People Tell Their Stories

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See also Creative Writing about the Assembly by former members, and Updates about Former Members about developments in people's lives since they left the Assembly.

A family  "I felt like a blind woman walking into a new world, trusting my own intuition, my children’s input, and professionals with an understanding of trauma to guide us." This was Gretchen Ward's experience of leaving the Geftakys Assembly in Omaha. In this article Gretchen focuses on the recovery journey after leaving the cult, especially her struggles to find help for her children. Note that the Assembly produced developmental gaps in childhood, and trauma from the damaging family dynamics. The International Cultic Studies Association asked Gretchen to write up this story for publication in the International Journal of Cultic Studies.

Elizabeth Esther (G.) wrote a book about growing up in the Geftakys Assembly, Girl at the End of the World ! It has garnered 4.2 stars from almost 2,000 readers on "Good Reads". "Publishers Weekly"says, “Esther’s descriptions of her claustrophobic childhood faith are clear and compelling.” Elizabeth's editor at Random House reviewed it on her personal blog. "I truly believe it’s an important book, and I wouldn’t endorse it on my personal blog unless I felt so strongly about it." It is also reviewed on "Patheos".

Brinda M. is the author of an extensive account of the beginning and development of the Geftakys Assemblies in the Midwest and Tuscola. She recounts in detail how lives and families were impacted, both for good and for ill. This article provides the most comprehensive picture on the website of how the Geftakys ministry operated.

Rachel Geftakys, daughter of David and Judy Geftakys and granddaughter of George and Betty Geftakys, wrote an extensive account of her family's abuse. When Brent T. published her story on this website in November of 2002, along with the restraining order (large PDF file) against her father David, it was the beginning of the collapse of the Geftakys ministry. This account must be understood in terms of real-world information about collusion and domestic violence in order to answer the question, "How could this have gone on for so long without action being taken to stop it?"

Judy Geftakys wrote briefly about of her experience. She also wrote a letter to a former Assembly member in answer to questions about Mike and Sheryl Zach's part in the cover-up of the abuse.

In January 2002 a former member of the SLO Assembly published a personal account on the Rick Ross website of how her eyes were opened to what was happening in SLO.

Betty's Family Background developed from a series of emails sent by her relatives, her nephew, Bob L., and her niece, Linda B. after they discovered the website. This is very insightful about the roots of Betty's teaching in the Assembly. It also gives an interesting glimpse into GG's pre-Assembly behavior.

Susan M., a former Assembly wife, told her story of domestic violence (reposted from the Assembly Bulletin Board).

Kristin's Story is about how George Geftakys schemed and manipulated to pour out his sexual fantasies on his secretary. "Kristin" does an amazing job of describing how a godly innocent young girl came to be trapped by the lecherous old man who was viewed as 'the Lord's servant'. Articles about clergy sexual abuse and collusion help to explain the dynamics.

Beth A., one of George Geftakys' former secretaries, gave a brief account of her experience with him. Beth and "Kristin" never met, by the way - fifteen years elapsed between their experiences with GG.

Brian S. was the first and only Assembly member whose parents hired a cult 'deprogrammer' to get him out of the Assembly when he was a college student.

In An Issue of Control a former long-time Geftakys Assembly member details his painfully controlled courtship. Brian T. comments on this account, "This [article reflects] EXACTLY how MOST relationships were managed in the Assembly. I have heard about and seen this exact story over and over growing up in the Assembly. So the fact that the author didn't use anyone's names (except for a few higher-ups) really strengthened its impact on me, because it comes across as a kind of "Everycouple's" retelling of how they got together in the Assembly. One common and particularly tragic deviation from this oft-repeated drama was when a reluctant sister was pressured into marrying an especially loyal brother. I enjoyed reading about how they found happiness together anyway. Love conquerors all, eh?"

Flora, formerly from the Ottawa Assembly, Canada, wrote of her experiences in the Geftakys organization. She has keen biblical insight into the dynamics that developed in the group. In January 2013 Flora posted an update to her account, reporting a recent apology from Armand and Nancy Cossette.

An anonymous former member of the Otukpo Assembly in Nigeria recounted his alarming experiences with Samuel Ochenjele.

Delila H., also from the Ottawa Assembly, is now a writer. From the perspective of her grandmother's World War II experience she offers insight into the Assembly experience, recovery from it, and the effects of its dissolution.

