My chosen Hebrew name is Yliyah. I joined Buffalo Bill Hawkins’ House of Yahweh near Abilene, TX in 1995 and remained until 2008. The following includes a brief history of my experiences while there. I will only speak specifically about things I was a direct witness to, as to do otherwise would be gossip and of no real benefit to anyone, including myself. The names of those involved other than Bill are not important. He is ultimately to be held accountable for all they did and continue to do. First, I will present for your edification what lead up to my joining this “church” and then some of my experiences while there. I placed the word church in quotes because at the time I did not realize it actually was one – little different from all the others. There is even documented proof he admitted it was a church doing the work of God when he incorporated it with the State of Texas as a 501c3 non-profit Corporation. Check it out for yourselves at http://www.bayithyahweh.org/Corporations.html. Now, on to some of the facts in my long involvement with this church, to the best of my remembrance.
Having been raised Catholic and thus not putting much importance in the scriptures up to that point, as we were always taught that only the Priests could understand it and thus teach it, I followed the typical “Christian” lifestyle – for the most part doing what I wanted without regard to what our Heavenly Father thought of it except to confess to a strange man on occasion. I was trained from a child to follow rituals and when I became an adult I summarily dismissed those as not important and more of a burden than a blessing. Even at that time I could see no great benefit to these customs and traditions, which I at least recognized them as because no one would or could show me the need for them from the scriptures.
Well, when I found myself at a place in my life that I simply had to admit that there must be more to life than this unfulfilling Christian (or any other religion, for that matter) lifestyle, due to all the disunity that my wife and I were suffering at the time, I began to look for the answers in the Holy Scriptures. I diligently started reading the bible and attending a non-denominational church, even though my wife, who also was raised Catholic and wanted to hold onto her non-practicing loyalty to the Catholic Church, objected to it. She opposed my going outside of that tradition and resisted me getting our children involved in anything else either, even though a cousin’s husband that she had some respect for at the time was a member of this Christian church.
It did not take long for me to recognize the hypocrisy that existed in this very small congregation and the great suffering they experienced, just like the rest of the world with their various religions. All their “holy lifestyle” brought them no closer to blessings or even unity amongst their own families. At the time I was also watching every preacher I could on television in the hopes that one could explain all the confusion I saw all around me. I was reading the KJV version of the Holy Scriptures and was coming no closer to understanding our relation with our Creator than I had before.
Then I ran across a man named Garner Ted Armstrong, formerly of The Worldwide Church of God with his father, on the TV that was teaching the keeping of the true Sabbath day - the seventh day of the week. It was not the first day of the week as the other Christian churches were practicing. He was also using the name Yahweh to refer to our Father in heaven. I had never heard the name Yahweh before this, even though it actually appears one time in the Catholic bible. Somehow that just made so much sense to me. I sent off for reading materials from his organization and began a new level of study. It was shortly after that when I saw Yisrayl Bill Hawkins on our local cable channel going even further in promoting the keeping of the 7th day Sabbath and using Yahweh’s name exclusively. I started an even deeper study from the tapes and other materials his church started sending me. I then came into contact with a local bible study group in my area, through business acquaintances, that was associated with this church and began meeting with them. It all began to make even more sense now. It explained why the whole world was still suffering as they were and how I could fix my family problems.
All this time I was studying on my own because my wife had little interest in anything of such a highly spiritual nature. Being a good Catholic was enough for her and should be for all in our family. In order to skip a lot of unimportant personal details I’ll just say that when I made it known to my wife that I was going to go to Abilene to “check out” this House of Yahweh, she objected even stronger to my quest. She actively began doing things to discourage my association with the local members of this group. When I persisted in going there anyway she decided to go with me “to protect me from them”. It was at the restaurant in the hotel we were staying at in Abilene, TX that the local leader and I and our wives met for a meal before going to the grounds of the House of Yahweh that night for a separated bible study and the next day for a Sabbath service. This was the first time that she had met either of them. At this point, I had already decided to become baptized at the Sabbath service and was instructed to tell my wife of it only when there.
Well, at this meal, knowing full well how much my wife objected to me being a part of this group, the local leader and his wife revealed very craftily that the House of Yahweh believed in extended families. That means they support (and secretly practice) what the world calls polygamy, or having more than one wife at a time. That really got my wife’s attention, at which point she became upset with this doctrine. She eventually accused me of wanting to be a part of this group for that reason alone – to get another wife! In hindsight, I can say that revealing was planned to separate us even further. I can also say this because a lot of the so-called council I received in the ensuing years was geared toward my wife and I eventually divorcing, by her choice. It was ultimately to take place just as planned by them. It just took a bit longer to come about than they expected.
Anyway, getting back to that first visit … my wife refused to attend Sabbath services the next day, after attending a bible study that night with the women members. She was reportedly really getting into it. Then, upon being introduced as my wife to one of the women there this woman got all excited to meet the wife of the man that was going to be baptized the next day during Sabbath services. Now the cat was out of the bag! As you might imagine, my wife got so upset and ill that she left the building on her own. Shortly after that the local leader and I arrived to pick up the women. My wife was so distraught by the deception that she refused to attend services the next day and refused to even talk to me the rest of the night.
I did get baptized at that visit and thought my wife would eventually see that my intentions were not as she suspected. The whole 10-hour trip back home I tried to explain the deeper spiritual things I was learning and my wife seemed to accept them. Little did I know that she was just pacifying me and all the while planning her new tactics to get me to wake up and see this for what it was – a cult.
Upon returning home my wife immediately went about attempting to prove this group was a deceptive cult. She even had Bill’s ex-wife, Kaye, and other former members speak with me on the phone and try to talk some sense into me before I destroyed my family over this. I heard their words, but not having witnessed these things myself I didn’t fully trust them to be accurate so I continued my association. As they say, the rest is history. My wife eventually divorced me over her objections to me being a part of this group, in an effort to protect her and my children from them. As was planned by them, I became an upstanding single member of Bill’s House of Yahweh near Abilene, TX. I was diligently submitting my tithes and freely working for the expansion of it, as was taught we should do.
