There were a large contingent of Way Ministry follower in Fort Wayne Indiana and our family moved to be with them. Because of the love and brotherhood in the group, it was easy to feel accepted and cared for, and initially I was pretty happy, despite the fact that my health was, at the time, acting up and I was having difficulty breathing.
The Way Ministry believed in the power of healing- which Iím not knocking, because I think that if God wills something to be done- then it will be done. However, that wasnít Gods plan for me, and attempts to heal my cystic fibrosis werenít successful.
As an unfortunate result of the faith healing belief, my doctorsí advice was ignored during this period, and it was detrimental to my health. Though I do believe in healing by faith, I also happen to believe that God has blessed us with having some medical knowledge in this day and age, and that it would be foolish not to take advantage what is provided for us.
Although the Way Ministry started out as a positive and supportive entity, as it evolved and grew it began to mutate into something strange. The more recent converts were weird and bizarre, and they would bring weird and bizarre docterine into the group with them. For some reason the leaders of the Way Ministry werenít able to curb this influx of, what I considered, heretical doctrine. In some cases they almost seemed to welcome it- or maybe they were afraid to offend the newcomers and didnít want to see people leaving the fold.
For several summers we had traveled down to a Way Ministry convention called the Rock of Ages. Itís a big convention that takes place during a week in August. It started out as a place of spiritual outpouring and fellowship, and gradually evolved into a place where you needed to look cool so you could be at the top of the social feeding chain. God was put on the back burner.
The Way Ministry is organized into groups, each given a name relating back to the Way tree. It starts with the trunk that is located in Knoxville, Ohio, and it works its way through limbs, branches and twigs- all the way down to the individuals, which are the leaves of the tree. Itís a very visual system of organization and it is meant to promote unity.
As the newcomers started to have more and more influence, a lot of grumblings began within the trunk of the Ministry and a power struggle ensued. Basically, a hatchet was taken to the tree, splitting the church into several factions. At this point my Mother decided that she no longer believed the teachings of the Way Ministry and instead put her belief in an area leader named Howie Beaterman.
Howie was silver-tongued and came across as a nice fellow. The problem was that, at heart, he was a power hungry jerk. He convinced my mother that she should move to Yakima Washington .
Up until now, I had stayed somewhat aloof from the infighting that was going on. I was living with my father and there was a young woman who I was focusing most of my attention on. She attended the Way Ministry school- the Family Corp. on the Emporia campus. Her name was Lori Blessed. She was a slender, five foot eight brunette. She had a beautiful body and a beautiful personality that matched. We had just begun seeing each other and I was hooked.
My Mother, however, convinced me it would be in my best interest to move to Yakima with her. I was concerned that I would be missing out on a portion of my last year of school- in which I was finally getting some decent grades. Besides that, I didnít really want to leave Lori. I felt like I had a good thing going with her, and was reluctant to leave it behind before we had a chance to develop the relationship and see if it would work in the long term.
My Mother can be very convincing when she wants to be, and though few of the reasons she gave me hold up in retrospect- I gave in and made the move to Yakima. It was something that I have regretted ever since. It was one of the dumbest moves I ever made- I was actually beginning to get some direction and stability in Indiana. I would lose all that in the months to come.
By Thanksgiving Howie Beaterman had my parents convinced that I was evil. The Way Ministry believed in certain gifts from god- healing was one of them. Howie was in a position of authority over us and he had no compunctions about reminding