Sarah Green

Screen Shot 2019-04-12 at 10.38.25 AMThirty-five years ago in my mind Sarah and Joshua Green were the lucky ones. I mean, what applied to my and other’s children didn’t always apply to them. They had hamsters, dogs, Josh had model cars, model airplanes, and Sarah collected antiques. Steve made our kids throw their fun into the garbage: Nathan his legos, Ruth her doll, Simon his guitar. Plus Sarah and Josh got away with doing things the other kids couldn’t.

But today I look back, and I realize I was wrong. They suffered immensely. Joshua because he could never break free of his mom and dad’s will, their grip, their claim on his life for their “army.” It was all he knew. If he left, where would he go, what would he do? Sarah because she had her own mind, her own dreams apart from what her mom and dad planned for her. I remember the first time she ran away as Jim and Lila prepared to leave for the Philippines. They had to cancel their flight, and after finding her the next day, they rebooked their flights, and they took her with them, and when they returned they left her there for five long months. They were going to teach her a lesson.

I can only speculate why Jim and Deborah ordained Sarah to marry Mike Brandon, then Peter Royce, now Peter Green, when she was 17 years old. Mike was a favorite of the Green’s, a diehard believer—as sunken as my ex—that Deborah received daily “words of the spirit” from God.  And Peter’s family not only supported their son’s choice “to serve god,” they also financially gave to the “ministry.” So it was a win-win for Sarah to Mary Peter, plus it would keep Sarah put, at lest for awhile.

(This was Peter’s second marriage within ACMTC. His first wife, Mary Royce, apparently didn’t buy all the way in. Deborah told Peter to drive her to Reno, and to drop her off somewhere on the side of the road. She was several months pregnant. Former members say Deborah despised Mary, declaring her evil, and ordering Peter to drive to her to Reno and to do what he did.)

Sarah and Mike had two boys, plus Sarah cared for M.G. (who landed Deborah in prison on charges of mental, physical, and sexual child abuse) as her own. Sarah loved M.G. I can only imagine the conflict she endured as she watched the very fabric of her life being torn. She loved those babies, but because of her parent’s psychotic claim on her life, and now on the lives of her children, she knew that if she left, she couldn’t take her babies. Peter and her mom and dad would not have it. They’d stand in her way, block her from going out the gate.  So on the most difficult day of her life, Sarah ran away, leaving her children behind, hitchhiking from New Mexico to Washington where a former ACMTC member lived, staying in homeless shelters along the way. She would later return to N.M. to try to get her kids, but to no avail.

Last month I thought a lot about seeing Sarah again. I’ve tried in vain over the years to find her. She was 12 years old last I saw her, and now she’s going on 46! Was she angry with me for exposing her mom and dad, and all the trouble it caused them? Was she really going to testify AGAINST her mother?

I met her before getting into the car to go to the courthouse. “Okay, let’s do this, she says, “I love my mombut she’s crazy.” And on our last night, on the day of her giving testimony at trial, she says, “I felt absolutely no emotion seeing her. She’s like an empty shell.” 

I gave her a card with a painting of a cactus on the front, with the inscription, I’m sorry I’m such a prick. I told her I was sorry for all the pain and heartache she’s suffered over the years, and sorry if I added to it by my lawsuit and all that occurred after.

Tears fell down her beautiful face and she flung her arms around me, holding me tight. “My mother’s a monster,” she says,  “All the shame, leaving my babies. I had to escape, I just had to, and there’s no way I could have taken my babies with.”

“Those memories will always be yours”, I said, “but the shame, the blame, the guilt: those don’t belong to you, they belong to Deborah. 

In the end she gave me something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. Holding me tight she says to me, “thank you for paving the way.” 

Screen Shot 2018-10-09 at 9.03.18 AMBack row: Deborah, Jim, Joshua, Peter (behind Filipino man), and Sarah. (Circa 1983)

IMG_2715                                                              Sarah and Nate, my son 

IMG_2717                                                                Julie and Sarah.

So Sarah left ACMTC running, and she hasn’t stopped. Today at age 45 she’s a triathlete. She says it’s how she copes.