As the years went by with no fulfillment of the promise that I would be blessed with a more righteous wife and family if I kept studying and remained obedient to the Priests, I began to hear of and notice all manner of improper behaviors, according to the Holy Scriptures. I saw people being kicked out for asking too many questions or making trouble in other ways; people being stolen from in property and run down mobile home deals gone sour; people succumbing to illnesses and dying; and families broken up for various reasons. I saw the progression of the separation of families that lead to disunity and sorrows as well the tremendous increase in the extended family of Bill Hawkins. I took it all in stride and didn’t question these things too strongly or act upon them personally because I still saw the foundational teachings as beneficial, just as our Messiah taught the people in his day to let the Priests teach them the laws but don’t practice the things they did in contradiction to them.
I am typically a very quite and very private person. The scriptures teach us to be men and women of few words and to guard our words very closely so we do not sin with our tongues. I take that to heart and try to maintain a low profile most of the time as a result, not seeking honor, fame, and glory or bringing much attention to myself at all. I also viewed it as a way to not cause trouble for those in authority over us. I also think it is best to learn from others’ mistakes rather than to experience it for myself. I paid very close attention and remained quiet for the most part, even though I was not in the inner circle, so to speak. When I did question things I was told that I didn’t understand fully and should just keep studying until I did. Don’t question the authority over me, I was told.
Now, I have always been wary of people that talk just to hear their own voices, not saying much at all. You know the type – plenty of flowery words to cover up their ignorance - salesmen. Again, all this while I was being promised a righteous wife that would help grow my family and bless a woman in need of a righteous head. It finally took my own efforts to find a righteous wife for myself outside of Bill’s House of Yahweh. I began speaking online with a woman who understood what I was teaching her and agreed to become a member of the House of Yahweh in Abilene as a result. While it was taught that we were not to do this on our own I thought that as long as I maintained a righteous approach to the whole process it would not be against Yahweh’s will if we ultimately became married. It was a hard and very tedious process, but we eventually were allowed to marry, not having even met in person until the wedding. That’s a whole other topic for discussion though.
The result of this whole exercise of finding a wife is what eventually opened my eyes completely to the deception. It came to eventually affect more than just myself. Up to this point, I knew that I was strong enough to resist accepting all of their examples that caused harm to people, the wary observer that I was. For example, I avoided buying land in the local area from Bill Hawkins after seeing others lied to and get taken for their investments and then being controlled in what they could and could not do with their property. I also didn’t fall for all the internal cleansing techniques and multitude of other ways Bill contrived to cheat people out of their hard earned money (by evil money changers). I was steadfast in accepting the righteous things they taught and not having any part of the unrighteous things they practiced, so I thought. I was actually supporting it by not objecting. I have since repented for that! I thought I was simply studying to show myself approved to Yahweh, while not making any waves.
After becoming married I began to hear about and see things that appeared to demonstrate things were not all what they seemed behind the scenes in Bill’s little kingdom he was building for himself. For example, my new wife revealed to me how her first and only meeting with Bill went when she became a member. After all the teachings of how the women should remain veiled to everyone except their own husbands it was at this meeting that Bill suggested to her that she remove her veil in front of him. She rightfully declined to do so, according to his teachings. She went on to described how Bill was asking questions about her financial status and what her skills where, which he could take advantage of by putting her to work in “The Work”, as he described it. All of these things had nothing to do with her understanding and desire to be a righteous daughter of Yahweh. He didn’t even ask her about such things at this meeting. That was very odd, I thought, but by this time I had heard of such things going on with others, and worse.
The next event that was a big red flag for me was when my wife’s counselors tried to get her to get me to accept her being awled at Bill’s doorpost, as was being taught at the time to demonstrate our desire to remain in Yahweh’s House forever. The scriptures tell us that a servant is to be awled at the doorpost of the master IF they chose not to go out on their own after their time of servitude is up. We were being taught that our wives and we were as a servant to their heads, whose authority they were directly under. The men were all directly under the headship of Bill and the wives under their husbands. Given that, I taught my wife that it would be improper to be awled upon Bill’s doorpost, as he was not her immediate head any longer. She should be awled at mine, if at anyone’s. Upon hearing this from her, her counselors kept pressuring her to get awled on Bill’s doorpost anyway. She never did, in keeping with the teachings of the scriptures and my counsel to her.
Another event that took place, which demonstrates either total deception or the complete lack of understanding of the laws of Yahweh, really began my disassociation with Bill’s House of Yahweh. When my wife first started coming to the Feasts in Abilene, as we were taught is critical for your salvation, she could not completely afford the long air flight from her home State and the living expenses once there. These expenses included paying the House of Yahweh for sleeping accommodations and her meals, as well as her airfare. Her counselors made arraignments for the House of Yahweh to loan her the funds for airfare for these trips if she agreed to repay it in short order. All else would have to come from her selling things and working at the Feasts. Well, the scriptures say that is what the 2nd tithes every year were supposed to go toward, helping those who could not afford the journey to get to the Feasts. This is even what Bill’s House of Yahweh taught. When she asked about that she was told the 2nd tithes were only for those ones who lived in foreign countries to travel to the Feasts. That seems like someone was being a respecter of persons to me! My wife had to accept this and agreed to the arrangements for several Feasts, until we were married.
On her last trip to the Feast at which we were married, Tabernacles of 2006, she called early to have the purchase of the airline ticket arranged, as was her practice. For some reason the ones responsible for doing that failed to do so and just before the Feast it was pointed out to her that it would cost about double what she should have had paid. The whole travel plans for members were being encouraged to be handled through a Travel Agency that Bill had set up for such things, so that should have been a red flag for anyone. Without any other option at that point, and knowing by then that we would likely be allowed to marry at that Feast, she agreed to this increased expense. I had previously offered to pay for her expenses myself once we were allowed to communicate on a limited basis with each other, but it was rejected – a whole other matter that was designed for complete control by Bill.
