As I sit here watching a beautiful sunrise on Friday morning, I reflect on the events over the last year. It was January 2013 that three young men left Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). One of them, Matthew Fenner, we featured in the last post. It was very soon thereafter Michael Lowry went back in WOFF. What a perplexing time! There were indictments pending at that time against a few WOFF members for their part in the incidents Michael Lowry described which could have put many of the destructive WOFF practices in the public eye. But, alas Michael was taken back in and the confusion would soon thicken over the next few weeks as authorities would hear Michael recant and say the events he told of never happened..???
For those less familiar with Michael’s journey, let’s recap how events unfolded up to the first week in February 2013. Michael was born into WOFF and spent his whole life inside until November 2011. After much intense emotional drama, Michael Lowry was taken to a motel in Forest City, NC on or about November 19, 2011. After two days, I was contacted and agreed to meet with Michael. We spent time at a local restaurant while he told his emotional exit story. After a few phone calls, we were able to secure his personal items which had previously been withheld. His steps after this time would include trips to see relatives as well as other moves to find Michael’s next place in his life.
By February 2012, he had filed a complaint with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s department alleging a series of events in the fourth building (or lower building) where he was held down by several WOFF members and beaten for the perception that he was homosexual. A copy of the unredacted report is found here- Incident Report Notice Mark Morris’ name in the complaint? He was recently voted Best Attorney in Rutherford County… a THREE peat! How does that work??? We can see he is an active member of WOFF and I know he serves in leadership there. Is this confusing for others as well? Let us continue.
Nothing happened concerning the report for several months. Early on, in a meeting one on one meeting, I was told by Rutherford County Detective Billy Scoggins that my efforts to help Michael were not helping but hurting him. He said Michael needed to go across the street to the magistrate and file misdemeanor assault charges. At the time, I thought that was a very strange conversation. Today, I understand more about the hidden messages Det. Scoggins was directing my way.
The timeline of the next few months is cloudy for me, so I will just summarize. National media sources became involved with Michael’s story and much of that is chronicled on the Internet. There was a grand jury hearing in January 2013 and the word was indictments were pending and may be announced during early February. During the last week of January 2013, three young men leave WOFF. It is my belief that soon after this, Jane Whaley issued the “I have heard God, Michael needs to come back ‘home’…” edict and the hunt to retrieve Michael commenced in earnest. Could she have been motivated by the idea that the new survivors may connect with Michael and become a stronger voice in opposition to her claims of purity, love and acceptance of ALL folks? This sign was put up on WOFF owned property off Oakland Road near the entrance on Old Flynn Rd. sometime during 2012.
Soon after the events below unfolded, the sign came down, why? We can only speculate Jane’s reasoning for that move. After all they declared –“We love ALL people”. Did that sign serve its purpose and did WOFF now have a change of heart and NOT love ALL people?
From here we let Michael tell in his own words his remembrance of the events beginning in early February 2013 until the first week of June 2013. The narrative below was taken as dictation by me and a concerned relative. We attempted to improve readability while leaving as much as possible of the original content and context in place. These are events as Michael remembers them. Others may have additional memories or a different interpretation of the following events, but, for today we listen to Michael.
Michael Lowry’s story
Why I’m writing
It has taken me this long to be able to talk about these events, but, I am writing this letter to apologize for recanting all my stories of what I went through when I lived at WOFF. After a week of questions and rehearsals, Jane made me recant and tell you rehearsed lies that I was made to memorize. I knew the statements were false but being under Jane and her mind control, I believed I had no choice but to obey. It was hard to remember all the rehearsed answers. They had different answers for me to memorize depending on who would be asking the questions. That was very difficult and I kept getting them all mixed up. Jane, Robin and other leadership would get upset with me. I knew they were upset by the looks on their faces and the subtle clues all of which were very common during my stay in WOFF. The non-verbal communication was one of the main ways Jane used to control her members and I was included in that group during the meeting.
At the apartment
About 10:30 PM on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, I was relaxing and watching TV in my apartment, when I received a Facebook alert. I was busy watching a movie and didn’t open it. The next day, Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 at about 6:30 I remembered and opened it. I saw it was from Jonathon. I recognized his phone number but I couldn’t be sure it was actually from him or someone else using his computer. It said to call him at 10:30 tonight. During these 4 hours, I called and talked with another former member. My mind was running wild with thoughts that something was wrong with my parents. Were they in some kind of trouble? Were they sick? At 10:30 I called the number. Jonathon answered and he asked how I was doing.
