This SITE is STILL under CONSTRUCTION! and it may be somewhat disjointed. Please bear with me as I write, edit, and re-edit this manuscript. I am trying to make it true, informative to the reader, but without prejudice or bias to any former friends. This is a hard task (impossible, some would say).
Welcome to 'My Personal Christian Testimony' + 'My Life With The 2x2's' WebSite.
There is a Religious/Christian Sect/Cult that is little known; a sect that is very secretive about its doctrine (they will tell you: 'We believe the Bible'), and especially about its beginnings - its year and place of origin; a sect that publishes no information about itself; it is sometimes referred to as 'The Secret Sect'. They claim that they are 'from the beginning', or 'from the days of Jesus, with an unbroken lineage of homeless preachers'. Many Christian have heard of them, or have relatives or acquaintances with them. But no-one knows much about their doctrine, or of the legalism within the Sect. To learn about the History and the Doctrine of this group, see the links on my main web-site. These links contain hundreds of pages of information, and many pictures, that have never before been available to the general public. The WorldWideWeb has been instrumental in bringing 'Truth' to light on this subject. These WebLinks also contain the contents of several books that have been written in recent years: books that have been written by people who have diligently re-searched 'The Truth' - its origins, its doctrines, etc.
I was with this group for nearly 25 years - from the summer of 1961 to the summer of 1984, to be exact. But it was 2 years later - after much agony of spirit, much soul-searching, and much prayer - that I started to get on with my life, this time without the '2x2' religion: It was August of 1986 when I finally started going to a new church, where I found what my soul had been craving for: true, inter-denominational Christian fellowship, in freedom of spirit, in joy and gladness, celebrating our faith together; they gladly received me into their fellowship; in spirit and in truth; without a lot of interrogation; without legalism or bondage or criticism. Having known the bondage of 'cult' or 'dogma-indoctrin-ation', I have become, quite purposefully and quite deliberately, an 'Inter-denominational Christian', in the full sense of the word. I was deprived of 'Inter-church Fellowship' for 25 years, and now I treasure it very greatly. (More detail on this at the end of this discourse.)
When I left the '2x2's' in the summer of 1984, I did not leave willingly, nor was I forced out. I did not leave because of doctrinal differences (as some of my friends and relatives have since); rather, I had already compromised by beliefs during the whole time I was a 2x2, since 1961, in order to try to be 'one of them', and later to preserve my marriage (in vain, I found out in 1982). When I left, I simply left; I did not tell anyone that I was leaving the fellowship, I just stopped going to any more of their meetings; I left because they did not have the answers to the needs of my soul; I left because, in this religion, there was criticism and judgement, instead of grace, forgiveness, honesty, understanding and reconciliation; I left - because I was broken- hearted with religion, and with life in general. I was very confused. I believed in God, and I prayed to Him a lot; but where was HE in all this turmoil? I needed answers; I needed a new start. In a new direction. What that direction was, I did not have a clue, in the summer of 1984. All I knew was that there were some strikes against me in that religion - a broken marriage, false accusations against me, demands upon me that were un-scriptural, and with no arena for justice or defense; plus, in my heart, I secretly disagreed with much of their hard-nosed dogma; and much more; - I was very weary of it all - I had had enough - and I knew that I needed to 'take a sabbatical', so to speak. And a few months later, when I moved from Edmonton to Calgary, I couldn't even be bothered with a change of address at the post office; I left incognito, with no forwarding address; not telling anyone I had moved to another city. I didn't tell any of my relatives (most of whom were then still 2x2's). The only people I told of my move were my ex-wife and our three teenage children, who lived in Wetaskiwin, Alberta. But maybe I should go back to the beginning. Then it will fit together a bit better.
From the early 50's I was an 'evangelical'; at the age of 12 I became 'born-again' while attending a Christian & Missionary Alliance Church in Irma, where I grew up. But I am getting ahead of myself again. It all started something like this:.