After we were married my wife informed me of the whole matter of her most recent vow to repay the escalated expenses related to her last trip to Abilene before we were married. Upon reflecting on a recent sermon the local Priest in my area had given just a couple of weeks before this Feast where he taught what the scriptures say about a vow, including Numbers 30:6-8, I decided to get involved directly in this matter. This was about a husband being able to release his wife of a vow or rash promise, after they are married, that she made before the marriage. The other reason was because my wife had no income of her own, having sold off all of her own possessions of value to repay past vows, and was depending totally on me to help her fulfill her last vow at this point, obligating me financially. I was, of course, unaware of all the details of this latest arrangement up to that point. This sparked in me a desire to study in depth that very law the local Priest had taught us recently and to get counsel for what I thought should be done, allowing me to release her from that vow. At the very least she should be released from the extra part of the amount that was not her fault due to the delay in Bill’s Travel Agency acquiring the ticket at an earlier date.
I was told by this local Priest, who was one of my two assigned counselors, that my wife still had to fulfill her vow as to do otherwise would be stealing directly from Yahweh himself. My other counselor agreed with him, as usual, being that he was the more senior Priest. When I pointed out what he had recently taught about this subject he said he did not recall that and it was not what the scriptures was talking about anyway. If I now refused, as her new head (husband), to repay her vow I would be sinning against Yahweh! Which was it? Was I really her head with full authority to release her of a vow or was Bill her head (father) since he encouraged her to remove her veil in front of him before we were married and he wanted her to be awled on his doorpost instead of mine after we were married? Loyal servants that they were, they seemed to always want it to his benefit, except where a financial responsibility was involved. After all, it was his Travel Agency and he was supposedly her head until we married so why was he not accountable for the vow?
I then thought I would ask the head Priest about this. One day I approached him right after a Sabbath service during a Feast. When I explained the situation and asked if the above referenced verses containing a law of Yahweh could not be used in this situation he acted confused. He said he didn’t recall that law and that I should seek council with my appointed counselors. I said that I had and they denied it applied, as I was not her head at the time the vow was made. He again told me to seek council, effectively failing in his duties. Now, here were two or more witnesses to the fact that the Priests of Bill’s House of Yahweh don’t know and/or uphold the Laws of Yahweh.
The final conclusion of this matter, so I thought, would be determined after I was called in at a subsequent Feast to speak about it with the Priest who was in charge of financial matters. I pointed out to him at this meeting the chapter and verse of the right of release of a vow by a new husband and asked what the 2nd tithes were for? He also claimed ignorance of any law that allowed such a vow to be released. He reluctantly said he would have to look into it and get back with me. The question on the 2nd tithes was ignored completely. Up until that time she was receiving notices on a regular basis that her pledge was not being fulfilled. Her counselors were repeatedly pressuring her to repay the amount as well so she would not lose her salvation. She deferred the matter to me, as I had instructed her to do. Needless to say, the Priest never got back with me and the notices of a delinquency only stopped once they realized we had left Bill’s House of Yahweh. So there you have at least three Priests who are either ignorant of or denying one of Yahweh’s Laws that bring justice and peace to all of creation. Sound fishy to you?
Another event that points out the hypocrisy and deceit of those in authority at Bill’s House of Yahweh concerns the work at the feasts. Up to this point I was involved in “The Work” in various ways, including passing out literature in my local community and helping with various tasks on the Feast grounds during the Feasts. All of this was unpaid labor that we provide willingly, for the most part. Some amount of pressure is placed on us to perform such activities and it seems the women receive the bulk of this pressure. The restaurant at Feast times is just one portion of this “Work” for which the women are encouraged to volunteer. As a side note, at least some of the local members were always paid for their work during the Feasts and it was cryptically announced from the pulpit when they could pick up their checks at the office. I think that these people were ones regularly employed by Bill’s House of Yahweh. They were not forced to refrain from their regular jobs during Feast times like the rest of us were. Those members from other areas who worked at the Feasts were never paid, to my knowledge. Sounds like being a respecter of persons to me, not that their measly pay could replace the sacrifice I was making by being away from my regular job. I didn’t expect it. I’m just pointing out the hypocrisy. Either way it did provide a lot of free labor for Bill. It was when many major construction and maintenance projects took place, both on and off the grounds for Bill.
Moving on, my wife still has health issues that stem back from work related injuries that she sustained years before our marriage. I’ll speak more about that in depth below. These issues prevent her from remaining on her feet for long periods of time and involves tremendous pain in various parts of her body, which limits her mobility and stamina. Since she joined Bill’s House of Yahweh she was encouraged to work at the restaurant, where the women work long hours for little or no pay. Those who are short on tithes for the Feasts are actually told they must work there for their food, with severe limits as to what items of food they would be provided. It was typically cheap breads, potatoes, and rice, with very little meat or other protein available.
After we were married she was repeatedly asked to come to work in the restaurant during the Feasts. Knowing her limitations, I instructed her to tell them she was unable to participate, as it would cause her harm. Her counselors, knowing fully her health issues, suggested to her that she should tell me that she wants to work there and I should thus allow it. This was even after explaining to them that she could not physically tolerate it. I don’t know about anyone else, but when Bill’s House of Yahweh taught me that the very definition of witchcraft from the scriptures is when someone attempts to subtly persuade someone to do something they would not otherwise do that stuck in my memory and I’m on guard for it at all times.
Having heard this counsel my wife received, asking her to deceive me, how can it be considered anything but witchcraft? Needless to say, I stuck with my understanding of the situation and refused to allow her to work at the Feasts. I must commend her here again for not succumbing blindly to their deceptive tactics and discussing the matter with me. She has done this in every matter all along and this understanding in her is truly a blessing from Yahweh for both of us.
The other matter related to my wife’s health arose at the very Feast in which we were married. In visiting the bathhouse on the Feast grounds one day, having no other accommodations in the sparse living quarters (a shed with one light bulb and no air conditioning or heat) provided by Bill’s House of Yahweh (again, for a fee), she found it necessary to utilize the very sparse bath facilities available. This included showers with no hot running water and poor maintenance for the grounds surrounding it. On this particular day it had rained heavily and the sidewalk leading up to the women’s bathhouse was somewhat flooded. My wife, having no other option in approaching the bathhouse, slipped and fell on her back and hit her head hard on the sidewalk.
