The Liberty Connection

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Gunther, Sandi (Canada)

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Fourteen Years a Two-by-Two

I was not raised as a Two-by-Two. I had never met one. So how did I become one? Here is my story.

I was an only child and my father died when I was an infant. I lived with my mother and step father. My step father died when I was 17, leaving me to care for my mother who, by then, was very handicapped with multiple sclerosis. Just before I turned 20, my husband and I were married. Because of Mom's MS, she asked us newly-weds to live with her. We all agreed it likely would not be a good idea, however, we thought we should give it a try anyway. My husband and I cared for my mom for one and a half years before telling her that we must establish a place of our own. We moved to an apartment and that was the beginning of Mom needing a full time housekeeper/lady sitter. Many lady sitters came and went over a period of about one year. Then Mom hired a single lady who was in her thirties. This lady was a Two-by-Two.

My step father had been a Catholic. He married my mother when I was seven. When I was nine, my Mom and I took a few lessons from the priest and we both became Roman Catholic. We attended Mass each week. In my early years the Mass was in Latin. I did not attend a Catholic school, and as a result, my knowledge of Catholicism was very limited. After my step father died, I continued to take my Mom to church. Once I was married, I no longer went to church. Mom rarely went, as she, was not able to go by herself.

Enter the Two-by-Two lady sitter. She agreed to work for Mom if she could have every Sunday morning and evening and every Wednesday evening off and four special days each July. As the lady sitter did not drive, some of her "friends" picked her up for the meetings. Soon the "friends" began taking Mom to the Sunday Gospel Meeting. After about two missions Mom professed. I was shocked! She told me "Now, I have peace."

Apparently, I said "I bet!" I felt betrayed. She had led me into Catholicism and even though I didn't go to church any more, I felt, when she professed, that I had been dumped!

Six years went by. I still knew very little about this "church." My Mom never suggested that I attend. Another "church" lady, who was by then my children's baby sitter, would frequently invite me to the Gospel Meetings. I attended once. There were a lot of old grey-haired people there. I couldn't understand the preaching and I found it quite boring.

A few months passed. One day two ladies rang my doorbell. Somehow I knew these were Workers. I invited them in and we visited. I remember asking if they were mother and daughter. The younger one laughed out loud and the older one (not old enough to be her mother) was certainly not laughing. They had laid their "business card" on the coffee table when they came in. We continued talking, mostly about nothing. Finally I said in a snarky voice, "Aren't you going to invite me to your meetings?" The older one pointed to her card on the table: "Well, there it is," she said.

After they left I thought that since they had made the effort to come to my house, and my baby sitter continued to invite me to the Gospel Meetings, I would go again. Anyway, it would likely please my Mom. So I began to attend the Gospel Meetings, taking my two boys, then about four and six, with me. My husband was not interested (thank goodness). Besides my going to the Gospel Meetings, the Workers began visiting me about twice a week.

It took me several meetings to figure out what they were talking about. I remember them talking about sheep in one meeting, but they seemed to mean people. If they were talking about people, why did they say sheep? Eventually, I did catch on to their lingo. But before I did, I joined a local ladies' Bible group to see if I could learn something about the Bible. It seemed to me that everyone at the Gospel Meetings could completely understand what was being said. It must be because they are all familiar with the Bible, I thought. So if I could learn a few things from this neighbourhood ladies' Bible group, then I might be able to understand the Gospel Meetings. I mentioned to the Worker that I was in this study group, and she told me it wasn't necessary and I should just keep coming to the Gospel Meetings. I began to feel that God was dealing with me; but to "join up" was no easy decision.

An isolated incident happened. A neighbour lady had become a close friend of mine just about this time. One day, for no reason apparent to me, she called me and said I could no longer come for coffee and we could no longer be friends. I was devastated. What had I done? Where could I turn for comfort? It was Wednesday and although I had never been to anything other than a Gospel Meeting, I decided to go to the Wednesday night meeting.

