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September 30, 2014, 06:33:33 AM
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Offline Peter

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The Experiences of a Former Member Who Recently Left SCJ
« on: September 30, 2014, 06:33:33 AM »
This just in from a former member of SCJ who left soon after preparations for the summit began. I have begun marking in yellow passages I think are significant:

At the end of December 2012 I had gone to Seoul and came back to Daejeon around 21:30. I walked up the underground stairs towards home and two girls said hello. (All this was in Korean.) They asked if I could speak Korean and I said yes. It seemed they asked me to donate to something on Saturday (the next day) or something like that. When I obviously didn’t want to, they asked to eat lunch at E-mart. SH gave me her phone number; I said my phone wasn’t activated yet.

I met them at exactly 11:00 at E-mart the next day. They brought some lunch and we also ordered two dishes in the food court. We talked and SH asked if I go to church. I said yes. Her friend, JH, was calling G to come quickly. He brought a friend of his too-female. We all sat and ate for a while. I gave them all my phone number. After that we went across the street. We had tea and filled out a piece of paper. It was asking questions about personality or something. Then I bought some bedding for myself and SH and JH helped me with it at my apartment. After that we saw a movie. SH was a little busy on her phone. I later found out that they get reimbursed from the church when buying food for a target.

On Sunday the four of us (SH, JH, G, me) went to church in his car. After church they have a young people meeting so we went to that too. SH made notes of the sermon for me in Korean. I think SH may have gone one more time to church but certainly not often. JH went with me on the bus a couple more times but then she moved to Daegu. She said it was for her job. I later found out it was because the tribe there needed help.

Around the end of January about 8-10 friends from church came to my apartment and I made spaghetti. Nothing seemed strange at all. However, now I realize they were simply being really friendly.

G and I went to church regularly and he translated the best he could. After church every Sunday all the young people would eat lunch provided by the church together in the basement. I got a few more people’s phone numbers during that time. A couple weeks later the young people went to the local dam to walk around. I got another girl’s phone number. I used kakao with some of the people from church and felt I had real friends this time in Korea.

Back in time to January 2013 I went with SH and G to a “Love Language” seminar once a week on Fridays in the middle of the day. A couple lessons later SH brought her friend JW. G translated these too. One lesson, the teacher asked what we want to do with our lives or something like that and I said, “Tell people about Jesus, but I don't know how.” G secretly called Nancy and the next time we started meeting with her because she is fluent in English and Korean.

The love language seminar didn’t have much to do with the five love languages; I forget what the contents were. One time the teacher asked the people (all women except me because middle of the day) what religion they were and all were Christian except one Buddhist. I figured out later that some women were already in SCJ and were bringing friends. The group kept increasing in number every week and I wondered how that could happen because they missed some earlier stuff.

We started meeting with Nancy and I figured now I would understand the five love languages clearly because she spoke English. But none of her lessons were even close to that. The first lesson we all agreed we were Christian so she started in on Christian stuff.

That location was a little expensive per hour so we went to 지구마을 which was another cheaper study place. It was really cold during February and cold inside there too. I later found out that place was owned by SCJ. They played regular K-pop music in the background outside the study rooms.

SH went to most of the lessons with Nancy while G translated for her and JW. I later found out JW was my “maintainer” which meant she had to go to all the center lessons and be my friend. I think G was a maintainer too.

One day with the four of us at Lotte eating a snack, SH went on and on about what we had just studied. She said the same thing at least three times. I was getting a little annoyed because she kept talking, but I think that’s her personality. SH said, “Wouldn’t be it nice if we could learn the whole Bible?” I said, “You mean seminary?” She said, “No.” The next day, after about 3-4 weeks of lessons twice a week, Nancy asked how long we think it would take to learn the whole Bible. I said a lifetime, someone else said a year (they already knew the timeframe). Nancy said there’s a 10-month course. She said she knew a couple pastors where we could study four times a week – M, T, Th, F. Wednesday was off. I figured just for break but it’s because they all go to Wednesday service at SCJ. A few months later after I found out about SCJ I asked SH if her question at Lotte was a setup before Nancy’s question, but she said no. However, I still doubt that answer.

