanding and wise couple in this world.

And Dad: Well, he’s still my hero, how about you? If he hadn’t a been ‘er, who’d a been ‘er?

Speaking up

By Rebecca, 26, Mama’s Home

I’ve lived with Mama and Peter for four-and-a-half years. During that time I’ve worked with them pretty much on a daily basis-both on a secretarial level, as well as a personal level. I’ve traveled with Peter, I’ve stayed in Mama’s room when Peter was away and her health was poor. I’ve typed their tapes, helped them with their messages and correspondence, and helped Mama with her work on the pubs. I’ve filled in for Rose (their full-time personal helper) when needed, and taken care of their foods and other personal needs like cleaning their room and doing their laundry. I’ve packed for them during times of travel or moving, and helped take care of them when they were sick.

I’m not telling you these things to be proud or to boast of how helpful I am or how undeservingly privileged I am to live close to Mama and Peter and have this level of interaction. I know without a shadow of a doubt that it’s not by any goodness of my own that I’m here. But I’m explaining what I do because I believe that during this time that I’ve lived with them, I’ve gotten to know them fairly well-both on a work level as well as a personal level.

Hearing of the accusations against them that are currently being circulated, my response is that I only wish every Family member could have the chance to come and see for themselves what our king and queen are like. But since that’s not possible, I want to share my personal experience of what I’ve found in working with them. This is my personal testimony-you can choose to believe it or not. But there is no doubt in my mind that your hearts would be comforted and the lies put to rest if you were able to see for yourself. I’m not going to try to say that I’ve found either Mama or Peter to be perfect-because that’s not the case. But I have found them to be two of the most loving and unselfish people I’ve ever met.

One of the accusations that upsets me the most personally is the insinuation that Mama and Peter have selfish motives for leading the Family in the way that they are, that they are egotistical and self-glorifying. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mama and Peter both live to serve the Family. If they were living for themselves, their lives would be so different they would be unrecognizable. If they were living selfishly, they might be able to put on a good front to people who didn’t live with them, but not to those of us who come in and out of their room bringing tapes and messages, beeping them at all hours to ask questions pertaining to work, and working with them on projects that require lots of prayer, hard work, concentration, and urgent attention.

I have never met anyone who works longer hours than Mama. When she’s not on the intercom, counseling or praying about something with someone, or in a meeting, she’s working on a GN or listening to tapes-tapes from you, her beloved Family, or messages from the Lord about problems that have come up, or approving a pub-a Kidland or Eve or Grapevine or Zine etc. It requires a tremendous amount of concentration to put together a GN, or approve a pub, or edit a Letter by just hearing the material!-You should try it sometime! You can’t see it, you can’t skip back two pages to see where that point was covered before. It’s a huge amount of work, because she can’t use her eyes.

She’s often tired. She often doesn’t feel well. She often asks for prayer that she’s able to get more work done. She uses every spare minute. She listens to her tapes when she’s exercising on the exercise bike or treadmill, and even when she’s washing her face or brushing her teeth. How she manages, I don’t know-but I do know that she is motivated to do it because of her love for the Family and her desire to make their job as easy as possible. If there’s something that she can do, or that WS can do to help, to make someone’s life easier, to give the Family what they need in some way, she endeavors to get it done no matter what the cost to her personally.

Another way she manifests her love for the Family is by her faithfulness to pray. She is personally involved in making sure we have a comprehensive list of the important current prayer requests for each prayer morning, which we have every two weeks, and she makes sure that we keep up with our prayer times at meals and vigils, that we cover all the requests for prayer that have been sent in. She is faithful to remind us that many of the requests for prayer that come in are confidential or personal prayer requests, which don’t go to anywhere else, and so the responsibility lies with us to uphold those situations in our prayers. She and Peter take time every morning to pray together for the various requests. And any time when you talk to her on the beeper about anything, she prays for that situation and the people involved. You can’t tell me that those heartfelt intercessory prayers come from selfish motives.

The same is true of Peter. Those of you who have met him on trips have probably seen a glimpse of how much he gives. It doesn’t matter how tired he is, how little sleep he got the night before, or the fact that once he gets back to his room he has to read tons of messages and answer timely matters that have come up-he will still take time with each person who needs to see him, and does what he can to help them with their problems or at least pray for them. When he gets back to his room, he’ll dictate a tape of prayer requests that people asked him to pray for, will request prophecies for those who needed additional counsel, and will follow-up on any urgent situations that needed attention. When he finally gets home he has meetings about things that need to change, and they try to remedy those situations. His loving concern for each person isn’t just a show-it’s genuine. And when he’s not traveling, it’s the same-all day his work involves reading about problems, and praying about how to solve them.

Mama and Peter are faithful to remind those of us in WS that we are servants of the Family. They live that sample on a daily basis. What more can I say?

One of the rumors going around about Mama is that through the prophecies she publishes in the GNs, she tries to control the Family. In order to do this, she slants the prophecies whichever way she wants them to go. One of my jobs is helping Mama with her work on the GNs and other pubs, by typing her tapes of dictation or corrections, incorporating the changes into the file, and praying about wording changes at her request, etc. When I originally started doing this, I wondered if it would make me lose my respect for the Word, because I was getting a close-up look at what went into the pubs, how they came about, etc. But the opposite is true-my respect for the Lord’s words that Mama publishes has only increased, because I’ve seen the very great amount of prayer that she puts into each GN that she prepares and each publication that she approves.

Mama is so prayerful. When she hears a prophecy that she thinks would be helpful for the Family to hear, she asks someone to pray about which pub it could go in, or if it should go in a GN. When she listens to the prophecies that she has compiled for a GN, if anything’s not clear, she’ll ask the Lord about it. She asks the Lord about the order, she asks the Lord about the presentation, she asks the Lord about the general direction several times. If a certain wording could have a double meaning or is unclear, she’ll ask the Lord how He wants to reword it.

Mama doesn’t like to use the term “editing” when referring to prophecy-because even the smallest wording change in a prophecy is taken back to the Lord. If something is repetitious, she’ll ask the Lord what He wants to delete. If something doesn’t cover a certain aspect of the subject that she feels would come up, she goes back to the Lord for more. She carefully prays about everything-and asks a variety of her channels to pray about these things. So it’s obvious to me that it’s not like one person’s opinion influences the direction. To say that Mama slants the prophecies in a certain direction according to what she personally wants must definitely be coming from someone who doesn’t know Mama very well.

Another accusation being leveled against them is that they bully people into submission with prophecy. I have received quite a number of personal prophecies from them during the years I’ve lived with them-some prophecies of encouragement, others instructional, even some pretty strong correction. But every one was given with a great deal of love, a tremendous amount of understanding and even benefit of the doubt.

