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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Story of a Brother and Sister's Interaction with the TT

I would like to share a story of a brother and sister and their interaction with the TT. The brother is a man who, although he did not know it at the time, helped me to see just what Yoneq was all about.

The brother was very concerned because his sister and her husband had joined the Twelve Tribes. This was back sometime when they were considered "The Northeast Kingdom Community". The brother was a devout Christian and had encountered the traveling “sent-out ones” prior to his sister’s joining. But instead of taking them up on their offer to "come and visit us" he researched them to try to find out what they believed. That was when he discovered that you can't know what they believe unless you are accepted by them, baptized “into” them and make a covenant to "never leave". This is only after they convince you that everything you have ever been taught or learned on your own was "evil" and from Satan. Only then will they start to "teach" you their inner doctrines.

Unlike the brother who researched the group before interacting with them, the sister took another path. She went to visit them. She was bombarded with love and being several months pregnant was overwhelmed by the little children and the simple life they lived. Her husband was a recovering alcoholic and was often unemployed and had just gotten a job that required he work the midnight shift. So she was vulnerable and wondering how they would be able to support a family. So the TT took advantage of this and centered all their conversations around how everyone is taken care of and how the fathers and mothers had time to raise their children "right" in community. "We have everything in common and no-one lacks for anything". She was surrounded by little children. As you can imagine, the sister was ready to "receive" this message. So much that she was willing to believe that everything else she had believed before meeting these lovely people was wrong.

So she decided to move into Island Pond. When she told her husband, he was not happy. He was not willing to give up the job that he just got and move in with people he did not know. The TT convinced her that she needed to forsake everything to follow "Yahshuah" and that included her husband if he was going to get in the way of her finding "salvation". So she left him. It was not until sometime later that she was to be "baptized" because they still had to "prepare" her to be "ready" to "give up her life". She thought she was ready right away, but they told her they would let her know when she was ready.

During this time, her husband agonized over the thought of losing his wife and their unborn child. He visited her during the day which was difficult because they lived over 3 hours away from Island pond and he had to work at night. He was getting very little sleep and was desperate about what he should do. They both had been Christians and during his visits he was constantly told that he was "choosing the world" over "salvation" and his wife and child. In his heart he knew they were wrong but he did not know what to do. So finally on the day that she was to be baptized, he knew that she would be lost forever, he decided that he would follow her. He was not accepted by the community at first because they said "You’re not really willing to give up your life. You just want to be with your wife". So he lived among them but not as someone who was accepted. He had to constantly work to prove that he wanted to be apart of "the body" a part of "Messiah". It was not until some time later that he was baptized, when they felt he was "ready".

Witnessing this whole process, the brother was convinced this group was a dangerous coercive group from the research that he had done on the subject. He was not sure what he should do but he knew he had to do something. So being a Christian, he decided to get some council from other believers and to pray about what to do. Finally, he decided that he felt "lead" to go to the community and to just compare the life and words of the community with the Bible. Essentially, he felt that he should go to Island Pond and read directly out of the Bible. To not interpret it or to get into any arguments or be judgmental but to just read it. This scared him because he almost felt as if he was being lead to consider if they were right or not. What if what he read in the Bible supported what they were saying and the life they were leading. Was God telling him to go join this community? Because he was in college he would have to wait until the end of the semester to make the trip. My friend had everything he owned with him in college and he knew that when he made this trip he would have to pack everything he had into his car. He was terrified because maybe God was telling him that he needed to take everything and join this group which he felt in his heart was rotten to the core. But he decided he needed to follow his calling to go and read the Bible to the “Northeast Kingdom Community”.

So he did. There is a very long story about the actual trip he made to get to Island Pond, but to attempt to make keep this story as short as possible, I will skip that part. He asked a friend to meet him in Island Pond so they could support each other. One would pray and the other would read. When he got there, his friend was not there yet. He had a mixed welcome from the people of the community. Some were very warm and welcoming and when he told them his story and what he was called to do, they just smiled and encouraged him. While others were very cold and told him that he had “no right” to do it.

