Aislynn Madosik, a University of Nevada student, agrees that the ICOC demands a lot from converts. She began attending the Greater Reno Church of Christ (the ICOC church in Reno) and its campus ministry spring 2000.
Madosik, a 19-year-old sophomore, said that her involvement in the church her freshman year at Nevada was based on codependency.
student, is a former
member who says the
practices of the
church are "cultic."
Photo by Brad Horn
Madosik first encountered the ICOC through the friendship with her Nye Hall Resident Assistant, Ann (not her real name), and an ICOC member. Ann became her discipler, which means mentor or teacher.
"And that should have been my first clue, because a cult -- you know -- has key names," Madosik said. "That is another way you lose your identity as yourself because you are disciple now of God."
She shared a close friendship with Ann, attending a bible talk and then studying the Bible one-on-one. The Bible studies continued, and she completed seven in all. Madosik's notes from her time in the ICOC showed a person committed to learning the Bible. She wrote out every Scripture given to her and color-coded the words of Jesus and then the interpretation.
Madosik said that in one of the Bible studies Ann said other religions were false. She said the ICOC had the right way to live, in this church and in learning the Bible this way.
In one of the first studies, called "Light and Darkness," Madosik said that her discipler went over a certain Scripture on sin, and then they made two columns, one for light and one for darkness. She drew a line on the piece of paper and asked Madosik which side she was on.
"And so they're like, you're either in the light or in the darkness, so where are you?" Madosik said. "Then I was like, I'm in the darkness obviously, you know there is no in between."
tell her story so other
students will be
educated about the ICOC
Photo by Brad Horn
Disciples are matched up to go on Saturday dates, usually in a double-date or as a group. Madosik said on her date they went to a nice restaurant. Her date opened doors for her and was very polite. The disciples do something spiritual, such as share about their faith with another person or talk about the Bible on these dates.
Madosik estimated that the church took up 95 percent of her time. In her journal, she began to count off the days she was a disciple, beginning with day one and continuing up to day 16. She said duties of "sharing" were non-stop.
"I had to write down all my friends' names and people who I would want to save, because to me they were not saved," Madosik said. "And it is important to at least get a couple of (phone) numbers."
Phone numbers were very important. Madosik said some girls would stay up late hunting up the number of contacts she said they were required to have.
"It is sharing what your faith is when you invite them to the church, or Bible talk, or, you know, some people you ask them to a volley ball game, or something like that," she said. "For most people it starts off with an activity. That way...they don't have any idea what they're doing. Oh, this is really fun, these are nice people. The next step is to invite them to a Bible talk, and the next step is a study, and the next step is church."
Sharing sounds like this: "We would just go up and say 'Hi, excuse me my name is Aislynn, what's your name?' Or stuff like that. And we go to this Bible talk on Thursday night and are you interested in doing it?' Or we say are you interested in studying the Bible, or would you like to go to volleyball?' Then we'd ask for their phone number and we'd give them a flyer."
Jess, a sophomore education student, said she noticed her friend change greatly after becoming a disciple. "She always talked about praying and doing quiet times," Jess said.
Looking back, Madosik is able to see how her discipler tried to make decisions for her, such as going home for spring break. Madosik was told that it wouldn't be best for her to go home to Pahrump, a small town outside Las Vegas, if there wasn't an ICOC church for her to go to.
She did end up going home because they found her a church, the Greater Las Vegas Church of Christ, about an hour away. Madosik said that all she was thinking during the drive home was that she wanted to go home to her discipler and that she didn't want to speak to her family because they were "pagans."
Mrs. Madosik, Aislynn's mother, said she was thinking while driving to their hometown whether the exit counselor she had hired was going to be able to get her daughter out of the ICOC.
Mrs. Madosik's curiosity about the new church her daughter had joined led her to attend one of the Thursday night Bible talks. Mrs. Madosik said she asked questions about why her daughter needed to be baptized again and got answers that "made it sound right." Mrs. Madosik said she also believed she was lied to about who leads the church. She said she asked the pastor's wife, Debbie Rosness, if that "Kip guy" was the leader, and she was told no. Her suspicions were allayed, but Mrs. Madosik's sister decided to do some investigating of her own. She found on the Web many personal testimonies of people who had come out of the ICOC, and grew worried.
On the Web the family found a man named Rick Ross, a consultant and intervention specialist, who had an extensive database on ICOC cases. The family arranged for Ross to come and see Madosik for three days during spring break, despite the large financial cost.
Unknown to Madosik, Ross came to the Madosik home while she wwas on spring break. Mrs. Madosik said at first her daughter resisted and wouldn't listen to him.
Madosik said several times she had wanted to run out of the room instead of listen to Ross. She said he talked to her kindly about the group and said that it was entirely her choice about staying in, he only wanted to give her information. She said she watched videos of church leaders being interviewed about misconduct when it came to tithing and breaking confidentiality. She was also shown a picture of the large house McKean is said to own in Los Angeles.
She denied everything for the first day, but by the second day she said Ross' message on baptism, tithing and the light and darkness began to make sense. Madosik said she decided not to attend GRCC nor the ICOC campus ministry at Nevada.
When she returned home from spring break Ann confronted her about leaving the church.
"She was like, you know you've sinned, you've lied, and you're deceitful and she said that to my face point blank," Madosik said, her voice was stern with each word. "The love is shown through the church but not in the people who leave the church. Because they are not very understanding."
Madosik said she did nothing else to warrant such a response from Ann but that she had discovered some new things about the ICOC.
Madosik said she was hurt by the ICOC but the experience helped her grow in her Christian faith. She said that she wants to tell the story so that other students will know everything about the ICOC, which is something she didn't, if they choose to get involved.