I asked him why was he was contacting me? This was the first time we had talked since I had left. He said he wanted to know where I was. I said I wasn’t telling him unless he tells me why he’s calling me. He said the Pastor Jane Whaley, Mom and Dad have been talking and we’ve decided it’s time for you to come home. I wondered what kind of cheap talk this was. I was disgusted at the thought of returning. He said the fact that I answered the phone is a sign that it’s time for me to go home. At this time, he sounded like he was trying to make me feel good. He seemed to be making his move to put me under the cult influence. I asked why he thought I wanted to come home after the way the people in the church treated me. How would it be any different? He told me I’d be living with David and Nicole and at this time, the thought of it was making me feel sick.
He said we know how you and your mom are very close and she is deathly ill and we think it’s because of you being gone. Until that point I was thinking I would be able to defend myself from this non-sense. There was a glimpse of hope in my mind that the communication would be restored with us. Jonathan said that if you think of what you’ve done, and what you’ve caused your family to go through you would not have wanted to leave. Then the burden of guilt began to cloud my judgment so the thought of returning seemed the only way out of this guilt. My thoughts ran to the extreme of how I was closely tied to my Mother and I realized I was responsible to make things right with her. Visions and nightmares of my mother facing death and her cruel treatment flashed before me. Were my nightmares of her demise coming true? My perception changed in my mind from being Jonathan talking, to Jane using my greatest fear, caused me to consider returning to a place that had been so tormenting to me and where I had experienced so much pain with the only family I had known.
Since my exit in November of 2011, I had been fine with my choice to leave until coming back to NC where the emotion of missing my family began to surface two to three times a week or more. All the feelings that I had that I could fight this situation disappeared . It was overwhelming me on the one hand I may be able to talk to my Mom and on the other side was I am stuck in NC with no foundation or direction that seemed hopeful. Why was my brother calling me after treating me so badly, does he really love me? This is all so confusing. It seemed that they knew what buttons to push and the situation seemed so intense.
I also had just talked with Sherrie Nolan who was in the group years ago. She had just told me on the phone that, at my baby dedication, Jane told the church that I was retarded. I felt angry, hurt and confused. I had thought I was to a point that I could stand my ground but wasn’t prepared for what he wanted me to do.
At that moment there was no moral support and no one beside me to help me clearly see my choices. The man who had been helping me was busy with his family and there was seemingly no one else to ask. I was facing all these emotions and pressure all by myself.
Jonathan said he was tracking my phone and that he was coming to get me. I could hear his car on the phone and was wondering if he really was tracking me. I remembered Ray Farmer or someone else in WOFF leadership saying that they could track cell phones, so, this began to make sense. He said he was in Morganton and needed further directions, He said for me to stay where you are and I will come and get you. I said, No way. If you want to see me it will have to be on my terms. We will not meet at my place because you’ll cause a big stir. Several neighbors in the immediate area were protecting me who would have come to my aide if they had seen a strange car there. The thoughts at this time were coming fast and were making me scared and it was plain I was not prepared to see anyone from my past. Who would be in the car? Jonathan said he’ll meet me at the corner of the street. I gave Jonathan the intersection and put on a long shirt and long pants because it was cold and I was not sure what I would face. Within 15 minutes he was in the area.
I went out in the street thinking I’d say hello and see what he really wanted. I was planning to go right back to the apartment. I had my phone in my hand. I had on a lightweight jacket and snug khaki pants and a red shirt and tennis shoes. Jonathan drove up and said for me to get in the car. He was excited and yet, I knew it was a show. Nicole, his wife, was in tears, which struck me as odd since in WOFF – she had hardly ever showed sympathy for anyone in our family. I said, “What the heck? Jonathan said you better get rid of that kind of language because when we get back there we can’t talk like that I said who will get back there? He said All of us., I said -me? Oh? J ust get in the car. Jonathan said “We have to talk.” I got in the car.