Needless to say, she was not only very dirty, but she reinjured her shoulder and back, which she had recently had surgery on back home to relieve the severe pain she was experiencing. The surgeries were working up to that point. This was related to the work injury referenced above. No one came to her aid to help her off of her back, even though she cried out in pain for it. She was in such a state of pain afterwards that the Priestesses had to actually take her dirty clothes to their homes to launder them since she was physically unable to do that. There were several that were fully aware of this mishap, including the head Priestess, as they were continuously checking on her status afterwards. No one ever offered to help her tend to her injuries via a medical visit to a facility that could care for her properly. No one ever admitted to her any liability of the cause of the accident, nor offered to help her pay for any medical treatment that should have resulted from it. In fact, in later counseling sessions her counselors denied knowing anything about the event, even though one of them had helped launder her clothes as a result of it. This is how little love there is for any so-called member of their family of believers. When it comes to money there is no love and ways are always found to deny any responsibility or accountability. But, Yahweh knows what they do in darkness!
Lastly, in a personal matter that relates to the purchase of property that Bill’s House of Yahweh encourages of its members from him alone, I saw fit to purchase some acreage nearby that was totally unassociated with Bill. While attempting to keep quiet any association of mine with Bill’s House of Yahweh, so as not to encourage neighbors harboring ill feelings towards Yahweh or me in any way, it somehow became known that there was some connection between us. I cannot say for sure whether this was due to an action by Bill’s loyal worshippers or not. I can only suspect it due to the strong efforts they put in to encourage people to only purchase property from Bill. It was not long after I began making improvements to my property that two neighbors began claiming I had no legal access to my property and placed a fence and locked gate across a public roadway to prevent it. One of these neighbors actually directed me to the then current property owner when I saw him on the road and inquired if he knew of any property for sale in the area. This was obviously before they knew of my association.
One of these two admitted to me that he did some asking around and found that I was a member of Bill’s House of Yahweh and they didn’t want such trashy “Yahweh niggers” in the area as it would depreciate their property values. Now, I am of the Caucasian race, like them, and simply had some friends working on my property a couple of times while I was back at home. That obviously prompted his scurrilous slang reference to those of another race. If by the fact that such people are considered by the locals in this area of being associated with Bill’s House of Yahweh is what caused him to suspect and assume I was as well I can not say. It just seems suspicious and it might suggest that the Priest that kept subtly trying to persuade me to purchase from Bill exposed me to these local neighbors when I did not. They are that devious and harbor such hatred for those that don’t agree with them fully. It is all part of the mind control practiced by cults that anyone can find and study for themselves online. So, be warned!
This Priest could have been this neighbor’s source of information, as I had not come into contact with any of the local people in the area for any reason up to that point, other than obviously not being a local myself and in the area only three times a year. It could also have been from some anonymous tip to this neighbor. Who knows for sure?! I just thought it was curious that the result has been a severe violation of my right to use my property as I see fit, without any religious persecution from the locals, including Bill’s House of Yahweh. I’m actually still debating on how to best handle this situation since the local Sheriff’s Office thinks it should be a matter to be handled in their Civil Courts. It doesn’t feel a law has been broken by their actions. The County Commissioners even had the road removed from their County Map (which only identifies roads maintained by them – which is not a requirement) and then denied my request for a county road to be put in to my “landlocked” property, contrary to State Statutes that require it once an application is submitted. It is just more of the “good ole boy system” at work here.
In closing, I will say that even though I have come out Bill’s House of Yahweh (read: lair of deceit) I have not rejected Yahweh or His Laws in any way. In fact, as I was thinking about and discussing this with a couple of friends of mine recently, even though the warnings were there in advance for all of us to stay away from it we still took actions in the opposite direction. In effect, it must have been Yahweh’s will that we experienced these things for ourselves to build our faith and allow us to be able to identify evil when it comes before us. With my limited understanding of the scriptures up until that time I surely was not qualified to do so.
Even though, like Job, I lost my first family, it was not a burden too heavy for me to bear. I have been blessed in many ways for the experience, including with a wife of like mind spiritually. It has made me stronger and more resolute to not only resist practicing sin myself, but to also point it out when others are doing it, just as the scriptures require us to do – you know, making those daily judgment calls that keep us from having any part of it. That way the blood won’t be on our heads as well by being silent. That is what studying to show ourselves approved is all about. No, we can’t condemn anyone for his or her sins. That is Yahweh’s job, ultimately. However, we are supposed to judge between righteousness and evil. It’s the Adversary that doesn’t want us to be concerned with this at all - to allow evil to flourish unhindered. It’s the false teachers that promote minding our own business (don’t judge, they say) and letting evil practices remain hidden in the darkness, even though the scriptures point out that is not possible.
So, if after reading short stories like mine, and others, you still decide to become a part of this group I would encourage you to learn from these lessons and not fall victim to their ways by being one of the blind being lead by blind leaders. Be on guard always and don’t let anyone take advantage of you. The only way to do that is diligently study and practice Yahweh’s Laws and become wise enough to flee danger when it approaches. Be as wise as a serpent and gentle as a lamb and never ever blame Yahweh for allowing evil to continue at this time. There will come a time when that is not the case, but for now, it is a lesson that mankind needs to learn from.
May Yahweh bless your understanding and keep you safe,
CHARLES N. NWOGU (MICAHYAH) STORY
Shalom to you, Elders and brethren of the true House of Yahweh who have
organised this important forum for the healing, rehabilitation and
regathering of former members of the House Yahweh in Diaspora who have
been delivered from the hand, doctrine and house of Yisrayl Hawkins.
This is Yahweh's doing and it is marvellous in our eyes. I came across
your website last week and I heaved a great sigh of relief and felt a
sense of belonging after reading your postings. Actually, I tried to
make an entry but my mail bounced back. I'm only hoping that this email
will get to you so that when you respond I can get your email address.