My mother (then 'Marion McNaughton') had become a '2x2' as a teen-ager, through the ministry of Lars & Olga Bye, while living at Dunster, B.C. in the Fraser Valley; but she drifted away from their fellowship in 1942, when she married my dad, Wilfred Sanders, who professed to be an atheist. Dad's father also claimed to be atheistic, but his mother was a devote Anglican lady. Mom brought her Bible into the home, but there was no formal church attendance, and very little in-home Bible teaching. Once in awhile we would go to Greenshields Convention or Sunday Morning Meeting at Patterson's farm-house (where the Greenshields Convention was held), but this was mostly when Mom's sister Margaret, or her mother, was visiting with us. Oh, yes, and once every year or two, the 2x2 preachers would stop by our house on the farm for a few minutes to see Mom ('few' usually meant 15 or 20 minutes; maybe a cup of tea, maybe not even that; sometimes 'a whole half hour!'. But the Workers pretty much classified Mom as a Prodigal, because of her spotty attendance at Meetings. And Mom was a bit dis-illusioned with the Workers, and she felt kind of left out, so to speak. When Dad and Mom got married (January 1, 1942 - New Year's Day), Dad offered to take Mom to her Sunday Morning Meeting at Patterson's every second week, but Mom thought this to be too much effort - 15 or 20 miles of gravel roads, each way, for an hour of Meeting; and Dad being an 'unbeliever' complicated things, too. But she did feel isolated from the religion that she knew.
It was in this 'vacuum' that Dad and Mom realized that they were inadequate to give their children the religious and moral training that they felt we should have. So, when I was about 6 years old (about 1950 or so), Dad and Mom started SENDING 'us children' to Sunday School at the Irma United Church, with the neighbors (the Engers) who lived across the road from us on the farm. ('us children' was: me, my sister Lily who was about 2 years older than I, and my brother Tom who was about a year younger than I.) In Sunday School, we learned about God, Jesus, and basic Christian teaching, many of the common Bible stories like David & Goliath, Noah & the Flood, the Psalms and singing Christian songs. I quickly discovered that I had a strong, clear, boy-soprano voice, and that I loved to sing. Some months later, Dad and Mom started BRINGING us to Sunday School, and then we stayed for church, as a family. Dad started reading the Bible, and he got more and more interested in it; and he and Mom had many discussions about 'right and wrong', etc. and this brought Dad and Mom closer together. I should mention here, that Dad was a good man - he didn't drink, swear, etc. Dad was kind; though not religious up to now, he led a good life as a man, as a husband, as a father and as a neighbor.
Then, about 1952, some Christian neighbors north of our farm (the Howard & Pearl Oldham family) invited us over for dinner, and to their gospel church in the country in the afternoon - The 'Avon Glen Gospel Mission' church, which was of the 'Three Hills' variety. It was here soon after, that Dad became a 'born-again Christian', through the kind and gentle ministry of Pastor Tom Conway and his wife; and their three children were near our ages, and they encouraged us to live as Christians should. This brought profound changes into our family lifestyle. Gone were the Friday night dances in the country school-house, where Dad played his fiddle. Gone were the Drive-in Movies. Instead, Dad began playing gospel music at home and in church. We began regular fellowship with devout, Bible-believing Christians, people who lived lives that were separated from the world. Summers meant a week of Bible Camp at Heath and Clear Lake, east of Wainwright, and many more new Christian friends, from other churches, when we started attending 'Youth For Christ', the inter- denominational Christian organization for youth. With the 'Youth for Christ' we had Christian friends from many different denominations, and every month or so the Wainwright 'Servicemen's Centre' (the largest hall in town) was always packed-out (I would guess maybe 300-400- lively Christian young people, drawn from a 50- mile radius of Wainwright.)
