A storm broke loose at the exit from the New Apostolic Church. Gudrun describes in great detail what happened to her! A report that is both harrowing and encouraging.
Today on Christmas Day, I want to please Jesus Christ and honor Him through my testimony
I too was “born into” the New Apostolic Church and grew up with the dogmas that are mentioned on this page and can also be found elsewhere on the Internet. Therefore I would like to describe only my very personal experiences.
My parents, especially my father who through my mother tested the faith for 6 years and eventually joined the NAC, took their beliefs very seriously. They went to every service, taught us kids to pray, and were very involved in the NAC. Sometimes I got to see how much my father suffered from his own imperfections, for example, when he got too angry.
From a very young age I had experiences where God helped me because of my prayers or I felt Jesus’ nearness. Therefore, I never doubted this path of faith, thinking I was only experiencing it because it was the right path to God. In this, it is solely up to one’s personal relationship with God. But I only realized this later through acquaintances and exchanges with Christians from other denominations and my own experiences with Jesus after leaving the NAC. We also had no television and listened only to classical or church music. So I never felt like I belonged in school or outside of church, more like an oddball. Little knowledge of politics and world affairs, of TV series and pop music, I made up for in excellence, helpfulness and my absorption in music. I played several instruments.
Because of the NAC and the seclusion from the world – without television, too – I grew up as if on an island and faced reality very naively. Negative feelings were condemned by my parents, promoted by the NAK, they were not allowed to be, had no existence before God, and over everything the rosy ‘cloak of love’ was constantly spread. Forgiveness of sins across the board, without prior reflection and inner repentance, was taught here. This conveniently and easily relieves you of this trouble of really taking responsibility for yourself.
Also, by asking ministers as if one were asking God Himself, and then subordinating one’s life to their advice, does not exactly promote truthfulness and self-responsibility. One does this against the perhaps existing inner resistance and one’s own feeling. The reflections received from outside the church were dismissed as “they have no idea, they are not children of God”. It’s a way to elevate yourself above others.
During my youth, I had a lot of fun within the NAC boundaries. Because of my musicality I was “in the front row” at events with choirs or orchestras. My time away from school was filled with meetings, lots of rehearsals, gatherings, parties. … The youth services, which were held by the then District Elder Moog, were highlights for me. With him I not only felt a lot of love and care, but I also received spiritual food. I came out of the scriptures correlations explained. that thrilled me. I would like to thank this man deeply for his dedication and love on behalf of many other people, especially women. Jesus rejoices in all that is done out of love! He can’t help it if too little has come back in the way of recognition and appreciation. The unpaid musicians in this church suffer most of all from this.
There were certainly Holy Spirit driven and filled people here as well. The Holy Spirit blows where He wills, one can never say: Here He has blown once, therefore He always blows. No, you have to check yourself daily in your attitude before God. You can have divine aspects living within you, while other aspects remain completely in the dark. They remain in the unconscious, dormant and decaying because you want nothing to do with them. Maybe because you condemn these aspects and can not accept them. But if it’s ‘up’ for God, then you get signs. These signs show up in the body or in the mirror of unpleasant situations. These situations can be loss, suffering at the hands of their own children and much more. Like how to deal with it then. This is what determines recovery and mending, not whether you go to a church.
I also got to know officials from whom coldness, striving for power and self-conceit emanated. I saw first hand how a church almost “died” from this – until it was merged with my church at that time. She was thus artificially revived. If there were problems with a public official, one was encouraged to find fault with oneself and one’s attitude. However, one should not impugn the office bearer, but only see the office in him. When errors were revealed, it was interpreted as a ‘test” for the community. In fact, the services given by the successor to the pastor of my home church were often characterized by repetitive phrases. My parents, I perceived, also had great problems with it and suffered from it. But they hardly dared to talk about it.
After a long time, it finally came up. My mother, as I recall, then made the wise suggestion that we should, each to our own, not badmouth him, but pray for him to get better, which we did. I have to say: it actually got better in the aftermath! When he retired, my father became the overseer and church evangelist and did his best with all his heart, but I had already moved by then.
