KEYWORDS: things, lord, josh, people, spiritual, stories

Evaluating Traumatic Testimonies

Karen Zerby

Maria #116DO 26031/90

—A Good Lesson for Adults and Teens!

—"Judge not according to outward appearance!"

—By Maria

(After going over several proofreaders' comments that Josh's Traumatic Testimony in TSM #3 didn't seem as powerful to them as the other previously pubbed Traumatic Testimonies:)

1. Obviously Josh's Traumatic Testimony is not in the same vein as Gary's or Jeremy's. It didn't have as much action or as much violence & downright deviltry in it. But it was approaching things from a different angle‚ showing more the spiritual torment & battles that can go on in a backslider's mind, even when nothing is happening on the outside.—Although I certainly do think it was bad enough for Josh to wind up living on the streets as a beggar & a bum, to be cold & hungry & constantly in danger of violence from others. But the mental & spiritual torture that went on in Josh's mind was probably even more hellish than anything Jeremy or Gary went through physically.

2. Of course, it should be understood that not all the articles we publish can be equally powerful & equally impressive. We're trying to approach backsliding & a fascination with the System from every possible angle. We're trying to cut it off at the pass, at every pass, & whatever secret appeal the System may have on our kids. We want to show that the System is not going to work, no matter what the appeal, that it's all ashes & all vanity & there's nothing good in it! No matter what state they might imagine themselves in in the System, it's all husks! (See Luk.15:16.)

3. But I feel that our adults need to learn to judge these things not just by the drama or the excitement or how eloquently written a testimony is, but by its spiritual value. They should be able to discern or judge what kind of spiritual impression it will have on people, putting themselves in the place of others & then trying to see what kind of effect it would have on them.

4. I think we sometimes sort of judge things like this too much according to the outward appearance; how earthshaking or dramatic or exciting something is, without realising that spiritual battles raging in the mind can be much more traumatic even than physical suffering. Maybe it's because most of us haven't gone through or endured that kind of thing so we don't realise how very traumatic it is, even worse than any of the physical things that happened to Gary in his reform school.

5. In other words, the things that Mene & Josh went through were much much more traumatic for them.—Not for the people who looked on, but for them personally, the ones who endured all that. I'm sure that some of our people who have had real problems at times with evil pictures or battles in their mind or extreme fears would relate more & would see the trauma & would look at Josh's testimony as being even more traumatic than some of these others.

6. Personally, I think that's one of the worst things that could happen to somebody, to go insane, which is virtually what happened to both Mene & Josh. It's Hell in their mind, it's spiritual torment, which is much harder to endure. If you had to make a choice whether you would be in Josh's & Mene's shoes, which were very similar, or Gary's & Jeremy's, what choice would you make? Maybe you don't realise that mental & spiritual torment can be much more traumatic than even physical torment.

7. But for a person who has gone through both of those kinds of things‚ the mind battles & torment & Hell of insanity‚ & the other—like Gary's physical beatings & physical mistreatment—I think they would opt very much for "give me the physical instead of the mental & spiritual battles!" If you asked Josh, he'd probably say, "Give me anything you can do to me physically rather than the torment I went through in my head & in my mind!"

8. Of course, in evaluating these testimonies, a lot has to do with people's personal preferences in their reading, their personal opinion & what happens to affect them the most. But even if they may not feel that Josh's is as powerful or as impressive as the other ones‚ it's still very important! We're trying to cover every angle, every appeal that the System may have, or every situation that could arise out there in the System, & the terrible results that may come because of backsliding.

9. Having them all seem equally exciting & dramatic or traumatic is not our point, they don't have to all be equally exciting or impressive. The point is, we've got to cover everything, the entire range.—Whether you wound up sitting on a park bench going crazy in your head with people walking by not even realising it, or if, like Gary‚ you suffered the drama of the constant violence & pressure of prison or reform school with all of its torture & grueling physical conditions.—Of course, all those things involve some mental torture & some spiritual pain as well, but not to the extent of literally going crazy like Mene & Josh suffered.—That's really really Hell!

10. So regardless of whether some testimonies may seem lighter than others, it doesn't really matter because we're trying to cover it all, one by one. I'm hoping we're going to get enough testimonies to cover the whole spectrum. That way every way our teens might be tempted to step out of line, they'll have the Word or they'll have the testimony or experience.—"Look, this doesn't work!" (If you folks who've been through traumatic experiences believe that these traumatic testimonies are effective, don't fail the Lord by neglecting to write up & send us yours!)

11. If someone thinks, "I'm tired of this kind of life, I'm going to try the glamorous life of a model," they'll only have to read the Traumatic Testimony of one of our former models to realise, "Oh my!—Look at this testimony‚ that doesn't work either!" Or someone might think, "I'm just going to backslide, but I'm not going to do anything special." "In that case, read this! You might very well end up like Josh, as a bum on the street sleeping in the cold!" Or "I'm going to be 'good' & go to university." If they read Isaac's testimony, they will see how that's certainly not the road to take either! (See TSM #4.) We need to cover the whole range so they're stopped at every point. At least there will be a true testimony of someone else who says, "This is what that route is really like‚ don't try it!"

