Our Experience with Remnant Fellowship

By Mark and Laura Nichols, ex-leaders of Remnant Fellowship (Houston)

My name is Laura Nichols.  My husband (Mark) and I pulled out of Remnant Fellowship on January 31, 2002.  We were the leaders of the Houston Remnant Fellowship at the time.  Let me start with a little history about ourselves. 

We both were born and raised in the Church of Christ.  Both of us left the Church of Christ as young adults because we both could not scripturally substantiate their beliefs.  I can remember as a child constantly challenging my Sunday school teachers about those beliefs.  Growing up in the Church of Christ we both felt like we would never be good enough to go to heaven.  Both of us starting searching for a religion that was more scripturally sound or should I say their beliefs could be scripturally proven.

In 1970 my home town had a bad hurricane which almost destroyed our church.  At that time we met in a school while our church was being re-built.  It was at this time that my parents decided to stop going to church because they liked to have an occasional mixed drink.  It was guilt that caused them to stop going to church.  Mark’s family went to church on occasion but for Mark it was something that he wanted to do and he went every chance he could.  When my parents stopped going it pretty much put an end for me to be able to attend.  I was able to go to church when I could get a ride with my Aunt or Grandmother.  One day after church, I over-heard a conversation with someone pointing a finger at me saying, "Yeah, her parents used to go here but they quit because they would rather drink.” It about killed me and it was one reason why I stopped going to church as a young teen.

During the remainder of my teen years, my life just kept going down hill.  I became sexually promiscuous and married my high school sweetheart for just that reason.  Just prior to our marriage his best friend raped me one evening.  I cried out in so many ways, I started gaining weight very quickly, I quit college, I followed my high school sweetheart to Houston, Texas and we ultimately got married.  He was abusive and our marriage lasted a year and nine months.  I was devastated because I was taught that you could never divorce unless there was adultery.  I just knew that I couldn’t stay in the abuse for I feared for my life.  When counseling with my uncle who was a Church of Christ minister (the one who married us) he told me that if I divorced him I would go to hell.  I decided that if God was that mean I didn’t need Him and I walked totally away from religion.  I left my husband who ultimately filed for the divorce and I just kept on the downward spiral.  Two years later I found myself unmarried and pregnant.  I chose to have an abortion.  Because of all this happened in such a short period of time, I ran up credit cards, moved every 6 months, basically I started running from myself.  Because of my bills I found myself needing to work 2 jobs which ultimately placed a wonderful friend in my life who was a very strong Christian.  She started pointing me back to church.  A year or so later, I needed a roommate because of financial reasons.  My roommate wrecked her car and that brought Mark into my life, we married in 1986.

By this time my weight had crept up to 350 lbs.  Mark loved me for my heart and not for what I looked like.  He is an absolute jewel!  Long story short we have gone through allot in our marriage and because of many failed diet attempts my weight climbed up to 468 lbs.  During this time Mark literally took care of me!  It was all I could do to work full time.  In 1993 I started having hearing problems and was referred to a doctor. who happened to be the same one I had while doing Optifast.  He did some further testing on me and ultimately made the recommendation for me to have a gastric segmentation.  He told us that the gastric surgery would most likely get only 100 lbs off me but I would be more comfortable and would be able to function more normally.  The reason why he doubted that I would not get any more weight off was because my body functions were so normal.  He told us that based on all the tests that he had run that he truly felt that my body thought it was normal to be 468!  Let me say, that my blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol were perfect!  He told us both that if he were to erase my weight out of my medical folder and send it across the country to another Dr. and then called that Dr. to discuss me, he said that the doctor. would never believe that I weighed 468 lbs.  Everything was too perfect.

I was furious when we left his office and I told Mark that God would get the weight off me!  I did go ahead with the surgery after a lot of prayer and seeking God’s will to do so.  Insurance approved it and paid 100%.  It took me a year to lose 100 lbs.  For most patients they lost all their weight in less than a year!  However I felt like a new person because I could drive again and do things around our home and do things for Mark once again.  I have never regretted the decision to have the surgery.  I praise God for it because it was truly a precious gift from Him!

In November 1997 a friend put a Weigh Down Workshop tape in my hands.  After listening to it and questioning her as to where she got it, she also informed me that she had been praying for someone to lead it at our church.  She told me that God had laid me on her heart!  In January 1998 I started coordinating Weigh Down.  I held 2 classes per week (sometimes 3) back to back until August 2000 when I had to have surgery.  I had complications to the surgery and nearly died.  I was in the hospital for a month!

We went to Weigh Down’s Desert Oasis ‘99 for the first time and loved it.  The theme to that convention was entitled “Remnant”.  I had such a wonderful time and I couldn’t wait to go back the next year.  At the ‘99 Desert Oasis we didn’t pick up on anything wrong that Gwen spoke about during the convention, probably because we were so glad to be there.  We did go back for Desert Oasis 2000 and it blew us away.  We heard Gwen’s message loud and clear, however we felt like we were in a good church.  We did not feel that we needed to leave and start a fellowship like Gwen suggested.  Yes we heard all the controversy.  Did we pay attention?  No!   We did see from other churches we attended in the past that they allowed their members to remain in sin.  I didn't see anything wrong with what she said that entire weekend because she read from the bible!  The problem was I wasn’t grounded in the word of God.  I barely ever opened it.  The way she read it I could see everything she was saying and I believed it because I respected her as a teacher.  People that I met there talked about her taking things out of context but we couldn’t see what others were seeing.

After the August 2000 surgery ordeal, it took me almost 8 months before I felt like I could start coordinating again.  Past participants were calling me and asking me to start a new class.  I approached my church and they were reluctant to bring Weigh Down back.  I pleaded with both the education director and pastor and took them everything I could to prove that what they were hearing was false.  They were just reluctant because of all the bad reports that had come out about Weigh Down.  People continued to call me about starting a new class so I called Weigh Down and got permission hold a class in my home.  I went to my pastor and educational director again asking them to let Weigh Down back in the church.  They were still very hesitant about doing so.  I told them that Gwen was doing an event in June and that I was going to go and check her out once again.  I told them that I was going to take another member of our church and a Weigh Down participant with me.  They agreed to talk to me once I went to Oklahoma and they would possibly consider letting Weigh Down back into the church in the fall.  The three of us traveled to Oklahoma City to check things out.  We all were looking for something that would turn us off.  However, it didn't.  It caused the three of us to decide to leave our church.

Once back home Mark and I contacted Weigh Down and told them that we were interested in starting a Remnant Fellowship in Houston, Texas.  We requested information on Remnant and they sent us a huge notebook, a video and 2 cassette tapes.  We never listened to the cassettes, but watched the video and dug into the Remnant Fellowship Manual.  That manual blew us away and we fell for “the message”.  At that time our 19-year old daughter, Stacey, was still in church.  Mark and I went to her and asked her to step out of church long enough to go through the Remnant Manual with us.  With a lot of pressure she hesitantly agreed.  The very first Sunday that we sat with Stacey and read for about 3 hours, she blurted out "They have been lying to us!" Stacey was referring to the church that we all had been attending for years.  She quit church as well and continued to study with us.

A few weeks later we received a letter on the First Annual Remnant Fellowship Family Camp.  Mark and I pondered about going because we were not sure that he could get off of work.  Houston had just been through the most horrific flood from Tropical Storm Allison.  Mark is an insurance adjuster so he was very busy at the time.  He asked off and the company agreed to the vacation time.  We called and paid for our first Remnant Fellowship event.  We wanted to go because it would really give us an opportunity to spend a week with the Nashville church and felt like we could check things out.

So we traveled to Nashville to attend camp.  We were blown away by how nice every one was and how they wanted to serve us and welcome us.  They made us feel so special and so loved!  While at camp we went out on the Shamblin's houseboat on two different days.  We had lots of fellowship and instruction time from Gwen.  Met quite a few people outside of RF Nashville!  We met Kent and Regina Smith from Oklahoma City, Steve and Mary Mournout from South Bend Indiana, Judy Frazier from South Bend, Connie Dansby from Dallas Texas, Don and Tonya Fischer who had just moved to Nashville the week of camp from Missouri, Therese Jost and Lisa Peters from California, Cheryl Chatham from Memphis, Marcia Blanchford from Chicago.