I suspect Nancy was debating on which SCJ location to study. They have about five locations throughout Daejeon. We went to 월평 center (I wasn’t aware of the name though) and filled out a piece of paper and met the center director. There were normally two classes a day - 10am and 19:30. Since I couldn’t attend either one (my job was a split shift), and since they were both in Korean, Nancy offered to teach at 14:00 for two hours. She said it’s a free course, but we should each pay ₩60,000 to cover operating costs of the location. When I went through the center the second time with other foreigners, no one was asked to pay anything.

At first, SH went to a couple lessons but was so busy she eventually stopped. JW didn't make it to all of them either. G went to all of them though. A couple months later, three girls showed up who spoke English. For some reason I didn't think much of it – why they suddenly showed up after it had already started. They came to about half the lessons on random days. G later told me he asked them to join so there would be more people. Another guy, Joseph, came on Tue and Thu. I don’t know why I didn’t suspect anything since he was missing half of it.

After one of the English services at the church I had a conversation with the English service pastor. He asked if I was married and I said no. Then I asked if he was married and he said yes and that his wife goes to a different church. I thought that was really strange. I later figured out that his wife goes to SCJ while he does this. He also goes to SCJ, but probably at the 1930 Sunday service.

In May, Mom came to Korea and we took a break from the study. I was going to just skip it and let G and JW do it, but later discovered they had already taken it and the study was only for me so we had to stop. I wanted Mom to take the course because it was all new information to me and I figured she would enjoy it too. In April I talked with Nancy about getting Mom to take it. At this point I had no idea about SCJ or anything occurring after the course.

Mom and I went to church and after lunch the English service members asked to go to 만인산 to look around and eat dinner. We walked around and had a big dinner. A couple days later I wanted Mom to study this course so we met Nancy for about an hour at Holy Cross coffee house (not owned by SCJ). The next week we met with G and Nancy did a short introductory lesson with Mom and me. Nancy asked Mom if she would be interested in teaching this study but Mom said she couldn’t get several people to meet four days a week. Nancy offered to do some lessons with Mom over Skype when she got back to the US. Mom felt a little pushed but said she would listen to the lessons.

SH had told me that her mom lived in a different city from her dad and that her mom worked for a church all the time. Mom thought it was strange. When SH, JW, G, and I went to dinner, JW said she wanted to preach to the Japanese. She was studying Japanese and is now 100% fluent. I didn’t know at the time that she wanted to preach SCJ. We also went to the old Presidential Palace about 30 minutes away for fun. We walked around and met Joseph, his wife, and child. They brought food to eat.

In the car back from the outing, SH asked Mom if she would be “her mommy” (SH can’t speak English and probably meant “mom”). Mom said “sure!” G jokingly asked Mom to take SH with her. G sent a Kakao message that he already missed Mom. When Mom left Korea, SH and JW video called me just to say hello after Mom left.

Around June Nancy introduced me to a girl and we went out a couple times but I didn’t see it happening. She asked if I went to Wednesday church and I said no because I had to work in the evenings. She was surprised. I later found out SCJ people have to go every Sunday and Wednesday or they get in big trouble.

Mom said she really liked SH and wanted me to date her. After going out with the above girl a couple times and deciding not to date her anymore, one day I talked with Nancy after the class and asked about SH. Nancy said she had talked to SH several months ago because she could see that I was sort of interested in SH. But Nancy said SH had been dating someone for a few years and that her personality is really outgoing. I’m not sure I believe that now.

Sometimes during the study, the teacher will give a definition out of thin air. It sort of makes sense, but doesn’t have a firm foundation. One example I can think of is when I watched a video on religion four times (the situation is below). The woman on the video said the definition of religion is “things from heaven that are seen and heard”. She went on to describe the Chinese characters which are correct, but no dictionary lists “religion” as things being seen and heard. It is a setup to say the only person who knows true religion is a person who has seen and heard things from heaven.

During the introductory level instructors often give the meaning of the figurative language at the beginning of class and back it up with scriptures. I think this is a way of giving the definition SCJ has so it’s in your head first and then giving scriptures. Lessons are usually about two hours long with a break in between. During the break, they often play contemporary worship songs familiar with everyone. But during worship time at SCJ all the songs are about Lee Man Hee (the one who overcomes, the chairman, the promised pastor – he goes by all these titles). Most of the songs talk about how he overcame and everyone is thankful or about the 144,000.

