Andrew Wolfe graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 2001 with a degree in linguistics and a minor in biblical translation.
Carrie Andreson was a standout student at Concord-Carlisle High School who had her pick of colleges and settled on Wheaton College in Illinois – widely viewed as the nation’s best Christian liberal arts college.
So how did both wind up mental and physical slaves to a power-hungry, egomaniacal cult leader?
“Nobody joins a cult. You join an interesting organization and over time it changes,” Wolfe, 24, explains.
Wolfe said he joined Feroze Golwalla’s Parsee Ministry Team – also known as Baruch Ha Shem – because he felt Golwalla was a “very earnest, zealous man of prayer.”
“I know now that it was all a show,” he says.
Andreson said she was initially attracted to Golwalla “in a spiritual, intellectual way” but quickly became brainwashed.
“I wanted to be around him. I wanted to be close to him,” says Andreson, who fled the group in 2002.
Wolfe met Golwalla in October 2000 while visiting twin brother Benjamin at Wheaton College. An academic wiz fascinated with religion and ancient languages, Wolfe fell under Golwalla’s spell, praying with him for hours on end starting at 5 a.m. every day. Soon though, the intense prayer turned into a brutal “boot camp” as the group, cut off from all outside contact, prepared for a missionary trip to Pakistan.
“The physical abuse, there were justifications for it. He used scripture to justify it,” Wolfe explains. “Your mind in that kind of a situation, there’s confusion.”
The twin brothers and other male followers allegedly were whipped, beaten, molested and tortured by Golwalla, who is wanted on assault charges in Maryland. They were also made to abuse each other, Wolfe says.
Despite the violence, Wolfe remained because Golwalla had shattered his self-esteem and stolen his ability to think independently. He finally fled in May 2003 and helped his brother get out a month later.
“Within a few months, I realized it was monstrous, but I thought this was where God wanted us to be,” he says. “I thought my whole life would be down the tubes if I left.”