Hotel Jerusalem

I recently returned from Israel and what an experience. But not without the aid of the Holy Spirit and what I like to describe as “Holy Spirit journalism.” He just leads me into the middle of the story, which He is uncovering. I see things through His eyes. Of course, at the time, I never know that I’m being sent by the Lord, until I’m right in the middle of the story unfolding. This happens to believers constantly.

When I called a friend of mine a few months ago to thank her for inviting me on a trip last winter, because, as it turned out, I stepped right into the middle of a scheme, involving my own mother, she said, “isn’t it funny how the Lord uses us, and we are oblivious to it all?” I started to laugh.

Well, with this trip, I was contacted by a friend, and he told me he had a ‘land only,’ price available for me. This is what I had been interested in, along with Christians. The added bonus, was that the tour group would be led by Jewish believers. This would be incredible teachings as I would also be able to see some of these biblical pictures. How could I pass this up?

I knew that I may not get another chance like this, and I had prayed that the Lord would confirm, when it was His timing for me to make this trip, in my life. Apparently, this was it. I said, it was the most challenging time of my life, so it must be when the Lord was calling me.

Since I was flying standby, I thought, well, I’m avoiding Passover, so I was safe. Not so fast. I had forgotten, Spring Break. The first day.  I did see my friend and his wife. They were with the group. He took me to another woman who had been bumped because of the storms. Her and I sat together in the gate area. He asked me to keep her company, in case she didn’t get on and I got bumped.

We did get bumped, but we sat in the airport until the next flight. We had a chance to talk for quite a while. It’s when I first began to realize there was a little bit more to this trip than just the tour group.

 “Do you have any of Sister Gwen’s teachings?” All of a sudden, I felt the hair go up on the back of my neck. I have a hard enough time, with people and titles, but, now I started to feel I’d been slam-dunked, by my friend. In that, he never once mentioned, ‘Sister Gwen. “Hmmm, Who is Sister Gwen?” I asked. She began to tell me about the End Time Handmaidens. Now I’m starting to wonder about this whole scene. Ok, I’m also curious, though, and I love a story. So, I start listen, and ask some questions.

We arrive in The Galilee, that evening and Brother Gene, picked us up. Now, I’m not telling anyone, what they should, or should not believe. I’m simply putting this out there. You can decide on your own. I will share my own experience, and my impressions. Gene, was a very warm and charming person. He shared that he had himself decided to move to Israel at one point.

As, I arrived in The Galilee, I was met by a room full of people, and was a bit surprised, by the coldness of the leadership of the group. I thought for a Christian group, and including my friends, I am now, surprised by their distance.Later, I realized, it to be the fact that I was not a good recruit.

I saw the sweetest people on this trip, however, I could also assess, that many seemed to be almost hypnotized by the power of this woman, Sister Gwen. I was asked at one point, by a woman, “Have you done the 21 day fast by Sister Gwen?” “No,” I said. “Oh, after you meet her, you will!” She said, with complete loyalty in her voice. “I have done a 21 day fast in my life,” I told her. “It had nothing to do with Sister Gwen.” I was getting a little irritated with this woman and this brand of what I considered, good old fashioned witchcraft. It just seemed like a brainwashing. Nothing short of Jim Jones and pretty scary.

Now I was getting intrigued and couldn’t wait to see this Sister Gwen. Who was this woman who controlled the masses? She must be something else. What power she exudes over so many. The first day of the tour I had to go to the conference that night to help my friend’s mother. She was helping with the sale of the CD’s. The sweetest woman. But they are correct. These people would wear everyone out and then I was almost falling asleep in my chair.

Then it began. The music began to play and a wild frenzy began as the masses began to adore the woman coming down the aisle in her wheelchair!

Yes, that’s what I said. This Sister Gwen Shaw, is an 80, something year old woman, in a wheelchair, and she came sailing down the aisle. Now, she got behind a table with her walker next to her. She sat behind the table and began to talk. She was very charismatic. I will give her that.

But she was saying some things which did not line up to the written word. They did not sit right in my spirit. First, she plugged too many books and CD’s which did not line up with the word. And at one point, she said, “I don’t like to read things that can’t teach me! But Brother Gene can teach me! I recommend you all buy brother Gene’s book!” That, I thought was extremely proud.

Isn’t the Word of God enough to teach? Then, she would tell people that they did not send around a basket for offerings, but she would put a cloth in front of her and people would come and throw money on the table in front of her. She would say, “Now don’t be cheap with the Holy Spirit!” I thought, “Don’t bring the Lord’s name into this!”

I felt quite sure that they didn’t want me to know too much about what they were doing. At one point the group leader told me to “take off their tag, because someone might know I’m a tourist.” Which made me more than too happy to comply with her request.

At one point I heard the same woman rounding up converts at a table at dinner and discussing ‘the vows.’ She seemed to be very secretive about this. I wondered what made her so positive about my aversion that she never approached me.

