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Setting The Record Straight
MY NAME IS JACQUE RANKIN (a.k.a. Capt. Rachel Johnson). For too long there have been gross lies circulating in the form of certain sensational allegations made by one Maura S. [hereafter: MS]. I am taking this opportunity to set the record straight. A smokescreen of lies, innuendoes, and distortions has been blown up to defame ACMTC and it is time that the other side is told. I was personally with MS through this whole episode that has been depicted bizarrely as imprisonment, torture, abuse, etc. That’s not how it was. Why hasn’t the media, Rick R. (Rick R. is the self-proclaimed expert “deprogramer” whose false information was instrumental in the mass murder that occurred at the Branch Davidians home in Waco, Texas. Rick R. has been an avowed enemy of ACMTC for years. Mr. Rick R. was also unsuccessful in his attempt to “deprogram” ACMTC member Brad Shanks.) and anyone else who wishes to make all this part of the public record, asked me to corroborate the story? Instead, I am only mentioned anonymously as one who went through all this as well.
The truth is that we were not imprisoned. No, not at all. Because the two of us were disruptive influences in the community, it was rather more that everyone hoped we would leave. We were free to come and go, to get something at the store or do errands. In fact we both worked jobs outside the camp, earing our OWN money. We could have left at any time but we chose to stay. As a matter-of-fact, MS told me if I wasn’t in this thing with her that she would have left. Previous to all this she had even gone to live in her parent’s home, but her CHOICE was to return to the community and the adequate accommodations there because her parents had too many TV sets in their house and she was not comfortable with that.
By adequate accommodations I mean what we lived in had formerly been a kid’s clubhouse that was fully-carpeted, had electricity, a wood stove and a WINDOW. It was nothing fancy but perfectly adequate. Next door to the clubhouse was a brand new shop building to which we had access. This facility was complete with restroom, phone, heater and running water. The living conditions would be considered luxurious by missionary standards. Wasn’t that our purpose as an intentional community — to learn to live as missionaries in the time-honored tradition of self-denial? Later we were given space in several of the houses. We were, in fact, a liability to the on-going life of the community during this time but we chose to stay and were allowed to do so.
So then, since this was OUR CHOICE — to stay — we were glad to get whatever was offered to us. Whether it was peanut-butter sandwiches (I happen to love peanut-butter) or our choice of food from the community kitchen, some good, hard work to do (I learned to throw off some of my prissy, sottish ways in order to get the job done), or a place to stay that was still under the umbrella of the community that we had so recently disdained, we were adequately provided for. We had privacy and lots of free time. All our needs were supplied so that we had plenty of time to read our Bibles reflectively. Oh yes, I began to see myself in areas where I needed to change from the self-destructive, self-centered, misfit that I had been for the past 43 years.
As a matter-of-fact, we had both been put away by our husbands for unruly behavior and, in her case, unfaithfulness to her husband which facts have been confessed in writing. She personally told me that when she had been on a recent missionary trip to Africa that she had wanted “to go to bed with” some of the African men there. Are these the thoughts of an ambassador of Christ? I know that MS has a history of sexual promiscuity and marital infidelity. A lot of her conversation was sprinkled with remarks such as, “Yeah, he wanted to put the make on me.”
There is a complaint here also of losing custody of her children. This wasn’t a good arrangement for kids anyway. When she left the community, she regained her children. She never mentioned anything to me about not having her children with her during this time when they were in the care of her former husband. This is not really unusual in these type of situations. She told me about some of her past history with a group called the Bear Tribe during which time she lived in a hole dug in the ground and participated in eating the placentas of newborn babies. This was part of her hippie past.
Then she also told me she had 2 subsequent relationships with men involving illegitimate children before marrying the husband to whom she had been unfaithful, which helped to precipitate the circumstances of which we are speaking. During our time together she repeatedly confessed to me her addiction to marijuana and other mind-altering substances. She told me that just prior to becoming part of ACMTC she would spend whole days as she put it “stoned out of her mind.” Having worked as a psychiatric nurse before entering missionary training, I could recognize the tendency she had to avoid addressing the discrepancy between what her conduct actually was and what was expected of a sane, sober-minded, regenerated Christian. I had seen this before in those in mental hospitals; that they refuse to face the reality of who and what they are. They would rather live a life of rearranging the facts and misrepresenting themselves. Thus they are called delusional and are out of touch with reality. In other words, they create their own little reality and remain there as an actor in the scenario of their own choosing. I believe that this is why so many are willing to believe slanderous lies; because it lets them off the hook, so to speak, so that they are encouraged to avoid facing those discrepancies in their own lives. They also love to make up their own outlandish scenarios.
I’m not trying to white wash my background or my own behavior. For all of my adult years I drank too much, I used to hang out in bars, I was sexually promiscuous, I had two abortions, I couldn’t get along with anyone, I flitted from job to job just ahead of disaster and I was just generally a miserable mess. Then I began to get a vision of deliverance from demonic bondages. I turned from my former lifestyle and from my gross sins but I still had stubbornness and rebellion within that would manifest in my outward behavior. In many respects both my background and behavior were even worse than hers, but I don’t believe that resorting to slander and bitter accusations is going to “fix” the past. The only thing that can fix the past is Christ’s mercy bequeathed to us through repentance of sins. That is the path I have chosen to take. No amount of human sympathy or public notoriety can take the place of divine forgiveness. It is only because of self-love (that is, we love ourselves more than we love the Lord of mercy) that we choose to exalt ourselves and demean Christ. Self-exaltation is a dangerous stance to take as we will see below.
