There was a conversation on a FaceBook page this week about whether or not people would have gone to Petra if HWA and crew said it was time to go.
I remember the Holy Day combined services in Columbus, Ohio where we were instructed to return to the meeting hall after lunch by a precise time. At the set time the doors to the meeting room were going to be locked and no one would be allowed in or out during the remaining service of the day. A vitally important announcement had come down from Headquarters and it needed to be passed on to the members.
During this secret time, the minister had brought onto the stage a large white writing board where he proceeded to make a calendar that led to the precise date that the church would be fleeing to Petra. My mother copied this crap down in minute detail. As soon as she got home she made up a calendar that she put inside the kitchen cupboard on the door. Her reasoning for this was that if the authorities came and confiscated our Bibles and notebooks, they would never think to open a kitchen cupboard to find the chart.
On this chart, she methodically marked off the days till the time would come for us to flee.
When I look back at this utter nonsense and how sick the ministry was in promoting this lie, it just comes to show how dangerous the cult think/speak of Armstrongism was at its core. Members would do and follow any instruction from the ministry.
Some people on the FB page and others in other exCOG groups have remarked how as kids they had backpacks and suitcases ready by their bedroom doors in case the call came to flee. It was also during this time that "phone-trees" were established so that directives from the ministry could quickly be disseminated to the membership. My mother had her list of 25 or so people to call and guarded it obsessively.
As we had been instructed, over and over, Petra was going to be our "place of safety" for 3 1/2 years as Germany raised hell around the world, particularly in the United States, Canada, Britain, and Australia. It was to be 3 1/2 years of glorious bliss as we received final instructions on how to be kings and priests as we worked to make the desert bloom like a rose. We thought at the end of the 3 1/2 years we would be in the Kingdom of God rebuilding the world as we helped to teach the law while ignoring Christ.
Then BAM! The East Coast ministry exploded into a hotbed of dissension. Ministers and members rebelled against authoritarian and aberrant doctrines of the church. The church was in upheaval and finances were in a mess.
Then Satan, according to WCG ministers, pulled the ultimate attack against the church. Jim Jones led over 900 of his followers to their death in a mass suicide. According to the ministry, Satan did this in order to put the focus upon the WCG's preparations to flee to Petra. Satan was using the deaths of the cult members to make COG members stop and look at their blind obedience to HWA and the COG leadership. WCG quickly shut up about Petra.
Then, Garner Ted was kicked out of the church for more adulterous affairs and insubordination. Satan was viciously attacking the church and destroying members moral. The church was in no state of affairs to flee as a unified body.
By this time, the Ambassador Report had hit the fan as the church struggled to maintain control. Then the State of California swooped in to stop the excessive use of tithe money for the personal use of leaders, and for other issues. Corruption was rampant in the church at this time. Herbert Armstrong then fled to Tuscon where he diverted tithe money away from the Receiver who had to take over WCG's books in Pasadena. Church employees were ordered to sign a pledge of loyalty to HWA Corp Sole in order to maintain their jobs.
The church was in such upheaval that Petra got shoved to the back burner. However, through all of this, there was a loyal group of believers that struggled to maintain the teaching. While the Church officially stopped writing about it in most publications, it was still doctrine.
Then Satan pulled his ultimate attack and caused HWA to die. The Tkach administration came in and the changes hit the fan. Numerous self-appointed false prophets set themselves up as splinter churches in order to divert tithe money into their own personal pockets. From Gerald Flurry, to Rod Meredith, to United Church of God, the money and members flowed out. With the WCG refuting all teachings of Herbert Armstrong, the Petra doctrine was no more. However, the doctrine followed the numerous splinter daughters of the WCG into new organizations where it gained a major stranglehold on members lives once again.
From Gerald Flurry's cult to Dave Pack's double millenniums, Petra is still alive and well. Even UCG and COGWA still believe it, but quietly push it to the back burner hoping not many find out abut it.
Knowing what we know today about the sick and twisted lies of Flurry, Pack, UCG, COGWA, Thiel, Malm and many others, the question needs to be asked, "Would you go to Petra if these men said it was time to flee?"
How can any of us ever trust these professional liars to be correct when the announcement is made? We all sit here week after week watching one lie after another come out of these men. We watch the lives destroyed, the marriages and families ripped apart. Many of us have buried family and friends who have died because of these men. Most of us know that not a single one of these men can be trusted. Yet, there will be thousands who obey every word their lord and masters utter to them when they deem it is time to flee. People will sell homes, cars, and businesses to send in for the final push.
What about living 3 1/2 years with Gerald and Lil'Stevie Flurry subjecting you to Irish dance as your final millennial training?
Who in the right mind would even consider going to Petra with Bob Thiel in charge? Even God is embarrassed at this one!
What about James Malm standing at the narrow gate determining who gets to enter Petra by determining how zealous you are? Wise people would turn around and walk back to the Petra Marriott and have a margarita.
What about living 3 1/2 years with United Church of God leaders regaling you with tales from the blue sock puppet as they try to install useless billboards on cliff sides?
What will happen when all of these buffoons all arrive at the same time at the narrow gate? Which leader and his people get to go in first? Which groups have to stand on the sidelines as the chosen traipse by them first? Who will ultimately be in charge?
Do people honestly think that when the time comes all division and animosity will miraculously cease and everyone will dwell together in millennial harmony for 3 1/2 years? If not a single COG today can get along with another COG why should we expect a sudden change of heart once in Petra? People are deluded if they think it will happen.
After the first month or so with all the bickering, backbiting and power struggles, members will start to realize they would have been better off being German captives.
So the question remains when your phone rings and a voice tells you it is time to flee, will you believe these professional liars?