Dialogue Ireland offered a right of reply to any one from the “Two by Twos” and this is the first of these.
I appreciate the opportunity that Dialogue Ireland offers for right of reply to be made by members of the group.
I will comment on statements made the writer, according to my personal experience as a member and also as a ‘worker’ i.e. a member of the ministry of this group.
The workers travel about in celibate pairs based on a misunderstanding of Matthew 10:8-10.
I do not spend my life unmarried because of what is mentioned in Matthew 10:8-10. I understand that the Matthew 10 refers to an initial short term commission given to the Apostles. I spend my life in the way I do because of a calling/vocation that is accordance the later commission that Jesus gave to those same Apostles in Mat 28
Mat 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
Mat 28:17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.
Members are deliberately kept in the dark regarding the beginnings of the group and child sex abuse incidents amongst their preachers.
This has not been my experience from youth I was told and know of the beginning of our group. I am however aware that some have not had the beginnings of our group in the late 19th century told and explained to them. In my personal ministry I am happy and open to discuss the beginning days and people of our group with anyone. Yes there have been instances where child sex abuse incidents have not been dealt with correctly. In the country where I work they are dealt with correctly and with a transparency that will stand any examination.
Members may not challenge the workers- if they do they face excommunication.
I will listen to ANY member who would approach me with a matter concerning them. I have NEVER thought of or considered excommunication of any member in the decades I have been in this ministry for several decades.
The workers slander other preachers and churches as “greedy” and “false”.
I do not slander other preachers or churches. I see no need for that. I seek to uphold Christ, that is all that I understand as being needed in preaching the gospel.
Yes I have heard workers speak against other churches and preachers. Fortunately I am hearing it less and less in our more ecumenical age. Is this practice something that is exclusive to workers? Is it correct that in Ireland Protestant preacher will speak against the Catholic Church? Roman Catholics against Protestants? One denomination of Protestantism against another?
Members are afraid to leave the group as they are trained to believe that if they leave they will go to hell.
I teach and encourage people in their faith and relationship with God. I give NO teaching or training that if they leave our group they will go to hell. I do mention of the consequences that the Bible teaches of those who will neglect or forsake their relationship with God.
If a member does leave, that person becomes subject to gossip and slander.
Yes perhaps sometimes? We are a group of imperfect people. Other times what may be perceived as gossip and slander is members with a feeling of loss and sadness discussing factually the reasons and issues that lead to the person leaving.
To leave the meetings is very difficult because members don’t mix with outsiders. Often all of their family, relations and most of their friends are in the meetings so to leave the meetings means breaking close bonds with their community.
This is the experience of the writer. My own sister’s experience of leaving our group is different. She grew up in our family with our parents members of the group. My sister in her youth became a member; she ‘professed’. Some years later she exited. Yes we had feelings of sadness and loss when she exited. The spiritual aspect of the relationship she had with us no longer exists. She maintains a close and warm family relationship with all in our family who are members of the group. The experience of my sister in our family circle is not limited just to our family experience. My sister has no concerns regarding a controlling nature of the group, issues of abuse or violation of human rights.
Members who date an “outsider” get threatened with excommunication.
Where I live and work members who date an outsider DO NOT get threatened with excommunication. Parents and workers will feel concern, they desire that their sons and daughter, our young people will choose a marriage partner that they will have agreement with in the spiritual values and beliefs. Perhaps similar to what may happen with a Protestant girl dating a Catholic boy or vice versa in Ireland? Is a devout Catholic happy with his son dating a Protestant? Or a devout Protestant happy with his daughter dating a Catholic lad?
Even though “outsiders” are considered “lost”, the friends are commanded to never tell outsiders about “the Gospel” and to never approach an outsider about the group.
In my experience the opposite is true. I actively encourage our friends to share of their faith and of how the Gospel has benefited and enriched them. With the hope that others may be drawn to know of gaining such also.
The outsider must approach a member about their faith or attend a gospel meeting (a “mission”). When an outsider asks a member about their faith members are expected to introduce them to the workers because the gospel must be heard from the workers themselves. If after meeting the workers an outsider continues to take interest in the meetings, the workers give that person one-to-one bible studies.
I don’t work in this manner and know of no colleague who works in this way in the number of countries I have worked in.