There was a community wedding that day which is a huge event within the Edah and there were many people from multiple communities present. Hakam (Eddie Wiseman ) approached the brother and asked why he had come. He explained his calling and Hakam’s response was, “You must be a very proud person to think that you should do this. There are some of us that were preachers for 15 or more years before we came to Yashuah and they have been here for more than 15 years and they do not have the pride to stand up and teach the Edah”. The brother explained that he was not trying to be proud and that he did not intend to “preach” to anyone, that he was only going to read the Bible. Surely they should not have a problem with someone reading out of the Bible. “You do not have the right” was the response. A couple of the members insisted the brother go into the house beside where the wedding was taking place and meet someone. When he followed them, he discovered the person they wanted him to meet was Yoneq (Elbert Eugene Spriggs). He had read that Yoneq was out of the country so he was very surprised to run into him. And as you might think given his internal fears that maybe God was leading him to join the community, he was frightened. Yoneq asked him what he believed about the “end times” and he attempted to explain his personal beliefs about eschatology when Yoneq interrupted him and said, “So you read a lot of Hal Lindsey’s books. So what!”. The brother was a bit amazed at being judged and dismissed so quickly and that Yoneq himself must read a great deal to be able to identify and classify his beliefs so quickly. Yoneq then made a comment about my friend’s sister and that she had chosen the right path and that he should follow her. The brother had not told him or anyone at the wedding that he had a sister that lived there so it was obvious that he had been watched and reported on since he had gotten there. Not knowing what to say next, he excused himself and said that he wanted to go watch the wedding.

He met more people, some who were visiting, some who were new members, some that had been members quite a while. It was obvious who the “leaders” were verses the “followers” by the response he received. Followers were happy that he was there and encouraged him to “stay with us”, while leaders were cold and aloof. All would shake his hand and welcome him but there was a defined difference.

Later that day, he met his sister at the Common Grounds Café and had lunch with her. The environment was very alluring with flute based music and a pleasant incense like aroma. While there, Yoneq came in and with a smile said, “You need to enter the Kingdom”. The brother replied, “I already did when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior”. Yoneq said “That is not enough, he doesn’t just want your heart! He wants your skin and teeth! You need to be willing to give up everything you have to the “Body””. The brother replied, “Everything I have belongs to God. However, everything that I own is out there in that car and you can have it. But I don’t think it is my stuff that you want, it sounds more like you want my soul and I have already given that to Christ”. Yoneq dismissed him with a “You’re not ready” and left the building.

That night the brother went back to the Common Grounds Café and was met by a couple of the visitors that he had met earlier at the wedding. He determined that he had spent enough time meeting people and too much time arguing that he would do what he had come there to do in the first place. His friend had arrived and was told to “just pray”. So he sat down at a table that had mostly visitors and new members and asked the group if he could read to them out of the Bible. They did not have a problem with it so he began to read out of 1 Corinthians. A couple of elders at a table across the room started to mock him. He recognized them as some of the men who were cold to him earlier in the day. Now they laughed and mocked him reading the Bible. The members at his table just chuckled under their breath but the visitors urged him to continue. He read on. Then Yoneq entered the building as if someone had told him what was going on and he demanded, “You have no right to be reading that book! It was written for the anointed and you are not a part of the Body so it is not for you to read and try to teach us!” The brother said, “I am not trying to teach you anything, I am just reading the words straight out of the Bible. Why would you have a problem with this? Maybe I am trying to learn something myself”. Yoneq replied, “You can’t learn anything out of that book because you do not have the anointing! The book you are reading from was written to the Church at Corinth. Its words are for the Church. You are not a part of the Church therefore it is not for you!!”. One of the visitors, a young girl, asked, “Doesn’t it say in the Bible that the law is for the sinner and not the righteous?”. The brother looked at her and said, “Yes it does say that in 1Timothy. And I am not going to argue anymore but simply do what I came here to do and that is read the Bible. 1Timothy was a letter not written to a Church but to a man by a real apostle (Paul)”. And then he began reading 1Timothy and when he got to Chapter 4 which read:

"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received in thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer." 1 Timothy 4:1-4

Yoneq stood up and walked over to him and shouted, “I want to burn that Bible!!”. The brother looked up and humbly replied, “If you are the kind of person who could do such a thing, then go ahead and do it” not thinking that he would actually do so. Yoneq took the Bible out of his hands and asked the question, “You won’t charge me for it?” and when the brother replied, “No.” Yoneq walked over to the fireplace and threw the Bible in. Someone nearby stirred the fire to make sure the book burned well. Dumbfounded by the angry action of what appeared to be nothing other than a lunatic leader, the brother stood up as if to want to throw Yoneq into the fire after the Bible. His friend who had been praying this whole time looked up and grabbed him by the knee. This brought him back to his senses and he sat back down and said a quick prayer. His friend took a small New Testament Bible he had in his pocket and handed it to him. Yoneq angrily walked out of the building. And the brother started reading 1 Tim where he had left off using his friend’s copy.

I am sorry this was such a long story. Most of the historical facts of the brother and sister prior to coming to Island Pond were recounted to me directly by the brother in the story a number of years ago. I wrote it down because it was a turning point in my life, because I was a first hand witness to the confrontation in the Common Sense Café. It was that day that I started to doubt in my heart what Yoneq taught and personally represented was not for me to follow. He did not have a “righteous anger” as the Lord did with the merchants in the temple. I can only explain it as a defensive, personal anger as if that humble college kid could actually have threatened him or his teachings. It was not until later, after I had time to pray and think (reason) about it, that I realized it was not the kid at all. It was the Word of God that convicted Yoneq. Which made me consider that possibly the kid was right and God had sent him to read the Bible at just the right time when Yoneq would be back in the country and in Island Pond. It was sort of one of those David and Goliath kind of moments. Yoneq got angry when 1Timothy 4:1-4 was read. Go back and re-read that text. How condemning this was to his teachings and him personally. For me, if the kid had not been humble and tried to teach us out of his own wisdom, I personally would not have heard a word he said. But he simply read the Bible. Yoneq went into a tail spin and burned the kid’s bible in front of new members and visitors! It certainly confirmed for the kid that he was not being called to move in so Yoneq actually ran one soul off and many of the visitors also decided to leave as well. Though at least one of these, a young girl, came back later. The final straw for me was how Yoneq spun the whole story later. It was not accurate and that just did not sit right with me. How could God be speaking to and through this young man and also through Yoneq? And the message and attitude and demeanor of both were such that it was obvious who was speaking for God.

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Anonymous said...

Voice - As we discussed today, My sister submitted a comment to this site and we do not see it posted. Can you explain why?

Voice said...

Brother - As David explained to you, I did not receive her posting. There must have been a technical issue. Please have her repost it and I will be happy to approve it and respond. Anyone who reads my posts and articles should know that I am all about giving people a VOICE to speak and not squelching their voices. I would love to hear from your sister even if she has a mind to correct me. I welcome correction.


Voice said...

Brother & Sister - I still have not received your comment. If you want to email me the comment, I promise to post it myself unedited under your name. My email is I don't want to be accused of not letting you have your say. I am just not receiving any comments. Maybe a technical issue with Blogspot. I'm not sure.

Anonymous said...

I hope the comment gets recieved because I'm waiting in anticipation to see both views of the story. I know that you run a fair forum and for one am thankful for the Voice you have given to so many.
-divine interuption

Anonymous said...