I phoned my baby sitter, as I knew they had a meeting in their home. Her daughter answered and I asked her if I could come. She said she would call me right back, and she did. (I think she contacted the Workers to see if it would be okay.) So I attended my first Wednesday Bible study. Somehow I expected it to be a different type of meeting. I thought everyone would be sitting around a table and one person would be teaching from the Bible. I listened as each one gave a testimony. I couldn't believe the humility of the men. That is what really spoke to me. I began to cry and could not get control. I used tissue after tissue. In the middle of the last hymn I was so embarrassed that I got up and walked into the kitchen. Later in the kitchen the "Worker I knew best" put her arm, around me. No doubt the whole group, in fact all the friends, had great hope for me after that Wednesday night!

There was another newcomer at the Gospel Meetings. I frequently tried to talk to her alone but a professing lady, who by that time was friends with both of us, was always present and I could never talk to this other newcomer. I even mentioned to "my" Worker that it seemed I could never talk privately with the other new lady. She said we were both like spiritual babes. She suggested that babies didn't play together until they were a few years of age. Finally, we were both at preps cleaning a brother Worker's cottage when I asked the other lady if she was going to profess. She thought she might and suggested to me that I could always profess and if I didn't like it, I could always quit. That sounded sensible to me. So I gave myself a few more weeks and I took that "stand to my feet.” I remember it was quite a tearful experience and I did feel close to God.

Once I professed, I learned that I was expected to be in Sunday and Wednesday meetings, as well as the Gospel Meetings. I took my place in each, just like a good little Two-by-Two! By convention time, my hair was barely long enough to put up. My husband couldn't believe I was wearing a bun on my head! I didn't explain to him that I had professed—he would never understand. He didn't keep me from the meetings and took the attitude of "to each his own."

I remember once after I professed I was with a lady (a worldly friend of mine!) who commented to me: "You know, Sandi, just because you joined that church, you don't have to let yourself go!" Another time, early on, I was shopping. My hair was up but was really still too short to have a proper Two-by-Two hair style. It looked awful and I felt awful. Two teenagers passed me and burst out laughing. I felt sure they were laughing at me. I mentioned this to "my" Worker and she just smiled and said I looked just fine.

On another occasion, perhaps a year after professing and when I had figured out how to do my hair, I stopped to see the folks where I used to work long before I professed. Quite out of the blue, this former co-office-worker said:

"Sandi, what do you think your best (physical) feature is?"
I said, "Well, I guess my hair is."
"Right," she said, "So why do you wear it that way?" I just smiled.

At my first Sunday morning meeting, I took note of how things were done. I was coached a bit first. "My" Worker told me to be ready to give a testimony based on what I had been reading in the Bible. She explained the emblems and said that until I was baptized I would not take part in them. Of course, she attended my first Sunday morning meeting just like she had that first Wednesday meeting. My Mom, too, was in this Sunday meeting. Although she was no doubt pleased that I had professed, I don't believe she said that to me. So, at that first Sunday meeting I was really watching.

I looked to see if it was okay to cross my legs. I was not impressed that everyone drank from the same cup. I shook hands with each one after the meeting and joined in with a pleasant word or two with each. I was being moulded to the image of the perfect professing woman.

All the friends were very nice to me and my two boys. The boys had attended every Gospel Meeting and fellowship meeting with me. My husband didn't object to their going. We were included potluck suppers, going away picnics, birthday parties and dinners and lunches from time to time. Once there was a surprise birthday party just for me! I got the impression that a lot of social activity was the norm.

As my husband was not interested in socializing with the friends, I went it alone. How could I have a social gathering, in turn, for the friends that had been so kind to me? I decided that I would have a quilting bee. I invited all the ladies a few at a time, to work on the quilt. The quilt was then given from all the ladies as a gift for a young friend who was soon to be married.

It took me a few years to realize that a lot of socialization didn't go on unless you were part of the "in" crowd or from a big professing family.  The early attention that I received was because I was "new".  About four years after professing, I was invited to a special "parents" meeting. Most of the people there were couples.