We were alongside the road for about an hour with him trying to convince me to go back … I asked why would you take me back to a place where everyone there had ruined my life. He said Jane had a revelation from God that my spiritual self was ready to acknowledge that I was wrong in leaving. At that moment, that logic seemed logical because it was normal inside WOFF to have leadership tell you what you really thought or needed. I said you think being out here for a year and then going back after all the freedom I’ve had would be that easy? He tried to convince me how easy it would be to come back in and “get back in my place”. After being out a year it did not seem to be so simple to me to get back in the group.
I already had guilt feelings of not helping anyone else leave there. My excitement for being out had given me the desire to help others find what I had learned. There was a hope for me to help others find the hope to leave. I especially wanted to help my Mom, nephew and niece. I actually would help anyone leave that place. But now, the feeling of hope and excitement had gone. I never believed Jane had a revelation.
At gas station
We stopped at a gas station and went to bathroom. My brother saw me throw away my cigarettes and asked what that was? I said I don’t think I will need those any more. The reason for stopping at the gas station was because they said I looked cold and hungry. When I went to buy crackers and a soda, I said “dammit” because I didn’t have my wallet Jonathan said we don’t use that language. They bought them for me. I really wasn’t hungry . I got in the car and checked my phone. Nancy had left a text message asking if I was ok.
This was about 11:15 PM but, I did not see it until 12:30 AM. Jonathan saw me looking at my phone, got out of the car and came around and opened my door. He said give me your phone. We can’t have phones. I told him I’d clear it He said “You won’t need it” I asked him not to throw it away. He grabbed my phone and smashed it on dumpster and threw it away. It was also clear that my brother did not intend to take me back to get my other personal things. As I recall these events, they all seemed to be happening quickly, but, in reality it took a long time for them to complete their mission – to recapture me. My freedoms were slipping away and I did not know how to stop it
At Jonathan’s house
Jonathan drove to his house which took about ninety minutes. Hardly a word was spoken on the way. What was there to say? My life had yet taken another turn. This time it included a disastrous series of events which were unfolding out of my control… It was a very solemn ride. He told me that I would stay there tonight and someone will stay with me when he and Nicole goes to work in the morning. He wouldn’t tell me who. I slept on the couch and they had me shower and put on some of Jonathon’s clothes. They threw all of mine away.
Next morning and at church
When I woke up, Dad was touching my arm. I asked where mom was. He told me I’d see her later. I waited with Dad in this truck outside in the church parking lot until school time. I stayed in Dad’s truck while Dad went into Fellowship Hall and helped with prayer. Then Dad came to get me and took me in Jane’s office where Mom, Jane, Sam, Robert, Douglas, Brooke, and Carla were waiting. They were weeping and crying and hugging me. Dad said it would be a miracle if we ever see him cry again.
Jane and her daughters said I looked famished and sickly. They got me some food and immediately called the physician Ann Brock (FNP) in the church to get me a medical assessment. I went with my Mom. They did an EKG, took my weight and blood pressure at the Dr. Office. I didn’t know they were writing a report about the bad influences I had been exposed to. She prescribed my medications for my blood pressure and took me off my anti-depressant that was helping me so much.
Mom and I were left alone to run errands and I could actually talk with her about what I went through and told her she could get the same help from my friend who was close by. Mom said I can’t leave my husband and grandchildren. Mom told me that she was staying with David and that is where I’ll stay. She must have looked at my face because she asked me if something wrong between you and David? I told her we never got along, which she already knew. She told me how hard it was for her and my Dad to live with David. She said I couldn’t stay with Jonathan because Nichole’s sister is living there.
That same day I went to the Drs., I went to my brother David’s house. Friday and Saturday afternoon, Brooke and others went shopping for my clothes. I was not allowed to go. They gave me until Sunday night church at 6:30 to apologize in front of the congregation.
At church Sunday night
There was no real choice to not make this confession. Jane told me to repent for all the trouble I caused my family and friends. I was nervous and shaking. Jane then took over the supposed confession. The entire episode was very emotional and full of pretending. Jane said things about me and I just shook my head and agreed with her. There was no other option when you are in this position in front of the whole church. After the church service, one of my friends asked me why I didn’t say hi to him. He was not regular member. I found out later that Jane had pulled up his Facebook page and determined he was evil and not to be invited back Jane made me get my Facebook pages and reveal to his parents that he was a part of the whole attacking court case. It was time to let his parents know that they couldn’t have anything to do with him anymore because he had been in contact with me as a church attacker.