It makes me sick that I didn't listen to my gut feelings while we were attending camp.  On Tuesday afternoon we watched a video from DO 2000.  After watching it, Robie Bass talked to all of us and let me say this, that boy could quote scripture!  In fact so well, I felt pretty stupid!  I wanted to get out of there!  I felt as if I would never stand up to the same level as Remnant Nashville.  Later that night in our room I told Mark “I want to flee!”  I truly wanted to load our van up in the middle of the night and leave even if we had to push it out of there.  Mark convinced me that it would be alright so we stayed.  By the end of the week after everyone there catered to us, loved on us and paid so much attention to us I didn't want to leave!  I was hooked!  So was Mark.  We came back to Texas and just kept studying and doing what Gwen told us to...stay in the word and wait for Weigh Down Advance because that really would get us more grounded.  So that is exactly what we did.

The funny thing was that we only told my family what we were doing.  We couldn't bring ourselves to tell our friends.  We kept it a secret.  THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN A WARNING!  But we ignored it!  In August, we had a little problem with Stacey and we felt that we should get advice from RF leadership as to what to do.  Gwen sent word through Jane Fiedler to tell me this:  When you stop all rebellion in your life and start losing weight at 3-5 lbs a week for 3-4 months and you are still having a problem with Stacey then Gwen will talk to you about it.  It really aggravated me but I accepted it.  It really angered me about the numbers she imposed on my weight loss, as I had never been able to lose 3-5 per week!  NEVER!  Then I rationalized that she just meant consistent weight loss.  Well Stacey, straightened up, got under our authority and we as a family kept moving on.  When we would have problems we would warn each other to make sure that we weren't the cause of each other stumbling because laying down sin and dying to self was incredibly hard!

Mark and I started losing weight as soon as we got home from camp.  Stacey has always been a thin eater but she lost about 10 lbs over the remaining summer and fall.  Mark lost nearly 50 since the end of July.  I had done the same which brings my total weight loss to nearly 200 lbs.  I still have about 150 to lose, but I know that God will remove it, as He has been so faithful.

In October went and visited the RF in Oklahoma City (Kent and Regina Smith’s).  We met another RF couple there.  (They also have since left.)  We all wanted to see how a church really worked because we both were still worshipping alone.  I had also started a Weigh Down Advance group in September with 13 participants.  During that session I did not lose any participants.  I was open with the class about being a part of RF but never pressured anyone to come.  We always felt that they would on their own...you know God's leading.  Well, in November Weigh Down wrote all the coordinators and encouraged us to visit other WDA groups especially the ones that were struggling and were not a part of Remnant.  Mine wasn't struggling, however I did have a lady contact me here in Houston to come and share my testimony with her group.  I went and shared with that group.  The first weekend in December we added our first family (Leona Hagans’ and her two children, Jessica and Jonathan) to our Remnant!  The coordinator of the group also came and just visited us that Sunday, she never joined.

Also in November we sent Stacey to Nashville for an extended weekend so that she could get to know the Youth Group in Remnant Nashville.  She was having a hard time giving up her friends that were “lost” in the “counterfeit church” that we had left.  We felt it would be good for her to see that other College students who were dying to self, laying down sin and living for God.

As I stated earlier that we would periodically have problems with our daughter Stacey.  Well, on Thanksgiving Day, which was her 20th birthday, we had another problem arise with her.  She had left for the evening to go and have coffee with some of her friends.  We had asked her to come home early as we had company all day and wanted to spend time with her on her birthday.  We told her to be home by 10:30.  When 11:00 rolled around, Marked called her on her cell phone and requested that she come home.  Around 11:30 someone was banging so hard on our door I thought that it would break the glass out.  Needless to say, it was our next-door neighbor with Stacey in tow.  She had almost run over them while they were getting something out of their car parked on the street.  She was going too fast because she was so late.  After apologizing to our neighbors we had a little rift with Stacey and it did in fact escalate and Mark told her that maybe she ought to get out.  She had told him that she had done nothing wrong.  That infuriated both of us!  Long story short we walked over to our neighbors that night and spent some time with them.   We came back home and talked with Stacey some more and told her that we were sorry that we had gotten so mad at her but laid the law down that she could not continue to get out from under our authority.  She had to live by the rules.

Stacey seemed to straighten out and things got better at home.  On December 15, Mark and Stacey dressed up as Santa and an elf and rode a fire truck through our subdivision for a toy and food drive.  Afterwards we left the club house and dropped Stacey off at the house because she didn't want to come and have a late lunch with us.  She had a babysitting job and she claimed that she just had too much to do.  Mark and I went and had lunch and came home to the surprise of our life!

As we walked through the back door of our home I noticed that there was mud tracked through our living room.  I didn't think too much about it as I was headed across the house to the bathroom.  Mark came in the house right behind me.  As I entered the bathroom he commented, "What is all over the carpet?"  I then noticed that Stacey's door was shut which was unusual.  I then thought that someone was in our house and I darted across the living room and grabbed our cordless phone and told Mark "Get out!  Someone is in the house!" He told me "No they’re not!"  I told him "Yes, someone is in Stacey's room, GET OUT!"  Mark pushed passed me and headed across our house to Stacey's room.  I headed for the back door.  All of a sudden I heard Mark wailing "OH MY GOD, SHE'S GONE, OH GOD, SHE'S GONE, STACEY'S GONE! OH GOD SHE'S GONE!"  I bolted through the house to find our daughter's room totally empty except for her bed frame.  Mark was down on the floor on his hands and knees crying. Mark got up then opened her closet door and it was cleaned out.  We had a terrible past with Stacey's real mother.  The first thing that I thought was Oh my God, her mother got one of her crazy boyfriends and they have taken Stacey by gunpoint!   I told Mark this and he told me I was nuts.  I kept pursuing the idea.  I kept urging him to call the police and he wouldn't so I called my Dad hysterical.  My poor Dad could hardly make sense of anything I was saying because I crying so hard.  I just kept saying, "Daddy, Stacey's Gone, Stacey's Gone, Oh Daddy help us!"  My Dad finally managed to calm me down and tried to get me to urge Mark to call the police.  My Dad then got his wits and told me to get Mark to talk to the neighbors because someone must have seen what had happened since she left during broad daylight!  I stayed on the phone with my Dad and Mark walked next door.  Our neighbor just happens to be a Sheriff's Deputy.  I got off the phone with my Dad and I walked next door.  Sure enough our neighbor saw everything and had even written down the license tags of the cars that helped Stacey moved and he had already run them through his patrol car.  He had all kinds of information for us.  But we still didn't have a clue as to where our child was.

The next 2 hours seemed liked eternity as we called her cell phone and were waiting and praying that she would call.  During that time we called people that we had come to love in Remnant.  We talked to Kent and Regina in Oklahoma City, a couple in Wichita and Robie and Donna Bass in Nashville.  Robie Bass spent hours on the phone with us that night, counseling with us, praying with us and he also asked permission to let the leadership in Remnant know.  We agreed.  When we sent Stacey to Nashville to meet with Youth group she stayed with Donna and Robie Bass.