Interested outsiders are only gradually taught the group doctrines and only after a period of time are invited to private church events. The outsider will then be invited to attend a convention during which he/she will be shown about only by the workers and introduced to a few of the more “hearty” friends.
I wonder how many Irish members of our group which agree with the accuracy of this statement?
Although most of the workers deny the Trinity (many say that Jesus was merely a man who became without sin through obedience to the law and lived as an example how to live, with the workers following on this example for the rest to copy), they will never admit that to an outsider. If an outsider stops attending gospel meetings, he/she is considered to be “unwilling” to “accept the Truth”.
This is a theological matter. My personal conviction is the Trinity doctrine and creed has some correct parts to it, but is at best an incomplete attempt by man to explain the nature of and the relationship between the Father, the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit.
The workers travel about a designated region in pairs. An older brother worker is paired up with a younger brother, an older sister worker is paired up with a younger sister worker. They cannot marry, do not work and instead rely on money donations from the friends.
I have chosen not to marry. Marriage is good and a godly institution. By choosing not to marry I have proved it has left me free to devote myself more fully in seeking to serve and live for members of our group in pastoral work and for humanity in our evangelical work. I understand and acknowledge that some of the Apostles were married men.
They also expect the friends to host them, do their laundry, cook meals for them for times that suit them and let them use their cars.
I DO NOT expect this of members of our group.
“A worker” says that only a few “oddball” workers expect to live with people, to use spare cars, to be fed at times that suit the workers and to get their laundry done from them. That’s a lie! All workers expect this special treatment.
All I have written is true according to my knowledge and experience. But the author of the original article says ” this is a lie and All workers expect this special treatment”.
This person refuses to accept the veracity of what I write.
People often give them spare house keys to come and go as they wish.
Yes they do, it reflects the measure of trust that many members of our group have of the ministry.
Then the author stated
“A worker” even contradicts him/her self by admitting that some of the “friends” do give staying workers house keys. Why would workers receive house keys if they are not staying in peoples
I am unable to see the contradiction I am making?
Workers receive houses keys so that they can go into the giver’s home as they wish. That members would do so manifests the measure of trust that such members of our group have of the ministry.
To have the workers staying is perceived to be a great honour.
Yes many perceive it this way. I as a worker also perceive it as a great honour that our people feel moved to open their hearts and their homes to us in the manner they do! We have a rich and meaningful bond and fellowship with many of our people.
When they are staying they often spend long periods in their bedrooms, during which the family members are expected to be quiet in their own home for the workers.
Yes we spend time praying and reading the Bible preparing for meetings and seeking help from God and the Bible. Family members as a courtesy often try to be quieter when they know we are doing this. But I don’t ‘sweat that one too much’. If we are in a family home and children and the healthy noise that children make I don’t sweat about that too much!
People keep notes from worker sermons and value them as equal to the bible.
I discourage our people from too much reading and feeding from notes of what workers have spoken. I encourage them to rather to read and feed from the Bible.
Photos of the workers are kept in photo albums, in bedrooms, in bibles and publicly displayed alongside photos of family members.
Yes this does happen, there is often a deep and wonderful and mutually joyful relationship between workers and our people. I also keep photos of our people, adults, children, families, those who are very dear to me.
The workers always sit separately from everyone else during convention meals and meetings, as though they are too holy to sit beside the friends. At conventions they are always served first and fed better than everyone else.
Again I can’t speak for Ireland, However where I live and work very few workers always sit separately for meals. I am not fan of sitting separately, I enjoy fellowship and company of sitting and eating with whomever I sit next to wherever I get a place to sit and eat! Here they have trouble getting the table filled, too many other workers who have the preference I do!
Little children are expected to give the workers hugs, even the workers they are unfamiliar with.
Expected to? I don’t know about that? I do know that children ‘pick up the vibes’ of what their parents feel about workers and when they perceive that their Dad and Mom love and appreciate the workers that flows over into the children also.
Basically, people revere the workers to the point of worship.
I strongly discourage anything along this line.
As the workers are believed to be “the Word made flesh” it is not permitted to question a worker.
I have often heard of Jesus being spoken of as “the Word made flesh” but never workers being spoken of as the Word made flesh.