A special sheet of information for parents was given to each couple. Those, like me, who weren't a couple, were to read the sheet of information at a couple's house on another occasion. Non-professing spouses were not to see this information. I, unfortunately, never did get to read it. I felt just awful at that meeting. At the coffee social after the meeting, couples visited with couples. They stopped to say "Hi Sandi," and moved right on to another "couple." I felt terribly alone. I left early and drove home in tears. Over the years, off and on, this continued to be my experience. Conventions were often very difficult especially in the evening when everyone visits in the yard, sipping on juice or soup.

About two months after I professed, I began to hear a message that no doubt was given before, but I had not "caught." That message came in several ways to my ears. Once, at a "friend's," I heard someone referring to outside teenagers as "the worldly kids." I remember I blurted out a half laugh as she said that. Then I felt embarrassed when I realized that that was part of the Two-by-Two "talk." Now that I was "in" (professing) I was beginning to hear a lot of that kind of message.

By now I had been to my first convention and it was time for a new mission of Gospel Meetings. I began to hear clearly, for the first time, that this "way" was the only true way; that it was from the beginning and that all other churches and preachers were false. What? I could hardly believe my ears. These were beautiful people. The best I had known. In my eyes they were perfect. If they believed this was the only way, then they must be right.

That left me with a problem. I didn't believe it. In the Gospel Meetings, it became more clear. Unless you hear the gospel story from these true servants, you cannot be saved. What? I had professed and I hadn't heard "that message" before. And further, once one had found the true way and had left it, one had no hope of salvation. To me that translated that if I left this group of people, I would go to hell! So, I continued on, hoping and praying that one day I would get this necessary revelation. I continued on, thinking that I was the only one who did not believe "it." My boys never did profess. I didn't talk to them about the Bible, nor did I do any Bible studies with them. Looking back, I'm sure I felt I couldn't push something on them that I didn't believe myself.

There were times when I fit in quite comfortably. There were times when I was quite uneasy. Often, even though I normally function in extrovert mode, I was unable to look another in the eye. I felt my service was poor. It was hard to read and pray. The Bible made little sense to me. I did learn a lot about the Bible at first but that was not hard to do. I had not even heard of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John before I met the Two-by-Two's.

Before I continue on with my experience of how I learned the real truth and am now in the fortunate position of being an ex Two-by-Two, I will relate a few true stories which I will never forget.

My mother had not been able to attend convention for several years. I asked the Workers if I could tape record the speakers for my Mom since she was not able to use her hands to read notes. The Worker I asked, a fairly senior one, said he would check and get back to me. The answer came back that I could not record the speakers. I asked why and he said "Because it might get into the wrong hands." Looking back, I wonder why that didn't sound strange to me. One would think that if God's true word is being preached, there would be nothing to hide. Isn't God's word able to stand against any test?

Having professed about 10 years, I decided to "do something" with my hair. I had noticed a few ladies had done a bit of scissor snipping on their hair. I cut my bangs so they would give my hair a fuller look. They were not curly and unless you looked quite hard, you might not notice they were cut. I blended them in and sprayed them down. I did look better and some said so.

Soon after the "cutting" the Workers asked if they could come for lunch. I knew somehow that this lunch was about "bangs." Sure enough, one of the Workers stated that they were visiting a few of the married ladies who, apparently, had done as I had. He said, "We want to keep the standard high." Convention was in about two months and I told him I couldn't have them grown out by then and that I really preferred them the way they were but that I guessed I would begin growing them. The following year, he came up to me at the convention and in the sweetest, slowest voice he said: "We certainly appreciate your hair."

At that moment, I was reminded of a Worker who said: "Hey, no rules." That particular Worker, a few years earlier, was showing me a photo of his brother's wedding. His brother was wearing a full beard. I asked him, "Is your brother professing?"
"Yes," the Worker replied.
"But," I said, "He has a beard!"
The Worker took one step back, raised his hands shoulder high and stated: "Hey, no rules."
I thought to myself "Ya, right."

