Doomsday cult travels 5,000 miles to 'bombard UK students with calls and texts'

Members of World Mission Society Church of God (WMSCOG) approached students at Kingston University in south-west London

Mirror, UK/August 11, 2019

By Bradley Jolly

A "destructive cult" travelled more than 5,000 miles in a bid to recruit British students, Mirror Online can reveal.

Members of World Mission Society Church of God (WMSCOG) tried to convince women to have abortions, attempted to control students and badgered some with telephone calls.

The group is believed to have travelled from South Korea, where WMSCOG was founded, and approached students walking alone, both in Kingston University's campuses and the surrounding area in posh south-west London.

They allegedly claimed they were students but in fact they had no connection to the university.

Rick Ross, who has researched cults extensively for decades, said: "In my opinion the World Mission Society Church of God is a destructive cult.

"I have received complaints from families, former members and others concerned about the group and its influence."

WMSCOG denies being a cult and all allegations of using psychological control tactics on members, but a representative did admit it "came to [the] university".

It was once branded a "Doomsday cult" by a disaffected former member.

Alessia Hildenbrand, who graduated with a degree in media and communications this month, said she was approached by two people claiming to be exchange students from South Korea doing a project in March. It left her feeling betrayed and annoyed.

The 22-year-old, originally of Lewisham, south-east London, said: "There were some Koreans standing at the entrance of Kingston University and would pull you aside, saying they're exchange students and that they're doing a project.

"The first question she asked was 'do you know God the mother?'"

"But I was annoyed that I was lied to [that the group weren't students]. It was after that that I became more nervous. I would keep getting texts to meet up trying to make me go to their church, and every day they would be standing at the entrance so I would have to go round back to avoid them.

"When I started ignoring her calls she started texting and Whatsapping, and calling again until I had to block her."

The student was later approached in Kingston town centre nearby by another member of the church, who she says seemed to already know who she was.

"She asked me to continue 'her work' to which I refused," Alessia added. 

"The next day I received a call from her after they got my number from the Korean girls, which I blocked. Then she messaged me and I blocked her again.

"I felt largely betrayed with the Korean girl about the purpose of our talk, and I would have listened anyway just to be polite.

"I was disturbed because I knew I was too nice to tell them to go away, but then even when I avoided them they wouldn't stop - felt like I was being stalked. Others I spoke to who experienced this said they either also took alternative routes, or told them to 'f*** off' and would be left alone.

"Being socially anxious, it just made me less trusting of talking to people in general and even university didn't feel safe as they would sometimes walk through as there were no barriers to non students."

The church believes in "Mother God" or "Christ’s Bride", a living woman in South Korea, whom they believe is also prophesied in the Bible.

And another student at the institution, who wishes to remain anonymous, attended a bible study in a cafe in the town with two of the church members.

The session lasted about two hours.

The young person said they were told: "We’ve committed sin in Heaven and by committing sin we could no longer live in Heaven, so we were cast out into this world.

"If we break all the laws of society and we start causing a lot of trouble, you will go to prison, you will lose all your rights, you will be taken away from your family and you’ll be confined in a very small space. That is Earth, you are put in a very well designed capsule, a prison. So you are not actually free to do what you want."

Another person was told by the group the world was coming to an end and woman should abort babies as a result.

Ian Haworth, founder of the Cult Information Centre, a charity which helps educate the public about the dangers of cults, described students as easy targets and warned them to take care.

"Students will be approached by people from lots of different groups, and they need to check out every group ahead of time. If there is critical information on the internet then they need to find out the full story," he said.

But in some parts of the US, WMSCOG has been banned from university campuses after trespassing.

The church was incorporated as a business in the UK in 2010 and has since carried out voluntary work to help communities.

Josh Vizcarra, a former member of WMSCOG, has spoken on YouTube about his experiences.

In one clip, he says: "I was immediately greeted by members with a smile and I was in complete awe study after study. I remember leaving that day and I was amazed at how nice everyone was and how they had the 'truth'. I decided to go back and study a little more. We then had a bible study they like to call the Seal of God, a study that really instills fear.

"After a few months, I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression. I took medication and started to see a therapist. It has been six years since I left and I still suffer from PTSD, anxiety and panic attacks."

Michael King, director of WMSCOG’s UK operations, said: "We come to university campuses because Jesus told us to. 

"His last words recorded at the end of Mathew’s gospel are that we are all supposed to follow Jesus.

"We are tasked with spreading God’s word. That doesn’t mean staying at home, that means going out and explaining to people."

A Kingston University spokesman said: “The University takes the safety and wellbeing of its students extremely seriously. Any individual or organisation wishing to come on to campus to give information to students must seek permission either from the University or from the Union of Kingston Students. Each request is assessed on a case by case basis.

“If students have any concerns about information from or behaviour of individuals or groups who approach them on campus, they should contact the security team who will follow up straight away and take appropriate action depending on the circumstances.”

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