A man forced to live in an Australian drug-taking cult until he was 15 says Jesus Christ healed the damage he suffered.
Ben Shenton was handed over to cult leader Anne Hamilton-Byrne at just 18 months old. In the years that followed, he and other children were abused and indoctrinated.
But now, more than 30 years after police freed him from the cult, he says knowing Jesus has given him lasting transformation.
The Family – as the cult was called – believed Hamilton-Byrne was a reincarnation of Jesus Christ and would help to re-educate people after an apocalyptic event.
At one point, 28 children lived together and were forced into a strict routine that focused on meditation and yoga.
“Aunties” – who included Shenton’s biological mother – physically and emotionally abused the children.
Adults and some teenagers were forced to take LSD, while children were mandated to take sedatives.
Shenton told the BBC’s World Service that his life changed in 1987, aged 15, when police arrived to rescue him.
“I think for the first time in my life, I realised I was free”, he said.
But because he had been hidden away for so many years, he struggled to integrate into society and spiralled downwards into having suicidal thoughts.
However, joining a church turned his life around and in the subsequent years he came to realise who the real Jesus Christ is.
Writing on his personal website, Shenton said that the recent death of Hamilton-Byrne showed the contrast between her and the Messiah.
“He died but then rose again and appeared to over 500 witnesses”, he wrote, adding: “What Anne peddled was a twisted version of this that removed Jesus Christ out and put her there instead”.
“After nearly 30 years of serving the real Jesus Christ; the damage done by a counterfeit Jesus Christ, Anne Hamilton-Byrne, has been fully restored and I’m in a far better place than what I could of ever thought or imagined.
“The real Jesus Christ promises this to all that would allow Him to be their saviour and Lord!”