On another occasion, I had the Workers over for lunch. I was mentioning how "people of the world" are always getting us ladies mixed up because of our appearance. I proceeded to tell him a story of my experience in Hawaii. My professing mother had been in a wheelchair for a number of years and she wanted to take a trip to Hawaii. So she took me and a Two-by-Two nurse along to assist her. One day I left the condo and went down to the local pineapple stand. I stated that I wanted to buy a pineapple. Another man who was working out of the same stand asked me,
"Are you here in Hawaii with your husband?"
I replied "No, I'm actually here with my invalid mother and a nurse. Why do you ask?"
"Well," he said, "I'm looking for couples who would be interested in the condominium time sharing plan."
"Well," I said, "That lets me out, my husband is not here." I purchased the pineapple and I left.
(At this point I should tell you that I weighed about 50 pounds more than the nurse. Her hair was almost black and mine is reddish brown.)

A couple of days later, the nurse went to buy a pineapple. Stepping up to the pineapple stand, she asked to buy a pineapple.
The other man said to her "Are you here in Hawaii with your husband?"
The pineapple man said "No, no, you remember her. She's here with her invalid mother and nurse."
The nurse said "Well, err—not exactly. I'm the nurse."

So, a few years later, I'm telling this story to the Workers and one of them said in a most gentle, soft manner, "Oh, yes, they would recognize the same spirit."
Much to my own surprise I blurted out "Spirit, nothin'—it was the bun!"
There was no response from the Workers.

A few years later, I was re-telling this story to some elders in my city. They were siding in with the Workers that it was our spirit that those men in Hawaii saw. They were mocking me as I grew angrier, trying to get them to see that there can't be much spirit in saying "I'd like to buy a pineapple." I pressed them for several minutes to admit it was our appearance that they recognized. These elders continued mocking me with their verbal teasing and body language. Finally, in exasperation, I snapped my fingers and said "If this group of people can be this ignorant on something that is so logical, I could be out of there right now." At that point, their demeanour changed, but they would not verbally agree that it was our appearance that confused the two men.

Not so long after I professed, I heard one of the friends, who was raised in "The Truth" state that in the area where he came from, the worldly people called the friends the Two-by-Twos. I remember he had mentioned that his father had always said, "I'd  rather be a Two-by-Two than a one by nothin'!" That actually spoke volumes to me. That was the first time that I heard those words “Two-by-Two.” But they stuck in my memory bank for future use. His father's comment was also one of the first indications I had that the “friends" thought they were a cut above the rest.

In 1991, a "friend" mentioned to me that an elder's wife had read the book called The Secret Sect. She also stated that the elder's wife would not show her the book because we were not supposed to read it. In July of 1992, after 13 years of trying to believe that "the way" was from the beginning and that other churches were false, I decided to see it I could find the notorious book.

I went to the library. I asked the librarian. Nothing. Dead end. I pretty much decided that I couldn't get the book because the "friend" that told me about it wasn't positive of the title and she never mentioned an author. I was disappointed but I decided to stick around in the library anyway and pick up a few books. There on the shelf was a book called Sect, Cult and Church in Alberta by William Edward Mann. On one page, reference was made to Two by Twos. I couldn't believe my eyes. On several other pages, the book referred to Cooneyites. But who were they? I decided that if something was written about Two-by-Two's in this book, maybe the library would have other books on Two-by-Two's. The librarian directed me to The Encyclopedia of American Religions. I began to search. I thought Two-by-Two's were only called that in a little part of Canada, so it never occurred to me to look under that name in the encyclopedia. 

I began at the beginning of those two volumes, and after about three hours of looking—there it was "the Two-by-Two's." It stated that the group had been started in the late 1800's in Ireland by a man named William Irvine. Boy, what a shock! At the bottom of the article, there were references to a scant few articles that had been written. I immediately asked the library to acquire these for me. The first one arrived about two months later. Each successive article led to another. One day the librarian phoned and said they couldn't locate a certain article, but they did have access, through the National Library in Ottawa, to a book called The Secret Sect. What good news! I read the book and began pondering all that I had learned. I knew of Threshing Floor Ministries, but I was not able to acquire their address until after I quit professing, some eight months after I had learned of William Irvine.