There have been times that something in one of the prophecies went down sideways. There was one time that I even felt unjustly accused of something that I didn’t think I was guilty of, and wondered whether the person receiving the prophecy had really gotten it right. I expressed these feelings to Mama, and instead of telling me that, “Well, that’s what the Lord said, so you’d better believe it and receive it,” she suggested that I could ask the Lord further about it personally, as He might have an explanation that would help make it easier. Sure enough, when I asked the Lord, He explained how I was meant to apply the lesson-which was very different from the way I had originally taken it-and it made perfect sense and was easy to receive. Mama was very enthusiastic about the message I got, and supportive of the way the Lord had explained it.

If I had not asked the Lord about it, I might have continued feeling bad and misunderstood. But when I asked the Lord, He explained it all so that it made perfect sense. I can see how someone might have a negative reaction to a prophecy-it’s happened to me, too. But you can’t just leave it at that or it will fester and become a negative experience. You have to ask the Lord about it further so that you can see the complete picture. That is something Mama always advocates and encourages. She doesn’t expect you to take only what she has given you and leave it there, but to always ask the Lord more about it so that you can get the full picture.

Mama and Peter are very open to suggestions, ideas, even contrary ideas and opinions. Rumors are going around that they’re closed-minded, they want people out of the Family who don’t think like they do, and they don’t listen when contrary ideas are presented. My personal experience is exactly the opposite. I’m a sensitive person by nature (a.k.a. proud-yes, I’m working on it), and if I say something and it’s shot down or I receive a negative reaction, I don’t often go there again. But I am very free to speak my mind with both Mama and Peter.-That in itself is proof that they respond positively to contrary opinions!

They don’t just take all those opinions and act on them-thank God! But they do consider them seriously, they take them to the Lord, they bounce them around with others, and they make their decisions in accordance with what the Lord shows them. I’ve had some of my suggestions taken, others not. Some have been taken in part, and used to modify the original idea. Others have simply precipitated more prayer and counsel on the topic, but the original idea still stood. But I know for a fact that they welcome ideas and opinions, and they take them seriously. I’ve never felt brushed off, or worse yet, any kind of negative reaction or bad vibes because of something I’ve brought up.

They believe that personal initiative and each of our personal connections with the Lord and willingness to follow Him makes the Family what it is. They’re not worried about holding on to control or keeping the reins. They realize the structure of the Family is essential to our continuing to do an effective job, but they are constantly trying to pass down more responsibility, inspire more initiative, and they certainly encourage direct communication with the Lord for each of us. I know that from personal experience.

Mama and Peter are genuine. They don’t put on airs, and they don’t try to give one impression while in fact hiding their true motive. When they remind us in WS to be frugal and that we’re living off the missionaries’ tithes, it’s because they live that way themselves. Recently they took a few days away from the Home, and they had Rose and I pack some foods for them, to help cut down on the time they would have to spend on meal prep. We cooked and prepared and then froze some meal-size portions of refried beans, tomato sauce (as a base for spaghetti or whatever), lentils, spinach, etc. When they came home, I was asking them how their food lasted. They said that it lasted perfectly-except that on the last night they were left with two bags of tomato sauce (with Italian seasoning), one bag of refried beans, and one of spinach. So they heated it all up together and made a “goulash.” Well, from my point of view, that sounded quite unappetizing, but they said that it was actually quite good. The point is, they don’t like to waste.

Since they’re sometimes on a different schedule than the rest of the Home, Rose saves their portion of dinner for them to eat when they have their dinner time. When it’s time for them to eat, they’ll ask what’s available, and many times they’ve chosen to eat leftovers that weren’t their favorite, just because they knew they wouldn’t keep another day and they didn’t want them to be wasted. It’s a sample that will always stick with me-that they keep the missionary vision. They could have pretty much anything they want-they sure work hard enough to deserve it, and they are the king and queen-but they live very simply. My understanding is that it’s for two reasons: 1, to live frugally so as to save as much of the Lord’s money as possible; 2, so that they stay on the same level as our missionaries who are out each day living by faith, abounding and abasing.

Another tiny example of their frugality is in the little box of tissues and pieces of paper towel that Mama keeps by her bed and beside her chair. When she uses one, but it’s not quite used, she keeps it to use again. When I was first starting to help clean their room, I used to want to throw them away. But she explained, “Oh no, I’ll keep those and use them some more. They’re not really used up yet.”

Another example of Mama and Peter’s sincere love for the Family and the sheep is manifested in their faithfulness to witness. It doesn’t matter how busy they are, or how tired after a long day of work and just wanting to relax and take an evening walk-they always witness. Whenever they go anywhere, a major highlight for them is always the people the Lord brings across their path to witness to.

One time Mama and Peter were taking public transport, and there was someone Mama wanted to witness to but she didn’t have a tract. Her eyes were very sore, but she was so concerned for this dear man sitting beside them that she got a piece of paper and wrote out a simple salvation prayer and message, and went and gave it to him. She didn’t know whether he’d be able to read it in English or not, but she figured he would probably be interested enough to ask someone to read it for him, and that he would have an opportunity to get saved. Her eyes were very, very sore after doing that, but she said it was more than worth it, because she was able to give that person a witness and opportunity to know Jesus.

Another example of their love is in the way that they’re never too busy for anyone. Of course, we on the staff try to be respectful of their work time and their rest times and all. We try not to disturb them unnecessarily. But there have been times when some of us younger members (I’m sure the first generation members have stories like this as well) have been really going through it about something, and would beep them or knock on their door for prayer, and they’ll stop everything, lay down on the bed with us, hold us and pray with us and cry with us, or try to cheer us up, as the case may be. And they would do that for anyone who needs it.

They were recently on a business trip and they gave a brief witness to a young man who worked at the place they were staying. That young man came by their room the night before they were leaving and wanted to talk-he was hungry and receptive and poured out his heart. Even though they were very tired and they were leaving early the next morning, Peter listened and witnessed to him for four hours, till midnight. That’s the kind of love they have. There is no doubt in my mind that we couldn’t have more loving and personally concerned shepherds.

One other very small point about Mama and Peter is that they are so appreciative. They’re the king and queen, after all, and so could come to sort of expect that people would take care of them, cook for them, type their tapes, or whatever. But they never take those things for granted. Sometimes it’s almost embarrassing, because you’ll do something that is so small by comparison, and they express such thankfulness and tell you how much they appreciate you and couldn’t do without you, etc. It’s just so sweet.

They start out their tapes that need to be typed by thanking the typist and whoever will do the work of what is being dictated, and sometimes will say a prayer for you. When they know something isn’t your favorite job to do, they take that into consideration and give you extra appreciation and credit. They always try to thank whoever cooked, or pass on their appreciation in some way. They start most Home meetings by thanking everyone for all that they’ve been doing, and specifically thanking the staff people for the things they’ve done recently.