About Christmas 1955, when blizzards closed the rural roads for days at a time, we started attending the Christian & Missionary Alliance Church in Irma, where Rev Don Sheardown and his wife were the pastors. It was in the summer of 1956, at the age of 12, that I knelt down on my knees at home, on a Sunday afternoon, and purposefully gave my heart and my life to Jesus. I settled it for eternity. I knew that I was saved then, and that God would take me to heaven when I died. No maybes, no guesswork. We were active in our youth group at the Alliance, and with Youth For Christ, and in the spring of (about) 1959 there was a 'Leighton Ford Crusade' in Wainwright, 18 miles east of Irma. (Leighton Ford was a member of the Billy Graham Team, and he held crusades in places that were too small for Billy to go to). And some us had the awesome privilege of singing in the choir every night for 15 nights in a row, 2 full weeks, Sunday to Sunday. (I still have the 2 music books we used there, autographed by Leighton Ford and his Music Directors, Dick & Zoma Edstrom!) With the Alliance Church, we went to summer Bible camp at Lake Nakamun, just north-west of Edmonton; and we also had toboggan parties and ball games with the youth from other Alliance churches from Manville, Vermilion, Marwayne and Killam. At school, all my class-mates knew that I was a Christian. I lived a separated life. And some of my school teachers were Christian ladies that I knew from both the Alliance and the Gospel Mission churches: Miss Kate Younker, Mrs. Matthews and Mrs. Murray. I have many fond memories of the 1950's, with growing up in a Christian home, and with many Christian friends of several different denominations; we were all one in Jesus. As a teenager, I began thinking about my future, and about wanting/needing to attend Bible school. Through the influence of several visiting musical evangelists, I felt a strong tug in my heart that God was calling me to be a 'Gospel Musical Evangelist'. I was a born-again Christian, and I enjoyed it.
About 1958 or so the 2x2 preachers, 'The Workers', began coming around more often, because they were having 'Gospel Meetings in the nearby towns of Viking, Kinsella, and Czar, as well as right in the Village of Irma where we now lived. (Some of the workers that I remember from those days included: Lorne Moore, Edward Drummond, Andrew Drummond, Ruth Lindman, Harriet Borthwick, Emil Kelto, and Lloyd Haugen, from Norway, Merlin Howlett in Korea). With Gospel Meetings all around us, this made Mom happy, because she always believed that the 2x2's were the 'only true church'. (Not so different from other religions we know of, that claim exclusivity!) So on many Sundays we went to the Alliance Church in the morning, to a Gospel Meeting in the afternoon, and back to the Alliance for the 7 p.m. evening meeting. About 1959 or 1960, Dad 'professed' in a 2x2 meeting; I know that he did this in order to please Mom, because she was nagging him a lot about it. Soon afterwards, the Workers put a Sunday morning fellowship meeting in our home in Irma, with Lloyd Oxby from Wainwright being the 'Elder". For the next year or so, the three of us teenagers still went to the Alliance Church. Picture this on Sunday mornings: 10:15 a.m.: three teenagers leave the home, Bibles in-hand, and walk the 2 blocks to the Alliance Church; a few minutes later, several cars drive into the Sanders' yard, and from 10:30-11:30, there is a house-meeting in the Sanders' living room; about 12:40.p.m. the teenagers arrive back from their church, and usually there were guests for dinner - 2x2 friends of our folks. So we got to know the 2x2's fairly well (we thought). At least we knew many of the people, and they were all very fine, Godly people.
Then in the summer of 1961, everything changed for me. Brother Tom stood up in a convention meeting at Lacombe, and, not to be left out, I stood up too. I did not do it because I thought that the 2x2's had a 'better way', I only did it for the sake of family unity - Mom was known to be very strong-willed, and I was tired of her nagging also, plus, when Tom went her way, I did too, for the sake of 'family'. It meant leaving behind all of my 'born-again' friends, and I didn't understand why I had to leave them behind, except that I knew from my mother that the friends did not associate at all with folks in any other churches'. But it also meant a whole new relationship with many dozens of new 'friends', including many other young people, from all over Alberta, and other places as well. Keep in mind, too, that as a teen-ager living at home, I was still under my parents' roof, and I wanted to obey them, to be in their favor. You also need to understand that the gatherings at the 'Christian Conventions' attract 1,000-plus 'friends' from all over Alberta, western Canada and the NW U.S.A., and there is a lot of excitement, hustle and bustle at these gatherings, and much comradeship, with helping out in the kitchen, with dish-washing, etc. I also had met a new girl-friend, a 2x2 girl, from a family my mother knew from her single life. So there were many positive aspects to this religion for me as well.
