We started having temple preparation classes and learnt a lot about Adam and Eve. We asked questions about the Temple but were told that we would find out when we got there. We could not talk about it as it was sacred, not a secret but sacred. It was at this time that Abbiegail had to teach the young women that they could only be sealed to one man. It didn't matter if they were divorced, separated or widowed they were sealed (married for time and eternity) to one man, but men could be sealed to any number of women. This struck us both as being unfair and our eldest daughters thought we were joking. When she asked about this Abbiegail was told to pray and that it would all become clear once we had been to the (sacred, not secret) temple. She decided to have a couple of weeks off from church so that she didn't have to teach something so clearly unfair.
At this point Paul wanted to encourage Abbiegail to go back to church so he prayed for help and read the March or April 1999 issue of Ensign. It was the usual boring stuff, until he got to the back page and there was a small article, more of a column, written by the "presidency" that said "Unwed parents should be counselled to get married." No problem with that. It went on to say, "Unwed parents who will not get married should be counselled to have their babies adopted...... ….preferably by an LDS family… ...as generally they cannot provide the stable and nurturing environment babies need." This we had a problem with. We had been foster carers for about three years and knew from personal experience that being married did not make someone a good parent and equally not being married didn't make someone a bad parent. This was a cause for concern so Paul talked to his home teacher and the bishop who tried to say that the prophet meant single mothers (still a big lie). When Paul said that if the prophet is wrong about this he could be wrong about many things the home teacher related the story of Chicken Licken. The story goes 'An acorn fell on Chicken Licken’s head and he went around telling everyone that the sky was falling in.' I guess Paul was the idiot chicken in this analogy. It didn't help us understand at all. What with this and the plural marriage nonsense and still no straight answers about the temple we decided to look on the web for some answers.
When we started we were both frightened that we would be struck down for trying to find out. Fortunately we found the CARM site that started with "Mormons are lovely people and I would love one for a neighbour but..." After we read most of the site we were left with more answers than we had questions. When we read the temple ceremony we laughed out loud. We could not believe that our so serious friends had actually done this. We phoned and asked Abbiegail’s best friend if it was true, the reply we got was "if some of it, all of it or none of it is true what scares you?" It scared us that they couldn't give a straight answer. We finally got confirmation from the Missionaries, (ironic really).
We then started to raise other points with our friends; we were by this time angry and confused. Our friends shunned us and within two weeks we were excommunicated. We went through a year of hell, especially Abbiegail who lost her best friend of 14 years. When about 10 months after leaving we bumped into some "friends" whilst shopping, we asked why they had shunned us. They replied that they were scared. It was like a loved one standing on a cliff edge beckoning them over to see. They were scared that we would pull them over with us. After depression and loneliness an ex-Mormon lady prayed with Abbiegail on the phone and she was instantly released from the pain she was feeling. Abbiegail had found Jesus.
It was now 17th April 2000 and when Paul noticed a difference in her he asked what that bright light in her eyes was. She explained and this lead Paul to pray the prayer of repentance and Paul also found Jesus. This was 15th May 2000.
We still have baggage but it gets easier every day with Jesus. We have joined an organization called Reachout Trust (www.reachouttrust.org) that reaches out to cult members in the UK. We have now been banned from any Mormon chapel. Praise the Lord.
Abbiegail finally got to talk to her best friend of 14 years, after about 18 months. Her Mormon friend asked Abbiegail why she had tried to tell everyone the things found out on the internet. Abbiegail replied with an analogy "If I had heard that there was ground glass in jars of baby food being sold in our local supermarket wouldn’t you want me to tell you so you could find out for yourself?” Her friend’s reply was that she would rather NOT know! Ignorance is bliss apparently.
We started looking for a church but there always seemed to be a problem. We might attend for 3 months then someone would say something to cause offence or we would not feel like we belonged. We were almost baptized in December 2000 but Abbiegail became ill and it all went horribly wrong. We had seriously considered moving to Norwich to find friendship and not have to see our old Mormon friends anymore as this was very painful.
By July 2001 we had tried about 25 different churches and not found one for us. We decided to attend Cross Rhythms in the hope that we might find some fellowship. We arrived on Friday afternoon and pitched our tent in the rain. We wandered around the site looking for a friendly glance but found nothing. On Saturday afternoon we returned to our tent and spent three hours crying. At about 5pm we decided to pack up our tent and drive the 7 hours home then go back to the Mormon Church. We knew it was wrong, but we couldn’t stand the loneliness any longer. We started to pack and Paul fetched the car to put away our gear. Two stewards came up to us and asked me to move the car. Abbiegail burst into tears again and explained the whole situation whilst Paul continued to pack the gear away. The stewards went away only to return moments later with the members of their fellowship from Plymouth, the New Life Church. They asked us to stay and join them.
