Here is a recent comment written by a former member of the ICOC Berlin who is now operating the website icoc.de with critical information about the group.
What’s going on in the ICOC?!
August 16 2005
One more year in the new time calculation of the ICOC has passed by. The various processes of change still seem to ferment inside the ICOC. From time to time critical observers stumble over some references to a perception of the gloomy past. The lame explanation attempts of the ideological crash after Kip McKean has been “toppled over” can be found in the text of speeches at “services” or member meetings (so-called “devotions”), now publicly accessible on the ICOC Germany Internet site. When I will find some time, I comment them here shortly with quotes.
However, something else is going on, on the side of the dropouts resp. former members of the ICOC. In various e-mails and talks on the phone, these people report on late effects of (intense) memberships in the years up to about 2003, some of which were traumatic. This gives me reason to another comment under the title “late effects.”
Since about one year observers could have the impression that the ICOC has vanished from the scene. The times seem over when the members of the Berlin chapter were eagerly on their “mission trip” in the city. But this impression can be wrong.
The dramatic changes inside the world-wide organization ICOC left their traces for sure. I almost thought it would be not necessary to observe the ICOC any longer. The group is stagnating, plodding along, stewing in its own grease. The die-hards resp. hard-liners are striving to keep the once fanatically recruited members in line. The boastful slogans of the “building of the Kingdom of God in the whole world” this all “in one generation” and lead by power hungry “leaders” are gone.
The ICOC lost itself and their former ideology. On the one side this seems to be good, because now there is no more danger of getting into a system of mind and behavior control after meeting a fanatically convinced recruiter.
But what has happened with the many people who have left the group in the last time and before the collapse?! The other side looks rather dark. The conflict-laden past of the ICOC is a heavy burden. Again and again dropouts are popping up who are talking about the late effects of the (sometimes) long year membership in this religiously extreme group. That’s clear, because it cannot be that the ICOC left only people behind who have gotten over their time in the group and are leading a lucky and satisfying life now.
Some days ago I talked on the phone for a very long time with a young woman who has been a member of ICOC Berlin for some years. She had been recruited with 16 years as a schoolkid and succumbed to the fascination of this seemingly Christian community at that time. It followed the usual game with Bible study, baptism, discipleship partner, dating, evangelization etc. By the way, the parents did not agree with the membership, but as usual have been lied to and deceived by their child and the group. The main thing was that money was available for the weekly offering in time.
With increasing age, after passing the abitur (German school leaving examination and university-entrance diploma) and the beginning of the university study, a miserable everyday life began. The many fellow students, who were not members of the ICOC of course, met in taverns in the evenings, went into the cinema or on concerts, strolled much (free) time and often led a generous and free life.
As a member of the ICOC, the daily schedule was strictly regimented, there was actually no real room for doing anything else. The entire free time had to be spent in and with the “church”. Again and again, they were called to “incessant evangelization,” even and particularly in their free time. The meetings in the common life groups or at the chapter leader’s home became more and more annoying. There were psychological encroachments when the wife of the church leader carried her dissatisfaction (particularly concerning sex) along, or the marriage partner chosen by the group did not have his “drives” under control. "Actually you could not really talk openly and frankly with anybody in the group. Everything I said that was not compliant with the group’s ideology was given away by my alleged friends to the church leadership used against me in the end.”
Today this woman does not live in Berlin any longer. Although all contacts have been cut off, somewhat of the psychological dependence remained. For a long time the doctrine of the ICOC on all lines was considered as the only correct one and most of all pleasing to God. “I sometimes have the feeling they try to invade into my dreams and want to win me back again.” In these dreams, the man who had been arranged to be the future marriage partner also appears and pressures the young woman. She never loved him, but did not even want to love him. She only played her role in their game because otherwise she would have been the odd one out and would have been punished by the group through withdrawal of love and appreciation.
As in so many cases, a lasting processing of these experiences and healing of the mental injuries is hardly possible today. Discussions with those people who at that time exerted such an influence on many biographies resp. interfered deeply into their lives (and that often without being aware of the consequences) are not possible, they cannot talk with these people who have once been forced upon them as “discipleship partner,” fellowship leader or church leader. Either that person is still “with ardent zeal” in the group, or has also left the group and cannot be reached any longer.
I keep my opinion that it is extremely negligent of the ICOC and their responsible persons to forget about and repress the past (after all a sound 20 years), to conceal, to romanticize or even glorify, to play down or even to deny. You cannot say simply: “We accepted the punishment of God, have changed, and thus the sins of the past are forgiven.” If you make a “restart,” not all onerous “data” has been already deleted from hard disk automatically.