Let me just say for now that I am a Nigerian resident in Lagos. I was
born and raised up as a Seventh Day Adventist. I am deeply religious and
have an inborn inclination and calling to the Ministry as Evangelist. I
left the S.D. A. Church in 1989 to join the Elder Jacob O. Meyer-led
Assemblies of Yahweh (AOY), Bethel. PA. I stayed with them till
Passover, 1996. By May, 1996, I joined the House Of Yahweh following so
many teachings, claims and prophecies Elder Yisrayl Hawkins was making
including the end of the present age. This makes me, according to your
categorisation, to belong to the Second Generation of Yahweh's called
out ones (1996-2004) whom Yisrayl Hawkins wounded, intimidated,
disappointed and scattered through his callousness, superciliousness,
false prophecy, flagrant joggling and rewritting of the Holy Scriptures,
although I only physically tendered my resignation and finally left him
in December, 2006, after the failed Nuclear Bomb Prophecy. My actual
concern now and which I shall pursue in future correspondences is to
know whether you have already established/registered a religious
body/organisation to take care of those of us who are like sheep without
a shepherd. If you havent as yet done that, do you have a plan to do it
or can you take this my email now as a clarion call that Yahweh desires
you to do this. It is not enough to expose Yisrayl Hawkins. We should
go beyound him and ask: WHAT DOES GREAT YAHWEH WANT US TO DO IN THIS
SITUATION? HOW SHOULD WE GO ABOUT IT? A reading of Yechezqyah chapter 34
and Isayah chapter 56 will greatly help in giving impetus and direction
in this matter. Please remember to think about me and keep me on your
mailing list. May Yahweh bless, keep and direct you in all your ways and
actions. Thank you. Your Brother MICAHYAH CHARLES N. NWOGU, Lagos, Nigeria
CLAUDIA HUTCHISON'S Story
taken from an public letter dated 10/29/09
I address myself to the great citizens of Taylor, Callahan, and Jones
Counties regarding the letter addressed to them from the House of
Yahweh, Yisrael Hawkins. I was a member of the House of Yahweh for over
ten years. Since leaving the organization, I have not publicly spoken
out. The letter Hawkins wrote compels me to voice my concerns regarding
the statements Hawkins has made.
How do I describe people that
have given up what little they have to be cleansed and healed? These
fragile souls yearned for a life of joy and fulfillment and were drawn
to the Kingdom as is the moth to the flame. I too was searching for the
truth and was a victim to the seduction. How do I describe a place I've
yearned for most of my life, but in the end what I thought I found only
brought me devastation, seduction, cruelty and made me an unwilling. How
has the journey back from the arms of hell left me? I have traveled
each crossroad with full awareness that I willingly gave up my reasoning
to another, and I must now question my decisions and challenge every
step I take forward. I am still healing. The scars go deep, the wounds
are raw, open, festering, and the pain still lingers.
member of the House of Yahweh for over ten years, I speak the truth
regarding the events, happenings and destruction of current members’ and
past members' lives due to my fellowship with the House of Yahweh. I
know this because I have lived the lies that are brought forth from the
inner circle of members under the instruction of Hawkins. I have paid
the price. Since my departure from the House of Yahweh, I have been
robbed of my children, grandchildren, business, a trailer, food storage,
and mentally so much more there couldn't be enough paper to write on.
So much more, a lifetime is not enough time to heal my pain and
In Hawkins' letter to the people of Abilene, he
expresses his desire to bring enlightenment to the area of the House of
Yahweh's cause. He wants people to believe that he is not trying to get
anyone to leave the church to which they now belong. I attended sermons
given by the House of Yahweh; I have purchased and listened to their
sermon tapes, and I speak from experience. In the letter, Hawkins
states, "Please don't think that I am trying to get you to leave your
church, I am not." During my fellowship at the House of Yahweh, many
times Hawkins strongly stated other religions were brought forth by
Satan. Now that I am no longer a member of the House of Yahweh, I feel
as if I have been awakened from a nightmare. I now understand what
brainwashing is. The House of Yahweh teaches "sentence meaning
restructuring." What I mean by this is, that what Hawkins says with
words, is not in reality what the truth is. Hawkins pacifies civil
requirements, when in actuality he is being misleading.
difference with Hawkins' message and that of other churches, is that he
teaches he is the Messiah, the King, the High Priest, and the Savior.
Unfortunately, members aren't aware of his self-anointed status until
they reach the point where they believe anything that comes forth from
Hawkins' mouth. Hawkins utilizes the same dogma that David Koresh
verbalized to his members. A member stays in good standing at the House
of Yahweh as long as they do not question any message brought forth by
Hawkins states the media is misleading the people. I
moved to Clyde, Texas in 2001 after being a member for many years.
During my membership, I read the articles in the newspaper regarding the
fact that the House of Yahweh kills neighbors' dogs. At the time, I
couldn't believe what the media printed. I thought it unconscionable.
After a few years went by, it came to my attention that the accusation
Hawkins stated the House of Yahweh does not hold
grudges. My exodus from the House of Yahweh happened when I discovered
new laws Hawkins was bringing forth to us that I just could not accept
as truth. I was beginning to awaken. The truth is, if a member so much
as questions events or teachings of the Hawkins they are ostracized. If
and when a person escapes from the House of Yahweh, they leave
everything, family included. Instruction is given in sermons that
members must not speak with any person that has left the House of
Yahweh. My sons are still at the House of Yahweh along with
grandchildren I probably will never get the chance to know. My family is
not allowed to contact me. No one that leaves the House of Yahweh
experiences forgiveness from Hawkins, only exile.
The extent of
Hawkins' control reaches even to the most basic necessities of life.
People are not allowed to watch television, read the newspapers or
listen to the radio. They are not allowed to use outside bathrooms and
must wear diapers rather than use a public facility. Rights are taken
away from parents. Children have been given to men without their
If and when members become aware of hidden
problems at the House of Yahweh, child molesters being harbored, land
stolen from dead members, families not being informed of their loved
ones dying, Hawkins teaches that the members should not go to the law.
It's a fact the House of Yahweh has big problems and the problems are
finally coming to the media's attention.
When members become
aware of child molesters being harbored, land stolen from deceased
members, families cut off from dying loved ones, Hawkins forbids outside
influence. These atrocities go unreported, unseen by the law. There is
still hope if the media's attention will bring the light to the
suffering and inhumane living conditions that are so prevalent on the
grounds of the House of Yahweh. If it weren't for the efforts of Shane
Deel, who knows how long these wicked, cruel acts would continue.
myself, people join the House of Yahweh not knowing what lies in store
for them. The weak are trapped at the House of Yahweh and some even die
there. My aunt and uncle died and were buried at the House of Yahweh and
were given a tombstone with the inscription "Hawkins." They are buried
on property that cannot be visited by their loved ones who are not
members. I recently was able to rescue my 81 year old aunt from the
House of Yahweh. It took me a few years, but with the help of many
people I was able to find where she was living and help her escape. She
had no means, in fear of reproach, like many others, to contact her
loved ones. The House of Yahweh monitors its members' phone bills.