12. Experience is the best—but the hardest—teacher! But, thank God, there are people who will learn through others. Maybe I should have said that other people's experience is the best teacher, if we can learn by their experiences.—Then we don't have to go through the same suffering & "hard knocks" ourselves. Others' experience is the best teacher in that respect, as it can save us from having to suffer the same things. But some people just stubbornly refuse to listen‚ & they might as well go back. The sooner they learn their lesson the better.—If they survive it!

13. But a lot of people do learn from others' experiences, & in this case, that's what we're trying to teach our teens & help them to learn from. So even if Josh's testimony isn't as "heavy," even if you don't consider it as "heavy," even if the teens don't consider it as "heavy," it needs to be given just as much attention & just as much time as these others, because it really is just as important!—Even though it may not seem to be on the surface.

14. You teen teachers especially need to realise that this is very important for the teens. Each one of these Traumatic Testimonies covers a different angle, & I would say they're all equally as important. Just because some don't seem quite so dramatic doesn't mean they're not as important.

15. Those little Christmas stories we published in the Hope Mag the past two years are a good illustration of this principle: The first year, we had all the exciting little miracles that happened, exciting little Christmas stories. (See Hope #4.) This last year we didn't have those, but you saw what we published. I'm not talking about the TK dramas‚ "Carol's Christmas Card" & "Thou Shalt Not Lack," etc., I'm talking about those other little Christmas stories like that one about the woman who was in the subway & saw the little kids busking & realised that she had a lot to be thankful for on that Christmas.

16. Do you remember those little stories? You may not remember them so well because most of them weren't as dramatic as the previous year's, but they had just as important lessons to teach.—A new set of lessons, yes, but just as important lessons to teach as the first year's more dramatic & exciting set of stories did.

17. It's not that those more recently pubbed stories' value is any less, it's just that their appeal is a little less.—Not their value but their appeal, simply because they're not quite as exciting or dramatic. When you get to the little stories of common everyday life which we put in this last year's Hope, then people tend to sort of pooh-pooh that a little more.

18. But the lessons were just as valuable as the previous year's!—Like that lesson on appreciation; the father who had lost his wife & who had all his kids to care for alone & his barn had burned down, & that Christmas they sat around in a circle & he told them the Christmas Story. That was the Christmas the girl remembered best, when they really appreciated their blessings of having each other.

19. Those kinds of lessons are just as valuable for our teens to learn as the lessons covered in the more dramatic stories of miracles & faith. They need to learn those too, to be inspired & have faith that, "Look, we can trust the Lord & the Lord's going to do a miracle when we need it!" But it's just as important that they learn to be thankful to the Lord for the little things, & if things are ever taken away from them or if they have to be abased, that they're content in whatever state they are. That's just as important a lesson for them. But the story from which you get that lesson may not have been as dramatic.

20. So I would say they're equally valuable, but some simply aren't as appealing or as exciting. But that's something you teachers need to realise, so you can put the same emphasis on the more "uncomely members," you might say, as you put on the real flashy, showy stories. That's why teachers & mature adults need to be spiritually discerning, so they can guide the kids & lead them & show them the proper balance, so they don't go just for the exciting stories, & minimise or downplay the others.

21. This same principle holds true with our music as well. The teens will listen to the real rocker-sockeroo kind of Family music almost exclusively unless you help them to realise that the other music is just as important & just as good. Maybe we need to encourage them, "You can listen to the softer music before you go to bed." Emphasise it, try to get them to use it, show them that each has its own place, just as important as the other. One's great dance music, the other's great going–to-sleep music. One can make you feel happy‚ praiseful & stir you to action‚ the other can make you thoughtful‚ prayerful & close to Jesus. In other words‚ they both have their place, & they're both equally important.

22. Just because something doesn't seem so exciting doesn't mean it's not very valuable. So when you read those Traumatic Testimonies, listen to our Scripture Songs, watch videos, talk to people, have dates—whatever you do—ask the Lord to help you not to merely "judge according to the outward appearance."—Jn.7:24. Pray & look to the Lord & dig a little deeper, & He will "show you great & mighty things that ye know not of!"—Jer.33:3. Amen? GBY! ILY!


1Sam.16:7: The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. (See also Isa.55:8,9.)

Jn.7:24: Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

Isa.11:2‚3: The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom & understanding, the Spirit of counsel & might, the Spirit of knowledge & of the fear of the Lord; & shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.

1Cor.2:14,15: The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them‚ because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

Pro.2:3-6: Yea, if thou criest after Knowledge, & liftest up thy voice for Understanding; If thou seekest Her as silver, & searchest for Her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, & find the knowledge of God. For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge & understanding.

Jam.1:5: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally‚ & upbraideth not; & it shall be given him.