Stacey did call that night around 9:00.  She was very arrogant but was willing to come by after she got through babysitting.  She showed up at our house around 2:00 Sunday morning.  She kept telling us that she did it because that was what we wanted and because she didn't want to be the cause of our struggling with sin according to Remnant.  She told us that she had a 2-bedroom apartment with a girl named Shelley and that she felt as though God brought her Shelley.  We had never heard of Shelley.  She had only 1 semester of college left.  It was the semester that she would have to do her clinicals (she is studying to be an Occupational Therapist Assistant).  We knew that the semester was going to be tough and one that she probably would not be able to work.  We were dumfounded by what she had done.  She was so snippy and arrogant I thought that I would die.  It was as if I didn’t even know who she was.  As she got up to leave she stood up and requested a hug from us as to confirm what she had just done had our blessings. I didn't want to hug her, but knew that I had to because I was so scared it may be my last opportunity to hold my child.  When I put my arms around her I totally lost it.  I started crying and hyperventilating, choking and just wanted to die.  She left our home with out my awareness because I was so upset.  Mark was scared to death that he was fixing to lose me because I couldn't breathe and had started throwing up.  I had never in my life felt that way before and I pray that I never ever have to experience that kind of pain again.

We managed to get Stacey's address out of her but for a few days the girls didn't have a phone.  Stacey's cell phone was the only lifeline that we had.  The next Saturday we had her come and finish cleaning out her room.  We had moved to being very angry at the situation because of the way that she did it all.  When she showed up we had a really decent conversation with her and we felt that we had convinced her to find someone to take over her lease.  We had even told her that we would borrow the money to buy her out of the lease if she would just come home.  She told us that she would try and find someone because she wanted to come home. She told us that she could see that she had made a mistake.  School was important to her.

The following Monday, I received an e-mail from Joe Langsdon in Remnant Nashville wanting to call and talk to Mark and I.  I e-mailed him back and told him that we both were at home and that he could call anytime.  He informed us that Gwen wanted to add a stop in Houston during her Rebuilding the Wall Tour set for January in Dallas.  He told me that Gwen wanted to speak in Houston the Thursday before the Saturday event in Dallas.  He asked Mark and me to help secure a place for her to have this talk.  

What a distraction over what we had just gone through with Stacey!  We knew no matter what that we had better do what Joe requested.  We had already become accustomed to things not being about us but only about God.  So we dropped everything and found them a hotel for her to speak at.  We offered our home to them and we offered any other services that they might need.

As you can imagine, Christmas that year was the absolute pits!  It was very strange to have your child show up and ring the doorbell at 8:00 in the morning when you had expected for her to wake-up in your home.  Remember it had been only 10 days since we came home and found her gone.  My parents were here from Corpus and it was so uncomfortable.  We were hurt, angry, and sad; you can only imagine all the emotions tied up in Mark and me.  Stacey spent the day with us but announced early evening that she had to go because her and Shelley were going to look at Christmas lights.  I was a little aggravated but handled it.  I knew that I had to.

Well, we didn't hear from Stacey during the next week.  We were still hurt, mad and in total disbelief of what was really happening.  Stacey's car payment was due by the 7th of January so New Year's Day, Mark called her to remind her that she needed to get us a check for her car payment as the car is in our name and financed in our name.  She came by the house New Year’s Day to bring us the car payment but she showed up with a boy that I had never seen.  Mark had seen him one other time when she came to get the bed frame out of her room.  Mark knew him as Shelley's boyfriend.  I was really aggravated since we had not heard a peep from her since Christmas and I was under the impression that she wanted to come home.  I was in the kitchen preparing a meal as we were expecting friends to come over for a New Year's dinner.  I walked into the living room and asked Stacey...”So have you told Shelley about you wanting to move home?”  She bowed her head and looked at the floor and told us "I'm not living with Shelley, I'm living with Keith." 

I want to tell you I almost lost it!  I thought I was fixing to die a 2nd time.  I knew then that I didn't know this child like I thought I did.  I have been around her since she was 3 years old.  I felt like I had raised her and I love her like my own.  I had never had so much pain.  Mark couldn't say anything either, so Stacey and the boy left.  We can only assume that the boy was Keith.

The phone rang and it was Tanya Fisher who we met at Remnant camp.  Tanya wanted to share with me how she had broke through a long plateau she had with her weight loss.  I told Tanya what had happened and that I was expecting company any minute and I needed to get myself together.  We agreed that I would call her back later that night so that she could share with me. Mark and I managed to get through our dinner party with our friends and we both were relieved when they left.

I called Tanya back and she started our conversation about how when she was younger that she did the same thing as Stacey and that her Dad took her car away.  Her Dad stopped all financial support and it straightened her up.  She told us how grateful now she was that he did it because if he hadn't her life wouldn't have turned out they way it had.  Tanya had gone on to finish school and marry a guy who ultimately became a pastor.  He was fired for bringing the Remnant message to the pulpit of his church.  Anyway, Tanya went on to discuss with me that she discovered that she still had greed with food and upon talking to Gwen she had prayed and sought God to take her food intake down to bites.  The saucer of food no longer worked for her and it had stopped working for me as well.  I agreed to try her method and to see if I still had any greed in the area of food.  After we talked, Don wanted to talk to Mark.  Don encouraged Mark to do the same thing to Stacey as Tanya’s father did to her.  Mark really struggled with the thought of taking her car back.  She had made the down payment, she had made all the payments, and she had paid for all the maintenance.  He just didn't think that it was fair.  We didn’t know if we could do that or not.

Well the next day, David Martin, Don, Joe, Robie and other men from Leadership called to talk to Mark.  David Martin told Mark that if he didn't cut off financial ties to Stacey that we would be engaging in her sin!  He quoted us the verse in Proverbs 19:18 "Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death."  You see, according to the belief in Remnant, Stacey was dead in hideous rebellion to God and to us and out from under all authority.  They told us that if we didn't take her car and cut all financial ties with her that we were engaging ourselves in her sin.  He told us that God would judge us as harshly as He would Stacey.  Mark really struggled with it.  I was so mad I would have done anything to get that baby back home!

The next day we went to Saturn, took our copy of the title with VIN# and Saturn gave us a key to her car.  That night at 10:00 we went and stole our daughter’s car.  We brought it home and blocked it in our driveway so that she could not get it out.  At 2:00 in the morning our phone rang and it was Stacey crying..."Daddy do you have my car?"  Mark told her yes and that he was going to sell it.  He explained to her that he was not going to support her life of sin.  She told him "But, Daddy I have paid for it.  It is my car!"  Mark explained again to her that he was not going to give any support to her life of sin and that he was going to sell her car.  He explained to her that it was in his name, financed in his name and that the insurance was in his name and that he did not want the liability in his name.  During the night Stacey came and broke into the car and took things out of it.  We took the car the next day and hid it in a neighbor’s garage because she still had a key to it and we didn't want her to steal it back.  Also that morning, Mark had me cut her cell-phone off.  We no longer had contact with our daughter.  All we had was her address and her phone at the apartment.  Mark decided that he would obey Remnant Leadership and no longer talk to his child.  It was a tough decision but we were so deceived and didn't know it.  We just did what they told us to.  They were the authority.

Well we didn't hear much from Stacey.  She made a couple of calls to Mark and told us that she was trying her best to find another car to buy.  She wanted to go to school and she needed one.  Classes started the week of January 15.

Life just went on with pain but everyday got easier as we started looking forward to being with our new family "Remnant".  We were also excited about being with them and traveling with them to Dallas.  We had also started looking into making plane reservations for a Remnant family weekend to be held February 22.  We decided that we wanted to stay a week.  We wanted to experience worship with them on Sunday and Wednesday night.  Our friends in Nashville started fighting over whom we were going to stay with.  The Basses, Fishers and Graves were all offering their homes to us.  I hate to say that we started finding peace with Stacey being out of our house.  We started realizing that we did not want her to come back.  We didn't want her arrogance and rebellion anymore.  God could just have her and do anything he wanted to get her attention to straighten up.

