Photo of Rand and family provided by Randall Burkey
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Rand Burkey continued his interview.
He shared more detail, “I recognize the landmines that exist when speaking to a person that is being or has been victimized. I can objectively discuss why they would continue in their situation and help them to consider other forms of reality and living. I have been on a mission to assist others in getting out of abusive situations, whether they were cult, gang, or relationship oriented.
One of the major challenges that had to be overcome was the matter of blaming the victim. People do not want to think that this could ever happen to them, so they look for reasons why someone is in any type of situation. The thought is that if they can see the person as somehow different from themselves that they can then feel safe. People then become like Job’s miserable comforters in that they try to convince the victim that they somehow were looking for this. This happened to me when I was seeking to publish the book. A person who had reviewed it was concerned that because I had a heart for God that I somehow drew this to myself.
It caused me to be suspicious of everyone and everything that tried to get my or others attention. I have become much more discerning as to what is being said to me by people in authority. I require that anyone calling him or herself by one of the fivefold ministry gifts, an elder or deacon to pass the scriptural test required before I listen to their direction. I understand one may not be aware that they have become a victim, and once they realize they are, can have a tendency to stay a victim. Just because someone has been victimized does not mean he or she needs to stay one.”
Rand described a counseling technique used, “Often times the best material to use in assisting and individual is the group, leader, or cults own words or actions. I take the individual through their material and compare it with what the Bible says. I will also play videos of other groups or situations to make comparisons to the situation that the person is involved. People are constantly amazed how their situations are so similar to others they would have considered evil and wrong. Through this comparison, people gain clear perspective of how their environment has been unhealthy and wrong.”
His book was a work in progress, “It took a number of years and several edits to make the book palatable and interesting. I knew what I wanted to say (at least about the experience) but the last four chapters of the book were a challenge, as I did not know how I wanted to close it. There is so much information to share, and I did not want to bog the reader down. I spent 3 days locked up in a hotel room, in prayer, and then it all came to me. I was then able to complete the work, and give the glory to God, which is where it should go anyway. It was then that I started searching for a publisher, and found out quite quickly that the best route to go for a new author was self-publishing. I settled on Westbow Press, because of their relationship with Thomas Nelson, for no other reason than I did not want to associate my book and name with other books and authors that were suspect or not morality based in their message.
Delivered From Deception is a unique book. It is about my time in the cult, the kidnapping and deprogramming, and a general discussion about the makeup of cults, their impact on society and individuals. I am transparent about how I was manipulated, and the result of that manipulation. I share my fears and frustrations when I was in the group. This allows me to share insights on how to speak to someone that is currently, or has been in this type of environment, and cover strategies that can be used to reconnect loved ones with the victim(s) in order to speak to them. It can be purchased through Westbow Press in hardback and paperback. It can also be purchased in all formats online as well. It is starting to be carried by some brick and mortar Christian stores. If someone wants a signed copy, it can purchase from me.”
Rand discussed his credentials, “I am a certified Bible counselor through the American Association of Christian Counselors. I have done my research into how communication and manipulation works within the thought reform environment, whether it is a cult, abusive relationship, or the terrorist mindset. I am able to identify patterns of behavior that will determine how a group or person will respond. By knowing this, I can communicate with an individual in a manner that they will understand. I recognize the landmines that exist when speaking to a person that is being or has been victimized. I can objectively discuss why they would continue in their situation and help them to consider other forms of reality and living.
There are those who may say that because I was not in a certain cult that I could not relate because there is such a variety of different cults and abusive relationships. I disagree. Because I was not in a particular cult does not mean that I cannot understand their dynamics. I may not know the details of the group, but I can tell you the effects on the membership, with accuracy. Discounting my experience because I did not belong to a particular group or situation is a convenient way to discount what I say. Let us take addiction for an example. One person may be an alcoholic, and another a drug addict. For the drug addict to say that the alcoholic is not an addict would be ridiculous. Addiction is addiction and though its effects may be different on each person, does not exclude us from comparing the two. When we look at all the different types of addictions, we start to see similarities in all of them that we can then make certain statements with a great deal of certainty.