After a few days of them being nice to me, the interrogation process started. I was asked about all my Facebook friends and how I met them. Jane made me reveal all my Facebook friend’s and asked me the circumstances surrounding them and our communication. At every point, those interrogating me were back tracking and seeking to see if anything was a lie. Every contact with anyone who was to come to.the church to visit was asked if they were someone who I had contacted while I was out? During the process, one of my brothers went into my Facebook account, changed my password and then printed out my Inbox. I had no say in the matter.
Nancy had the police go over and perform a welfare check on me. Two officers came to the church. My parents, Jane and other leadership members were staring out the door at us. This happened at the church under the awning. I was not alone while talking to them. They could hear everything we were talking about so I couldn’t tell the policemen what I actually wanted to say including what was being done to me.
Jane made me meet with all the guys from the “4th Building” that is now in the basement of Brooke’s house, to prove they weren’t harmful. During my return, I had to be in their weddings and spend time with them at work projects. For the next 3 weeks there were several meetings with Karel Reynolds, Brooke Covington, Josh and Caleb Farmer and Jonathan and David my brothers. I had to explain in detail every person I was involved with and how they treated me. During this time I was not sleeping, I was drawing blanks, and had to listen to major criticism of those people who helped me after I escaped.
Then, after 2 weeks of questions, came the heartache of the “Deliverance”. After being around people I knew since I was a child and having those people who were used to praying for me, and knowing I had no sign of needing deliverance, were now being forced by Jane to pray for deliverance because they wanted me to stay there forever. They were trying to make me feel welcome. I knew this path was ending just like it did before.
All the guys who were there with me were ones I worked with at the sign shop or on work projects. The 4th building residents and leaders of the 4th building and my teachers from school, all could see the discomfort on me during these prayer sessions. These sessions had been physical consequences in the past. In the past I ended up on the floor with broken glasses. The feeling afterwards was supposed to be of a clear mind. I only had 2 sessions of this deliverance. At the end of the sessions I would say ‘Tm good”. They asked what I meant. I said, ‘Tm done.” The girl in my relationship, some in leadership and my brothers were all still screaming in my ear telling me I was not done and were yelling everything that was wrong with me.
Treatment while at WOFF
I wasn’t allowed to go out in public at all. One day, they thought they saw Jerry Cooper in a gray truck. I even told them when he asked for his money back that he had no real ministry or money. You think I would go with him? He travels around and judges other ministers. I knew Jerry Cooper was a fake Christian, who had no money. His house was in his parent’s name. He had no car, shared food with the Amish and got drunk all weekend.
The few times WOFF did take me out, it was in the back of cars with dark, tinted windows. I could only go to the house and church. No shopping at all. Most of the time I had to go with Lewis to church houses for babysitting. Later I was picked up for work and brought home in the wee hours of the morning. I was out in the public at work but was never without a “guard”. Even with fundraisers for the church, like the doughnut sales, I was in the car handing them to others. Even when I went to Jonathan’s office for dental work in another town, I was taken straight there and straight back, never stopping for anything. I had to stay on church property or at my brothers. They were afraid I would get a taste of the freedom I just gave up and take off, or, meet someone who would help me escape. They kept changing their minds as to where I was allowed to go which was confusing to me.
All during this time, I was off my medications and wasn’t sleeping, hardly eating, and my acne came back Because of this and the “unclean” things I was supposedly doing, I was supposed to go to Brooke’s house which is the “New 4th building”. However, Patrick Covington and Matthew Fenner escaped and were out in public. Jane was afraid I’d meet up with them and leave. The “Old 4th Building” was remodeled into a very nice place. This happened after a reporter got a glimpse of what that 4th Building was like when I was in it.
