Two former members of a highly controversial religious group talk exclusively with Iowa’s News Channel about why they left the group. Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission has been around for more than a decade in Iowa and has hundreds of faithful followers.
The group has drawn a lot of controversy in recent months because 19 year old Ashley Fahey of McGregor gave up everything to join the group. And her family has not seen her or talked with her now for weeks. That’s why two brothers from Waterloo decided they had to come forward.
After five years inside Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission, Richard and Ronald Mensen say they want people to know how dangerous the group is. “We can’t keep quiet no longer, something’s got to be said,” Ronald Mensen says.
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Richard and Ronald Mensen say they spent five years of their lives fully devoted to Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission. They wanted to get closer to God, so they joined, not realizing how much work the mission would be. “The longer you’re in the mission, the more they have you do and before you know it that’s the only thing you focus your life on,” Richard Mensen says.
The brothers say they would spend hours upon hours, with very little sleep, fixing up houses and businesses in the Chicago area and other places….all so the mission could re-sell the property. When they weren’t working, they were in church or praying. They had no time at all to take care of their ailing mother. “What the mission always tell you too, is well don’t you know that God can take care of your mother better than you can,” Richard says.
They were led to believe the mission’s “holy journey to Heaven” was the only way to heaven. They say the group’s leader, Kyo McDonald, brainwashed them. “The best programmer I know of, she could program your mind to thinking like a robot,” Richard says.
After five years of complete devotion to the group, Richard and Ronald’s family had enough. They intervened. “We had an open enough mind to listen to our family to the concerns that they had for us,” Ronald remembers.
They felt deceived when they learned the group was not recognized by the Catholic church. They didn’t like how the group pushed members to detach from their families. Plus, the secrecy and the security. “If the mission’s of God, why would they have the doors locked and all the time you can’t get in?” Ronald says.
When they decided to leave, the Mensen brothers told the leader of the group their hearts were not in it anymore. They say she tried to talk them out of leaving. “We knew if she talked it over with us, we might be in her control again,” Richard says.
Richard and Ronald have now been out of the group for more than a year. Looking back, they truly believe they were members of a cult. “You just don’t know how, when you’re out of there, how much it is a cult,” Richard says.
Ronald and Richard told Iowa’s News Channel that the group encourages members to give up “everything.” They say some members have given up their pensions and life savings.
On the positive side, the Mensen brothers say they did learn more about the Bible and became closer to God, but they felt many aspects of the group were in no way godly.
KWWL’s repeated phone calls to leaders and members of Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission have not been returned.