Back in the day I was a shell shocked 21-year-old. Just 5 years before, my parents died. Now my life was a mess. The party lifestyle had brought me to a point of desperation. I was burnt out on partying and life as a whole. I thought I found an answer to my problems in a church.
I had been a Catholic convert in 8th grade. My mom’s search for a good school in my area brought me to Catholic one for mid-school. At the end of that 3 year stint I converted. But 8th grade is a long way from 21.
Life sometimes is tough. It’s not always fair. I didn’t ask to lose my parents when I was 16 but I did. Now at 21 I reached the end of my rope. A nice girl brought me to a new type of church.
The Oasis was a happy church. The first time I went there people greeted me with what felt like the love of God. Little did I know at the time that their love was based on following the “Oasis party line”.
As time went on, doctrine and life at the Oasis got stranger and stranger. During one service we were taught that “we are gods”. Our life was supposed to be filled with material blessings. Philippians 4:19 “My God shall supply all my needs according to his riches in glory” was quoted a lot. This was supposed to make God open the windows of Heaven and pour out a material blessing that would overwhelm us. Every problem was blamed on devils. (The book, “Pigs in the Parlor” is about this insane doctrine).
For example, if you have a sickness or a snoring problem they are blamed on demons. We were taught to pray in tongues every day and every chance we got. You could not say how you were really feeling. You had to make positive confession no matter what. Even if you were having a terrible time or just trying to be real you could not make a negative confession or demons will attack you. I remember one time I wanted to talk about how much I was hurting. My friends would have none of it. They said that’s the past. It’s gone. You are a new man and those things have been washed away. It didn’t occur to them that my heart was still hurting from losing my parents. I didn’t need to have someone preach to me — I needed some Christian compassion.
After 5 years in the Oasis I left. I told the pastor I was leaving. He and the associate pastor did a so called deliverance over me. But the reality was it was only me. There was nothing to be delivered from. After I first left the Oasis I told everybody that I knew, even people that were still there, that it is a cult. But as time as went on I have mellowed out about it. Even though I still know it is a cult I pray for them.
I left the Word of Faith Movement in 1988 and have moved on. I have learned to forgive. Most of the people I knew from there refuse to talk to me because I am a Catholic. I knew many ex-Catholics from there that were very anti-Catholic. Some believe that the Pope is the anti-Christ and the Catholic Church is the Mystery Babylon Religion in Revelation. Most of the people were first exposed to the doctrine in prayer meetings. They come across as knowing more than we do. We are too religious and worship idols. They ignore where it says in James “True religion is visiting widows and taking care of orphans”.
The Catholic Church has a rich history. 2000 years of great saints and writers. One of the things that drew me back was that the Church is the most giving in the world. We don’t just talk about our faith. We live it. That to me is one of the main reasons why I am a Catholic and can say it’s great to be home where I belong.
About Mark Ortega
Mark Ortega has had a long journey to being a Catholic and wasn’t a cradle Catholic. As a child he traveled extensively. Today he is married to a girl he knew and loved when they were kids in Asuncion, Paraguay. Mark lives in Virginia after moving from New Mexico 3 years ago.