So how did I get "out"? The Secret Sect was s well documented, I did not doubt it. Of course, I never did believe "the way" was from the beginning. One thing still bothered me. The people seemed happy and nice, and the Workers always pointed out that no committees were needed because God was the leader. Days, possibly weeks went by as I thought about this. How did the system work so well? It came to me. The word I was looking for was CONTROL. I knew that I was not presenting myself to be who I really was. I knew that to profess I had to exercise control of my every move, every appearance, every word. And then I thought of the few times that the Workers exercised their control over me. I realized that it had all happened to me in a very subtle way. It was subtle control. It was becoming harder and harder to profess. I needed out. I wanted out. But I was afraid. Even though I never believed the fundamental beliefs that the Workers seemed so sure of, I still had fear. "What if the Workers are right? Will I go to hell?"

The week before Easter 1993 was very difficult. I could think of nothing else but my agony of living a lie. The lie was that by my life I was saying that I believed what the Workers were preaching. I could no longer live that lie. Easter Sunday was the last meeting I attended. I decided not to go to the Gos¬pel Meeting that night.

That afternoon I visited my mother, who by this time had been in a nursing home for nearly 20 years. As I sat by her bedside she said "What are you thinking about? Your face looks terrible." I was so preoccupied with all of this grief that my grief was clear to her on my face. I had no idea when I was going to "get out." I thought I would stay in, possibly a few weeks or months. But when Mom said "What are you thinking about?" I just replied "Well, Mom, if you must know, I'm thinking about leaving the church." She looked surprised and started to weep. I asked her if she believed that this "way" was from the beginning and that since neither of her husbands had a chance to know the Workers, if she thought they were going to hell? She did not answer either way, but the look on her face was good enough for me. We finished our visit and I immediately went and told my best "friend." I told her I could no longer live what, for me, was a lie.

The next month was both beautiful and difficult. This, only an "ex" will understand. Unlike some, I did not leave because of the preaching of incorrect doctrine. I did not know that the Workers' interpretation of the Bible was twisted. Little by little, the right people came into my life. I read and read and read. I talked and talked and talked.

One day I was reading a book on cults. It stated that one way to identify a cult was if its members don't believe in the Trinity. I had heard that word—Trinity—but I didn't know what it meant. The cult book referred to John 1:1 and 1:14. I looked it up in my King James Version Bible—the same Bible I had used for 14 years. The Holy Spirit immediately revealed to me that Jesus was God! Well, I began to read my Bible and for the first time in my life it made sense to me. I couldn't put it down!

Perhaps, reading and studying and praying for a whole summer doesn't appeal to you, but that's exactly what I did. I read from the KJV Bible, and The Living Bible. I read books on cults, material from Threshing Floor Ministries, and material from MacGregor Ministries (Box 294, Nelson, British Columbia V1L5P9). I read the books The Church Without a Name, Has the Truth Set You Free?, The Grace Awakening, Coping with the Cults, Toxic Faith, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, Shame and Grace, Why Can't I Be Me?, and a few more. I listened to Christian music, John McArthur tapes, and tapes about cults. I wasn't able to get enough!

I've attended several different churches and have met some wonderful, kind, understanding people. I've talked to and met with several like me who have got out. In all of this, the thought was real to me that I was one who never believed the basics that the Workers preached. After I found out about the cover-ups, it still took me over eight months to leave! My mother is my only relative who is a Two-by-Two. I often wonder, "How could anyone get out who has been raised in it, believes it, who is surrounded by those in it?" I will pray daily for the many who are still deceived.

The best part of all of this is finding out who Jesus is: He is God Almighty Himself. This means that God not only gave his son to be my substitution on the cross, but He gave Himself. I tried to tell one "friend" still in "the way" that Jesus was God Himself. She, like I, had never heard of that. She said, "So what if He is God? What difference does that make?" I said "It makes all the difference in the world." Only the Holy Spirit can make this clear to each individual. That in itself makes this revelation very, very special.