Around July Nancy slowly introduced 신천지 (SCJ-Shincheonji). Somehow she mentioned that there must be a man who knows the entire Bible and I remember sending G a message that “we have to find this guy”.  From August Nancy’s husband, Jack, started the third part of the study which was the whole book of Revelation. Nancy was pregnant and couldn’t stand for two hours at a time. During that part I went with G to the temple for the first time. He took me on a tour of the place.

After Nancy mentioned The Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony I looked it up on Wikipedia and there was something in the article about the first orbit of the universe happened in 1984. I thought that was strange so I waited to see if I heard anything else about that during the course, but never did. However, at the end of 2013 I read an article written by Lee Man Hee that mentioned that this is the “time the universe has completed its orbit.” That kind of freaked me out.

Nancy was trying to get Mom to take the course and she asked, “Can you sacrifice for the Christ?” (“the” is possibly a grammar mistake by Nancy, who isn’t perfect in grammar). Mom said, “Ok, you got me there.” I urged Mom to take the course too because it was unlike any other Bible study. Mom did it because it was important to me. Mom set up Skype and found out it would be audio only because it was a group Skype. (You have to pay to get Skype group video.)

Around August Nancy invited me to lunch at her home. About a week before she had told me about SCJ and that SH, G, and others had taken the course multiple times. Joseph was there and G showed up. He asked Joseph in which direction the temple was. He said, “We usually pray towards the temple.” He knelt and prayed for a minute. I thought that was very strange. Even stranger, after that I never saw anyone else do that or heard of anything related to it. A girl told me we should pray three times a day too. I believe this was due to Daniel 6 where he prayed three times a day and towards Jerusalem. But in I Thessalonians 5:17 it says “pray continually”. Back at Nancy’s house I hadn’t seen SH in a while and she was the one who initially got me to take the course. During the meal I told SH, “You tricked me into taking this course”. She said I would have the opportunity to trick someone else.

I talked with Mom about SCJ over Skype and then cried after we hung up because Mom said it was a cult. I called Nancy and during our conversation she mentioned that the first time we go through the course we see that the seed (Luke 8:11) is the word, the second or third time is Jesus and by the fourth time realize Lee Man-hee (이만희) is the seed. He said members should take the course four times because Ezekiel (?) went over the river four times.

During the end of the Revelation part of the course, people go to an SCJ service at a location, but not the actual temple. They go there for four weeks before officially entering the temple. After one of the services, some of us gathered around to do something. They wanted all the new members to fill out a paper with names and phone numbers of people we wanted to evangelize. I put only one person because all my contacts were SCJ people. After that they talked about the types of things SCJ uses to evangelize. They use seminars (e.g. the Love Language seminar), open churches (a church that is known to be run by SCJ), and 비오펜 (“not open” or hidden/mission church). That was the day I found out the church I had been going to with G was a mission church. I was really surprised.

There are five mission churches in Daejeon. They change the name of the church every year or two because people in the area find out that it’s run by SCJ. Almost everyone in the church are SCJ members – the pastor, head pastor, group leaders, etc. After I found out about SCJ in the summer I asked G if anyone in the church goes to SCJ and he said about half. I asked if the pastor knew about it and he simply said “yes”. Sometimes I would see friends from the church inside SCJ and asked if they were still going to the church, but almost all said no. About a week before I left I saw a girl from the church in SCJ and asked her if she was going. She said everything changed. The new pastor was a center teacher and the young people were changed.

I started new member training in September. The room in the temple was full of new and current members. Joseph was in there and he texted me to not say hello because he was with another friend. His friend had weak faith so Joseph was pretending to be a newcomer also.

Sometime in September or so they asked me to install Mypeople (a chatting app) on my smartphone because it was more secure than Kakao (a popluar chatting app). Everyone at SCJ uses Mypeople to make plans, chat, etc. You can send files through Mypeople, but not through Kakao.

After four weeks of new member training where I started going to church every Sunday and Wednesday, there was a celebration with all the people who had finished the course in my class. I was technically in 월평, but didn't know anyone else because I took my class separately. We ate lunch at the temple and afterward the tribe leader came in to talk to me. G translated for me. He talked a little and then asked if I wanted to get married. I said definitely and he said she should be from SCJ. Of course I agreed because I thought the same thing. That was the end of August. My badge said the date I entered was August 27, 2013 (SCJ year 30). SCJ has their own year calendar starting from 1984. The tribe leader also asked how much money I make per month. I told him ₩2,000,000. He said it was good that I didn’t make a lot because otherwise money would take away my attention from SCJ.