They’re very appreciative of the staff people, especially those who don’t also have pubs ministries-as it would be natural for the hard-working staff to feel that their jobs are not as important. But they always emphasize that it’s just the opposite-that without the staff people, we wouldn’t be able to function. Seeing their sample of genuine appreciation, to me shows that they’re humble and they don’t take people for granted; they have sincere love and concern for their helpers.-And it’s constant. It doesn’t wear off after a while, and they’re not sweeter when they need you to do something for them. They’re just generally thankful and appreciative of even the littlest things.

I’m sorry about the negative allegations being spread around about Mama and Peter by someone who used to live with them long ago. These stories could cause serious doubt in someone’s mind who has never lived with them or met them personally. But since I’ve lived with them for these years, I haven’t found anything similar to what they’re being described as in these twisted accusations. I wish everyone could have the chance to meet them and live with them. To me, they are an example of what the Lord wants all of us, His representatives, to be. Because they give so cheerfully and humbly, I think we don’t often realize how very much they give, and how little they take. I just pray I can be more like that.

The Startling Truth!--I shan’t be fooled!

By Luke, WS

Today I heard some alarming news. Not only am I a cult member, but I have been informed that I am a member of a cult within a cult! I am no less than a double cultist. As you could imagine, I rushed to the mirror to see what manner of monster I had become.

“Look at you, you double cultist,” I sneered at my reflection. “How could you descend to such levels?”

My reflection stared back sullenly. This was indeed a bad day. And the news just kept getting worse!

Not only was I double cultist, but it seems everyone I lived with was one too. And worse than that, I read that two people I love and admire were no longer lovable and admirable, but they were mean, nasty types who craved power and wanted to manipulate me, and after using me as grist in the WS mill, they were going to twist me into a … wait for it. Drum roll! A PRETZEL!

This was diabolical chicanery at its highest! I was going to become a snack to be washed down with beer. Or maybe I was going to be served up as some new and wicked cocktail. A double cultist with a twist.

Eyes open, Luke. You don’t know whom to trust now! I stopped to consider my options. But how can I even do that? I am not only a double cultist, but I am apparently mindless as well, so how can I even consider if I have no mind to consider with? The situation was dire indeed. Aside from not having a mind, it seems that I also need to wake up and grow a brain.

I stared despairingly towards the kitchen. Was that a vapor trail I just saw? Perhaps I’ll put some white sugar cubes in the cupboard tonight and see if I see it again. I shook my head but stopped mid- shake.

“Best be careful!” I cautioned myself. “If I am brainless and mindless, I’d better take care of whatever is up there, as from what I hear it must not be much!”

But back to the people I was referring to earlier. Gee, I thought they were nice. Boy, I must be dumb. I’ve only known Peter now off and on for about 20 years, and Mama personally for more than five. They must be really good at hiding all this nastiness that they’ve been accused of. What was that big word that was used? Pernicious! That’s worse than nasty. That’s really big-time mean and nasty! How do they hide it, I wonder? Seems every time I see them they’re smiling and kind. My goodness, they even laugh at my jokes. (That’s Christian graces at their highest.) And how did Mama fake those tears in her eyes when she was praying for those sick folks the other day? That must have really hurt, too, knowing how her eyes have been so painful for the last 15 years.

How come she’s so cheerful nearly all the time? Oh, I know! She must be cheerful because she is so happy she has hoodwinked us. Yes, that makes a lot of sense. Yet still she is so sincere, it seems. This is really contradictory. I wonder why she’s so concerned about people in the Family to the point that she wants me and the others here to take a prayer vigil every day and pray for those who are sick or going through tough times? I know-it’s because she’s a control freak, and she’s trying to control everything so everyone won’t have sickness or be unhappy. Oh my, what a terrible motive. I don’t know how someone figured out that the control factor was in her blood though.

And as for Peter, well, if he is so greedy and craving power and might, why on earth doesn’t he buy some better slippers to replace the ones his toes are popping out of? I mean, gee! And why would he have pubbed all that stuff about himself battling jealousy and almost having a breakdown over it. That seems really odd. Heck, if I were him, I would be tooting my horn about how good I was doing. Yeah, maybe I’d write a long letter to some non-existent people extolling my own righteousness and how I threw myself in front of buses, or perhaps it was Bigfoot, in order to have my point of view prevail.

Nevertheless, next time I see Mama with her mountain of tapes of reports, letters, pubs and prophecies that she has to listen to on high speed because if she listened on normal speed there wouldn’t be time in the day (listening, of course, because she cannot use her eyes to read all but the briefest note), I will no longer be fooled that she is laying down her time and life for the sheep to listen to their pleas, hear the state of the Family, prayerfully go over the pubs, or rejoicing over the Lord’s Words. No, she is cleverly (and as yet in ways I have failed to detect) laying down the sheep for her life. I will be watching closely.

And Peter too, with his 10,000 mail notes in his inbox (yes, even though he plows through them by the hundreds, still they come in by the thousands. Sort of David in reverse. Peter has answered his thousands, but the Family has written their tens of thousands!) and the myriad of meetings and Family business he has to attend to, and the admonishments to me and others, sometimes with tears in his eyes, that with any bright new idea we come up with to make the Family better, that we always need to put ourselves in the shoes of those who have it toughest in the Family, like the poor single mom who is having a struggle making ends meet, and see how our bright new idea is going to affect them, whether it’s going to make life harder or easier for them. No, I shan’t be fooled.

Also, I would not publish such stuff about Loving Jesus if I were king. I mean, we were this close from finally getting on the plate of System Christianity. Yes, after winning all those court cases and showing that we were not the nasty types we had been portrayed as, Peter and Mama published Loving Jesus, of all things. I mean, we could have been accepted, even popular. All those strange-truth type of things left behind and just rosy days of System popularity lying ahead-and then they blow it all off! Gosh, you’d think if they were in it for power and money that they would have more smarts than that.

But no, they went ahead and took what the Bible said about us being the Bride of Christ and all that, and then, of all the crazy things, they took it to its logical conclusion, and presto-chango! Well, you know the rest, and I found myself with a whole new side of me that I frankly didn’t know before. I thought I was off to the bridegroom’s bachelor party but found myself at the altar instead. Shockeroo! But a bride is a bride is a bride. Not much I could do about that, and after a while … Well …

My goodness, what a weird place they are turning the Family into. I mean, on top of it all, telling us that we should all hear from God ourselves is very odd. Imagine what that means. Ultimately they are trying to do themselves out of a job. Such diabolical deviousness is unparalleled! Do they want to retire after putting a lifetime of blood, sweat, tears and prayer into this movement or something? Apparently it must be very bad to allow such a degree of self-determination.

I am sure now that their insisting on me asking the Lord about everything has extremely sinister implications. I mean, what an insult to my intelligence to imply that I wouldn’t know better than God how to do things. It must be a part of that manipulating thing that when I ask them questions they often say to me to “go and ask the Lord” and then to go ahead with what He shows me. The real crazy thing, though, is that I see them asking Him questions and following His answers, even if contrary to their previously stated opinions.

