I first heard about Xenos way back in high school, when one of my UMC youth group friends suddenly stopped coming to our meetings. Somebody found out that he’d joined that organization, and it’s now been easily 7 years since I’ve seen him. There were nasty rumors that Xenos is a cult that our friend had become trapped in.
The research I’ve done on this group deeply disturbs me. The testimonies I’ve found just on Reddit alone from ex-members are heartbreaking. Read this one, for example. This person dedicated their life to Xenos. But the first red flag popped up when they volunteered to go to a two-week-long Christian summer camp that wasn’t part of Xenos. Before they were allowed to go volunteer at the camp, they had to agree to abide to a bizarre rule system created by their home church leader to come back every weekend of the camp.
But the first weekend they came back, they were surrounded by their fellows in a surprise group session and summarily excommunicated from their church. All this because they involved themselves in a Christian group that wasn’t Xenos-affiliated. As it goes, I’ve found out that this brutal, psychologically harmful tactic is a recurring issue throughout the testimonies I’ve read online.
I have a short history with this group, as I found out recently thanks to God’s cleverness. He revealed through a series of coincidental findings that the home church Bible study group I sporadically attended a couple of summers ago is actually part of the larger Xenos organization.
The revelation process started after I had a dream on Thanksgiving Day about what it would look like if I were to go back to the home church I’d visited off and on as a permanent member. I got a glimpse of what it would be like to live in a ministry house similar to the one that was the meeting place for the home church group.
For the most part, everything seemed normal, up until the point where my apartment was flooded with girls I’ve never met pushing for me to sign all of my personal information onto bizarre forms. When I told them that I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, sign everything on the spot, they pressured me to give them my initials in place. I thought that this was just dream gibberish, until God helped me discover the actual meaning of this scene; I was shown that members of the group were asking me to effectively sign my life away to them in what had to be a binding contract of membership in Xenos.
I went through the messages I shared with the girl who originally got me interested in going to her home church group, and found an address she’d given me a few years ago where her bigger group meets. I successfully compared that address to the Facebook page for Xenos, and confirmed that the entire time, I’d been mingling with a Xenos home church group. It was one of the most unnerving realizations I’ve ever had.
Then, the uncomfortable memories I’d tried to repress about my time with them resurfaced, because it’s what God needed me to see. Thanks to Him, I fully remembered that contrary to what my home church friends originally said, they weren’t fully supportive of me being gay. For starters, the girl who brought me to the home church ended up shaming me in a private conversation for wanting to eventually be with a guy, even though I trusted her enough to reveal that I’m still a virgin. Even when I gently I assured her that I would never judge her if she wasn’t a virgin before marriage, she was dismissive and didn’t change her stance towards me.
There’s also the last day I spent with them. I witnessed a group of my friends sit silently and allow a stranger from another home church to openly refer to a guy watching him at the gym as a f-ggot. They knew that I’m openly gay, but even with me standing around them, they didn’t even flinch at the blatant homophobic malice in his words.
Oh, and I think the biggest red flag of all for me back then was that on that same day, I lost my Confirmation Bible in their house. No one could find it, as if the house itself has swallowed it up. I think God may have given me a sign accordingly that if I lingered, my faith would be likewise swallowed up.
It was momentarily traumatizing to let myself fully remember that while they said one thing, their actions spoke volumes otherwise. I regret not knowing that they were members of Xenos beforehand, because if I did, I’m certain that I would have refused to set foot in their group. Nonetheless, I honestly don’t consider myself a victim, but rather an extremely pissed off person who is disgusted at the truth he’s learned.
I recently found the biggest cache of testimonies, a site titled “Xenos is a cult”. The creator of the site has dedicated their time to giving victims of this organization’s methods a venue to open up about their trauma. The unfortunate things I dealt with back then absolutely pale in comparison to some of the accounts I’ve read.