God revealed something to me about three months after I "got out." It was something that I should have been thanking Him for and that I had prayed for, for over two years. On this particular day, I was preparing to get dressed. My thoughts were on nothing spiritual at all. A strong message came to me all at once. It wasn't exactly words and yet the message was very clear. God reminded me that I had prayed many times to be "shaken up"; that I would get close to Him, that my "walk" would be right in His sight. It was like He was saying to me, "Woman, don't you recognize all that has happened to you these past few months? Don't you understand I have given you what you asked for?" In gratitude I fell to my knees and thanked him. I was praying, crying, thanking Him and laughing with joy all at the same time. It was an incredible experience. To Him I am grateful.

Now at last I am free of legalism, free of lies, free of scriptural abuse and I am free to praise the Almighty for all He has done for me. For the first time in over 14 years, I can honestly say that I am thankful for what I have been brought out of and what I have been brought into.
Now I know that it is JESUS who is THE WAY.:

By Sandi G.
Canada

 



Two weeks after I quit professing I received a letter from
the Worker I professed through. The letter read:

Dear Sandi,   

I'll have to say I was SAD to hear you had declared yourself to no longer be a part of the fellowship. If there is any thing I can do to help re your feelings or questions...please feel free to share.

May I ask you one question for your own consideration...Have you been reading the "Thoughts of men"...regarding God and or His Way...if so we will think like men think. Or have you been reading the "Thoughts of Goo" (BIBLE) re what GOD thinks about man & His purpose for him. If so we will think like God thinks!

Love,

 

 



Upon receiving "my" Worker's letter I responded: (My letter shows that I did not yet know that the Two-by-Two doctrine was twisted.)

Dear----    

I will always have a special place for you in my heart. I respect you and appreciate your diligence in what you believe in. Thank you for your note.

About three years ago, as you will recall, we met for lunch in a restaurant to discuss the problems I was having in professing. I had previously expressed to you in a lengthy letter my concerns and unbelief. You explained a lot of things to me that day we met for lunch, and at the time your comments seemed to help, but in actual fact my unbelief returned.

I have never accepted in my heart that this is the only true way—that all other ways and ministers are false. I don't believe I understood that message before I professed. Then, after I professed, I began to really hear that message. By then I felt it was too late. I simply tried to believe because I was afraid if I left I would go to hell.

I am not one who can tell a lie. For me to live something that I did not believe was the ultimate lie. Can you imagine my agony? Here I was, one of the most honest people you will ever know, living a lie. Don't get me wrong.The Way is beautiful and probably the best. It is certainly not a lie for those who believe. It just seemed to me, as I listened more and more, that "The True Way" was THE main message preached and if that's what I need to believe, and I don't believe it, then I lie by living a life that says: "I Believe."

You might not believe this next sentence, but it's true: My prayer life is honest and sweet now. Needless to say, I never fooled God before.Throughout my days, now, I hear His still small voice and I respond immediately. He knows me and my honest heart. To Him I am grateful.

Your friend,

Sandi

 

 



Nine days after writing the above letter, I received the following reply:

Dear Sandi,

Thanks for your lines! You have ACKNOWLEDGED your condition (unbelief)...WONDERFUL...The FIRST STEP towards restoration! You feel you have & want to have an honest heart before God...WONDERFUL! (GOOD SOIL) IF YOU KEEP YOUR HEART soft AND LISTEN FOR His VOICE (only) and are responsive to it (Heb. 4:7) and read HIS word (only)...and come faithfully to the throne of grace...ONLY the right things will come to be in the end!

It would be nice to chat "face to face" again some day IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO...if so drop me a line as it would be possible to work something out from (preps).

Love you!



I did not respond to the invitation to meet "face to face" nor did I write the worker again.

About one week later, however, I bumped into another worker who knew that I was "out." The worker was very anxious to talk with me. We chatted for 45 minutes. I told the worker that I stayed in out of fear—fear that if the workers were right, and I left, I would go to hell! To this the worker responded: "You should feel fear, if I were in your shoes I would be afraid!"

A few weeks after that "confrontation" I was reading a book that was speaking of the Trinity. Finally, I found out who Jesus is and learned about Salvation! This news was "WONDERFUL."

 

At the time of writing this I've been "out" for five months. Things are just now starting to be normal. GOD TRULY IS GOOD!



NOTE:  Sandi's story is printed in the book Reflections - Chapter Twenty