And next time they send me a prophecy that they asked someone to get with some encouragement or guidance for me, I am going to be on guard. “Don’t cudgel me with that prophecy,” I’ll insist. “I know what you’re doing and I won’t have any more of that love and comfort stuff. No more torrents of the Lord’s Words for me. Why, you are just debasing the wonderful gift of prophecy by saying that the Lord can talk so volubly. The Lord wouldn’t talk like that to those of us He loved so much to die for. No sirree. My eyes have been opened!”

And all those spirit helpers! I mean, who needs them? And worse yet, who would want them? Why would anyone in their right mind want spiritual beings dedicated to helping and guiding them? Nope, no more friendly ghosts to help in the spiritual warfare. I mean, who on God’s Earth would want spirits on their side to help fight the battles in the spirit?

No, by golly! No more bizarre new-wine laced stories and novels for me either. I mean, look how bizarre all those Heaven’s Library stories and books are. Stories about talking mice and turtles. I mean, that is enough to make Winnie the Pooh roll over in his grave. (Oh, I’m sorry, Pooh isn’t dead yet.) No, the System wouldn’t stand for animals talking in kiddie books, let alone ones with good morals. Furthermore, the only things in Christian cartoons that can talk now are vegetables. As for those novels about missionaries in China or people dedicating themselves to the service of mankind in other ways, or even just plain old adventure stories that somehow bring in the power of prayer and of God, why, bizarre is the only word I can think of, besides, perhaps, inspiring, faith- building, recreational, enjoyable, … (perhaps this would make a good David Komic comic)!

And why on earth are all these young people staying in the Family, and even here in WS, for crying out loud? Why don’t they want to just nod their heads every morning on the morning commute, but instead demand to prophesy; love listening to hours of GNs, and, in fact, get many of the prophecies contained therein; say “hail Jesus;” have received an interesting and diverse education, been exposed to different cultures and often converse freely in more than one language; lived in a style equivalent to the well-off in many countries in spite of living a life of faith; have sacrificed a good measure of personal freedom to spend hours clowning or doing some other type of entertainment for the needy, or even more, getting their hands dirty to help in humanitarian work; have mingled with all levels of society at large; sacrificially looked after other people’s children; lived in an environment where they don’t have to worry about AIDS; heard from those in the next life, including MO, the best friendly ghost around; and have deep intimate relationships with the Creator of the universe. Gee, I wonder why?

But never fear, alert readers. I will no longer be walking about with eyes clouded to the truth. No, sirree! I will not just be taking at face value the care and compassion with which Peter and Mama watch over the Family. Yes, their deeper motives of an unbridled passion for Jesus, their careful and prayerful love for each Family member, and their desire and conviction to fulfill the Great Commission to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations and to help the Family woo and win as many souls as possible into the Kingdom of Heaven will not go unnoticed, but will be gleefully exposed and shown up for what it really is!

51 Months!

By Jenna, 25, Mama’s Home

I’ve been living at Mama and Peter’s Home for over four years. I’ve found my WS niche in editing and working on a variety of pubs such as the Grapevine, linkUP, Heaven’s Library, etc., and an assortment of secretarial work.

Reading the recent accusations and twisted accounts of Mama and Peter’s personalities, their modus operandi, sinister motives and cruel treatment of people is a mind bender, I have to admit. But it’s even more so for me, since I live with Mama and Peter. I feel that in the past four years, I should have seen at least some of that heartless and manipulative stuff that a few individuals are ranting about.

I’ll simply tell you what I’ve seen and experienced over the last 51 months, and how my perspective of Mama and Peter has changed.

Avoiding Mama

I’ve got to admit that when I first arrived, I was nervous about meeting Mama. I had met Peter at Summit ‘96 and I knew he was down to earth-kingly, but normal. The house that Mama and Peter were living in at the time had an intercom system in each room, and Mama’s telltale beep was the single one. Everyone else beeped twice; that way you had a little warning when it was Mama calling you (one of our staff tricks!).

I’d been in the Home for about two days, and I was in my room when I heard my first lone beep. It’s embarrassing to say that I quickly left the room so that I wouldn’t have to answer it! Believe it or not, my purposeful bolting took place two more times during the following 24 hours! Eeek. Finally Amy bumped into me in the hallway and said, “You know, Mama’s been trying to beep you to say hello for two days now, but she never seems to be able to catch you. So she asked me to find you and bring you to her room.” Oh dear, out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Into Mama’s room I went, and she was lying on the bed. She was quite weak at this time, and kept the room very dark because of her eyes. She sat up and held out her arms to me, motioning for me to come lie down next to her. I did-knees shaking-and put my head on her shoulder. Her first words to me were, “Now, how’s my girl doing?” I burst into tears for two reasons-one, I wasn’t doing very good, and two, because she was so down-home and loving. I felt at ease. There was nothing ultra spiritual or complicated about her. She wiped away my tears, talked with me and prayed for me. She took me in just like the mother that I had left behind, and her love toward me has always been unconditional.

The thoughtful “control freak”

During the first year or two, I didn’t have much personal contact with Mama or Peter, as I didn’t work closely with them on many projects. The extent of my pubs interaction with them was the Grapevine, an occasional tape from Mama or a conversation on the intercom every now and then, but I didn’t know her or Peter, as individuals, very well. Still, they both made me feel at home and loved. I confided in them as much as I felt comfortable, and as time went on, I became more and more honest with them, because they handled my personal life with great care.

Mama loves to know what’s going on in people’s lives. She’s generally curious about everything; she’s even interested in our SGA “girl things,” latest trips or kicks. I can’t think of many things she wouldn’t be interested in hearing about, especially if it has to do with you, your work, or something you’re going through. But that’s a far cry from being a “control freak,” as some have called her. Yes, she’ll ask how things are going, or will call you on the intercom to ask what you’re working on, checking on whether you can take on another project, etc. She keeps her finger in many pies because she is responsible for the overall Family and the pubs that go out. That’s her job. And she wants and needs to know what’s happening in our personal lives so that she can help to shepherd and encourage us.

I can’t count how many times I’ve made a personal tape or written a note to Mama about a battle I was going through. I didn’t expect her to do anything about it; I was just letting her know what I was going through and what the Lord was doing in my life. Often though, within the next few days, or sometimes even the same day, I would find a prophecy of encouragement printed out on nice paper outside my door, courtesy of Mama’s thoughtfulness.

Someone has said that “control is in Mama’s blood.” From the countless hours that I’ve spent talking with her, I’ll tell you what’s in her blood: Love for the Lord like you have never seen, an interest to know everything that goes on in the Family and everyone’s personal situations and difficulties, love and encouragement, a desire to hear from the Lord and receive His Words and truth, and a burning, burning conviction to get out tracts and witness.

My tract tale

Speaking of Mama’s conviction when it comes to tract-giving, I had a very unique and unforgettable experience some time ago, which changed my perception of Mama, and which I remember vividly to this day.