Sometime at the end of the year, someone wanted to evangelize to another Korean and wanted to use me. She wanted me to say that Mom was a pastor and some other stuff about her. But I told her that I didn’t want to lie. She said it would be ok to lie because we are doing God’s work. When we met the person, she said my mother was a pastor. The only point of me being there was to use a foreigner so the target would be more receptive. I left right after meeting the new person, which was the plan. The girl went on to be my group leader until the end of 2013.

When a new person asks what church the instructor goes to, they will stall or lie. One night I invited someone to a magic show with G and James. The target, James (different person), asked me what denomination my church was (he was probably suspicious of SCJ) and I basically said I don’t know. I asked G what to say if he asked how I met him and he made up a story that G knew one of my students and we met that way. G also said to answer “Presbyterian” if someone asks what denomination my church was.

My mom asked Nancy and the teachers over Skype what churches they went to, but they stalled as much as possible giving vague answers.

I went to church every Sunday and Wednesday without fail. On Wednesdays members can go to 11:30 or 19:30 service. I went to the 11:30 Wednesday service every week because I worked from 18:30 or 20:00 every weeknight. In November 2013 my boss suddenly had me teach a class from 11:00-11:50 which I had not had at all the entire year. Since I was also working at night, that meant I had to take a taxi about ten minutes and race inside even though I was late. SCJ counts attendance every single time so I had to go.

Before each service, SCJ sings “All Thanks”. It goes like this: “All thanks to God, all thanks to Jesus, all thanks to the one who overcomes. Praise his name forever.” (다 감사해 주 하나님, 다 감사해 주 예수님, 다 감사해 이긴자. 그 이름을 영원토록 찬양하리라) When I first heard it in September while studying with G I asked him which name the last part was referring to. He said he would get back to me, but never did. I didn’t ask him again.

SCJ celebrates four festivals spread evenly throughout the year. Three are from Exodus 23 and the fourth is in March, which is Foundation Day – the day SCJ was founded in 1984. Nothing much special happens on these days; it’s just noted. All the men wear the tribe-colored tie.

Sometime in the fall after one service the tribe leader was speaking and then at the end he put up a picture of a teenager who was a member. He said she had written something on an anti-SCJ forum and was banned forever from SCJ. I wondered if she would really go to hell for that. This was one thing that made me start to question SCJ.

Sometime in the fall of 2013, 이만희 came to the Daejeon temple to talk for about an hour. Everyone that could go in the middle of the day on a weekday made a path for him from the elevator to the stage. He finally arrived and everyone was super excited to see him up close. A few months before this JW told me that once she was next to him and felt his presence. But when he walked by me in Daejeon, I felt nothing. I tried to get excited, but nothing.

One time I talked with Sarah (friend I had originally met at the mission church who was G’s friend) and basically asked why we should lie to bring people to the study. She said Joseph in the Bible was a deceiver and became Israel.

G set me up with YJ at the end of November. We went out and liked each other so we continued dating. Nancy sent a message to our group to memorize the titles of Revelation that 이만희 had written. One day YJ mentioned that the Chairman changed the titles a while back so she had to memorize the new ones. I thought it was kind of strange to change the titles.

Nancy told me that SCJ people who date HAVE to get married within six months. I thought it was a little fast. Another girl I knew said to ask YJ if she would be willing to support me while I worked for the church. I asked YJ this about a few weeks after we had started dating, but it threw off the entire day because she was so shocked. She hadn’t expected me to ask such a question. I felt like an idiot. It was about ten days before Christmas so she said we couldn’t meet until then so she could think. However, we met a few days later. A few weeks later she said she could do it.

If an instructor had 20% of the center students quit, then they would get talked to. If 40% quit then he/she would be replaced with another teacher.

G had told me a month or so before about Friday night meetings where they discussed Revelation. It was at 2100 so I couldn’t go because my work ended at 2200. One day YJ asked if I was going. She said it was at 2200. So I rode the bus from work to the temple and got there a little late. It was about Revelation and the whole fourth floor was packed. We usually got out around 2330 so I had to take a taxi home or walk 30 minutes.