And, with no real knowledge about the dangers of cults (or if this even was a cult), I was vulnerable, at a time in my life when I wanted to be accepted, both at home, and also with friends. Also, what you find when you first become a 2x2, is that you are suddenly sort of a 'star attraction': you get the best of treatment, and a lot of attention, from everyone in the group. This attention and positive acceptance quickly fades. After that, you are under the microscope, lest you stray or slip from 'being a good example'. If you are perceived to stray, or to 'fall short'; and if/when others gossip or tell falsehoods against you, the leadership often (usually) believes the worst, without ever checking with you, or else they will flatly accuse you, and not give you any chance to defend yourself; plus, they have memories like elephants. They also have many 'loyal' people who are only too glad to spread gossip to the workers, in order to make themselves look good in the eyes of the workers. And many 'friends' and 'workers' never forget that you slipped, even if the rumor was untrue. 'Grace' is not a word that they use very much; they may mention it casually in a meeting, but they do not practice the concept of grace; the old song 'Amazing Grace' is not in their hymn book. And 'forgiveness' is the same: they don't practice it, because they do not properly understand the concept. It is all very confusing. But by the time you realize this, you are already hopelessly trapped. You have cut yourself from your previous church affiliations, and from your old godly friends, and you try to make the best of the new church situation. For me, it didn't work. But I tried my best for nearly 25 years.
STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION!!!
I refer you to the WWW LINKS ABOVE so that you will have a better idea of the dilemma that I was in for many years, being a 'born-again Christian' in my heart, and silently going along with much of their dogma and their interpretations of the Bible. But if you are in the 'fellowship' you do not ever question their way of doing things, or any of their doctrine. To even question, is to be labeled 'heretic'. They control your mind. They control your speech. They control your actions. You dare not go to any other church, except maybe to a wedding or a funeral. This is one of the signs of a 'cult'.
But I have also learned, over the years to the present day, that no denomination is perfect, simply because God has chosen to use humans, who are not perfect. But I have found common ground in many different denominations, and I choose to dwell on common points of agreement. There will always be different administrations/ denominations, and different interpretations regarding parts of the whole doctrine of the Bible. Every church has its primary doctrines, which it emphasizes, and many churches igore or misinterpret some (many) other teachings of Jesus or the Apostles. It is a also common for churches to criticize one another, and quite un-common for real co-operation to take place on a large scale & regular basis. (Of course, there is a show of unity when it comes to major crusades.) And, of course, we all have heard of scandals in churches or ministries (the 2x2's have their share, they are just not publicized much.) HOWEVER, I firmly believe that God uses many different means to spread HIS GOSPEL. This leads me to an important conclusion: I believe that I will find many of my 2x2 friends in heaven. And probably some of my 'evangelical' friends may be left behind. Let God be the judge. Two years after I had left the '2x2's', I found new life in a fine 'Charismatic/Pentecostal' church in northwest Calgary. It was there that I met a fine Christian lady who is a few years older than I, a lady named Isabel who became sort of a big sister to me; Isabel was brought up in a 2x2 family in southern Alberta, and she has many 2x2 relatives. Isabel gave me some very good advice: "Don't try to save your 2x2 relatives and friends - it will only cause more animosity; because 'They love God as much as we do. They just see Him differently'." She also said: 'Be a peace-maker. Don't cause division.' I believe that she is right. There is far too much division in God's Church. Let us all endeavor, as God gives us breath, to be peace-makers.