Chris and Mary B., formerly from the Ottawa Assembly, recount the control, racial prejudice, and lies they encountered from a Fullerton Leading Brother at the beginning of their relationship.

Robb Middleton tells his impressions as a teenager about the upheaval in the Tuscola Assembly when a number of families left in 1988.

Anonymous in Tuscola recounts a childhood of incest in the Tuscola Assembly that was known to the leadership but ineffectively dealt with.

Stranger-Rape and Worse reveals extreme thought reform methods in the Sacramento Geftakys Assembly.

Gretchen W. wrote an incisive article about the former Assembly in Omaha, Nebraska.  She tells her story using Robert Lifton's eight criteria for mind control. She says, "My experience in the assembly fits these cult criteria perfectly."

Marcia M. recounts how she and her family left the Assembly in Ottawa, Canada.

A former Leading Brother from Omaha, who left in 1999 after twenty two years, made an appeal to the leadership to end the abuse, manipulation, superior attitudes, arrogance, lying, pretending, and cover-ups. "I don't want to see another generation perpetuate the wrongs that George and others who stood beside him lived and taught."

"Denise Stanford" was one of George's personal secretaries. Her name has been changed in this account, which was written up by Steve Irons in 1990 from a Workers' Meeting tape.

Getting Hooked is a true and insightful little story of how a young couple got involved in the Annandale Assembly, Virginia. It clearly shows the initial deceptiveness of the Assembly in concealing who they really were until the couple was definitely hooked.

Un-heavenly Ladders is another story of the Assembly induction process, which goes on to describe the inducement to climb the ladder of success in the Assembly.

Joe Sperling tells why he was drawn to the Assembly, and points out several elements in his experience that may be common to others.

A visitor to the Fullerton Assembly in the 1970's comments on the performance-based legalism.

Navigating the Deeper Life is Brent T.'s book-length account of his own spiritual journey.

Fully Committed describes what it is like to be fully committed in the Assembly. Written by Brent T.

Steve Irons tells how the Irons family left the Geftakys ministry in the Spring of 1990. In About Us there is a bit about their life after they left.  In January, 2003, Steve posted a message of sorrow for his part in causing the pain in so many lives.

Scott McC. posted a poignant description on the Assembly bulletin board of what it was like to be an Assembly kid.  An adaptation of his post is republished here with his permission.

Jason Farlow writes about what it was like growing up in the Tuscola Assembly. He is very aware of how he developed a double life early on, to conform outwardly to Assembly expectations while clandestinely having a secret life that broke the rules.

Brent T. collected a number of responses about teens' experiences at Teen Conferences and Teen Teams.

Brad Mathias posted some brief comments on the Assembly bulletin board, which are included here with his permission. He shares some behind-the-scenes insights into the 1985 crisis in the Tuscola Assembly, IL.

An anonymous former AK wrote about her experience of thinking independently in the Assembly. It did not go well, but she is now free in Christ.

Eulaha L. tells the story of her nine-year Assembly sojourn. She shows very clearly how her natural personality was gradually changed into what was approved of by the Assembly, with devastating results.

An anonymous contribution enumerates how normal human longings and aspirations were thwarted in the assembly experience.

Dan N. (not the former Leading Brother in Fullerton) described how he almost got caught in the Assembly system.

This writer observes how the Assembly stole the rite of passage into manhood for some men.

Garth related his experiences in the Lombard Assembly, IL.

Dave Sable reflected on the last conversations he had with his dad.

Kevin W. shared his story. He writes, "I was a boy without a man in the home and was an easy victim."

Margaret Irons sees a connection between the Gerson therapy in the Assembly, and indoctrination into proper Assembly-think.

An international exchange student recounted her experience in a Midwest Assembly, and what happened after her engagement to a non-Assembly man.

Frank recounted the trauma of his brief nine-month sojourn in 1975 in the St. Louis Assembly.

Tom Maddux recalled an incident of unbelievable cruelty in one of George's kangaroo courts.

Bill W. found this website and noticed the similarities between the Local Church, which he had come out of, and the Assembly. His story shows many parallels.

Stories George Told Us is a collection of claims George made both publicly and personally to individuals. Some are disputed by readers.

The Work is a small collection of memories about 'The Work'.

David Kirby wrote an account of how the House of Christian Love became a growing center for Bible teaching and how it was taken over by George Geftakys.

More stories and comments about the Geftakys Assembly can be found on the Rick Ross website.

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