Sarah Green

Thirty-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 interests 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 Lila arranged for her to marry Mike Brandon, AKA Peter Green, when she was 17 years old. Mike was a favorite of the Green’s, a diehard believer that Deborah received daily “words of the spirit” from God. Also Peter’s father, Keith Brandon, was a wealthy business man from LA who supported his son’s choice “to serve god,” and he financially gave to the “ministry.” So it was a win-win to arrange for Sarah to Mary Peter, plus it would keep Sarah put, at lest for awhile.

This was actually Peter’s second marriage within ACMTC. His first wife (Mary) asked too many questions, so they drove her a ways away and dropped her off on the side of the road. She was several months pregnant.

Sarah gave birth to and loved two boys, and she loved and cared for M.G. as her own, too. When I asked her how many children she had to leave behind in there, she said “three.” 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 with. Peter and her mom and dad would not have it. They would stand in her way, block her from taking them. So on the most difficult day of her life, she 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 the trouble it caused? Was she really going to testify AGAINST her mother?

Getting into the car to go to the courthouse she says, “Okay, let’s do this. I love my mombut she’s crazy.” After giving testimony she says, “I felt absolutely no emotion seeing her. She’s like an empty shell.” 

On our last night in the hotel in Grant’s New Mexico 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 mournful 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.