Meetings and questioning were still happening, although most of the details, I already had told them. There were several forced confession sessions each meant to bring me to a new level of submission and brokenness. Karel Reynolds wrote down what questions the authorities might ask me and exactly how I was to respond. But when I told Jane the answers I rehearsed, it came out differently and they strongly rebuked me by yelling in my face. Next came the meeting with Detective Jamie Keever and Mitchell Weiss from the Associated Press. They were brought in to question me about recanting and if I was really serious. It was an awful struggle to say what I had rehearsed because it was not my real feelings. All the people at the rehearsal meetings were at this meeting to make sure I said what I had rehearsed. They didn’t trust me to say the answers correctly. They were all staring at me and shaking their heads because I wasn’t telling the rehearsed answers. I got confused because they worded the questions differently. After the reporters left, my family members called me a “big fat liar”.
I went into the Sheriff Department with the church attorney, Jeff Cooper. He went in first and told Detective Jamie Keever what I was going to say. Then I went in to talk with Detective Keever. He asked me questions and when I answered him he said that that is not what Cooper said you were going to say. He couldn’t release any recanting statement until he knew for sure District Attorney, Brad Greenway, would accept our different stories.
The next day Mom, Dad, Jonathan and Atty. Joshua Farmer took me to the FBI in Asheville. Before I went in, Atty. Farmer went in to talk with the FBI agent, Andy Romagnuolo. Then I went in and Andy asked me questions and again, I didn’t reply with my rehearsed answers. Then Farmer and Jonathan went in, and went through the same scenario. Andrea, the Social worker for the FBI, knew I was very uncomfortable and asked if I wanted to stay with her. I did, but I could not tell her the truth with my parents and brother beside me and at that point, I didn’t have control of my own mind and couldn’t say what I wanted to anyway.
The meeting lasted about four or five hours … I did not know the actual outcome as the meetings seemed to just end for that time. I felt really confused and angry that I could not express my true feelings – my Dad and Mom were too close physically for me to get a time to talk to Andrea privately. If I had had that opportunity, I might have stayed with her. It was all so contrived and regimented.
Later, I found out that Andy Romagnuolo said he did not know if either story was true but he seemed to believe the first story that I told when he first interviewed in November of 2011 (?)when I first filed charges against four guys in the cult for abuse. Andy explained to me that it is a Federal Offense to lie to a Federal Agent and that I could be charged for doing so. No, I did not know that. It seems that the attorneys for WOFF neglected to mention that what they were getting me to do was illegal. Mr. Romagnuolo went through the possible charges and stated that the church can’t protect me. Even while he was going through all this with me, I did not feel I could give my true feelings because of the pressure from WOFF. Dad, Mom and I left early while Jonathan and Josh Farmer stayed to smooth things out with the authorities. All of the dealings with the WOFF attorney and the FBI were kept from me and my family regarding whether I was being charged or not.
February 24th, a letter about me was written by someone to my relatives back in Michigan. I never saw the letter while I was in NC. I have since read it and it is full of lies. Regretfully, those who conjured up the letter signed my name to it as well. They signed it as from Mom, Dad, David and Nicole, Jonathan and Nicole and Michael Roy.
Later on, while home with David, Nicole, Dad, Mom, and Jonathan, I was told to copy another letter that someone wrote to my Michigan relatives as if I had written it. David stood over my shoulder to make sure I copied it correctly. He made me sign it and mail it. It also was a bunch of lies. Even after all the years of being in WOFF, I knew this was the “normal” way for letters to be written to outside relatives but it didn’t make it any easier for me. They all knew I was better off back there in Michigan.
When I was at the cult, Jane tried to marry me off to a girl from Brazil. This young lady had come from Brazil in 2010 for a week seminar and then went back. Jane wanted me to go to Brazil with her now to see how we got along. We would come back after a few months and Jane would figure out then whether or not we would get married. Ifwe did, we would move to Brazil and I would become a missionary. I was to be set-up as a memorial, a testimony to remind others that the events that happened to me could happen to anyone and they could return to walk with God and marry someone He picked out for them, who they did not know. This level of involvement from Jane into initiating my relationship was more intense even by her standards. Even after growing up in WOFF, this all seemed very weird or strange to happen to me.
When I was in the group in years past, I had been in a relationship with another young lady and it seemed that when I did retu rn, I should have been with her because this relationship was one of the focus points that Jane used to entice me to come back. That did not happen because for whatever reason Jane went in a different direction totally at her discretion.