In January the time was moved up to 2100 and I didn't have any evening classes so I could go. The meeting wasn’t centered around Revelation anymore, but was another training where the tribe leader spoke about various things. In February Nancy wrote our English group that the Friday meeting was mandatory and if we couldn’t go, then what was the reason. By this time I had escaped.

I felt like members were using me because I spoke fluent English and/or I was a foreigner. Sometimes people would ask me to teach them English like it could be done in a month. Many people asked me how to study English and I simply said “practice”. I eventually caved to one guy who was the media head over about 20 people. We met a couple times a week for about an hour and we loosely studied English.

Around the beginning of 2014 SH messaged me that she wanted me to meet a foreigner. SH, another SCJ girl, and I met Brad at Lotteria. SH had gone up to him at a grocery store. When he asked what her job was, she said a children’s counselor. We talked for a while and then I had to go to the weekend center (Sat-Sun Aug 2013-June 2014). We all agreed to meet again the next Saturday to eat dinner. A few days later I messaged him and he wrote back. He said he might not be able to go since his friend was coming to town. I wrote him again asking how he was but he never wrote back. The other girl wrote him once or twice. We never met Brad again.

One week in January 2014 my group leader said tomorrow (Sunday) the badge wouldn’t count, but only fingerprint. No one ever explicitly said this, but I know they wanted to check if people were having their friends badge them in even though they weren’t there. After I left Korea I saw messages on the group chat that another week they required everyone to sign a piece of paper with their group leader. Not even the fingerprint was good enough that day.

Also around this time, the tribe leader sent a message to all the group leaders to tell everyone. One of the things was that everyone should tithe 10% and also give at least ₩1,000 per week. I had already been giving my tithe, but I never gave the extra.

I secured a job at the beginning of January, which would start on February 3. About a week before I finished the center lesson on a Sunday and Sarah asked me to come to the temple. She is the international team leader. She asked about my job situation and I told her about my TB screening and that I would need to wait another week or so to find out the results. I told her my working hours in the new job would be 9:00-18:30. She said, “it’s really full-time”.

She wanted me to start studying really hard to become an English SCJ Instructor. (They don’t say “teacher”, but always “instructor”.) She wanted me to study the instructor training and teach the 11 Pakistani pastors coming at the end of March. She convinced me to cancel my new contract and work full-time for the church. Since I had a girlfriend we could get married and she would support me money-wise. We ate dinner with some other people and Sarah said I could go home. Then someone told Sarah that the tribe leader wanted to see her. She told me to stay and talk with him too. I really wanted to go home though.

We waited and then went into the tribe leader’s office around 22:00. There was a picture of 이만희 on the back wall. There was also a huge board with all the churches in his area and number of people including top leaders at each one. He said he would be with us as soon as he finished texting. He was looking at his phone and texting very slowly for about 20 minutes. I was getting a little annoyed. He finally put it down (he’s the leader so he gets calls and texts constantly). He asked if I could stand persecution from my mother. He also asked if I had a girlfriend and I said yes. A few weeks ago YJ said she didn’t want to marry me until March 2015. She would figure out a way to stall if they said we had to marry sooner. I never told the tribe leader this though. He asked if I would be able to go to Pakistan to help the pastors after they went through the course. (Another young person went to Papua New Guinea after teaching them.) I said it would be a very hard decision but I should because they said so. I stayed at the temple from about 19:00-23:20. Almost every day after that I kept thinking to myself, “Is this right?” meaning “Is SCJ right?”

I had about a week after my previous contract and before my new contract so I started working for the church full time. I came in the next day and Sarah told me to watch a 45-minute recording done by an English instructor on religion and then to give a sample lesson of about 20 minutes. It was one of the basic lessons. The instructor on the video is Korean, but grew up in Los Angeles. I watched it about four times and made notes. That night I gave a sample lesson with that and the four leaders told me it was pretty bad. Other people said to prepare for harsh words. They were talking about my teaching style.

The next day Sarah told me she needed me to go to Gwacheon (church headquarters) for a week. I was staying at my cell group leader’s apartment while she and her husband were in a different country. She said her friend could take care of my cat and their cat.

In Gwacheon I kept thinking, “Is this right?” We were calling pastors of various religions in various countries to invite them to the World Alliance of Religions Summit to be held September 2014.