I see that a very big part of what motivates those who believe they have an axe to grind is that they receive a lot of attention from the media and from other “sob-sisters” so that those who haven’t much going for themselves can finally “be somebody” for a season. My suggestion to all of those who love the tone of mockery and cheap journalistic tactics that pervade the body of literature generated by self-appointed public guardians is this: the next time that you have a crisis in your life or you are plagued by hopelessness, depression, oppression, ennui, or the fact that you are too fat and cannot seem to lose any weight, why don’t you contact one of those critics of ACMTC and see if they can help you or if they will even listen to your problems and then please let everyone know how much you have been helped. So then, I think the key to this whole story is that THIS WAS OUR CHOICE. We wanted to stay. Far from being the horror movie scenario that has been described, all was done in mercy. We were allowed to stay and we did. Go and ask the other party if this isn’t so.
Secondarily, I want to clear up the smear job done concerning my brother Brad Rankin. Brad was, like me, a drunkard before he came to ACMTC. He got a vision of following Jesus Christ and laid aside his besetting sins (drinking, smoking, carousing, not holding down a job, etc.) and went to Africa as a missionary. During this time in which his life was being transformed, I saw that as long as he was merely risking his life in drunk-driving escapades or IV drug overdoses and was hellbound, nobody of his former lifestyle was very concerned. But as soon as he took action to revolution in following Christ, everybody was up in arms and trying to stop him. Does this make any sense? Does this sound familiar to anyone? This is the classic story of Pilgrim’s Progress. Christian left his family behind in the City of Destruction to flee from the wrath to come; then all kinds of characters intercepted his path to try and discourage him from gaining the Celestial City, but he wouldn’t be stopped. He gained the victory and the reader thinks “Oh, how courageous and stalwart Christian was.” But when this happens in real life, the reader/onlooker is more likely to be one of those characters attacking with discouraging words. While in Nsanje, Malawi, Central Africa, Brad came down with malaria and the Lord took him. He died of Blackwater Fever. How many missionaries to Africa have died, over the years, of mysterious fevers? Isn’t Africa called “the white man’s grave” for this reason?
What an honor for Brad to follow in the train of all these brave ones who gave their lives in service to Jesus, rather than what could have been his lot had not Christ reached out to save him from his sins. So, he was buried in Africa along with many others of that army of missionaries. However in as much as his family had neither sensibility in nor sensitivity to spiritual matters, the poignancy of it did not register with them. So, they took the bait from the adversary of souls and entered into an attention-getting struggle to retrieve Brad’s body from its resting place in Africa. What finally happened was that they had the body exhumed and cremated in a Hindu temple. Next they had the ashes shipped to them whereupon they triumphantly held a funeral for him. There is yet more to this that needs to be told. Because they did this thing which violated an act of mercy from the Lord, and because vengeance belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ, through prophecy it was made known that a member of that family would be taken out. Shortly thereafter Brad’s brother-in-the-flesh (and mine) died suddenly of a heart attack. He was not yet even 40 years old.
This is all very grievous. Then to have the victory of a soul plucked out of the fire and saved by the mercy of Christ—to have that victory marred and obscured by all these innuendoes is insufferable. I submit the following thought for consideration: the families of those who choose to obey the gospel in forsaking all to follow after Jesus Christ do not raise Hell out of love or concern for that family member, but they do it to placate their own consciences because they themselves have never done anything for the cause of Christ. It was not uncommon in times past for young Christians to leave their families to go to the mission fields and never see their families again. Of course family members would react, at times, with a mournful attitude, but they knew enough to keep praying for that person and commit all things to the hand of God. This is what is pleasing to God.
But I want to ask this: do any of these cowards, the ones who spew forth all this slander surreptitiously while crouched before their computers or engage in one-sided back-slapping encounters with the media, have the guts to make these same false assertions in a face-to-face situation with the slanderees—those they are attempting to defame? Or has anyone ever stopped to consider that if Jesus Christ Himself were walking the earth with His disciples during these times that He would be called a cult leader and the disciples would be accused of belonging to a cult?
That was very nearly the case as it was 2,000 years ago. Of course “the system” wasn’t quite as well developed then as it is today. There they were: homeless and at variance with the religious leaders of their day. Yes, many were flocking to the Lord for healings, to get demons cast out, and to hear the Word of Truth. All was fine until the day He said “eat my flesh and drink my blood.” The Bible says when He said this that many turned back and followed Him no more (John 6:53). Do you know what they did then? They went to the media with their publicity-wise scenarios and got their names in the papers.
Jesus was accused by the system that He had a devil, yet He was God Himself incarnate as the Word made flesh. Then, after He was murdered by the system, was resurrected from the dead and ascended into Heaven, this new cult received a visitation of the Holy Ghost, whereupon they were accused in the papers of being drunk in public. They continued to be at odds with the system. But those of the common people who loved the truth were not deceived by the system’s attempt to discredit this new cult and many were added to its numbers as the Lord saw fit. Then it happened that two members of this new cult (a married couple) were called to account for something by one of the apostles whereupon they fell dead at his feet and were carried out and buried. All this without even calling the police or the coroner. How do you think that looked in the Jerusalem Times? But despite all these problems with gainsayers and with the press the new cult prospered and continued to spread the good news of salvation throughout the earth.
I am letting it be known that I am willing to face anyone who is willing to come forward with their accusations and to let the account of it be made public.
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