From the Irish Mirror, Tuesday May 26 1998:
JOIN US OR YOU WILL GO TO HELL
Cults chilling message to unsuspecting teens
By NICOLA TALLANT
|THIS IS one of the two
people trying to recruit Irish teenagers and students
into one of the worlds fastest-growing cults.
Husband and wife team Nick and Zarah Isaaks have already attracted an 85-strong membership to the Dublin Church of Christ.
But last night the distraught mother of one convert pleaded: "Somebody please step them."
"Other parents need to be aware of how these people can get to their children. My daughter is lost - please dont let It happen to others."
Today the Irish Mirror lifts the lid on the Church of Christ which the woman claims has stolen her daughters mind.
In a room inside the ATGWU headquarters In Dublins Middle Abbey Street, people of all races and ages burst into song.
The 8O-strong group sing their hearts out, clapping and dancing as they do. The song is about Jesus and attracts whoops and cheers from all aronud the room.
CO-FOUNDER: Nick Izaacs
Church of Christ believe they are the only ones who will
he saved - the rest of us are going straight to hell.
Their meetings, every Sunday and Wednesday at the hall, are open to the public.
The services look innocent enough, but worried parents want them investigated - and stopped.
The Church scoff when they are called a cult, yet:
New recruits are baptised by immersion in a ceremony officiated by members of the Church.
Members hand over 10% of their income to Church leaders.
They live in communal houses.
They believe that only they will be saved - every-one else is going to hell.
Members are expelled if they have a relationship with a non-member
Only engaged couples are allowed to spend time together unsupervised.
Members are friendly and offer Bibles and song books to new-comers.
Like most domineering cult groups, the Dublin Church of Christ members are well-read and can quote scripture at length.
The next stage in conversion is baptism, usually overseen by Church leader Nick Izaaks.
New recruits are phoned and quizzed on scripture which they art encouraged to read for hours on end.
Families of those who join say their loved ones become withdrawn and often snub their parents.
Church leader Nick Izaaks, who was sent to Dublin from London two years ago to help increase membership spends days on end approaching passerby.
lie and his wife Zarah are paid out of Church funds, which come from members wages.
He says: "I run the Church. They Pay my wages. Our members give 10% of theirs is a tithe.
"We believe in God. Anyone who is not a Christian is going to hell"
The Dublin branch is a small part of a worldwide group set up in Florida in 1979 by Kip McKeane. There are branches in most European cities.
Cult expert Mike Garde of Dialogue Ireland says: "The people who have rung me are devastated that their kids have become involved. They cant get over the change in them. Their teachings are extremely unhealthy."
COME AND JOIN US: Zarah and Nick Izaacs manage the Dublin Branch of the Church of Christ, a worldwide cult that has many worried parents up in arms
WHAT PRICE A TICKET TO HEAVEN?
Church of Christ says a tenth of your wages
IT WAS one of the most bizarre experiences of my life.
There I was walking up the road wondering how I was going to get into the Church of Christ meeting without being rumbled.
As we reached the building a woman Zarab Izaaks, approached and invited us in.
We were brought up to the hall where the service was to he held. We sat down and were soon surrounded by over-friendly members of the church curious as to what we did and where we lived.
HEADQUARTERS: The ATGWU building on Dublin's Middle Abbey Street
|Then, without warning,
the hall burst into song. The chap standing beside me was
swinging to the music and clapping his hands to the
The group appeared to have gone into a semi-state of euphoria as they sang their hearts out along with the three on stage who had the microphones.
After a few numbers, the preacher got up to give his speech. He spoke colourfully about the sin of sex before marriage, his relationship with God and how wonderfully the Dublin Church of Christ was doing.
He blasted and boomed in a hellfire and brimstone sermon.
The audience egged him on and applauded his every word. People closed their eyes and rolled their heads in ecstasy as they listened to his ranting.
We managed to leave about half-an-hour into the sermon but not without being walked to the door and given a card encouraging us to call again.
|An hour later
I rang Nick Izaaks who bad been introduced to me at the
meeting to tell him who I was and why I had attended.
We spoke about his Church and, in fairness to him. he didnt deny any of the allegations that are being made about his group being a cult, taking 10% of its members incomes and believing they. and only they, will be saved.
"Where are you going?" I asked him.
"And where am I going?"
"To hell." he replied.
I questioned him further as to whether anyone not in the church would be joining him in heaven.
"Well. I have never met anyone outside the Church who is going to heaven," he said.
He then quoted some scripture to me and told me he was like a person from the Old Testament.