The workers say that members should be like little children in all things- and that includes not asking questions (those who do ask questions or bring up an issue, have a “poor spirit” and are made to feel that the real issue is with them, not the group). The workers decide who can join the group and who cannot, they can excommunicate someone to hell. They say they have sacrificed their career and possessions along the chance of marriage and family for the sake of the friends, with the implication that the friends therefore “owe” their salvation to the workers.
I believe and teach that salvation is the gift of God.
The workers are very controlling of the friends. For an example: they do not want the friends to let their children play with outsiders, as outsiders will have a poor influence on the children. One of the ways workers control people is through surprise visits, meaning they can catch people out if they are doing something forbidden. Some workers just walk around the back of the house and walk right in the back door.
I am do not control friends, I believe that is WRONG. I have never made a visit as is described.
As many teenagers are pushed into the group against their wishes in the early teens, most teenagers in the group live a double life; wearing makeup and trousers to university and then long skirts and no makeup when in the presence of the workers, nightclubbing on Saturday nights and then turning up for the Sunday morning meeting few hours later. Others turn to drugs and alcohol once they go to university and are able to escape the direct influence of the workers.
Yes there are some who live a double life, in experience a minority. I know many who are well adjusted and happy, sincere and dedicated young Christians.
There are cases of workers and elders abusing children in a sexual manner. Although Noel Tanner is the only an Irish worker to be convicted for abusing young boys, there are others. A Cork worker was removed from “the work” in 2006 for taking advantage of a teenage boy in France but was never reported to the police. There are rumours of other Irish workers being involved in child sex abuse. To date fifteen workers and professing friends have been convicted for child sex abuse.
Yes it is a matter of great sadness that there have been instances of child sexual abuse by members of our ministry and congregation also. This is inexcusable and wrong. I am glad of the enlightened, honest and transparent manner in which any instances of abuse are handled in the country in which I am living and working.
The poster writes a paragraph mentioning dress issues, attending the cinema, TV etc. and how vexing that was for them. They have done the right thing in leaving the group. He/she can dress in any way they wish to and do anything they wish to. But is a conservative manner of dress and lifestyle that is common to members of the group abuse or a violation of human rights?
Having family members leave the group is considered a great shame.
Having a family member leave the group is a matter of sadness, I have not known it to be a matter of shame
If someone leaves the group, people will suddenly stop speaking of that person in public.
This is the experience of the writer. I do not do this. I have had the experience of some who leave sometimes avoiding contact or public speaking with members of the group they once belonged to.
Family members are urged to put pressure on that person to return to the meetings. If a spouse leaves the group, the partner remaining in the group is glorified for suffering so and is encouraged by the workers to withdraw affection until their partner returns to the meetings. Children with a parent who is not professing are considered to be from a “divided home” and there is a stigma attached to coming from a divided home.
This the writers experience or perception but I have not known or been aware of such.
Once a child born into the meetings reaches his/her teens, he/she is expected to join the group. Relations, family members and peers put pressure on teenagers to profess because it is believed that if he/she does not join the group, he/she will die and go to hell. I had no desire to profess but for a long time feared I would go to hell if I died before professing. In my teens, I became so convinced that God would kill me in the night and send me to hell that I would try not to sleep during the night and get night time panic attacks.
When I reached my teens there was no pressure or expectation put upon me by family or workers. At this time in my life God through his Spirit and his Word touched and worked in my heart. I for some time resisted and struggled against this, it was a time of unrest and lack of peace in my heart. When I stopped struggling against God and surrendered my will and life to him and believed in the promises and provision in Christ for salvation a peace and joy come into my heart and life.
In closing I will state that I do not think or feel we are ‘perfect’ group of people. Mistakes have been made by members of our group and ministry. I do not think or feel that we are a group with harmful cultist tendencies of control, abuse and violation of human rights. I acknowledge the experience of those who have exited while also acknowledging those with a positive experience such as mine is.
Right of reply: Again we will facilitate the right of reply to former members to either respond by leaving comments in that section or a full argued piece which we will publish. We re emphasise that we regard it as an offence to try to attack the person by trying to out them, or to disclose personal or geographic information about them. Information from other forums have no relevance to this site and should not be used. We regard those who make use of such ad hominem attacks let down their side of their argument, not enhance it.
Filed under: Two by Twos |