*WARNING: This contains material which may be triggering to some*
Eventually, Dad came back home and back to church. The painful questions from members stopped after awhile, and things were pretty good. Then a new family came to church.
It was a husband and wife and two teenage kids. The husband and wife were preachers, and the teenagers (a boy and a girl) both claimed that they’d been ‘called to preach’. About half the church welcomed them with open arms, the other half stayed aloof from them. Friendly, but not friends. I remember my Great-Grandma (who helped build the church building) saying that her spirit just didn’t recognize their spirit.
My mom and the mom of this family became ‘best friends’. We started spending a LOT of time with them. Our whole family would go spend the weekend at their house almost every weekend, and during the week they were at our house all the time. Once again, things started changing.
The woman in this family told Mom how they’d all been Satanists before coming to God, and that she believed occult was infiltrating the church. They started buying tons of occult/witchcraft instruction books and comparing the practices outlined in these books to things happening in the church. Their conclusion was – demons were running rampant in the church and possessing the believers of the Truth in an attempt to thwart God’s Oneness revival.
My family was always the first ones to arrive at the church building, lots of times the doors weren’t even unlocked yet when we got there. This other family started joining us in arriving extra early. Mom and this woman and her daughter would go into a Sunday School room and ‘pray’. Often you could hear them ‘praying’ all over the church, other times there was silence. A few times Dad asked me to go in and get Mom for one reason or another. The times I went in they were sitting at a table talking, and stopped immediately and Mom angrily asked why I interrupted them. After a couple of those instances, they started locking the door.
Some things from this time that I heard them state: They could literally ‘see’ demons running around inside the church building. They could see demons when they looked in the eyes of some of the male preachers in the church. The pastor was ‘obviously’ demon possessed. The people who didn’t come to church as early as them to pray were ‘spiritually bound’ by evil, if not actually possessed.
Gossip started about their ‘prayer sessions’ and the questioning of me started just like it did when my parents had separated. “Why does your Mom go in there to pray with those women? Why can’t she pray out in the open? Why do they spend so much time in there? If they are actually talking to God, there’s no reason they should have to lock the door.” People seemed afraid to say these things to my Mom and the other women, so they said them to me, a child about 8 years old. Several of the men in the church started saying things like “locking the door gave an appearance of homosexuality more than prayer”. At one point the pastor actually asked them to stop going in there. They refused. He didn’t feel that it was right to “force” people into things, and didn’t want to start making rules about use of the church building, so nothing else official was done beyond his personal request to them to stop.
Mom’s behavior at home got more and more strange. She started giving away my things to the teenage girl in this family. I was tall for my age and she was short, so even though we were about 10 years apart we were pretty much the same size. A lot of times when I got new clothes she would ‘suggest’ that I give them to this girl. (Side note – we were poor, and new clothes were a rarity so I not only wanted, but needed to keep them.) Also, mother-daughter time had ceased to exist. This girl was 18 and out of school, so she spent a lot of weekdays at our house. Mom would send me outside to do my homeschooling with instructions to watch over my 4 year old sister at the same time. On days that they didn’t come over, she spent hours on the phone with the girl and her mother.
If my Dad, my sister, or myself complained, we were hindering her ministry. She would state things such as “I have a call from God to ‘clean up the church’ and if you stand in my way you’ll be judged with blasphemy. Do you want to go to hell and burn forever? Is that what you want? You kids don’t go bother your Dad at his job, don’t bother me while I’m doing mine.”
I started to act out against these things. Since I was a child, I acted out in very childish ways. I cried and would run away and hide whenever Mom would announce that we were seeing these people again. I intentionally started messing up my schoolwork hoping to force Mom to spend time with me. I tried to run away from home. I spent as much time at relatives houses as I possibly could. Soon, I noticed Mom and these other women watching me with a look of suspicion and hatred that scared me – badly.