Leaving any spiritually abusive group is difficult. Whether it may be Gwen Shamblin's Remnant Fellowship, the Jehovah's Witnesses, or groups which operate within the evangelical church, the fears and confusion is largely the same. Amy Spreeman at Berean Research recently posted, "Leaving IHOP and the NAR: Sammy’s story." IHOP is not the restaurant chain but does chain its followers in spiritual and emotional bondage while calling itself the International House of Prayer. It is one of the New Apostolic Reformation groups. The story isn't short but helpful to those who have friends or family in such groups. After giving a brief history and how she got into IHOP, the woman sharing her story talks about returning after a visit at home:
I did find it especially troubling when we had to attend a special class before thanksgiving break that taught us how to act around our families and walked us through all the reasons why they are not a cult. It felt like conditioning and I found that a lot of the doctrines they said they did not teach were things I’ve heard Mike Bickle say a hundred times. So it was super weird to me but I still rationalized it because of how great I felt otherwise. I also wasn’t home long enough to really feel any kind of noticeable difference. I did feel like my family just didn’t get it but that was nothing new to me.
It wasn’t until my second semester (after going home for Christmas break), that I realized I had completely disconnected from my family, friends, and reality. I wouldn’t say that I realized and understood it 100% because I still rationalized it a lot but there was definitely now a nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right.
All of my closest friends and family members sat me down (individually) for an intervention of sorts. They would tell me things like that I’ve changed and I seemed happy and “on-fire” for God but that something was really off and wrong. They would tell me I was acting different and saying weird things. When I would tell them some of the things I was learning or experiencing, they only became more worried and began confronting me with Scriptures, which I initially ignored and rationalized but it ultimately got me thinking later on. So, going back into my second semester, I was a lot more confused and had a lot more questions than ever before.
As is so often the case, she had a sense that something was seriously wrong but didn't have the tools to put it together.
[TBC: Many do not realize the dire consequences of being seduced by the “hearing from God” teachings. First of all, they completely undermine the objective nature of the Scriptures. In other words, when the Word of God is mixed with what some believe they’ve heard from God, it is difficult to objectively determine what is truly from God. That fundamentally destroys the value of the Bible in the lives of those who buy into the so-called new prophets of God. God’s written word is no longer relied upon as a determiner of truth, especially regarding the new doctrines presented, which those who are “hearing from God” promote in abundance. Unfortunately, that’s fine with such false teachers because their “new thing that God is doing” cannot then be challenged by the “old written words” found in Scripture (see March 2013 newsletter).]