Leaving Shincheonji Cult
I was introduced to Shincheonji through a childhood friend. I was a sophomore in my local community college and I had not been to church since middle school. I didnt like the church that I grew up in because the pastor was caught cheating on his wife numerous times before he finally stepped down. I felt that it was hypocritical for a pastor to preach repentance for sins and do the complete opposite. I still believed in God, but I did not think church was necessary for having faith. Instead of going to church, I focused on doing well in community college so I can transfer and help provide for my family after I graduate.
Around this time, my childhood friend asked if I would be interested in joining him for a bible study. I was reluctant at first because I had not read the Bible in many years. I thought I wouldn’t be able to understand what they are talking about and keep up with them but thankfully, the bible study teacher was very understanding and explained things clearly starting from the basics.
You can tell that the teachers really believe in this teaching. Technically, they only used the Bible to explain their doctrines and it’s hard to argue directly against their logic. God makes promises and fulfills them at the proper time. God is fulfilling those promises today. He is preparing a place for himself to dwell on earth for eternity through a promised pastor. This place was Shincheonji. All of this was new to me, but I was thankful for the bible study because it made sense and helped me understand the flow of God’s work from Genesis through Revelation.
I joined Shincheonji because it was a church that had people who put in effort to live out what they believed in. They are genuine and great people, but I was not ready to participate in all the activities that they do. I almost left Shincheonji because of a family emergency. My grandmother was bedridden after breaking her hips and I didnt know how much time I would have with her. During this difficult time, my childhood friend frequently checked in with me to make sure I was okay and convinced me to still remain connected with Shincheonji because faith is still an important aspect in our lives.
Life in Shincheonji was a struggle. I had difficulty balancing Shincheonji and school because my time management skills weren’t very good. My grades were dropping and I was worried that I would not be able to transfer to a college. My education is important to me because I grew up in a poor family and my parents did not get to go to college. I had the opportunity to go to college and pursue a good career. My parents were depending on me to help provide for them when they get old. During this time, again my childhood friend frequently checked in with me and helped me build a better habit of scheduling my weeks.
My family also noticed that I became more distant from them because of my involvement with Shincheonji. I missed family outings and meals that I would usually have with them. I felt guilty because I was not living up to the expectations that they had for me. Even though I tried to compartmentalize my time spent between school, family, and Shincheonji, I could not get past the guilt of letting my parents down. They sat me down numerous times to address their concerns for me. I felt disappointed in myself. This led me to think that if I left Shincheonji, I could focus more on school and family, and ultimately be happier again.
I often wonder if leaving Shincheonji was the wrong decision, but I dont think it’s wrong to want a better life. I decided that a better life for me is doing well in school and maintaining a good relationship with my family. The people at Shincheonji are genuine and great people. I miss them sometimes but I decided that it was time that we go our separate ways. Ever since I left Shincheonji, however, I have been experiencing a lot of anxiety. I get nightmares and sometimes, I wonder if my decision to leave was a mistake. I am back at the old church I grew up in but I still feel empty inside and the sermons are terrible. I no longer feel like I can engage with spirituality in any meaningful way. Now, I only go to the old church I grew up in to maintain some structure in my life. It is still a supportive network and volunteering with them feels nice. The trauma of leaving Shincheonji without resolving my fear of hell has kept me up at night. I am still processing what I had experienced.