I have educated others and assisted them in moving from victimization to victory. Because I have been able to identify threads and themes that are common to any type of cultic or abusive relationship, I have been able to apply these principles to assist others successfully. When looking at all the different types of cults, terrorists, and abusive relationships that exist, it can seem to be an overwhelming task. When a person starts to look at the similarities of the particular situation they are in, manipulation becomes readily identifiable and can be spoken about effectively.
Mindsets have to be changed.”
In Rand’s words, “People are afraid of the unknown, and have a tendency to blame the victim. To use an example: Someone is walking down a road, on the proper side, facing traffic. Someone driving a car comes from the other side of the street and hits them. The driver then immediately gets out of the car and starts screaming that had the person not been on the road, they never would have hit them. Unfortunately, that is how society as a whole considers this issue. The person must have had a mental deficiency or have done something wrong to end up this way.
Another point is that no one wants to be led through a wilderness by a guide who has never been there. Former victims (that are healed) offer the best support for someone that has been victimized in this way. Members are often convinced that there is no way that there can be any type of healthy spiritual, emotional, physical, and psychological existence outside of their group. Those are the most effective at showing the way to recovery.
The third point would be that this type of experience affords the opportunity for discovery and growth. Often times after people get out of an abusive relationship, or a cult they want to put everything behind them, and cannot do it soon enough. Unfortunately, this leads not to moving forward, but people becoming reactive, rather than in control. In the case of Christian or Bible based cults, there is a tendency to run away from faith, rather than to learn and embrace it. For the first six months after I left the cult I was in, I could not even pick up the Bible because I continued to hear the “tapes” of how a scripture was explained. I knew that I loved God, but I had to take a break in order to gain perspective. I continued in prayer, and studied other aspects of the manipulation process to understand how I had been victimized. I tell people it was like paying 1 million dollars for something that only was worth one thousand dollars. Was it worth the thousand, yes, but not a penny more.
Fourth, one must discern the good from the evil, and not abandon their faith. We would like to think that everyone that calls himself or herself Christians are to be trusted and believed. Even Jesus said that there were wolves in sheep’s clothing, which is echoed in the New Testament by Paul, John, and Peter. As Jesus said, we are to be wise a serpents and as harmless as doves. John instructs us that we are to test the spirits. This is what I mean by taking personal responsibility for our spirituality.
Finally, and most important, no one is going to go to heaven, or understand God, based solely on someone else’s revelation. It is all about Jesus, what He has done, and it is Jesus who died for me. Too often people have taken their ideas and built a denomination, or a cult based upon their thoughts about God, and found willing followers that are more willing to follow them rather than follow Christ. The more exclusive the ideology, the more like a cult it becomes, as the leader and the followers believe that the only way to God is through them and their beliefs about God. As Jesus said to the Pharisees and Sadducees, ‘You have made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition’ Matthew 15:6b.”
His advice, “I understand, and you are not alone. During counseling sessions, when a person is coming to realize what has happened to them they want to know if the person, leader, or group is knowingly deceiving or destroying people’s lives. This is a hard question without an easy answer. They are often angry and confused. All they wanted was a relationship, with God or with another person, and what they received is certainly quite different from their hopes, dreams, or desires. I have explained it this way: You want to hit someone, but whom? Evil is like gelatin in your hand. You can hold it and see it, but once you try to squeeze and get a hold of it, what happens is it oozes through your fingers and you all you end up with is a sticky mess. You may have been a victim, but you do not have to remain one forever. Take the time to sort through your experience and learn what makes you, you. Seek to understand how you were manipulated, so you may control your actions and reactions, and trust God that He will give you the wisdom you need to go forward in a relationship with Him. Trust Him, and His promise given in the book of James that when you ask for wisdom, He will provide it. Jesus died for all, and we must come boldly to His throne of grace to find mercy and grace in our time of need.”
His contact detail, “I can be reach through my website www.deliveredfromdeception.com. I am available for consulting and speaking engagements. There you will also be able to access some of the teaching I have done.”