On February 19, 2014 Sarah said I would teach BB (복음방 – beginning lessons) to the Pakistanis since I had missed a week of studying. At the end of the Wednesday 11:30 service, before the tribe leader said “glory to God” he said the Chairman, 이만희 (Lee Man-hee), likes only 4-7 hymns in the hymn book that Korean Christians use. [highligt]The tribe leader said we should write songs praising the Chairman because he is the one who overcomes. That really made me think hard about SCJ.[/highlight]

I was supposed to study the lessons that afternoon, but couldn’t concentrate because of what the tribe leader said. A few weeks before this, at the end of a service, someone at the pulpit said that Buddha prophesied Jesus 500 years before Jesus came. So I looked up what I could on my phone and discovered that this has been propagated on lots of Christian websites but can’t be confirmed. I had serious doubts about SCJ now.

The next morning, Thursday, February 20, 2014, I had a Skype call with Mom for a few hours and decided to escape from SCJ. I was supposed to go to the temple to study for a sample speech on Saturday but went to the bank and wanted to get my belongings. Half of my stuff was at Nancy’s and I wanted to get it out before she knew what I was doing. After the bank I took a bus near her apartment and called her. I was hoping she wouldn’t be there and would give me the code. She didn’t answer but called me back after a few minutes. I told her “they want me to move today”. I specifically said “they” to be vague. She thought I meant the church apartment, but didn’t say at the time. I was supposed to move into a church-provided apartment in a few days to constantly study teaching material.

The door to the building and elevator uses a keypad or card and I had neither. I walked up to the door and someone walked out exactly as I needed and I walked in to the elevator. I went to her floor and called her. She gave me the code and I went in. I knew where all my stuff was and I started moving everything out into the hallway as fast as possible. Nancy was at the center and I didn’t want to see her. I didn’t want her husband to come home for lunch either.

I verified everything was in the hallway and then I called up the elevator and put everything in as fast as possible while having my bag hold the door open. I went downstairs and pulled everything out. I got everything outside and called a taxi service for an SUV taxi. I told the lady on the phone that I had a lot of stuff and she suggested I call a van service. I called and the guy was eating lunch so I had to wait about thirty minutes. I was really hoping no one would come home.

The van guy came and we loaded everything and went to the place I was staying. After getting everything into the temporary apartment I was surprised no one had called to see where I was since I hadn’t gone to the temple at all on Thursday. I guess they assumed I was studying. I knew once I missed the center on Thursday night that something would happen.

I got rid of some junk I didn’t want and brought a pizza back from across the street. The center started at 1930 and I didn’t show up. I figured since the apartment owners were in a different country no one could come to the apartment. All of the sudden around 2030 Sarah rang the doorbell. I saw her on the camera. She called my name and knocked. After I brought back the pizza I had locked the keypad from the inside. Even with the code, no one could open the door. She was on the phone with the owner and had the correct code but couldn’t open the door. I stayed completely silent the whole time. She came back a little later and rang the bell except this time she stayed out of the camera’s view.

Sarah eventually left and JW called around 2230. I didn’t answer. I had planned to stay in the apartment until Saturday or Sunday when the owners would come home, but decided to get to a motel on Friday morning. I arranged all my stuff so it would be easy to carry out (relatively easy). I got up early and took all my stuff downstairs a little before 0800. I called the van service just after 0800 and told him I needed to move again. He said he’d be there in about twenty minutes. A little later someone called from a number I didn’t recognize so I didn’t answer it. I thought maybe Sarah had gotten another SCJ member to call me so I would answer. The person called five times.

The van service guy called me and said his friend has been trying to call. I said I don’t answer numbers I don’t know. I normally do answer, but not since I escaped. The other guy eventually came. I told him to take me to a motel near the bus terminal and he wanted the exact address. I tried to get him to just go near the terminal and we’d find it, but he wanted an address. We eventually got an address so he could use his GPS.

I loaded everything into a motel. By this time people were calling me left and right. But I never answered. I had to take the cat to a pet motel while I waited for my flight next week. Her records were at a vet near the temple so I tried to hide. I had to go to the bank again. The E-mart bus stop is closer but I decided to walk a little to the very beginning of a bus route. I got on and at the E-mart stop I saw SH walking around, but she didn't see me. I kind of ducked down when I saw her. I accidentally answered YJ’s call and just stayed silent until she hung up. I got the cat taken care of and went back to the motel to hide out. By now, I was getting calls from a lot of people. YJ called some and I think she called from her work number. They were hoping I would answer an unknown number, but I never did. All sorts of SCJ people were calling and sending kakao messages but I didn't answer anyone.

