Is Your Loved One Caught up in False Teaching? Here’s a Story of Hope

Phyllis Nissila

In the 1980s I worked for a ministry that focused on counseling people out of the cults and the occult by helping to establish or re-establish them in biblical truths. Stories of hope in the midst of great odds remain with me from that time. This is one of them, though not about a family we served. I wanted to close my contribution to the radio program on which I was a guest the other night (see below) with this story because it is so encouraging, but we ran out of time.

This story is fresh on my mind lately particularly because I am contending in prayer for a young friend caught up in one of today’s cults, a facet of the emergent church phenomenon. I told him this story the last time I saw him before he left his job, rented out his house, and headed with his young family to his group’s headquarters. I told him I was going to be like the praying mother featured here, and that I wouldn’t give up on him. Perhaps you know someone in a similar situation. If so, I hope this story inspires you, too.

(Fictional elements have been employed to protect privacy.)

She hadn’t seen her grown son “John” for awhile, and when he finally came home for a visit he seemed to talk non-stop about religion. Only it wasn’t the faith he’d grown up in or one that she recognized. She was afraid that maybe he had joined one of the new cults: the Moonies, The Way International, or one of the “hippie” groups with their Eastern beliefs. Whatever it was, John talked non-stop about his new friends, his new beliefs, and how he was sure this group showed the way to all truth.

Dinner table discussions during John’s brief stay were frustrating arguments. He insisted the family was entirely wrong about God and the Bible and that there were other spiritual leaders and sacred texts. It was a new age with new revelations. No amount of reason or persuasion seemed to change his mind. He refused to talk to a church leader about the issue and finally left with no indication he would return. Ever. His mother was heartbroken.

But never one to give up on her children no matter how far afield they went, she made a list of the names and beliefs he’d mentioned and began her investigation. She eventually discovered the whereabouts of the group’s headquarters—in another country. She also found out that was where her son headed when he left home.

She packed her bags and boarded a plane. She was determined to fight for John no matter the cost, for from what she learned about the cult it was one of the more dangerous. People who joined it soon cut off all ties with their families and friends and donated all their possessions to the group. If they came out of it—or escaped—they usually needed extensive counseling to overcome brainwashing and other mechanisms used control them, especially if they were involved for a long time. She was very afraid for John.

When she arrived at the doorstep of HQ, however, she was refused when she demanded entrance to see her son. “He’s not here,” she was told, and “don’t try to contact him.” Discussion ended. Door slammed. Hopes dashed. She could do nothing else but return home.

Back home, she solicited the prayers of her friends and got down on her own knees. Every day. For weeks. For months. One night about 3 a.m., she got a long distance call.

“You must let your son go!” the voice on the other end of the line demanded. “He is ours but you must let him go.”

She sat bolt upright. “No!” she shouted. “I’ll NEVER let my son go!” The caller hung up.

She realized the message between the lines: if they claimed they “owned” John but had to call her long distance to “let him go,” THEY DIDN’T REALLY “HAVE” HIM! She also understood, as never before, the power of prayer.

Hope glimmered.

She called her prayer supporters again and re-doubled her own efforts. She continued to learn everything she could about the cult and sought out people who could tell her what John would need when he got out—so that she could prepare.

Not long afterward, her prayers and hopes were realized: he did come home. A difficult season of readjusting to normal life and coming fully out from under the influence of the cult ensued, but it was also a season of great joy and thanksgiving. He who was lost was found. She who persevered in prayer was rewarded.

John got on with his life. His mother no doubt continued to pray for him and for her other children in a world populated with so many false teachings. And she likely continues to praise God today, wherever she is, for His extraordinary faithfulness.

Those touched by this story back then remember today the power of prayer so well illustrated. And I pray that you, too, reader, will realize hope afresh or hope anew in the power of prayer in your own situation, should it be similar. Don’t give up. I know I won’t!

“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us” (1 John 5:14, KJV).

This entry was posted in Contemplative/Mysticism, cult and occult, Ex-Roman Catholic/Catholicism, most recent posts, Postmodern/Emergent Church, spiritual survival and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Is Your Loved One Caught up in False Teaching? Here’s a Story of Hope

  1. Denny says:

    Hi Phyllis I just broke up with a Gal (after a year and a half)who is involved in a cult for 25 years. My wittnessing did’nt seem to change things as I realized that it is God’s work to open her eyes to the sweet decption she’s caught up in. After reading one of the cults (rssb) books ” the path of the masters” I understood how the gurus claim that Jesus Christ is dead and that you need a living master….a guru to see you on the other side. And thats if you are initiated you would only have 3-4 karma lifes. Anyway I will never give up either on this person I care about even if were not together her salvation means everything to me and to God even if she does’nt know it yet. Thank you for your letter of hope and persistance as I seek the same in Christ! Denny


    • pnissila says:

      Cult involvement of twenty-five years is a very long time, particularly if she was quite young when she entered. However, “what is impossible with man is possible with God.” Keep praying. It’s hard, and we may never know the results “here,” but then again, you never know. And you are right, it does have to be “God’s work” to open her eyes. Blessings to you.