I got married when I was 21 and subsequently had 4 children. There were happy and difficult times during our marriage, but really serious problems began after my father died. It was as if a protection had been taken away from me, because my husband started to become more disrespectful and even violent towards me. In my situation with young children (and still without the protection laws introduced in 2004) I didn’t know where I could have gone, and as my husband repented in tears every time, and as we prayed before God every Sunday “forgive us our sins as we forgive”, I kept forgiving him and suppressing my true feelings, my pain at his behaviour.
So the first trigger for my turn towards a search for God as he really is was the early death of my father from cancer at the age of 58. This created questions in me, because in my eyes he always did everything for God and his entrusted ones and was loving and considerate. In addition to his profession, he learned Norwegian in order to be able to conduct services in Norway, and after all this he was not rewarded with a blessed retirement, which he wanted to begin at the age of 59 in order to devote more time to his grandchildren, travel and his tasks as a church evangelist and in missions! Since God is love and justice in my eyes, I began to search and ask what are the reasons in God’s eyes why a person like my father gets sick and dies from it instead of being healed like others.
I wanted to get to the bottom of these things. In the time that followed, one of God’s universal laws was literally fulfilled in me – as I realized with astonishment and gratitude: “He who seeks finds, he who asks will be given, and to him who knocks it will be opened”! Every question I had I received an answer to, God led me accordingly until I knew THAT was the truth. When you pray and ask fervently for a long time and then suddenly receive an answer from God through something you suddenly read or hear and receive another piece of the puzzle that increases your understanding of the whole, it fills your soul with a feeling of happiness, I can confirm from experience. Through this I felt led and seen by God and taken seriously with my questions – something I did not experience in the NAC. On the contrary, one district elder even replied to me that it was dangerous to ask such questions.
When I was given the task of teaching Sunday School, I prayed a lot for insight into what was really important for God to teach the children and how I could show them Jesus as a soul friend. In doing so, I came across, among other things, a word of Jesus that He even repeated three times to His disciples (meaning): “If you pray in spirit and in truth, I will hear you. Whatsoever ye shall ask me then IN MY NAME, my Father which is in heaven will give unto you, THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW THAT IT IS I!”
So what did it mean to worship in ‘spirit and truth’ and then pray in Jesus’ name? That was my next question to God. At the same time, I realized how much I was missing Jesus as a great role model in the sermons! They were often very meager in their content and often revolved only around the dogma of the NAC, how simple and plausible it was and that one only had to follow it.
I had some insight through my husband into the basics of what a priest was given in order to conduct a service, and those were just short texts. My husband’s preparation was limited to reading from the magazine ‘Our Family’, on the basis of the above text, old services of the Chief Apostle and then to say: God wants me as a priest, so he must also be content with how I am, how little time I have and then already give me that … ! Overall, I often found the sermons to be empty – there wasn’t much of bread for the soul in my congregation during that time, and there wasn’t much of Jesus after I was starving.
As mentioned, I was suffering emotionally from my husband’s behavior and asked God for help and change in my distress. In response, I realized one day through Jesus’ words in the Bible that only the truth sets you free (John 8:32). So I first began to admit to myself and to God the truth about what and how I was feeling, and then to tell my husband and those around me honestly to the best of my ability what was going on, instead of always swallowing everything, putting on a good face for the sake of peace of mind, in order to function.
This was the only way to come up with good solutions. I confessed that he had broken my love. A storm broke loose between the greatest expressions of love on the one hand and power games and aggression on the other by my husband, so that I never knew where I stood and was constantly under fear and pressure and therefore sought love and upliftment from others. That in turn hurt him, and when I saw that, I in turn was filled with compassion and gave my all to save our marriage and worked very hard on myself.
At one point he asked that we have a conversation with the bishop at the time. I agreed and the bishop invited us for a talk after a Wednesday evening service in a small Hamburg church. Until then, I prayed fervently every day that Jesus Christ would take this into his hands and show us what was good for us.