We were in the middle of a move, and we had less than a week to close our house down. Over half of our team had already moved on, and we had organized a huge Sunday moving sale in our garage and driveway, in the hopes of selling our remaining stuff/junk/furniture, etc. Since I was leaving within the following day, I wasn’t involved in the moving sale. I was in the midst of packing, finishing up my work, etc.

On Sunday morning, after the sale had been in swing for a few hours, I had to go to the folks’ quarters to change a setting on Peter’s computer. Peter wasn’t there at the time, but he said I could go on ahead and do the work I needed to.

I headed up their stairs, and knowing that Peter wasn’t there, I knocked softly and then entered. Mama was in the adjoining room, and hearing my knock, she poked her head out the door into the living room and Peter’s office area. I’ve greeted Mama many times in this fashion, since I frequent their room rather regularly. However, this was no ordinary time.

Mama stuck her head through the door, looked at me and said, “Jenna, I am so upset!” I froze in my tracks and was speechless. Quickly she qualified herself, “I’m not upset at you, but I am so upset!” This was the first time I had ever seen Mama visibly upset. I’d talked to her on the intercom before, or even in person when she was a bit peeved or bothered by some bad situation, or upset at the Enemy, emphatic about something, enthused about a prophecy, etc., but I had never heard her raise her voice or seem physically riled up.

She went on. “I just got off the phone with Keif, and I gave him a piece of my mind, even though it wasn’t his fault! I was asking someone how many people have come to our moving sale so far, and they said about 30 people. Then I asked if they had been giving out tracts-which I reminded them to do last night-and they haven’t been. Nobody got the tracts together, so all these people have been coming here to our house and not getting any witness!

“What do we think is most important?-Going to all this trouble to put so much time and work into setting up this moving sale, just to sell hundreds of dollars worth of stuff, or giving these people who the Lord has brought to our very door the message through a tract? The money is not the goal! We could have just given it all away!

“The Lord brought each of these people here for a reason, and we’ve failed the Lord by not giving them the message. Sure, a tract may not be very much message or very meaty, but it’s the most important message and gift they could ever get in their entire life! Who knows? Some of these people might never hear the message again in their lives! The Lord is not going to bless us for failing to have tracts on hand, and for being more concerned about the money or the setup, or whatever else! Somebody had better get those tracts together right now, and not miss giving them to a single person!”

Mama continued her speech for about three minutes along these lines, while I was shaking in my boots! I just nodded with watery eyes. The spirit of Dad had come upon her, and I remember thinking, “This must be just like when Dad gave his ‘You are Your Own Worst Enemy’ talk!” I mean, it was heavy. Mama was righteously angry that we were failing the Lord by not being a witness to these people. Instead, we put so much time and prep into the moving sale just to make money and clear out our junk, but our priorities were wrong.

Then just as quickly as it had begun, Mama said, “Well, Honey, I know you had nothing to do with it, and I’m sorry you had to be here, but I had to tell someone about it. Now you’d better get back to your work on Peter’s computer. I love you, Honey!” She smiled and popped back into her room. And I sat down pensively and went about my business.

I didn’t forget that. It was such a sobering experience in the spirit, and the more I thought about it, the more glad I was to have had that chance encounter with Mama. Sure, it was a bit scary because I was just going to plop myself down at a computer; I wasn’t prepared for a righteous blast, so it came as a total surprise. A thousand and one thoughts ran through my head of the latest evil deeds I had done when she said her first words, “Jenna! I am so upset!” Ha!

It was so convicting for me to see how concerned Mama was about these people getting the witness via tracts. Of course, Mama has always been a great promoter of tracts, but she had also been behind our moving sale, and encouraged us all to pitch in and get the house cleared out. But when it came down to the bottom line, Mama had her priorities straight; it wasn’t the money that mattered, it was the sheep.

It was comforting to me to see Mama get so riled up about our failure to witness in the little way we could. I realized that since I’ve lived with Mama for four years now, I’ve become familiar with her in some ways, and am used to most of our conversation centering around prophecy, work-related matters, new pubs projects, etc. Since our job in WS is not directly witnessing, we don’t focus on that daily, other than through producing GP tools and helping the Family do their job. I realized that I had gotten the subconscious impression that Mama was more concerned about prophecy and things of a spiritual nature than the Family’s fundamental job of witnessing and fulfilling the Great Commission.

All throughout Dad’s Letters, you got the grassroots perspective of him getting involved in every practical detail of Family living. He would blast Homes for not feeding the sheep, for being unfaithful with their follow-up ministry, etc. You knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Dad cared about the little people and the little sheep, and witnessing was high on his list.

This encounter with Mama showed me how Mama feels just the same as Dad did. Yes, most of the time she focuses on her primary job of feeding the Family, receiving spiritual direction from the Lord, etc., but she is certainly not lacking that grassroots love for the sheep. If anything, she’s one of the Family’s most on-fire members when it comes to witnessing at every opportunity, passing out tracts, and never being too busy to give a witness, even though she’s one of the world’s busiest people! She recently got out her first Activated subscription!

So, out of a three-minute hot talk from Mama, I got a slew of lessons, a renewed appreciation of Mama, and a conviction that will remain with me for years to come of the need to put the sheep first.

Needless to say, every person who came to our moving sale after that got a tract and a solid witness. And we came out of the day with the Lord’s blessing and a fruitful day as well.

My unloyal, off-board state

When I hear allegations of Mama and Peter “treating people badly, especially those who aren’t totally loyal or on board,” two things come to mind. One, those people don’t live with Mama and Peter (and haven’t for years and years), so how can they be experts on what Mama and Peter are really like? I live with Mama and Peter, and these debasing accounts just don’t fit the Mama and Peter I’m living with. Second, as a barely-turned-21-year-old who came from the field straight to Mama’s house, I believe I gave poor Mama and Peter, not to mention Gabe and Amy, a decent run for their money when it came to my questions, problems, doubts about the Family, the Word, prophecy, and yes, even Mama and Peter themselves. I didn’t hold back in sharing what I thought. I didn’t hide my attitudes or perceptions, even though today I can tell you that many were wrong and inaccurate.

Gabe and Amy, as well as Mama and Peter, were patient, loving, and did not get on my case for not being totally loyal or fully on board. They worked with me at a reasonable pace. They were not harsh or cruel. There was no bullying or coercion. And believe me, I was neither loyal or fully on board for quite some time-though I was trying, I had a long ways to go. I pray that I am right in there now 100%, but some of my “lacking loyalties” and procrastination in living the new weapons, being fully on board, etc., hung on for three years. So from my own experience, I could never agree with someone who says that Mama and Peter are intent on “ditching people” or “throwing off the bandwagon” those who aren’t right there 100%, hanging on their every word, utterly and totally devoted to them, saying “hail Maria” or worshiping their guruness. That’s just not them. And do you think a bunch of young people would stick around if they were like that?