Today, I enjoy fellowship with folks from many different churches and denominations; in fact, I seek out their friendship and their fellowship. I have renewed friendship with many 'old friends' in the Irma Alliance Church and the Avon Glen Gospel Mission where I grew up; since 1986, I have gained many new friends here in Calgary, in many different churches, and of very different biblical perspectives, including: Centre Street Evangelical Missionary Church, Centre Street Adult Singles, Central United Church (pastored by two fine born-again, Evangelical men), Adult Singles Ministry (United Church, mainly), several Full Gospel Churches, First Baptist Churches, Evangelical Free, Victory Christian Fellowship, several Alliance Churches, First Assembly (Pentecostal), Salvation Army, Calgary Family Church, and the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship; to name a few. My son Carlin, with his wife Lorraine, attended a fine Nazarene church in Northwest Calgary after they left the '2x2's' in 1993 (until they moved to the Edmonton area in the spring of 2001. Incidentally, they are now attending an Alliance church in St. Albert, and one of the elders is a fellow who was a friend of mine as teenagers in the '50's in Wainwright!). In October 1999, I had the exciting privilege of ushering at the 'Franklin Graham Festival '99' here in Calgary, with the Saddledome packed out for several nights - the largest inter-denominational gathering ever in the history of Alberta (and the largest event ever held at the Saddledome), And that brought back memories of the Leighton Ford Crusade in Wainwright some 40 years ago, when the Wainwright Hockey Arena was packed out also, for many nights, when myself and many of my 'born-again' friends sang in the choir as teenagers. Many differing churches, co-operating for the sake of the Gospel.
Thanks to the Grace & Forgiveness which God provides through Jesus Christ, and the Renewal of the Holy Ghost which is able to transform lives, my new friends also include men and ladies from very 'un-christian/ un-religious' pasts, including: ladies who were once hookers & strippers; men who were once pimps & strippers; pastors who were once rock 'roll musicians (and involved in that ungodly lifestyle); a pastor who was once in prison, charged with murder; a fellow who was once in prison for un-fair business practices; several men & ladies who were saved from the 'hippie' life-style during the Jesus movement of the '70's, and many others who, like myself, had back-slidden, and are now renewed - because God is the God of the sinner, and the God of the back-slider/ the prodigal. Hallelujah!!
God is good. God's Church is 'One Body' though many parts; and we all are one. I recently heard a fine evangelist refer to 'denominations' of today, and he compared them to the '12 tribes of Israel'. When Joshua led the Israelites over the Jordan River - one man from each tribe had to hold hands together to lead the people over the river. Today, God is moving the most in people and churches where they can put aside denominational differences. Miracles and divine healings are abundant all around the world. Renewal and revival are occurring all over the world - in hearts and lives, physical and spiritual - in people whose faith is in God alone- Father, Son & Holy Spirit.
In the summer of 1986, when I had a great renewal in my life, I very deliberately became an 'inter-denominational' Christian. And my spiritual mentors include: Billy Graham & his team of associates (mostly of Baptist persuasion); the Sutera Twins from Saskatchewan (evangelical); Pentecostals such as Kenn Gill & his team at First Assembly in Calgary, Tommy Barnett from Phoenix & Brooklyn Tabernacle in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Bill Prankard from Toronto; John Arnott & the Toronto Airport Fellowship (a.k.a. The Toronto Blessing); the Pensacola, Florida renewal; Word Faith evangelists such as Kenneth Hagan, Kenneth & Gloria Copeland, Frederick K.C. Price of Los Angeles & others; John Hagee & Cornerstone Church, San Antonio, TX; Jack Hayford of Van Nuys, California (Foursquare Church); Charles Swindoll & Insight For Living, now of Dallas, TX; James Dobson & Focus on the Family; Henry Hinn & Vancouver Christian Centre; David & George Lagore of the Calgary Christian Centre (Charismatic, un-denominational); Don Ross of Don Ross Ministries (now with Jesus in Heaven); and many others. Check my 'Links' & 'Mentors' pages.
God's True Church in the world today - is made up of Godly people from many different denominations - something for all of us to remember. I am still learning. Life is a journey. And with God firmly inside of me, I trust that HE will continue to guide me along the pathway of life. And as I mentioned to a good friend lately - I have a very strong & unwavering faith in God, and in the intent & the interpretation of the Bible. (The new songs that I am writing clearly reflect this. And that is another exciting story, on another page of this WebSite.) God bless you all. And thanks for listening. There is much more. Come back soon (often).