It was someone's birthday so they were having cake. The men helped Paul pitch our tent with theirs and Abbiegail joined the women for a cup of tea and a chat. While they were talking Abbiegail told them our story and they explained that she had made her best friend an idol. This hadn’t occurred to us before this moment. They prayed with Abbiegail and she said sorry and repented of her idolatry. Whilst she was praying Abbiegail had a vision. In it she was in her best friend’s house with her and her 7 children. Jesus took her by the hand and led her out of the house. She paused at the end of the path to look back and Jesus told her not to look back but that He would take care of them. Abbiegail was immediately free from the need to keep her friendship.
We started to enjoy the weekend and on Sunday afternoon we shared lunch and a time of worship and prayer with our new friends from Plymouth. Immediately after prayer the lady who was standing next to Paul told him that the Mormons had cursed us, they were praying in their temple that we would not find happiness in another church and that we would return to them. (A friend who has subsequently left the church has confirmed this.) The group prayed for us and Paul felt Jesus break the curse. An enormous weight was lifted from his shoulders and he knew that we would be free to join the body of Christ.
That afternoon Paul bumped into a friend from our hometown, Basildon, who he hadn’t seen in twenty years. This friend invited us to a picnic the following Sunday and to his church. We were baptised in September 2001 along with our youngest daughter. One of the things we were always looking for in a church was fellowship. We had experienced such good fellowship at the Mormon Church and no Christian church ever seemed to measure up. In January 2002 we decided that we wanted to attend a church closer to home. We asked God to lead us and, for a change, we didn’t ask for a church with good fellowship, (we had given up in reality), but for a church with lively worship and good teaching from the Bible. We were led to Laindon Free Church. It is a very friendly church. As we have settled and built relationships with the members we are now experiencing the true fellowship of God. The real Love of God is being shown through our friends and it shows the Mormon fellowship for what it really is. Merely a self-seeking work. They are friendly and helpful for their own benefit, because they think it will better their standing in Heaven. We now have many more friends than we ever had as Mormons and these are genuine friends. If they saw us on a cliff edge they would reach out theirs hands to bring us back to safety.
In 2002 we felt God tell us it was now time to move to Norwich. We were initially skeptical as we were finally happy and asked God for confirmation, which He easily did, and in March 2003 we moved to Norwich and have been instrumental in starting a group reaching out to cults in this area.
This is the testimony of Paul and Abbiegail Charles. We have been happily married since 1982 with 3 daughters. Paul’s parents brought him up as an atheist; his great grandfather was an Orthodox Jew who quit to preach atheism in London. Christianity was OK if you liked that sort of thing. Good for people who were "weak" and needed support. Paul believed he was fine and could think for myself and didn’t need anyone telling him what to think or feel. How he would regret saying that!
Abbiegail was brought up with new age teachings and was unsure if there was God or not. Her mother used to say she was a white witch and her father said weak people needed religion. Abbiegail‘s grandmother would visit psychics for readings. In approximately 1985 we had some new neighbours move in next door. They were a nice family who went to a local church every Sunday. We got to know them and they invited us over to watch a video about families being together forever. We were not too interested but we stayed friends.
We were invited to socials and we got to know quite a few of the local members. They were all very friendly and so helpful, just what we had come to expect from Christians. We kept being introduced to new Missionaries but they all seemed homogenous and had "Made in Utah" stamped on them. Then in 1995 we met some missionaries who were different and Abbiegail made a connection with one of them. We agreed to have the lessons and Abbiegail and our two eldest daughters were baptized in April 1996, followed by our youngest daughter who was baptized on her 8th birthday in February 1997.
Abbiegail was a sporadic attendee; and Paul went along to support her. We would attend regularly for a few months then not go for a few weeks, and so it carried on. That is until February 1998. Paul was at the dump disposing of household rubbish, when he accidentally injured a spider (we have always liked spiders, never intentionally killing them). Paul felt bad and apologized to the spider but as he only had 1 leg and would surely starve he put him out of his misery. Then he found himself apologizing to God! A bit of a radical departure for an atheist. So that day he bought a bible and started to read it, but was heavily influenced by Mormon teaching. Paul then prayed, got a warm feeling about the Book of Mormon, so decided to get baptised. This was in April 1998.
Paul was warmly welcomed into the membership and very soon he was called to be a Stake Missionary. Abbiegail was called as a young women's counsellor. This caused some problems because Abbiegail wanted to make the lessons fun and teach them useful things like computer skills, etc. The leadership just wanted to teach them how to cook and sew and become good little wives.
Paul and Abbiegail’s Testimony
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1