Within ten hours of my aunts' escape all her belongings that were left
were burned by members of the House under the direction of Hawkins. Many
people are stranded at the House of Yahweh, left dependent. Only the
strong survive. I, personally, had to financially help other members.
One woman with a new baby had no heat or electricity; one of many. One
woman was directed to go to the Catholic Church by Hawkins to get
diapers when she could not afford them.
Hawkins uses some of his
members to perform work for him. Members who work for Hawkins have been
denied food for arriving as little as ten minutes late for work.
marriage? Some children are betrothed at the age of 12 to men that are
30, 40, even 50 years older than themselves. Some men belonging to the
House of Yahweh reside in other states but come for feasts three times a
year. Their wife back home has no idea they are married to other women.
I also believe churches, schools, and hospitals are not
responsible for criminal actions of their members as Hawkins' states in
his letter. I do believe, though, that when people commit acts that are
sanctified by their church in which they trust, the church most
certainly is responsible. People at the House of Yahweh are instructed
to give food stamps for tithes: illegal; multiple wives: illegal; lying
in court: illegal; placing property in a member's name to hide the fact
that Hawkins owns it: illegal.
As instructed, children leave
their parents at a young age. Young boys once they reach the age of 13
must move out from the protection of their parents and be under the care
and supervision of Hawkins.
Hawkins does not teach members to
obey the Constitution and laws of the United States. Sermon tapes would
verify and corroborate these facts.
It's not people that won't
repent that leave the House of Yahweh and are not allowed back, it's the
people that wake up and see what's really going on that leave. It's
impossible for people so financially devastated to escape. There are
people there now that have reached out to me to help them leave. I wish I
could financially support them all.
The House of Yahweh does
have a gate and fencing surrounding the property. They have guards
around the clock who walk the grounds protecting Hawkins from people
that have left from coming back on the grounds to regain their
Many local members rent property from Hawkins
personally. If a member cannot pay rent with money, they must pay in
sweat. Some members do live in other states and come for feasts as
Hawkins wrote, but furnished shelters? The shelter he speaks of is bug
infested mattresses laying upon floor huts. Hawkins stated he furnishes
food and clothing to anyone in need. That would be true, but he
neglected to state that the individual probably works for him and is
getting minimal food, shelter, and clothing in return. Nothing is free
at the House of Yahweh.
Yes, there is a compound in Clyde that is
used three times a year for feasts, but there also are many mobile
homes on the compound in which people live year-round.
that come to the House of Yahweh three times a year for feasts are
slowly being taken away from the Abilene trade. What Hawkins neglects to
state is that members are strongly persuaded to purchase items from the
House of Yahweh's stores; his stores, his sales, his profit. As
members, we were informed that we could not buy meat or milk outside of
the compound. Clothing was now being supplied for purchase at a marked
up price at the House of Yahweh. Everyone was instructed to burn their
secondhand clothing, secondhand furniture, because of DNA that may
remain on the items.
Hawkins stated that the House of Yahweh does
not discriminate against people. What he neglected to state was that
people that are gay are allowed to join the House of Yahweh, but in
order to remain a member in good standing they must go straight or will
be asked to leave. White men are allowed to marry black woman; black men
are not allowed to marry white woman.
Hawkins states he does not
teach multiple marriages when he, himself, has over 25 wives. Marriages
at the House of Yahweh used to be performed with members present. After
the media coverage, no one gets invited to marriage ceremonies. Members
become aware of marriages by seeing the many wives sit with one man.
One must note that the House of Yahweh's marriages are not civil
Men are taught the lawful act, according to Hawkins,
of providing food and shelter for their wives and nothing more. Some
women live in bug infested dwellings. Some women have no heat, broken
windows throughout, walls that have holes. Some wives remain silent
about the black mold that stains the surfaces of their walls. If any of
this is spoken about in public a confession must be made.
persuaded to have separate living arrangements from their wives. Women
must ask no questions. Men do not have to inform their wives of their
whereabouts, who they are marrying, who they have married.
House of Yahweh did not openly teach artificial insemination of women
during my membership, though I was aware of it. Hawkins supplies
baster-type devices for females to inseminate themselves with. Using
only his HOLY seed. A coverup for his child brides having children. He
can now proclaim he doesn't have sex with minors.
not allow my sons to speak with me. They are instructed in the Hawkins'
law. If a member leaves the House of Yahweh, they expect retaliation in
some form depending on the ties left behind.
The House of Yahweh
has confessions that gain information regarding the comings and goings
of their members. Members' houses have been entered without their
knowledge during services when they're not home. To this day, members do
not know their houses have been vandalized. Hawkins states the House of
Yahweh does not pry into the lives of their members. Hawkins is in
complete control of every member. I know of members Hawkins assigned to
secretly follow people and report back to him there whereabouts if he
believed they were preparing to leave the organization.
A lot of
propaganda comes from the pen of Hawkins. If you have money, you are
welcome, as long as you give 20 percent a year for two years, and 30
percent every third year to the House of Yahweh. This money does not
reach the members in need. This money goes to line the pockets of the
man who runs this organization, Hawkins.
Hawkins tells everyone
that the House of Yahweh wants peace. He realizes he is facing 30 years
in jail. Peace would be a good thing now.
People must be
protected. Unfortunately, protection only comes from being informed. The
media is informing the world of what is happening at the House of
Yahweh. It's a choice to join a religious organization. Only people like
myself can try to help them become aware of the risk they're taking of
losing what little they have if they join the House of Yahweh. I don't
mean just material things.
Yes, the House of Yahweh is far worse
than portrayed. When the media visits the House of Yahweh, the people
are handpicked who will be interviewed or stand on-camera. As in the
case of Jim Jones, only the true believers were allowed to be seen and
heard. I know most of them, those who appear on television or who may be
quoted by the media. These people cannot be trusted. They speak the
lies they told to speak. They do not know the difference.
to hire an armed guard during my exile from the House of Yahweh. During
the process of escape, members of the House of Yahweh blocked my
driveway with large fallen trees. I was in fear.