Here are quotes from two of the testimonies found on “Xenos is a Cult”:
From a parent of a child lost to Xenos:
“When Xenos brainwashes your child, it’s like a death. The marvelous, wonderful person that you loved like crazy is gone— and someone else is standing right there in front of you, in their body. Someone who now hates you, constantly judges you, is extremely manipulative, and repeatedly hurls terrible insults at you— someone who encourages the grandchildren to pray for you, because you “don’t have Jesus in your heart” and won’t be in Heaven with the rest of them— someone who sets up your grandchildren to proselytize to you.”
From an older ex-member of Xenos who served as a video recorder, who was unfairly disciplined after choosing to help a fellow member learn about the gossip being spread about him:
“I felt confident that I had done nothing wrong so I went to Dennis’s home to personally tell him that it was me and to explain my biblical stance for doing so. I humbly asked for his forgiveness if I had offended him in any way with my actions. He said that he understood and that he forgave me (and gave me a hug). My fears about confessing my actions were alleviated…or so I thought.
The next morning I was asked to resign or be terminated. I asked if they had spoken to Dennis because I thought everything was resolved in regards to my participation in the matter. I was informed that Dennis was not involved in the decision (yet I knew that he would have been absolutely informed, and to which he apparently did not intercede on my behalf). I did not seek out Gary (the other senior elder) to see if he agreed or not. I never witnessed Gary ever being willing to over-ride any of Dennis’s actions. I hope he can forgive me for not being willing to give him a chance to do so.
I wrote a letter of resignation that questioned why a man who follows biblical principles of avoiding gossip AND confessing of any misdoings (even face to face with those possibly offended) and asking for forgiveness for any trespasses, WAS HELD TO A HIGHER STANDARD than a person who flagrantly and publically sinned, then denied the sin, and then attempted to cover it up AND was NOT repentant?”
Some of the horrid accounts I read on this site somehow reminded me of the following cutscene from Silent Hill 3:
Claudia, the brainwashed woman, after her companion calls her out on her fanatical beliefs: “You’ll go to Hell!”
Vincent, her companion, absolutely fed up with it all: “Not there again!”
I learned from some of the other testimonies that an apparently recurring “discipline” tactic used against “straying” members is to pull a group session to gang up on said individual. Ex-members have detailed Bible verses and accusations being hurled at them from everybody in their group, all in a bid to shame them into better behavior. This is eerily reminiscent of the classic “stoning” scene in the New Testament. This time, the stones getting hurled at the victim are purely psychological. And Jesus Himself would surely do the same for these victims as He did for the woman in that passage.
Also, while I know that this particular topic is very sensitive, I invite you all to glance over their stance on suicide. The following is a quote from this stance:
“The dead student gives up forever his or her chance to be a part of the struggle for God in this world. Instead, that student gives the evil one a resounding victory over the people of God, strongly suggesting to the nonbelieving world that following Jesus is dangerous and might lead to death. Dead students give up forever the chance to be healed later in life, and instead their action suggests that Jesus cannot heal people’s problems.”
To my shock, Xenos ended up being the subject of an article in the Columbus Dispatch from 2018! All the more reason for myself to be grateful that God stopped me before I made the mistake of trying to rejoin that group.
To any and all members of Xenos who’ve read this post: please understand that no matter how much contempt I have for your organization, I don’t hate any of you. I mean that. Nonetheless, I need you to understand that because God Himself revealed what could’ve happened to me if I’d gotten more invested in that home church, there is absolutely NOTHING you can say that will change my heart on this. Remember that even if you’ve had nothing but wholesomeness in your experiences with Xenos, that’ll never erase or diminish the horrible trauma that Xenos has statistically put others through.
Also, that reminds me. I’m still feeling extremely petty after the wool has been removed from my eyes, so here, have a pettily relevant Within Temptation song to finish off this post 💙
“You took my heart, deceived me right from the start.
You showed me dreams, I wished they would turn into real.
You broke the promise, and made me realize:
It was all just a lie!”