Looking back, my experience is a blessing in disguise and a spiritual wake up call. (it's a long read, sorry!)
Quick background of myself... I was born and raised in a Christian family in Hong Kong, then moved to Irvine, CA in 2003 for high school and college. I was baptized and an active member of a Cantonese church in Irvine during my college years. It is where I met my best friend (let's call her Tee) when she transferred to University of California, Irvine and started attending our church. I later returned to Hong Kong 2011 after graduation and she stayed to continue with her studies.
Tee would come to Hong Kong from time to time to visit her family. We would meet up every time. In 2018 fall, she came to visit and I happened to be unemployed, so we hung out a few times. I must have shared with her how much church life sucks here and how difficult it is to explain things to my non-christian boyfriend. Then one day Tee asked me if I want to go to a bible study class with her as she doesn't feel comfortable meeting this bible study leader alone. I agreed because I had nothing else do to.
So we met with this lady (Zee hereafter) at a little classroom at an little old mall on Hill Road. The classroom could only fit max 4 people and it's decorated like a Korean language classroom. I don't remember the content of the bible study lesson, but I remember I was wow-ed by how well versed Zee is about the Bible. We continued meeting weekly for bible study for about 2 weeks before Tee had to return back to the US. We covered topics like discerning truth, temple/church, discovering God. That's exactly what I was struggling at that time. I wanted an exact answer to how to know it's God's will, what does it mean to be blessed, what God wants from me. So after Tee left, I joined another class with 2 guys and we met twice a week.
I was so fascinated by the lessons. Zee would cover different themes and have supporting verses both from Old Testimony and New Testimony. My college pastor once said, if a teaching is consistently supported throughout the whole Bible, it likely is valid. Zee's lesson also included some teachings that I once had learned from my old church bible studies. But it seems like she purposeful left out what exactly is the truth and what is the hidden message in the sealed scroll that defines if we are true believer or not. I think I have been convinced that believing in Jesus alone isn't enough. I need to know what will happen when Jesus returns in order to truly be saved.
So without a doubt, I signed up for the advanced course that would last 8 months. The three of us are joined with 7 other classmates and it required us to meet 4 times a week, including Sunday mornings. Luckily, I didn't have to quit my job or anything, but I had to sacrifice my time with family and my boyfriend, and I stopped going to church. Most of the people around me didn't question my change of daily routine. I was only confronted once about not going to service. I defended myself by saying I need to figure out what I am believing, otherwise, I am worshiping false god.
Things went as usual, except there were a few students dropped out. One argued with Zee about the definition of trinity and the other just suddenly stopped coming to class after we had a brief discussion about the promised pastor. I trusted Zee so I didn't look him up and believed everything the media said about him was slandering. (Yes, she said churhes are jealous of them, so made up things to attack them)
Midway into the advance course, Zee told us we need to "harvest fruits". So I invited a few sisters attended the same church in Irvine but are now living in Hong Kong to an out-reach event. After the event, I met up with two of the sisters and one of them shared with me another cult (known as God the Mother) that she recently encountered. I showed their website to Zee and said it's amazing how other organization has similar teaching to SCJ. Then she suddenly revealed to me that Tee has learned about "the word" for a couple years. She tried to introduce me to the bible study class a few years back and that's the first time I met Zee. We didn't talk much but I think I was very content about my church life, so they couldn't recruit me. Zee also said she noticed one of my friends look a bit wary at the out-reach event. And turned out she was recruited once in San Francisco but dropped out in the middle. A sister of my other friend was approached by Tee as well when she was studying in Sacramento, but also dropped out. Both of them attended the classes through online platforms.
Zee probably immediately told my friend Tee, so she called me and told me everything. She even told me there are other brothers and sisters at my church in Irvine that's been recruited, but thanks to God, none of them stayed till the end. Our college pastor is also aware of this. I listened to Tee's experience in those years after I left for Hong Kong. She was at a spiritual low point when she encountered SCJ. I still didn't have much doubt about the teachings, but I remember myself saying to Tee, it's so strange that something so true has to be hidden like this. This thought somehow lingered in my mind for a long time and I believe my doubt started to grow from that call.
The lesson content started to get a bit weird. I specifically remember the lesson Zee taught about 4 types of resurrections and when she said there would be people filled with spirit and live with their moral body eternally, that was the first major red flag I had. And later when they reveal Mr. Lee is the promised pastor and how he survived all brutal attacks, my doubt grew stronger. More and more things made me feel uncomfortable, e.g. the documentaries of the charity work that they do, people fanatically cheer for Mr. Lee...etc.
I started to consider leaving when the Zee told us we'd need to fly to Seoul to attend the graduation ceremony. Once we passed the final exam and attended the graduation, we'd officially become a SCJ member. I have received so much information in these past 8 months but I didn't have the time to process them. I wasn't sure if I want to join SCJ as a official member. I felt that Mr. Lee has become an idol and I felt that is it wrong. So I decided to not show up to the final exam and left SCJ.
It wasn't an easy decision. I sincerely believed them for a short period of time. Leaving SCJ means I am denying what I was believing but at the same time, I didn't know what is the truth. It's like having a void in your heart.
This was a wake up call from God. I had been slacking as a Christian. My focus had been shifted. But this experience had made me realized that deep down I still long to get to know God. I still want to be good servant. Leaving SCJ had made me want to seek God more fervently.
Also, God works in a ironic way. My non-Christian boyfriend was the only one who worried about me and noticed something is wrong. When I decided to join the 8 month long course and postpone our trip to Canada that's been anticipated for 2 years, I have made up my mind to break up with him if he didn't allow me to enroll. But he stayed through the whole time to make sure I didn't do anything too irrational. Although we are no longer together due to other issues, I thank God for sending him to me and speaking to me through him.
I am still struggling to discern which part of SCJ's teaching is false, which part is true. I wish I could unlearn everything and able to convince Tee to leave SCJ. As I was searching online, I've found Stella's testimony YouTube video. I am so happy that she started this space for us to share our stories and struggles. I pray to God that He would use this website to reach to those that are in need of support. If you know or suspect anyone who is involved in a cult, please reach out to them if you feel comfortable. Listen to their crazy talk, walk through the valley with them, and pray for them, so that they have a safety net to fall back to.
Please pray for me to have courage to face Tee one day and the ability to convey God's true message clearly to her. God bless you all!