Five years later
I still ache to see my sons, my grandchildren, wanting just to know if I
have new grandchildren. I will never be able to recapture the precious
time I have lost with my family. This is the carnage that I now deal
with every day of my life.
I joined the House of Yahweh to find
my Heavenly Father and lost my family, my business, my home, and my
grandchildren. Read the newspaper. Don't believe everything you see or
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope others find their voice.
Lyn Johnsons's Story: Abilene Reporter News, January 17, 1999
Court victories in three states are being cheered by a growing network
of people looking for legal means to keep children out of the House of
Yahweh. Cases in Florida, Georgia and Michigan last year resulted in fathers
obtaining custody of children whose mothers are affiliated with the
Abilene-based sect headed by Yisrayl Hawkins, formerly known as "Buffalo
Bill" Hawkins when he was an Abilene policeman. Each court victory means others who have been unsuccessful in
gaining custody will have reason to press on, believes a Florida woman
whose son won a court battle.
"As case law builds we can turn around some of the losses," said Lynn Johnson of Jacksonville, Fla.
Hawkins did not respond to requests for an interview with the Abilene Reporter-News.
Johnson is the mother of Mark Johnson, who a year ago won the
first child custody case involving a parent tied to the House of Yahweh.
Since then two others have been finalized in favor of the father and at
least one more is in progress, said Phillip Arnn, chief staff
researcher for Watchman Fellowship in Arlington, a cult-watch
organization with offices nationwide.
"We're acting as a clearinghouse on cases our people have won," Arnn said.
The court victories and the network of people providing
information on how to win child custody cases is significant. Just three
years ago a Maryland man stormed the gates of the sect's compound in
Callahan County in an effort to retrieve his children and stepchildren.
Instead, he landed in jail on charges of family violence, assault, and interfering with child custody.
Legal challenges have been tried by some parents ever since the
House of Yahweh began gaining notoriety in 1996 but with no success
until now. One reason is the reluctance of judges to challenge a
religious preference because it is unusual, experts say.
But the Johnsons found a defense that came about in a most
unusual way. During court proceedings, their son's ex-wife requested a
custody evaluation by a psychologist, which the court granted.
The ploy backfired when the evaluation showed the child was being
subjected to dangerous indoctrination by House of Yahweh teachings,
Johnson said, and the judge ruled the father should get custody.
The ex-wife tried again with a different psychologist with the same result.
"It's not that we came up with a brilliant idea and won -- she came up with it," Johnson said.
Other litigants are building on that success, Johnson said, and the list of psychologists willing to do evaluations is growing.
"We all share those names and put them on the network," she said.
That tactic plus a proactive stance by the plaintiff, usually the
father, are keys to success in court, said Arnn, with Watchman
Fellowship. Recent court victories prove that.
"That's the difference there," Arnn said. "In all three of these cases you can see that."
Getting a court-appointed psychologist to testify to the dangers
of cult indoctrination is key to winning a case involving religion, Arnn
'The religious issues can then be brought into the case -- otherwise they cannot," he said.
The plaintiff's attorney can file a motion for a court-appointed
psychologist who would be a neutral officer of the court, thereby
eliminating prejudice. Because of the complexities involved, Watchman
Fellowship is establishing a database of court documents that shows
attorneys how to draft motions.
"We think that will be very helpful," Arnn said.
As important as the psychological evaluation is an aggressive
stance by the father, Arnn said. Some early court cases posed problems
because the mother acted first, filing for divorce and gaining temporary
custody of the children.
"That pretty much tips the scale," Arnn said.
All three of the finalized cases plus one in progress involve the
father seeking custody because the mother joined the House of Yahweh.
Arnn said it usually is the woman who joins because of the nature
of the sect. The women usually have money or will have child support
coming if divorced, he said.
"It's women who are getting stuck in this," he said.
Lynn Johnson can speak from personal experience. Her son, Mark,
was married and the father of a 5-year-old girl when his wife came into
contact with the House of Yahweh.
Mark and his family lived in the Jacksonville, Fla., suburb of
Orange Park and were members of a Baptist church. A couple who were
friends found the House of Yahweh on the Internet and became interested
in its teachings, Lynn Johnson said.
Her son's wife was interested, too, and accompanied the couple to
Abilene for one of the three annual feasts celebrated at the compound
in Callahan County.
"It was a surprise when all of a sudden she had a whole new Bible and way of life," Johnson said.
Eventually the oddity took a chilling turn. Johnson began
researching and came across Hawkins' book, Reconsidering Yahweh's Laws
on Slavery and Marriage Obligations.
She was stunned to learn what happens to women who go to the compound unattended by their husbands.
"She had to be wife, slave, or concubine to a group member," Johnson said.
Although the ex-wife never took the couple's daughter to Abilene,
the child was subjected to House of Yahweh teachings during meetings in
Jacksonville attended by 20-30 people, Johnson said.
When the couple decided to divorce, Johnson's son got a
restraining order to keep the child in Florida and gained temporary
custody. In the meantime, his ex-wife had changed her name to "Hawkins,"
as more than 250 people have done in Taylor County courts over the past
Her behavior became more of a concern to the Johnsons, who kept petitioning the court for supervised visits.
"They always come back from these feasts more militant," Johnson said.
The court case was finalized in February 1998, and the ex-wife
disappeared in July, Johnson said, leaving no clues to her whereabouts.
The most recent child custody case involving the House of Yahweh
ended Dec. 30 when a father in suburban Detroit, Mich., gained custody
of his three children, ages 12, 8, and 4.
James Byrd, an engineer with Ford Motor Co., was granted custody
over his wife, a Detroit pediatrician who got involved with the House of
Yahweh in 1995 through a group in Jackson, Mich.
he ex-wife broke all relations with her family, said Constance Cumbey, a Michigan attorney who represented the father.
"She told them she had found the truth," Cumbey said.
Cumbey is author of the book on New Age religion and cults The
Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow. She has been involved with a number of
cases involving New Age religions over the years, but the House of
Yahweh case was the first one she termed a "hard cult."
