I am in this choir. The year was 1993. As you watch this, look at all the faces. These are the familiar faces of many of my old friends. Young women and young men who I knew and who I lived with and worked with.
"Name after name, which I cannot read, and which we who are older than you cannot hear without emotion; names which will be only names to you..... but which to us summon up face after face, full of honesty and goodness, zeal and vigour, and intellectual promise; the flower of a generation..."
Full of honesty and goodness, zeal and vigour, and intellectual promise; the flower of a generation....
The christian organisation we sing with here was the Institute in Basic Life Principles, a ministry whose mission statement was to "give the world a new approach to life." We young people were the hope of the future. We were the guinea-pigs. We were going to carry God's commandments and blessing to the world, to the next generation.
But for many of us, the reality became something very different. Now, twenty years later, we are re-uniting on different ground. The internet has brought us back together again, now as adults, along with the slow, chilling awakening that what we were involved with back then would ultimately be detrimental to many of us, to our health and our relationships and our families and our lives and our spiritual growth. We are sharing our lives, sharing our stories. We are pouring our hearts and our pain out to each other, and it is bringing healing and laughter and friendship and joy.
There has been much in the, mostly American news, about the resignation of our old friend, and spiritual mentor, Bill Gothard. As we read and talk with each other, and as we process it all, the unique bonds we shared back then are rebuilding - but this time rebuilding on truth, and a joy that comes in hearing of an old friend who is now 'out' of the cult. They are free. We are free to celebrate together. To cry together over our pain. To comfort each other over our hurts and our pain and our disillusionment.
We who shared this rich, and promising history are finding the true blessing of God in finding freedom.
This moment of time in our youth when our eyes were closed to the truth, but not to God.
When our hearts were bound up by rules and fear and deceit,
When the God we loved became the God we feared,
When service to God became service to a man,
When wickedness prevailed behind closed doors.
The doors have been opened, the light is dawning, and the darkness is leaving. There are scars, and many of them run deep. Some are healing over, but some never will.
Changing a mindset and indoctrination is not something that can be done quickly or lightly. Everyone is on their own personal journey, many having to strip away everything we knew and start again. Finding our way back to the true God. Back to His unconditional grace, that was there all the time, but we couldn't find it.
As we lay those burdens down, we are learning to find the beauty in the ashes.