The Beyond Zion Blog

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The end of an era?

Good morning everyone. For those of you that may follow this page, I accidentally deleted previous blog posts while creating a page for cult survivors to share their learnings and stories. While I am tech savvy at times, there are plenty of other times to show me that I am not, yesterday being a prime example.

A lot of you I am sure have visited this website recently because of my remarks on Twitter. I stand by them. Under the leadership of Gwen Shamblin Lara there has been plethora of controversies, starting with the Smith family from Atlanta. I'm sure a lot of you know by now that Gwen and her husband Joe, along with David and Jennifer Martin, Jonathan and Jessica Walters and Brandon Hannah are presumed dead after their plane crashed into Percy Priest Lake near Smyrna, TN. I knew every soul on board except for Joe Lara. I had to/was forced to leave Remnant back in 2006 with my son Benzion. While I am not on the up and up on recent goings on unless I am told through the grapevine, these couples were all leaders in Remnant. Brandon Hannah was Gwen's son in law, he was married to Elizabeth Hannah. David Martin has been by Gwen's side since the inception of Weigh Down Workshop. Jonathan and Jessica followed Gwen in the beginning when she founded Remnant Fellowship. My family and I stayed at the Martin household, I even stayed at the Hannah's home with a friend while I was very pregnant with Benzion, the last time I came back looking for hope and salvation for myself and my unborn child. I found none of that among those walls and with the church members.

Of course there were times of favor because I did my absolute best to prove that I was serious when I came back in 2005. I relied on leadership to steer every aspect of my life, I submitted to anyone and anything that told me what to do. I was even invited to have an afternoon on Gwen's houseboat on Percy Priest lake. I was overwhelmed with the honor of that invitation. I was told it was because I was being so obedient and a light for God. In my keepsake box I found a handwritten letter from Gwen herself telling me how much she loved my family and that she was looking forward to me moving to Nashville in 2003. When I gave birth to Benzion in October of 2005, Gwen was the first to send a meal and her well wishes. They even announced his birth to the church which I felt was a sign of acceptance since I was pregnant out of wedlock when I came back the last time.

What a lot of members and ex members of Remnant may not know about me, my maiden name is Schleenbaker. I am Megan Schleenbaker, the "bad" Schleenbaker I have learned that I was known as. To think that I was a cautionary tale, a boogey man to bad children misbehaving is quite hilarious and I welcome it. I am not offended or hurt by that, I own it. I was the "bad" Schleenbaker. I wear that as a badge of honor. Now I continue that legacy and risk the moniker of "mocker" now because I have spoken my truth about my time in Remnant Fellowship. I wear that as a badge of honor as well. I have drawn my line in the sand, but not in an aggressive way. You may be wondering, how can that not be aggressive? I'll put it simply, I mean no ill will nor do I hold any anger toward any one from Remnant. Holding anger serves no one. I am here to share love, acceptance and empathy to any and all members present and past. I have had my healing, I am still healing and my mission now is to hold others up and help them facilitate their journey of healing.

No one has won with the passing of Gwen and Joe. Nothing will change. Yes, Gwen's reign of controversy is over, but this is a dawning of a new era. It has been rumored that Elizabeth will take over and I believe that. I wish her well and my heart is with her as she navigates this new undertaking while grieving the loss of not only her mother, but her husband. Elizabeth is no stranger to loss and I am not either. My heart absolutely breaks for her. My heart is with the Martin and Walters families. I could not fathom losing a parent, and the children from those families lost both parents. It's so sad and tragic.

In the end there are no clear winners, but when one door closes, another opens or however that saying goes. I want anyone to know reading this that I am not an enemy, I am a friend. I am not here to convince you to leave and turn your back on Remnant. That is your choice. I am here for all, to provide comfort, love and healing for all. Even if you still want to stay in Remnant Fellowship, I will still stop and take the time to listen to you, to share your grief. If you have left but don't know where to being on your healing journey or don't know how to feel about this news, I am here for you. I offer love, a listening ear and wisdom. It may not be much, but it's what I have to give.

If Remnant chooses to label me as a "mocker", so be it. That's a risk I was willing to take once I spoke out almost a year ago. I do not mock the message, I speak of the dangers that message can bring and the harm it can do. I come bearing love, empathy and understanding, not to start a war. If that still earns me the label of "mocker", so be it. I want to be absolutely clear that anyone that comes to me for anything, I keep it confidential. I won't share any information unless I have permission to. I am a safe harbor for those seeking and searching. If you take anything away from this, take that. You are safe with me. Rafael Martinez is also not a "mocker". He feels the same way I do and you are safe with him as well. I know that many of you have been told the opposite, but it's just not true. I have been fortunate to get to know him, to be taught by him and I get to embark on a new journey with him as my guide. He is my unofficial abuelo, my mentor and I am proud to know him and learn from him. Rafael cares so much and just wants everyone to have the freedom to choose. Love is not control, love is not manipulation and gas lighting. Love is not abuse. That is all he has been trying to say and now I'm standing with him saying the same thing.

I hope that you take from this that I am here to offer love, empathy and understanding. I am here to help with whatever you need. Ex member or current member, I am here for you.

I have included a link to my testimony below if you want to know more about me. Any message through this website or through our Facebook and Instagram comes directly to me and until all board members are fully participating on all social media platforms, it will be me always. Let me be your safe harbor in a dark and stormy time. We can get through this together.

Love, Megan Schleenbaker-Cox

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