People have said that Mama and Peter or WS kick people out who aren’t there wholeheartedly, who disagree with how they handle things, or who show any measure of dissenting opinion. That’s not true. I know because I’ve been and done all those things over the last four years, and I’m still here. Granted, I love the Lord, the Family, and I’m trying to do my best. Still, my major battle during the past four years has been being in WS itself! I’ve seriously struggled with living behind the scenes. It’s not because WS is a bad place or because I don’t like the people here that I’ve struggled; it’s because it’s not my personal nature to be selah. I’m an action person. I love being out and about, witnessing, meeting people and having lots of fellowship. It’s taken me about three years to accept that being behind the scenes is my “daily sacrifice” in order to do what the Lord wants me to. I love my work, but this ongoing nagging “I can’t live behind the scenes” crisis certainly wasn’t going along with the “I-totally-and-blindly-love-WS” picture that unhappy former WS members are trying to paint as being the enforced standard.

If Mama and Peter really were the heartless and cruel generals that some make them out to be, I know they would have thrown me off the wagon long ago (after shooting me, naturally). How come they didn’t, when I was, in short, a time-consuming young problem!? I went through months of intense battles; actually, the first three months of my stay here were real hell. I was fighting the Devil, the Lord, and anyone else in the vicinity. But as long as I was making progress, however small, they hung in there with me. They loved me, prayed for me, and were every inch the anointed and caring shepherds that the Lord has confirmed they are.

A few months after I had gotten here, Mama was talking to me on the intercom. I was miserable about something and my attitude was, “I’m just going to tell Mama how I feel about everything, and it’ll probably wig her out completely.” So Mama asked me about how I was doing and I told her something lousy. I was then quiet and thought to myself, “Ooops, poor Mama! Since she hasn’t lived around many young people, she probably doesn’t realize that we can be rather dramatic exaggerators at times.” I felt a little bad, because I figured she’d get pretty worried or concerned about my dismal state. But it didn’t faze her. She said, “You know, I’ve learned some things about you young people. It’s important to be able to interpret what you really mean when you say things like that. For example, when you tell me that you’re bummed out about something, I know you’ll be okay and with time it will pass. If you say that you’re just losing it and you’re weeping, then I spend some time praying for you. And when you say you’re about to backslide or “jump off the roof,” then I beep Gabe or Amy and tell them to go talk to you, pray with you, and make sure you’re okay!”

I was speechless. Mama had pegged me. She had me figured out, and wasn’t in the least bit worried about my inflammatory comments, because the Lord had shown her the interpretation of them. Since then, I don’t worry about Mama misunderstanding me. On the rare occasion that she has, she’s been willing to listen to my retake on things, and accepts it.

Confessions don’t kill

A lot has been said about how much Mama values honesty, and Peter does also. I remember one time just a few weeks after coming, I was walking by someone’s room and happened to glance at a paper on their desk. It was a prayer request for someone, and I thought it was about me. I wasn’t trying to snoop around, but my eyes just fell on this piece of paper, and I felt horrible. This is one of those famed and classic WS blow-its that I read about in the pubs before coming, and I couldn’t believe I had done it! To add to that, I felt hurt that my shepherds hadn’t told me about it, because if there was something that I had done wrong, I wanted to know about it. A few days later, I got up the courage to write my shepherds a little note about it. They explained that it wasn’t about me, it was about someone else. That took care of the problem, and I had just jumped to conclusions.-Whew!

But just a week later, us young people were having a work meeting with Peter, Gabe and Amy, and as I walked in the room, my eyes swept over Gabe’s computer screen, and of all things, the one line I saw read: “personal prophecy about Jenna”-and it was from my roommate! I felt sick. But I couldn’t bring myself to tell Gabe, since the same thing had just happened less than a week ago! I figured this would be the confirmation to them that I’ve been going around peeking at people’s work, and trying to find out things that I wasn’t supposed to know. I lasted about 5-6 days, and then wrote Gabe and Amy a little note about it, which was sweetly answered. They said I was “passing the test of honesty.”

That evening just as I was about to go to dinner, Mama beeped. She said, “I know once I tell you this you’re going to think that everything you write goes everywhere, but it really doesn’t.-Only this time it did, ha!” Mama then explained that she had just listened to my little confession note about looking at Gabe’s computer screen, and she said, “You know, I’m so happy that you’re so honest. That’s just wonderful! That’s the most important thing. It doesn’t really matter to me what you write, as long as you’re honest!”

I thought, “Boy, that’s strange.” But it’s true. Mama didn’t mean that it doesn’t matter at all what you write, but that you don’t have to weigh your words, or try to predict how they’re going to be taken or understood.

Our “fun” king and queen

There are some self-appointed “Mama and Peter bashers” who are trying to convince people that Mama and Peter are evil, cruel, harsh, abusive-your general ogres swinging balls and chains scenario. That’s the tabloid version. It makes headlines, but it’s about as true as the “child-sucking-vacuum-cleaner” discovery or “Elvis-mates-with-octopus, has-child-with-eight-arms” stories that grown and presumably intelligent people make a living off of dramatizing for other people.

Reality would show that Mama and Peter are fun-loving, terrific people. I love being around them. They are intelligent, clever, and funny. They recently took all us young people out for a two-day outing, and it was great. It was no small feat. They took their precious time to plan and prepare so that we could have fun. They drove us around, showed us the sights, made sure we had what we needed, and were our chauffeurs.

None of us young people feel intimidated around them, like we can’t be ourselves or have fun, really do “young people” things, because they understand us and know what we like. Yes, they uphold a high standard and don’t let us throw all caution to the wind. But from my experience, if you are hearing from the Lord, confirming what you do with Him, and being prayerful, Mama and Peter are not legalistic, and they cut us young people slack when we needed it. They have a good balance, and that’s more than I can say for a lot of people.

A few months ago, Mama had given me a project to work on, and it was taking longer than I had expected. I ended up working through a movie night in order to get it done. I sent it to her late that evening. The following morning she beeped, thanked me for the project, and asked me to come outside to her little window. I went out there and chatted with Mama through her little window for a minute. Then she said, “I’m sorry you ended up working through your movie. Peter and I just wanted to give you a little token of our appreciation-your favorite chocolate bar.”

Oh yes, what a queen and king, ha! No, actually, I was a little surprised: first that they knew what my favorite chocolate bar was (I’m a confirmed chocoholic!), and second, that Mama was giving it to me! I just hadn’t pictured that sort of exchange before. As I walked to my room with my much loved snack, I realized that though chocolate-giving is certainly not the norm for Mama, it’s that very Spirit-led balance that makes life fun.