The next couple of weeks were real trying on Mark.  He drives all day everyday in his job and has for 28 years here in the Houston traffic.  The week after taking Stacey's car he had an accident. He said that he just couldn't focus on his job.  In less than a week, I got a phone call from Mark and he had another accident.  My husband was out of control!  He scared the living daylights out of me.  I have never seen him that way.  Mark is always calm. People will tell you that he is a step up from death because nothing bothers him. Well, I'm here to testify I thought I was fixing to lose my husband to insanity.  I must have talked to Mark over the cell phone for over an hour.  I prayed with him and encouraged him the best way I knew how.  I told him that as soon as I got home I would call David Martin and have him call Mark to counsel with him further.  When I got home I did just that.  David told me that we were just being tested and at all costs we must stay obedient to God.  We must stand strong he told us.  He called Mark on his cell phone and set up a time for leadership to counsel with him again. That night, Joe, David, Robie, Michael, Rick, Don and others called and counseled with Mark and prayed with him.  They told him how excited they were to be able to spend some time with us when they arrived in Texas.

I'm going to back up just a little and tell you that I did start my 3 bites per growl and God really showed me my greed with food.  The first week I went 48 hours without a growl.  I had a headache and flu symptoms and even though Mark begged me to eat but I wouldn't.  I wanted to kill all greed in me in area of food.  I wanted to stop being a “billboard to sin”.  During the next 10 days I lost 13 lbs.  The day I called David Martin about Mark's 2nd wreck I shared this information with him.  He wrote on his calendar what I had done and told me how proud he was of me and told me that by camp this summer that I should have all my weight off.  I told him that I was down to 280.  He kind of blew me away with the thought that by June I could have 150 lbs off but when you look at 13 lbs in 10 days I believed that was a real good possibility.  I had become content with 6-9 bites of food per day.  I was satisfied.

Well, the week finally came for Gwen and everyone to come to Houston.  Joe e-mailed and asked for us to arrange for a dinner somewhere nice after the talk.  Mark and I made reservations at an upscale restaurant, McCormick and Schmick’s.  It is an incredible seafood place.  Mark and I decided early on that we would pick up the tab that night.  There were only going to be 9 of us and we thought that would be the proper thing to do even though we really couldn’t afford it.

The day finally came and there were 55 people who showed up for the event.  Mark and I arrived at the hotel early to help set things up.  Joe asked Mark to go out to get a part that they needed to fix the sound system that broke and to get an ice chest with ice and some cokes for everyone. While he was gone Gwen came in and hugged and greeted me and told me how wonderful I looked.  I had lost 50 lbs since she saw me at camp last July.  She had us all gather around and we held hands while she prayed for the day.  People started showing up and Amy worked the check-in table and Mark, Rick Mendel and I worked the merchandise.  Gwen spoke and everything seemed to go just like always.  

One thing that gripped me during her talk was that she announced that if you didn't believe what she was saying and that if you bought anything that you would not use that she would buy it back.  She didn't want anyone to have anything that they were not going to use.  Well after her talk, Mark actually had someone come back to the table and return merchandise.  Mark gave the lady her credit card slip and told her that it was o.k. Even though the lady was trying to apologize, she tried to find something else to buy that she might use.

After the talk, a really nice man walked up to me and introduced himself.  He told me that he and his wife wanted to start a Remnant and that he knew we already had one.  This man was very spiritual.  We had an instant connection.  His name was Marcus.

While we were still working the merchandise, Gwen came and got Mark and took him to the front as she gather people who showed interest in Remnant.  Now I thought it was a bit odd that she did not include me but I was busy and just excused it.  She never asked me to join them she just talked to the small group that was left and answered any questions that they may have.

Once through everyone wanted to go up to their room and freshen up.  Mark and I waited outside in our van for them to come to go to dinner.  Gwen, Amy and David Martin got into our van.  Gwen was pumped and started going over the list of names that showed an interest in Remnant.  Gwen informed us that there could be as many as 40 people added to the Houston Remnant.  Mark and I were blown away since there were just 7 of us as of the past Sunday.  Gwen made it a point to tell us that we needed to seek out Marcus, as he would be an awesome additional leader in our Remnant.  Mark told Gwen that Marcus had said that he wanted to start one.  Gwen then informed Mark that there is only 1 Remnant per city and Marcus would just have to join ours.  She really voiced her opinion to get him involved in the leadership as well.  We agreed to do so.  Gwen then made cell phone calls to her husband David back in Nashville to tell him how the day went. 

I had bought Gwen a prayer scroll keychain which I gave her at the restaurant.  She had a fit over it.  Once at our table, we all started to order.  Mark asked me what I wanted because I was only eating 3 bites, I had become accustomed to just eat off his plate.  I told Mark to get whatever he wanted.  Well, Gwen overheard us and asked me "You know Laura, I keep hearing about this 3 bite thing in Nashville, and I am getting real concerned.  What is going on?"  I explained to her about my conversation with Tanya and that I had gone to 3 bites per growl and that God had shown me that I did have greed with food.  I shared that my weight had started to come off and how great it all was.  She got all over me and told me that I was putting God into a box.  She went on further to say that it was legalism and that I better ask God exactly what he wanted and I had better listen to him.  She went on and on.  Frankly I can't remember all that she said but I got the message to STOP THE 3 BITE THING!  At dinner that night I ate my 3 bites and I didn't care.  I would worry about eating more after I could figure out what she said and meant.  The thing was 3 bites satisfied me and I had no struggle with food.

Another conversation we had at dinner surrounded around the youth group.  Gwen talked about which girl in the group should be with what guy.  She even talked about Michelle being with Brandon Hannah.  Conversation was such that Gwen was having everyone try and convince Michelle that she needed to date Brandon.  She even tried to get us to tell Michelle that Brandon would get better looking the older he got.  It was apparent that Michelle wasn’t interested and the conversation caused her to stomp her foot and slump in her chair and just look down at the table!  I felt sorry for her.  Later Mark and I discussed that apparently Gwen was matching the youth up as couples.  We wondered if there were going to be arranged marriages in Remnant and even talked about that possibly happening.  The whole conversation made us very uncomfortable. 

We finished our dinner and they headed back to the hotel and we headed home.  We had all decided that we would caravan to Dallas the next day.  Gwen had asked me to bring a pillow and a blanket because she wanted to sleep in our van on the way up to Dallas.  She complained of being really tired.  By the way, dinner that night was nearly $300, which they let us pick up.  Luckily we had the money.

When we got home we started packing to go to Dallas the next day.  The next day we got up really early to finish up and load our van to rush back to the hotel to meet everyone.  Gwen, Michael and Michelle rode with us.  Gwen was having a fit to go through McDonalds for breakfast.  Joe said that he had to get gas so we took them through McDonalds and then met up with everyone else getting gas.  At McDonald’s Gwen ordered a sausage biscuit and hash browns with honey.  She got furious when she discovered that they did not give us any salt for her sausage, however it didn’t keep her from eating it all anyway.  She did pay for breakfast.  When we pulled across the street to meet up with the others Gwen decided that she had business to conduct so she went and got into the other van.  Michael and Michelle stayed with us.

We started off toward Dallas with Joe and the others following us.  They passed us just north of Houston and of all things our van started acting up.  The funny thing was we always had problems with the van anytime we did anything that involved Weigh Down.  Mark was laughing it off and I was scared because the van kept cutting out.  It felt like the fuel pump was going out.  We lost each other but Joe called on his cell phone to tell us that they had stopped in Madisonville.  Now Madisonville is only about 90 miles north of Houston.  You won't believe this but they were all eating again at another McDonalds.  In fact, Gwen told us that David and the guys walked over to a Sonic to get food for everyone!  She said that she wanted some Cheddar Peppers! Mark went and put fuel treatment in our van and topped the tank off with some premium gas.  He felt that we had some bad gas.  We all got back on the road.

Michael and Michelle went switched to the other van.  Amy came and rode with us.  They again got ahead of us because they couldn’t stay within the speed limit.  Our van was still acting up.  This time they stopped and waited for us at a Dairy Queen about 30 minutes outside of Dallas.  They were all eating again!  I couldn't believe it!  I had my 3 bites of a biscuit and they were eating for the 3rd time in 4 hours!  It really bugged me!  Gwen kept asking everyone if they wanted a bite of her hot fudge sundae.  Joe joined us to continue the ride with us into Dallas.  We went straight to the Arena to set-up. While we were there the New York Remnant (Greg and Rene Heck and Ted and Candace Anger) showed up.  Then slowly and surely other People from Nashville started arriving at the arena.  As we were wrapping up there, Amy came up to us and asked us to take her on to the hotel that we all were staying at because she had some things to get worked out there.  Once there even more people started arriving.  The hotel was all Remnant people.  Gwen arrived and asked everyone to her hotel room to party.

