An undercover recruit and the statements of former members have painted a shocking picture of the inner workings of a cult-like congregation in a Melbourne suburb.
The doomsday church of Geelong Revival Center (GRC) is accused of systemic brainwashing, violence against children, and deliberate shunning of medicine among its members. GRC also has doomsday prophecies parrotted by its pastor and key church leaders, the allegations said.
‘A Cult-like Doomsday Church’
According to a 9Now special report, a female recruit managed to enter the church one Sunday with a concealed camera to document what was happening inside it. The church’s secretive nature showed right on its doors when a member instantly asked the woman some questions.
She was ushered to a dedicated spot at the back of the church for new members, with a member seated explicitly beside her to observe. Once the meeting was over, the sect’s leader, Noel Hollins, immediately noticed the woman and went to her.
“We’re happy you came. Was it by chance or did someone invite you?” the pastor inquired.
The pair chatted for a while and offered to meet the woman privately. He first told the woman he was leaving but quickly came back to issue a warning. “There’s just one thing I will say, if you want to know anything about us, don’t go to the internet. Anyone can put what anybody said on the internet,” 9Now quoted Hollins saying.
The sect’s leader made the statement as a reference to a report the show “A Current Affair” is about to air. Hollins reportedly did not want any new recruit or current member to watch the report.
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Former Church Members Recall ‘Horrors’ Inside Sect
Some former members of the church have decided to come out and speak about their experience inside the secretive sect.
Celeste, who refused to use her surname, said she thought her parents were “of the devil” when she was 9 or 10. The former member disclosed that a family belonging to the church took her in.
“As a young kid, you were taught that this was the only church going to heaven and if you left you’re damned for hell,” Celeste said to the show’s crew.
Other former church members also recalled how the leadership explicitly told them not to talk with outsiders. Many of them ended up leaving their family members behind.
Lauren, another former member, said she remembered Pastor Hollins standing in their living room and telling her she was not allowed to live in their home if she refused to attend the sect’s activities.
Lauren said she looked at her mom and dad, who both meekly expressed their agreement with Hollins. “So I was given a blue Billabong bag that was used for year seven camps and things like that, and was told to pack it with whatever would fit. I lost my sisters, I lost my parents, I lost my grandparents, I lost aunts and uncles, cousins, best friends of 10, 15 years,” Lauren said of her ordeal.
Aside from being forced to leave their homes, former members also accused the church leaders of preventing them from taking legal medications and using psychiatric drugs instead. The GRC leadership also allegedly tells members not to seek professional medical help and convinces members the church could cure their illnesses.
One female member, a 34-year-old mother, Sharon Kovac, reportedly died due to her hope that the church could offer a cure for her chronic illness.
Celeste, who reentered the church when she was already a mother of a two-year-old boy with autism, alleged that one church member beat up her child because of his condition.
“He took it upon himself to pick him up and hit him really hard and then continuously hit him until he stopped crying. And I just got drilled and drilled and drilled constantly that I needed to be smacking him, to smack the autism out of him practically,” she said.
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