(trigger warning: discusses Christian faith and graphic descriptions of abuse)
One of the most difficult issues I have personally dealt with in my healing journey has been remembering the times I recanted my faith. I want to share from my own experiences, in the hope that this may be helpful to others.
Not every group uses the methods I describe, and not every survivor will undergo this. But some groups do, and some survivors of occultic abuse will. The amount and degree of effort will vary. The group I was from – the Jesuits – is one of the most extreme.
When I was 14, I became a Christian – a real one – in my American presentation. My life was transformed completely. For 3 months (which is unusual, I believe God protected me) I experienced the joy, love, peace of knowing the real Jesus and His forgiveness. Because I was already in a leadership position in the order, this could not be tolerated (they were Satanists, after all), and so after this initial 3 months, I went through terrible experiences to cause me to give up my faith and recant (these experiences went on for 6 weeks, culminating in watching the deaths one by one on crosses of my Vatican class of 12, who I considered closer than any brothers or sisters in my presentations). After the sixth was tortured in front of me, I recanted. I gave up, and denied Christ to save them.
At that point, I created a split based upon the despair and utter horror, who became “Christian 2”, the new presenter. This part agreed never to pray to the real Jesus, and lived a form of Christianity without its power. To seal the programming, I was sent on several missions to infiltrate Christian ministries in Europe and Asia, and was forced to other deeds, such as cursing the Holy Spirit, and telling an effigy of “Jesus” that I hated Him, and other things.
For years, I struggled in my faith, and wondered where all the love, joy and peace I had experienced when I first came to know Jesus went. All I felt when I prayed was tremendous guilt, shame and fear, without knowing why. I wanted to be Christian, but found it impossible. But eventually, as I went to Church, prayed, read the Bible, against all odds, Christian 2 became a Christian. Other parts deeper in did as well. In 1995, when I left the order the first time and fled to Texas, I began working on deprogramming. For several years, I was on “sabbatical” while they tried to determine what to do to me (during this time, my American children came to live with me as well). Then, in 2003, I went through a terrible time of reprogramming, when I was forced to recant again. The cruelty of what was done cannot be described (loved ones tortured to death in front of me, etc.). This time it lasted 3 months. At the end of this time, I was in despair, weary and could no longer hold onto my faith in God, and so I recanted again, and denied my faith (choosing Satan) to “save” the lives of those I loved.
I also at that time swore my love and loyalty to “he who has come” who was a young child, agreeing to be his servant.
Over the next few years, I struggled with intense panic, the belief that I was “doomed to hell” and loss of faith. Prayer was painful. But while they were able to program me against hearing Scripture, or prayer, and to promote a false Kristianity, they could not program out the Holy Spirit. Over the next few years, I continued to pray in spite of the pain, and in 2007 left the order.
As the memories of my own recanting several times came up, it was tremendously difficult emotionally, and caused a faith crisis. I wondered if I had “crossed the line” where God could never forgive me. I wondered if all the verses in Revelation (about taking the “mark of the beast”) applied to me. I was in despair, believing that God would never be able to forgive someone who had recanted and denied Him not just once, but several times, and who had kissed the ring of the one who will be his enemy on earth.
As I have prayed and talked these issues out with others, I have come to believe that the true God is merciful, and He sees the difference between a reaction that is created out of fatigue, trauma and being pushed beyond physical and emotional endurance, and a true freewill choice. I am not a theologian or minister, and I freely admit that I do not have all the answers to the questions these events raise (one day, I will ask Him face to face). But I do believe that I am forgiven: that the true God has heard my heart’s cry for forgiveness for these acts.
One thing that has helped has been to read books by Christians, such as Richard Wurmbrandt (who was tortured and in jail for years for his faith). Wurmbrandt describes pastors and others who recanted their faith in jail, and later came back to their faith: this means that if a person at a later date is no longer being traumatized, they can ask and receive forgiveness.
Another story that helped me was reading a story told by the early Christian historians (I believe Eusebius), about the apostle John. Apparently, when John was in his later years, he commissioned a young Christian adolescent into the care of the church leader there. John had to leave, and did not return for several years. During this time, the young man fell away from his faith, becoming friends with local rough men. He became the leader of a gang of robbers, and even murdered men. Years later, John came back to this church, and asked the leader what had happened to the young man. Upon hearing what had happened, John risked his life by going to the den these violent young men lived at, asking for the leader by name. Upon seeing John, and hearing his words of love and forgiveness, the robber leader fell to his knees, asked forgiveness, and was restored to the church. He eventually became a church leader.
This young man wasn’t tortured beyond endurance; did not see loved ones die to make him leave the faith. Yet when he asked forgiveness, he was completely restored.
I believe that God, in His love and mercy and goodness, will do the same and more for ANYONE who asks, regardless of ANYTHING they have done (I am an example of this). I believe that the true God can and does forgive those who recant, including the terrible things they are often asked to do to “prove” their change of heart (such as killing Christians, leading pastors and church leaders sexually astray, etc.)
Basically, I believe that the true God is greater than any programming or setup that an individual can be put through. He is merciful beyond our wildest imaginings or hopes, loves us, and can restore even the most wounded. I am grateful for this love, and my hope is that sharing this will help others who may struggle with this or similar issues.