We went to our room to get ready for dinner and then went down to Gwen's room.  We were the first to show up.  She let us in and turned the T.V. while she and Michelle continued to get ready in the bathroom.  A few minutes later Gwen walks out with rollers in her hair.  I just cracked up!  She looked so funny.  I told her "I wish I had a camera” and she told me I bet you do but I'm glad you don't because I know what you would do with it.  I jokingly said “Yeah I would be rich!”  She just laughed at me.  Soon more people showed up and we were flowing out from Gwen’s room into the hall way having fun fellowshipping with each other.  We hadn't seen everyone since camp the summer before so it was a fun time.  Then we all climbed into cars and headed to the Restaurant for dinner.

At dinner, Gwen stood up and spoke.  She informed everyone that there were 7 Remnants represented that evening!  She reminded us that 7 meant completion.  She went on to pray for the next day and asked God to call the exiles out.  When Gwen spoke about the 7 Remnants I had rubbed my arms as it had given me goose bumps and I had taken a deep breath.  After Gwen’s prayer Joe leaned across the table and told me to humble myself.  I didn’t for the life of me know why he said that to me.  I could tell by the look on his face that he was really upset with me.  I felt horrible and couldn’t figure out what I had done!!!!  We all went back to the hotel and many stayed up and visited with each other.  Mark and I went to our room and went to bed because I felt so bad and strange from what Joe had said to me.

The next day we got up, had breakfast and car-pooled people down to the arena.  Gwen spoke and she moved the crowed.  It was the same talk that I heard in Oklahoma City and Houston but it seemed even bolder.  David Martin announced her as "The Prophetess Gwen Shamblin” and the crowd cheered.  Mark and I looked at each other because we had never heard anyone refer to Gwen as a Prophet!!!  People around us were looking at each other shocked.  One thing she said that day blew me away.  She said that she had this message from the beginning.  She said that she sugared coated it through Weigh Down in order to get it into the churches.  She said her purpose all along was to open the eyes of the people that sin that had crept through the door and that God was no longer there.  She said that it had worked.   That was the first time I heard her say anything about that.  Later I came to realize that the Out of Egypt cassettes had the Remnant message very plainly.  It scared me to realize that it had really been there all along.

That afternoon she had several of us come up on stage to give testimony.  Mark told about our leaving our church and how no one had even called to see what had happened to us. Gwen took the microphone away from Mark before he could continue and handed it to the couple next to us.  After several gave their testimony Gwen had all of us leave the stage with the exception of Greg Heck and Ted Anger from New York.  Greg Heck spoke first and gave a brief testimony of his survival of the Twin Tower collapse back in September.  Bless his heart; it was really tough for him.  Then Ted talked.  I couldn’t understand why Greg’s talk was so short I could tell that he had a lot more to say.  Ted got up and talked for awhile.  He basically looked at the floor and rambled about nothing.  A few who knew him commented that he was nervous talking in front of large groups, especially on a stage.

The next day they had another place reserved to meet for church.  Gwen talked, other people in Remnant gave testimony, we sang praise songs and had communion together.  Afterwards, Gwen wanted to meet with the new Dallas Remnant.  We felt really left out and confused because since her talk in Houston, she kept promising to meet with us.  We felt as though the Houston Remnant should have been included in the Dallas meeting.  There were allot of people who ended up traveling to Dallas from Houston as well.  They were coming up to us and were wondering why we didn't have a meeting.  Mark and I told them that we would be contacting them the next week.  We told them that we would have a fellowship that coming Friday night and we would be in touch with them to let them know the final plans.

I walked up to Joe and asked him about filing all the paperwork with the State of Texas to get Remnant registered as a church here.  He floundered when I asked him about it.  One minute he told me to hold off, then he goes "No go ahead", "No we are...” "No go ahead, just e-mail me what you are going to file before you file it to let me review it"  I told Joe, "You know Joe, if ya'll don't want us to, if ya'll are thinking about doing something different and you want us to wait that is o.k.".  He told me to go ahead and so we left.  A few of us from Houston went to Bennigan's for lunch before heading back.

I had two friends that were in my WDA group follow us home since our van was still acting up.  We made it home in our van, in fact on the way home it started running right!  Well, the next day I was busy calling every name on the list that Amy had given me.  I spent time with each person on the phone explaining that we were going to find a centrally located restaurant to have a fellowship that Friday evening.

Tuesday night during my WDA class Gwen called the house and talked to Mark to check and see how things were going.  She was on a plane from Wichita back to Nashville, their final stop in the Rebuilding the Wall Tour.  Mark told her that we had talk to Marcus (the person she requested us to) about being a co-leader in the Houston Remnant.  Mark told me that she was a little confused and wanted to know why he had done that.  She calmed down when Mark reminded her that she had told us to do so when she was here.  Mark told her about the arrangements we had made to have a fellowship Friday night and she immediately asked Mark to make arrangements with the Restaurant to have a speakerphone so that we could call her and have her speak to the group.  We did just as she requested.

The very next day David Martin called Mark on his cell-phone and wanted to talk to him about how things were going.  Mark told him that Gwen had called the previous night and just filled him in on their conversation.  When Mark told David about asking Marcus to be a co-leader, David got a little upset and told Mark that he shouldn't have done that since we don't know anything about him.  Mark reminded him that we did what Gwen had requested and David changed his tune with Mark and accepted that we had asked Marcus to co-lead the Houston Remnant.

Friday, came and we all met at the Restaurant.  We had a private dining room and everyone was getting to know each other and we gave out maps to our home.  We also had everyone sign up to bring a salad for the fellowship after worship.  That is one thing that you do in Remnant is have a fellowship every time you meet.  We called Gwen just as she requested us to do so and she talked to the group to further pump them up that they were making the right decision and told them all how much she loved us and was here for us anytime we needed her.  She answered any other questions that anyone else had.  In fact, one girl who was in my WDA group's husband was not a believer and she asked Gwen if it was o.k. for her husband to attend Remnant.  Gwen rattled on for a while and Mark, Marcus and I thought that she would never answer her question. She ended up telling her that she would be honored to do this.... and honored to do that.... and the deepest honor to do this, that and the other.  We just all sensed that it was o.k. For him to come but none of us could make sense as to what she was going on about.

Saturday, Mark and I frantically went pricing and purchasing chairs for everyone.  There were 22 people expected to come to our home on Sunday.  So we bought 20 chairs, paper products and coffee supplies from Sam's.  Our bill was $300.00. We paid for it out of our own money because we only had checks made out to Remnant Fellowship Houston.  We had been waiting to get the church registered with the state so that we could open a bank account for our offerings.  The day before we had received an e-mail from Amy stating that all Remnants were to call in for a conference-worship time that Sunday as Gwen wanted to speak to all Remnants since so much had happened over the Rebuilding the Wall Tour in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.  This had become common practice for larger Remnants to be assigned a lone Remnant to worship with, so we also had to purchase a speaker phone back in December, luckily Marcus had a really large speaker phone with a lot of power so all of us could hear easily.

Sunday came and we never in our wildest dreams ever thought that we would have a church in our home!  We had prayer, praise and worship, we called into Nashville for Gwen's talk, which was basically the same talk, only abbreviated that she does for the Rebuilding the Wall events.  Also during this call she told everyone that they were not to read any other authors materials and not to listen to anyone’s music unless she authorized it.  She told us to just stay in God's word and the WDA tapes.  After the call we continued with communion.  We had been instructed to use real wine because the counterfeit churches used grape juice and Jesus used wine.  So we had bought one of those big boxes of red wine and communion cups on Saturday as well.  After communion Mark told this Remnant there needed to be no concern that this was a cult that as far as he was concerned that we were going to follow the Word of God and we were not going to bow to the east towards Mecca (meaning Nashville).  Marcus just shook his head agreeing with Mark.  Mark then asked anyone if they had questions.  Marcus shared with the group how he was a survivor of brain cancer while some of the women went into the kitchen to prepare lunch.  Everyone was blessed and we decided that we would meet on Wednesday evening to watch the movie Jeremiah since Gwen taught so much from that book and that we would do a book study on Jeremiah in the coming weeks on Wednesday nights.  We also talked about possibly starting a Strongholds class.