The appointment came, we drove to said church – and were faced with a closed door! – There wasn’t really anything like that. The bishop was supposed to be there, but apparently the service was cancelled. My husband decided to drive to one of the nearest other communities. However, the bishop was not there either, so that the conversation was cancelled. God could not have given a clearer sign! Although the (in the result, however, one-sided, fruitless) conversation then took place sometime later, we also took advantage of professional marriage counseling.
What I did not suspect at the time, and Jesus only recently showed me in pictures, would have helped me greatly at that time: My husband, while I was busy giving birth to our third child, was having an affair with another woman. … After two years of work, I had to admit to myself that he was not really willing to work on his behavioural problems, but on the contrary, that my husband was merely using my honest efforts and the time to get his sheep in the dry. When I asked for a last sign from God as to where I stood with my husband and whether I could still hope, and gave everything into God’s hands, I got it: The next morning, a Sunday, out of the blue I got a slap in the face because I had taken a glass of water into the shower. …
After that I finally found the strength to free myself – at great financial loss – from the destructive environment, and that this happened without a huge drama, I owe only to Jesus! My youngest was still in kindergarten, my oldest was about to be confirmed.
We were given a leave of absence from our duties – priesthood and Sunday School teacher – as part of the separation. I moved out of the house, as half of it was his inheritance (we had built on the other half), and he wanted a divorce as quickly as possible in order to ‘clear the air’ – outwardly, because I can hardly count the number of times he came on to me in the following period, and then did everything he could to flatten me.
But this way he got his ministry back a few weeks after the divorce, which I even advocated with the bishop, I thought it would do him good and the church good too. But what happened next I would not have expected: in the next service the atmosphere in the congregation had turned so against me that as soon as I sat in the back with my children I felt as if stones were being thrown at me! I sensed that most were thinking, “Yeah, if he’s back in office now, I guess it’ll be up to YOU (meaning me)!” What else was said about me I don’t know, only that there were really very bad tongues.
I made this situation clear to the principal. Why, then, was not my office as Sunday-school teacher also returned to me at the same time? Thereupon I also received my ministry back, but I still felt worse and worse in my congregation, so that I soon changed to a city congregation in another district.But I had to realize that the sermons gave me nothing, and moreover I always went home very burdened by the atmosphere, where I perceived much, but nothing may be said. Sometimes I could hardly bear to listen, e.g. when a priest at the altar once went on about how another priest with whom he had been friends could do such a thing and resign his priesthood, travel to distant lands as an archaeologist and dig up ‘dead stones’! I felt that for Jesus this was a presumptuous intrusion into private affairs, the man was exposed to the devaluation and judgment of many!
What do we know about what this man needed, why he was led this way, and what insights were important to him that he could not find anywhere else? Since I actually liked this priest very much, I told him my received impressions. He was affected and became thoughtful, for he had not seen it like this before. But that was an exceptional case, otherwise I never felt driven to say anything because I could sense if someone was open or not. The visit there gave me nothing more, and that not the NAC apostles, but God forgives sins, I had already experienced many times on myself and also during my work with people.
Who then is GOD? – Does he depend on someone, if a person realizes his mistakes, to forgive him? “To whom I am gracious, I am gracious,” was brought home to me over and over again. If anyone was a mediator, it was Jesus, whose warmth and closeness I did not find in the NAC. “Those whom the Spirit of God impels are God’s children,” the Bible says, and Jesus himself said the kingdom of God is within – I experienced that much more through other, non-judgmental, soft, open people! Nevertheless, the separation from the NAC pained me. And how! I cried about it on and off for several days, it was like I had to leave my familiar home! My family and friends, most of all, I had to admit to myself that I had been following a mirage all these years.
Now I was “a black, poor, lost sheep” in their eyes. Everyone I had contact with in the aftermath was always nice and friendly, but the heightened and judgmental thoughts always resonated and dragged down. Such a thing is not long endurable to a sensitive person. My son, for example, always had a tummy ache after meeting his favorite uncle (also a NAC minister) at his dad’s house. When I suddenly realized the connection in praying for him, I visited this uncle and his wife and we had a clarifying conversation. After that, the stomachache problem was gone.
The next section is about Gudrun's departure from the New Apostolic Church and a new life with Jesus Christ:
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