In London, journalists had tried to damage the group, he said. He was used to people like me.
"And what about the families who are being shunned by their sons and daughters because you have told them their parents are going to hell," I asked.
"Well, they are if they are not Christians like us," he said.
Daughter is no longer loving girl I once knew
ANN would love to go public. She would love to show her face and the face of the daughter she loves. But she cant Shes afraid. In fact, shes terrified.
"If I identify her she would lose her job and maybe turn against us," says Ann. "Those two things are the only bit of sanity she has left in her life, They have taken everything else."
They, says Ann. are the Church of Christ, the cult her youngest daughter got Involved with last year and who have "taken over her life and her mind".
Ann remembers the day when 20-year-old Jemma rang to say she had met a nice girl outside Trinity College in Dublin who had invited her along to a Bible meeting.
"It was a low time in her life She was working flat out studying for her exams and she was working part time at night for money to get by. She was tired and burning the midnight oil night after night.
WORRIED SICK: Ann is afraid her daughter will disappear
suppose she was slightly lacking in self-confidence like
most girls of that age. She was never one to make friends
"Anyway she went along to the class and seemed to enjoy it. Before we knew it, she had fully joined up and was baptised by imersion.
"My husband and myself had become worried about her. She wasnt coming home as much and when she did she was preaching to us about the bible. It wasnt like her at all.
"When we questioned her we were horrified to find out that she had totally changed.
"She was telling us that we would go to hell if we didnt join her in the Church. She believed that only she and the other members were going to heaven.
"I kept asking her if she really believed that me and her father were going to hell. We are good people and go to Church. But she was convinced there was no saving us. It was frightening.
"Jemma is a very clever girl and good at debates. She kept quoting us sections of the Bible and fought us on every issue.
"The fights started in the house - it was confrontation after confrontation. Once when a relation of ours died she came along to the funeral. I asked her afterwards if she really believed her aunt was going to hell. I was sickened when she said she was."
Things went from bad to worse when Jemma moved out of the house she shared with college friends and moved in to one of the many communal church houses scattered throughout Dublin.
"She started losing all her friends because she would ring them up and try to convert them," says Ann.
"They have to bring possible new recruits along to the meetings or they get a rap on the knuckles. One by one Jemma rang her old friends and tried to get them to join up. She even tried to get her brothers and sisters to join.
"Shes be up at 5 am every morning doing her scriptures and saying whatever prayers they say. Then she started going out on the streets trying to recruit members.
"We really got worried when we found her chequebook and realised she was giving over large amounts of money to the Church. She doesnt have much herself and she is always broke yet she manages to hand it over to them."
Ann says she is most worried that Jemma will start dating within the group.
"They believe in pure dating relationships meaning they only date within the group. They organise these dinners on a Saturday night when they all go out together and try to set up couples.
"If a couple are dating they are not allowed to be together alone unsupervised. They can only do that when they are engaged. That isnt right for a young girl.
"They are stealing what should be the best years of my daughters life and I am petrified that she will get married to one of them.
"Myself and my husband have told her that we will have nothing to do with any marriage involving her group, so at least she knows that much.
"But she is so immersed in it I dont think she would care. We have to walk around her on eggshells. We are afraid to fight with her in case it pushes her further into this group.
"We try to avoid any issue surrounding the Church but it is difficult when she keeps lecturing you about going to hell.
"Whenever she does come home they ring her constantly. They are afraid we will get to her."
The Jemma that Ann knows now is a far cry from the loving daughter she lost.
"Jemnia was a really good kid," says Ann. "She liked going out with her friends, having the odd drink, doing all the things that young people like to do.
"She was bubbly and only bothered with the normal things young girls are bothered with - you know, clothes. boys, all that.
APPROACH: Trinity College, where cult members try to recruit
she just spends her life preaching their beliefs, trying
to recruit other members.
"They have destroyed her spirit, they have spoiled the friend-ships she once had and they have torn her away from her family.
"They seem to be able to suck young people in so easily. I want my daughter bank but I am afraid to fight against them in case they suck her further in and we cant see her any more.
"Her job and her family are the only bits of sanity she has left. I hope some day she will see what they are doing to her and have the courage to walk away. Until that day comes I will not rest.
"Not a day goes by that I am not worried she will go away somewhere with them - they have Churches all over the world. They have taken my daughters mind."
Footnote: Please note that the Dublin Church of Christ referred to in the above article is part of the International Church of Christ, but is not in any way associated with the traditional Churches of Christ.
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