I also want to add here that through the ordeal with Stacey, Mark's wrecks, and stress in general, I was late for my period.  I was freaked out because I was 45 years old!  My weight had jumped up 10 lbs in one week and I was real concerned since I was still pretty much was eating 3 bits per growl!  On occasion I might eat 6-7 bits but for the most I tried to keep my eating to 3 bites per growl.  I was still trying to figure out what I should be eating since Gwen had gotten after me and told me that my eating was legalism.  I called the WD office because I was desperate to find out if I was in fact pregnant could my weight jump like that.  Jenny Mendel answered the phone (I had met her at camp and she recently had a baby).  She told me that yes the body does so many things when we conceive a child and not to worry.  I told her about my conversation with leadership and how they wanted my weight to be coming off at 3-5 lbs a week and I was scared to have to tell them that I was up 10 lbs.  Jenny just encouraged me to go get a home pregnancy kit from Wal-Mart.  She also wanted me to call her and let her know how it turned out; she also told me that she would be praying for me.

Well, I didn't go get a pregnancy kit.  I just kept telling everyone I knew that I thought I was pregnant in hopes that I would just start my period.  Well on Wednesday morning I did start and I was just praising God because I was so happy.  I didn't want to be pregnant...NOT AT MY AGE!  Anyway that afternoon I was feeling pretty bad and crawled into my recliner to take a nap before the Remnant got together for church that night.  While I was sleeping the phone rang and it was Gwen and David Martin.  They wanted to know if Mark was at home and I told them that he wasn't that he was out doing his job.  I offered them his cell phone number.  Gwen said, "No, there is just a few things that we need to get straight with you guys and we want to see how things are going."  I again told her that they could call Mark on his cell phone and she then started questioning me what time would be a good time for them to call back because they wanted to talk to both of us.  We agreed that they would call Thursday morning around 8:30 or so.

I immediately called Mark on his cell phone because I heard so plainly that they had “a few things to get straight” with us.  It upset me because they wouldn’t just talk to me or call Mark on his cell.  Mark told me that he didn't care what they had to say.  He reminded me that he was not going to bow down to the east or to Gwen.  He told me that we hadn’t done anything wrong and told me to calm down.  He said that we would listen to whatever they wanted to say to us the next day.  I begged Mark to call Gwen back on her cell phone.  He refused.  It bugged me the rest of the day and that evening.

By the next morning I really had an attitude.  I didn't want to talk to either of them.  I’m the type of person that you don’t start to tell me something and then stop!!!  It drives me nuts!!!   The phone finally rang around 9:30.  Mark was in our study working and yelled out "There's God!"  I was pretty ticked off at this point.  Mark answered the phone and it was David Martin.  Mark had me get on the phone and David went through whatever he had to connect us to a 3-way call with Gwen.  Gwen was in a meeting but David made it a point to tell us that Amy and others were there.  Gwen finally got on the phone and addressed us very kindly.  She asked Mark about the previous night of worship and they talked for a few minutes.  Then Gwen turned to me...

The next few lines are all that I can remember of our conversation.  It has no sequence because when she started she put me in such a state of shock.  Gwen starts by…

"Laura, I'm really scared about some things that I have been hearing about you.  You called the office and talked with Jenny and said something about being pregnant and that you did not want to report your weight to Leadership...Let me tell you Laura that I was shock when I saw you in Houston…that you had not lost any more weight that you have since this past summer.  Your body just can't go on in this state.... I need to have Charlie Crossland call and counsel you cause he lost 330 lbs in 18 months....There is no reason why you have not lost your weight.... Your weight should be coming off at nearly 10 lbs per week.  Laura, I'm scared for you.  Now remember Laura I could not be saying this to you if I didn't love you so much."  

I heard David say, "Amen, Laura we do love you”.  

Gwen continued: "Mark, you ought to be getting after her every time she is disobedient.  You ought to love her enough and be scared enough to understand that if she dies, she is lost and you should be doing all that you can do not to let this over-indulging with food continue.  Mark I want you to put Laura on the scales every week and call me with her weight loss.  Laura I want you to get up in front of that Houston Remnant and confess your sin of greed of food to them and tell them that you are going to step down in leadership and show them who your God really is.  Laura, get the weight off.  I also want you to find someone in your WDA group to take over your class and you step down as a coordinator.  Laura, I should have put a stop to you 5 years ago and I didn't.  You should have never had this weight on your body this long...but I love you and I want to help you.  Please understand Laura that I could only say these things to you because I love you.  I want the best for you.

(Another "Amen!"  from David Martin)  

Gwen went on to say "O.K. guys!  Mark are you o.k.?”  Mark replied yes.  

“Laura are you o.k.?”  

I could hardly speak or even breathe.  I didn't know what had hit me.  I just knew that the words that were fixing to come out of my mouth, Gwen was going to take the wrong way.  I managed to say "I need to get on my knees.”  

She goes on "Oh Baby, I love you, I really love you, everything is going to be alright.  This is going to be the first day of the rest of your life and I couldn't be more proud of you."  

Of course, David just goes on with "Amen, Laura we do love you and we are behind you!"  

I was so numb the only thing I remember was they said good-bye.  I was the last one to hang up our cordless phone.  I slammed in down on a table next to my recliner and nearly broke it.  Mark came in and told me "I know that you are mad, will you talk to me?"  I couldn't say anything to Mark.  I couldn't even look at him.  I was paralyzed.  It was the weirdest state I had even been in.  I was raped when I was 18 and this was far worse than any feeling I had related to that.  

I don't know how long I sat there before I got up and went to the computer and deleted everything in my computer that was either Weigh Down or Remnant.  I started deleting addresses out of my address book.

The phone rang and you will not believe what happened next.  A lady had called the WD office looking for an Out of Egypt class and I had one due to start on Valentine's Day.  I simply told her that she had the wrong information.  I was in such a state I had forgotten that I had even set-up those classes.  I immediately logged into the WD site and found those class ID numbers and called the office.  Gina Graves answered the phone and I told her the best I could to get those classes cancelled and out of the computer.  I told her that I was no longer going to coordinate.  Gina flipped out.  She asked me “Are you leaving Remnant?”  I told her no that I was just not going to coordinate any longer.  Gina told me, "Laura you need to get come counseling about this."  I told Gina "I have been counseled very well and that I would no longer be a coordinator.  Gina backed off immediately.  She told me how much she loved me and how she was going to pray that God would really move in my life.  When I hung up the phone I walked into our study and told Mark to call Gwen and to tell her to make sure that her Call Center knew not to give out my name and number since she had made the decision for me not to coordinate.  Gwen was a little confused until Mark told her that we had just received a call from a lady inquiring about a new class I was starting.  Gwen told Mark that she would take care of that!

I went back and sat in our living room for awhile.  I got up and went into our study and told Mark:  “Pray to your God that I don’t die” Mark swung around in his chair and he said “Laura don’t go there.”  I repeated myself.  ”Pray to your God that I don’t die because I am not going to put one more thing in my mouth until there is not one fat cell left on this body.”  Mark said “Laura don’t do this!”  I just looked at him and kept speaking.  “If I happen to die then make sure everyone knows my testimony as to what has happened…but pray to your God that I don’t die”.  I turned and walked out of the room.  Mark came into our living room and begged me to talked to him and I just couldn’t I just sat and stared straight forward.  I could not get anything out.  After he tried for a while he went back to work.

