Heretical cults are active in China. This article from Gospel Times discusses how friends and family members are drawn into cults, how cults can be distinguished from orthodox Christianity, and the importance of being alert and responding quickly when a loved one is drawn in.
My Relatives Are Missing! Be Wary of People around You Falling into a Heretical Cult.
A man came to the church, looking for his wife who had been missing for several days. His wife was a Christian and had been meeting at that church. Although they had different beliefs, the husband felt it was not bad to be a Christian, so he didn’t stop his wife from believing in God.
However, recently his wife has been disappearing for several days at a time without giving a reason and could not be contacted by phone or messaging apps. She ignores all the housework and as a result her home is a mess. Moreover, she often babbled to herself which bothered her husband a lot. So, he went to the church to find her, but the church staff told him that they had not seen his wife for several months and she might be falling into a cult. They said if he could not find her, he should call the police.
I have heard this kind of story several times. A few years ago, the mother of an online friend was often out of contact and babbling to herself. Finally, she was found to have joined a heretical organization. Therefore, when we realize that people around us are disappearing for a few days without explanation and are speaking abnormally, we should be aware that they might have been drawn into a heretical organization, and we need to take action to help them.
Regular religious organizations host retreats, but they are very different than cult activities. Here are several ways that they differ:
Normal Church Activity Information Is Public.
Not only will the details be announced during regular announcements, it will also be published on the official WeChat account and in WeChat groups. The times, location, and activities will all be very transparent. However, the activities in heretical cults are different. Their training information is always announced secretly, and sometimes they even contact individuals separately so that outsiders have no way of knowing what they are doing.
Normal Church Activities Are Held in Public.
For example, activities are held in a church or a hotel, where people can easily find them. However, cult activities are basically secret gatherings, like in urban-rural fringe areas or abandoned factories, which are not easily found.
Participants in Normal Church Activities Have Unhindered Communication and Can Keep in Touch with People Outside.
Even if they turn off their phones to avoid distractions during training, they will still respond to messages during down time and let people know how they’re doing. Yet for many heretical organizations, they will ask people to turn off or even turn in their phones in order to better control followers. This is one important reason many people are not able to contact the participants.
Organizers of Normal Church Activities Are Generally Orthodox in Teaching and Won’t Teach Heresy or Extremist Information.
The participants will not speak or act abnormally after joining normal church activities and still live a normal life. However, heretical cults brainwash followers, teaching them all sorts of fallacies and heresies, especially treating extremism as a sign of faithfulness. Many people who join their trainings behave abnormally, babbling nonsense and acting like completely different persons.
Therefore, we need to be wary when our friends or family members lose contact for several days, not answering calls or text messages, and act differently in speech and deeds. We need to be on extra alert, and find out whether they have joined a cult. If they are falling into a heretical cult, we must immediately take action to prevent them from falling into it deeper. Generally, people who have just started to join a cult are not yet deeply involved and there is a better chance of saving them. Therefore, finding out and responding early is one of the best ways to resist the attack of heretical cults.
We can invite believers who have a good foundation in the truth to talk to lost members, and try to pull them out of heretical cults before they are too far in. For people who have been missing and out of touch for several days, we must call the police to save them from dangerous circumstances.
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