As a college freshman, life for me was beautiful, full of endless possibilities. I believed that most people were good and trustworthy. I was naïve, innocent and trusting. Regardless of any obstacles I had faced, I remained optimistic and positive, always smiling and happy. I was excited to finally be studying in my field of choice: Architecture, and surrounded by others who were passionate about it too. I was excited to be spreading my own wings, stepping out in independence from my parents. College seemed like such an exciting place of knowledge, learning and life experiences.
When I arrived at my new University I was eager to get settled into dorm life and meet my new roommate with whom I had only conversed on the phone. With dorm-overcrowding, my dorm was a sorority house that had its charter revoked. The University rented out the building. Thus, the sorority house became a temporary dorm for fifty mostly freshman girls.
Since this was not an official dorm, we were forced to pay some additional expenses, not making it the cheapest option. When I arrived at my room I no longer had an assigned roommate. She had been able to transfer to a cheaper dorm. I was without a roommate for a little while until the University placed another female student with me, but she too did not stay, opting for a cheaper dorm as well. Eventually I was assigned another roommate who stayed for most of the year, but within the first month of school I did not have a consistent roommate in my dorm room. I was disappointed and eager to meet other girls and have the companionship of a roommate. I saw the other girls in my dorm befriending their roommates and I felt isolated.
I joined a campus ministry when I started at the University. I had met them at Freshman Orientation at a Fair Showcasing Campus Clubs. My mom spoke with them and connected with one of their volunteers. She was bubbly, warm and inviting. She also loved Jane Austen, my favorite author. When I arrived on campus she contacted me and even invited me to her home off-campus for dinner. She was a married alumnus now on staff with this campus ministry.
This ministry started a Bible Study in my dorm and I hosted it in my dorm room. They met every Sunday on campus for church services and every Sunday evening for separate male and female community groups. In fact, most of the events were segregated by gender. There were some coed parties, but for the most part men and women were segregated. At one party, I noticed a man talking to one of the girls I had befriended. It was clear he was attracted to her, but they were not dating.
A few Sundays later, they stood up in church announcing they were engaged without ever dating. I thought that was really odd. The more I became involved the more things didn’t quite add up. Some red flags started popping up and I quickly realized it was a very controlling cult. I stopped attending church for a time, pretty shaken that the first church I ever chose on my own turned out to be a cult.
When I eventually started attending a new church, my initial friend in the ministry called me to check-in. She said she hadn’t seen me in a while at church and was wondering what was going on. I told her I had found a new church. She told me I should find a bible study at my new church and hung up. She never spoke to me again. I was pretty crushed. I thought I had made some friends there, and even though I parted ways with them as a church, I saw no reason for them to shut me out.