I just want to say that for the next 4 hours or so I was very suicidal over all of this.  I could not even get my mind to think right.  I scared Mark to death.  He was scared to even leave me that day.  I would get in the bed and cry and cover my face with the sheets, get up and just sit and stare.  It was awful!  It was more than awful!  It is a state that I pray that I will never ever experience in this life again!  That afternoon as Mark was getting ready to go out and do the outside portion of his job (he is an insurance adjuster) he was scared to death to leave me.  He wanted me to go with him and I wouldn’t.  I just laid in bed and begged God to let my next breath be my last.  I told God, “I don’t understand why you will not let me die, why do you want me to be miserable, why do you keep allowing this crap to continue to happen to me?  Why God?  Answer me!  Why God?  Why?Mark came over to the bed and begged me not to do anything.  Even though I wanted to end my life; I told Mark that I would be o.k.  I lied to him because I did not know that I would be o.k.  I just told him to go on that I would be here when he got home.  He finally left.  I laid there a while longer when all of a sudden something snapped and I threw back the covers and jumped out of bed and went back to my computer.

I remembered receiving an e-mail from Linda Frances that was sent to me early December that I had saved.  I didn’t even understand why I felt led to save her e-mail but I did.  PRAISE GOD! That I did save it!  I went to that e-mail and it was full of links about Weigh Down.  The first link I click on was to Channel 5 News.  I just started clicking, reading and listening.  The more I listened the madder I got!  These were stories that were done when several employees took Gwen to court.  When I heard the portion of Gwen’s sworn testimony that the opposing counsel asked her…”So Ms. Shamblin are you saying that if someone is large that they have sin?  And Gwen’s response was “No, you can’t tell if a person has sin by the way they look, you have to know their heart.”  I about splashed off my ceiling and I wanted to take my fist and just start punching holes in the walls of my house I was so furious.  I thought to myself “So what in the hell did you just do to me!” I have never hit that anger level before in my life.  It was at the totally opposite end of the spectrum that I had just been at.

I picked up the old cordless phone and called Mark on his cell and told him what I had heard.  I made him promise me that when he got home that we would come and sit at the computer and listen to what I was hearing and reading.  I remember talking to someone over the phone but I don’t remember who it was or what was said because I was reeling so bad!  I know that later I called someone in another Remnant.  In talking to this person I found out that they had also left.  We must have talked for hours!  Mark came home and he did spend time with me going over all that was on the Channel 5 News links.  He was shocked!  Mark actually got mad.

That evening I talked again to my friend who had left Remnant.  This is the sad thing, her children and grandchildren are still in the clutches of Remnant.  We talked till midnight.  I went to bed totally exhausted but could not sleep.  At about 6:30 in the morning the phone rang and it was my friend again.  She started apologizing because she forgot about the time difference!  I told her that it was o.k. because I couldn’t sleep.  We started talking about everything again, except that I can’t remember what we said, I just know that when we hung up, I punched Mark and asked him to make some coffee.  

I jumped out of bed and walked into our living room, picked up my address book and called my uncle, whom I had tried talking into Remnant and when he answered I said, “Uncle Bill, (I started crying) I’m in a cult and I don’t know what to do!”  He answered me “I know baby, Your Aunt Kay and I are on our way!”  They live in College Station and they got dressed and jumped in the car and got here about 1-½ hours later and spent the rest of the day reading scriptures to us and showing us God’s truth.  I must say something else, after I had called them early that morning; I called my parents who just happened to be at our family’s beach house with my mother’s 2 other sisters and I made the same announcement to them.  They all offered to come as well.  I told them no, but I can tell you I had never felt such love from my family.  They just encouraged me and told me that they would be there for me and told me that they were afraid that Remnant was a cult, but they knew that I would have to figure that out.  That is the one thing that bugs me most is that most people have told me that God told them to just pray and not talk to us about it. 

After I hung up with them, I called our daughter Stacey and told her about Remnant being a cult and that Uncle Bill and Aunt Kay were on their way.  I told her that we were wrong taking her car and I told her to come and get it.  I asked her to forgive us for doing the things that we did and she forgave us.  I told her that we wanted some time with her so that we could help straighten her out.  I encouraged her to find a good church home.  She ended up coming over that afternoon while my uncle was there.  She had just recently bought another car and she tried to get out of the contract but they would have kept her $1,500.00 down payment so she decided to just keep her new car.  It was good to see Stacey that day!

Mark was determined to still have Remnant meet in our home the next day.  I absolutely could not believe it.  I almost went nuts on him.  Luckily my uncle convinced him that he just needed to halt it right then and to let go of the idea that he needed to do what was right.  Around 7:00 that evening, Mark started calling everyone in the Remnant to let them know that they would be meeting at Marcus’ home the next morning.  Some asked why and Mark told them.  Several were furious at what Gwen did to us.  One even wanted to write to Gwen but she didn’t, she also wanted to talk to me and I called her a few days later but she never returned my call.  She is still a part of Remnant.  At 11:30 Saturday night we took chairs, and supplies that we had bought to Marcus so that Remnant Houston could continue under his leadership.  It made me sick!  It still does!  I really feel that if Marcus sees the light the Houston Remnant will fall!  I pray everyday for that to happen.  I also pray for all in Remnant to see the truth!

Mark and I ended up at Bennigan’s around 12:30 a.m. for a bite to eat!  He was hungry and I was exhausted, sick to my stomach and scared out of my mind.  After we got through eating, we drove by a church that my uncle had recommended for us to go to.  Mark pulled up into the parking lot to read the sign to see what time Sunday school started and I told him “I can’t go here; this place gives me the chills!”   He pulled out of there and asked me “So where do we go?”  I told him “I just don’t know, I don’t know if I can do this, maybe we are making a mistake!”  He drove home and started looking in the Yellow pages for a church to go to.  He found one that I agreed to go and visit.  The next morning we got up and went.

He pulled into the parking lot and I started hyperventilating and shaking.  I had never been so scared in all my life.  As he parked I told him “I can’t do this, I’ll die if I walk into that church!  I just can’t do this!  Let’s go home!”  Mark told me no and that I would be all right.  He put our car in park and got out.  I just froze!  He came around to my door and opened it up and literally dragged me out of our van!  He had me by the arm and I kept telling him “I can’t do this, Mark, I just can’t, I don’t want to die and Gwen said that we would if we went back to the counterfeit church and that the veil would drop and we would never be able to understand the bible again!  I can’t do this Mark!”  

Mark grabbed the door with one hand; he had me by his other hand and pushed me inside the building.  I promise I thought I was going to drop dead.  I hated the way I felt, I wanted to start screaming but didn’t want to cause a scene.  One of the greeters took us to an information desk where Mark filled out a card and they gave us a list of Sunday school classes.  Mark picked the Pastors class because it was on David and he knew that Gwen hadn’t missed that up!  I made him sit in the back.  I refused to open my bible in fear that when I did, it would be in Hebrew symbols and not in English!  I was also afraid that none of it would ever make sense to me.  The feeling was just awful!  About halfway through the class, Mark took my bible and opened it and stuck it under my nose to prove to me that I could understand it and it didn’t transform to Hebrew symbols.  What a relief!  After class we moved over a section for worship but still stayed in the back.  I was a nervous wreck and I couldn’t wait to get out of there!  I did survive that first day back at church.  It took me several weeks to get to the point that I didn’t shake to death about walking into a church building!

The next 3 weeks I didn’t sleep much, couldn’t eat because I remained nauseous and just wanted to sit and stare.  I literally didn’t know what to do with myself.  It blew me away because Mark seemed to just get on with his life.  I asked him one night, why wasn’t all of this having an effect on him.   He told me that he had made up his mind from the beginning that he was not going to bow to Gwen.  He told me that I needed to understand that I was way more involved with Weigh Down than he ever was.  He said that he knew and understood that it was going to be harder on me!  

