“The Message” teaches this doctrine about the Rapture that will come and unbelievers will be left behind. Now do other Christian fundamentalists teach this doctrine too but I think our version was more restricted to a smaller group. To explain it in a nutshell:
Jesus has a Bride. It is a chosen group of people that Jesus will take away from earth and meet in the sky (an event called the rapture). Then the tribulation starts. Unbelievers (according to our cult the Catholic church) will persecute the Christians that are left behind. They will torture them to give up their faith and kill all those who don’t accept the mark of the beast.
It is also the time when the Anti-Christ will rule on earth. Until the whole earth will be destroyed by fire and the Judgment day will come where every soul that has lived on earth, has to appear before God and will be judged. Those who fail the judgment will live with Satan in hell. The rest will live in Paradise. The Bride will sit beside Jesus and judge.
The Bride is a small group of people that believe “the Message”
They are filled with the Holy Spirit which means you need a special experience (when I grew up most of the churches still supported this doctrine (It might be different now). So just believing “the Message” was not enough.
Since it is kind of the essence of “The Message” there won’t be a sermon where it won’t be mentioned. And if you are unlucky you have a pastor or guest preacher that will explain in the very detail what will happen after the rapture. They use it as a tool to make you afraid and to keep control over you. And it worked because I always tried to be the perfect kid, being an example for my siblings, friends and always tried to be the best I could.
Imagine being a little kid that has to sit in church and listen for hours to a sermon. About torture, persecution even the story of how they are building torture chambers in East-Europe. They tell us how we have to give our lives for Christ. How the world will hunt us down and there will be no place to hide.
When I was a teen I began to understand the seriousness of the rapture and the risk of being left behind. I wanted so desperately to be a part of the Bride but the spiritual leaders made it so difficult. They even say that if you don’t have enough faith to get healing for your illness or injury, how can you have enough faith to go into the rapture.
I cried, I begged, I prayed. I wanted that experience with all of my heart but it never seemed to happen. It felt unfair. It was depressing and I felt totally worthless.
I was so afraid of what was to come that I had many nightmares. Nightmares about waking up in an empty house. Believing the rapture had come and I was left behind. Nightmares where I have to choose to give up my life or giving up my faith. Where I get and killed for the cause.
We were encouraged to watch movies like “A thief in the night” and the trilogy “Left behind”. “Left Behind” was actually a good quality movie with the famous actor Kirk Cameron in the lead. I think I would have loved it more if it was fiction to me. Watching it made me only more nervous. Nervous because I knew that if I wouldn’t be filled with the Holy Spirit, I would be left behind and had to go through all of that which they showed in the movie. It gave me more nightmares and stress.
I remember that one of my friends spoke out loud what I was always thinking about. That she would rather take her own life than going through the tribulation.
I would discuss the rapture and end-time with my friends. They were also afraid of what was to come. And then we got bad conscious about feeling afraid because we were Christians. To give our lives for Christ was an honor and a good thing. It was kind of a shame to admit we were actually afraid. But we were terrified of the horror that could come any day.
There were many incidents where I would come home to an empty house. Expecting my mum or some siblings to be there. But it was quiet and sometimes there would be food on the stove but no one to watch it. My heart would pound really hard and often it gave me a panic attack. I thought they were all gone. I thought the rapture had come.
In that time we didn’t have telephone number recognition so I called the pastor. If the rapture really had come he wouldn’t pick up the phone. But he did. I quickly disabled the connection without saying a word and tried to calm myself down.
Later when I married and got kids I got even more fear. Fear for their souls and their lives. I even told God not to give me any children if they wouldn’t be a part of the Bride.
Fear is not the only result of this doctrine. It also makes you not accepting death.
When you can’t get enough faith for God to heal you, then you can’t have enough faith to go into the rapture. They also teach that we are very close to the coming of Jesus Christ that we are not going to die. We are going straight to heaven. Maybe nothing can really prepare you for death. But believing you will never die doesn’t really help. Death is a part we conquer as being the Bride. It is something that isn’t going to happen to us. And every New Year’s Eve we would be surprised we still were living on this earth and a new year started.
I didn’t really realize how stupid that was until I said it out loud once at a party after we left the Message and that feeling of end-time coming had still their roots in me. After the clock reached midnight I was sighing and said “think that we are still on this earth and that we are already in 2015. I would never think we would have come that far”. And my friend got really surprised and asked me “where do you think we would be”.
When my mum got diagnosed with cancer in 2009 we faced the hard reality that we will die someday. For some of us, it was hard to accept. It felt like I was the only one thinking rationally.
From the moment I got the message that my mum got cancer I already got this unexplained feeling inside me that it wouldn’t end well. Even when the doctor said it was cancer that was easy to beat, she already was in stage 4 of 5. Though everyone tried to hold on to their faith for her healing I felt I had to start to prepare them for the possibility that she could die. I tried but it was a really hard thing to do. They accused me of not having enough faith for her healing and some got really angry at me just for saying she might die.
After two years of fighting cancer, she died. Just a few days before she would turn 50 years old.
I don’t think you can really prepare yourself for losing a parent but someday it happens to all of us.
There is nothing wrong with keeping hope and fight cancer. Many do survive because of their willpower. But it is wrong when it turns into an unhealthy faith and hope.
There was this family with 8 kids. The mother got cancer and told her kids not to worry and that God would heal her. When her condition got worse, she told her children not to worry, if she would die God would raise her from the dead. You only traumatize the kids even more. It is so important to face the realities of life and accept that sometimes life doesn’t give us what we wish for or expect.
Am I afraid of death now?
It is really nice just to live my life. A life without the spiritual abuse and the constant fear of doomsday hanging over my head. Not to worry about the afterlife but to focus on what is right now. Some people are so focused on the afterlife, they forget to live. I know I will die one day. Hopefully when I am old and tired and I am not afraid of it. It is just a part of life. Everything that has a beginning will have an end. I think it is with everything in life. When it happens there is not really anything you can do about it than to ride with the waves and let it come.