Prophecy rules

Oh yes, Mama is a firm believer in prophecy. However, she doesn’t use prophecy to control, force or coerce people into toeing the line, obeying what she wants them to do, or to bully you into submission, meekness or yieldedness. I know that because I’ve been a recipient of I-can’t-count-how-many personal prophecies that she’s given me, and I haven’t been coerced into a state of submission or meekness through it. And, although I’m working on it, I’m still not always-100%-yielded!-Who is? Mama gives people prophecies because she believes that the Lord’s Words, counsel and direction is the most precious thing she could give anyone, so she does!

I used to wonder in the back of my mind whether prophecies were “pre-planned” or their direction predetermined. From personal experience, I know they’re not. Sometimes, of course, the Lord has shown Mama what to do, or the answer to a problem. So when someone asks the Lord about it, He confirms what Mama has been feeling. At other times, the Lord gives a new direction, answer or idea-something that is news to Mama and Peter-and they get right behind it. Mama has asked me to hear from the Lord, and on occasion, I know I’ve gotten something different or unexpected from what she thought the Lord might say. But she’s thankful, happy, and believes the Lord. Mama and Peter are the best samples I’ve seen of following and obeying the Lord and what He says. Believe me, prophecies are not “rigged.”

Some people have the idea that Mama uses prophecy to correct or rebuke people, letting the Lord do the “dirty work,” so to speak. Since being here, I have received a few prophecies that I would label “heavy correction.” Of course, most prophecies have spiritual guidance, instruction, lessons, nudges back to the straight and narrow, etc., but I’m talking about a wrong action or attitude being pointed out via prophecy in no uncertain terms.

In one instance, I was getting critical of some people in the Home, and it was affecting my work and its quality. She sent me a few prophecies, in which the Lord clearly and lovingly explained the situation and where I was letting the Enemy in. As soon as I’d gotten the prophecies, she beeped me to tell me that she was praying for me. A few hours later, she beeped again to check on me, making sure that I wasn’t discouraged, encouraging me to ask the Lord for more details if I had questions, etc.

The correction was just what I needed. Mama had every right-and was responsible-to correct me in order to ensure that my work was hitting the mark. Even though I was certainly at fault, she was very loving, gave me the benefit of the doubt, and made it easy for me to get back up again. And I’ve seen her consistently treat others in the same way.

Prophecy is not used to beat people down, indoctrinate or manipulate. It’s a beautiful gift from the Lord, which Mama loves to share with others. I believe your perspective has a great deal to do with how you look at prophecy. If you’re freaked about letting go of the reins of your life, and aren’t willing to let the Lord play your little chess piece on His board, then yes, every prophecy that gives direction or nudges you in this direction or that is going to be a threat to your own control. But if you value the Lord’s involvement in your life, then you can thank Mama for having had the faith to delve into prophecy, and for encouraging every single Family member to get the gift themselves.

If Mama really wanted to retain control over everyone in the Family, why in the world would she have pressed for everyone to hear from the Lord themselves? That doesn’t make sense. In doing that, she placed responsibility, faith, trust, and ultimate control over each individual’s life right where it belongs-smack between them and the Lord.

Switching roles

During the last two years, my ministry has changed. I now help to coordinate the pubs by helping them flow through the pipelines. If there’s a glitch or need in a pubs department, I help to get it sorted out or the need filled. Along with others, I also help Peter with some of his secretarial work-correspondence, transcriptions, and anything else-girl Friday style. I also do a bit of secretarial work for Mama, and I continue to edit the Grapevine.

Since taking on these new responsibilities, I have worked much more closely with Mama and Peter. Over the last two years, I’ve spent a good deal of time with them. I’ve gotten to know them personally, not just as shepherds, but as close friends who I love, trust and confide in. I have regular meetings with both Mama and Peter about the pubs and new projects, and as Peter’s secretary, I meet regularly with him.

As such, I’ve been privileged to see a side of Mama and Peter that I hadn’t seen in the previous two years of living with them. I’ve seen the behind-the-scenes thought, prayer, counsel and work that goes into a GN. I’ve been part of some discussions and meetings that have led to a new pub, a change or shift in policy, or a new vision being born. I’ve heard Mama and Peter counsel together and discuss problems, solutions, the Family’s burdens, and I’ve seen both their joy and sorrow in the heavy loads they carry.

When I was on the field, all I saw of Mama and Peter was the GNs and other pubs-printed, finalized and in my hands. I didn’t realize all the love, prayer, tears, toil and sweat that made up those Letters, or that went into a personal message of encouragement from Mama to someone who is struggling. I didn’t know what Mama and Peter thought about the problems of the Family, or how their conversations went when just the two of them were together. Now I’ve had a glimpse into that, and my assessment is that I’m more confident than ever in Mama and Peter’s shepherding of the Family. If you could see their love for you, if you could see how their priority is the Family and making things as easy as possible for you, and how every decision they make manifests this foremost desire of theirs, coupled with getting the Lord’s will and direction for the Family, you would never doubt.

I’m not trying to set them on a pedestal or say that they are holy prophets. Sure, they make mistakes and are human. They have personal preferences and ways they like to do things, just like you and me. They have their own unique personality traits and oddities, just like you … and maybe me, ha. But when it comes to something that affects the Family, the Word, or someone’s life and service for the Lord, they go to the nth degree to lay aside their own thoughts and feelings, hear from the Lord repeatedly and get counsel from others. They are desperate to hit the mark, and they rely on the Lord to do so.

They are shepherds who lay down their lives for you. When Peter had his recent heart attack, he was very, very weak. He couldn’t even open a folding chair or step up one step without having more heart pains. Reading about the problems of the Family would also hurt his heart. But still, he chaired the daily Activated meetings that were being held at our Home at the time, with a few visiting CROs in attendance. He rested when he could, but his priority remained the Family. Mama is the same. She’ll have a cold, a headache, be sick or weak, but still, she plows through her tapes, approves the pubs for you, sends off messages of counsel and encouragement. She and Peter don’t stop serving you.

Even when they’re resting or taking needed time off, what do they talk about? I’ve rarely seen them not talking about the Family. They have a lot on their minds, and they’re always a few years ahead-planning for how Activated is going to work in the future, the needs of our children and their education, our FGAs getting older and their need for more physical care and support. They’re constantly immersed in the big picture of the Family and its needs, even though they don’t broadcast all that they’re doing, thinking and praying about. But they are always on the job!

Inside Peter’s mind

Peter is, of course, different than Mama. He’s in tune with the Lord and anointed to be king-that’s for sure. He’s also practical, has a mind for business and details, and thinks a lot about the future, our long-term vision as a Family, and its repercussions and results.

Since working more closely with Peter, I’ve come to admire him a lot more. I didn’t realize before how much he shouldered, and how much he thinks, prays, and seeks the Lord about the Family, its direction and vision. Some of the things that have stood out to me through working closely with Peter, and seeing him both in-cathedra/ex-cathedra, so to speak, are the following:

He is loving, thoughtful and encouraging. He always has a good word to say to you-the kind of comments that make you feel like standing up a little straighter, smiling a bit more, and doing your work with more gusto because you know it is appreciated.