He has been right!  I can say that I do see the effects that it had on Mark.  While they are subtle you can see effects.  He has lost the desire to read the Bible everyday like we were.  However, he is longing to be in a good Bible study.  We both wish that God would just come down and sit with us awhile and just straighten our heads out once and for all!  I can tell you that He has been faithful!  He has placed several incredible people in our lives that are ministering to us right now!  People that we need!  The approach that we need!  I use to just shutter when someone talked about “grace” because that was such a “No-No!” in Remnant.  I can tell you I can’t get enough of that word now!  I used to drive by every church yelling “Counterfeit” and now I just think about the precious sheep that are in there!  I thank God everyday for rescuing us out of Remnant and I pray that He will heal everyone who has been affected by this message and he will deliver all of those involved in Remnant Fellowship!

This has been painful to write, but at least it is freeing to share!  I know that sometime in the future God will have me write this again in a new way.  I believe one day I will be able to share how I was deceived and how God has taught me the truth.  But for now it is all my feelings and emotions.  I can tell you and I want to encourage you that you must stay in His word every single day without fail.  You must learn it all!  Feed on it!  I was the Christian that just thought that going to church on Sunday was enough.  I depended on someone to teach me!  

If I have learned one thing, it is that I must do my part!  I must depend on nothing but the Holy Spirit to teach me and guide me!

One last thing that I would like to share is an e-mail that fell into our hands shortly after leaving Remnant.  The week after we pulled out of Remnant, Carolyn Llorens had contacted _____________.  ______ called me and asked me if I would call her as she felt that Carolyn too was seeing that Remnant was a cult.  I called Carolyn and spoke with her.  Carolyn was hysterical and scared and didn’t know what to do.  I did tell her that Remnant was a cult and that she needed to get out and go back to church with her husband (he was not a part of Remnant but played in his church’s Praise Band).  Carolyn was hysterical and afraid that people would not accept her back.  She was afraid to put her children back in public school as she had been home schooling them since joining Remnant.  I tried the best I could to help her and encourage her to leave.  When I hung up from sharing with her I truly felt like she would leave Remnant and return to church with her husband.  I guess I was wrong as it is my opinion that after Carolyn and I spoke she called Nashville and spoke with Gwen.  The following is a result of Carolyn speaking with Gwen as she was the only person that we talked to after our decision to get out. 

  As you can see this went out to all of the Remnant Fellowship chapters nationwide:


From:       Gwen Shamblin

Date:         Wednesday, February 06, 2002 03:01:08 PM

To:             All Remnants

Subject:   God is moving!

Dear Precious Remnants,

Good afternoon!! I just wanted to let you all know that I love you all very much, and I am very proud of all of your efforts to crown God as the rightful Sovereign that He is and to further His Kingdom territory! I have just a quick bit of information for all of you about some recent purging that God has done. Ezekiel 20:38 says, I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me.  This means that only those that want God to rule and love it that way will be left on His Holy Hill.

Of course you all know that Satan is very upset about our sincere effort to let God be the only God in our lives - and he is constantly trying to confuse the saints but you must be grounded on the Word of God. The Apostle Paul would name names of people that the lambs of God - the Saints needed to stay away from. See 2 Tim 2:17. Just recently, two families have pulled off from Remnant Fellowship due to their strong desire to keep their strongholds. They are now trying to call other Remnant Fellowships and are lying about what we said or did - that is all that they can find on us. Like Paul, I will also mention names. The families I am referring to are ______________ and Mark and Laura Nichols. We have loved these two families very much, but they have chosen to leave based on lies. They are actually calling up Remnant members and claiming Remnant is a cult. The one church clearing God's temple of idols and clearing the way so that God rules is the only place that is not a cult. How vague and a how unfair and how unchristian not to take their complaint to the leaders. Both have refused to talk to the leaders - yet we have tried. They all have more of a heart for people that are kissing idols than for poor God who has had to share glory with deaf and dumb idols! They have no respect for people that are clearing the temple of false gods. After 7 years of knowing Laura as coordinator and then as remnant member - I loved on her and urged her strongly to lay down the food idol for I was afraid for her.  (She had called our office and said that this was too hard and that she had put on weight) I asked her to give up leadership so that she could concentrate on herself. Sometimes when serving others - we can deceive ourselves that we are okay with God even if we do not teach ourselves. Fair enough after no weight loss in 7 years. The only weight loss ever achieved was from a stomach bypass before Weigh Down. My first suggestion after 7 years of her teaching my classes was not received.

You all know that total Sovereignty is the only way to go. Total obedience to the one true God is the ONLY way to go. I urge you all NOT to take phone calls from these families. By the way - this did not surprise some of us for we could sense their side ways allegiance to each other and people over God. We must put Him first - He is testing all of us.  Do not be discouraged, dear friends. Some people may turn from the truth but you all are firmly grounded into the true Jesus that said, Not my will but yours be done.  So keep at it!! You all are doing so wonderfully!! Do not lose heart.. for you are achieving for yourselves an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.. (2 Cor. 4:16) Keep going after total obedience for our Lord, and be ready for Satan's attacks and lies. If you have ANY questions, PLEASE call me immediately! You know I am here for you!! The good news was that God did an amazing work in Orlando and Tampa and other new cities. It was great to see Remnant Ft. Lauderdale (Coral Springs) and Remnant St. Paul, Remnant Memphis, Remnant Georgia. Thirty Nashville Remnant volunteers came to help the church. Michael and Michelle both did their first sermons and we were blown away. Watch out! Many more are now coming Feb 22 from Florida. What a week. God is marching through and finding those that want a church with no idols. I love for Him to rule!

I love you all

Gwen and Remnant Leadership, NashvilleJ

P.S. It has been snowing here all day. I love it!


I would like the opportunity to point out lies that Gwen Shamblin wrote about me/us. 

We never refused to talk to leadership.  I had never even heard of Weigh Down until November 1997, so there is no way that Gwen had time to know me for the 7 years that she claimed in this e-mail.  I did not become a Weigh Down Coordinator until January 1998.  Also note that I never called the Weigh Down office and said that this was too hard.  She did not ask me to “give up leadership to concentrate on myself” but told me that I had to get in front of the Houston Remnant and confess my sin of greed of food and show them who my God was.  

Gwen also claims that I had no weight lost in 7 years.  Again she is very wrong. I never had gastric by-pass surgery.  In 1993 I did have a gastric segmentation which was nothing but having a band put around my stomach to form a small pouch, I have no staples in my stomach nor have I had my intestines cut and reconnected.  The surgery that I had in 1993 is fully reversible and once the band is removed there is no proof that anything happened to the inside my body with the exception of the 2 inch scar on the outside from the surgical site.  Prior to surgery in August 1993 I weighed 468 lbs.  During the time period of August 1993 and August 1994, I lost 100 lbs.  I did not lose any other weight until I started Weigh Down in 1998.  From January 1998 to July 2000 I lost down to 331 lbs. 

Once I attended Remnant Family camp in July 2001 until I left Remnant in January 2002 I lost down to 281 lbs.  Also the statement that Gwen wrote in the e-mail “My first suggestion after teaching my classes for 7 years was not well received” makes no sense to me.  I only led classes for Weigh Down Workshop for 4 years.  Thank you for the opportunity to set the record straight from the false writings written against me/us by Gwen Shamblin.

This testimony was written just after leaving Remnant Fellowship in early spring 2002. We want you the reader to know and understand that there is life after Remnant Fellowship.  While it takes time to heal from the mind control and the fear taught in Remnant you will be able to return to church and grow in your relationship with our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  There is no veil that will drop over your eyes not allowing you hear God’s truth.  For Mark and I leaving Remnant has shown us God’s true mercy and grace.  Our faith and our relationship with Jesus Christ have grown immensely.  God is faithful and He does provide a way of escape.  

Our prayer is that you will walk through the door and escape the horrendous false teachings from Remnant. We will forever be praying for the leadership of Remnant and all of those trapped in this false teaching.  We are here and available to help you. 

You can reach us at faithwithoutstrings@yahoo.com

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