On Saturday I went out to the countryside for a trip. About a week before, I had agreed to meet YJ on Saturday. But while on the bus in the countryside I read all her messages and told her that we couldn’t meet. She asked why and I said again that we couldn’t meet again.

I rode some buses or something on Sunday. Sarah wrote me that she was at the airport and to call her. I felt kind of bad making her waste all that gas and time driving from Daejeon to Incheon, but I still didn’t answer her. Nancy was getting annoyed that I hadn’t answered her. She wrote something and I said, “I’m sure people’s perception of me has changed, but I have to go.”

I took some trips outside the city the next few days. By now I had decided to leave the phone on airplane mode and turn on the connection only when needed. On Wednesday I was looking for a haircut place and needed Naver maps. It was about 2030 so I figured YJ and others were in Wednesday service so I was fairly safe. But she called right when I had the maps open. I didn't answer and she hung up. I got a pizza and walked to the motel quickly.

On Thursday I was ready to go to the airport. After landing outside Korea I connected to wi-fi and told YJ that I was in the USA. I didn't respond to anything else.

A few ways SCJ works:
They organize lots of seminars that are designed to bring in non-SCJ people and eventually turn them into SCJ. The seminar is a front for SCJ. SCJ members bring their non-SCJ friends to the seminar. The seminar generally doesn’t have much to do with the title.

They lie a lot to prospects. If the prospect asks what church they go to, they will say one of the mission churches or stall. If the SCJ member works full time for the church and the prospect asks their job, they will say a job name that they’ve trained their minds to react to. When several SCJ members meet with a prospect, they soon make a Mypeople chat room to talk about the prospect. In fact, some people love to make chat rooms for anything. It quickly fills up your list. A girl told me that many people complain about too many chat rooms, but the tribe leader said he has over 100 rooms, so don’t complain. The biggest lie is that the SCJ member is your friend. They are certainly friendly, but once you get into the church, they drop off the radar. They may contact you every few weeks, but totally opposite of when you’re the prospect where they meet you all the time and do stuff with you.

There are three tests during the course. You have to get at least 90 to pass. Otherwise, you just retake the test. After the third test, someone (I forgot who-maybe G) told me that I would have to take the test again with all three parts. A few days later, there was a small luncheon to celebrate after the third test and the leader in there told everyone that “this Saturday” they would have to take all three test parts again. The members were obviously a little upset. In order to graduate, you have to pass the final test (many people had to retake it; it was basically a memorization test) and you have to have someone start the course or six people do BOB.

When I first got into the church, a few friends from the mission church wrote “welcome to heaven!” I never understood how the world would continue. If SCJ is heaven and all the non-believers are outside, do they just continue living and having children and not go to SCJ? Does the whole world continue with SCJ and non-SCJ?

Graduation is a huge deal. It depends on the tribe, but Matthias had two graduations in 2013. During the one in May, G went to a nearby city where about 2,000 people graduated. He said SCJ bought the mountain where they held it. He said he was absent from the mission church where I attended that day (I didn’t know about SCJ at the time).

A few weeks before my graduation in December, each person comes and takes a picture with their gown. The emblem used to be an icon with four trees directed inward, but the new one has four trees coming from the center. Seems strange to make such a huge change. The media team writes and produces a huge event (usually a story about Revelation) to perform in front of the chairman. (By the way, he’s called “the chairman”, “SSN” (teacher in Korean), “promised pastor”, and “one who overcomes”.) I was originally going to be in the performance and speak Korean, but they rewrote the whole thing and I was going to give a speech, so they didn’t want to burden me with two things. I wrote a speech and there was someone to help make it better. I practiced saying it all in Korean, which would have been neat coming from a foreigner. About a week before it, I contacted the helper and asked if there was any news, but he didn’t tell me exactly. G said something over chat like “sorry”, but he wouldn’t tell me the details either. Nancy’s husband said they probably chose a Papua New Guinea pastor (5 had taken the extremely fast version of the course). That didn't bother me, but I guess they were afraid they would hurt my feelings.

