The place is Lake City, FL. It is on I-75 between Gainesville and the Georgia border. One of my elders went their on business recently and saw some unusual folks. A few questions prompted him to learn more about the group people call The Endtimers.
In 1984 Charles Meade and his followers moved there. Things … well, changed. Ordinary citizens fear their town is being taken over, forcibly, by the Endtimers. One lady found members “claiming her business” in the name of Jesus, and has discovered uninvited real estate agents inspecting her property. After other acts of harassment, she bought a pistol, just in case.
Over 1,000 people followed the ex-Ball Manufacturing Co. employee in the early 90’s. He claims “he has visited the evening star, walked with God along the Milky Way, healed the sick, revived the dead and “in the name of Jesus” commanded would-be robbers to drop their weapons.”
The purpose of End Times Ministries, according to sermons gathered by Cult Help and Information is “”God’s going to have a mighty army in this end time. The army that he spoke about in Joel. And you’re some of the people. This generation here is the one that’s going to bring Jesus back.”
“He talks about establishing a Society of “the greatest people that ever walked the face of the Earth.” And he talks of himself, as someone doing something that has never been done.”
People’s problems are due to evil spirits, some of which produce odd signs. A man supposedly gained weight after having an overweight surgeon operate on him. During surgery, the “fat spirit” left the surgeon and entered the man. Mustaches are prohibited as a sign of the “spirit of homosexuality.” Women beware of the “lipstick spirit” so they don’t wear make-up. They dress in calf-length skirts with shoulder-length hair.
- Newspapers, radio and television are instruments of the devil.
- Animals—even images of animals —harbor demons, therefore End Timers don’t have pets. (A former member says that she placed masking tape over pictures of teddy bears painted on her child’s crib for fear that demons would leave the teddy bears and enter her child.)
- To say that you are tired is a sin, as God’s people are to be empowered with supernatural stamina.
- It is a sin to cry, for if you cry you have “lost your joy.” (from CH+I)
They don’t go to doctors, and have home births. Their incredible fear of demons places them under the careful watch of Meade and other leaders. Some say it goes beyond watch to control. They are all very private, and very suspicous of outsiders. In typical cult fashion, he tends to isolate followers from their families and outsiders. Their kids don’t play with non-End Timers, and are usually paired & married by Meade before they are 18. Also typically, he considers all other churches to be apostate. Surprisingly enough, many of them are well educated people- unlike Meade. But education is not the solution to hearts longing for someone to tell them what to do. And all people are looking for that- even anarchists. The heart not following Jesus will settle for many a horrible substitute. Charles Meade is another one of those.
I’m starting to feel surrounded by cults here in central Florida. We seem to attract them like white on rice: Clearwater, Miami, Lake City at the least. Here’s hoping it doesn’t end like Jonestown, Waco or Heaven’s Gate.