She has kept files on the Abilene-based group for many years and
couldn't believe her good fortune when James Byrd contacted her about
"When he came in and said, 'House of Yahweh,' I almost exploded," Cumbey said.
Like the Johnsons, Cumbey got a court-appointed psychologist to
testify to the dangers of the House of Yahweh teachings, which helped
win the case.
Although those cases had happy endings, cult watchers are more
concerned than ever about cult activities with the millennium
approaching and "end times prophecies" proliferating.
ABC News has a Web site titled "Apocalypse Really Soon" that
lists the House of Yahweh as one of "the more prominent millennialist
Newsweek magazine and the New York Times magazine have named the House of Yahweh as a cult to keep an eye on.
Hawkins publishes a magazine from his House of Yahweh
headquarters called The Prophetic Word, and he has preached end of the
world prophecies. He has backed off those prophecies recently, observers
say, but still his organization is of concern.
"They consistently are one that I watch closely," said Rick Ross of Phoenix, Ariz., an intervention specialist who serves as an expert witness in court cases involving cults.
He has testified in one case involving the House of Yahweh and
has been called by numerous other families with ties to the group. Ross
considers the House of Yahweh potentially dangerous because its members
are totally dependent on Hawkins, even going so far as to change their
name to his.
"You just don't know, you cannot predict what these people will do," Ross said.
Cumbey, the Michigan attorney and author, doesn't view Hawkins
with the same fearful eye some do, but she agrees with Ross that House
of Yahweh members do as Hawkins tells them.
"He has every bit the control -- it's a frightening control," Cumbey said.
Perhaps the person most familiar with Hawkins and his followers
is Arnn with Watchman Fellowship. He has been to Abilene, visited with
ex-members of the House of Yahweh, and followed their actions closely
Arnn has noticed Hawkins backing away from his end of the world prophecies the past few years.
"He decided he wasn't going to die," Arnn said.
For some time, Hawkins has been advocating moving his sect to
Jerusalem to await the end of the world and to set up a new temple.
However, that move seems to have gone by the wayside, Arnn said.
"He's got everything he wants," Arnn said. "There's nothing in it
for him to keep pressing the gloom and doom of the end of the world."
Gerald Shaw's Story, as told to the Abilene Reporter News:
Gerald Shaw barely knew his 8-year-old daughter when he saw her three
months ago. Her hair was cropped and her clothes were shabbier. Worst of
all, he said, her name had become Hawkins.
"I started crying when I learned that," the Boston accountant
said, "and then I wanted to put my fist through the wall.
"They've taken my little girl's identity. She treated me like one
of the unclean, an enemy. God knows how she'll treat me next time."
So Shaw is going to court. He's one of a growing number of people across
America who are turning to the judicial system in hopes of extracting their
loved ones from the House of Yahweh, the Abilene-based sect whose membership
is growing at a fast and, to some observers, alarming rate.
His wife left him a year ago after she became involved with the sect
through a friend who had visited one of the three annual feasts, Shaw said.
She's sold many of her possessions and hopes to move to Abilene to be near
She changed her and her daughter's last names to Hawkins, the last name
of the sect's "pastor and overseer," Yisryal Hawkins. More than
250 have done the same in Taylor County alone.
Shaw agreed to give his wife custody of their daughter, he said, but
that was before he realized what the House of Yahweh was really like. Now
he wants to reverse that decision. But he knows that won't be easy. Like
many others, he's learning courts are reluctant to get involved.
"I can't prove they're physically abusing her, but what about the
emotional effects?" he said, fighting to hold back tears. "What
about her childhood? I don't mind so much that she no longer has my name.
I understand that. But why, why, why must she have the name of a cult leader?
She's only 8. You know she didn't make that decision herself."
His attorney has told him he has two strikes against him: Courts tend
to favor the mother in custody issues unless there's evidence of abuse,
and judges are unwilling to challenge a religious preference just because
it is unusual.
Many other people who've contacted the Reporter-News
in the past year have expressed similar frustrations. Though numerous custody
cases are known to have been filed, there's no record of any of them ending
with a child being removed from a Yahweh member's custody.
But many are determined to keep trying, especially in the wake of the
Heaven's Gate suicides.
Although there's no evidence the House of Yahweh holds any similar beliefs
to those of the San Diego cult, Shaw and others say the name changes are
plenty of cause to worry.
"If he can make them change their names, what else can he make them
do?" Shaw said.
Tina, a Michigan woman, is trying everything she can think of to win
custody of her 7-year-old sister. She asked that her real name not be used.
Her mother, a physician, tried to talk a colleague out of joining the
House of Yahweh but ended up joining the sect herself, Tina said. She's
now attending the upcoming feast in Callahan County, is selling her positions
and plans to move to Abilene.
"She went down there and made him (Hawkins) the head of her household,
and she became a totally different person," Tina said.
Her sister has been forced to go along with it all, she said, and complains
that people are mean to her, preach to her about "death and destruction"
and make her drink wine.
"That was like the last straw for me," Tina said. "She
just doesn't want to be around them."
Philip Arnn of the cult-watch group Watchman Fellowship in Arlington
has researched Hawkins and the House of Yahweh and is helping the several
dozens of family members mount cases to protect children from the group.
"This man (Hawkins) has manipulated lives from Washington State
to New York State," Arnn said last week. "People put their houses
up for sale and plan to move to Abilene, and they're taking their children
But he agrees family members face an uphill struggle. To help, he's putting
together a database of psychological testimony about the emotional effects
children face in such cults.
Robert Dearden of Chapel Hill, N.C., came to Abilene last fall to try
to talk his wife out of forcing their 9-year-old son to participate in the
sect's activities. He met with no success, he said, and was treated like
an "alien invader."
"If you're not a believer," he said, "you're the enemy.
But my son is not a believer, and they want him anyway. They want people
who can't fight back."
People who've suffered marital problems are especially susceptible to
becoming involved in such groups, he said.
"It broke my heart that my wife and I split up and put him through
that," he said. "And it's breaking again because he's become caught
up in this. Some day I'm going to answer the phone and find out I've lost
him forever, and I'll never forgive myself."