I would speak to my friend’s mother as she told me they had homes in the area, called, Engertal. “What is it?” I asked. Is it a town? Is it a real place? “Oh, it’s the valley of the angels,” she said. When I looked up the place, I found it is supposed to be a hotbed for cults.

We went to The House of Peace, their 3 million dollar property in Jerusalem, for the special vows. I realized, “hey this is a real business venture, and Sister Gwen is drawing some big money here.” As I sat in this beautiful home, I took a tour and snapped some pictures. I saw a life-sized portrait of Sister Gwen on the wall. I thought of the fact that this woman allows everyone to bow to her and kiss her and take pictures at her side. Yet, even the angels would not allow Daniel or John, or Paul to fall at their feet. They sternly told them, “No! Your worship is reserved for the Lord, and Him only!”

At one point I asked, who stays at this house? “Oh, people who want to pray. And a couple of the women live here.” I was told.

Then Sister Gwen spoke and everyone was quiet. “Will all the Handmaidens and Servants please stand?” I earnestly looked around to see who all the people were. I was amazed to see how many people were actually part of this group. I mean there were also quite a few pastors on this tour as well. I know that there was only on Lutheran pastor who may have been on the same page as me. He was sitting at a table with me and my friend’s mother one morning, as he said, “It seems to be some kind of secret society.” And he started to laugh. I said, “It certainly does.” And we shared a knowing look. I noticed that he was conspicuously absent from the evening meetings with Sister Gwen.

After everyone sat down, the people who were taking their vows were asked to come forward. These were the same people who had been in the prayer meetings. Many of them were without any control at these meetings. As Paul speaks, these things should be done in Godly order,but it seemed more like mass hysteria.

I was extremely uncomfortable and it takes a lot for me to be uncomfortable. But as I saw the meetings unfold on those evenings, I went for prayer at one point and felt the Lords gentleness and heard him remind me. “The Holy Spirit is a gentleman, and be careful who lays hands on you.” I stepped out of the line and went to sit down. Yes, my friends mom, is just so sweet as she reminded me. “Everything should be done in order. You’re right.”

Now I’m listening to the vows and they are saying, “We will die for you Lord. We will go to prison for you Lord.” On and on. They said, many things that sounded good. But, I thought, a little bit of truth mixed with error is enough to be poison. Then they passes some blue pledge cards to them.

That’s strange. Those blue cards. I didn’t have to do any of that when I surrendered to the Lord. I just did it. I didn’t have to stand in front of all these people and pay for a 3 million dollar property for this woman. I didn’t have to buy her books and CD’s. I didn’t have to live in Engertal.

I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum, with two couple, on our free day. I wasn’t sure if the one couple were part of this group or not. I asked where they were from. “Oh, outside of Chicago.” Then I asked the man, how did you hear about the group. Thinking, maybe they were just used to keep the costs down, like me. “Oh, my wife is a handmaiden. I just go along for the ride.”

“Later his wife, got me aside. When are you going to take the vows?” “Oh, never. I said. “Why, are you afraid of the fast? Cause Sister Gwen would let you do a shorter one.” “No, I’ve done long fasts. I have a problem with taking vows to organizations.” She said, “You’re not taking a vow to an organization. You heard the vows, they said them to Jesus Christ.” “Oh really?” I said. “Then if I’ve already done that, why would I need to do that again? And what’s with the blue pledge cards, if you’re not pledging to an organization? You know the Lord said, Let your yes be yes and your no be no, and anything in between is a sin. He also said, many would come in my name.” She didn’t say anything else but turned to the new convert and tried to put out the fire I just created. I heard her talking about the guy on the internet that Sister Gwen was blasting since he’s been exposing them as a cult. All I heard was the name, Mark Scheiderer. I made note of it when Sister Gwen mentioned it, since I was also going to look him up. Sister Gwen had gone on in great length about him and had stated that he was from a long line of insanity. That made me laugh. As if this explains his expose in a nutshell. Well, then I guess I also qualify, and I am definitely from a long line of insanity and have papers to prove it! But then again, lets have a look at Sister Gwens family! Who doesn’t?

The last night we were there, I felt a bunch of people moving people around at my table at dinner. Everybody had to be rearranged. There she comes. The queen. She is sitting next to me. As this couple said. It was probably the last-ditch effort to recruit me. I doubt it.

At any rate, the tour was incredible. The sites were amazing. In the evening, is was the story unfolding which was intriguing. I can say the people were as sweet as could be, however, I was sad, to see such parasitic behavior. Some of these people had very little income, and to think they were giving it to such an organization, by manipulation, is disheartening.

It isn’t the first time, but we are to contend for the faith, and that’s what true believers are called to do. Call me insane, Sister Gwen, but this isn’t my first rodeo either. It’s time for you to be exposed.