Now, the girl from Brazil would go to my brother David’s wife to gossip behind my back and say that I was not living according to Jane’s rules for being in a relationship. She was supposed to go directly to Jane. Dad wouldn’t allow me to go to Brazil with her although it had already been approved by Jane and everyone in the church. I would have done anything to get out of there! Once the options to Brazil were canceled, the options were few in number. If I had stayed, I would have to live either with my brother who abused me, or live in the 4th Bldg. which was now in the basement of Brooke Covington’s house.
After about another month of seeing how my family was worse off, as far as not getting along, I was a mess. Not having my pills, being abused by them jerking my arm, yelling in my face, David and Nicole acting as my parents, being yelled at, the arguing in front of my 9 year old nephew who was on the floor crying, my mom’s crying, and the backbiting affected me to the point where I could see the pattern was the same and I had to get out of there. There was nothing else I could do.
Because my options were getting slim, I had a change of attitude and knew this was my last chance to either cooperate with their plan or leave. This caused much confusion and hurt to people I knew all my life, especially my sister-in-law, Nicole. She was aware that I was angry and forced me to go to Jane’s office with much yelling and pushing. Then David said I never knew you, I never cared about you. He acted like I was an alien. After that the arguing of going to Brazil or not began between my parents and me about not having enough money to go, dad not hearing about what everybody else had heard about me going and not ever giving his permission, and also if Nicole and David should really be in charge of what was really going to happen. I also knew no more could be done to help Lewis’ future on my part. David and Nicole also didn’t understand why I could not stand to hurt Lewis again by leaving him and Avery.
The options of living with my brother, or in the 4th building that I found out was in Brooke’s basement, were unacceptable in my estimation and it was time for my final decision to leave no matter what was said. But, that wasn’t decided at church by anyone. I was allowed to go home and act like nothing ever happened. The fact that I wasn’t allowed around Lewis also influenced my decision. I couldn’t sleep so I stayed up all night talking with my dad until I left several hours later.
The last night in WOFF- Dad and I talk
The night I left, I told Dad I appreciated him being my father but to just let me go and you won’t have to bother with me being under submission and being in a relationship that is not for me. I said, you have never been a real dad to me and now maybe you can be a good dad to your other two sons. I sarcastically said, thanks for picking me up and bringing me back here and for all the false promises of taking care of me. I want to know the truth.
What does Jane want for me? Dad said, she wants you to know you made a mistake, saying you were assaulted. I asked dad, was I lying? Dad said people are not sweet all the time, even we get upset. I said none of you want my help. No one wants my relationship to be restored between David and Jonathan. What is the 4th building being used for now and look what it did to me. Jane is not telling the truth about eliminating the 4th building and it’s true purpose for me and others. It’s been moved to Brooke’s basement. I watched Lewis and Avery suffer in this family.
Why am I back? Mom is not sick, David is a backstabber. I know you don’t agree but I have never seen my mother so different and there is no way you can control me now. So it’s best just to let me go. Jane doesn’t want me to go to college. I’m going to get closure and go on with my life. I told my dad to never step in my way again or you will have the FBI on your back. I have never seen such Demonic, deceptive, lying tongues and demonic spirits of betrayal in my life. I come in as a lost member and they changed the story all the time of what I was to say when asked questions. Then Dad called Jane and Jane tried to convince me to stay and asked me about what would happen if I left the girl. Then Jane said, you know you’ve been in a relationship with that girl for 3 years. What? What are you going to do about it, said Jane? Now I understood the accusation that since I “knew” her for a few years from a distance we were a couple. Dad and I talked from 1:30am until about 3:00 am.
At this point, Mom came downstairs after hearing my Dad revealing the 4th building plans for me, she grabbed my leg, sobbing and crying. She asked why Dad was talking to me about the reasons for living with someone in the church who assaulted me. She said to my Dad – that was never to be told! Jane knew I would run off, if I was told the truth. I told Mom to- “Let go of my leg or I will call the police.” I told her I am leaving. Look at the mess you’ve made trying to be a perfect mom. I told her to never take advice from people you don’t know and if you ever want help, let me know. Even though she was under David’s control, Mom still did not want to run. It scared me when I realized she did not want my help. That night was closure for me. No one else woke up until I ran out of the house. Then I heard them yelling; “Help us Jesus” and that was last time I saw or spoke to them.