  2. Karen Wright says:

    Dear Phyllis, I want to encourage you to keep on encouraging others, including myself. Thankyou for taking the time to write your articles. I just found your site this evening and thought I’d let you know that I am on my way to renewing and growing in my Christian faith after a long time of turning my back on my Lord.. After many detours via Mormons and Jehovas Witnesses I’m not allied with any church. I find it hard to trust any group after my experiences so I am relying on my Bible (4 different Versions!) and prayer. I believe through my prayers that I have been guided by our heavenly Father, to various sites such as yours, which have protected me from being “reeled in” by some of the new false doctrines which I have discovered are multiplying . God protect us all from these “Wolves in Sheeps clothing”. Thankyou and warmest good wishes to you from me.
    Karen Wright. Dublin, Ireland


    • pnissila says:

      Thank you for your “visit” and for your encouragement. I am so glad to learn that you have come back to the Lord! I pray over each of my blogs that God would prompt those who might benefit from them to “find them.” It was largely through other people’s postings online that I came up to speed on the current situation in the Church, even though I have somewhat of a background in cult work. There is a lot of very good scholarly work being done to expose the various teachings and practices that are drawing believers away from truth and keeping others from finding it. I have listed a few of the sites I regularly access on my “blogs I follow” page and perhaps they will help you, too. Of course there are more.

      People coming back to the Lord in this era of so much apostasy in the church is perhaps the only silver lining in what’s going on. And so many of us, just like you, are very wary of joining a church until we are very sure that none of these programs and practices are part of it. In my area, there are precious few Bible-believing-only churches. This area of the Pacific Northwest in the U.S. is known, however, to be the least churched (true church, that is) area of the States, and to be a mecca, so to speak, of New Age and other sorts of apostate groups. As a matter of fact, we have one of the kingpins of the emergent church taking over various churches around here (and a local Bible college) just now.

      I see you are from Ireland. I have some ancestors from there on my maternal grandmother’s side. Their name was Spicer, though I never met them. But, then, I have ancestors from many places including Scotland, France, England, Switzerland, Germany, and Native American (typical North American ;)).
      In the Word,


      • Karen Wright says:

        Thankyou so much for your words Phyllis. There certainly is an onslaught against Christianty in these days, (as was prophesied by Jesus). In one respect though it made me realise that to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living GOD and then to know that he is the Only Way, had to be RIGHT. No other faith except Chritianity is being attacked from all sides. After all, if you believe any of the stuff that is being put forward today by every religion from Far eastern beliefs to those who practise ancester worship (and everything in between,) one is guaranteed to have some group or other standing up for your absolute right to worship Anything you please ….with the one exception however of Christianity. Then it’s a free for all attack. Those who are doing their best to follow Jesus to are derided and mocked!! How much worse though is it when the “body” is attacked from within just as a cancer attacks the physical body! Those who profess to be Christian who then take that simple message and turn it into something that so far removed from true worship into something that will appeal to the philosophies of the world. I believe that to be more reprehensible. Thanks be to God that for all those who are seeking the true way, that HE is setting us on the right path if we only ask. HE sees hearts.
        I am looking forward to reading all your archive. Thanks for letting me know about the little bit of “Shamrock” in you too.


      • pnissila says:

        “You betcha, by golly.” (that’s the BIG bit of U.S. “Midwestern” in me ;)).

        Blessings, Phyllis


  3. That is the precise weblog for anybody who wants to seek out out about this topic. You realize so much its almost exhausting to argue with you (not that I truly would need…HaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Nice stuff, just nice!


    • pnissila says:

      I am glad you found the story helpful! There’s nothing like the flat-out truth to settle debate. And you encourage me. Although I’ve been writing and publishing elsewhere for years, I just started this blog a couple of months ago due to some tech-phobia. Well, the blog designers make that easy enough to overcome! Now, you go out and share the truth of your life! 😉
      Blessings and cheers,
      Phyllis Nissila


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