By Dr. John Juedes
Many people see the severe problems of The Way International (TWI) and wonder how they can help their loved ones see the problems and leave the group. This is often a long, frustrating process. If you are frustrated, remind yourself of this fact: the "average" Way follower is an EX- follower. Over 90% of those who have participated in TWI have seen the problems and left TWI. In the meantime, here are some suggestions to guide you in responding to your relatives or friends who are still in TWI.
1. Maintain a Loving Relationship with Your Loved Ones.
Your loved ones are more likely to listen to you if they realize that you care for, and want the best for them. They need to know that you are not out to win an argument or defend "tradition," but that you want them to leave TWI for their own well-being, spiritually, emotionally and physically. This is hard to do, partly because Wayers are often closed-minded, arrogant, harsh, critical and confrontational. This is especially true now when TWI emphasizes confrontation so much. But the fact that this is hard makes this all the more important to do. TWI emphasizes confrontation, demands and control (the organization at the expense of the person) so much that your love and concern will really stand out as refreshing water in a dry desert.
2. Ask Questions they Can't Answer.
Wayers say they think for themselves, but in reality most are heavily programmed to think what their leaders think, and to never question anything. Many actually become fearful when their beliefs are intelligently challenged. Perhaps they fear finding out that the things they've gripped so tightly are wrong. Many are afraid that if they should ever leave TWI, hey will literally die under attack from devil spirits (TWI leaders repeatedly tell followers they will die if they do not obey leadership and so step out of the "protection of the household").
So your job is to get them to think. The best way to do this is by asking them questions, not by making statements. When they say something, ask "Why?" Tell them that you read something in an article, or in the Bible, that made you wonder, and ask them what they think about it. Mention a contradiction in Way writings and ask, "does that make sense to you?" (See other articles on this site for examples of contradictions, Biblical errors, etc.) They will often have pat (even mindless) answers, but the more you prompt them to think about things, the more problems they will see.
3. Learn About TWI's Problems and Errors.
Read articles on our web site (and from other sources) to learn about the many severe problems and errors in TWI. Note the types of information: testimonies of ex-Wayers, Biblical evaluation of specific Way teachings and Bible verses, examples of lack of integrity (lies, deceptions, misrepresentations, immorality), cultic aspects (all-powerful leaders who cannot be questioned, leaders' control over followers' lives, legalism), TWI contradicting itself, and so forth.
Begin by sharing with them types of information that seem to be more important to them (for instance, if they are most impressed with Bible teachings, bring up problems with some of these). Say that you came upon this information, it concerns you, and you would like them to look briefly at it and let you know what they think about it based on what they've learned in TWI.
4. Question Them about the Tone of the Group Now
Most Wayers these days have lost good friends because TWI told everyone to "mark and avoid" them (usually without explaining why). Leaders have scrutinized even the smallest and most personal areas of their lives, and have ordered them to take certain actions. Many have been screamed at and verbally harassed by leaders (they call it "confront"). Many live in some kind of fear of what will happen to them if they don't control their minds and obey leaders. This is a heavy burden to carry. Sadly, they think this is not only normal, but good and godly behavior, even though they'd be upset if anyone outside TWI treated them this way.
Ask them to describe what happened and why, what it feels like, what tone of voice and words leaders use when they talk to them, and so forth. Then share with them that these kinds of behavior are troubling to you, that Jesus Christ's manner was more kind and loving, and that you (and your friends, your pastor, etc) would feel injured if this happened to you, and that you wouldn't treat people this way.
5. Pick Your Fights Carefully.
We disagree with TWI over lots of topics, can get into heated arguments, jumping from one topic to the next, and not make progress in showing errors in TWI. Therefore, pick your topic carefully before attempting a debate with a Wayer. Here are suggestions on what topics to pick for serious discussion.
For the most part, avoid dwelling on secondary things. For instance, it's probably not useful in the long run to debate details of TWI's view of the World War 2 holocaust.
Pick a few central topics, or topics that are important to them (even if they are comparatively minor teachings). For instance, our salvation does not rest on how many men were crucified with Jesus Christ, which means it's not a central Christian belief. However, if TWI's idea that four were crucified with Jesus is critical to Wayer's conviction that TWI has uniquely accurate Bible teaching, then it may be a good topic to discuss.
Pick topics that you know enough about, have thought through, and feel comfortable discussing.
6. A Key Issue is Integrity
There are many major and minor topics to discuss with Wayers. But one key issue that underlies many of them is integrity. Wayers think that leadership is honest, forthright, moral, accurate, well informed about the Bible, and so forth. Like any cult, TWI revolves around it's top leader, "the man of God." Ex-Wayers, almost to a person, say that the things they learned about TWI showed them that the leaders lack the integrity, knowledge and so forth to properly lead people in spiritual things.
7. If Possible, Use Testimonies of Ex-Wayers.
Wayers are taught to think that ex-Wayers are possessed by devil spirits. However, if they will read (or if you describe) what some experienced in TWI, they will often be troubled by them, because it is "inside" information. Plus, it's often harder to argue with people's personal experiences. The testimonies may raise questions which will allow you to share other information which relates to them.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
What did people say which led you to question, and eventually leave TWI?
What have you said to Wayers which led them to question TWI?
We would like to add other ideas to this article on witnessing to Wayers, so please E-mail us with your thoughts or experiences which you think may be helpful to others (you won't be named or quoted directly unless you give permission first).
John Juedes, C. 1998, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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