He is careful, prayerful, and thorough. He doesn’t jump to conclusions. He takes time to make decisions, because he wants to make the right one. He doesn’t sacrifice quality or accuracy for speed or staying on top of things, yet doing a haphazard job.

Me … well, I’m your typical SGA “now” sort of person, fast-moving. I like to do things now. I don’t like projects sitting around on my desk. When things come in to Peter’s mail or desk, my happy job is to try to help however I can to get them taken care of, if it’s something I can help with. I remind Peter of various points that need answering, if he and Mama need to talk and pray together about a matter, etc. My general day-to-day small mentality is: “It would be great if this could get taken care of, or so-and-so could be answered.” One morning, not too long ago, my mentality was enlarged, courtesy of Peter.

I was in Peter’s office, and he was giving me some projects. I rattled off some idea about how to provide a certain service to the Family, with each Family Home paying five dollars for it. While the idea may have been good, and would have worked for some areas, Peter was thinking big picture. He asked me, “What about the single moms? What about the children? What about the guys in Russia that don’t have five bucks to pay for what we say everybody can pay for?!” Hmm, readjustment time. Forget that idea, or seriously rework it. I’m 25 and still working on taking off my blinders, but thank God Peter and Mama have the global Family vision.

Odd way to cover up

An accusation that rather inflames me about Mama and Peter is one that accuses them of being “shepherds unwilling to take responsibility for their actions” and “who hoodwink the sheep.” That someone would say that Mama and Peter “deliberately mislead the Family, make terrible mistakes and cover up their sins” shows clearly that the accuser does not know Mama and Peter. They’ve obviously got an agenda and are intent on throwing misplaced blame and fault.

Mama and Peter could make terrible mistakes and then cover them up, hoodwinking the sheep and the Family in the process. But they don’t, and if they did, we who live closest to them would know about it. To the contrary, they admit their mistakes and are quite (you would be surprised) open when it comes to showing fault, mistake, or human weakness.

I’ve been on the phone with Mama more than once when she’s lamented to me about some mistake she just made, how she went too fast or wasn’t humble enough, etc. She’s humble enough to volunteer her mistakes and lessons, and share them with you. Peter is the same; not too proud to admit that he blew it by not taking care of something sooner, or that perhaps he made someone feel bad by not stopping to talk with them when he was on his way somewhere, etc.

Case in point: A few months ago I was having a pubs meeting with Mama and Peter. Mama was explaining an idea she had gotten from the Lord for a new GP children’s book series. When she mentioned that she had already beeped someone and asked them to pray about receiving the stories, I cringed. It didn’t sound like Mama had talked with Francis, who manages the GP department, and coordinates all its projects. With so many projects already in the works, I felt this posed a potential problem.

I gingerly asked Mama if she’d run her idea by Francis, and she realized that she hadn’t. As it turned out, over a lunch meeting with other members of the GP team, this project had been discussed, and with everyone excited about it and the Lord’s confirmation received, Mama hadn’t realized that Francis hadn’t been present.

Right away she said, “Oh dear, I really blew it! I’d better call him on the intercom right now and apologize, and let him know why I overlooked telling him. That’s very bad of me.”

Well, hey, it’s not that bad. I mean, she is Mama and does have the final say on all the pubs, including GP stuff, so what’s the big deal? Well, the big deal is that Mama has given others authority and jurisdiction over certain departments, and it’s real authority. She likes to go through the proper channels, and doesn’t want to make people feel left out or overlooked. She values counseling with people. Considering her position, I thought her reaction was very admirable, especially since I-a 25-year-old little “sheep”-had pointed this possible error out to her.

Both Mama and Peter take the blame for things that they’ve done or said that cause confusion or misunderstanding. They’ve apologized to me, and others also. I’ve seen this consistently. Why would they confess their faults, admit their mistakes, apologize and show themselves weak before us if they really were trying to hide so much abuse and deceit? They wouldn’t.

Grow a brain yourself!

I think all young people in the Family should be outraged by James Penn’s derogatory comments directed toward us. He makes himself sound like such a sympathetic guy who’s concerned about us, but with his next breath cuts us and our choices and much-loved beliefs, loved ones and Family down. That’s no friend.

His snide remarks about us “children” possibly deciding to “grow a brain” if we were let out of the “tenacious control” inflicted on us by the “wacky and abusive leaders of our lives” are entirely offensive. I don’t know him personally, but if he cared to talk to me or any of my other friends-and we’d gladly give him a piece of our minds-he would see that our brains are just fine. We are not stunted, manipulated or controlled. We have thoughts of our own, and plenty of opposition and self-determination in us. He may not want to discover that for himself, however. Seems to me he was looking for something startling and cool-sounding to add to his allegation list. Maybe startling (though untrue) but certainly not cool. Sorry, James.

And those of us who understand what the Family is really about don’t feel the Family has become a “weird place.” I think the weirdest thing involving the Family is the fact that some people can’t seem to make a simple choice to leave the group they proclaim to hate so much. What’s wrong with them? If it takes a grown man years and years to make the simple, “I’m going to leave” statement, he should work on growing his brain, and not accuse happy, content and intelligent SGAs of lacking in any area. Don’t foist your embarrassment and shame on us. The second I’m done with the Family, I’m outta here. It’s not going to take me years of misery to figure out I want a different life. I just don’t get it. And I have plenty of SGA friends who have left the Family plenty quickly; and they didn’t miserate (courtesy of Alana, in the terrific “new wine laced novel,” Blood and Freedom) the rest of us with their pitiful diatribes once they had done so.

One of the more valid accusations, in my opinion, is that of young people and others leaving the Family without much support, or others still in the Family feeling that the “judgments of God” may fall on them. That has truth to it. When I was growing up, that was generally the impression I had. But times have changed over the last year or two. Family policy on this issue has taken a turn, and love, support, physical help and all those other good and needed things are very much encouraged and promoted, which renders that as an allegation of the past now.

I’m personally glad for that change of attitude. Yet I also have enough sense to realize that while our past stance was not the best, hurt people and made some feel ostracized and cut off-everyone makes mistakes. The important thing is being willing to change and rectify them, which the Family has now done. So you can get hung up on that and cry “old abuse!” or you can choose to appreciate the fact that yes, we are a fallible human movement, but that we’ve just improved our Family by a leap and a bound. That’s my take.

Wrapping things up

I pray my story has shown you what Mama and Peter are actually like. The lives they live day in and day out can’t be compared to the horrible things some accuse them of.

Don’t let a well-written letter or a clever speaker convince you of things he or she knows precious little about. We who live with Mama and Peter are the ones who really know what they’re like, how they live, what they do from day to day, how they view the Family, and what their motivations are. Most everything else is supposition, old and twisted stories (pretzel style), and largely hype.

Choose who you’ll believe.

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