For those who have made it this far, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read and learn about what I consider one of the saddest chapters in the life of Michael Lowry. There is so much I want to say here. Many thoughts come at once. First off, let me address Josh Farmer’s statement made in a video during 2013 that Michael went back of his own accord. From this narrative, was it clear that Michael was told what he would be required to do? Was he told ahead of time that he would be recanting his statements and facing the same FBI agents that had taken his story before? Was he told BEFORE he went back in his clothes would be thrown away; he would be taken off the meds that helped him sleep and be subjected to hours of questioning and confessions of past sins? Was he told he would be kept in seclusion and under tight guard and not be allowed in public- BEFORE he got in the car to talk to his brother? In a word- no. Michael got caught up in a vortex meant to draw him in by capitalizing on his weaknesses. Weaknesses known only too well by Jane and his family members. I remind you that another survivor went into WOFF not knowing he would not be allowed to watch television, listen to the radio or watch movies- that was Bryan. Remember his statement about that in a previous post?
So, for Mr. Farmer to say Michael went back in of his own accord is not totally accurate. He may have gotten in the car with his brother, but, he did not know what was ahead of him because he was not told what had already been planned for him. It was not a fully informed decision to reenter WOFF, and so the same with many others who seem to join WOFF “of their own accord.” They are not told the scope of how their life will drastically change once they become a member of WOFF.
I can’t pass this point and not state that Michael did not ask to be born into WOFF. He did not ask to be subjected to the harsh disciplines, the shunning, the beatings, the taunting- it was put upon him. Many survivors, who watched Michael growing up, agreed he was many times segregated and treated as second class even among such a sub-culture that operates in a pyramid structure. Michael was always at the bottom – it seemed to me. Michael did not ask to be treated as he was by his immediate family. Yet, in that group all was led and ordained by Jane. You just knew “Jane had a hold of the situation”, right?
If my memory serves me right, early in the morning of June 3, 2013; I received a call that Michael was at a Waffle House and needed help. Soon, I was on my way to pick him up and help him in his next step in life. When he first sat down in my car, there was a momentary eerie silence. I think at that moment he feared I would berate him. Really, all I could do was listen. There may have been a few questions for clarification. But, in retrospect, I thought of it as a kind of twilight zone for those who exited religious cults. As he told me his story which you just read, it was hard not get angry and shout.
Jane should be ashamed of the destruction she and her group have wrought in Michael life, his family’s life and the others around them. The destruction and turmoil inside the Lowry households is the fruit of Jane’s ministry to them. They are her banner and advertisement for new members to see- right? No, Michael’s story is not featured as “come see… come see the works of the Lord…” See how we destroyed one who needed our care and encouragement. See how we could not, would not help one who needed help. See how we used him for our purposes and forced him to recant the truth to keep the scrutiny of authorities off our back and out of our “godly” lives… Jane, you should be ashamed.
Fast forward a few months and now Michael is learning the responsibilities which go with the freedoms he now enjoys. It is odd that one who was treated so badly in that group now has more freedoms and actually more potential than he ever would have if he had stayed. He has more freedoms than any regular WOFF member will ever enjoy- unless they leave Jane’s clutches. Right now, he has more freedoms than his parents and brothers. There is a certain beauty to see one who has fought through so much come so far and know he can go much further. Michael’s exit process, reentry and second exit were not always pretty. He was confused and knows he has not made great decisions at every point. A few felt he was not making good choices at all. But, honestly there is no handbook for someone in his situation to give exact steps on how to come out a group like WOFF.
Against steep odds, Michael has emerged from a mire of circumstances which would cause many to have succumbed and given up. For him, going forward will not always be easy, but in reality he is obviously used to that.
And with that, let us remember:
“It is never too late to wake up and leave and reclaim your life!” Steve Hassan
Thank you, for taking time to visit and read this blog. Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. The author is not a licensed mental health professional and encourages those that need professional help to seek it. The intent of the material is to inform and be a resource. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. There are readers at WOFF. Jane told me and Josh confirmed it.
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Scripture references are Amplified Version unless otherwise noted. (Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation ) This is post number 459.