It is ironic how situations, circumstances, FACTS, get missconstrude and miss communicated when the one communicating has been offended in some way. The only thing one can realy communicate in that state is the offensive atittude. This is the case with the story of a brother and sister... I don't know who you are or where you gathered your imformation from but I know enough of the story to know you are talking about me, my husband and my brother and your facts are way off. All I hear in your version of this tragedy is that, a trajedy. Yet it is not truth. And if you want the truth I can give it to you> But I don't think you realy do. It seems to me that you are out to make something look realy bad that in fact was not bad at all. In reality the "story" you published was slanderous and not factual. I do not know the what has offended you but i do know that if it is something someone in the community has done i am sure if you can find forgiveness in your heart than you would be able to communicate and get this thing settled. I know Yoneq, and have for 21 years now. Even in the state which my family has been in for the past year and a half (we have been functiong apart from the tt for that long because of issues with our children that we are bringing healing to) all he has communicated to me and my children is hope and encouragement. My children (ages 21 down to 8) all love the heart of that man and the life in the tt. We are all looking forward to returning and building up what is there! I only ask you to remove the story from your sight as it in no was represents our entry into the community. It realy missrepresents both my husband and myself completely! I have written this knowing you have the right as the author to do what you wish with my comment. Yet i will take legal action if you print this in any way that makes the community look worse than you already have. I find it a sad thing that someone would have to spend the rest of his life (being an older man and all) trying to slander someone who doesn't even know that they have offended you. If you, in fact, realy do love Yoneq and would "serve side by side with him "if he would only "repent" then it seems as though you would want to cover this transgression, because true love covers his brothers transgression, and even bares it to his own hurt. That is the way of Messiah. Oh by the way my brother doesn't consider your relationship as a dear friendship, as he only met you for the first time 4 days ago when you called and asked him for a place to stay. Get the story right!

Anonymous said...

You say that Yoneg doesn't even know that he has offended Voice, and that may be true but my question to you is HAS YONEG EVER "REPENTED" TO YOUR BROTHER? Surely he KNOWS that he has offended him, and everything that he stands for. Considering that he claims to have the HOLY SPIRIT and be the self proclaimed ELIJAH he certainly has quite the human temper and it got the better of him. So much so that he was compelled to burn the word of God. I know non-believers who wouldn't dare such an act, would you? Could you burn the word of God without even flinching?
--divine interuption

Anonymous said...

it seems to me that voice is defintly the one pointing the accusing finger and not "brother" in the story. that brother seemed a forgiving man and though he didn't understand Yoneqs' behaviour. I think Yoneq was just trying to point out that the man was trying to teach members and guest alike. maybe Yoneq should have gone to that mans house and taught his family and friends no matter how many times they asked him to stop teaching. just because the man said he wasn't teaching doesn't mean that he wasn't really doing it by his actions. Yoneq burned that book knowing that it was not the last bible in the world, he was just trying to encourage the young man to see that he was being a disturbance and was hoping that would be the end of it. apparently the young man did't take that into consideration and continued doing what he knew was offensive to that household in Island Pond. I am surprised he wasn't asked to leave they must have been very forgiving to him.

For my German Speaking Visitors

Follow this link to review a presentation made by Leipzig student Florian Böhnhardt.

Boehnhardt Zwoelf Staemme 2007

For my French Speaking Visitors

Interesting news article concerning the Sus House (castle) and controversy in France with the Twelve Tribes.

Entre bric à brac et vie de château, les drôles d'apôtres de l'Ordre Apostolique... (Tabitha's Place)

Click on the following link to get a wealth of information from an Anti-Cult Site in France

News Reel-1 on Tabitha's Place

News Reel-2 on Tabitha's Place

Place a checkmark beside all items that characterize the group in question. If you check many of these items, and particularly if you check most of them, you might consider examining the group more closely.

The above check list comes from Dr. Michael Langone, editor of Cultic Studies Journal, and often characterize manipulative groups. Dr. Langone suggest prospective recruits and family members compare these statements to the group. If one or more of these apply to your group you may have a cause for concern. I say, if all apply as in the case of the Twelve Tribes, you should repent (turn 180 degrees) and run.

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Yoneq 2004

I dedicate this song to Yoneq and the elders of the TT

Elbert Eugene Spriggs

Ok - This one is a little angry, but therapeutic just the same

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