Then I was given the position of accepting the graduation certificate on behalf of all the graduates. So I was at the very front of the room right behind 이만희, but I didn’t feel anything special sitting near him. Many people would have been so excited to sit near him. During the performance, a few ladies who always cater to him when he comes were putting out several trays of decorative food and tea. They seemed to be taking a long time and were standing right in front of a bunch of people including me. The leader of the ladies was right next to me and was very frustrated and motioned at them to just leave it and go, but they continued laying out the food and drink. I don’t think 이만희 or the lady sidekick took any of it. After the performance, 이만희 got up and sang a little song. YJ said he had never sung before at a performance so everyone was so happy.

YJ had called me the morning of graduation and was one of the women who would welcome이만희 when his car was driven to the front. It was quite cold outside and they all had to wear white to welcome him. One of the young ladies had on a jacket, but it wasn’t white, so the leader told her to take it off even though she had on a short sleeve shirt. YJ said she was very cold. But it was to look good so they had to do it.

I got up when it was my turn to get the certificate and still didn't feel anything being near him. He moved my tassel from one side to the other. When everyone was leaving, someone wanted to interview me since I was a foreigner. She asked how I felt and I said, “It feels great to belong to a church. I had never wanted to belong to a church until now. It’s great to know Jesus is with him.” (paraphrased). But I wasn’t 100% convinced in what I was saying. I basically said something they would like. After the graduation, lots of people give flowers (the church sells them outside beforehand). I got some flowers and the same gift from different people. It was a pack (small notebook, mousepad with a quote, and a couple other things). They obviously bought it from the church store.

Every year on the first Sunday in January, there is a “general assembly”. Everyone gathers at their church like normal except the tribe leaders who go to Seoul. They have prepared attendance numbers and goals (activities) for the year. I noticed that all of them were saying their attendance goal was 100% more people (double current number) for the coming year. I asked someone about it and he said one year the Matthias tribe leader (and probably the rest of the tribe leaders) put up 30% and 이만희 got really mad. So from then on they all say their goal is 100%. In 2014 one tribe put up 120%, one 140%, and I think one had 200% (he had very low attendance to start with-a few hundred I think). I thought, “If Jesus’ spirit is with이만희then wouldn’t he know that the 100% goal is a farce?” The tribe leaders also report their attendance increase over the past year and it’s about 10-15% of their goal. They have to report what their goal was last year (100%) and then the actual numbers (I figured out it’s about 10% of that goal).

Most SCJ members sleep only a few hours a night. I had a job where I worked morning and night. I woke up at 5:50 and went to bed at 22:30, but didn’t work in the middle of the day. When I was with the Papua New Guinea pastors, Sarah told me I “should reduce” my sleep. She suggested 4 hours, but I said no way. Then she said 5 or 6 hours. She wanted me to study all the time, but I had no study materials. Nancy told me there would be a teacher training soon. Anyway, there are many late night meetings at the SCJ temple. YJ told me that she used to work in the day then had meetings after midnight and went to bed at 2:00 am. Then woke up at 4:00 am for early morning meetings/prayer and went to work.

I was sleeping about 6 hours a night, but was very tired during the day. The only time I wasn’t tired was morning. When I was training for my new job I was falling asleep while observing the class constantly. Sarah told me to “overcome” my sleep problem and basically to just stay awake.

Once when I took a class with Mom over Skype, her teacher in Los Angeles told the group something and asked, “Who slept 1.5 hours last night?” like she was proud of it. I don’t know how people can function on such little sleep.

I’ve read reports on the internet that SCJ members have military style training late at night where they crawl on the floor and whatnot. I never heard or saw that. However, they showed us a video once where all the church staff went to a nearby city early in the cold morning and had military style training. It was to focus their minds. When I balked at stuff while I was working full-time (for a week), Sarah said maybe I should have mindset training.

During service, everyone is supposed to wear white shirts and black or dark pants. You can easily see on video when someone doesn’t. Wednesday service is more lax because most people are coming from work. On special days, they ask the men to wear the tribe tie.

There are monthly meetings for men, women, and young people. I went to several of the young people meetings (unmarried). Everyone has to line up perfectly on sitting mats (they do at all other events too). I remember once John (from the mission church) was behind me practically screaming “amen!” During service or when someone speaks at the front, everyone says “amen” loudly. It’s about every sentence or half-sentence. I wanted to tell him that he could chill out on screaming, but didn’t say anything. Several times, during announcements, someone at the front would tell us to say “amen” loudly.